(Topic ID: 318938)

Cocktail Table Homebrew! (theme TBD)

By zacaj

6 months ago


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    #1 6 months ago

    After wrapping up development of Poker (https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/pinball-poker-poker-time-undecided-poker-themed-homebrew), I began the planning phase for my next homebrew, and am now starting with some actual development.

    Originally my plan was to attempt to make a more complex, modern game with ramps, habitrails, toys, etc, but as I finished up Poker (and attempted to maintain it afterwards), many of the issues I encountered convinced me that I shouldn't dive straight into something so complex without getting the 'basics' down more, so I decided to try to make a cocktail first, since it'd have to end up being a simpler game due to the space constraints. I also feel like cocktails are a good area to explore, as there haven't been any made in a long time, and none follow more modern design sensibilities.

    To start, I acquired a parts machine, originally a Roy Clark The Entertainer, to use as a cabinet. pasted_image (resized).png

    One of the big issues I ran into with Poker was with the CAD. I originally designed the playfield in CAD, but then cut it from plywood by hand, and had to make numerous modifications as I went. My original CAD ended up out of sync with my physical playfield, and caused all kinds of problems. This time, I want to get the playfield CNC cut directly from the CAD, and also model everything in more detail from the start to try and avoid other issues down the line, so I started by modeling both a simple playfield and cabinetpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    When designing, especially in a situation where the playfield will be CNC cut and I want to do everything in as few iterations as possible, I try to identify any potential risks as early as possible, and prototype them out first. Since I want to have a more modern game style, but can't have ramps due to the size of the cabinet, I decided I'd like to have a subway, with exits that feed the flippers, instead. This will also be good practice at both constructing subways in general, as well as with more custom mechanisms/etc. Sadly, I immediately discovered an issue thanks to the CAD modeling: pasted_image (resized).png
    That's the plunger for the VUK, sticking out the bottom of the cabinet. VUKs in general are already pretty tall, and it only gets worse when you need to also have a subway feeding them, and that subway needs to clear other mechs on the bottom of the playfield. The entire cabinet is only 9" deep, and even after trying to squash a typical mech down as much as possible, it was still 7". Then I realized that the original playfield mounting brackets only put the playfield at 3.5 degrees, not the 6.5-7 that a newer game would have, which constrained the area under the playfield I had to work with down to only 4"!

    So now I've designed a new mech, which isn't like any VUK I've seen before, where the coil and plunger are mounted adjacent to the ball instead of below it:pasted_image (resized).png

    I'm not sure if there's a reason why this style of design is never used or not. The closest I can think of are bally linear slingshots. I've heard a lot of bad things about bally's linear flippers, but not much about the slingshots, so maybe they're fine? I assume the disadvantage of this approach is that the force on the plunger won't just be along its axis, but will also be twisted somewhat to the side, but I'm not sure how much that'll matter. Most of the mechanism is designed to be 3D printed, but the coil bracket and plunger will still have to be metal. Hopefully having a metal bracket screwed to the plastic body will be enough to hold it together.

    Since this is a custom bracket, I don't really have any easy way to get it made, so I end up having to use a thinner sheet of steel than is common on pinball machines, and bend it using my harbor freight hand metal brake. This doesn't produce perfect 90 degree angles, and it's hard to get the bends exactly int he locations you want, but at least they come out nice and cleanpasted_image (resized).png

    I was unable to find a source of plunger material locally, so I ended up using a 7/16" bolt that was long enough that the threads left a smooth part that fit my needs, and then I ran a 1/4" bolt through it sideways to connect it to the platform the ball rests on. I'll need to clean it up a bunch, and maybe consider tapping a smaller hole vs just running the bolt through, but I think it should be sufficient for a proof of concept. pasted_image (resized).png

    My first attempt doesn't go too well. The ball barely makes it out of the VUK, not even fully clearing the playfield:
    ezgif-2-2112bef05a.gif
    But then realize I'm using the wrong coil, and swap to a 23-800, which is what sterns use in their VUKs, and it goes much better:
    ezgif-2-3ce7524772.gif

    The VUK is supposed to feed the inlane, so I also make a quick 3D printed part to direct the ball cleanly. I suspect that this part won't hold up long 3D printed, but hopefully it'll at least last a while. I can always try to reinforce it with metal later, or get adventurous and attempt to make a fully metal habitrail for it. But, even if the part breaks every 500 plays, for a homebrew I wouldn't mind just keeping a spare on hand.

    I'm pretty satisfied with this as a proof of concept, so I'll leave more testing and final touches to after I get the playfield assembled, and move on to testing other components

    pasted_image (resized).png

    ezgif-2-7ffadd48b0.gif

    ezgif-2-2112bef05a.gif
    #2 6 months ago

    Very cool! Should probably be TPB themed.

    #3 6 months ago

    awesome Zac! I love following your projects.

    #4 6 months ago

    Interesting project! It was fun to follow the poker build so I'll be watching this one as well.

    Quoted from pinfarmer:

    Should probably be TPB themed.

    I think he'd need a $100K whale investor if he wanted to build that one.

    #5 6 months ago

    Hey cool you are doing a new homebew! Exciting!

    #6 6 months ago

    i am in full support of a new cocktail table, i’m looking forward to seeing it come along!

