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How to wire your Smart Power Filter Board in a FAST Neuron-controlled pinball machine

Wiring, high voltage, and electricity can be dangerous. Read this first!

The voltages and electricity discussed here can be dangerous and could cause property loss or death. It is your responsibility to ensure you are comfortable doing the things discussed here. Furthermore your local jurisdiction may have regulations or rules which differ from what we discuss here, including wiring colors, standards, techniques, etc. Seek professional guidance from someone local to you if you are unsure of anything you're doing here. Also there could be errors, omissions, or typos here. Use this content at your own risk.

This guide is for FAST Neuron-powered machines only

This wiring guide is for pinball machines powered by a FAST Neuron Controller. If you have a FAST Nano Controller, please see the Nano wiring guide.

The Neuron wiring guides are incomplete works-in-progress

NOVEMBER 2022 UPDATE: We are in the process of creating & updating the wiring guides for FAST Pinball Neuron-based systems. We are publishing our work-in-progress docs to get as much information out as soon as possible. If you have questions or want clarifications, please reach out via email to me (Brian), via brian@fastpinball.com.

This guide continues our step-by-step wiring guide series for Neuron-controlled pinball machines and focuses on the FAST Smart Power Filter Board wiring.

By this point, you should have read our other guides on AC power wiring and power supplies. Now you're ready to wire the DC outputs of your power supplies to the FAST Smart Power Filter Board, and to figure out your power transmission strategy for your machine.

Let's start by looking at the FAST Smart Power Filter board for Neuron-controlled machines. You can refer to the product manual for details, including more explanations of features, full pinouts, schematics, etc. The wiring guide you're reading now is more focused on how to integrate it into your machine versus the specifics of the board.

What does the Smart Power Filter Board do?

The FAST Smart Power Filter Board is the interface between your power supplies and the rest of your machine. It takes the raw DC power output from your power supplies, adds fuses, holds reserve tanks for the 48V (those three large capacitors), and adds remote control and monitoring via an onboard microprocessor with a connection to one of the breakout ports on the Neuron.

Note that this "Smart" Power Filter Board was created specifically for FAST Neuron-controlled pinball machines. If you've wired up a Nano-controlled machine in the past, the old FAST Power Filter Board you used for that project is a different board.

Let's walk through all the connections to this board, one-by-one.

48V Power supply to filter board connection

The first connection we'll look at is the 48-volt input connector (J6) in the upper right corner of the Smart Power Filter Board. This is where you connect the 48V output from your power supply. This is a 7-pin, 0.156" header, so you'll need to get a 7-pin, 0.156" female connector housing and pins to assemble it.

Make a custom cable with the 7-pin female connector on one end for the filter board input and fork spade connectors crimped to the wires on the other end to connect to your power supply DC outputs. You'll have 3 black 18-gauge wires going into the first three pins, then a blank key pin, then 3 blue wires to pins 5-7. (Refer to our guide to pinball wiring standards for details of why we suggest these colors and gauges.)

Speaking of the key position, we highly suggest that you buy the key plugs to stick in the female connector pin location which corresponds to the missing pin on the board's header. Since the key pins are in different locations on each connector, this will help ensure you (or someone else in the future) doesn't plug the wrong connector into the wrong header. (For example, both the 48 volt and 12 volt headers are 7 pins, so those key plugs will prevent future you from making a preventable mistake in the future!)

Do I have to use 3 of each wire?

Yes.

You'll notice the 48-volt power supply output has three terminals for V+ (48 volts, blue wire), and V- (black toxic ground return). You'll also notice the filter board has three header pins for each (TG for toxic ground, and 48 for 48 volts). Having three of each is not an accident, and you must use them all so you end up with three parallel wires of each.

If you're wondering why, read on. (Or just use three of each and skip to the next section.)

Remember from the intro guide to grounding that wires are just really long and bendy resistors, and also that when you have high current demands (like when a flipper flips), that resistance causes the voltage to drop. Those three large capacitors act as a reserve tank to dump their electrons into the circuit to counteract this, but when that happens, the power supply also needs to kick into gear to provide enough power to re-fill those caps. (This is typically when the power supply fan kicks on.) So having three of each wire from the power supply is like having three lanes of traffic instead of one--it simply allows more power to move faster. (In theory you could just have a single extra fat wire, but that requires different connectors and terminals which is why tripling up the wires is the easiest option.)

