Features for DMD owners that aren't officially supported
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README.md

DMD Extensions

Features for DMD owners* that aren't officially supported

Real DMDs for virtual pinball cabinets are pretty cool but they need to be supported by the software running the games. This is an attempt to fill some gaps.

* And even if you don't have a real DMD, there's awesome stuff too!

Supported Displays

Currently supported displays:

  • PinDMD v3, full RGB support
  • PinDMD v2, 4 bit (16 shades) support
  • PinDMD v1, 2 bit (4 shades) support
  • PIN2DMD, full RGB support
  • Virtual DMD on a computer monitor, renders nice dots and is useful for debugging.
  • Alphanumeric Virtual, a high-resolution virtual segmented display for pre-DMD area games.
  • You can also stream the DMD to a browser in your LAN, because, why not!

Features

The primary goal of this project was to add support for real DMDs for games that don't provide support out of the box. Supported games are:

  • Pinball FX2/3 through frame grabbing from screen
  • Farsight's The Pinball Arcade through grabbing the DMD texture from memory
  • Pro Pinball Timeshock through their message queue
  • Visual PinMAME through DmdDevice.dll

The command line tool can also display image files on the DMD device and render frames to bitmap files. Many features like this are described in the command line options below, so have a close look at those as well.

Since v1.7, DMD Extensions also support dynamic DMD coloring previously only available for PIN2DMD displays (both side-channel and VNI).

Since v1.8, DMD Exensions supports high-resolution rendering of segmented alpha-numeric displays:

Documentation how to enable and customize this feature can be found here.

Install Instructions

  1. Get the latest release, copy the content of the zip file to your hard drive, preferable in your PATH, and unblock the .exe file (right-click, properties, unblock).
  2. Download and install the Visual C++ Redistributables for Visual Studio 2017.
  3. If you haven't already, download and install the .NET Framework 4.5.2.

If you want to use DMD Extensions with VisualPinMAME:

  1. Copy DmdDevice.dll, DmdDevice.ini and DmdDevice.log.config into your VPM folder (usually at Visual Pinball\VPinMAME).
  2. Run the VPM setup
  3. Click on Test, select the game and click on Game Options.
  4. Enable Use External DMD and optionally disable Show DMD.

You can also set this as the default by selecting Default Options in the VPM setup, however note that games that you've already configured won't be affected.

x64 vs x86

  • For dmdext.exe, take the bitness of your OS. This is important for Pro Pinball, where the bitness of the binary must be the same as dmdext's.
  • For dmddevice.dll you probably want the 32-bit version unless you've set up VPM with Setup64.exe and you know what you're doing.

Test

  1. Open a command prompt ([Windows]+[R], cmd, [enter])
  2. Type dmdext test [enter]

You should see a test image on your DMD as well as on a virtual DMD.

Pinball FX2

  1. Enable cabinet options in Pinball FX2
  2. Resize the DMD to:
    • Width: 1040
    • Height: 272
  3. Move the DMD to somewhere hidden like off-screen or behind the playfield (usually at 0/0).
  4. Open a command prompt ([Windows]+[R], cmd, [enter])
  5. Type dmdext mirror --source=pinballfx2 --no-virtual [enter] (or pinballfx3 for FX3)
  6. Start Pinball FX2/3

For further tweaking, see options below.

Pinball FX3

The DMD from Pinball FX3 is pulled directly from the memory.

  1. Open a command line prompt ([Windows], type cmd, [enter])
  2. Type dmdext mirror --source=pinballfx3 --no-virtual [enter]
  3. Start Pinball FX3 and play a game.

It doesn't matter whether Pinball FX3 is started before or after dmdext, and it works with or without cabinet mode.

Note that while the current memory grabber code should also work for future Pinball FX3 versions, we obviously can't guarantee it. If a new version breaks dmdext, you should still be able to fall back to the legacy screen grabber that is used by Pinball FX2 by using the --fx3-legacy flag.

The Pinball Arcade

For TPA we're pulling frames off the DMD texture from TPA's memory.

