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In Progress Mishmash self build - let’s make a pinball machine

AlanJ

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I must be fricking mad.
I bought this fully populated playfield a couple of years ago. It was going to be a wall art led project, but it’s fully populated, so it’s almost a pinball machine, right? It needs to be saved and turned back into a fully working game again, right?
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It’s absolutely filthy (it arrived to me like that).
It came from @BrianSoton if I remember correctly.

So first job is it needs a cab. I’ve found one courtesy of @MartinY - which is getting picked up by Martin (retro logistics) on Monday, so should arrive to me later in week I hope.

So I got a pf and a cab. I’ve got legs and a shooter rod. What else? Well, this is where it’s going to get interesting……

The real jist of this project is for me to tread in the footsteps of all those amazing people who have designed and built pinball machines. I want to have a go at building the rest of the machine from scratch, using my own ideas and designs, using std off the shelf electronics, parts, boards, etc. I want to pick a mpu processor and do all the programming myself.
Like I started off saying. I must be mad……😂

So i’m going to need:
power supplies
cpu/mpu
light controller
Switch input reader
solenoid drivers
score display
software
+loads of other stuff i haven’t even thought of

Why?
1. Just for the hell of it. So I can (almost say), hey i designed and built a pinball machine.
2. So I experience first hand (some of) the challenges and issues that pinball nanufacturers have.
3. To bring back to life a playfield into a fully working machine, hits my recycle/reuse ethos very nicely.


Ok so yes I know I have cut a huge corner by using an existing pf, but it’s beyond me at present to aim to create a whole new machine from scratch. Maybe later, if this one works out.

I’m also intrigued about time and cost.

The pf is clearly below real cost. I think I paid £125 for it (I bought it in a job lot with other stuff).
The cab plus delivery £150.

I’ll keep a record of time spent and parts and materials costs.

At this time my only though is use an ESP32s cpu because that is my area of knowledge.
 

Dex-Jay

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An interesting project, be cool to see how it goes.
Good luck we're all counting on you!
 

Mike Parkins

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I've considered doing something similar for years but never had enough mojo to get on with it. The possibilities are endless these days, what with arduinos, Raspberry Pis and the amazingly cheap and decent PCBs you can have made. So far all I've managed to achieve is a custom build for my Cactus Canyon with a Pi 3 and custom Mosfet drivers for LED strings in the backbox but I have plans for more :)
I have joined the Slack channel for "pindev" folk (such as the Multimorphic team, Scott Danesi etc) but I'm just lurking at the moment.
 

Rpearsonx

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Really interesting, I’m looking forward to the rest of this thread! Best of luck!
 
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AlanJ

AlanJ

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I've considered doing something similar for years but never had enough mojo to get on with it. The possibilities are endless these days, what with arduinos, Raspberry Pis and the amazingly cheap and decent PCBs you can have made. So far all I've managed to achieve is a custom build for my Cactus Canyon with a Pi 3 and custom Mosfet drivers for LED strings in the backbox but I have plans for more :)
I have joined the Slack channel for "pindev" folk (such as the Multimorphic team, Scott Danesi etc) but I'm just lurking at the moment.
that sounds interesting
Mike. would deffo like to join that
 

Calimori

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Have you settled on a theme yet? It lends it self to a Eight ball theme ;).
Or are you going to reskin it?
 

HomerRamone

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I always fancied doing a pinball with UE4. I had a bit of a dabble many months back but lost interest because
a. im not convinced the out of the box UE physics is suited to it
b. I hate physics :)

I mean in theory its just a bunch of switches - that turn on things (things being lamps, solenoids etc). OK thats a very simplistic view (not saying its easy you understand :)

(Watches thread with interest )
 

Homepin

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Congratulations and best of luck on this journey!

My $0.02:

Stick with a micro you know, whichever one it is, you WILL stretch your abilities to the max so it's better to start at least knowing the basics - don't try and re-invent the wheel. You say you have some experience with ESP32, I would stay with that. You can use several to run the machine dedicating separate jobs to different processors, easy peasy to design and fault find.

For me, using a PC to run the machine is madness. There are just too many variables and things to go wrong - remember KISS! With dedicated embedded processors you control every single aspect, with PC software IT CONTROLS YOU! Also, when you turn on a machine it should boot in seconds not minutes.

With the huge range of parts and semi-assembled stuff available these days, LEDs etc, you have a massive amount of things to play with.
 
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AlanJ

AlanJ

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Been doing some research today on various aspects of this, and also leveraging on things i’ve already done with arduino/esp32 and powering pinball coils and lighting up playfields and backglasses, etc.

1. Coil / Solenoid drivers.
I’m hoping an off the shelf 24v or maybe 36v power supply will do for the coils. These can be driven by off the shelf mosfet boards - i’ve used these successfully in the EM score reel clock project. I plan to drive all the coils using a single output from the Esp32s, via a set of shift registers. 595s, so can have 8,16 or 24 coils driven, adding a 595 adds 8 more ports.

2. Switch matrix.
Again I’ll use a single output and a single input to scan the switch matrix, using shift registers 595 for output and 165 for input giving 8 X 8 matrix.

