Homemade Virtual Pinball Cabinet

Bild: Westimage Photo- & WebsolutionsDuring the construction of my MAME Retro Arcade Video Game cabinet I came across the pinball emulators Future Pinball and Visual Pinball. These programs are able to emulate most of the old pinball tables and selfmade pinball tables on the PC. By now the tables offer a very high degree of realism and good ball physics. Through the use of multiple monitors and a dot-matrix display, installed in a standard pinball housing, you get real pinball feeling. This feeling is further supported by the use of software-controlled Flasher LEDs and special shooters who simulate the clicking of pinball fingers, slingshots and bumpers. This is what I want! Therefore, this construction project started in early 2014 with the purchase of an old, broken pinball from Bally with the name "Little Joe", which I'm going to rebuild into a virtual pinball cabinet (short: vpin).

I hope you enjoy reading and tracking my project "selfmade virtual pinball - vpin". Questions, comments or suggestions are always welcome via the comment function!

 

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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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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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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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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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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