Dot-Matrix Displays (DMDs)
Often times in pinball machines, dot-matrix displays, or DMDs, are screens dedicated to display the score and special animations during the game. The native resolution of standard pinball machine DMDs is 128X32. In virtual pinball, DMDs are usually displaying an emulated version of an original, physical game's display output or original content for an original virtual pinball table.
Types of DMDs
There are 2 popular forms of hardware used for virtual pinball machine DMDs; Pin2DMD and LCD monitors. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Some virtual pinball enthusiasts even go to the extent of installing both in their Cabinet(s) for this reason.
Pin2DMD is, according to the Pin2DMD Website, "a color LED dotmatrix [DMD] controller for virtual and real pinballs". It is an authentic physical real LED DMD display that can be connected to a computer for use in virtual pinball machines (it may also be used in physical pinballs to replace a broken DMD or upgrade to a colorized display). Unlike original factory DMDs installed in physical pinball machines decades ago, Pin2DMD is fully capable of displaying RGB color.
The advantages of using a real DMD in your virtual pinball machine is that most games from the "orange DMD era" will look more realistic when displaying on hardware very similar to the original machine. These displays are also usually brighter, and when using colorized ROMs, will look more vibrant.
The major disadvantage to using a real DMD in your virtual pinball machine is that you will not have much flexibility in what exactly can be displayed. For example, some newer games that use PinUP Player FullDMDs will not display correctly or at all if not configured to use another display option, such as FlexDMD or UltraDMD.
When you want more flexibility as to what can be displayed on the DMD area of your machine, and also want to future proof it for the many FullDMD tables that are inevitably going to be released as time goes on, an LCD display is your best option for a DMD. It is often as simple as using a laptop display popped into the backbox.
Using an LCD allows you the option to display larger frame score displays, like in games that use PinUP Player FullDMDs. You can also use Freezy DMD Extensions, UltraDMD, and FlexDMD to render DMD/score windows on the display.
It is possible to used colorized DMD files using Freezy DMD Extensions to make the DMD display animations that have been re-animated in color.
- Pin2Dmd website
- Pin2Dmd editor
- MJR's building guide - back box
- Major Frenchy's Virtual Pinball Guide (Dual Screen BackBox) Video