  1. Open a command line prompt ([Windows], type cmd, [enter])
  2. Type dmdext mirror --source=pinballarcade --no-virtual [enter]
  3. Start the DX11 version of The Pinball Arcade.
  4. Select and start a game (only then it starts mirroring, during attract mode it doesn't, even though TPA does display the DMD).

Currently re-running dmdext while TPA is running doesn't work and will be addressed soon.

Also note that currently only 128x32 DMD games are supported, that means no EM games neither Frankenstein which has a different resolution.

If you happen switch tables often and the last DMD frame gets stuck on your DMD when changing to an EM game, you can use the --idle-after option to clear the screen.

Pro Pinball Ultra

In version 1.2.1, Barnstorm Games added support for external hardware through a message queue. To get it running, do the following:

  1. Make sure you have dmdext.exe in your PATH
  2. Copy ProPinballSlave.bat to the Pro Pinball installation folder (usually at %PROGRAMFILES(X86)%\Steam\SteamLibrary\steamapps\common\Pro Pinball Ultra)
  3. Add the following command line parameters when launching ProPinball.exe: m3 dProPinballSlave

Note that this currently works only with the 64-bit version of Pro Pinball. 32 bit binaries will be provided with a later release. If you want to change the options (e.g. show the virtual DMD), edit ProPinballSlave.bat and adopt accordingly.

Visual PinMAME

VPM introduced the possibility of delegating DMD rendering to an external DLL. The main motivation is being able to ship a single build instead of having to release multiple binaries for multiple DMDs.

If you are a PC monitor user or have a RGB display (PinDMDv3 or PIN2DMD), the advantage of dmdext is that Lucky1's coloring features are fully supported. You can set this up as you would for a PIN2DMD:

  1. Create an altcolor folder where VPM is installed (usually Visual Pinball\VPinMAME)
  2. In that folder, create another one named after the ROM (e.g. simpprty)
  3. Download the .pal and .vni file from your favorite virtual pinball site, put them into that folder and name them pin2dmd.pal and pin2dmd.vni
  4. Run VPM setup, open the ROM's game options and enable Use external DMD (dll) as well as Colorize DMD.

Build Instructions

  1. Download and install Visual Studio 2017
  2. The unmanaged exports library needs MS Build tools, which come with .NET 3.5. Install Instructions
  3. Optional: If you want DmdDevice.dll copied to your VPM folder after build, point the VPM_HOME environment variable to your VPM installation folder.
  4. Clone the repo: git clone https://github.com/freezy/dmd-extensions.git
  5. Open the .sln file in Visual Studio and build the solution.

Configuration

Since DmdDevice.dll is called by VPM, we can't pass any configuration parameters to it. Instead, we use DmdDevice.ini which must be located in the same folder as VPinMAME.dll or at the path where the DMDDEVICE_CONFIG environment variable is pointing to.

Output Configuration

Since v1.8 you can also tell dmdext.exe to read the output configuration from DmdDevice.ini instead of passing them as command line arguments. The options are described below.

The output are described by block below.

