48. Pinscape Outputs Setup (Expansion Boards)

If you've built a set of expansion boards, you're past the hard part. Connecting output devices is fairly easy. The Pinscape boards use the same basic wiring plan as other solid state controllers, as described in Feedback Device Wiring:
  • Connect a wire from the positive terminal of the power supply to the feedback device's positive terminal
  • Connect the feedback device's negative terminal to an output port pin on the Pinscape expansion board
  • As described in Power Supplies for Feedback, you should already have connected the power supply's negative terminal to the common ground interconnect for all of the feedback power supplies
Repeat this pattern for each device.
For devices that run on the same voltage, you can either run a wire from each device's (+) terminal all the way back to the power supply, or you can daisy-chain the positive terminals together. You can do whatever's most convenient for each device, and you can freely mix and match.
It's fine to mix devices that run on different voltages, and it's fine to connect them side by side on the same expansion board. Just connect each device to its appropriate (+) voltage supply.

Config tool settings

Make sure you've configured the Pinscape firmware for your expansion boards:
  • Launch the Pinscape Config Tool
  • Click the Settings icon for your device
  • Near the top of the page, make sure that the System Type is set to Pinscape Expansion Boards
  • Make sure that the number of power boards and chime boards is set to match your physical configuration

Mixing power supply voltages

The Pinscape boards switch power on the "Ground" (negative or 0V) side of the connection. This means that it's okay to mix different devices with different power supply voltages.
This is confusing to a lot of people because they only see power inputs on the Pinscape boards for 5V and 12V. But what if you want to connect a 24V device? Or a 50V device?
Here's how you have to think about this. The 5V and 12V power supply connections to the Pinscape boards are there to power the Pinscape boards themselves. Those connections aren't there to power the feedback devices. The feedback devices take their power directly from the power supplies, not from the Pinscape boards.
That means you don't have to connect the "+" from a 24V supply anywhere to the Pinscape boards, but you can still connect it to feedback devices that need 24V.

Use protective diodes if necessary

Most mechanical devices require protective diodes. These are required for anything with a coil: solenoids, contactors, replay knockers, motors.
See Coil Diodes for details on what type of diodes to use and how to install them.
Diodes are critical! Coils and motors can damage your PC motherboard and other components if diodes aren't used.


Many cab builders include a fuse in each device output circuit. This isn't strictly necessary, but I think it's a good idea for the higher-powered mechanical devices. Fuses can help protect the Pinscape board from overloads caused by wiring faults and device malfunctions, reducing the chance that the board will be damaged if something like that goes wrong. See Fuses for details.

Where to connect what

The expansion boards have a number of output ports that are designed for particular device types. It's best to attach devices to their special ports when present, since that takes the best advantage of the special design features on the boards.
Here's a quick summary of where to attach each common device type. If you're not familiar with any of these, we'll look at each type in depth over the next few chapters.
DeviceWhere to connect
Beacon (rotating police light)Power board
Bell (one-shot type)Chime board
Bell (reciprocating type)Power board
Bumper contactors/solenoidsPower board
Button lamps (front panel)Power board
ChimesChime board
Fan (backbox topper)Power board
Flasher LEDs (two sets can be wired in parallel)Main board, JP11 (RGB Flashers)
Flipper button LEDsMain board, JP8 (Small LEDs)
Flipper contactors/solenoidsPower board
Gear motorPower board
Pinball bumper assembliesChime board
Pinball slingshot assembliesChime board
Replay knockerMain board, JP9 (Knocker pin)
Shaker motorPower board
Slingshot contactors/solenoidsPower board
StrobesMain board, JP9 (Strobe pin)
Undercab LED strips (up to about 3 meters without separate amplifiers)Power board
Addressable light stripsN/A; needs separate controller

