Attack from Mars (Remake)
Mini-Saucer LED & Expansion KitTM

About the AFMr Mini-Saucer LED & Expansion Kit

Feature examples from Attack from Mars


September 22, 2021:
    Fourth (post final?) update! Summer is officially over, and I did promise kits right around this time. The good news is that the design has been finalized, both hardware and software. The project is still on track, and production is currently in progress. Supply chains have been tight, and getting all the components that I need is still somewhat problematic. Things are expected to be more-or-less resolved within a couple of weeks. I'm going to start shipping kits as I have things completed.

    As I have researched AFMr, I find that there are some differences with how things are connected in the backbox. There is also some variation on the backglass wiring layout.

    For the power connector, I am using an open header located in the lower left corner of the Pinball Controller board. Sometimes there is something plugged in here, but other ports in the backbox are free. Please let me know if this header is already in use on your game.

    There is a similar header on the Solenoid Board, toward the left side near the middle, marked "DISPLAY". Some games may have been assembled differently? I don't know why it would vary. If this connection is open, we can use it instead for power.

    If both are in use, let me know as I'll have to send you a power splitter.

    This is what the "light tub" wiring looks like for the Backbox General Illumination (GI) upgrades. There is one Purple General Illumination (GI) connection, and (surprise!) two Green GI connections. The main Green GI connection is closest to the Purple GI connection (middle of the pic). The other Green GI connection is usually nearby (approx 2 inches), but sometimes there are games where the second Green GI connection is further away. Again, I do not know why there are variations, but if your game has the two Green GI connections located further than 2 inches apart, send me the distance between the two connections, and I'll send you a proper cord.

    Please send me an Email with the above information, so I can assemble the proper components for your kit(s).

    Thank you again for all your patience, we're almost there!!

May 16, 2021:

    Third (and final!) update, and my repeated apologies on how things have been going. I do not own an AFMr, and must schedule visits to verify theories, and run actual tests. I also "shot for the moon", so I have unintentionally held things up until I had the complete of functions tested.

    That said, I am happy to say everything now works as expected!!


    Looking forward, I am breaking down the functionality, as different people may want different things. Here's what I have planned:

    • AFMr-LED Kit - Basic ($230)
      • The original Attack from Mars Mini-Saucer LED Kit
      • Attack from Mars (Remake) Power Supply Board
    • AFMr-LED Kit - Plus ($320)
      • The original Attack from Mars Mini-Saucer LED Kit
      • Smaller Expansion Board which supports Hallway LEDs, Mini-Saucer Blackout, and AFMr Power Supply
        • Hallway LEDs
        • Mini-Saucer Blackout (goes dark for Video Mode and Strobe Multiball)
        • AFMr Power Supply
      • Does not support Super Jets animation, or Backglass GI controls
    • AFMr-LED Kit - Full ($380)
      • The original Attack from Mars Mini-Saucer LED Kit
      • Full Expansion Board which supports:
        • Hallway LEDs
        • Mini-Saucer Blackout (goes dark for Video Mode and Strobe Multiball)
        • Super Jets animation
        • Backglass GI controls (goes dark for Video Mode and Strobe Multiball)
        • AFMr Power Supply

    • AFMr-LED Kits - LE Owners
      • The Plus or Full Kits can be ordered without the Mini-Saucer LED Kit
        • Plus (w/o Mini-Saucers): $140
        • Full (w/o Mini-Saucers): $190

    Please send me an Email, and let me know which package you would like to order. Once I get a better idea of what our targets are, I can start working on ordering parts and building kits. Delivery is expected toward the latter half of summer. Fingers crossed!

    Thank you again for all your patience, it is truly appreciated.

November 30, 2020:
    Second update, and my apologies on how things have been going. I do not own an AFMr, and must schedule visits to run actual tests. Sadly, this is much more difficult in the times of COVID-19.

    Here are some rough milestones since the last update. Distribute healthy quantities of quarantine fatigue, at-home schooling, kids birthdays, etc.

    • May: Rework the original AFM-Expansion board as a hack-job proto/test board and build test wiring harnesses.
    • Jun: Run official tests on an AFMr: controlling backbox GI, jet bumper lamps, jet bumper switch hits and mothership signals.
    • Aug: Design and produce official prototype AFMr-Expansion board and compatible wiring harnesses.

    • Oct: Fine tuning, rework power source, test theories on detecting mothership LED signals.
    • 2021: Installation and official full test. Build official wiring harnesses.
    There are still some final tests to do [1], but at this point I had hoped to have a fully installed kit. With spiking COVID-19 cases and increased holiday travel, progress here will be limited.

