Attack from Mars
Mini-Saucer LED KitTM

Features of the AFM Mini-Saucer LED Kit

The AFM-LED board can independently control all eight lights on all six saucers, for a total of 48 independent LEDs. Theoretically, it can support up to eight saucers (based on the design specs), but I have not found a use for the remaining 16 LEDs.

The various patterns are stored in a 27c020 (2meg) EPROM image. The board will actually come with a 27c040 (4meg) EPROM chip, mainly because these are more common. I included jumpers on the board that will allow the owner to select between the two different sets of patterns stored on the 27c040 chip. The board can actually accept a 27c080 (8meg) EPROM chip, thus allowing for four selectable pattern sets ... but at this point, that setting is reserved for possible future expansion.

Animated GIF Samples

Sample pattern #1

Sample pattern #2

Sample pattern #3

Sample pattern #4

There are actually a couple dozen more patterns included with the kit ... however, most of these do not compress easily enough to make animated GIF samples. Also, if you're wondering where the sixth saucer went ... well, I pulled the camera in a bit tighter to produce better sample images. Trust me, the sixth one is happily flashing away as well.   

Video Sample

This video contains a better overview of the various patterns that the kit can produce. Each pattern appears briefly in the video, but actually runs for approximately 10 seconds in the actual kit. It takes about 6 1/2 minutes to run through the entire set of patterns.

Download Sample Video (MPEG)
(54 seconds -- 9109K)

Again, this is just a brief sample video. This is a regular MPEG file that should run in any version of Windows Media Player.

Since the system runs on a 4meg EPROM chip, it can store quite a lot of animation data. Although the board is not directly tied into the current game mode ... while you are playing, the board is cycling through those different patterns. It seems almost magical that when you start a new mode (Multi-Ball, Martian Attack, etc.) the patterns often change as if this new pattern was part of the mode start. It's all coincidental, but it has a really great feel to it. With the amount of space on the chip, you shouldn't see the patterns cycle for several minutes, keeping the animations fresh.

In addition to the various patterns stored on the chip (and lucky coincidental timing), I wanted to integrate the saucers a little more into the game. So, I added a separate circuit that allows the board to detect when the Mother Ship has been hit, and displays a special pattern for a few seconds as the "damage" propagates throughout the Martian fleet. Trust me, it's pretty darned cool!!

Other than that, the AFM-LED board runs completely independent of the CPU. The lights continue to display their patterns regardless of whether the game is in Attract Mode, playing a game, or is in the diagnostic menus. Aside from detecting hits on the Mother Ship, the board does not monitor any other attributes of the game. For instance, things like Martian Attack, Strobe Multiball or the Video Mode will have no effect on the patterns displayed. As much as I would like to integrate the board as fully as possible into the game (different sets of patterns for the different modes), the additional circuitry would have been cost-prohibitive.

Installation of the AFM-LED kit is completely non-intrusive to your game. The board is designed to mount in the backbox along with the other boards, even using the same clips that Williams/Bally used. Power for the board comes from the Power Driver Board (J138), using a standard connector. Hits to the Mother Ship are monitored via a wire that is tied to the tab of driver transistor Q25 (the flasher under the green dome), and is a removable connection. The LEDs are mounted into the existing holes of the mini-saucers, and do not require any adhesive. The saucer cables are fed through existing holes in the playfield, and do not interfere with the path of the ball.

Since the patterns are all stored on the EPROM chip, the animations may be updated at any time. I will probably add a Download section at some point, in the event that there are new patterns available.

Gotta have one yet? You can do that on the Purchase page.

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