113. Pinscape Night Mode

Night Mode lets you tell the Pinscape controller to shut off the noisy feedback devices in your cabinet, so that you can play games more quietly during late night hours without disturbing neighbors or housemates who are trying to sleep. You can designate specifically which feedback devices are noisy, so that the purely visual devices like flasher lights remain enabled.

Designating the noisy devices

Night Mode only disables the feedback output ports that you specifically mark as "noisy" in your Pinscape settings. To select which ports are noisy:
  • Open the Pinscape Config Tool
  • Click on the Settings icon for your controller
  • Scroll down to the Feedback device outputs section
  • Click on the "bell" icon for each port that you want to mark as noisy

Activating Night Mode

There are several ways to switch in and out of Night Mode:
  • You can control the mode using commands on Windows.
  • You can set up a dedicated hardware pushbutton or toggle switch just for Night Mode. This is a perfect kind of button to put on a custom inside-the-coin-door service panel (see "Adding an extra service panel" in Coin Door). The bottom of the cabinet also works well for this.
  • You can designate a "shifted" button as the Night Mode toggle - one that you're already using as a regular button to send a key to the PC, but "shifted", meaning you press it in combination with another button to give it a second function.

Controlling Night Mode via Windows commands

Go to the directory where you installed the Pinscape Config Tool, and you'll find another program there called PinscapeCmd.exe. This is a utility program that you can invoke from the CMD prompt to send commands to the controller. You can also use it in batch (.BAT) scripts.
To use the PinscapeCmd program to switch in and out of Night Mode:
  • Open a CMD prompt window (Windows+R, type CMD.EXE, press Enter)
  • CD to the Pinscape folder (e.g., CD /D C:\PINSCAPE)
  • To turn Night Mode ON, type PinscapeCmd NightMode=ON and press Enter
  • To turn Night Mode OFF, type PinscapeCmd NightMode=OFF and press Enter
The capitalization isn't important. We just showed mixed case for clarity.
Note: if you have more than one Pinscape controller device installed in your system at the same time, you have to specify which one you want to send the command to, by adding Unit=number to the command before the NightMode option:
PinscapeCmd Unit=2 NightMode=ON
You can enter the same syntax in a Windows .BAT script. That lets you control Night Mode from any program that can launch a .BAT script, such as a front-end program like PinballX or PinballY, or an automation program like AutoHotKeys.

Setting up a dedicated Night Mode button

If you want to use a dedicated button or switch to control Night Mode, simply select a pushbutton or toggle switch, and wire it to a Pinscape button input port just like any other button. See Pinscape Button Inputs for general wiring instructions.
You can use either a pushbutton or an on/off switch:
The wiring is the same for either kind of button.
Once you've wired the button to a port, you just have to tell Pinscape about it. Run the Pinscape Config Tool, go to the Settings page, and scroll down to the Pinscape After Dark section. Enter the port number where you wired the Night Mode button in the Button input number box.
Also set the Button type option to match the physical type of switch you're using. If you installed a pushbutton, select "Momentary button"; if you installed a toggle switch of some kind that stays on until you turn it back off, select "On/off switch".
One last step: you'll probably want to make sure that the button you selected doesn't send any keystrokes to Windows when you press the button. To prevent it from sending any keys:
Of course, that assumes that you really don't want to send a key to the PC when you press the Night Mode button. In some cases, you might actually want to; for example, you might want to send a Media Mute key press, so that you mute the audio system at the same time you turn off the noisy devices. (If you're using PinVol, though, you can make it a little more nuanced than that, since PinVol has its own Night Mode that tracks the Pinscape Night Mode settings. See "PinVol coordination" below.)

Using a "shifted" button

If you want to be able to activate Night Mode via a button press, but you don't want to set up a separate dedicated button for it, you can use a "Shifted" button.
Pinscape lets you give two meanings to each button via a "Shift" button. The Pinscape "Shift" button is a little like the SHIFT key on a PC keyboard, in that it changes the meanings of all of the other buttons when you press it. But it's important to understand that it's not actually the keyboard SHIFT key. Pressing the designated Pinscape "Shift" button doesn't send a SHIFT key press to Windows. All it does is change the meanings of all of your other Pinscape buttons.
For example, I use the Extra Ball button on my cab as my Shift button. That works well for me because it doesn't get used very much in games (although it still works as the ordinary Extra Ball button whenever that's needed). I use the Shift feature with my flipper and MagnaSave buttons to make them do double duty as audio volume controls. Under normal circumstances, they just act like normal flipper and MagnaSave buttons. But when I press and hold the Extra Ball button, they stop acting as flipper/MagnaSave buttons and start acting like Volume Up and Volume Down keys instead.
You can apply this same principle for the Night Mode button. For example, if you set up your Extra Ball button as the Shift button like I do, you could assign the Start button as the shifted Night Mode button. That won't take away your normal Start button - the Start button will act like it always has most of the time. But when you press Start while you're also holding down the Extra Ball button, Start gets its second, "shifted" meaning of activating Night Mode.
To set up a shifted Night Mode button:

Night Mode indicator light

You can also set up an indicator light so that you can see at a glance whether or not Night Mode is engaged.
If you're setting up your Night Mode switch on a custom coin door service panel, you can make it a bit snazzier by using a lighted pushbutton, with the light in the pushbutton wired as the Night Mode indicator. Or you can just set up a separate LED somewhere to indicate the current mode.
Physically, the indicator light simply connects to any Pinscape feedback output port. I'd recommend using one of the "Small LED" outputs designed for the flipper button lights, since you'll probably only need a small 20mA LED for this indicator. The Small LED ports are limited to exactly this kind of small device, so you can't use them for much else, and you'll probably have a couple left over anyway. There are 16 of these ports total, and a full set of RGB flipper/MagnaSave lights only requires 12 of them.
Whichever port you decide to use, wire your chosen indicator light to it exactly as you would any other device. See Pinscape Feedback Outputs for general port wiring instructions.
Once it's wired, open the Pinscape Config Tool, go to the Settings page, and scroll down to the Pinscape After Dark section. Enter the port number where you wired the light in the Indicator lamp output port box.
Note that you shouldn't use this port as a regular output port in your DOF setup, as the Night Mode indicator status will override whatever DOF tries to do with it.

PinVol coordination

If you're using PinVol to control volume levels, note that PinVol is automatically aware of the Pinscape Night Mode status, and will switch itself in and out of Night Mode to match the status on the controller. That saves you the trouble of setting up a separate key to control Night Mode for audio volume purposes.
Just like Pinscape uses Night Mode to turn off noisy devices, PinVol uses Night Mode to set a lower system-wide audio volume level. PinVol maintains a separate global volume level for Night Mode, so you can set up whatever reduced volume level you prefer when Night Mode is active, and then switch back to that same quieter level at any time by switching back to Night Mode.