    #7 6 months ago

    I'm interested to see what you do with the cocktail layout. Seems like its unique short and wide dimensions could allow for a very different type of layout, especially if you get weird with the flipper placements.

    2 weeks later
    #8 6 months ago

    Started working on the next mech, however in order to test it, I needed a bit more control over the solenoids than I could get by just touching wires together, so I needed to set up a driver board. The driver boards are one of the main parts of Poker which I wanted to revisit. Although they were fairly reliable, I had to have them positioned within about 4" of the MPU for the SPI based communications to work, which meant I had to run about 30 wires all the way through the wiring harness to all the coils, and it was kind of a pain. The boards also weren't that good at driving the coils properly. My CPU that I use is only 3.3V, which isn't enough to 'saturate' the inputs of the MOSFETs I use. They still work, but not as well, which means the FETs heat up quicker, and the coils potentially aren't as strong. That wasn't really an issue for Poker since I ran everything on 25V anyway (and stuff like the flippers didn't go through the driver board) and it didn't really have any high power devices, but this game will run on 50V, and has VUKs,etc, so in the end my driver boards need a complete redesign using new, more powerful FETs and special FET driver chips which can supply up to 18V to the gate, which should work much better. I really like the stern node board approach too, so I'd like the boards to be able to be placed on the playfield near their coils to simplify wiring, which also means I need a new communications system to handle running ~6ft through the noisier playfield wiring, so I designed a new board to test out all that stuff:
    0021_img_20220809_180527411 (resized).jpg

    Sadly I made a ton of mistakes. I crossed the ins and the outs on my new RS-485 based communication system, so that was completely untestable, and I put the FETs in backwards in the schematic so the ground and coil hookups were swapped. Plus, I found out the new FET driver chips need a few additional components that I plan for. I was able to work around all that stuff though via some creative re-wiring, and eventually got the board ready.

    To work with the coils, I also needed a source for my 50V. Originally I was going to try a switching supply like many other games are using, but I lucked into a Williams 50V flipper transformer at a show, so I'll just use that. Usually when wiring stuff up, I like to do it in as close to its final form as possible, but in this case, I don't really know where any of this will be going inside the (very small) cabinet, or what sort of shape it'll need, so for now I'm just throwing stuff together0012_img_20220807_154411671 (resized).jpg
    And of course, when you wire stuff together temporarily, it always ends up as a horrible mess of alligator clips likely to fail at any moment 0020_img_20220809_180519555 (resized).jpg

    1 week later
    #9 5 months ago

    To have a subway, you also need entrances. Usually those are just holes in the playfield, maybe with a deflector plate on top or something. So lets try to make one of those! I start with a scrap piece of metal left over from making the coil bracket before, with a 90 degree bend in the metal brake, and then try to get a good curve on the rest of it by hand: pasted_image (resized).png

    Eventually this gets pretty close, but it isn't the prettiest. I needed more spacing on the mounting holes anyway, so this won't be final. I'll have to experiment with a 45 degree plate instead, or maybe find a form to bend them around

    Making a plain subway entrance wouldn't be too hard, I'd just need some 3D printed form to guide the ball into the subway, maybe some metal on the drop area, but I've got a bad idea: combination scoop and subway entrance!
    pasted_image (resized).png
    The idea is, make a plunger head for the kicker that's not just a small tip like usual, but instead covers the full inside of the mech, and is angled to feed the ball out the left side into the subway. If I put an 'entry' switch at the top of the hole, I can fire the kicker before the ball actually comes in, and hold it up with PWM, so the ball will just fall into the subway. Or if I don't fire the kicker, the ball will fall down to the bottom, and then can be fired back out like a normal scoop. As a bonus, I set up the dimensions just right so that, if there's already a ball sitting on the kicker in the bottom of the mech and another ball falls in, it'll go into the subway too instead of getting stuck, which means that I won't have to worry about whether I can kick 2-3 balls out at once, and I can probably even use the mech as a 1 ball lock when I don't need the in+out scoop functionality.

    I figured that, unlike the VUKs at the bottom of the playfield to feed the inlanes, since this scoop would be at the back of the playfield, I'd have more vertical room to work with, but it turns out that, since they're mounted *behind* the pivot point of the playfield hinges, I actually have even less room, since that back 6" of the playfield will actually drop down when I lift the playfield up, so again this ends up all being pretty tight, and I need to have the subway entrance be at a weird 38 degree angle compared to the entrance on the top in order to avoid hitting other mechs, but I think it'll all fitpasted_image (resized).png

    After getting everything printed, I stick it on my test playfield, and confirm that my design with the second ball exiting while one ball is locked, and the ball smoothly coming down from the top and going into the subway when the kicker is energized, both work as expected. However, when trying to fire balls back out of the top, I run into issues. The ball keeps trying to go out the exit hole on the side, and rattles without making it out the top. I eventually figure out that this is caused by the kicker plate being on an incline, so I need to adjust that enough that a ball resting in the bottom still sits on a flat partpasted_image (resized).png

    ezgif-4-ee0375147e.gif

    Now it's all working! Good enough for a proof of concept, so onto the next mech...

