Makezine.comThis time Jeremy Cook wrote a good article about my selfmade Virtual Pinball at makezine.com, many thanks! Of course, other contactors are working well, but the contactors from Siemens sounds best! ;)

 

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Hackaday.comWow - Brian Benchoff published a nice article about my DIY virtual pinball on hackaday.com, one of the biggest hardware hacking sites. I wondered about the high number of visitors to my building blog and I'm very pleasantly surprised at the moment :)

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The original plan was to connect a 1000 watt 230 volt stroboscope at the strobe output from the LedWiz. However, the large strobo had to be installed outside of the pinball cab and the flipper would have looked very ugly. So instead I've decided to attach a few high power LED stripes at the bottom of the case and the back of the backbox. These are very bright and they'll get the sufficient attention at multiball and Co. ;)

Since the LedWiz can not supply the LEDs directly, I've tinkered a small driver board with an inverter and a power MOSFET to which the LED strips are connected. The MOSFET, a IRLIZ44N with a small heatsink doesn't become warm even in continuous operation.

{flike url=http://www.klomp.de/index.php/virtueller-flipper-vpin-selber-bauen image=http://www.klomp.de/images/virtual-pinball/pinball-fb.jpg}

High Power LED driver on a test board
High Power LED driver on a test board
selfmade LED driver on a stripboard
selfmade LED driver on a stripboard
High Power LED stripe on circuit board in action
High Power LED stripe on circuit board in action
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After 6 months under construction my virtual pinball cabinet "escucos Little Joe - Virtual Pinball" is finally finished and it's moved into our living room. Here are the technical specifications:

  • Original Pinball Cab Bally "Little Joe" (42 years old)
  • Samsung 40 inch LED TV as playfield
  • 28 inch LED monitor as backglass
  • orange LED Dotmatrix-Display DMD 128x32 pixel
  • PC hardware Intel Core i5-4670 on Asus mainboard H87-Pro with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD hard disc, Gigabyte GeForce GTX 760 graphic board
  • Software: Windows 7 professional with PinballX Frontend and Visual Pinball plus Future Pinball as pinball emulators, B2S-Server, Direct Output Framework DOF
  • Logitech Z4 soundsystem with Subwoofer
  • LedWiz controller board for force feedback
  • 8 contactors for the simulation of the bumper, slingshots and flipper finger right/left
  • Original Williams Replay knocker
  • Shaker Motor per Dual-H-Bridge PWM Driver at the Ledwiz
  • 4 meter HighPower LED stripes with bright white LEDs as strobe on the under- and backside of the pinball cabinet
  • 5 pieces RGB Flasher LEDs above the playfield
  • 4 pieces Arctic-Cooling PC fans (two on the bottoms of the cab for the incoming air, two up on the backbox for the outgoing air)
  • PinAna1 control board for connecting a analog plunger, with acceleration sensor for analog nudging and tilt function
  • iPac control board for connecting the pinball buttons, magnasave buttons, Coin-, Start, Extra Ball and Exit buttons
  • Illuminated buttons and coin slots, individually triggered from the different pinball tables
  • 3 separate power supplies (computer power supplie, 12 volt, 24 volt)
  • about 80 meter cabel
  • current about 40 installed pinball tables, rising from week to week ;)

I would like to thank

  • the other freaks at flippermarkt.de, Germanys biggest pinball bulletin board, for the feedback and the support during my project
  • Thomas Beckmann, who is building a pinball cab for himself, for his great support with the backbox
  • my dad for his help on questions to wood working and varnishing
  • Ute Naber for the nice and simple solution with the black adhesive foil
  • Lars Naber and André Paters for carrying the heavy-weight cab to the first floor and back downwards
  • Emerson Hilgers from www.westimage.de for the classy photo of the finished pinball cabinet
  • all friends for the great encouragement to this project
  • and not least my wife Anja for her moral support and her awesome patience ♥

I've kept an account about all the financial issues during the construction project, the total costs for the pinball are 2,300.35 euros total - the working time of course not included. Who even toys with the idea to build a virtual pinball cab by himself, can have a look to my list with the prices of all individual parts. With some savings or compromises it could be quite a bit cheaper, but also more expensive. 

I'm looking forward to your feedback and your comments. I'll answer your questions, the best way is to ask me via the comments, so any other readers of this blog can benefit from it.

So have fun with my pictures and a video from my DIY virtual pinball machine "escucos Little Joe - Visual Pinball":

Selbstbau Flipper fertig aufgestellt
DIY Pinball cabinet ready to play - click to enlarge          (picture: Westimage Photo- & Websolutions)
Flipper Frontansicht komplett
Pinball Frontview
Flipper Seitenansicht komplett
Pinball sideview
Flipper Kassentür mit beleuchteten Buttons und Plunger
Pinball coin door with illuminated buttons
Detailansicht mit Flipper- und Magnasave-Button
Detail view with pinball and magnasave buttons
Backglas mit Lautsprecher, DMD und die RGB Flasher LEDs oberhalb des Spielfelds
Backglas with loudspeaker, DMD and the RGB flasher LEDs above the playfield
Backbox
Backbox
RGB Flasher LEDs aktiviert
RGB Flasher LEDs in action
Detailansicht PinballX Frontend
Detailview PinballX Frontend (some tables still missing)
Detailansicht Buttons Start, Extra Ball, Exit
Detail view Start, Extra Ball, Exit buttons
Spielfeld Draufsicht
Playfield topview
Shoot again, baby! Ich gehe jetzt flippern...
Shoot again, baby! I'm going to play pinball now...

