(Topic ID: 318938)

Cocktail Table Homebrew! (theme TBD)

By zacaj

6 months ago


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  • Latest reply 7 hours ago by MrBigg
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    There are 103 posts in this topic. You are on page 2 of 3.
    #51 57 days ago
    Quoted from Gornkleschnitzer:

    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.

    I'd love to use an eddy sensor too if I could find one small enough to fit in the same profile. I found one cool looking chip that could actually use a small coil drawn on the pcb to do detection but it's been out of stock forever and there's no other comparable chips which gives me pause

    #52 57 days ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    I'd love to use an eddy sensor too if I could find one small enough to fit in the same profile. I found one cool looking chip that could actually use a small coil drawn on the pcb to do detection but it's been out of stock forever and there's no other comparable chips which gives me pause

    I was briefly browsing the Mouser catalog to see if I could find anything of value, but didn't end up seeing much on that or how to actually design an eddy sensor circuit. It seemed like there are quite a few supporting components needed, which gave me some pause. I do wonder if it would be feasible to build a more focused sensor from scratch (along the same lines as the trough sensor in TZ) with some magnet wire and a 3D printed spool. Maybe throw on an ATTiny and have it watch an analog input.

    #53 57 days ago
    Quoted from Gornkleschnitzer:

    I was briefly browsing the Mouser catalog to see if I could find anything of value, but didn't end up seeing much on that or how to actually design an eddy sensor circuit. It seemed like there are quite a few supporting components needed, which gave me some pause. I do wonder if it would be feasible to build a more focused sensor from scratch (along the same lines as the trough sensor in TZ) with some magnet wire and a 3D printed spool. Maybe throw on an ATTiny and have it watch an analog input.

    https://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Texas-Instruments/LDC0851HDSGR?qs=diC8vqfyxkrjshhE0MppEQ%3D%3D#
    This is what I was looking at. They have a section talking about the PCB design, looks like minimal additional parts:
    pasted_image (resized).png

    I feel like at the point I'm adding a dedicated CPU to a single switch I've gotten too complex. Similarly I could probably make my opto sensors work better with an added microprocessor to filter out ambient light, etc but that's something I want to avoid if at all possible

    #54 55 days ago

    Getting near to cutting the first full playfield, so did some test cuts to verify stuff fits. No big issues found, although my target holes were a bit tighter than expected, and the inserts were all a bit loose, especially stuff where I relied on existing models on the internet vs measuring my specific parts myself.
    pasted_image (resized).png
    One big thing I learned though that I'll need to remember in the future is to be aware when positioning parts in the CAD sketches of what part of the shapes I'm dimensioning to. For instance, I needed to make the thickness of the holes for my narrow standup targets 0,1" bigger to allow the full bracket behind them to fit in. But often they were positioned by dimensioning them to something behind them, so that ended up moving the whole target forwards instead of just adding some room in back. Meanwhile when I mounted the target models to the holes in my 3d assembly, I mounted them all relative to the back for convenience, so when I made every target hole thicker, it moved all my models back, and that had to be corrected to so I could check the fit properly. Or when I placed multiple targets next to each other, I dimensioned between their adjacent edges instead of from their centers, so if I needed to make the holes slightly wider (which shouldn't affect the spacing), it'd throw everything off. I need to keep a better awareness of what part of each component is actually important to the play/its positioning, and always reference that instead of whatever is handy at the moment... pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    In general I've also learned I need to break up my playfield sketches a bit more... When I made the hole for my drop target 0.025" wider, that compounded into a scoop 8" away moving 0.25"! Looking at the subtle changes, none of them were 'wrong' and during the design phase I might not even notice them, but now that some things like guides have already been manufactured, their dimensions and mounting points are sorta 'locked in'. For a real manufacturer that wouldn't really matter and they'd probably just remake all the parts for the next prototype build, but for a one off trying to conserve money I need to be aware of any time stuff like that happens.

    From what I've seen of other homebrewer's CAD designs, none of them use nearly as much constraints/dimensions as I do, and it's often more of an enhanced drawing than fully defined CAD work. I'd love to get ahold of a file from some of the professionals to compare, although I bet there's a lot of variance between different designers there too

    #55 51 days ago

    One other big problem I'm going to need to nail down before cutting the playfield is the trough. None of the allied leisure games have multiball, but I'm going to need a multiball trough, and it needs to be able to handle more balls than usual since some will also get staged in the subway. The games originally had a pretty standard trough, just a rail going from the outhole to the shooter lane, with a kicker in the outhole. The only difference from normal one ball troughs is that it was much longer since this is a widebody. So I planned to use this mech, and add a second coil to control a gate on the other end to release balls one at a time into the shooter lane. Not a complex thing, there's a lot of space to work the mech in, so I'd think about the details later.

    pasted_image (resized).png

    As I started to do more of the layout, I found that there really wasn't much room on the playfield for the type of layout I wanted to do since it's a shortened cocktail size. So I moved the flippers/inlanes/etc down half an inch to make room for something, and then forgot about it. Then I did some more layout, and realized I'd mis-measured the playfield. I was putting stuff about an inch too far up the playfield, considering how close it gets to the glass, and would need to move stuff down. So I rearranged stuff, and when that didn't solve the issue, slid everything down another 1/2". And then forgot about it. Eventually I had the layout all finalized how I liked, and then realized there was no room for the trough!pasted_image (resized).png

    With the inlanes moved down, there was now no straight line from the outhole to the shooter lane at all. I assumed a modern style trough would work here, since they go under the playfield (allowing me to route the right outlane over it), but it didn't really fit that well since this is a widebody. The distance the ball needs to travel from the outhole both to the right and up the playfield is just much larger than what a standard sized game needs. I might have been able to work around that with some creativity, but then I realized, with the trough being at the very bottom of the playfield, and the cabinet being shallow to begin with, the trough would hit the floor! On top of all that, the area under the apron parts of the playfield turned out to be prime real-estate for other stuff, like the transformer, so really it'd be best if the entire trough could somehow fit above the playfield. I played around with a few ideas of how to fit it in, but in the end this concept was the only one that had potential: pasted_image (resized).png

    Now to make that into something workable...
    pasted_image (resized).png
    I worked some mounts for optos directly into the 3d printed walls, so it should be able to detect up to 4 balls, plus one 'jam' opto if two balls get into the kicker lane. Unlike regular troughs it also has a one way gate at the end to prevent balls from falling back in. Since I needed it all to be above the playfield, the coil is mounted to that orange metal base plate above the balls (I didn't bother modeling the coil itself).
    pasted_image (resized).png
    The kicker is designed a bit differently from the plungers normal troughs use, and instead is the full width of the lane. My idea for that is that, when kicking a ball, instead of just immediately releasing the plunger again, I can hold it up with a PWM current, preventing the balls remaining in the trough from entering the lane. Then, if for some reason the ball that was kicked to the shooter lane fails to make it, it'll come back down and rest on the extended plunger, triggering the trough jam opto. Then the plunger can release, and hopefully the ball will fall back with it, preventing the other balls from rolling in, and it can try again fresh. We'll see how well that works once it's built though...