    2 weeks later
    #10 5 months ago

    Original cocktail tables all have a 'pedestal' base where they hold the boards, but that makes them hard to sit at. One of my goals is that I can set chairs around this and use it as a dining table, so it needs to have room for people's legs underneath, which means the pedestal has to go
    The original top half and pedestal were just connected via some L brackets and wood screws, so that was easy enough to separate. The bottom side of the cab was made of particleboard, glued and stapled in, but hitting it with a hammer a bit was enough to separate it pretty cleanly:pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
    Then I got some new 3/4" plywood (ouch! $$) and cut out a new bottom, minus the big holes, and attached it with a bunch more L brackets, because I hate gluepasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    Now I had a solid cabinet, that didn't flex and creak whenever I picked it up, but it still needed legs. Originally I figured I'd just use pinball legs, but there aren't any 90 degree angles in this cabinet! I considered mounting them inside, but I didn't want to have the leg bolts randomly sticking through the sides of the cabinet, and it also turns out that pinball legs aren't a good length if you want to be able to sit at the machine, as you need about 24" of room under the bottom, and the leg bolts are also around that height, so I searched for other options, and found these nice wooden legs for sale at home depot pasted_image (resized).png

    Good height, and I can easily just chop off a bit if needed with a saw, and I should be able to install some leg levelers on the bottom by drilling a hole and putting a t-nut on, much like how it works on older machines with wooden legs. But how to attach them? I went back to my handy CAD model of the cabinet and played around some. (CAD is sorta like a disease like that; the more you use it and the more accurate your modeling is, the more you just end up turning back to it for every problem...) I had the bonus design goal here that the legs could be installed entirely from the exterior of the cabinet (no opening the machine, lifting the playfield, and securing them from the inside), so I designed some tight fit holes for the leg to go into.

    pasted_image (resized).png

    The grey block can be made out of a few layered sheets of plywood, and then I'll run bolts all the way through to secure everything, and put another piece on top to hold the leg down. At first I was going to just get out a jigsaw and start cutting, but then I remembered.... I have a CNC router!

    Despite building this giant CNC table years ago for the express purpose of cutting playfields, I've never actually used it on wood before, and I was annoyed to find out that my 1/8" bit is only 3/8" long which means.... it can't be used to cut a 1/2" thick playfield! I'll need to locate a longer 1/8" bit in the future somewhere. Luckily I had a 1/4"x5/8" bit for some reason, and nothing about these leg plates needs 1/8" precision, so I just threw it in the router and gave it a shot, with no idea how reasonable my speed and depth settings were, but the router seemed to handle it fine, and the first cut worked with zero issues. pasted_image (resized).png

    Test fit.... also good!pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    So I had the router make 19 more. pasted_image (resized).png

    This is the real benefit of having a router like this. Usually for one off home projects I never need to make more than one or two of something but here it was perfect, even if it did create an amazing amount of sawdust... I suspect that my vacuum system isn't working properly, though it didn't seem to affect anything as the vortex created by the spinning bit kept the dust away from it. Maybe I need a bigger shop vac, or I'm losing suction somewhere? Or maybe this is normal, it's not like I've ever used one of these elsewhere pasted_image (resized).png
    pasted_image (resized).png
    Everything worked pretty good, and I was able to install the legs, but they wobbled more than I liked. I saw that this wasn't actually due to the leg wobbling, so much as the entire plywood bottom was flexing since it wasn't really attached near where the legs where, so I added some extra brackets to reenforce things
    pasted_image (resized).png

    Now I have a table! pasted_image (resized).png

    1 week later
    #11 4 months ago

    My remaining prototyping needs more of a concrete setup to really be tested, so I figured it's time to get a bare playfield ready. Since this is a cocktail, its playfield is slightly wider than 24 inches, which means my usual 2x4 sheets of plywood from the hardware store won't cut it here, so I try to source some larger sheets. Many lumber companies in the city offer 5x5 sheets of baltic birch, which sounds exactly like what I'd want, as it's super strong, has a lot of plys, and due to the exact dimensions of the cocktail playfield, I can actually get 4 separate playfields out of one 5x5 sheet!

    Sadly... baltic birch comes from around the baltic sea, and is apparently mainly a russian product, so due to the war it's out of stock everywhere I look, so I end up settling for a sheet of 4x8 maple, which is a bit softer, but the best thing I can find. 4x8 won't fit in my car, so I ask them to cut it in thirds, since somehow a 4x8 sheet of plywood actually gets me less playfields than 5x5!

    Luckily, I built my CNC table pretty wide, so 1/3 of a 4x8 just barely fits pasted_image (resized).png

    My first cut will be pretty minimal, I just want to get the basic outline of the playfield cut, as well as the flippers+slings to test spacing for that so I can get it shooting and tweak the shots from there. Having never CNCed a playfield before, I still have a lot of 'process' to figure out, but my goal is to be able to easily align the playfield in a consistent way, top and bottom, so that I can cut some parts, remove the wood from the table and test fit it, then put it back in the CNC and do more as necessary, so I start by placing 4 alignment and mounting holes around the playfield in non-visible areas, so that I can zero the router to one mounting hole, then jog it to the opposite one and align the wood there, then use the other two diagonals as mounting points to hold the wood down while it's cut. I've got a handy tapered bit that I can stick in the router which should help 'auto center' the hole on the tool to get my realignment as close as possible, so hopefully that will work well once I need to do a few more cuts, but for now I'm just going to do one set.