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escucos Little JoeWhen turning on the machine, the installed Windows 7 is booted and the Visual Pinball frontend PinballX for the selection of the pinball tables is started using Auto Run. As with my DIY arcade videogame machine "escucos mame" I want to show a short intro video before starting the frontend to make the machine more individual. My nick is "escuco" almost everywhere and the pinball is an old "Little Joe" from Bally, so the homemade project from now on should be called "escucos Little Joe". Someone developed the logo for me (I know, the pinball fingers aren't authentic). Below you'll find the intro video and a small outro, which will be played at shutdown from the machine. Both videos can always be skipped by pushing the plunger.

Intro video at startup from the pinball machine.

 

Outro video when shutting down the machine.

 

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I'm on the home stretch! In recent days, I've installed the two other fan into the rear wall of the backbox. The air is then drawn through the two fans at the bottom of pinball housing and blown out at the top of the backbox again. In addition, the 32mm Forstner drill was delivered, so I could install the covers of the 5 RGB Flasher in the designated wooden board. I've stuck the RGB LEDs with thermal adhesive on the heatsink and mounted them on the board together with the series resistors. After that I connected them to the LedWiz. The 5 LEDs require a total of 15 ports on the LedWiz, one for each color. The speaker front covers are also mounted so the cab is now visually almost finished.

A few little things to do and then the Visual Pinball machine can finally move down to our living room :)

RGB flasher LED mounted on the heatsinks
RGB flasher LED mounted on the heatsinks
Flasher LEDs mounted on the wooden board and wired with the series resistors
Flasher LEDs mounted on the wooden board and wired with the series resistors
Wooden board with flasher LEDs mounted into the pinball cabinet
Wooden board with flasher LEDs mounted into the pinball cabinet
LedWiz almost fully cabled
LedWiz almost fully cabled
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Last weekend I installed the Siemens 24 volt contactors and connected them to the LedWiz. Now it becomes real pinball feeling ;)

A total of eight contactors have been installed, four "normal" for the slingshots right/left and flipper finger right/left and four bigger ones for the bumper simulation. I have chosen the larger ones because the bumpers in the pinball machines usually sounds a bit fatter. You can hear the difference in the test video below very good. Before that I've measured the power consumption of the large contactors because I wasn't sure if the LedWiz goes along with this. They need about 330 mA, which is not a problem for a short time, even if sometimes more contactors are switching simultaneously. Don't forget the freewheeling diode between the positive and negative contact of the contractors - these serve to protect against overvoltage (in this case, the coil of the contactor) that is obtained when shutting down an inductive DC load.

Large and normal contactors for the force feedback of the slingshots, bumper and flipper finger
Large and normal contactors for the force feedback of the slingshots, bumper and flipper finger

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Last weekend I've sawn the holes for the speakers into the plexiglass disk. After that I've taped the recesses for the monitor and dot matrix display and painted the back of the pane with black spray paint. The next day I was finally able to install everything together with the wooden frame in the backbox. I only have to install the cover of the loudspeakers the next days.

What's left to do now?

  • Backbox back plane with 2 fans and white high-power LED stripes
  • wooden board with 5 RGB LED flasher above the pinball playfield
  • speaker covers on backglass
  • Switch to cut off the contactors, so we can play pinball in "silent mode"
backglass with installed 27 inch monitor, dmd and louspeakers
backglass with installed 27 inch monitor, dmd and louspeakers

 

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Next, the replay knocker and the shaker on LedWiz were connected. The knocker knocks very loud when you win a free game. It's connected via an extra switching relay, because it draws about 3 amps at 24 volts, which is too much for the LedWiz to drive. The shaker is a greater vibration motor which starts as a mechanical feedback during certain actions in some tables. The LedWiz controls here a Dual-H-Bridge, which provides the necessary power. The vibration strenght is adjustable from "off" to "very much" - also controlled by the pinball tables.

In the last picture you can see the intermediate result. Since it was too confusing with all the wiring, I installed a few old cable channels on the sides.

 

LedWiz with Dual-H-Bridge
LedWiz with Dual-H-Bridge
a view into the pinball cabinet
a view into the pinball cabinet
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I worried a little bit about the attachment of the 27-inch backglass monitor and the DMD in the backbox from the pinball. I've had indeed a solution, but I wasn't very happy with it and it would have been quite a botch - I'm just not a timber worm, but rather an electronic technician. Fortunately, I've got support from Thomas Beckmann, who is working on a DIY Visual Pinball cabinet with his buddy for themselves and with whom I am in contact regularly for sharing experiences since some time. He had a wooden frame left over from his project, which I could use directly with a small adjustment. At this point, many thanks to Thomas for his support, the frame takes me forward a big step.

I also ordered a proper Plexiglas bezel from a Plexiglas shop - with this shop I've had good experiences on my retro arcade project.

wooden frame for mounting the 27 inch monitor, the DMD and the loudspeakers into the backbox
wooden frame for mounting the 27 inch monitor, the DMD and the loudspeakers into the backbox
wooden frame in the backbox
wooden frame in the backbox
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Currently it's going quite well. The LedWiz board which controls the output of the lamps, contactors, shaker, knocker etc., was easily deployed and configured in Visual Pinball. Depending on the pinball table, the player gets differents force feedbacks. First I wired the lighting of the buttons and the coin slot to the LedWiz. Three buttons are configured for "Start Game", "Extra Ball" and "Exit". The coin button simulates the coin insert. And pressing the plunger causes an "Enter." 

Here is a short video and a picture of the button setup:

 

button setup with illumination
button setup with illumination
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