(Topic ID: 238151)

Apollo 11 - Landing on the Moon


By JLay

11 months ago



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  • Latest reply 3 months ago by dudah
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    #1 11 months ago

    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.

    -My Vision-
    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.

    -The Tech-
    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).

    -Status-
    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!

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    #2 11 months ago

    Great idea. You have the people to help.
    One suggestion, go with dual layer with simple ramps.
    Find good layout machine to start from.
    Don't reinvent the wheel. Wide-bodies are good. DM is a good candidate.

    #3 11 months ago

    Thread favorited. Looking forward to watching this one.

    Welcome to Pinside!

    #4 11 months ago

    Following

    #5 11 months ago

    Fantastic thread. I have added it to my favorites. The Apollo missions are one of my great fascinations and I am very excited to see you bring that together with our beloved pinball.

    I will be watching this closely. I am in Marin so I would very much love to check out your work in progress and finished product. Good luck and godspeed.

    Dave

    #6 11 months ago

    there is an empty wide body for sale on sf Craigslist as I type. As a fellow Apollo Space geek I look forward to seeing you progress.

    #7 11 months ago
    Quoted from lint:

    there is an empty wide body for sale on sf Craigslist as I type. As a fellow Apollo Space geek I look forward to seeing you progress.

    Yeah, I've been in contact with him, it's been on there for a few months now. I assumed he was just looking to clean the house and I emailed him asking if he'd let me have it for free if I come down and pick it up asap. It was used in a virtual pin table and kinda beat up so I figured I didn't have much to lose. He didn't seem to like my extreme lowball...

    We agreed on a lower price but he hasn't been replying to emails anymore so who knows. If I can get that cab I think it'll be a great foundation...

    Quoted from Jjsmooth:

    Great idea. You have the people to help.
    One suggestion, go with dual layer with simple ramps.

    Care to elaborate? My decision to stick with 1 layer was purely out of simplicity and bounding the project a bit to 1 layer. I think this is going to take 10x longer than expected so just tryin got keep it simple in design. But I am open a 2nd level, if I can keep it relatively simple and end up with a newer style cab with more Z height.

    #8 11 months ago

    Starting to rough in some of my front end geometry, finding it hard to juggle slingshot size, the ability to back hand shots (which I love) and appropriate in/out lane width. Have assumed a standard body playfield for this model and am open to some simple ramps, but I'd still like to move to a widebody if I can score a nice cabinet though.

    I model in Solidworks, render in Keyshot (still learning this) and will also rely a lot on Adobe Illustrator. I use a master modeling approach to create a single skeleton part (master model) that drives all of the part geometry and assembly locations in an isolated sketch that's easy to move and update parametrically. Happy to show a bit of this process if anyone is interested, it's a huge help for these kinds of projects where you're constantly tweaking things and want to avoid a bloodbath of failed features. The sketch file below only contains sketch features and is inserted as the first feature for every part, each part references that live geometry so everything updates accordingly and I have only one source of truth for my models. This will definitely save me some sanity when things get much more complicated and allow me to iterate quickly.

    Rendering in Keyshot, while time consuming and kind of overkill at this point, lets me explore the materials that I hope to use in a more realistic way. At the moment I'm really curious to try gray stains on lighter wood for some of the playfield, and some exposed stainless steel components. I've always loved the B&W Twilight Zone project, and the new B&W Munsters (Premium) version so I've got those in the back of my head.

    My big Pinball Life order is on it's way with all my mechs and P-ROC bits, although it might be a little bit before this first proto comes to life as there's too much snow in Tahoe right now and the mountains are calling...

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    #9 11 months ago

    As a SolidWorks long time employee I have to say COOL!

    #10 11 months ago
    Quoted from KozMckPinball:

    As a SolidWorks long time employee I have to say COOL!

    Same company too
    Awesome project. Put as favorite as well and look forward to see the next steps.

    #11 11 months ago
    Quoted from noitbe1:

    Same company too

    Whats the Dassault // Pinball connection?? you guys got a club going on in there somewhere? Also can I come here and whine anytime it crashes?? You guys should think about sponsoring a pinball project... I know a pretty cool one

    Current steps are build ramps in Solidworks, delete them and build different ones. Rinse and repeat... P3 boards and all my mechanisms come in today and power supplies are on their way. Have assumed a standard WPC PF size at the moment, and will likely have to build my own cab down the road. Will move to foamcore once my flippable sandbox is complete...