    My first few cuts go well, and I have some flipper holes and one slingshot cut: pasted_image (resized).png

    Then I move on to cutting the borders but on the second time around the edges, something looks wrongpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
    When the machine finishes cutting and returns to its home position, it's nearly an inch away from the alignment hole! Somehow during the cut it lost track of its own position, so this playfield is now ruined.

    I do some research and figure out that I was probably cutting too much material for the CNC's speed, and it must not have been able to chew through the wood in that last picture fast enough, causing it to get out of position. I'm not sure why this was an issue this time when it handled the leg mounting plates fine. Maybe the maple was just harder to cut than whatever type of wood I used then? I swap from the 1/4" bit I was using on the leg plates to a 1/8" bit. I was trying to avoid using since I only have one handy that's long enough to cut through the whole playfield, and had trouble finding a source for that one, so I figured that maybe that sort of thing was out of spec and I should avoid stressing the bit in case it breaks, but I have no idea if that's true or not. The 1/8" bit does have the advantage that, since it's small enough to cut rollover slots and holes for t-nuts, I don't need to swap tools as much, so hopefully it'll work fine.

    I regenerate my files with the 1/8" bit in mind, drop my cutting speed by 50%, install my second sheet of plywood, and cross my fingerspasted_image (resized).png

    Looking good! One of the troubles with using the CNC router to make accurate cuts is that it's the most accurate tool I have, so it's hard for me to verify if it actually did a good job, but some quick tests of things like the diagonals confirm the cut is at least 'square' and has the right overall dimensions, so the rest should be good... right?

    I throw the mounting hinges on and do a quick test fit pasted_image (resized).png

    It fits in the cabinet! That's a good sign. Or so I think, until I try to lift the playfield, and the back edge hits the bottom floor of the cabinet.... At some point during the designing, I figured I could gain a bit more room by extending the edges of the playfield from the original measurements of the Roy Clark playfield as there was a lot of air space around the edges, and part of that was adding 3/4" to the top edge of the playfield. My CAD showed that the edge shouldn't hit the back wall behind it, and it was right on the money. Too bad I didn't test raising the playfield in CAD too after making that change

    There's no real way around this issue, so I take 1/2" back off the length of the playfield and rearrange everything to fit, and then manually cut that off the playfield to keep it matched up. Better than having my cut be too small I guess

    #12 4 months ago

    This is right up my alley, favorited

    2 months later
    #13 83 days ago

    Been making progress on a lot of things in parallel, but nothing quite ready enough to post yet

    Originally I'd planned to cut the playfield bit by bit, starting with just the bottom to mount the flippers+slings as shown in the last post. Verify those work, test some shots, then finalize more of the CAD and do some more cuts, repeat. My motivation was to try and the playfield 'good' on the first board. But as I started installing those basic things, I realized just how much work it'd be to strip all of it off again to put it back in the CNC for updates. Considering that, no matter what, I'll have to do a full pf tear down+rebuild at least once when I get to the point of putting in all the holes for inserts, etc, I'm thinking that it's really not worth it to be concerned with getting this first wood 'good' and 'clean'. One blank is only like $30-40. I might as well plan to just use at least one more blank for the 'final' pass with inserts/etc and consider this first piece to be scrap that I can mess up as much as needed, and with that in mind, I might as well just cut the entire playfield in one go, to save time+effort over repeated smaller cuts. Some stuff will surely be wrong, and I'll need to manually fix it or maybe do another pass on part of the wood and have a bunch of wrong leftover holes, but that's fine.

    So rather than focusing on getting the first mechs installed+flipping, I instead focused on getting the CAD complete enough that I can do a full playfield cut, and I think I'm pretty much there. I've tried to be intelligent about what parts need to be figured out now for proper hole placement, verifying everything fits, etc, and what can still wait, but that still means a lot needs to be done.

    One of the main things that was left to get the CAD looking 'good enough' was to plan out all the ball guides for the shots. Originally I was planning on 3D printing all of these for simplicity, but once I got started modeling those it turned out that some places would need to be metal due to not having room for the thickness needed to make a strong enough plastic part, or being a very high impact area, etc.

    On my last build, I roughly drew these metal guides in 2D, then measured their length, and asked a local metal shop to cut me some strips, then I manually fabricated some mounts, bent everything, etc. This worked okay, but wasn't very precise. Everything looked a bit ugly if you stared too close, and when trying to go from that to making art, etc trying to match my hand bent curves was one of my biggest pain points, so I decided to go a different route, and get everything laser cut online on sendcutsend.com. I also discovered that they support bending sheet metal (although sadly, only hard bends, no curves), and that sounded very convenient for the price compared to making all the mounting brackets myself, so I ended up designing all the bent sheet metal in CAD, which I'd never done before. A bit of a learning curve, but I eventually figured out a good process, and made some designs that felt very 'professional' looking:
    pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    In the end each of these was around $8-12, not too bad. pasted_image (resized).png

    I'm not sure how well bending the curves in will go after all this, and I might have gotten the metal a bit too thin (I used 0.030" stainless), so we'll see how it goes once I bite the bullet and cut the playfield so i have mounting holes to bend to

    #14 83 days ago

    What tool(s) do you use for bending your rails?

    #15 83 days ago
    Quoted from TreyBo69:

    What tool(s) do you use for bending your rails?

