The finished clock: The artwork is fitted into a wooden frame with rear controls.
What it does
The clock is simple in function. While the clock is running one switch sets the hours, one sets the minutes and resets the seconds to zero.
To preserve display life there is an option to switch the display off at night. The on time and the off time can be adjusted to suit the user. By default it goes off at 10pm and on again at 8am. The LED on the board continues to blink to reassure you that the clock is actually working.
While the clock is in sleep mode, pressing either switch will wake the clock up for one minute to display the time, after which it will go dark again. The adjustment function is locked out for five seconds to prevent the time being adjusted rather than waking the clock up.
The clock now has a variety of scrolling and animation modes which may be selected according to personal preference by holding either switch down while you plug the clock in.
Laying it flat
The disadvantage with the Bally display assemblies is that they are rather deep because the PCB is at right angles to the display envelope at the back. This inevitably leads to a rather chunky box if the unit is not modified in any way. If the Bally display is to be kept untouched there is little that can be done about this. My boards per se do not add anything to the depth of the box.
It is just possible to unscrew the plastic mount for the display, snip the plastic and bend the display so it lies flat with the circuit board, without unsoldering anything.
However, I had such a quantity of these units that in testing them all I found I had some good displays with bad boards and I also had some good PCBs with broken or out-gassed displays. It seemed logical to unite the two and I was no longer restrained by the need to keep the display at 90º to the board. The result is a much flatter box overall and a larger area for surrounding artwork.
I decided to have a small quantity of professional PCBs manufactured. These are designed to fit either directly over the display pins, onto which they can be soldered, or the board can sit alongside the existing pin locations and bridged across with wire. They could also be attached to a suitable plug connector with no soldering to the original display.
In the picture below I chose to remove the pins to reduce the depth of the assembly and secured the display to the PCB.
For those who are prepared to pay for the time for me to devise suitable artwork and to build the case, I can be commissioned to produce something specially for you. Typically the cost will be around £200, depending on the complexity of the design. Remember, you will be paying for my time, getting a unique design and obtaining a fully working pinball clock.
Some designs produced to date:
Schematics for Bally display boards
6 digit Bally PCB schematic PDF
7 digit Bally PCB schematic PDF
This Post Has 11 Comments
Hi Is it possible to get the clock pcb and the parts only? Price?
I’ve got some bally 6-digits displays.
Thank you in advance!
Hi Mel, I don’t have any bare PCBs at the moment and if I do a new batch I will change the chip to a DS3231 which has battery backup. I’ll post as and when I update this board. I also have spare displays, so it will be something I should do soon.
Hallo from Germany,
are your clocks still available?
I have allready managed my Vector backbox with the rotating lamps by using an arduino board.
Could you give me some information about how i can display a number on a bally display?
I would like to use the arduino again, but i think with an old pinball display it would be not so easy.
how could i perform the high voltage?
Have you tryed to use gottlieb displays
I too have a good Vector backbox that I am going to control.
I have some clock modules built including a good Bally display, but these are flat like the clock in the picture.
For the Bally displays, you have to multiplex the digits – 6 or 7 depending on the display. There is one decoder chip to address and the digits. It is not so difficult. For the high voltage you can use the simple circuit here and 9v-12v DC in. https://threeneurons.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/555_shtdwn.gif.
Yes I have successfully driven a Gottlieb VFD display. These are slightly more difficult to control. The filament needs a separate power supply, which should be AC for even illumination across the display. This can be done with a spare PWM output and a chip. The displays also need a DC voltage of about 45 volts for the grid and the segments.
I do not use Arduinos, so I cannot comment on Arduino code.
I also have a number of these 6 digit Bally displays, and I’d like to make a clock out of one. Would you please send me the PCB layout and a parts list for the board you made?
Thanks in advance,
I can do this, but you will still need a programmed microcontroller to run the display.
Do you have any clocks for sale/ are you still making the pinball clocks??
Yes I am still making pinball clocks and have 8 working modules all built and tested for the flat square design. I can complete to order. The cost for a finished clock is £120 plus shipping.
Please can you email me pics of the ones you have done and ready if any, and let me know approximate shipping to the United States, Florida. looking to receive one in the next couple of weeks if possible. Thanks!!
I’m currently building a wall display using the head of a Space Invaders pinball game. I’d really like for one of the display areas to function as a wall clock. If possible I’d like to use the spare PinScore 6-digit LED replacement display I already have. If possible I’d like to purchase the circuitry you use to drive yours. I assume the addressing circuitry is the same and the PinScore display would just not use the high voltage inputs just like when you install them in a real game. Can I purchase one of your driver boards and the info on how to connect it? If so please let me know how much.
Thanks for your time. Rick
Funnily enough Rick, I have a Vector backbox which I am intending to do something with in due course. As I am sure you know this has the same set of rotating lamps in between two layers of glass. It doesn’t have the infinity effect of the Space Invaders, which is also a machine I have owned, so I know it well. I was going to have a clock in one display position but could not decide what to do in the other four displays.
I have tested my driver board briefly at a pinball show, with a Pinled brand LED display, but as I recall it did display a little ghosting. This is something that I should be able to fix in software, but I don’t have a pinscore display to test it on. In theory it should work just fine and simply ignore the high-voltage supply. I don’t have any spare boards right now, but I intend to revisit this display driver in due course, with battery backed up time settings. I still have 60 or so Bally boards, all working, which need a good home!