    pasted_image (resized).png
    I printed out the guides, mostly just to test that they aligned with the dimples in the playfield (my first time doing something of this precision with this many separate parts, all made by different processes), but there were no issues. Running a ball through by hand, it also seems that the angle of the wall where the ball ejects into the shooter lane is enough that the one way gate might not even be needed. I'd assumed it'd bounce back and forth vertically and then trickle to the shooter lane from the angle of the gate, but even without the gate the ball is never touching the plastic a second time

    Everything seemed solid there so I left the matter of constructing the kicker mech until I had the electronics set up enough to do a real test. That is, until I reinstalled the shooter rod, and noticed this:pasted_image (resized).png

    Slight misalignment! Turns out that when you put a 6.5 degree playfield in a 3.5 degree cabinet, things don't line up! I'm not sure how I overlooked that for so long. I'd carefully measured the shooter rod positioning and modelled it in CAD so that I could line up the shooter lane....horizontally. But never looked at the vertical alignment. I guess I just figured that there was some vertical play and that'd be enough, but obviously it's not. The angle is also wrong, but I think the plunge would still work okay if the plunger was angled a bit downwards compared to the playfield.

    So how to solve this? The cabinet really isn't built in a way where I can just cut another hole or anything. I thought about some weird 3d printed thing that'd clamp onto the shooter rod and suspend another one an inch lower, but I doubt that'd work well. We'll just have to raise the playfield to match! pasted_image (resized).png

    I designed a 3D printed reverse ramp to sit in the shooter lane and ease the ball from the height+angle needed for the shooter rod at one end to meet the playfield at the other. This also has the added benefit of handling the shooter lane groove, so now I don't need to deal with carving that from the wood. Now the trough just needs to get the ball up to the shooter lane, so those 3d printed guide walls will need to become a 3d printed ramppasted_image (resized).png
    Now that there's an extra ramp to make it up, I can't trust my hand testing as much, so it's also time to finish the mechanism and get a coil in therepasted_image (resized).png
    pasted_image (resized).png
    Some more sheet steel bend on the metal brake make a coil bracket, and for once I got my holes drilled close enough that it went together on my first attempt. It's only now that I'm realizing I could have just had these coil brackets precision cut+bent at sendcutsend along with my ball guides, but oh well. The plunger is just a handy 7/16" bolt I had around. My original design called for another 1/4" bolt run through a hole in that down to the 3d printed kicker head, but I think I might not need that extra strength, so I made the full head out of plastic and just hung it on the bolt.

    Sadly... it doesn't work. The ball barely gets 1/4 of the way up the ramp, and it seems super weak, enough that I don't think it's just a badly designed mech causing issues. Turns out this is the fist instance of me seeing something I'd always wondered about: how much does having the full plunger be metal matter?. When you look at VUK plungers, etc, you'll see that the upper half is always made of rubber/plastic, while the lower half is metal, because if the upper half is also metal, the coil will be trying to pull some of that backwards. I knew that using an all metal plunger would make stuff weaker, but I didn't think it'd be so noticeable!
    pasted_image (resized).png
    Back to a two part plunger then. I've needed to make a lot of these over the years but I've never come up with a satisfying way to do it given my machining abilities. In the past I had a friend good with a lathe machine a thread onto the end of the metal part, and then machine another plunger with a threaded hole out of aluminum (non-magnetic), which worked amazing, but they moved to Florida... Then I used a part i found on marco, a williams drop target plunger. It has an integrated thread on the end. And then I 3d printed another end and manually tightened it onto that thread. pasted_image (resized).png

    Works well, but each plunger is $6, and they usually need additional modification on the other end to mount stuff to them, vs a $1 bolt I can get at the hardware store.
    So I decided to try my hand at a new approach, and thread a hole in the plunger to attach a 3D printed plastic end to: pasted_image (resized).png
    This works, but isn't the best. I can't cut a bolt at an exact 90 degree angle or get the surface flat afterwards, and where I drill might not be exactly centered either. The screw (and thus, the plastic plunger) ends up slightly angled and off center. In this case, that's fine. I just make the plastic plunger a small enough diameter that it won't scrape the sleeve. Still on the lookout for a better solution though.

    With a 2 part plunger, the kicker is nice and strong, and I can finally test it with a fully loaded troughezgif-4-6da2301fd4.gif

    I think that's good enough for now. Once I have the optos hooked up, etc and some code controlling it I can get more detailed.

    Two concerns going forward:
    - The angle of the trough isn't too high, so the balls roll down it quite slowly, especially when there's only one left. Hopefully they don't start getting stuck. I can't really angle stuff much more in the space I have though
    - I'm not sure what the optimal length to cut the plunger into its two pieces is. I'm sure some physicics/math professor could give me a proper answer, taking into account the range of motion of the plunger and the length of the coil. Right now I've guestimated that the metal plunger should stick into the coil around 0.7" by looking at some random other mechs I had from actual machines. But I bet that 0.1" either way could have a noticeable effect in a situation like flippers or vuks where you need every ounce of power you can get

    #56 50 days ago

    A curved shooter lane needs a curved side rail! (and I need side rails if I ever want to assemble this thing...)pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
    It also need a few other precision cuts, so I realized this would be another good use for the CNC router! usually for siderails I needed to find 0.5x1.5" wood and then cut it down to 1.25" by hand, which means finding someone with a table saw, so realizing I could do all these on the router was convenient.

    My first rail didn't go so well though. Unlike the playfield, there's no holes in the center of the part to mount it to for cutting, and I wanted to use the 'natural' edge on at least one side too since I didn't know how the CNCed edge would look after, so I tried to clamp it down from the sides with screws, but the vibration worked them free and the cuts got a bit messed up
    pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
    Still usable, so I figured it was good enough for the first whitewood at least. For the other two I gave in and drilled some placement holes in locations that shouldn't be visible when assembledpasted_image (resized).png
    As you can see in that one pocket though... I placed the hole wrong, and ended up going back to the side screws mid-cut in order to get it to work, so the second rail was also a bit messed up
    With some post processing though I got them workable, but definitely not as clean as I'd like pasted_image (resized).png
    In the end though, three rails ready to get drilled and mounted!

    pasted_image (resized).png
    #57 50 days ago

    Fascinating project and obstacles, but I can't help but ask the obvious: with all the work, constant struggles, and limitations—not to mention the access to the tools you have—why not simply design your own cocktail cabinet? Make a few tweaks to allow for the design you want, and then if you ever want to make another one you don't have to hunt for another donor.

    It's fun to see you problem solve either way.

    #58 50 days ago

    Actually, I think the rails look pretty good. On my CNC I always cut my parts from larger stock with holding tabs. I screw or clamp the edges of the waste and then don’t worry about it coming loose. It’s wasteful of wood, I know. But it works for me.

    Have you looked into a boot and dust collection system? The only drawback is static electricity which can zap your controller or worst yet ignite the dust. So you have to ground it!

    #59 50 days ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    Fascinating project and obstacles, but I can't help but ask the obvious: with all the work, constant struggles, and limitations—not to mention the access to the tools you have—why not simply design your own cocktail cabinet? Make a few tweaks to allow for the design you want, and then if you ever want to make another one you don't have to hunt for another donor.
    It's fun to see you problem solve either way.