    In the past, for sharp bends, I'd either use a HF metal brake or just stick it in a vice. Was never satisfied with the results though, and you could never rely on it to be too exact. these SCS bends are nice and clean, and I can request specific angles too.

    For curves, what I did last time was to basically clamp a piece of plywood to the top of a table, some small spacers between it, so I had a deep slot to stick the metal into, and then I'd just press down on the end sticking out by hand, while pulling the metal out slowly, so I got a curve. As long as I got the basic shape of the curve close enough on the first try I could usually adjust the 'degree' of the whole curve later by just bending it in the air, or do slight changes to the shape by pressing both ends down on a board sticking out of my vice. Hopefully that'll work here too, although having the 'feet' already bent will probably get in the way a bit. I'll try to grab some pics when I get there

    #16 83 days ago

    Yeah I thought of tackling it like that, but also thought about maybe buying a roller for more consistency and smoother bends

    Something like this

    pasted_image (resized).png

    Set the rollers to the desired rate of curvature, feed flat metal in and roll it through with the lever

    #17 83 days ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    I'm not sure how well bending the curves in will go after all this, and I might have gotten the metal a bit too thin (I used 0.30" stainless), so we'll see how it goes once I bite the bullet and cut the playfield so i have mounting holes to bend to

    0.30" sounds really really thick!

    I don't know if you follow the HEP thread, but he bent some rails around a big weight plate to get a nice curve. buckets or whatever would probably work similarly.

    pasted_image (resized).png
    #18 83 days ago
    Quoted from BorgDog:

    0.30" sounds really really thick!
    I don't know if you follow the HEP thread, but he bent some rails around a big weight plate to get a nice curve. buckets or whatever would probably work similarly. [quoted image]

    This is what I'll probably do lol. Good enough is one less thing to worry about.

    #19 83 days ago
    Quoted from BorgDog:

    0.30" sounds really really thick!

    That's because it's actually 0.030"! lol.

    My problem with using random round things as forms is that you never get that actual radius, the metal always seems to bend back a bit. If I was trying to make 5+ of the same radius bend, sure, I'd look around for something that ended up at that radius. But in this case I've got like, 50+ bends, all at arbitrary radiuses.

    Quoted from TreyBo69:

    Yeah I thought of tackling it like that, but also thought about maybe buying a roller for more consistency and smoother bends
    Something like this
    [quoted image]
    Set the rollers to the desired rate of curvature, feed flat metal in and roll it through with the lever

    This could work really good, maybe? I've never seen one before, and hard to justify buying one if you don't know how to use it / how well it'll work

    #20 83 days ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    This could work really good, maybe? I've never seen one before, and hard to justify buying one if you don't know how to use it / how well it'll work

    Eh, they're $75

    https://www.harborfreight.com/gear-driven-ring-roller-36790.html

    They seem great for making a circle

    I think I may pick one up

    #21 83 days ago
    Quoted from TreyBo69:

    Eh, they're $75
    https://www.harborfreight.com/gear-driven-ring-roller-36790.html
    They seem great for making a circle

    I think I may pick one up

    I actually own one, but have only ever used it with round rods, not flat stock. it worked OK. heavy little bugger, but doesn't seem really well made like most harbor freight stuff.

    #22 83 days ago
    Quoted from BorgDog:

    I actually own one, but have only ever used it with round rods, not flat stock. it worked OK. heavy little bugger, but doesn't seem really well made like most harbor freight stuff.

    Oh well. Back to using old paint cans

    #23 80 days ago

    First my complements on your tackling a cocktail pin. These are a sorely neglected branch of the pinball tree. I'm excited to see this project as I'm beginning work on one myself. I'll be following your build closely for ideas and identifying pitfalls.

    Putting yours up on legs answers one of my criticism of the form which is they don't normally nudge. Since I need to keep mine low I'm struggling to think of some way to float it on a suspension.

    Thank you for pointing out the limitation of cabinet depth. I'll have to keep that in mind.

    Regarding cutting your playfield. If you have not already figured out these tips, I have a couple. One way to work around losing steps causing inaccurate x and y, is by cutting the playfield incrementally (sling shot holes, pop bumper holes, roll over slots, outside edge, etc). Having your workflow incorporate a homing step (reestablish 0,0) at that start of each category will keep the errors from accumulating. That way if the machine loses a few steps, the errors do not add up with each cut. As I think you identified, shallow cuts improve accuracy. I never cut more than 2.5mm myself.

    On the metal bending, your ball guides look great. I had a lot of trouble getting my mounting tabs to bend exactly where I wanted them. My work around was to weaken the metal where I want the bend to land. I did this by drafting a tiny notch at the "ankle" of the foot. I use a 1mm radius half circle on either side of the bend point. Then, when I go to bend the metal, it naturally wants to fold there. This allows me to get a 90 degree bend using merely a vice on the ball guide and a few taps with a small hammer on the foot.

    Thanks again for taking the time to post your development.

    #24 79 days ago

    Decided to try bending one of the guides just to see what I'd be dealing with, turns out the 0.03" stainless bends pretty easily by hand. For the tips I had to stick it in a vice to get some leverage. Nice for fabrication, but maybe not so nice when a ball is running into it. Time will tell, but I could picture these starting to bend a bit from repeated impacts. pasted_image (resized).png

    At worst I can always order them from something thicker, but in many cases that probably won't be needed, since I'll also have some plastic guides for more complex shapes/low impact areas. Originally I considered making more of the guides from plastic (either 3d printed or laser cut) but I figured that might not feel as good to shoot.

