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Author Topic: Pinball project - looking for collaborators  (Read 8412 times)

digitalman2112

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Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« on: February 27, 2013, 12:10:30 PM »


First the backstory:
A bunch of things came together in Jan 2013
  • It had been far too long since I'd made something. My breadboards still had projects on them from March 2012.  :( 
  • I wanted to learn Raspberry Pi GPIO and build some nature of Raspberry Pi project.
  • I'd purchased a pinball machine, and was learning all about them, how they work, how to repair them, etc.
  • Someone local listed a playfield (painted wood pinball surface) with all the components (lights, wiring, solenoids) on eBay - it was cheap, and one of my favorite pieces of pinball artwork. I lost the auction, but then the winner never paid - SCORE :) I bought it - it was very dirty, lots of surface rust but it was $135, which was far less than the cost of the parts. I'd intended to clean it, make the lights work, then hang it on the wall...but then I found the schematics online, tested most of the solenoids, and realized I could control this thing pretty easy.
  • My (almost) 13 year old declared he wants to become a game programmer - so I offer - "how about I make this thing work, then you write the scoring rules, create the sounds, etc..." - he loved the idea, and the project grew...
Now the project:
  • The intent is to build a pinball machine to use at FamiLAB / Maker Faire / YoungMaker / Pinball, etc. events to pull people into a conversation about the things I love - and to show how you can build cool things with Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Soldering, CNC, 3D Printers, etc. I want to use a little bit of everything in order to have a great real world example of how you can use the skills we learn together / teach each other...
  • We are rebuilding a 1976 Fireball Home edition. The Home editions were full-sized pinball machines sold at sears, etc. - but were simplified (less playfield object, lights, etc.)
  • Here's the cool part - the Home editions were an experiment - the pinball manufacturers wanted to see if they could make reliable solid state machines (to that point, pinball machines used crazy electromechanical relay logic and mechanical sounds (chimes / bells). The full wiring diagrams and schematics are freely available online (someone forgot to put a copyright notice in them...)
  • I DID NOT get the original power supply, the power supply (rectifier) board, the scoring display, the MCU (electronics), the cabinet, etc. - which means I need to solve for all these components...
Current State:

  • It is playable - with crude bonus updates, and the bumpers / slingshots working. This was a HUGE milestone.
  • I have a fully working prototype of the lamp matrix / switch matrix / solenoid control. Some of it is still on the breadboard, but another few hours sometime soon will get that onto protoboard.
  • I am using an Arduino to do the lamp / switch matrix scanning (no sense eating RPi CPU for this scanning)
  • I am using an Arduino to trigger the solenoids. I need to ENSURE that a solenoid is not left on (made this mistake, smoke ensued...) so this microcontroller is more watchdog than anything - although it also lets me do precise pulse timing without eating RPi CPU.
  • I have a demo of the Raspberry Pi using Pygame (thanks tetsu for the suggestion!) to display the backboard glass image and simple scoring
  • I have a Raspberry Pi protoboard setup using I2C - still need to write a protocol for the RPi to arduino comm for lamps / switches / solenoids. I was originally planning to control it all directly from RPi using MCP23017s, but after the solenoid meltdown, I decided that microcontrollers are cheaper than solenoids, and better to have some safeguards.
  • VIDEO: Fireball Home Edition - Integration Test

Invite for collaboration:
  • I need someone to make a killer cabinet. My wood skills SUCK and I want to focus on the electronics / code with my son. I don't want a traditional pinball cabinet. I want something that is obviously a pinball machine from a distance, yet is strikingly different enough that it grabs attention. I'd also like it to be much lighter and easier to move than a traditional pinball cabinet. I'd like it to be made of cabinet grade plywood (birch?) cut on the CNC. I'd like skeletonized sides with lexan so that people can see inside the cabinet (apply PC case modding skills here). I'd like to somehow have the case slimmer than a traditional cab - yet use standard pinball legs. The head (top part of a pinball machine) will hold an LCD, some speakers, etc. and needs to be easily removable for transport. This will require some design skills / engineering, and some CNC work. I'm  really, really, really hoping someone would help me make this happen. PLEASE HELP :)
  • Circuit design review - I'd like someone to review my circuits to tell me if I'm missing something obvious. I'm controlling big loads (24v @ 5A) and everything seems ok so far, but it would be cool to have someone with a strong background take a look and make suggestions before I move to PCB. I also suspect there may be ICs that would simplify my design and I'd like to consider them...
  • PCB design - I've offered to help John Soucy with his eagle class slides so that I can learn Eagle enough to take my protoboards and move to real PCBs. I'd still display the old boards to show the progression from breadboard to protoboard to PCB. Displaying the learning process is a big part. If someone that knows eagle wants to push this along, I'd welcome the collaboration.
  • Artwork / Animation - this pinball is comic inspired. To really make this thing awesome, I need a backstory for the main character and additional artwork that matches the existing artwork. We will have a big LCD instead of backglass which means we can do animations for certain scoring sequences / jackpots, etc. My son and I will start with a static image and overlay scoring, but if we could connect with someone for custom comic-style artwork, then this thing goes next-level very quickly.

tl;dr - taking a 1976 pinball machine and controlling it with arduino / raspberry pi, using a big LCD hooked to the RPi instead of a backglass - need ASAP help building a cool cabinet for it. Will use at FamiLAB and other events to draw people in and then show off what we can do...

tetsuharu

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2013, 01:10:23 PM »
w00t for another game dev at the lab!

