A common failure for Neo Geo arcade cabinets is the EL panels that light up corresponding to the selected game. There are a few options out there to replace the panels . If you want the top of the line solution, there are things like a LED replacement kit http://www.neogeoledmarquee.info/, or custom panels made to spec for the Neo Geo https://www.surelight.com/product/neo-geo-mvs-marquee-el-panels. Whilst these are very good options, they are also very expensive. If the absolute best quality is your thing, look no further. However I decided to go for something a bit cheaper that would do the job. Fortunately there are panels available on eBay that do the job fine, but require a little mucking about.
The search term “A6 EL Panel 12v” will get plenty of results. The best colour is white. Now be aware the price of these is going up steadily. When I first saw them 6 months prior to ordering them, it was easy to get them for $10 AUD shipped. By the time I ordered them in August 2020 the best I could find was approx $15 AUD shipped for white panels. I don’t know if they will ever come back down in price, but it does pay to shop around.
Typically the panels from eBay come with an actuator. These are not needed when used in the Neo Geo providing you have the original EL panel components intact.
Accessing the panels on most Neo Geo cabinets should be easy, just removing screws from the bracket holding the marquee in place. After removing the marquee which holds the game instruction panels, you will see the EL panel boards. These may have some double sided adhesive holding them in place, so you may need to apply some firm but gentle force to slowly prise them out. There are cables on each of the panels to unplug. On the 4 slot, the left hand panel has one cable connected to the cabinet, with a second cable which connects to the right hand panel.
After removing the panels, the solder tabs will need to be lifted. Apply some heat with a soldering iron, and gently lift the pins up. The EL panels will be attached with some double sided adhesive. These need to be gently prised off. If you are careful you can probably using the same adhesive strips for the new EL panels as they remain tacky.
Panel now removed.
Remove the remaining EL panels in the same way. Be sure to determine which trace pads are ground, and which carry the voltage. I did this by simply measuring for continuity across the pads with a multimeter. The connected pins were both ground, whilst the voltage pins are not connected to one another. The EL panels are slight larger then the originals. That is ok, although I did slice off some of the clear plastic for a better fit.
The panels I received had 2 black wires, one of which had white marking on them. The black wire with white markings was for the voltage connection, the other plain black one for ground.
Notice on the picture below I have one new panel connected up with a short cable run, and the other with a much larger run. I needed to do this as the mini marquee holder has some spacers attached to it. These can’t go over the top of the heat shrink tube where the wires come out of the new panels. Also I needed to position the long cable run to be just over the top of the spacer.
Repeated the same process for the other panel, again positioning each panel connector to not be impacted by the spacer blocks on the mini marquee holder.
Now putting all back together, lets see the results!
These panels work very well and I am happy with the results, they really make the mini marquees pop!