Main board output ports

Output ports on the main expansion board. JP11 (left) is for five RGB flashers; JP9 (top) is for the replay knocker and strobe; and JP8 (right) is for small (20mA) LEDs.
Warning! Don't connect a strobe or any other output device to any of the pins on JP12. JP12 is not an output port header. The printing on the board is so packed together in that area that it's easy to read the STROBE label as part of JP12. It's not! The STROBE pin is on JP9, right next to the KNOCKER pin.
Be careful about where you connect the strobe and knocker. Both of these connect to the pins on JP9. Don't connect any output device to JP12. The pins on JP12 connect directly to GPIO pins on the KL25Z, so connecting them to power is extremely likely to damage or destroy the KL25Z.
Main board JP11 (RGB Flashers) is designed for high-power RGB LEDs, for flasher lights. See Flashers and Strobes for information on the type of LED most people use. This header has 15 outputs, which is enough to connect the standard complement of 5 flasher LEDs (as each RGB LED takes up three channels, one each for red, green, and blue).
The pins on the header are labeled 1R, 1B, 1G, 2R, 2B, 2G, etc. "1R" stands for the Red channel on the first LED, for example. This is purely a suggestion for how to connect the color channels; you can rearrange the connections if necessary. If you connect them according to the labels, though, it will make the software setup easier, since this ordering matches the default settings in the firmware.
This connector also provides a +5V power supply pin. The idea is that you can connect a single 16-wire ribbon cable between this header and a matching header on your flasher panel to provide all required wiring for the flashers. This is just here as a convenience; if for some reason you'd prefer to provide your own power supply connection to your flasher panel, simply don't connect anything to the +5V pin on this header.
You don't strictly have to connect flashers to these outputs, although if you're going to use flashers in your system at all, this is the best place to connect them. If you're not using flashers, though, you can re-purpose these outputs for other types of devices, as long as you stay within the limits of 50V and 1.5A per output. Don't connect anything that draws more than 1.5A, as that can potentially destroy the IC chips that drive these outputs. For anything that takes more than 1.5A, always use the Power Board outputs instead.
Main board JP9 (Knocker/Strobe) has one pin dedicated to the replay knocker, and one pin dedicated to a "strobe" output. These assignments are printed on the board next to the pin header to help you identify which is which. See Flippers, Bumpers, and Slingshots and Flashers and Strobes for notes on these device types.
The strobe output is driven by exactly the same chip that controls the flasher outputs, so it has the same power limits (50V and 1.5A). You can use it for other purposes besides a strobe if you prefer, as long as you stay within those limits.
The knocker output is driven by a MOSFET that can handle very large loads, which is necessary because real replay knockers are designed for 50V supplies and draw about 3A. However, it's not great as a general-purpose output, because it has a "time limit" circuit that prevents the output from staying on for more than about 2 seconds at a time. The time limit is specially designed to protect replay knocker coils against common software faults in Visual Pinball that can leave devices stuck on; this problem has destroyed replay knockers on more than a few virtual cabs, but you're relatively immune to this with the Pinscape boards because of the built-in time limiter circuit. The downside is that it means that the port is really only suited for a replay knocker, since you wouldn't want similar time limits on most other types of devices. The one bit of re-purposing that could be appropriate for this output is that you could use it for a music chime, since chime coils have the same vulnerability to overheating that replay coils have.
See the warning above about the proper location of the STROBE output.
Main board JP8 (Small LED/Opto) has 16 pins designed for low-power LEDs. These are intended primarily for controlling LEDs in the flipper and MagnaSave buttons; see Button Lamps for how to set those up.
As with the RGB flasher header (JP11), these pins are labeled with color channels - 1R, 1G, 1B, 2R, 2G, 2B, etc. And as with JP11, you're free to ignore the labels if you prefer, but following them will save you a little software setup time.
In addition to labeled outputs for 5 RGB LEDs, there's an extra pin labeled LED6. This is a spare that you can use for an additional monochrome LED, or just leave unconnected. For that matter, there's no common use for a 5th RGB LED, since a typical cab only has the four flipper/MagnaSave buttons. You can repurpose the 5R-5G-5B outputs for whatever other small LED uses you can think of, and you're free to treat them as separate channels and connect each one to a monochrome LED. The RGB-ness is only a suggestion.
This header provides a +5V power supply pin that you can use to power the attached LEDs.
This header has a special feature for LEDs: it has a built-in current limiter for each channel, which eliminates the need to use a separate external resistor for attached LEDs. (See LED Resistors.) You can safely connect LEDs directly to these ports, with no resistors required. The current limit is determined by the resistance (Ohms) value of resistor "R5" on the main board. If you used the default 2.2K resistor from the parts list, the current limit is set at 20mA, which is perfect for most small LEDs.
The term "Opto" in the label, by the way, refers to optocouplers. Optocouplers have internal LEDs with the same general properties as the small LEDs that these outputs are designed for, so you could connect an optocoupler to any of these ports in lieu of an LED. That would allow you to control another circuit through the opto. I don't have any particular applications for this in mind - it's just an option for people who like tinkering with electronics, since it gives you a way to control just about any custom circuit via a Pinscape output.

