The FAST I/O boards create a network of inputs and outputs for your pinball playfield and cabinet. They connect to your FAST Controller in a loop using standard RJ45 cables which deliver the 12 volts and Ground to the power the board and come in three different configurations: 3208 (32 switches, 8 drivers), 1616 (16 switches, 16 drivers) and 0804 (8 switches and 4 drivers). Each FAST I/O board also includes 1 Daughter Board Interface (DBI).
ARMed and Ready
Each FAST I/O board has a dedicated ARM processor. This ARM interprets the switch input received on the board and pulses the drivers based on their configuration, then sends the switch events to the controller. This design provides the most direct triggering of drivers. Each switch can be configured with it’s own specific debounce “on” and debounce “off” time. This allows you to fine-tune the way your game feels with the greatest control.
You have the power. All the power! er… voltages.
The FAST I/O boards do not limit you to a single voltage. Mixing and matching the voltages controlled on a single board reduces the need to buy extra hardware when you need another voltage for something specific. Use 48v for some coils, 12v for a shaker motor, you get the idea.
Expansion? What is the “daughter board” you speak of?
When we set out to design our FAST Pinball hardware there were a few goals we had in mind:
- Make it easy for people to write code for (See FAST Pin Protocol)
- Design it to pass the strict certifications required for commercial pinball machines
- Provide an elegant way for gadgets, toys, sensors and more to be integrated into the FAST system.
Using our “XI” and “XO” commands, game designers can easily integrate servo motors, stepper motors or even create their own daughterboard devices. We are making the specifications for FAST DBI Devices an open spec that anyone can use to make cool devices for their pinball machines. This is a great way for people to use the FAST system for the solid foundation to build their game on without giving up the desire to tinker!
The FAST DBI is not just for cool devices like servo motors. We have created a couple switch DBI’s for when you want to add more switches at an affordable price. Using our Switch 16 DBI (16 direct input switches) or our Switch 64 (64 matrixed switches) you can expand the inputs used on your playfield at an affordable price. Nice.
Where did these configurations come from?!
The easiest to answer this question for is the FAST I/O 3208. This board was designed to take care of the “lower third” of your playfield. Flippers, slings, trough and auto launcher, as well as switches needed.
For coil/magnet heavy games, you need more drivers. As we reviewed the games created over the ages, we found the need for a configuration for adding more drivers than switches. That is the origin story of the FAST I/O 1616.
The FAST I/O 0804 is for when you just need a little more for your game. You shouldn’t have to decide between “making a big jump to the next switch/driver board and not use a bunch of switches or drivers” and “cutting a fun feature from your game because it would be too costly” when you could choose instead to make a small step at a smaller expense and make the awesome game you want to!
Some users have chosen to start with a FAST Controller and pile of 0804s for their design phase. Sometimes when you start your game design you have no idea where you are going to end up. You certainly wouldn’t mass produce a pinball machine based solely on 0804s, but having the flexibility to “design as you go” definitely fits the way some of us like to create.
In general, we worked hard to keep the bill of materials (BOM) for our our entire FAST system as small as possible. This provided us the greatest opportunity to keep cost down and scale very well in high volume runs. The increments of 4 and 8 coincide with the parts we use on the boards. The number of switches and drivers was chosen to provide games designers the switch and driver counts their games need with the smallest number of individual devices.