Virtual pinball machine. Self build help.

MikeyG85

New Member
Oct 14, 2017
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Bristol
Hi everyone,
I’m looking at building a virtual pinball to go along side my real one. Space doesn’t allow for more than 2 machines at a time so if I want variety a virtual pin as my second is my only option at the moment.

I’ve been looking online and found some helpful sites but some of them are quite old and (presumably) out of date and some don’t go into enough detail about wiring and pc setup.

I can see some people in this forum have built them before and I’m looking to build something high spec. Will the solenoids and mercury switches etc to make it feel as real as possible

With this in mind, are there any up to date resources for a build?
I’m looking for cut lists including plans and sizes. Current pc build specs to run the software, how to integrate things like mercury switches etc.

This is my first build so any hand holding would be much appreciated.
 

stumblor

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Sep 16, 2018
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In regards to feedback hardware, it's generally recognised that a guy called zeb in the US produces the best kit. He makes an all in one kit that is a good bet for a beginner. People have said that while you can save some money buying the bits separately and wiring yourself, unless you are super keen to learn, the amount of time spent and risk of frying boards probably outweighs the money you save.

https://shop.zebsboards.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=69&product_id=88

All schematic wiring etc can be found in the forums sections of the Zebs site, after you register:

https://www.zebsboards.com/index.php/forum/wiring-diagrams

As for the PC , I use an i5 2.2mhz (I think). The processor doesn't matter too much, midrange is fine, instead spend your money on a beefy video card (1060 or better), especially if you want to run the newest VPX tables like G5K's attack from Mars. Don't be tempted to use two cards either - it will mess with things. Just use a single card with multiple outputs for your playfield and backglass.

For cultists, plans and sizes do you mean for the cab?
 
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MikeyG85

MikeyG85

New Member
Oct 14, 2017
23
5
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Bristol
You star! Thanks, this is a place to get started.

Cutlists for the cab yeah.
This seems to be dependant on the screen size for the main area. A lot of chat over which size is best but again there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer.

For the translite and DMD, some people use 2 screens others just use one. Is this just preference or budget? Again I don’t know how this affects the PC set up.

Thanks again for your help.
 

ChrisH

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Dec 5, 2014
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CPU - midrange I5
8GB RAM
GPU - I've got a GTX770, but if I was building a new one I'd probably get a 970, if you have the cash and want 4K then 1060
SSD - 120GB would be fine, but you could always get bigger if you want

I'd get most of the PC bits of eBay

I agree with @stumblor - don't mess about with multiple cards, it's more complex and gains you virtually nothing these days.

Don't mess about with mercury switches - get a Pinscape board in there and use a real tilt bob assembly.

You can get a screen from china that fits the speaker panel pretty well, they're about 80 IIRC, think @Pickholder knows the model #.
 
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stumblor

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Defo three screens. Defo 4K for the playfield!

I was looking into this LCD monitor for the DMD which looks like it would fit the bill, but haven't tried yet:

https://www.pinballshop.nl/virtual-pinball/lcd-monitors-dmd-displays/lcd-widescreen-dmd-display-screen-14.9-1280x390-hdmi-vga-dvi-input-clone/

For the cab, just try and source an old widebody cab - these can usually be picked up fairly cheaply (£70-100 or so) and will save you loads of time and headaches. Widebodys will fit a 43 inch TV or monitor. This is the screen I was looking at for my next build:

https://www.scan.co.uk/products/43-acer-et430k-4k-ips-monitor3840-x-2160-5ms-100m1-hdmi-dp-mdp-white-speakers

For the playfield screen, as I said before, try to stretch to 4K. On big screens this makes a huge difference. Next - lag is EVERYTHING. I can't stress this enough, if you think the TV/monitor you are looking at has low latency, try to find lower! If there is a bottleneck somewhere between the flippers and your screen it will feel less responsive next to a real pin. (@Neil McRae would say they will always feel rubbish next to a real pin, and he's probably right, but just ignore that because vpins are awesome).
 
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ChrisH

Active Member
Dec 5, 2014
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That looks familiar, but I'm sure they were £80 last time I looked....
I've only got a mini-cab, 27" 1080p playfield so I had to build my cab from scratch, but I do have a 32" 1080p in the attic after a 4K upgrade of my Xbox TV...….. I may have to build a new one now that's free - stupid hobby:hmm:
They're not as good as real pins and never will be, but they are good fun...