    At any rate, I wanted to post an update, so everyone knows where things are right now.

    Some other notes: This is the "everything" kit setup. I do have additional plans to supply just the AFM-LED kit for those who need it, as well as a cut-down version of the expansion kit that supports turning off the mini-saucers for Video Mode and Strobe Multiball, as well as includes the Hallway LED functionality. Some of that depends on the final results of the Mothership LED detection circuit/software.

    [1] There are *always* final tests, until all issues are officially resolved. Please take with a grain of salt!

March 31, 2020:

    Greetings everyone, today we have an actual update for the Attack from Mars Remake Mini-Saucer LED project!!

    First, my apologies for the long delay. There were many (extended) family issues, and just life in general. A lot of that has been coming to a close, giving me more time to devote to items sorely in need of attention.

    As I have been able to focus more on this project, I have made some good progress. Through the help of some local friends (Chuck Casey from the Museum of Pinball, and my friend Damon), I have been able to experiment on an actual AFMr, and scope out how things are going to fit together.

    Quickly, we'll start with a little history. I invented the AFM Mini-Saucer LED Kit back in 2004. Since then we have sold over 800 kits, which is kind of astonishing. The original kit added LEDs to the mini-saucers, and the controller board would provide animations to bring the Martian Fleet to life! Also, the kit would track hits to the AFM Mother Ship, such that whenever the mother ship sustained damage, the shockwave would reverbate through the entire fleet.

    Shortly after release, I began to get comments about how the mini-saucers didn't go dark during things like Video Mode, or Strobe Multiball. I hadn't really thought about that, so I began to collect ideas of what else I wanted to include if I were to create an add-on board to support this particular feature. The AFM-Expansion Kit came out in 2010, and it supported new things like an Enhanced Super Jets animation, Enhanced Backglass Animation (including full blackout during Video Mode or Strobe Multiball), custom brackets and two rows of LEDs in the "Attack Hallway" under the AFM Mother Ship, as well as having the mini-saucer go dark during Video Mode and Strobe Multiball.

    In my testing, I believe all of these features can be implemented on AFMr.

Design Research:
    Now, AFMr came with three models: Classic Edition (CE), Special Edition (SE) and Limited Edition (LE). Only the LE included mini-saucer LEDs, and they now support dual-color (red/green) LEDs.

    The more I looked at it, the more impressed I was that Chicago Coin (CC) had done such an amazing job with the AFMr, and specifically how tightly integrated the red/green LEDs were with the game and light show.

    Sadly, this is not the sort of integration I could match or even come close to. My implementation is different, in that the mini-saucers seem to have more autonomy, and a life of their own. They are somewhat separate entities to be dealt with, in the spirit of the game, with less direct influence from the Mother Ship. As much as I love the way the AFMr LE uses the mini-saucer LEDs, I think there's definitely room for both perspectives.

Implementation Details:
    Right now, the plan is to stay with single color LEDs. The most popular colors are red, green and occasionally blue. This plan means moving into production sooner, and keeping prices down. If you really feel dual-color or RGB LEDs in the mini-saucers is something you'd rather have, let me know, but the added R&D time and overall cost increase is unknown at this time. I'd still rather hear the feedback, so please let me know how you feel.

    Also, as much as I'd like to build an all-in-one sort of board, with the different AFMr models, it's probably still smarter to make the Mini-Saucer LED part of the kit separate, so that owners of various models can pick and choose at the different features they wish to add or enhance.

    The likelihood is that we'll stick with the existing model, where one board handles the mini-saucers, and another board handles the rest. I don't think it's going to be cost effective to break it down any further than that. I'll do my best to make installation as simple (and hopefully solder free) as possible, as well as trying to keep the price point roughly the same as the original AFM versions.

Next Steps and Caveats:
    Looking forward, I will start to work on a prototype build. Our area is on quarrantine from COVID-19, which means I won't be able to test anything on an actual AFMr game until after restrictions have been lifted. Once I am happy with the prototype, and I have some feedback from the community, we'll start scheduling production. Unless things get substanially worse, I expect we'll be able to start production in mid-late 2020.
Examples and Feedback:
    I assume most of you have seen the original AFM Mini-Saucer LED Kit in action, but I will see if I can shoot an updated video. The AFM-Expansion Kit does have recently updated video, so check it out and familiarize yourself with the features packed into that kit.

    Finally, send Email and let me know what you think!

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