    If you don't set yourself a few arbitrary design limits, where's the fun in coming up with creative solutions?

    #60 50 days ago

    Indeed. Upvote that!
    Nice solution on the trough!

    #61 50 days ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    Fascinating project and obstacles, but I can't help but ask the obvious: with all the work, constant struggles, and limitations—not to mention the access to the tools you have—why not simply design your own cocktail cabinet? Make a few tweaks to allow for the design you want, and then if you ever want to make another one you don't have to hunt for another donor.
    It's fun to see you problem solve either way.

    You've seen all the challenges I'm having just cutting single pieces of wood... Imagine if I had to join two together. At 45 degree angles! I'd like to get there eventually but that seems like a bigger hurdle than all these (individually) smaller things. I don't think a custom cabinet would solve all the problems either. If anything, I wish the cab was even shallower (from the perspective of how it'll be once it's done), but I just don't think that's reasonable at this point, at least not without simplifying the layout a ton (I just like tall mechs too much).

    That said, I want my next build after this to be a custom cab, and did consider it here, but I also had issues like dealing with the glass, molding, etc. For regular cabinets I can get that stuff but for a cocktail I'd need to fabricate it all too, which would be another layer of work beyond even the cabinet construction.

    Pinball construction is an interdisciplinary endeavor, and I could add more things requiring more new skills ad infinum, but even some of the skills I've already picked up for it aren't things I'm interested in (like operating a cnc router!) but for whatever reason the calculus usually ends up with me learning + doing it, begrudgingly, instead of the other options, so when I see an opportunity like this existing cab, I see a long list of work, failures, and learning that I can avoid entirely

    Quoted from Cmartin1235:

    Actually, I think the rails look pretty good. On my CNC I always cut my parts from larger stock with holding tabs. I screw or clamp the edges of the waste and then don’t worry about it coming loose. It’s wasteful of wood, I know. But it works for me.
    Have you looked into a boot and dust collection system? The only drawback is static electricity which can zap your controller or worst yet ignite the dust. So you have to ground it!

    Usually I would too, but I wanted to use the original edge on the top side. Turns out that after sanding, the cut side looks just fine anyway, so that was a waste of effort.
    Holding tabs would have been a great idea too.... if I'd remembered they exist! Noticed that button staring at my in my CAM software about five minutes after

    I actually do have a vacuum hose hooked up, etc, but it doesn't work too well. I usually need something to do anyway while waiting for the cuts so I'll just use the vacuum by hand to clean up after it fe time to time. Works good enough considering that it doesn't tend to pile up thick enough to cause issues anyway, so I haven't investigated improving the vacuum/boot. Plus I don't have a z stop so any larger boot would make it even harder to see what I'm doing while calibrating everything

    Quoted from TreyBo69:

    If you don't set yourself a few arbitrary design limits, where's the fun in coming up with creative solutions?

    Yeah, but, don't forget all the creative new ideas I had to shelf because I couldn't work around the limits too! Often I think I'd take that trade

    #62 50 days ago

    Great work so far! Love these led ir switches!

    #63 50 days ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    Yeah, but, don't forget all the creative new ideas I had to shelf because I couldn't work around the limits too! Often I think I'd take that trade

    Yeah, it's a trade for sure.

    Limitations breeding creativity is a thing, but pinball is already an inherently limited medium. You're dealing with a physical space, all kinds of constraints—and costs—as well as hoping to find something interesting that nobody has done before. That's a lot just by itself.

    Quoted from zacaj:

    You've seen all the challenges I'm having just cutting single pieces of wood... Imagine if I had to join two together. At 45 degree angles!

    I respect that. But I don't think you're really giving yourself credit, I've watched all your problem solving. You're smart and inventive. Putting together some cabinet sides, something that's been endlessly documented as woodworking 101 all over? You could nail it, so to speak.

    It's okay not to! Please don't take this as anything more than seeing you run up against these same walls and just wonder if that's the answer.

    I look forward to whatever you work up.

    #64 49 days ago

    You might check out some of the dust shoes on thingiverse. I use a printed one to good effect.

    #65 49 days ago

    Time to cut the playfield! pasted_image (resized).png

    I needed to take off the back bit, since the playfield hit the bottom when I tried to tip it up pasted_image (resized).png
    This required doing a full cut around the edge of the playfield since I hadn't figured out how to just do a line in my CAM software yet, but it was very gratifying watching the router trace the entire edge without taking off any wood at all. Looks like my alignment holes are working!

    The full process took over two hours Luckily I had a machine set up next to the CNC table to play while I monitored it

    Things went pretty well overall, just a few small issues:

    - the top edges of the holes are a bit messy. I think a quick sanding should fix this, but I bet it can be improved
    - when I did the dimples on the bottom, I told it to do a circle cut, instead of a drill, so my dimples are now like 0.15" wide... pasted_image (resized).png
    - when I went to cut some recesses on the bottom, I forgot to make it carve out the centers (usually it just does the edges of holes and leaves a floating piece of garbage pasted_image (resized).png
    - once I fixed that and re-ran it, one of them encountered a knot filling hidden in one of the inner plys, so that area of the playfield is now really thin, right where an insert will be going eventually pasted_image (resized).png
    - the little bit of wood on the right side of the shooter lane had already been fragile, and the plys had started to separate a bit. When the router got to it the whole thing shattered. not a big deal though, the side rail will go above that anyway. I could probably just cut that whole strip off... pasted_image (resized).png

    Now to test fit everything
    pasted_image (resized).png

    #66 49 days ago

    Anytime you encounter knots, thin, or empty cavities, a CA bath on that area works great to rigid things up. When I use worm wood, or spa.ted(rotten basically) woods for guitar tops, I always CA (thin super glue) bathe the whole top before gluing it to the guitar body. I do the same on my playfield if I encounter that issue, and it's usually rock solid in a very short time. Just a thought. Looking really good so far

    #67 48 days ago
    Quoted from MrBigg:

    Anytime you encounter knots, thin, or empty cavities, a CA bath on that area works great to rigid things up. When I use worm wood, or spa.ted(rotten basically) woods for guitar tops, I always CA (thin super glue) bathe the whole top before gluing it to the guitar body. I do the same on my playfield if I encounter that issue, and it's usually rock solid in a very short time. Just a thought. Looking really good so far

    Yeah I probably could have done something about it if I knew it was there. First time it was visible was as the router cut through the layer above and bit into it

    1 week later
    #68 42 days ago

    Time for some test fitting! pasted_image (resized).png

    I prep each mech with new parts, coil sleeves, etc, along with color coded wires and connectors. On Poker, I only did connectors on the drop target banks, thinking that I'd rather have less potential failure points compared with how often I'd need to take any other mechs off.... and that did not pay off. So, connectors for everything!
    pasted_image (resized).png
    For the pops, I'm stealing some all in one plastic mechs from the parts cocktail. They're actually really nice, so hopefully they work out. I can always fall back to some ballys or data east if they cause issues. New flipper mechs from PBL. I have some old williams mechs I could use but after the cost of rebuilding them it's not worth it...
    pasted_image (resized).png

