The first thing I discovered after powering it on, unfortunately, is that the LEDs used by the Rottendog board are standard, highly-focused directional LEDs, rather than wide-angle LEDs or "inverted cone" LEDs (which diffuse light in a full 360 degrees)
The fact that these are focused LEDs means that while the LEDs can be blinding when looked into directly, from the side of the LED very little light is actually emitted. The LEDs are installed at a 90° angle, so that the vast majority of the light is aimed away from the front of the clock (where you want it).
Unfortunately, because of this focused light you can't just aim the LEDs towards the front: you'll get four very bright dots on the clock face, and not much else. I expected this problem after seeing the board, and used some fine-grain sandpaper to rough up the surface of the LEDs a bit, which helped a small bit with diffusing the light. Unfortunately, I still felt the light was too dim on the clock face.
Where there's a problem, there's a solution, and I found it in some 10mm ultra bright white LEDs from Quickar Electronics — at 16,000 mcd, they were plenty bright, and with a 180 degree viewing angle, the light would be properly diffused throughout the clock casing and face.
It took a little while to unsolder the old LEDs and install the new 10mm ones, especially since the leads on the new LEDs were thicker than the holes on the PCB (a problem that was rectified by a Dremel tool and a little patience!)
The results? Better than I could have hoped for: the new 10mm LEDs lit up the clock face with a nice, even white light. It was exactly what I was hoping for, and I definitely recommend this "mod of a mod" upgrade.
One other thing to note about the LEDs is that their "white" light is actually a colder looking bluish white, while the standard lamps give off a "yellowish" white light. This does make the clock stand out a bit on the playfield, although since the gumball lighting kit I installed also gives off the same bluish white light, the two toys seem better matched now on the playfield. I'm even planning on replacing the bulbs in the street light over the Power upper playfield with white LED bulbs to further color-match the various playfield locations.
In the end, with the Rottendog Amusements clock board I feel I got a very reasonable bargain ($79.95 + $8.75 shipping), but I do feel the LED choice needs to be improved.
One purchase I made before I even had the pinball in my possession was a backboard decal from PinBotz. I've seen their work before (see review), and I knew that the decal would add a nice splash of color and detail to an otherwise blank backboard.
The decal was fairly easy to install (at least, it was easier than my goofed-up AFM decal install, when I installed it upside down!). I unscrewed the backboard, removed it from the machine, installed the decal, and re-attached the backboard. The style of the artwork really complements the pin.
The backboard decal sells for $19.95 plus shipping.
Another "immediate buy" when I knew I was getting a new pinball machine was a set of pinball plastic protectors from Orbit Pinball. After seeing how fantastic the Attack From Mars protectors I purchased from Orbit looked (see review), I knew I had to have a set of Orbit protectors for the Twilight Zone.
The Twilight Zone set of protectors includes five plastics: both slingshots, the slot machine, rocket ship kickout, and right targets (near the player piano). The protectors are laser-cut polycarbonate, designed to extend past the exposed edges of the plastics to protect them from those nasty airballs.
At $30 + shipping, this is great insurance against future damage, and it even looks stylish. Frank Gant's protectors are another mod that, to me, looks like they should have been included standard from the factory.
The Pinball Pro diverter magnet is another mod born of player frustration, this time of balls bouncing back out of the diverter after a well-placed shot up the right ramp.
The solution? A small magnet attached to the back of the diverter, which provides just enough "grab" to keep a ball in place until the diverter can dump it back onto the playfield (well, the ceramic powerball isn't affected, but the other 5 metal pinballs are!)
The diverter works like a charm, and installation was ridiculously simple: you simply peel and stick the magnet in place. At $5 with free shipping, this mod is a no-brainer and really does improve gameplay.
Another gameplay annoyance is a ball that pops out of the rocketship kickout area before getting launched across the playfield: Not only do you miss an easy way to add another Hitchhiker to your score, but the ball has a nasty habit of bumping against the top of the right slingshot and bouncing straight down the middle, right between your flippers.
Players have tried various fixes, and I found a simple one — adding a second minipost behind the upper right flipper slows the ball down so that it always lands in the kickout.
The only problem was finding the right kind of minipost: you need to swap out a playfield screw for the post, so you need a minipost with wood threads. With a little searching, I found a minipost with wood threads at Marco Specialties.
Installation took seconds: unscrew the old hex-head screw, screw in the post, and put on a minipost ring. I'd recommend that you use a 23/64" minipost rubber instead of the more typical 27/64" rubber, as there's just enough room with the 23/64" rubber for the ball to roll past the post.
At $2.50 + $.25 for a rubber ring, this is another cheap mod that really does remove an annoying gameplay glitch.