First post on Pinside and I'm diving into the deep end.
Inspired by the recent release of undiscovered Apollo 11 footage and a general lover of flight and space travel I've decided to create a custom pinball machine themed around the first Moon landing. Given the heavy influence of space travel, both real an imaginary, in pinball's history I think it's a perfect theme for me to sink my teeth into.
-A little about me-
I'm a career mechanical engineer and product designer, currently working with consumer electronics for a start up in San Francisco. I recently got into pinball after a pinball bar opened up across the street from me and I've made it quite the obsession. I will be doing the majority of the design and fabrication myself, and will be utilizing the extensive wood shop and prototyping lab that we have at my office (CNC mill and router, laser cutter, vinyl cutter, welders, 3D printers, electronics benches etc). I and very passionate about CAD and designing in 3D so I will definitely be flexing my Solidworks muscles for this. I am fully prepared for this to take a year or more, and will surely need a lot of help along the way. I also happen to have a tattoo of the Apollo 11 flight profile and Lunar Module, so there's that too.
Apollo 11 will be built from the ground up with a custom playfield layout and rule set. The design and artwork will be heavily influenced by the technical documents and illustrations from the mission, which took place in 1969. The overall design of the machine will be mostly gray scale with select colors being used in a very controlled way during gameplay. It will pull more from the machines from the 70's and 80's with a single level playfield and lots of orbital flow. I plan to use updated mechanisms with stronger coils to give the game a more current feel and faster gameplay, similar to that of TNA. The ruleset will be mode-based with the objective being to complete all of the tasks required to successfully land on the moon and return home safely, you will be playing as Mission Control and it will not be easy. I think there's so much fun to be had here and can't wait to get started.
Boardset - P3-ROC, computer TBD
Audio - The majority of the audio will be real clips from the mission, with some mode-based electronic music. Sub and shaker motor for sure.
Video - Will be installing a stern style LCD panel in the backbox, but developing that will come much later and will mostly consist of real mission footage and related TV coverage to tell the story.
Lighting - warm white (2700k) LED GI with RGB LEDs behind translucent white playfield inserts
Playfield - Big orbit shots with some well-placed mechanical diverters, 4-ball trough with auto kicker, drop targets, spinner, scoop, maybe even a few pop bumpers. Will be working on a custom magnetic mechanism to lock the balls in lunar orbit (this will be a big feature and visual focal point in the game). Playfield will be routed out with a handheld CNC router (Shaper Origin).
Currently I'm on the hunt for a donor cabinet, ideally one from the 70's or 80's built for single level play, widebody would be amazing. This is currently gating more detailed playfield design, as the cabinet will dictate the playfield size. I have no interest in building a cabinet from scratch, I'm not a wood worker and would rather spend my limited time on other things. I've identified F2K as an ideal cabinet, as there is a beat up, but empty on listed on CL but the seller hasn't been very responsive.
I've purchased all of the components to assemble an empty playfield with flippers and slingshots, this will let me prove out the my flipper/inlane/outlane/slingshot design and begin prototyping the playfield layout. I'll be using the P-ROC boards to drive the flippers, slings, trough and auto kicker, which while overkill for this will give me a good introduction to the P-ROC architecture and coding simple commands. Fortunately all of these parts will be what I will use in the actual machine so I'm happy to invest in it now. Currently doing all of this in CAD, but need final cabinet/playfield size before beginning the build.
I've also been trying to drop hints with the girlfriend about how much time this will actually take. Most of my time is spent here at moment, laying a good foundation of girlfriend karma that will hopefully carry me through the length of the project. I've also been learning the favorite beer and pizza toppings of my electrical and firmware colleagues at work, this has also been captured in the budget.
If you've made it this far - thanks for reading and stoked to have you along for the ride. I plan to provide lots of updates, images, renderings and maybe even some tutorials if I end up doing something cool. In return I hope to lean on you guys for support and feedback, so please don't be a stranger!