    In some places I had to use bally linear slingshot mechs instead of normal hinged ones due to fit, and that also leads to my first fit issue:pasted_image (resized).png
    I widened the switch slots on this slingshot since I wasn't sure where I'd want to place them... not taking this mounting point into account. It looks like there's wood there but the edge is so close that if I put a screw in it'll burst out the side.

    pasted_image (resized).png

    For the lower bank of drops, the only style mech I could find that was short enough to fit was a williams style. However, I didn't have any of those! Turns out the mech from Alien is a complete rip off of the williams design though, and I did have a spare of that! The targets are a direct match, so I've got some PBL transparent targets on order, and I'll try to rig up RGB lighting for them
    pasted_image (resized).png

    The upper bank uses a six bank with memory from a Bally Kings of Steel with some handy new targets I found in a bargain bin at the York flea market for $2 each

    pasted_image (resized).png
    A magnet stolen from a parted out Addams Family barely fits under the upper drop target bank, but my CAD modeling was correct here, no issues.

    pasted_image (resized).png

    The parts playfield also had some Allied Leisure single drop target mechs. These have a cool benefit over other mechs like the commonly used williams ones in that they're completely self contained horizontally, so you can stuff them next to each other in tight spaces. On the other hand, no memory/knock down coil, so that's something I'll need to be wary of in my coding. While I thought I had a bunch of these, once I pulled them off the parts playfield, I discovered most of them were broken! Luckily I'd already designed a 3D printed version for my Star Shooter when one was missing, so I printed up some more and fixed them up. I used black here but I've got some transparent filament on the way, so hopefully I can find a way to make these lighted. The plungers stick down really far for some reason, about an inch out even when the target is up, and drag on the floor of the cabinet when I tip the playfield up, but it just pushes the targets up and doesn't get stuck, so that's fine.

    pasted_image (resized).png
    What isn't fine is my power supplies! I'm going to have to relocate at least 3 components because some of the mechs hit them, despite my careful planning before hand. I've started trying to trace each mech's footprint on the bottom to avoid future issues, but it's not very precise since I can only get in there to draw with the playfield up. Hopefully I don't need to redo too much of the wiring...

    pasted_image (resized).png

    Cabinet issues aside, all the mechs so far have gone in without issue. The one thing remaining is the vuks/scoops/subway, but I don't have that completely designed yet, and since it's completely custom I can always design the mechs to fit the available space, so I'm not as concerned as I would be for off the shelf stuff

    #69 42 days ago

    Nice. I’m looking forward to seeing the other side.

    #70 41 days ago
    Quoted from Cmartin1235:

    Nice. I’m looking forward to seeing the other side.

    Me too! I'm still missing so many parts . Hoping to post about each part of the playfield, the different revisions it went through, etc, as they get finished enough to actually shoot+test

    1 week later
    #71 32 days ago

    My color scheme is going to have a lot of red and blue, and probably two different bonuses you can build up and collect, so I started planning out making a lot of stuff on the playfield an even balance of those two colors to work it in. My six bank of drops is half red, half blue, and I was going to make all the single drops and the 3 bank a mix too, until I came across those transparent williams targets for the 3 bank, meaning I should be able to make those light different colors dynamically. Idk how well that'll work with the single drops, but it might work too, so that got me looking at the standups. My design has 14 standup targets, 10 skinny and 4 regular. The new Alien machine has RGB standups, so I know it must be possible... only issue is to figure out how! I drew up a little PCB that should be able to fit behind a target, with two RGB leds on it
    pasted_image (resized).png

    Pinball Life sells all the parts of a standup target individually, so I got some switch stacks (minus target face) and mounting brackets. The main problem was the target face itself. Alien has some custom molded semi-transparent white targets, but I don't know what plastic they used or anything. At first I thought I'd get some frosted PET-G plastic sheets and cut out the target shapes. If PET-G works for plastic protectors, it should work for targets, right? Turns out I can't find frosted PET-G anywhere. I tried frosting it by hand using some sand paper but the results weren't the best. But hey, I've got some transparent PET-G filament for my 3D printer... pasted_image (resized).png
    I designed this imitation target face and printed one up, then mounted it on a switch stack. Illumination was... not the best. Too much of the light was blocked by the switch blade so there was a big shadow in the middle. After a bit of playing around, I found out that the best way to get the front side illuminated well was to shine the LED right through the hole where the rivet was supposed to be. My two leds, one above and one below the hole, gave less light with the hole blocked than just one LED in the middle did with the hole. So I modeled up a new version without a hole for the rivetpasted_image (resized).png

    Without a fastener, the fit needs to be much more perfect, so I've been refining the little notches in the side to get a nice solid snap in motion. Right now it's still a bit too hard, and I have to use a hammer to get the switch blade in, but I think that can be refined a bit. And hey, if I can't get them in, hopefully a pinball can't get them out! Still trying to find a better solution here though.

    This picture looks way worse than it does by eye, but it still looks presentable! pasted_image (resized).png

    I made square and round faces too, and they illuminate just fine pasted_image (resized).png

    My one mistake here was with the placement of the connectors for the lightspasted_image (resized).png
    They work fine for this configuration, but 2/3 of my targets need to be rear-mount to fit in their locations, and with the L bracket on the back, it blocks the connector pins! I'll need to order another set of these with the pins below the screws instead of above, and probably move the LED to be more centered...

    #72 32 days ago

    I would purchase some of the rgb pcbs for these if you decide to sell!

    #73 31 days ago

    I like this very much and might use it in my next design. Let me see if I understand. The PCB is the hind most board in the support stack for the standup? How does the light from the LEDs get through the steel support that hold the target? Did you have to drill holes in the steel for the LEDs to shine through? Next revision, how would you improve the connectors, make the board long so it hangs below the leaf connection points?

    #74 31 days ago
    Quoted from Cmartin1235:

    I like this very much and might use it in my next design. Let me see if I understand. The PCB is the hind most board in the support stack for the standup? How does the light from the LEDs get through the steel support that hold the target? Did you have to drill holes in the steel for the LEDs to shine through? Next revision, how would you improve the connectors, make the board long so it hangs below the leaf connection points?

    Longer board, yeah. The petg transmits light well enough that just the shine through the center rivet hole and around the edges is enough, no extra holes needed. I tried adding them but they just became ugly hot spots

    #75 31 days ago

    Thanks for posting your RGB solution. When you have it playing, I'll be interested on how well they hold onto their mounts without a rivet.

    #76 31 days ago

    Love these rgb targets!!

    1 week later
    #77 22 days ago

    With the shooter lane in place, an easy part to test (since it needs no mechs/voltage/etc) is the skillshot/plunge.

    When sketching out the playfield, I sorta forgot about the plunge, so I ended up with this weird shooter lane to nowhere:

    pasted_image (resized).png

    I didn't worry about it much though, since that square in the middle is a scoop. I figured, at worst, you could just plunge into the scoop, Doctor Who style, and the game would handle it from there. But I'd like to at least have some sort of skillshot....