I'm just waiting for this: (and the TOTAN and CV that are in the works)
 
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MikeyG85

MikeyG85

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Oct 14, 2017
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Bristol
So if I buy these kits (zebsboard easy install kit and pinscape board) are they relatively easy to put together. The woodworking is what I’m good at so building the cab from scratch would be easy. The PC and kits are where I’m going to slow right down.

While talking about the kits, I get the point of the Zebsboard (for the solenoids, shakers) and pin scape (digitally repoduces tilt and connects your flippers etc) but do they work easily with each other well? Am I going to have to become a coder to do this?
Don’t want to get in over my head.
 

stumblor

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Sep 16, 2018
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Sorry can't speak from personal experience with either of those setups, however loads of people have recommended both setups and they tend to be the standard approach that most people use for a new build (and what i intend to use when I do my next build).

Since all of this stuff is open source, and done during the developers free time, it tends to be fairly rudimentary from a 'glossy install' point of view - this applies to all things VP, including the tables themselves. You *will* have to get your hands dirty with the code sometimes, but rest assured there are plenty of people around on both here and on https://www.vpforums.org that will help out if you run into trouble.

Just do one thing at a time - don't try to install everything at once. Get your VPX setup working on a PC first, playing from the keyboard and with smooth ball movement and no stuttering. Then get it working with two monitors. Get all the tables you want installed and tested. Get PinballX working and tested (this is the front end software of your cab). Then transfer that entire setup to the cab, and get your flipper buttons connected and working. Then get your tilt working. Then you can look at integrating your solonoids etc.
 
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MikeyG85

MikeyG85

New Member
Oct 14, 2017
23
5
3
Bristol
Sorry can't speak from personal experience with either of those setups, however loads of people have recommended both setups and they tend to be the standard approach that most people use for a new build (and what i intend to use when I do my next build).

Since all of this stuff is open source, and done during the developers free time, it tends to be fairly rudimentary from a 'glossy install' point of view - this applies to all things VP, including the tables themselves. You *will* have to get your hands dirty with the code sometimes, but rest assured there are plenty of people around on both here and on https://www.vpforums.org that will help out if you run into trouble.

Just do one thing at a time - don't try to install everything at once. Get your VPX setup working on a PC first, playing from the keyboard and with smooth ball movement and no stuttering. Then get it working with two monitors. Get all the tables you want installed and tested. Get PinballX working and tested (this is the front end software of your cab). Then transfer that entire setup to the cab, and get your flipper buttons connected and working. Then get your tilt working. Then you can look at integrating your solonoids etc.
Great advice thanks.
I was looking at the cab build first but think you’re right, I’ll start with the PC and make sure I can get that sorted.

I’ve taken the advice above around specs as I’d like the to play the newer more expensive machines like Walking Dead and Ghostbusters (which I can’t find the files for at the moment if anyone can help?) so guess I would need a high spec machine to run at 4K and have it all nice and smooth.

Going with:
CPU:I7
RAM: 8GB
GPU:GTX1060
SSD:120GB

Thanks again for all your help
 

James

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Dec 29, 2017
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I have a free standard size shell (no backbox) if it is any good to anyone - collection from Norwich though I am afraid. It is a black knight.
 

ChrisH

Active Member
Dec 5, 2014
278
133
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Stroud
I'd say you really don't need to get an i7..... i5 is plenty - If you have the money then sure.
You'll need a motherboard and PSU of course..... don't cheap out on the PSU.
You'll also want to make sure you have cooling in the chassis when you build/convert - I've got 120mm fans in the base and rear of the cabinet.
Are you planning on getting a PC in a chassis and sticking it in the cab? or mounting the components directly? (I've done the latter).

To be honest the software isn't too bad - You just need to do the OS, drivers, and then VPX, VPinmame, DB2S, get the inputs hooked up and mapped and setup once that's done its actually playable, not pretty but playable.
Getting all the artwork into pinballX/setting up the XML and setting the POV for the tables is the time consuming bit (not complex, just tedious)

Once you get the box running check in and I'll give you a hand with the details if you need them.

Only thing I have no idea about is the DOF stuff - I don't have any.....
 
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MikeyG85

MikeyG85

New Member
Oct 14, 2017
23
5
3
Bristol
I'd say you really don't need to get an i7..... i5 is plenty - If you have the money then sure.
You'll need a motherboard and PSU of course..... don't cheap out on the PSU.
You'll also want to make sure you have cooling in the chassis when you build/convert - I've got 120mm fans in the base and rear of the cabinet.
Are you planning on getting a PC in a chassis and sticking it in the cab? or mounting the components directly? (I've done the latter).