Power Board output ports

All 32 of the Power Board outputs are general-purpose, high-power outputs that you can connect to almost anything. These outputs are suitable for lights, motors, solenoids, and just about anything else commonly used in a pin cab. They can handle devices that use power supplies up to 60V and current up to 4A.
Power board outputs. These are general-purpose outputs suitable for almost anything in a pin cab. Each output can handle 4A at 60V.

Chime board output ports

All 8 of the Chime Board outputs are high-power outputs with time-limiter circuits of the same type used in the replay knocker output on the main board. As with the replay knocker, these are designed to protect pinball coils from software faults on the PC that could leave an output stuck on. They're nominally for "chime units" (see Chimes and Bells), but they're really appropriate for any sort of standard pinball coil, such as bumpers and slingshots. You wouldn't want to use them with flippers, however, as you certainly do want to allow flippers to be held on for long periods.
Chime board outputs. These outputs have the same type of time limiters as in the replay knocker output on the main board, to protect attached pinball coils from overheating if the software on the PC crashes and leaves outputs stuck on. Outputs are automatically turned off if stuck on for more than about 2 seconds. Each output can handle 4A at 60V.

Power limits

Here's a summary of the power limits for the various outputs on the expansion boards. The amperage limits are per port.
The Timer column indicates whether or not the output has a timer circuit that cuts off power after it's been on continuously for more than a couple of seconds. These apply to the replay knocker output on the main board and all outputs on the chime board. The timer circuit is there to prevent software crashes from leaving a pinball coil stuck "on", which can overheat and destroy those coils. The timed outputs are good for pinball coils, where you only ever want momentary activation; they're not good for anything that you actually want to leave running for long periods, like shaker motors, gear motors, fans, beacons, lights, etc.
BoardIDDescriptionMax LimitsTimer
MainJP8Small LEDs18V20-50mANo
MainJP11RGB Flashers50V1.5ANo
PowerJP5, JP6General Purpose60V4ANo

DOF Setup

To set up your Pinscape unit with DOF, you of course have to install DOF on your PC first. See DOF Setup for instructions.
Once the DOF software is installed, you use the DOF Config Tool to tell DOF that you have a Pinscape unit, and to tell it which output ports are wired to which feedback devices.
  • Open the DOF Config Tool in your browser
  • Click the My Account tab
  • Set Number of Pinscape devices to 1 (or if you have more than one KL25Z running the Pinscape, select the appropriate number of devices instead). The number of expansion boards connected to the same KL25Z doesn't matter here - if you have a main board and two power boards and two chime boards, you should still enter 1 for Number of Pinscape devices, since they're all part of the same USB connection from the PC's perspective.
  • Set Number of KL25Z devices to 0 (see below if this seems confusing)
  • Save changes
  • Go to the Port Assignments page
  • Select "Pinscape 1" in the Device drop list
  • Go through the port list, assigning each port number in the DOF list to the device that you wired to the corresponding expansion board port
The port list in the Port Assignments page uses the same port numbering (Port 1, Port 2, etc) that's shown in the Pinscape Config Tool output port list. This isn't a physical pin number from any of the headers. It's the abstract port number from the output port assignment list.
To figure out what DOF's "Port 1" or "Port 2" means in terms of the physical expansion board pins, you have to look at the output port list in the Pinscape Config Tool's Settings page. In the output list, find the same port number shown in DOF - if you're looking for DOF's "Port 1", you want the first row, #1, in the Pinscape output list. Trace across the row to find which physical pin that port is assigned to. If you want to see a picture of where that pin is physically located, click the pin name in the row - that will pop up the pin selector, which will show the pin location highlighted on a picture of the appropriate expansion board.

Is it a "Pinscape device" or "KL25Z device" or both?

The online DOF Config Tool has a confusing bit of terminology in the device setup section on the "My Account" page. In the list of devices, you'll find separate entries for "Number of Pinscape devices" and "Number of KL25Z devices".

For Pinscape boards, use only the Pinscape devices option. Always leave "Number of KL25Z devices" set to zero (0). This applies whether you're using the expansion boards or a standalone KL25Z.

This is confusing because the Pinscape software does happen to run physically on a KL25Z board, so it might seem like you should enter the same number for both line items. Don't. Pretend that you've never heard of a KL25Z and that you have zero of them.

The Config Tool has the "KL25Z devices" line item for historical reasons that date back to the first version of the Pinscape software, when it was limited to 32 output ports. It should more properly be titled "Number of Pinscape v1 devices", because that's what it really means. In any case, just ignore it and leave it set to zero.