Command Line DmdDevice.ini Description
-r, --resize [global]
resize
How to downscale SEGA 192x64 pixel games to smaller displays. Can have three values:
  • stretch - Just fill the available space and ignore the aspect ratio
  • fill - Fill it up so the whole DMD is filled while keeping aspect ratio intact. Pixels will be cropped off.
  • fit - Scale it so the whole image fits on the DMD while keeping aspect ratio intact. There will be white space (uh, more like black space).
--flip-x [global]
fliphorizontally
Flips the image horizontally (left/right)
--flip-y [global]
flipvertically
Flips the image vertically (top/down)
n/a [global]
colorize
Enable or disable frame-by-frame colorization (inactive in VPX bundle)
-d virtual
--no-virtual
[virtualdmd]
enabled
Shows a virtual DMD that renders on the computer screen somewhat nicely
--virtual-stay-on-top [virtualdmd]
stayontop
Virtual DMD stays on top of most other windows
--virtual-hide-grip [virtualdmd]
hidegrip
Hide the resize grip
n/a [virtualdmd]
ignorear
If true, allow free resizing of the virtual DMD, otherwise the aspect ratio is locked to the DMD's.
n/a [virtualdmd]
useregistry
If true, read the virtual DMD position from VPM's registry.
--virtual-position [virtualdmd]
left
top
width
height
Position of the virtual DMD. Command line takes in all four in the shown order, where the last (height) is optional.
--virtual-dotsize [virtualdmd]
dotsize
Scale dot size. Use 0.8 for previous default setting.
-d pindmdv1 [pindmd1]
enabled
Enables the 2-bit pinDMD display.
-d pindmdv2 [pindmd2]
enabled
Enables the 4-bit pinDMD2 display.
-d pindmdv3 [pindmd3]
enabled
Enables the RGB24 pinDMDv3 display.
--port [pindmd3]
port
COM port, e.g. COM3.
-d pin2dmd [pin2dmd]
enabled
Enables the RGB24 PIN2DMD display.
n/a [pin2dmd]
delay
Delay in milliseconds to wait after loading a palette.
n/a [video]
enabled
Enables creating an .avi video from the DMD frames.
n/a [video]
path
Path to folder or .avi file. If a folder is given, it will create a file named after the current game.
n/a [browserstream]
enabled
Enables streaming the DMD in real time to your browser in your LAN.
n/a [browserstream]
port
Port of the web server to listen on
--pinup [pinup]
enable
Enables output to PinUP.

You can also override all options per game by using the game's name as section name and pre-fixing options with the name of the section (apart from [global] options, which aren't prefixed). For example if you have a PinDMD2 and don't want to use it for Baywatch which has a different resolution, you would create a section like this:

[baywatch]
pindmd2 enabled = false
virtualdmd enabled = true
virtualdmd left = 2500
virtualdmd top = 800
virtualdmd width = 1024
virtualdmd height = 256

This is also useful if you just want to fit the virtual DMD onto different backglasses which have slightly different positions.

Also note that dmdext can retrieve the DMD's position from VPM's registry setting. That means you can use VPM to position the DMD and dmdext will take the same setting for each game. This behavior can be enabled using the useregistry option.

Command Line Configuration

Input options only apply to dmdext.exe, because the DLL is called externally from VPM where no configuration is necessary (apart from enabling it in VPM).

The following parameters are valid for all of dmdext's commands:

Parameter Description Default
--use-ini Use output configuration from DmdDevice.ini none
-c, --color Sets the color of a grayscale source that is rendered on an RGB destination. ff3000
-q, --quit-when-done Exit the program when finished, e.g. when Pinball FX2 doesn't receive any frames anymore. false
--quit-after Exit after n milliseconds. If set to -1, waits indefinitely or until source finishes when -q used. -1
--no-clear Don't clear screen when quitting. false
-o, --output-to-file If set, writes all frames as PNG bitmaps to the provided folder.

Note that all options of dmdext.exe are also available via command line:

dmdext --help
dmdext mirror --help
dmdext play --help
dmdext test --help

Mirror

The mirror command has the following additional parameters:

Parameter Description Default
-s, --source Required. The source you want to retrieve DMD data from. One of: [ pinballfx2, pinballfx3, pinballarcade, propinball, screen ]. n/a
-f, --fps How many frames per second should be mirrored. 25
--idle-after Wait for number of milliseconds until clearing the screen. Disable with 0. 0
--idle-play Play this file while idleing instead of blank screen. Supported formats: JPG, PNG, GIF. Animated GIFs are supported. none
--position screen - Position and size of screen grabber source. Four values: <Left> <Top> <Width> <Height>. 0 0 128 32
--resize-to screen - Resize captured screen to this size. Two values: . 128 32
--grid-spacing screen - How much of the white space around the dot should be cut off (grid size is defined by --resize-to). 1 means same size as the dot, 0.5 half size, etc. 0 for disable. 0
--propinball-args propinball - Arguments send from the Pro Pinball master process. Usually something like: ndmd w0_0_0_0_w m392. Will be set automatically when called through Pro Pinball.
--fx3-legacy pinballfx3 - If set, don't use the memory grabber but the legacy screen grabber, like Pinball FX2. false