    So I printed one of these guides out, and used it to get the metal guide bent more precisely into shape (handy to have built in forms!). pasted_image (resized).png

    I think that should handle all my main guides in the layout, and provide the extra rigidity needed to keep the thin metal from bending, so at worst I'll just have to design more of these plastic guides to back the remaining metal ones.

    I'm also going to start experimenting with a few different filaments and inflow settings to see if I can get the plastic to light up well with some RGB GI lighting...

    pasted_image (resized).png
    This is transparent PLA with 10% gyroid infill and a random red LED I had, which is probably dimmer than the NeoPixels I'll be using. It looks a bit better in person and diffuses well, but you can see the gyroid pattern pretty clearly and I doubt it'll provide any actual illumination outside of the plastic. That may be okay though, I want to be able to do cool GI light shows as much as I want to light the playfield. That can always be done with a strip under the apron or something at worst (as long as I can find an angle where it doesn't reflect off the playfield and blind people walking by, since unlike a normal pinball machine this table is open on all sides)

    #25 79 days ago

    Use Transparent PETG, its much whiter and diffuses better than the pla. I'd do like 10% infill, and I normally do concentric as its minimal areas that block light.

    #26 79 days ago

    Another way to minimize the infill geometry artifact is to print your plastics upside down with approximately four perimeters, and no volume other than the perimeter itself. If you get your model, right, it’s like an injection molded piece that you then flip over and attach to the playfield.

    #27 79 days ago
    Quoted from Cmartin1235:

    Another way to minimize the infill geometry artifact is to print your plastics upside down with approximately four perimeters, and no volume other than the perimeter itself. If you get your model, right, it’s like an injection molded piece that you then flip over and attach to the playfield.

    I do print them upside down. I think I want the dispersion elements of the infill though, hollow would probably look different. Another option might be to cover the 3d printed parts with a layer of frosted sheet plastic...

    #28 79 days ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    After wrapping up development of Poker (https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/pinball-poker-poker-time-undecided-poker-themed-homebrew), I began the planning phase for my next homebrew, and am now starting with some actual development.

    I missed your poker thread, what a lot of fun ideas you have in there, just read through the whole thing. Looking forward to seeing what you're doing next here.

    I've actually long wondered why we haven't seen more 'mini' pinball homebrews. So many advantages if you're willing to tackle a little something different. Already love your out of the box thinking for the engineering.

    Only other one I can think of off the top of my head is what Ben Heck did, and that wasn't a super serious project.

    #29 78 days ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    I've actually long wondered why we haven't seen more 'mini' pinball homebrews. So many advantages if you're willing to tackle a little something different. Already love your out of the box thinking for the engineering.

    Only other one I can think of off the top of my head is what Ben Heck did, and that wasn't a super serious project.

    I know there's stuff like the Frozen homebrew, which is a widebody in a shortened cab, probably similar playfield dimensions to a cocktail, although it's still a full size pinball cabinet. Also Trashland, which I'm pretty sure is wider than it is long, but again, full cabinet. I think there's also one or two in the works that are based off the stewie-pinball flippers/scale?

    #30 78 days ago

    You can also play with the distance of the led, i found that it makes a huge difference on how it is defusing.

    #31 78 days ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    I know there's stuff like the Frozen homebrew, which is a widebody in a shortened cab, probably similar playfield dimensions to a cocktail, although it's still a full size pinball cabinet. Also Trashland, which I'm pretty sure is wider than it is long, but again, full cabinet. I think there's also one or two in the works that are based off the stewie-pinball flippers/scale?

    Obviously everyone should make whatever the heck they want, but it would be interesting to see more genuinely 'small' projects. if you're in a full cabinet you need the space for a full game.

    Just wonder if there's an interesting way to make "apartment friendly" pinball.

    #32 78 days ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    Obviously everyone should make whatever the heck they want, but it would be interesting to see more genuinely 'small' projects. if you're in a full cabinet you need the space for a full game.
    Just wonder if there's an interesting way to make "apartment friendly" pinball.

    I'm hopeful that at some level that's what this project will be. Just a more convenient form factor in general. Can be used as a normal table for eating at/etc. Easier to pack up+store, move without needing two strong guys and worrying about stairs+corners... One of my stretch goals is to even fit some small wheels in the bottom somewhere so you can roll it around without a dolly

    Even with no head, Poker is still a pain to transport, which feels a bit of a shame for a homebrew you'd like to bring around to places and show

    #33 78 days ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    ....
    Just wonder if there's an interesting way to make "apartment friendly" pinball.

    That kind of sounds like that Pinball Eternal / Palowski Pinball is going to end up as.

    #34 78 days ago
    Quoted from BorgDog:

    That kind of sounds like that Pinball Eternal / Palowski Pinball is going to end up as.

    Oh yeah, forgot about that, I guess that is smaller isn't it. I'll just say one thing about that and then will move on: it's always cool to see people trying things, but I'm more interested in what zacaj is up to because they've already proven to have interesting thoughts with the Poker build. If you haven't read through that thread I recommend it.