    I sketched out this vague idea of a circular area similar to how Taxi+Cactus Canyon work, since it was the only obvious thing I could come up with to use the remaining space in a 'physical' way. (as opposed to just having some code based timing skillshot like Medusa)pasted_image (resized).png
    My thinking was that the bottom part would be a flap/gate, so the ball would spin around in there one or more times to decide which award you get, then drain into the scoop from the side. Since the scoop feeds the subway, the plunge can also vary in feeding either inlane, or ejecting straight out, for variety.

    As the rest of the design progressed, things moved around a bit, and this area got smaller, until eventually there was no path for the ball to get around the deflector and enter the scoop. From the top, at least! The scoop is already below the playfield, so why not add a second little subway to feed the back of the scoop from a hole in the skillshot area? And if I'm already adding a little chute there, I might as well add another hole or two, it won't add any real complication...pasted_image (resized).png
    The lower hole is positioned just low enough that the center of the ball (where it rolls) won't touch it, so the ball can run around the edges of the circle fine, but as soon as it slows down, it'll fall into the hole. The two upper holes are also positioned so the ball can freely roll by them, but the player can do a 'super skill shot' and try to lob the ball directly into one of the holes via a soft plunge instead of going around the full circle. There's even a bonus third super skillshot you can do by arcing the ball between the two center holes into the bottom hole, without going around the edge.

    I love having lots of variety and choices in my skillshots, so having lots of different things for the player to go for is super important here. My last build had six distinct places you could plunge to, while this has one main skillshot (going around the loop a bunch) and 4 super skill shot options, which isn't quite as much, but when you add in that I can vary the main skillshot based on how many times you loop the ball, and that any of those 5 options can feed the ball three ways (and maybe even set up some combos for bonus skillshots...) and I think this should be good!

    After transforming from "rough sketch" to "3d parts ready for manufacture", it ended up like this:
    pasted_image (resized).png
    Two metal guides with 3d printed plastic behind them, and one metal flap, inspired by seawitch. I'm not sure if the floppiness of the flap will kill the momentum though, but I can always change it to a one way gate or something if it doesn't work

    Assembly... did not go quite according to plan. pasted_image (resized).png

    My spring steel flap I got from SCS was much stronger than I expected. Not only did it rip my 3d printed mount in half, but it basically acted like a solid wall when I tried to plunge the ball. I tried a bunch of other materials, but any that were weak enough to not steal all the ball's momentum as it pushed past from the shooter lane would bend too much when the ball came back to it from the loop and kill the momentum that way.

    Alright... backup plan. Gate time! Designing these is way more complex than you'd expect, since you need to take into account two different ball paths at once with the shape if you want them both to be smooth. I end up with a single really heavily constrained sketch that I keep rotating back and forth in CAD, tweaking it in one orientation, then checking those tweaks in another. There's probably some fancy trick to make it show both views at once as I edit but I haven't found it yet... pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    pasted_image (resized).png
    In the end though, I have a weird gate that should push itself open smoothly from the plunge, then close itself smoothly as the ball hits it from the loop.
    And it mounts to the same two screws as the original metal flap did pasted_image (resized).png

    Sadly, it doesn't work at all. Or rather, the gate allows the ball through just fine, but even with the gate I barely get one full revolution before the ball loses all its momentum!

    At this point I'm a bit stuck. On games like taxi, you can easily get 10-15 revolutions around the bowl before the ball falls in, and that's after launching up a ramp! When sketching all this stuff up, I try to identify possible issues where I'm doing anything "weird" that hasn't been battle tested elsewhere, and have some contingency plans in place, but I didn't anticipate any issues with this aspect of the design... Since I know this theoretically 'should' work though, it's time to try and eliminate any variables I can that could be causing the issue.

    First, I wonder if the plunger just isn't strong enough. On the original cocktail game, all the ball had to do was get to the top of the playfield; there was no need for a lot of speed. So I go to replace the spring with a red spring (the strongest available). And then I realize that the game doesn't use a standard shooter rod! pasted_image (resized).png

    This shooter rod is almost 3" shorter than a stock one, so it also uses a custom shorter length spring. I cut a red spring in half to make it fit, and try again, but it makes almost no difference. Maybe 1.25 revolutions instead of 1. I'd like at least 4-5.

    Maybe with a rod this short it's impossible to get good strength? Lets rule that out too! I print up a custom shooter rod housing that's compatible with the allied leisure mount, but sticks out an extra few inches to accommodate a standard rod: pasted_image (resized).png

    The plunger is now way harder to pull back, which is a good sign.... but I barely get 2 revolutions even on a good plunge!

    Okay, maybe the gate is the issue.... I print up a small, fixed guide that's slightly taller than half the height of a ball, and tried to roll the ball around the loop by hand (even though I can't plunge now so it's not really a good comparision)pasted_image (resized).png

    This was a bit smoother than the gate, so I think part of the ball's momentum was being lost from the gate rattling into place instead of being fixed, but that can't be all of it....

    Since the fixed guide showed some progress, I took it to the next step and made an elevated shooter lane to shoot over it

    pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    With that in place, I do another test plunge.... and the ball goes straight over the skillshot and hops out of the game. So I make another guide to catch the airball and curve it down into the looppasted_image (resized).png

    Finally, we've got some good action!ezgif-1-5d6b8d8db0.gif

    You can't really see it in the video but the ball actually gets like 12 revolutions here. There are occasional airballs that escape still so it might take some tweaking, but considering I don't even have a shooter gauge to hold the ball or the rod properly aligned, I think this is solid enough for now.

    #78 22 days ago

    Some very cool trials going on, I like your attempts as much as the working results. Very cool stuff going on in your brain. I too am back to making progress again, and it's a great feeling to see things come together from idea to reality

    #79 22 days ago

    really nice idea!

    #80 21 days ago

    That is seriously cool! Really unique skillshot, feels like a callback to the pre-flipper days.

    #81 20 days ago

    Very cool! Is there any nudging the game to help sink the skill shot?

    #82 17 days ago

    As mentioned in my mechs post earlier, I have a bunch of these Allied Liesure single drop target assemblies. They don't have knockdown coils, so they can't be used in as many places as a full PBL assembly could, but I wanted to use them somewhere, and they can fit in some tight places due to their design.
    Due to a weird aspect of allied leisure's manufacture process, the drops, just like all their other mechs, are designed to fit through circles in the playfield instead of rectangles/etc (I assume they didn't have the 70s equivalent of a CNC router or something and had to use drills for everything?), so they're very easy to put on my playfield without any alignment/spacing issues like I'd have to worry about with normal drop targets (making sure the slot is wide enough for the targets to fall, etc). pasted_image (resized).png

