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title: "Lights" versus "LEDs"

"Lights" versus "LEDs" (Some LEDs are lights!)

In MPF 0.33 and earlier not all LEDs had to be configured as LEDs. This changed in 0.50+ where all lights, GIs and matrix_lights were unified as lights. The distinction is now only the subtype in the lights config.

Taking a step back. There are two types of lighting systems in pinball machines: lamp matrices and direct-connected LEDs. All commercial pinball machines from about 1979 through 2012 (give or take) used lamp matrices (typically with 8 rows and 8 columns of lights). Historically these were used with incandescent light bulbs, (#44, #555, etc.).

However, in more recent years various manufacturers have released LED "replacement" bulbs that fit the old-style sockets but that are actually LEDs. If your machine uses a lamp matrix, then you will add your lights (whether they're LEDs or incandescent) as lights with subtype matrix in your machine config. You'll do this even if you have LED bulbs in your lamp matrix.

Alternately, if you have directly-controlled LEDs (i.e. no lamp matrix), whether single color or RGB, then you'll configure them as subtype led in the lights: section of your config.

The following diagram shows the different types. An easy way to tell is if your lights or LEDs have mini bayonet or mini wedge bases, they're Matrix Lights, and everything else is LEDs:


Note that it's possible that you'll have both matrix lights and direct connected LEDs in the same machine. For example, maybe you're writing code for an existing WPC machine and you'll use the existing matrix lights as they are while also adding new direct connected LEDs for some new toys.

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