    #12 11 months ago

    My Dad worked on most of the Apollo Missions and many others that went into space. He was an electrical engineer that help write the some of electrical code. My dad has a big collection of the flight patches and other cool stuff from the Apollo Missions.

    #13 11 months ago
    Quoted from Quadrat:

    My Dad worked on most of the Apollo Missions and many others that went into space. He was an electrical engineer that help write the some of electrical code. My dad has a big collection of the flight patches and other cool stuff from the Apollo Missions.

    That's amazing - what a historic project to be a part of. As an engineer that heavily relies on computers to help me to do my job I'm always blown away at what they accomplished with such little technology. There was no email, no wifi, no google, just extremely smart, hard working and resourceful people with a singular mission. I bet your dad has some amazing stories, has he been able to go see the new footage?

    #14 11 months ago

    Parts came in from PBL - currently CADing the more critical assemblies (4-ball trough, auto kicker, etc). Slowly starting to wrap my head around different post and sleeve options, if anyone knows of a good reference for which metal/plastic posts work best together please let me know. The websites don't really give much detail about the post geometries and compatibility and this engineer needs more info... got a few trips coming up so progress might be slow and focused on computer based activities.

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    #15 11 months ago

    Hope to cut and assemble my prototype cabinet this weekend so that I can start playing around with different playfield designs. I'm currently designing to a standard WPC cabinet, but have reduced the height of the cabinet size to just fit the PBL 4-ball trough. I'll have a lower 3rd wired up to a full P3-ROC setup with PD, SW and LED boards for me to play around with. Will have functional flippers, slings, in/out lane switches and LEDs, plunger with auto shooter, ball save timer and light. 48V meanwell SE-60048 and PC power supply driving it all.

    I've split the playfield at the lower 3rd so that I can drop in various 2/3 playfield foamcore prototypes. I have so many ideas right now, this will allow me to build multiple playfield layouts and explore different options. We're moving our machine shop at work so it may be offline for a bit this year. This setup will also allow me to get familiar with MPF and begin learning basic code for switches, drivers and lighting all on my lower 3rd if the shop goes down for a bit.

    I'm building my cab out of 0.5" ply so save a bit of weight, will be using shims on the plunger and buttons so place them as if I was using 0.75". Want to keep the playfield at the same dimensions as they will be for the finished product.

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    I've also been thinking more about the artwork style that I'm hoping to use. I lean towards a minimalist design with lots of technical illustrations and line art. I really love the artwork from the machines that were being released at the time of the Apollo launch and hope to draw from that artwork style in my design. Below are a few machines from 1968-1970 that I may use as inspiration for artowork style.

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    #16 11 months ago
    Quoted from JLay:

    I bet your dad has some amazing stories, has he been able to go see the new footage?

    Will this new footage be online anytime soon? I would think it would uploaded immediately. No reason for holding back unless it is being used as a money grab.

    Anyway, cool project!

    #17 11 months ago
    Quoted from RonSS:

    Will this new footage be online anytime soon?

    Not sure, its currently a full length film in theaters. Pretty cool article about the footage here

    https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/12/apollo-11-50th-year-anniversary

    #18 11 months ago

    Just looking at your lower layout part, with the top slingshot post higher than the outlane post, you're likely going to get a lot of bounce to the outlane drains. (ie: think STNG). You may want to raise the post between the in and out lanes unless you're going for that...

    Keith

    #19 11 months ago

    Thx - yea still working out the final geometry there, was probably going to make them the same height

    #20 11 months ago
    Quoted from JLay:

    That's amazing - what a historic project to be a part of. As an engineer that heavily relies on computers to help me to do my job I'm always blown away at what they accomplished with such little technology. There was no email, no wifi, no google, just extremely smart, hard working and resourceful people with a singular mission. I bet your dad has some amazing stories, has he been able to go see the new footage?