    In my design, I also wanted to have an upper flipper, since flippers are fun and having only two flippers is boring! Flippers need something to shoot for though... On most older games with a third flipper, you don't actually really want to use the flipper though, which is disappointing. I feel like the game should make you always want to be flipping at something. Since it's a single level design though, I can't really put in a side ramp or something like most newer games have. Plus, on games with a side ramp, it often feels like that's *all* you shoot, even if there's other shots, which, again, is a bit disappointing from a design perspective. So I decided to put a bunch of targets there instead. The allied drop targets sorta emphasize being free standing (vs having a rubber behind them), so I drew up this setup with 3 drop targets, and 3 standup targets behind them. Depending on which targets are up, you can have a lot of different combinations of shots to make. There's also a bonus shot above them between the two posts which loops back to the upper flipper. pasted_image (resized).png
    I've never found banks of standup targets to be that fun though. There isn't much feedback when you hit them, and it's hard to know whether you've hit the correct one either. So I replaced the 3 standups in the back with a single rubber. Then, you can either shoot for one of the 3 drops, or try to shoot past them. It's much easier to tell if the ball got past the targets than if it hit a specific standup, but I can still make the player aim for where any specific standup was by raising the other drops. pasted_image (resized).png

    I had more than 3 assemblies though, so then I figured, why not do two banks of them? At first I was gonna do a full set of 6 (2x3) like Bally's Vector does, but it felt like that didn't really add as much challenge and just felt like woodchopping, so I switched to 5 targets to give more variety. Lighting them will be a bit of a challenge since the mechs take up the entire area between the front and back banks, but I'll fit something in somehow... pasted_image (resized).png

    This design played pretty still for a while, until after I'd expanded the skillshot to use a small additional subway. Then I thought... hey, these drop targets are right near that subway, right? And there's nothing between them either... What if I replaced that rubber in the back with another subway entrance? Not only would you get the experience of shooting targets and shooting past targets to hit stuff behind them, but now I could have both a "you hit a target, and the ball comes shooting back at you" return feed and a "you get past the targets into the subway, and get a clean feed to a flipper" return feed. Can't turn down variety!
    So I shoved the targets forward a bit more, and put a big hole behind them. pasted_image (resized).png

    Once I went to 3D, this then became some plastic dividers and a big strip of steel to make a triple entrance, extra-wide "scoop" pasted_image (resized).png
    The dividers are a bit concerning. I didn't want to have three separate holes in the wood since then the actual holes would be pretty small, and I feel like you'd get a lot of misses+rejects. I feel like, once you manage to get past the drops, the ball should go in the hole no matter where you shoot it. The dividers are just there to give you something extra to shoot for. Maybe in the end I'll decide I don't need them and just leave one big hole, similar to the single rubber stretched across in the old design? I'm going to print the dividers out of TPU, the same rubbery material that was used for the first wave of rush scoop mods, etc, so I don't think a ball will be able to break it, but it's also hard to give it a good mount since the hole extends right to the edge of the drop target mechs. In the end I've designed it to only screw in on the back side, and just have a thin (0.04") section that gets sandwiched between the mech and the wood on the other side, which might not work well...
    pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    When you have targets that the ball can get behind, and they can't knock themselves down in ball search, you've always gotta be careful that there's a way for the ball to 'escape' from that area. Some of you may have wondered in the previous skillshot post why there's a break in the outer wall of the skillshot loop: pasted_image (resized).png

    But now you can tell, it's to prevent a stuck ball! If a ball gets behind the back set of drop targets, it'll fall through that opening in the skillshot wall and into one of the holes. Similarly, I added another hole below the front set of drops to enter the subway there too: pasted_image (resized).png

    #83 16 days ago

    Thanks for the great post. I really like those drop targets. Being able to do them with round holes is very elegant. They could be made with transparent plastic and lit as their own inserts.

    #84 16 days ago
    Quoted from Cmartin1235:

    Thanks for the great post. I really like those drop targets. Being able to do them with round holes is very elegant. They could be made with transparent plastic and lit as their own inserts.

    I'm hoping that if I get an LED deep in there it'll illuminate a clear drop and make the base glow too. It's not transparent but it does let a lot of light through so I think at least some glow will show up. I bet with some adjustment you could 3D print the base too. With the original design it's a bit structural though, and the metal mounting bracket for the coil actually screws into the plastic. Keeps everything nicely aligned, but probably not the best idea... Maybe you could get a bit creative, rely on the CNC to dimple the bottom correctly for alignment, and cut out most of the flat part of the base as well and just end up with a transparent 1/2" thick insert disk for the target

    Downside of the round holes: allied leisure playfields are thicker than mine, so I needed to print some shims to level them with the wood.

    #85 15 days ago

    So I'd designed the skillshot that'd use a subway, and the scoop for the side flipper shot, which'd use a subway... but then I needed to actually design the subway!
    pasted_image (resized).png
    Something needs to connect all these holes (highlighted in orange) together. As long as I avoid the drop target mechs to the left, I basically have a completely free space to work with. This'll also involve placing a switch in every hole somehow to detect where the ball drops in, and potentially some lights in the holes to show which one to shoot for (the side scoop is so close to the drop target mechs in front of it that there's no room for inserts). I was trying to plan out some 3D printed system for a while before I remembered.... I have a router! I can just make it out of wood, as a full-on lower playfield! So I just drew an outline around the whole set of holes and designed it as another sheet of plywood, with some guides to make sure the balls don't just go wherever pasted_image (resized).png

    pasted_image (resized).png

    Preparing for manufacturing, I cleaned up and reinforced the walls, and added a bunch of insert holes where I can stick rollover stars or my optos, solving the switch problem. I wasn't quite sure how cleanly the balls would drop or where they'd go, so I put in way more holes than necessary
    pasted_image (resized).png

    Time to cut! pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    Rather than dealing with inserts, I just cut a plastic layer from some spare lexan I had around to sandwich between the floor and walls pasted_image (resized).png
    Screw it together, and we've got a subway pasted_image (resized).png
    Fits perfect. I really love that aspect of working with CNC parts pasted_image (resized).png

    Well, almost perfect pasted_image (resized).png
    This one bolt in the corner of the cabinet hit the playfield as I tried to lower it down, so I chopped it off. If only all my cabinet clearance issues were this easy

    So now one part of the subway is done, and I may have the only pin with a completely hidden lower "playfield". I still haven't figured out how to make the main subway system either. Originally I was planning on using pvc pipes to connect a bunch of 3d printed parts, but that sounds like it'll be a lot of work and alignment could be an issue. I'd like to find some bendable tubing to use instead of pvc, but my local hardware stores have not turned up anything. I guess using this approach again could be an option too? Just a large, weirdly shaped wood playfield suspended below the main one... It'd make mounting the diverter and switches much easier at least! I'd probably need a better way to make the walls though, since it would be far enough below the main playfield that a 1/2" wall wouldn't be enough to keep the ball from jumping out.... Maybe I could get some 90 degree brackets and line the sides with strips of plastic sheet?

    #86 15 days ago

    I've read you can bend PVC and other tubings by preheating it and filling it with hot sand. The sand keeps it from crimping.

    #87 12 days ago
    Quoted from Cmartin1235:

    I've read you can bend PVC and other tubings by preheating it and filling it with hot sand. The sand keeps it from crimping.

    We bend pvc all the time in the electrical world for conduit. Super easy, and if your careful you don't need the sand, you just heat it, and bend it.

    #88 8 days ago

    Got all the RGB standups assembled.pasted_image (resized).png

    These are still using the wrong boards since I haven't ordered new ones yet, so they won't actually bit lit, but they should be good for testing, and I'm not planning on wiring up lights yet anyway so...

