Steamboat Willie Custom/Homebrew Pinball

By bahbevans

March 02, 2020

34 days ago

So I have been working on a thing.  I have been afraid to share for various reasons:

1) I have lots of ideas that burn away and never happen, but now it is working, so my confidence is higher.

2) Internet people can be cruel. 

3) The property is still under copyright (but I would never sell it anyway. 

I wanted to build my own machine.  The reason was simple.  I wanted to say, "I built a pinball machine."  I asked my wife what the theme of the machine should be.  She said, "Harry Potter".  While on a trip to Disney World, I came across a theater that played the life story of Walt Disney.  I was inspired by the black and white drawings and Disney's ability to tell a story using limited time and resources.  So I chose Steamboat Willie as my theme.

The next quest to conquer was to determine if this was going to be a re-theme or a full-blown built-from-scratch machine.  I first bought an EM game to re-theme because of the old-time feeling of the theme, but I soon realized that an EM re-theme would miss a very important element to the theme, music.  That is when I realized I would have to build this thing from the ground up.  

Actually, not the ground up, I would build this from parts I already owned.  The cabinet itself would be donated from a parted out Apollo.  I chose the playfield layout based on the fact I only owned one bumper.  I once played a home-version pinball machine at a friend's house that I remembered well that only had one bumper.  I loved that game when I was a kid because I could always hit the spinner shot (which made me feel super cool).  I even used some of the artwork elements from that old machine.  

More logistics for those of you that like that kind of thing, Used a 3/4 inch plywood and did a roughed out layout first.  To make the playfield smooth, flat, and even, I used an epoxy table pour.  The flippers, bumper, and rubberband kicker were set up like an EM machine and uses AC (which created a big EMI issue later).  I used an Arduino Uno running Johnny-five to operate insert lights and other solenoids.  I made the display using HTML5 and lots of javascript.  The playfield was printed on vinyl and covered with mylar.  I am sure I missing something, but that is all I can think of.  Enjoy the pictures.  It is functional, but still a ways from finished.  

It has a full video display and lots of music and sounds.  I will upload a video soon.

Story photos

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18 days ago
Keep sending pictures please and a future video. That is a bold project my friend. I think your pinball looks pretty impressive. I look forward to seeing a video of your new machine in action.

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