Simply7

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2013, 06:16:09 PM »
Strikingly different yet recognizable as a pinball machine.  Toss out the normal and go with an opposable player vortex pinball machine.  Two players defending their half of the inner circle (ball return) while using flippers on the upper rim to try and score points off their competitor by getting past their flippers. Targets around  the playing field genrate a bonus to be allocated to the scoring player.
You could also rig the flippers with a sensor to determine who makes a particular 'score' off one of the target bumpers.


I used to work on arcade games and loved the pinballs in particular.   I'll help!!

Hybridsix

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2013, 08:28:05 PM »
Ian, This is AWESOME. Keep up the great work. Perhaps we'll have to do a few collaboration sessions. I can lend CAD skills, if that would be of any use.

digitalman2112

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2013, 12:50:26 AM »
Strikingly different yet recognizable as a pinball machine. 

Well, when you put it _that_ way. :P

What I mean is...from 20 feet away, the general public says "Hey Pinball Machine" - whereas if at a pinball event with 100 other machines, the pinball enthusiast says - "Whoa, what is that thing, I have to go check it out"

As for the other idea - for NOW, I'm not building a fully custom machine. I'm taking an existing playfield and wrapping it with new gear to show how you can take something old & not collectible, and make it awesome. In the distant future, I might be up for designing on from scratch....

digitalman2112

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 12:52:51 AM »
Ian, This is AWESOME. Keep up the great work. Perhaps we'll have to do a few collaboration sessions. I can lend CAD skills, if that would be of any use.

I'm glad you like it. :)

I'm most in need of someone to help me design the cabinet, so if you are interested in working on CAD for the cabinet, let me know. There are existing pinball cabinet designs out there that can be used as a starting point. I really need it optimized for portability just to get it to and from events...

digitalman2112

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 08:58:59 PM »
Some standard cabinet plans I found online are attached.


Someone suggested going with a full acrylic base to show off the components - anyone have recommendations on a local company that can supply /  CNC acrylic thick enough for this?

P47

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2013, 09:36:23 PM »
A full acrylic base might get real pricey for the thickness and size needed. What if you designed lots areas where there could be acrylic recessed into the wood. Just cnc a pocket and a ridge into the wood and then cnc the acrylic to fit. You'd still maintain the rigidity of wood plus being able to see though it, and all the cool lights, electronics and mechanics inside.


On another note. I welded my first urethane belt for my engraving machine. New 14.5" belts were $35 and I bought 10 feet of cool looking 1/8" orange urethane belt for $4.00. I then made a jig and a tip for my soldering station and welded it. It's like or better than oem and you can't even see the joint. I thought this stuff might be great to make bumpers for pinball machines... if they are round. The urethane belt comes in many sizes and cool colors.

digitalman2112

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2013, 09:38:10 PM »
A full acrylic base might get real pricey for the thickness and size needed. What if you designed lots areas where there could be acrylic recessed into the wood. Just cnc a pocket and a ridge into the wood and then cnc the acrylic to fit. You'd still maintain the rigidity of wood plus being able to see though it, and all the cool lights, electronics and mechanics inside.

That was "plan a" - just wondering what full acrylic would cost. I think you are right - too damn much :)

digitalman2112

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2013, 11:46:14 PM »
To kill some travel boredom, I started searching more cities on craigslist...and found another Fireball Home Edition pinball...in a cabinet. It was in Sarasota - the guy met me halfway... I now have 2 full playfields, and the rest of an original system...and I haven't spent much at all...





Drew and I gave it a quick heart transplant, and my existing project playfield is now installed in the cabinet.


The head (top part that holds the backglass and electronics) needs to be repaired, so it is off for now while I finish the electronics.


It feels like working on a pinball machine now :)






My favorite part of the original equipment - you have to see the speaker system on this thing...





Yep an 8ohm 0.3w 3" driver that is playing into a plastic "horn"... Wow. I wish the existing micro worked well enough so that I could have heard it in all its glory...
« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 11:49:11 PM by digitalman2112 »

digitalman2112

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2013, 11:52:56 PM »

I also modded the protoshield tonight to add female header for the i2c and interrupt pin run between the arduinos and the pi...




It was exciting to see all the i2c devices on the bus...even without any external pullups (and I'm using a 6ft piece of cat5 between the devices.... I'll use the new scope to pick the right pullups - but for now, it is working :)





Next step is to get my pygame tests moved over to the pi, and then to start doing some testing with the interrupt read, i2c switch read, i2c lamp and solenoid control...


We might have sound very soon :)

cote

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2013, 08:28:07 AM »
A full acrylic base might get real pricey for the thickness and size needed. What if you designed lots areas where there could be acrylic recessed into the wood. Just cnc a pocket and a ridge into the wood and then cnc the acrylic to fit. You'd still maintain the rigidity of wood plus being able to see though it, and all the cool lights, electronics and mechanics inside.

That was "plan a" - just wondering what full acrylic would cost. I think you are right - too damn much :)


Another approach would be to cast the parts in clear urethane resin.  Since you've got the makings for 2 machines, this may be a more cost effective way to produce them.  Especially in the amount of  labor.

digitalman2112

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2013, 11:33:30 PM »

digitalman2112

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2013, 08:16:02 AM »
Added some example background music...


http://youtu.be/PNN65eeIMmk

Hybridsix

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Re: Pinball project - looking for collaborators
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2013, 01:33:46 PM »
Ian, this is absolutely amazing. Keep up the awesome work. :)