    He has some cool stories, but also some sad. He also worked on many satellites. It was very cool to go visit him at the Cape for a launch. He worked on the first satellite to be deployed from a shuttle (Challenger's maiden voyage). He was also there for the last voyage of Challenger (very sad). He got to work on them until he was 75 years old. Crazy how they use the same code for so many years.

    2 weeks later
    #21 10 months ago

    Some quick update pics - yesterday was exactly 1 month since I decided to commit to this project, and while sometimes things feel like they're moving very slowly I'm pretty happy with the progress I've made so far.

    I decided to use our CNC pattern cutter to cut out my prototype cabinet out of Falconboard which is a very rigid reinforced cardboard that's 0.5" thick. It takes hot glue very well and mostly serves to support my lower 3rd and upper 2/3 playfields while I experiment with differetn playfield concepts. Not using plywood for this makes the prototype much easier for me to move around at work and hide it away when I actually have to do my day job (ugh).

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    I used our Shaper Origin handheld CNC router to cut my lower 3rd playfield out of nice 1/2" ply that we had laying around. I had never used this tool before but it was surprisingly capable once you get the hang of it. I was able to cut thru holes and precise recessed shoulders for my playfield inserts. The laser cut inserts were sized for press fit and when hammered in were perfectly flush

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    Scanning the fiducial tape that the Origin uses to locate itself
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    Selecting the artwork that I want to cut and defining the cut depth
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    Playfield nearly complete with just a few blemishes from user error.

    Shifting to the electronics and power supplies I started assembling and wiring up the power distribution components. Meanwell SE-600-48 for the high voltage, standard PC power supply for the 15V and the PROC power entry board to sort it all out. Other bits are the P3-ROC, PD-16, PD-LED and SW-16. Working on my final block/wiring diagram and will post that for reference once it's presentable. A lot left to do here to connect all of the electronics to the actual components... can't wait to get flipping!

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    #22 10 months ago

    Populated the the lower 3rd panel with ball trough/guides, slingshots, inserts, switches, flippers and plunger. Laser cut some translucent acrylic for the lane guides (laser cut little round spacers to get the right height). Standard stern wireforms at the top of the lane guides. Still need to CAD up the shooter lane insert and 3D print / finish. Auto kicker will also go in but need to modify it a bit to remove some ball trough interference.

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    Laser cutting - pew pew!

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    When not at work building a very expensive pinball machine with nothing to shoot at I can be found at my local pinball haunt working on some playfield concepts with lots of inspiration to reference...

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    Also installed Mission Pinball Framework (MPF henceforth) on my machine and have been getting familiar with the interface. I'm not a coder so this is where I feel most vulnerable. So far it's going well though as the folks over at MPF have done an absolutely amazing job at tutorials and documentation. Kudos to the team there, extremely impressed.

    More to come!

    #23 10 months ago

    I see that you have decided on WPC for your cabinet.

    If you needed a Bally SS donor cabinet, I might be able to help. Can source a Mata Hari cabinet to go to such a worthy project.

    #24 10 months ago

    Great progress.

    This is a lot of fun to watch.

    My daughter starts college in the fall as an engineering major and I am hoping she will learn enough in the next few years that she can help me create a similar project.

    Dave

    #25 10 months ago
    Quoted from jbovenzi:

    I see that you have decided on WPC for your cabinet.
    If you needed a Bally SS donor cabinet, I might be able to help. Can source a Mata Hari cabinet to go to such a worthy project.

    Thx! Will let you know but I think I've settled in my mind to have some ramps and levels. If things change will def let you know!

    Quoted from Calipindave:

    Great progress.
    My daughter starts college in the fall as an engineering major and I am hoping she will learn enough in the next few years that she can help me create a similar project.
    Dave

    What kind of engineering? If she's at all into pinball there's a ton of opportunities to do some related school projects... being an engineer in the bay area is a pretty sweet gig, I'm mechanical and love the work I do in consumer product design and manufacturing.

    #26 10 months ago
    Quoted from JLay:

    Thx! Will let you know but I think I've settled in my mind to have some ramps and levels. If things change will def let you know!

    What kind of engineering? If she's at all into pinball there's a ton of opportunities to do some related school projects... being an engineer in the bay area is a pretty sweet gig, I'm mechanical and love the work I do in consumer product design and manufacturing.

