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(Topic ID: 250835)

Advice request - Building a rudimentary pin?

By jacksparrow0112

1 year ago

Topic Stats

  • 12 posts
  • 10 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by YeOldPinPlayer
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders


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    #1 1 year ago

    Hello Pinside Community,

    My family and I are relatively new to the pinball hobby. For the past 18 months we have been flipping quite a lot on location. Luckily we have a few great locations here in Fort Wayne, Indiana to choose from. Currently we are saving our pennies for our first home pinball (hopefully the new Stern Jurassic Park). It is a title that excites my 2 young boys and my wife, and we have been having a blast playing the 2 on location in our city.

    In the meantime, I am interested to find out what it would take to build our own rudimentary pinball machine. I do have an engineering degree and experience working with electronics and software coding so a project like this really appeals to me on the surface. I also think it would be a lot of fun as a project for my 2 young boys and I to undertake together.

    First off, I am curious what something like this would cost. From an electronics standpoint, I am only thinking of using a pair of flippers, slings, and maybe a few pop bumpers. Everything else on the playfield would just be wood, nails and screws. I honestly wouldn't even really care if the thing has a display or keeps score at first. I think it would just be fun to build something with a plunger, working flippers, and a few targets.

    I do not want to underestimate the effort in a project like this. If anyone has experience building their own playfield and cabinet I would love to hear what I should expect to pay for a project like this. Realistically we won't be able to afford a NIB/HUO Jurassic Park pro until next summer so I am hoping this project is something to make that wait more bearable.

    Thanks in advance for anyone who can share advice and point me to online resources for a project like this. Could something functional be put together for around $200? Where is the best place to find parts?


    #2 1 year ago

    I have not tried any sort of homebrew game, but seeing what folks post on here, it would probably be more than you think.
    Have you thought about a cheap EM game to hold you over?

    #3 1 year ago

    I would strongly recommend owning your own pin for a while before attempting to build your own. If funds are an issue, going the homebuilt route will likely cost more than you think. If you wanted a starter machine you could play now you could get an old EM for ~$500. There is one a few miles from your house for sale here:

    Something like this could be an excellent way to understand how a pinball machine works. This is a relatively simple machine. You could throw something like this in your basement for a few months while you saved up and then sell it for about what you paid for it... maybe a few hundred less if you needed to sell it quickly. You could disassemble some of the parts and show your kids how they worked. This is electro/mechanical and could be an excellent learning opportunity for your kids. If you screwed it up, the most you could lose is what you paid for it.

    If you wanted to, you could "re-theme" the machine for a whole lot less. Get a new piece of glass cut the same size as the backbox and have your kids make a new background. Paint up the sides of the machine if you have an artist in the family. This "poor man's Indiana Jones" is an excellent example of what you could do

    You could build out all sorts of engineering side projects into this. With a few extra switches, a Pi, and a speaker you could build out new sound effects for example, or bolt an entirely new game on the top of it.

    I'm pretty sure that no matter what you decide to do, it will take a lot more time, cost a lot more, and you will have more fun and spend more time with your kids than you planned.

    Good Luck!

    #4 1 year ago
    Quoted from jacksparrow0112:

    Could something functional be put together for around $200?

    $500 might get you started with something barebones.

    You would need a plywood playfield, flipper mechs, slingshot mechs, ball trough, a shooter assembly, a controller/driver board, and a computer.

    Also be sure to browse threads in the homebrew sub-forum:

    #5 1 year ago

    I agree with the advice to pick up an inexpensive game and tinker with it while you learn. But if you want to build something basic here's one way to start with the bare minimum including parts list and wiring diagram:


    #6 1 year ago
    Quoted from MarkG:

    I agree with the advice to pick up an inexpensive game and tinker with it while you learn. But if you want to build something basic here's one way to start with the bare minimum including parts list and wiring diagram:

    Thanks Mark!

    Looking down the parts list you referenced and it seems to come out to roughly $150 in electronics hardware to get the flipper assembly up and running. Does that sound right in your experience? Did the class ultimately expand on their design and add in other playfield components?

    #7 1 year ago

    I just helped prepare the parts list. They did all the ordering so I don't really know what they spent or if they did more. The class was just one semester so they may not have gone further.

    #8 1 year ago

    Buy a zizzle

    #9 1 year ago

    I agree with buying a broke pin JUST for the parts alone.. the old phrase "the parts are worth more than the whole" rings true. Just the assemblies for a pair of flippers and a pair of slings is going to run you about $160 from pinball life. Even if you use end-of-stroke switches / dual wound coils, you're still going to need a 48v power supply, some plywood and side rails for the playfield, posts, rubbers, something to hold the playfield (whether that be an actual cabinet, or at the very least feet underneath to prop everything off a table). That's also assuming you're going to manually throw the ball in play (no ball trough, no shooter rod).

    #10 1 year ago

    Realistically a homebrew machine out of replacement pinball parts and new electronics will be around 3k-7k (source: currently building my second machine):

    - cabinet 500-1k
    - playfield with print 500-1k (50-200 without print and clear)
    - electronics 200-600 (200 is just cabling, DIY PCBs and PSU)
    - lights 100-300
    - mechs 800-1500 (replacement parts are expensive)
    - PC 40-500 (you can use an embedded controller instead but programming/development will be much harder)
    - LCD/DMD 100-200
    - ramps/rails 200-400
    - plastics 50-200
    - speaker/amp 50-100

    It just adds up. There are probably a few things i missed. MPF supports most pinball mechs out of the box:

    #11 1 year ago

    Get a cheap game and learn about them and tinker/fix before attempting a homebrew I’d say. But if u wanted to just have flippers and pops you could direct wire voltage thru the switches to power them, same with pops so no need for a computer or boards if you didn’t need score/logic and other things (controller lighting,etc). Not sure how much enjoyment such a ‘pin’ would bring long term though and even with a power supply, plywood, targets, and flipper mechs (and pops?) you’re pushing up against that 250 mark pretty easily.

    If you want to take that a lot further, then yeah as jabdoa said — $$ adds up super quick

    #12 1 year ago

    Get a non-working pin and use a P-ROC to make a new game.
    Multimorphic has a good development framework, look into it.

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