To be honest the software isn't too bad - You just need to do the OS, drivers, and then VPX, VPinmame, DB2S, get the inputs hooked up and mapped and setup once that's done its actually playable, not pretty but playable.
Getting all the artwork into pinballX/setting up the XML and setting the POV for the tables is the time consuming bit (not complex, just tedious)

Once you get the box running check in and I'll give you a hand with the details if you need them.

Only thing I have no idea about is the DOF stuff - I don't have any.....
I’m planning on setting up the pc side first. The one I’ve ordered will come in a chassis, unsure if I’ll unpack it once I get it inside the cabinet.

What’s DOF?

Also regarding screens for the main play field, I know some people want the best of the best but how much lag is noticeable?
On another forum I saw one person saying they wouldn’t buy anything that had more than 2ms. The screen I’m looking at is 5ms. Will I notice this?

Thanks for the help. Much appreciated.
 

ChrisH

Active Member
Dec 5, 2014
278
133
43
Stroud
I’m planning on setting up the pc side first. The one I’ve ordered will come in a chassis, unsure if I’ll unpack it once I get it inside the cabinet.

What’s DOF?

Also regarding screens for the main play field, I know some people want the best of the best but how much lag is noticeable?
On another forum I saw one person saying they wouldn’t buy anything that had more than 2ms. The screen I’m looking at is 5ms. Will I notice this?

Thanks for the help. Much appreciated.
DOF is Direct Output Framework - which is used to fire the solenoids, control lights etc.

Screenwise - Dunno, I use a 8 year old Dell screen and it looks OK to me! But I only paid £50 for it.
Lag on TVs may be different

I see you're relatively local, are you going to any SW meets this year? If so happy to chat about it there.
 

Marvello

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Oct 6, 2015
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Yup, it is a huge table. Had some weird things happening like the backglass reporting it is missing if launching the table through PinballX, but fine through VPX, and also a compile failiure maybe 1 in 5 times. The fix for both was to lower the Max Texture from Unlimited to the next one down.
 
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MikeyG85

MikeyG85

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Oct 14, 2017
23
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Bristol
Thanks! I’m slowly getting there. Picking up my PC this coming Monday.
Got a friend who works in PC repair and managed to get an I7, 4790K, 16GB RAM, AMD RX 480c and 240GB SDD.
Picking up a Acer ET430K soon to be my play field.

Don’t know what to do about the DMD. Considering the LCD Stumblor mentioned but don’t know they would compare to a Pin2DMD or something similar.
Also still struggling to find a wide body cab. Might end up building one.
 
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Colywobbles

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Nov 9, 2016
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What are the sizes on that one?
Do you have plans or did you wing it?
It’s my 3rd build and I’m a bit old school and don’t work of a plan.
It was made in 18mm mdf, the width determined by the lock bar and the depth determined by the 40in 4K TV which has slim bezel and has about 2mm each side to spare.
The flippers on a 40in TV scale 1-1 with real flippers to the exact mm when using PFX3

The new wave of tables from Zen studios on Pinball FX3 are just mind blowing on a VPin and far superior in every way to VPX and farsights TPA efforts.
Oh and before anyone shouts up “rubbish” Yep I sort of agree as there’s no replacement for the real thing but they have come a long way since the old days and are still awesome in there own right being quite impressive as pinball simulators
 
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MikeyG85

MikeyG85

New Member
Oct 14, 2017
23
5
3
Bristol
Hi everyone,

So I have the PC now but im running into 2 issues.
Firstly I downloaded TWD . It works absolutely fine but I always have it in cabinet view. Im never able to view just the table.
Ive gone into video preferences and checked FS backdrop settings but this doesn't do anything. I don't want to buy my playfield table if I cant get that working.

On my second attempt I tried T2 . I followed the same steps that got TWD working but im getting an error. I have run setup and can confirm that the rom is in its right place.
I get 2 error messages and then the script below appears
'Object reference not set to instance of an object'
'Check Rom path or Rom file'
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Marvello

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Oct 6, 2015
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What are the 2 error messages you are getting? Have you got your backglass file (directb2s) in the same folder as your table file and named exactly the same? (apart from the extension obviously)

Are you running this on a PC with monitor or in a cabinet? Maybe a screenshot of what you are seeing will help.