Play

The play command has the following additional parameters:

Parameter Description Default
-f, --file Path to the file to play. Currently supported file types: PNG, JPG, BIN (raw). none

Compatibility

This application is based on .NET 4.5, which only runs on Windows 7 or later. Probably on Vista too, but who cares. If you're still running WinXP then you have my sincerest sympathy, but that's as far as I go. ;)

Troubleshooting

Flickering with PinDMDv3

Some users reported heavy flickering when running via PinballX. Seems that this is linked to the desktop settings. This seems to help:

  • Go to My Computer
  • Click on Performance Information and Tools on the bottom left
  • Click on Adjust Visual Effects at the top left.
  • When the Performance Window pops up, click on Adjust for Best Appearance. All the boxes should automatically get check marked.
  • Click on Apply, and then OK to get out.

Thanks to xman72!

Still flickering?

Try boosting how fast dmdext grabs the frames. For example, for Pinball FX2, try:

dmdext mirror --source=pinballfx2 --no-virtual -q --fps 60

Default is 25, which seems too slow for some games.

Thanks smoke007 for the tip!

DmdDevice.ini Ignored?

This project comes bundled in two versions: A library which is loaded by VPM called DmdDevice.dll, and an executable, dmdext.exe for all the other applications.

The executable ignores DmdDevice.ini because it's configured through command line options.

Slow rendering on certain ROMs with VPM?

Use VPM 3.1. If you can't wait there's a beta build here.

Thanks to djrobx for the fix an all others at #52 for reporting.

Weird positioning or no DMD visible at all?

When you override High DPI scaling in the host app (e.g. vpinballx.exe), dmdext is put into a different coordinate system, so your DmdDevice.ini's position settings are applied differently. This can lead to wrong positioning or complete off-screen rendering.

Thanks to outhere for the tip!

Reporting Bugs

Make sure you include the application log. You can usually find it at the same place you copied your DmdDevice.dll or dmdext.exe. However, there are two premises for the log to be created:

  1. You need a log config file. If there's no log config file, no log is created. The log config file is called DmdDevice.log.config for DmdDevice.dll and dmdext.log.config for dmdext.exe. They must be at the same place as the DLL and EXE respectively.

  2. The user running the host app must have write permissions to the log folder. Per default that's the current directory. If you have copied the DLL to the Windows\SysWOW64 folder, you don't have write access. In this case you need to write the log elsewhere. You can do that by editing the log config file. The format of the log file is XML. To change the log file location, find this line:

    <target xsi:type="File" name="file" fileName="DmdDevice.log"
    

    And change the fileName attribute to somewhere you can write, for example:

    <target xsi:type="File" name="file" fileName="C:\Users\youruser\DmdDevice.log"
    

For problems with DmdDevice.dll, specially with coloring, set the log level to Trace and reproduce the problem. You can do that by editing DmdDevice.log.config and changing:

<logger name="*" minlevel="Info" writeTo="file" />

to

<logger name="*" minlevel="Trace" writeTo="file" />

If you have a crash, please also include which OS/bitness you're using. If it's about the DLL, let us know where you copied the DLL and which host application you're using (VPM's setup.exe orvpinball.exe, also which version).

You can post bugs at VPF or VPU, but preferably here.

Credits

  • NoEx for the excellent TPA grabber code, as well as the Pinball FX3 memory grabber.
  • Tom Speirs, Lucky1, CarnyPriest and Russdx for their help on the DMD code
  • Lucky1 for instructions and details about the coloring feature
  • DJRobX for helping with the dynamic coloring, better performance and much more.
  • mjrgh for debugging and optimizing stuff.
  • Adrian Page from Barnstorm for his help setting up the slave correctly.

IntelliJ Resharper

Finally, thanks to JetBrains for their awesome tools and support of the Open Source Community!

License

GPLv2, see LICENSE.