    In memoriam, all my test prints:
    pasted_image (resized).png

    #89 7 days ago

    I'm retrieving the thread, and i'm super impressed by the "multiballs launch" system and all your RGB target !
    So many ideas here, it's awesome, well done !

    #90 6 days ago

    Forgot to post the targets! pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
    pasted_image (resized).png

    Next, wiring..... D:

    #91 6 days ago

    lol how did you end up with extra Alien targets? Wasn't expecting to contribute anything to this one.

    #92 6 days ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    lol how did you end up with extra Alien targets? Wasn't expecting to contribute anything to this one.

    They started flaking out on my Alien and instead of sending me a new opto board or something they just sent me a whole assembly. And then this was the only thing in the house that fit in this spot on the playfield

    #93 4 days ago

    At this point, I've got enough stuff mounted that I should be able to do some test plays.... once I wire stuff up. I'm not really interested in doing 'temporary' wiring, so getting enough to do some flipping, hit some targets means I'm gonna wire up everything I possibly can in its most final form possible

    This time, unlike on my last build, I'm gonna put connectors on every mech, since I know I'll be doing at least one playfield transfer. Before I only did this on mechs like drop targets which I knew I'd need to service, reasoning that unsoldering two wires wasn't a big deal and could eliminate 3 potential points of failure. pasted_image (resized).png

    On the last build, I also had the advantage of having big playfield support rails running the whole length of the playfield, which made wire management easy. Each wire just ran to the mech, and then back to the rail, and the wires ran along the rail, safely above all the mechs. This time there's no room for rails, so I'm going to have to route all the wires around the mechs. The switch wiring will be done directly on the playfield wood, and the coil wiring will be at the top of these ladders from PBL to keep the low voltage isolated for noise reduction: pasted_image (resized).png

    Using connectors means that I can't just easily daisy chain the power wiring from one coil to the next, soldering 2-3 wires to the lug of the coil, and I don't like putting two wires, especially large ones, into a connector. Plus, doing daisy chaining like that makes it really messy to adjust stuff if you need to add/remove mechs later, so I decided I wanted a new system. The wago connectors I used for wiring in the cabinet seemed like an obvious route, so I designed some 3d printed wago mounts that snap into the ladders and have a built in slot for a zip tie to help with routing. My thinking is that I'll put one of these near each group fo coils, and then run four coils to each connector, along with one main power line.

    pasted_image (resized).png

    I then planned out a simple route for the harness to work its way through the playfield to all the mechs. This got a bit weird because there are some places where there's no 'clear' path for the wire to get through, thanks to the subway, and I don't know exactly where the subway is going to go yet, so I just left some slack in the wires and crossed my fingers it'll work out somehow. pasted_image (resized).png
    The wiring... didn't come out as cleanly as I'd hoped. Having connectors on everything naturally leads to a bit of messiness, but the wago mounts also look bad. Since I don't want to just run wires directly into them I had to loop everything through the connector first, and then into the connectors, so it ends up with 5 ugly loops of wire on each one. pasted_image (resized).png

    The size of the connectors+mounts didn't help either. Despite them seeming pretty small in your hand, once you've got them stuffed into a playfield with lots of wires going into them they're actually pretty bulky, and the fact that all the wires have to enter from the same direction isn't very good either. Wire nuts have the same problem. I feel like when I'm joining two wires together, it's pretty much always because they're coming from different places! Why not design a wago connector with holes in both sides? Sigh

    While wiring, I also started to have problems with my homemade wire striper (a 2x4 with some holes in it to hold a wire and a marker). The stripes were coming out really ugly, and one of my markers got ruined after its tip got covered with left over paint from another marker. So I took a break to design something better:

    pasted_image (resized).png

    (Cutaway view to show how it works)

    This is a little 3d printed box with a hole for the wire to go through and a spot on top to fit a marker in. After a few revisions I got it tuned pretty well so that the markers just snap right in and you can run wires though, and get much cleaner results than my old system. Plus, if they ever get 'contaminated' with paint I can just print another one

    #94 4 days ago

    Great stuff. Thank you for discussing your thought process.

    #95 4 days ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    At this point, I've got enough stuff mounted that I should be able to do some test plays.... once I wire stuff up. I'm not really interested in doing 'temporary' wiring, so getting enough to do some flipping, hit some targets means I'm gonna wire up everything I possibly can in its most final form possible
    This time, unlike on my last build, I'm gonna put connectors on every mech, since I know I'll be doing at least one playfield transfer. Before I only did this on mechs like drop targets which I knew I'd need to service, reasoning that unsoldering two wires wasn't a big deal and could eliminate 3 potential points of failure. [quoted image]
    On the last build, I also had the advantage of having big playfield support rails running the whole length of the playfield, which made wire management easy. Each wire just ran to the mech, and then back to the rail, and the wires ran along the rail, safely above all the mechs. This time there's no room for rails, so I'm going to have to route all the wires around the mechs. The switch wiring will be done directly on the playfield wood, and the coil wiring will be at the top of these ladders from PBL to keep the low voltage isolated for noise reduction: [quoted image]
    Using connectors means that I can't just easily daisy chain the power wiring from one coil to the next, soldering 2-3 wires to the lug of the coil, and I don't like putting two wires, especially large ones, into a connector. Plus, doing daisy chaining like that makes it really messy to adjust stuff if you need to add/remove mechs later, so I decided I wanted a new system. The wago connectors I used for wiring in the cabinet seemed like an obvious route, so I designed some 3d printed wago mounts that snap into the ladders and have a built in slot for a zip tie to help with routing. My thinking is that I'll put one of these near each group fo coils, and then run four coils to each connector, along with one main power line.
    [quoted image]
    I then planned out a simple route for the harness to work its way through the playfield to all the mechs. This got a bit weird because there are some places where there's no 'clear' path for the wire to get through, thanks to the subway, and I don't know exactly where the subway is going to go yet, so I just left some slack in the wires and crossed my fingers it'll work out somehow. [quoted image]
    The wiring... didn't come out as cleanly as I'd hoped. Having connectors on everything naturally leads to a bit of messiness, but the wago mounts also look bad. Since I don't want to just run wires directly into them I had to loop everything through the connector first, and then into the connectors, so it ends up with 5 ugly loops of wire on each one. [quoted image]
    The size of the connectors+mounts didn't help either. Despite them seeming pretty small in your hand, once you've got them stuffed into a playfield with lots of wires going into them they're actually pretty bulky, and the fact that all the wires have to enter from the same direction isn't very good either. Wire nuts have the same problem. I feel like when I'm joining two wires together, it's pretty much always because they're coming from different places! Why not design a wago connector with holes in both sides? Sigh
    While wiring, I also started to have problems with my homemade wire striper (a 2x4 with some holes in it to hold a wire and a marker). The stripes were coming out really ugly, and one of my markers got ruined after its tip got covered with left over paint from another marker. So I took a break to design something better:
    [quoted image]
    (Cutaway view to show how it works)
    This is a little 3d printed box with a hole for the wire to go through and a spot on top to fit a marker in. After a few revisions I got it tuned pretty well so that the markers just snap right in and you can run wires though, and get much cleaner results than my old system. Plus, if they ever get 'contaminated' with paint I can just print another one

    Sometching like phoenix connectors, or small din rail connectors would clean that right up, and still give you connection points for multiple wires. I'm using something similar on the bottom of my playfield

    #96 4 days ago

    Man, you’ve got some really clever things going on. I’m looking forward to your theme integration.