The other reason we want multiple wires is because the wire gauge and connectors in a FAST Pinball modern machine are rated up to about 7A, but if you have multiple flippers active at the same time, they could (for a very brief time) draw more than 7A. And your power supply is most likely rated for more than 7A at 48V, so if the system is asking for more than 7A, and the PSU can provide it, we need to ensure that more than a single 7A max wire is used.

This is also helpful if there's ever a short, since we want to ensure the fuses on the filter board are the weakest link in the system and will blow, not the wire from the PSU to the board!

12V Power supply to filter board connection

Once your 48-volt power input is connected, the next step is to connect the 12-volt power supply to its header. This is pretty much like the 48-volt supply except there's only two of each wire instead of three. (This also conveniently matches the number of screw terminals on the 12V supply.)

The reason there are only two wires for the 12V supply is something we touched on earlier, mainly that the 12V system in a pinball machine is not as "spike-y" as the 48V. The 12V system doesn't have the same coil and magnet load, and the demand is much smoother in general. (This is why there are no huge reserve capicitors for the 12V system, they are just not needed because the PSU is never taxed in that way.)

That said, you still need to run two of each wire for the same safety reasons discussed with the 48V system. There's a good chance that your 12V power supply will be rated above the 7A max of the 0.156" headers on the filter board, so if demand ever exceeds 7A, we want to ensure a safe path to deliver that much current from the power supply.

Host PC power

You might notice that the label on the board for the 12V input header is technically written as 12V/CPU INPUT. In this case, "CPU" is shorthand for your Host PC (the computer running the Mission Pinball Framework, or other game software). So this header on the filter board is used for both the 12V power input as well as the power input for your host PC. The host PC has its own pins (pins 1 and 2, G and CPU) in order to provide the flexibility to use a host PC that runs on something other than 12V. (But 12V is fine too of course.)

(Fusing the host PC is something that is often overlooked, but just as important as any other component inside your machine. You need to ensure that everything is fused appropriately.)

If you select a host PC that runs on 12V (which is the most common, and what many small form factor PCs like the Intel Nuc use), than that's great, because then you can use your existing 12V power supply. In that case, just run a second 12V and ground line from your 12V supply to the "CPU" pins of J5. (It's ok to double up those spade connectors on the screw terminals.)

Note that the CPU POWER output header (J4) on the power filter board will output whatever power comes in via the two input pins on J5, so even if you have a 12V host PC, you need to run those lines into those pins too.

If you are wondering if you really need to double up your connectors and have three sets of 12V wires (1 set to the CPU pins and 2 sets to the general 12V pins), the answer is yes, you really need all three.

What if your host PC is not 12 volts?

No problem!

The FAST Smart Power Filter Board is designed so that any DC voltage from about 9-30VDC can be used for your host PC power. So if you have, for example, a 19-volt host PC, you can put the 19V PSU in your machine too and run its outputs to pins 1 and 2 of J5 on your filter board, like this:

In this case, the CPU POWER output header (J4) on the filter board will be 19V, and the CPU fuse (F3) will be 19V and used to protect that line.

If you do this, we suggest a 19V+ wire in some color other than blue or yellow. (There is no standard for this, maybe pick orange or brown, or some other color that you won't confuse in the future.)

Earth ground connection

coming soon . . .

This is as far as we've gotten with the Neuron wiring documentation so far. (As of Nov 29) Check back soon for more!

12V Power distribution to your backbox, topper, etc.

Playfield power distribution

Smart features to Neuron

Remote Enable & Status

Documentation Feedback? Requests? Confused?

Hi! I'm Brian, and I'm responsible for the documentation at FAST Pinball. If you have any feedback, requests, corrections, ideas, or any other thoughts about this documentation, please let me know! You can email me at brian@fastpinball.com. Thanks!

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