    #35 78 days ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    Oh yeah, forgot about that, I guess that is smaller isn't it. I'll just say one thing about that and then will move on: it's always cool to see people trying things, but I'm more interested in what zacaj is up to because they've already proven to have interesting thoughts with the Poker build. If you haven't read through that thread I recommend it.

    yeah, definitely followed the Poker build, and caught a few live streams of it as well. very well done.

    #36 78 days ago

    I still haven't ever streamed the final version of poker with the art and stuff.... Some day

    #37 75 days ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    I might have gotten the metal a bit too thin

    0.03" is probably fine. That was the size I ordered when I built Undertale. It's not quite as solid as the 0.048" that I used for VB, but I suppose the easier bending is an advantage.

    Just watch for unsupported ends, which will spring back a surprising amount when hit by a ball. The art scratched off this plastic is how far the Hotland passage wall bounced inwards from random ball hits. About 1/4 inch. However, it did still keep its shape; if it wasn't tight enough to damage the plastic, it would have been all right.
    e4bd08a7a1a5db994f011505de9c863545230c09 (resized).jpg

    #38 75 days ago
    Quoted from Gornkleschnitzer:

    0.03" is probably fine. That was the size I ordered when I built Undertale. It's not quite as solid as the 0.048" that I used for VB, but I suppose the easier bending is an advantage.
    Just watch for unsupported ends, which will spring back a surprising amount when hit by a ball. The art scratched off this plastic is how far the Hotland passage wall bounced inwards from random ball hits. About 1/4 inch. However, it did still keep its shape; if it wasn't tight enough to damage the plastic, it would have been all right.
    [quoted image]

    All my guides are elevated 1/4" from the playfield so I don't need to worry about that as much...

    Idk what they used on my ACNC, but it seemed similar and has bent over time

    1 week later
    #39 65 days ago

    Got the power wiring in the cabinet all set uppasted_image (resized).png
    At the top you can see the 3.3V, 5V, and 12V power supplies, and a power outlet for the Raspberry Pi's USB adapter. I would have preferred to use a single ATX power supply to get the voltages, but there weren't any easily available ones to fit in the short space available, while these individual supplies were cheap and available from digikey. The Pi could be powered off the 5V supply, but I ran into issues on the last build with noise from that technique, and this will allow me to keep the Pi powered while the rest of the machine is off for fast 'boot'.

    On the bottom you can see a small Williams transformer which was used on many system 7-9 games to provide 50V for the upgraded flippers while still using their old, larger, multiple voltage transformer for the rest of the game. It fits nicely under the shooter rod area of the apron, and will hopefully be able to provide enough amps to power all the coils on the playfield instead of just the flippers. The wiring for this is in a big messy bundle right now since I decided not to go cutting up the original harness unless I needed to.

    pasted_image (resized).png
    Even outside the 3 different DC voltages needed, I have a lot of different power 'rails' that I wanted to individually fuse. In many cases, I also don't know what voltage will actually be needed for things either (for instance, my inputs could be powered by 3V or 5V), so I set up this area to allow me to easily change what power supply is hooked to what rail(s). Right now there's just two fuses but eventually I think I'll end up with 6-7, each running two one of the three sets of orange connectors for the different voltages.
    pasted_image (resized).png
    Five different power supplies means a lot of wiring, so I tried out some 'Wago' connectors to avoid having to spend time hunched over soldering everything. I found a handy 3d print on thingiverse for clamps to mount them. Sadly the connectors I got from eBay turned out to be knockoffs, not real Wagos, so they didn't fit and I had to spend a sunday afternoon tinkering with the prints to fix it

    pasted_image (resized).png
    Wiring also means wire colors! I planned out all the power wiring in advance in a spreadsheet (since I've never found a good software for drawing this type of schematics), and also made a big list of my switches and coils too so I could start assigning colors to them once I reach that point. I was planning to get some fancy pre-striped wire from https://wirebot.xyz/ this time, but after listing everything out I realized I had more switches than there were possible color code combinations, and I'd need to go to a two-stripe system anyway, so I busted out my old wire striping solution, a 2x4 with two very precision placed holes, and an oil based sharpie marker stuck in top

    #40 63 days ago

    One pain point I keep running into on builds is all the switches. Every layout looks nice and clean until I remember I need to stick a bunch of them in. Rollover switches require cutting slots, which is hard to do (at least by hand), and have lots of alignment issues. Plus they can mess with slow moving balls. Rollunders avoid many of those problems, but are ugly and require visible wiring on the playfield On Poker I thought that star rollovers would be the answer. Easier to cut the hole (since it takes a regular circular bit), works in any direction, cheap. But once I moved to using a playfield protector that was all ruined. I tried using eddy sensors and they worked quite well, but the only ones I can source are large and expensive.