    #97 3 days ago

    Wiring, pt 2:

    After doing all the suspended high voltage wiring... I realized I'd need to do the low voltage wiring before making any use of it, since otherwise the node boards can't even get power! Really should've through that through a bit first...

    Luckily, since everything is connectors and attached to the ladders, I just disconnected it all, then unscrewed the ladders, and lifted the whole harness off again, which was pretty satisfying. Plus, a good check for when I do the playfield swap later. While taking it off, I had one wire come unsoldered from the coil, and two of my crimps (in the rare places where I still did a daisy chained crimp) broke, so it even had a bonus of stress testing my wiring job!

    The wago wire joins didn't satisfy me, but there weren't enough issues with them to redo them mid-way. The switch wiring, on the other hand, definitely won't work with the wagos. Even without the "everything comes in the same direction" issue, they're just way too big when compared to the tiny 22ga wires I'll be using, especially when you need to put a 3d printed mount around them just to attach them to the playfield.

    So I decided to make a questionable decision, and design my own connectors, with the goal of allowing 5+ wires to be inserted from multiple directions, and allowing me to add single wires later on as more wiring is done, and came up with this: pasted_image (resized).png

    It's basically a #6 screw locked in place, sticking up through a washer, with a nut on top, and a bunch of slots for wires to go into. Take off the nut, wrap some wires around the screw, tighten the nut back down again. It could be better, especially if I could find like, a 'fender nut', and I have no idea if it'll work well or hold up, but there's only one way to find out...

    pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    I placed one of these near each bunch of switches to distribute the grounds, and then started running lots of individually colored/striped wires back to the node boards for their signals.

    While doing that, I quickly ran into two issues. First, I'm planning on using three node boards on the playfield. Each supports 32 switches, which means I get 96 switches total. I have nine wire colors, and five markers. Not gonna cut it. I make a run to the local craft store and buy every color of marker they have, and that gets me to.... ten colors. 90 combinations. Still not quite there, but I guess 6 repeats isn't too bad as long as I keep them on different parts of the playfield. Also three of those colors are violet, magenta, and purple

    Second issue: looking at my CAD, I have 107 switches. Whoops. I never really kept track, but considering that Poker, which has tons of drop targets everywhere, only had like 70 switches, I just sorta assumed that this would have a reasonable number too. Guess not.
    Now, I probably don't need all of those. For instance, I put two optos on the two exits of my subway diverter, so I can track whether the diverter actually worked or not. In reality, the diverter really needs to work reliably, and if it doesn't I need to fix it, so maybe I can get away without those two. Or, I planned to maybe have an EM score reel in the cabinet, so I could fire it when you rip the spinner to make a satisfying sound. And that reel has an EOS switch that I was gonna wire up to make sure I can accurately emulate the EM sound. But maybe I don't need that switch. Or maybe the reel won't even fit. At worst, I left some spare pins on my MPU for an expansion slot, so I could always make a little addon board for the MPU to read a few switches directly. But I really don't wanna do that...

    I also mounted the first few of my opto rollover switches for some real testing. They need an insert to work, but I didn't want to add too many inserts since it'd be hard to level them, so I tried to keep it to just a few places. pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    I'm still a bit undecided on how to wire these.. With both serial RGB leds and a switch in them, they could end up with three separate connectors (serial in, serial out, switch out), but that seems like a pain. Maybe it should all be one connector? But then my lighting and switch wiring harnesses will be stuck together. The two serial connectors can be combined, but then my lighting signal is just one giant chain without breaks, which could get annoying too. I've also seen some homebrewers who make custom RGB PCBs that didn't even use connectors, and just had some flat solder pads to directly wire things to, which might be a good option in the long run. I'm definitely going to at least add some solder pads to my next revision, in case having tons of tiny connectors falling off boards becomes an issue.

    Eventually, I managed to wire up all the switches, except for the optos. Half the optos are more of these custom rollovers which I don't have insert holes cut for yet, so they'll have to wait. The other half are planned to be old school bally/williams style optos in some of the mechs, but I want to do some tests to make sure those work properly with my boards before going further, so I guess this'll be good enough for now.

    Low voltage wiring: pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    And with the high voltage harness reinstalled on top: pasted_image (resized).png

    #98 2 days ago

    In hindsight, I should have figured out the optos sooner. I'm using the same transmitter and receiver that williams used, but I'm trying to avoid needing extra opto boards like they did. Most games have specific opto boards inputs with comparators on them to do a precise check against the voltage level coming out of the receiver and integrate it with the switch matrix. But I don't have a switch matrix, and my I/O chips have a pretty solid 0.8-2V range where anything under that is considered a 'low' (active in my case) signal, so I figured that as long as the transmitter was pulling the line down well, it should be easy for it to get it under 0.8v, allowing me to hook it directly to the node board like a normal switch, but I never got around to testing this to confirm, so I always had a little note in the ack of my mind "might need custom opto boards" "might need to modify the node boards", etc. And when doing the wiring, I tried to put all the optos on the same switch banks just in case that came in helpful.

    pasted_image (resized).png
    Well, turns out the optos work just as I expected. As soon as the ball blocks the beam even slightly, they lose signal, which is great since some of my opto placements arent 'centered' on the balls. When there is signal, the receiver pulls it right down to 0.0V as I'd hoped.... as long as there are no pullup resistors. My node boards have spots for pullup resistors on each of the 4 input banks, and I'd originally planned on using some 10k resistors there. But then I found out that my IO chips have built in pullups. 80k pullups. I usually don't trust those, but they seemed to work great during initial testing. Except with the optos. With a 10k pullup, I get 2.8V; way too high. With the 80k, I get 0.0V. So, great, I just need to not use external pullups, right? Only one problem. Or, more like, 3. The flipper buttons. Those switches are unique in that they have a really long run all the way from the front of the cabinet to the back, and then back through the wiring harness to the node boards. In my initial testing I found that, without external pullups, I got some weird signals, but with the external pullup it seemed to work fine. Maybe I'll need to hook a scope up eventually and see what's going on, but for now I figured, well, the external pullup can't hurt right? why not use it? So now I need to make sure that my flipper buttons don't go into the same connectors as my optos. Which of course some of them do.

    #99 2 days ago

    Your home made ground lugs are great, crimp on forks would be a better connection under the nut, and make them not want to tear the wire, and be easier to remove, and replace.

    #100 1 day ago
    Quoted from MrBigg:

    Your home made ground lugs are great, crimp on forks would be a better connection under the nut, and make them not want to tear the wire, and be easier to remove, and replace.

    Yeah idk how durable they'll be. Crimp on forks/loops would definitely be the next step if that becomes an issue. I've never had good luck finding the proper size of those or getting them crimped well though so I generally avoid them

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