    She was accepted to a number of schools and we are pushing her to take the acceptance at Cal Poly for electrical engineering which is what she applied for. I’m not certain in the end what she will settle in with. I know they will require a lot of computer engineering in any engineering major.

    We have had pinballs in the house since before the girls were born. I wouldn’t say she is into them but plays and has played over the years. She and I built a small working electromechanical pin as a science fair project for 6th grade. I give her direction but she learned the process and did all the work including soldering everything up. It doesn’t score bu has lights pop bumpers a few stand up targets and a chime unit. She had fun working on that.

    Dave

    #27 10 months ago

    I’m in the thread, and I’ll add this in for interest. Might go to the Rose Bowl for this although I’d prefer the Costa Mesa venue, I hate dealing with parking at the Rose Bowl.

    https://apollo11show.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIg4H0mMy64QIVkCCtBh3MHASxEAAYASAAEgIBpvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

    https://www.pasadenastarnews.com/2019/04/02/apollo-11-heads-to-the-rose-bowl-for-an-immersive-360-degree-adventure-this-summer/

    #28 10 months ago

    Spent the weekend working on wiring up all of the switches and coils. Adding a lot of in-line connectors as I know I'll be moving things around a lot and that will make it much easier. Button switches were attached to my prototype cabinet with industrial hot glue and they're holding pretty well. Powered up the power distribution system for the first time and all the voltages were correct and not smoke was let out, so that's a win.

    Also cut and attached the smaller wooden trim pieces to the top of the lower 3rd playfield. Hoping to have all of the switches and coils function next weekend...

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    I've also been collecting some inspirational material for the artwork and theme design. Found this gem on eBay for $5 and had to get it.

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    #29 10 months ago

    Nice progress !

    Great magazine cover.

    Dave

    #30 10 months ago

    Great job on the build! I'm looking forward to seeing your progress!

    1 week later
    #31 10 months ago

    I got the flippers flipping this weekend for the first time (only after troubleshooting for 20 min and realizing that I had not even made the serial connection cables yet *facepalm*). It's officially a machine now...

    Also created the top 2/3 playfield section out of plywood so that I can begin prototyping some playfield concepts.

    Biggest misstep of the day was nearly blowing my PD-LED board. Plugged it in for the first time and smelled the bad smell after about 10 sec so I pulled the plug. Grabbed the trusty thermal camera and to find the culprit... Apparently I had reversed the 5V in and GND on the power input and it didn't like that very much. More to come as it starts to look more and more like a pinball machine

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    1 week later
    #32 9 months ago

    just found this thread, great work, am now following with interest

    2 months later
    #33 7 months ago
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    #34 7 months ago

    Ha - this is def a great way to bump my thread that's been too dormant. Thanks for that...

    I am still here, lots of work travel and a house move has slow things down but I'm deep in my notebook working out some different layouts in the mean time. I'll post some updates once I make some high level layout decisions and get them into CAD.

    #35 7 months ago

    Following!!

    3 months later
    #36 3 months ago

    Hey man cool project! I'd love to see any updates you've got jlay

    2 weeks later
    #37 3 months ago

    Thanks for the bump subspace_h. A busy time in my work schedule has limited physical building but I've been spending time in CAD when I can (I also design in CAD for my job so sometimes it just doesn't happen). Turns out this pinball making thing is pretty tricky when you get down to it, who knew? As with most things in my life I've had to force myself to not try to make the absolute best and most innovative thing out there and focus on designing something that I'll actually follow through with. I'll come back and explain a few of the things I've got in mind but am dropping a few images in here of the current state of things (some only makes sense to me right now, and that's OK. I'm expecting lots to change when I do foamcore layout).

    Still have my generic lower third, and a blank upper 2/3 cut that I can prototype on and easily remove
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    Rough sketch of playfield with upper playfield geom
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    Rough sketch of playfield with lower shots exposed
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    Early CAD showing some of my master model workings
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    Roughing in some of the upper PF geometry
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    The large ball in the middle is a 3D printed moon lamp that can be purchased from amazon. I'll be designing an LED mechaninism that goes inside and move the light across the phases of the moon. Either as a timer or a progress indicator.