    Eddy sensors are still my backup this time, but I'm placing my bets on reflective optos. After a lot of searching I found a sensor that looked promising, and ordered some of these little boards from JLC PCB. Each one has a NeoPixel RGB LED and an IR distance sensor, squashed together just enough so that they can fit inside a 5/8" insert
    pasted_image (resized).png

    Depending on how close the object is, I can get a reading from 0.1V (touching) to 3V (about 3" away). I'd hoped to be able to hook this directly up to my input chips, since they have a active voltage of <0.7V which aligns with my readings from the sensor (0.3-0.5V with a ball directly in front of it), but once I put an insert on top that stopped working. I played around a bunch with the values of stuff and after some calculations, was able to find a set of resistors that'd give me 1V with a ball partly over the insert and 1.4V with no ball. (0.25V with the ball directly over, but that's not as useful) Only 0.4V isn't a lot to work with, but I calibrated a voltage comparator chip I had on hand (LM339, same that's used in WPC opto boards) to a 1.1V threshold and it seems to work pretty good on the bench. ezgif-2-4ecfc54e92.gif

    More testing will need to be done once I've got the RGB hooked up to see if that messes with it, or if lights above the playfield/machine, but I think it's a decent direction to go in. If necessary I can try to make custom clear inserts out of PETG or something to reduce the interference, etc

    #41 63 days ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    One pain point I keep running into on builds is all the switches. Every layout looks nice and clean until I remember I need to stick a bunch of them in. Rollover switches require cutting slots, which is hard to do (at least by hand), and have lots of alignment issues. Plus they can mess with slow moving balls. Rollunders avoid many of those problems, but are ugly and require visible wiring on the playfield On Poker I thought that star rollovers would be the answer. Easier to cut the hole (since it takes a regular circular bit), works in any direction, cheap. But once I moved to using a playfield protector that was all ruined. I tried using eddy sensors and they worked quite well, but the only ones I can source are large and expensive.
    Eddy sensors are still my backup this time, but I'm placing my bets on reflective optos. After a lot of searching I found a sensor that looked promising, and ordered some of these little boards from JLC PCB. Each one has a NeoPixel RGB LED and an IR distance sensor, squashed together just enough so that they can fit inside a 5/8" insert
    [quoted image]
    Depending on how close the object is, I can get a reading from 0.1V (touching) to 3V (about 3" away). I'd hoped to be able to hook this directly up to my input chips, since they have a active voltage of <0.7V which aligns with my readings from the sensor (0.3-0.5V with a ball directly in front of it), but once I put an insert on top that stopped working. I played around a bunch with the values of stuff and after some calculations, was able to find a set of resistors that'd give me 1V with a ball partly over the insert and 1.4V with no ball. (0.25V with the ball directly over, but that's not as useful) Only 0.4V isn't a lot to work with, but I calibrated a voltage comparator chip I had on hand (LM339, same that's used in WPC opto boards) to a 1.1V threshold and it seems to work pretty good on the bench. [quoted image]
    More testing will need to be done once I've got the RGB hooked up to see if that messes with it, or if lights above the playfield/machine, but I think it's a decent direction to go in. If necessary I can try to make custom clear inserts out of PETG or something to reduce the interference, etc

    interesting. how does it do at speed?

    #42 63 days ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    I'm placing my bets on reflective optos.

    Fascinating and clever. I will admit I feel skeptical about it, but I have zero experience so maybe they're fine. Just wondering about different lighting conditions, ball speed, what happens during multiball, stuff like that.

    #43 63 days ago

    Wow that is interesting! How awesome is that when it works!!!

    #44 62 days ago

    Neat. Reminds me of the switches JJP introduced on GNR in a few spots. Same sorta sensor that detects when you put your phone up to your face and turns the screen off

    #45 62 days ago
    Quoted from BorgDog:

    interesting. how does it do at speed?

    I feel like that's an issue for the board the switches are hooked up to, not the switch type? As long as it generates a pulse at all...

    Quoted from TreyBo69:

    Neat. Reminds me of the switches JJP introduced on GNR in a few spots. Same sorta sensor that detects when you put your phone up to your face and turns the screen off

    I originally looked at using the same component they use (which is literally designed for cell phones). Their sensor is much more advanced, and even has built in ambient light detection, etc, but uses a completely different interface that'd require a dedicated cpu instead of just hooking it to a regular switch input like these

    #46 60 days ago

    Very interesting topic, and I'm very interested in your ability to make your own stuff.
    I'm building a homebrew as well, and have an eros one sitting to the side for a future homebrew project.
    I cut and build all my own stuff as well, but no cnc here, just all by hand with a router, bandsaw, etc.
    Look forward to your progress

    #47 59 days ago

    With good power, I should have everything I need to get flipping, right?

    I built up a test board but.. discovered some issues pasted_image (resized).png

    Some traces cut and wires jumpered was enough to get basic testing down, but the fixes would involve remapping most of my pins, so I ordered another set of PCBs with the fixes and populated enough parts for some flips pasted_image (resized).png

    Here's a quick test with just the power winding hooked up to a 40ms pulse:ezgif-5-7726218447.gif

    Next I actually installed the cab switch and ran all the wiring. A few problems came up that needed some tweaking pasted_image (resized).png

    Time for the first real test flip!ezgif-5-9b801f73c4.gif

    Still some issues to work out with my input code (flipper sometimes comes down too early, or does another flip as I release, etc) but nothing too complicated

    #49 57 days ago

    Wow i'm discovering this (tooooo many super good projects here) !
    Crazy project with these "automatic" flippers !!!
    Well done !

    #50 57 days ago

    I love your lane switch design, especially considering its similarity to something I thought of but never prototyped. My idea would have been an eddy sensor version but still with the built-in light.

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