Custom flickering candle mod for the Medieval Madness castle tower!

This page is an attempt at showing people out there how I did the Flickering Castle Mod on my Medieval Madness castle tower. This mod is not simple, and I don' t recommend this to anyone not adept at electronics, soldering and plain old fabricating.
I really wanted my Medieval Madness tower to take on a more realistic look. In the old times, I figured candles were the course for the day when it came to lighting. Therefore, I wanted to figure out a way to simulate the look of candle flicker in the castle tower.

The Tea Light Candle is a new product that just came out. It is touted as an LED that has the look of a candle's flicker, but without the heat. Just what I needed!! I bought 5 of these off Ebay and began tearing them apart to see how I could modify them for my needs. Please see the picture below to see an example of what I purchased.


In looking at the candle, the top just pulls off revealing the LED (see picture below). We are getting somewhere now. But, I want to see the guts of this thing! How does it flicker??
The bottom pops off to reveal a 3v watch battery. Parts shown below.
When the bottom of the candle was pried apart, a tiny circuit board was revealed. Unfortunately it was hidden under a black blob of plastic. As you can see below, it also revealed a current-limiting resistor.
As seen below, the LED pops out of the top and the entire assembly comes free from the upper housing.
I removed one end of the 47ohm resistor which connected to the switch. I will be taking this switch out of the circuit.
The 47ohm resistor is not going to be enough to handle the 5v we are going to be putting through it. In tests using 5v, the resistor got very hot. Typically this circuit only works on 3v from a watch battery. I was going to be using 5v off the driver board. A bigger resistor was going to be needed to better handle the current. I clipped the resistor out as illustrated below.
I soldered in a 100ohm resistor. I also used a resistor that was a half-watt version instead of a quarter-watt. This will dissipate heat. In tests, this value was able to provide a bright enough LED and did not get hot during operation.
I needed to get the circuit out of the housing. There was a metal tab that fed through the plastic and that needed to be trimmed to enable me to remove it.
Below is a picture of the circuit board removed. The higher value resistor and LED are now connected directly to the circuit board by-passing the switch.
I used high-intensity amber LED's that I purchased from Ebay. A good source of LEDs is I ground down the tip flat to allow the light to be dispersed outward instead of having a narrow beam of light straight up like most LEDs have. The picture below illustrates the grinding of the LED.
Below, I have a picture showing how I cut the leads off of a capacitor and soldered them onto the leads of the LED to give them more length. I want them to be able to be bent upward to better reach the windows I cut out in the tower.
Since I was going to have to stick the LED's into the castle tower, I needed power to attach from the back side. Therefore, I took the tab that I cut off earlier, and soldered it to the back and basically, brought the power connection around to the back. Please see picture below for an idea of what I did.
I simply wired the two LED's in parallel and soldered them to the positive and negative leads on the circuit board, (as seen below). I just followed where the wires originally connected to the circuit to determine where to connect the LEDs.
It was a little tough ensuring that I didn't have any shorts. As you can see if you click on the picture below, the connection closest to you is very close to the connection that goes to the resistor. I had to use an exacto knife to ensure there were no tiny solder fibers still shorting between the two connection.
I soldered a wire onto the back metal connection for the negative side of the circuit. I marked on the back where the positive connection was on the resistor, with a sharpie.
Below are a few pictures showing close-ups as I soldered the wire onto the positive connection. I used wire that I stripped from a hard drive computer cable.
Below is a picture with the hard drive cable wires connected to the positive and negative connections on the circuit board.
Shown below are a couple of pictures showing where I tapped off of a PC power supply for 5v to test the circuit after all that modifying. I also show a photo I took when I did a quick test on the bench by just setting the LEDs inside the hole in the bottom of the tower.
Once the circuit was done, I drilled a hole in the back of the tower and fed the long LEDs into the hole. I had to manipulate them a fair amount to ensure they were pointing towards the windows and not shorting. In looking back, I would suggest using heatshrink tubing to insulate the leads. It is a heck of a lot less trouble. Once installed, I used the trusty hot-glue gun to cement it in place. Please refer to picture below.
Here is a wider shot showing the circuit installed. Notice that I labeled the wires so that I would know which was 5v and which was ground when I went to make connectors. I wanted this mod to look good and be easily removed if needed. Therefore, connectors were a must.
Here is a shot from the bottom hole in the tower. This is the hole that has the support rod going through it and a screw at the top that secures the castle to the playfield. As you can see, it was a tad tricky to place the LEDs in a position that wouldn't short them out. Again, I really should have used heatshrink tubing. Duh!
In looking at the schematics, I found that on the driver board, there was a connector that sourced 5v and was not used! Whoo Hoo!! This is the header that I will make a nice connector for and not have to do any nasty soldering or alligator clipping to the test points!
Below is a picture of the .156 connector that I created for the connection to the driver board for 5v power. I wrote on the side which colors were 5v and GND since they were non-standard colors that I removed from of a Bride of Pinbot wire harness.
Below is a picture of the female connector that I made that connects to the castle wiring itself. I have a female .156 connector coming off of the wiring on the tower and that will join up with the wiring coming from the driver board.
Below we see the other end of the cable I built to connect onto the driver board for 5v and GND. As a review, I have a female .156 connector going to the driver board and on the other end, a .156 male connector. This connector attaches to the .156 female connector coming off of the tower wiring. Very neat and clean and easily disconnected. You may notice that I hot-glued the wiring to the connectors just to give some strain-relief.
As I mentioned above, I put a .156 female connector on the wiring coming from the tower to connect to the male connector coming from the driver board. I ALSO put .156 female connectors on the skulls and those connectors attach to the connector shown below that is attached to one of the G.I. wires under the playfield. Again, quick and easy to dis-connect both the tower supply and the skull's supply if needed with these connectors.
The wires were easily fed through a convenient hole in the playfield. I'll include a wide-angle shot and then a close-up.
I am creating this and a couple other "how-to" pages a fair amount of time AFTER I did the mods and took the pictures. Therefore, I may be a little sparse on details. I think the pictures themselves can speak volumes about what I did to create the mods. I took a lot of pics and made a lot of them close-ups to really show detail in "macro-mode." Hopefully you found this helpful and perhaps you will attempt your own mods.

It's amazing how much enjoyment and satisfaction you get after all your work, fabrication, tweaking, and cussing comes together to create a working mod that really adds to the game.

Check on the main Medieval Madness page for instructions on how I did the catapults LED mod, the lighting of the castle skull eyes and other tidbits.


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