    Many of the wireforms not shown yet, but the upper PF ramp will feed into a helical ramp around the moon (think new JP) and then back to the right flipper. I'm playing around with a variable strength upper flipper that can be increased (think needing enough fuel to orbit the moon). A diverter will lock balls behind the moon (dark side of the moon multiball anyone??)

    Right ramps are still kind of up in the air, but it will likely feed into the upper PF or back onto one of the wireforms. Going for lots of flow here.

    Pops and lanes under the upper PF are still a bit of a mystery. I'm leaving those final details to figure out once I get the major shots/ramps confirmed.

    Hope that's enough proof that this thing still exists and that I'm still alive. Rest of the year is looking bleak for prototyping due to lots of travel but excited for what's to come next year!

    #38 3 months ago

    Great progress. Always nice to see a the progress from some idea's to a real product.

    #39 3 months ago
    Quoted from JLay:

    I'm playing around with a variable strength upper flipper that can be increased (think needing enough fuel to orbit the moon). A diverter will lock balls behind the moon (dark side of the moon multiball anyone??)

    Excellent ideas! I am interested if you have already figured out the variable strength flipper. I am familiar with the pulse time offered by the MPF coils: function - longer pulse (in ms) = more power; however, I thought this was a static command set within the config file? Is there a way to change pulse time on the fly?

    I am not that far with MPF in designing the modes for my game but I think it could be possible with the base files for the different modes, I guess you would just update the coils: with the ms pulse time desired for each of the modes as you progress through?

    #40 3 months ago

    Very cool indeed!

    #41 3 months ago
    Quoted from P1nhead:

    Excellent ideas! I am interested if you have already figured out the variable strength flipper.

    I'm honestly not sure myself, I'm much more of a mechanical guy and will be relying a lot on others for SW support when I get into the weeds. I asked the pindev slack group a while back and it didn't seem out of the question but might be tricky. From my limited understanding it looks like there is pulse time and pulse power. I'm hoping that one of these can be made as a variable, at least for that one flipper. If any smarty pants out there has insight on the best way to do this in MPF please chime in! I think maybe because flipper config data is stored locally on the boards that might be a complication?

    #42 3 months ago
    Quoted from P1nhead:

    Excellent ideas! I am interested if you have already figured out the variable strength flipper. I am familiar with the pulse time offered by the MPF coils: function - longer pulse (in ms) = more power; however, I thought this was a static command set within the config file? Is there a way to change pulse time on the fly?

    I am not that far with MPF in designing the modes for my game but I think it could be possible with the base files for the different modes, I guess you would just update the coils: with the ms pulse time desired for each of the modes as you progress through?

    There are multiple ways to implement this in MPF:
    (a) use placeholders which evaluate during runtime
    (b) just define multiple sets of flipper devices (one per specific strengh) and just enable one set based on the mode
    (c) write custom mode or device code

    For flippers most people use option (b). Here is a minimal howto from the docs: http://docs.missionpinball.org/en/dev/mechs/flippers/weak_flippers.html

    Jan

    #43 3 months ago

    Following this thread with interest and applaud all who have the skills & ambition to build a machine like this. Good luck.

    And finally had a chance to watch the "Apollo 11" documentary from this year. It is truly excellent.

    #44 3 months ago

    Great work and some amazing tools to do it with! Following

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    $ 72.95
    Cabinet - Shooter Rods
    Super Skill Shot Shop
    From: $ 9.99
    Eproms
    Matt's Basement Arcade
    $ 154.00
    Cabinet - Toppers
    Id Rather Play Pinball
    From: $ 127.05
    Cabinet - Sound/Speakers
    PinWoofer
    $ 48.00
    Cabinet - Other
    ModFather Pinball Mods
    $ 239.00
    Cabinet - Toppers
    Tilttopper
    $ 22.00
    Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
    ModFather Pinball Mods
    $ 109.99
    Lighting - Led
    PinballBulbs
    $ 48.00
    Cabinet - Other
    ModFather Pinball Mods
    $ 239.99
    Lighting - Led
    PinballBulbs
    $ 689.00
    Flipper Parts
    Mircoplayfields
    $ 69.99
    Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
    Lighted Pinball Mods

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