3. Lights.
Rgb addressable ws2812b or apa106 driven by a single esp32s output.

4.Score displays
Im undecided, either a large dmd or lcd screen, or 4 separate player score displays and a credit / match display.

5. sound.
It would be cool to use one of those boards that plays mp3’s off an inbuilt sd card. However I have tested these out and they are slow. It takes a second or so to start playing a track. So, useful for background music which changes infrequently eg when you enter or leave a mode, but no good for immediate sounds when you hit a target or thumper bumper etc. Maybe I can use a much faster sound card with hardware produced electronic sounds. I’m sure there are boards that do that.

6. Software
Someone has written a bally SS operating system for Arduino, but that controls the bally mpu board, so whilst not suitable I might learn some useful tips from his code on how to structure and handle attract mode, in game mode , ball count, extra balls etc.

I’ve got a pile of handwritten notes and ideas now to make some sense of……,
 

myPinballs

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Looking forward to playing this and seeing the journey !

My advice and some points having been down this road a fair way would be:

Layer the control. Game code, graphics, music, sounds, rules on the high layer that can be low cost rpi or similar. Much richer set of tools/languages for writing game code. Embedded controller, or multiple as the lower/ firmware layer that handles the update of switches, coils, flashers, lamps

If you dont want to use a linux based os for the high layer, you could use another embedded controller for this, and i have done this, but you'll run into sound/graphics control issues.

Whatever display you run, offload the task of updating it to a dedicated 'slave' /subcontroller. This will free the main controller for other tasks.

Update speed and debounce of the switch matrix or whatever switch design you create is VERY important..

GOOD LUCK :)
 
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AlanJ

AlanJ

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Jim appreciate that advice. I know i’m gonna be in trouble. i want to go down that unmade road that you and all the folk before did. the more i study the 70’s and early 80’s circuits, the more i want to delve into it
 
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AlanJ

AlanJ

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So first job is to figure out all these wires. There are 10 separate connectors with about 100 wires. going to the playfield.
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Part of me says keep it original and use these connectors as is, but then onthe other hand if I’m ripping out the existing lighting system, then most of these wires won’t be needed anyway, so why not just make up a new set of connectors for the wires I do need. Wires I do need are:
Switch matrix rows x 8 and cols x5?

Solenoids x 12 (i think)
plus a 43v common supply for the coils

lighting. I will need 2 for 5v power and one data line - can reuse some of the lighting wires I guess

Time to figure out which wires are which, schematic has that info.
 

myPinballs

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So first job is to figure out all these wires. There are 10 separate connectors with about 100 wires. going to the playfield.
View attachment 142952
Part of me says keep it original and use these connectors as is, but then onthe other hand if I’m ripping out the existing lighting system, then most of these wires won’t be needed anyway, so why not just make up a new set of connectors for the wires I do need. Wires I do need are:
Switch matrix rows x 8 and cols x5?

Solenoids x 12 (i think)
plus a 43v common supply for the coils

lighting. I will need 2 for 5v power and one data line - can reuse some of the lighting wires I guess

Time to figure out which wires are which, schematic has that info.

You do realise that 8 ball champ is a bally 6803 game yes, with one of the most crazy hardcore and complex phased systems ever invented?? Its a mind boggle...

Not the same wiring or design as the early as2518 series of games...
 
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AlanJ

AlanJ

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i’ve come across this 2 lamps phasing idea on Goldball it’s clever but not easy to figure out when something goes wrong. I think it’s the best idea to go with addressable leds.
 

myPinballs

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i’ve come across this 2 lamps phasing idea on Goldball it’s clever but not easy to figure out when something goes wrong. I think it’s the best idea to go with addressable leds.
Yeah and its not just lamps, its solenoids to..
 
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AlanJ

AlanJ

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So I’ve worked out what wires i need and set about finding them on the connectors
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Then I’ve marked up the connectors.

There is one15w 0.1” pitch connector for all the switch matrix rows and cops

There are 3 0.156” connectors for the coils. One 9w and one 11w with pins spare. so i can condense into those 2 as the third just has a single wire.

The +43v coil supply comes in via a different connector, it’s a thick brown wire, so i can handle that easily enough.

So the 10 connectors shrinks down to 3 plus one wire.
 
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AlanJ

AlanJ

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DFD730A3-728A-451C-B0C2-3D3D7B56DB2A.jpeg
Dug these out. a 4way and a single mosfet driver board. cheap and readily available. Gonna use these to drive the coils. I’ll see if they can drive the flippers too.

Been looking at the specs for the 595 / 165 shift registers. I’m not sure if they will connect to the switch matrix directly and work as intended. I may need to add in some line drivers. All I can do is try it.

As this is going to be an experimental project, with each bit worked through one at a time, I don’t think there is any point in trying to design a custom pcb for the whole thing because it’s going to change and evolve as I progress. I already have a board that will hold an esp32s dev board and exposes all of its pins, so i’ll probably use that and just create a separate simple board with a set of shift registers on it, plus some pin headers that match the playfield connector for the switch matrix.

Getting a blank board made cost about £10 delivered and is a lot easier than breadboarding
 
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