(Topic ID: 91457)

F14 Tomcat : Second Sortie - custom development and rebuild


By Snux

5 years ago



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  • 81 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 months ago by agodfrey
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There are 448 posts in this topic. You are on page 9 of 9.
#401 3 years ago
Quoted from PAPPYBALL:

This is hands down the greatest Tomcat on the planet!

I'm not so sure about that, but it is one of the most neglected Tomcats recently. Things going on behind the scenes though. I've done a new revision of the board which connects the P-ROC to a Sys11, basically just some fixes (which means I don't need to cut traces and add jumpers to each board) and some tidy-up. The batch of blank PCBs arrived this week, so I need to build one up and check it works. And it's red instead of green

DSCN6179_(resized).JPG

I've also decided that I will give MPF a try as the programming framework and switch to a RGB DMD. That gives a couple of challenges in the pinmame arena which is what I'm looking at now - I have to persuade the special version of pinmame for P-ROC to drive the RGB DMD via a Teensy, and also to control the RGB insert lamps via a Fadecandy which is what MPF supports out of the box. Once I can get pinmame working, then I'll post some more progress here as I give MPF a shot.

It might be that MPF doesn't suit me in the end, but as I've decided that my code needs a rework from ground up anyway I figure it'll be fun to try.

#402 3 years ago

You're a star!!

On top of that I wasn't aware that pinmame wouldn't output to the RGB.dmd... So glad you're checking out options!

#404 3 years ago

Nice work. I created a mod of F-14 a few years back. Recently updated to this:

Didn't think it was possible to mod a real world table to this extent. Impressive.

#405 3 years ago
Quoted from SLAMT1LT:

I created a mod of F-14 a few years back. Recently updated to this:

Wow, really really nice work. I thought originally that you were just ramping up the display and sounds, but I see you have some new rules in there too. Do you mind sharing what rules you changed/added, and if so, might I be able to steal some?

Also - you seem to have missed something. You need this sound (just joking!)

#406 3 years ago

Actually, ignore that, I found your rulesheet!! Nice additions... mind if I borrow a couple?

#407 3 years ago

So put together a new version of the board today, found I'm missing a couple of parts which are on order now. Should be able to test this during the week...

DSCN6182_(resized).JPG

#408 3 years ago
Quoted from Snux:

So put together a new version of the board today, found I'm missing a couple of parts which are on order now. Should be able to test this during the week...
DSCN6182_(resized).JPG

It's such a bummer when building a board and you are short parts! I have started counting out parts when I sit down to build so that IF I am short parts I know it when I start to build. Somehow that makes it less agonizing for me than finding that I am missing parts mid build of a board.

I do love the peace of a quiet evening building boards. Sorta like raking rocks in the yard. Physically busy with simple tasks and my mind can wander around and ponder new ideas.

Keep up the good work!

Aaron
FAST Pinball

#409 3 years ago
Quoted from Snux:

Also - you seem to have missed something. You need this sound (just joking!)
» YouTube video

That video always cheers me up when i need a boost

New boards looking great matey. Good work.

#410 3 years ago

OK, the new board still needs a minor mod to it, which will make it to the next version once these have cleared out, but the one I built has run fine in my F-14 for a few hours now.

Prior to it going in my actual machine though, to save smoke and fuses, I run a bench test. Connect it to the P-ROC and run Pinmame, it's enough to test the lamp and solenoid drives.

Shout out to Hans at Siegecraft for the little lamp matrix and solenoid output testers!

http://www.siegecraft.us/presta/index.php

#411 3 years ago

This time around I also switched PCB manufacture from my previous supplier to PCBWay. They work out at around half the price, choosing red over green (or yellow, blue, white, black) was a no cost option, they arrived in less than 2 weeks and the quality is first class. So a shout out to them too !!!

#412 3 years ago

Vid is private. Can you make it public?

#413 3 years ago

I love the red!!

Quoted from Snux:

This time around I also switched PCB manufacture from my previous supplier to PCBWay. They work out at around half the price, choosing red over green (or yellow, blue, white, black) was a no cost option, they arrived in less than 2 weeks and the quality is first class. So a shout out to them too !!!

#414 3 years ago
Quoted from agodfrey:

Can you make it public?

Oops. Done

#415 3 years ago

I'm gonna say it again....LOVE THE RED!!! super EXCITED TO GET MY BOARD!!!!

2 months later
#416 3 years ago

Another month, another change of plan. F-14 is going HD, and I'll keep the codebase I already have. MOcean took my F-14 pyprocgame code and applied a few tweaks to get it working with his HD code base. So I'm dropping back from MPF (again. who said women are the fickle ones?) and leaving the RGB DMD out of the picture, which means I won't need to do even more hacking of pinmame. I've also got the NUC computer I bought ages ago up and running. Will tinker with some display things tomorrow, lets see how it goes.

#417 3 years ago

I like the slow pace you are going at. Makes me feel better about my pace Ordered my P-roc, and started soldering! Hope to see some new updates from you! I think I am going with HD as well as opposed to RGB.DMD. LOVE the look and ergonomics, but as a video producer I lose SOOOOO much scaling it to 128x32. Stoked!

#418 3 years ago

I spent some time poking around the both the HD code and also the SkeletonGame framework. For someone starting afresh, SkeletonGame is an awesome way to get up and running; there is a lot of functionality built in right from the start. For me though it would take some rework (for that read 'me breaking stuff') to plumb it in, so I'm not doing that this time around. However I am using a number of the extra features that it comes with including an improved scoredisplay mode and an assetmanager that makes adding new sounds/animations/lampshows etc a piece of cake.

So given that, I did some basic work to get my attract mode working in HD in order to understand how it works. Despite my reservations, at it's basic level it's really easy to switch over from the old DMD display. Change the display size from 128x32 and then it just kind of works. Most of the commands for creating text, animations and so on now take colour arguments, but apart from that it's pretty seamless. Nice work MOcean, no idea why I didn't do this before

I'm not going to convert any more of my original animations yet (they're all still greyscale 128x32) until I get the exact size of the new display worked out. I have an LCD screen, but I'm still waiting for the controller (so I can connect to the HDMI on my computer) to arrive from China. Once I can connect it, I can see what size display I can get into the speaker panel. At the moment I'm running it on this old TV. Using original resolution of 400x200 which I'm scaling up to 1200x6000 just to play with the options.

In this video you can see how it looks at the moment. Probably won't use those fonts in reality, I was just seeing what's possible. At the start you can also see the computer I'm planning to use (the little black box top right of the keyboard). It's a little Intel NUC running Win7, has 4Gb of memory and 128Gb drive. One of these to be precise, seems to be very capable of running all this (will check pinmame soon too, but should be fine) :

http://www.intel.co.uk/content/www/uk/en/nuc/nuc-kit-dn2820fykh.html

I still need to switch my RGB control over to a Teensy from the slower Arduino and rethink the wiring for that, but hopefully over the next week or so I can plumb this all back into the real machine and get moving again (you can see it behind the TV screen, playfield up and waiting for some love.

#419 3 years ago

So the controller for the LCD panel made its way over from China, and it seems to all work fine. The resolution of 1200x600 seems to be about right too, quick video of holding a spare speaker panel over it for a fit...

#420 3 years ago

Looking really nice.

#421 3 years ago
Quoted from Snux:

So the controller for the LCD panel made its way over from China, and it seems to all work fine. The resolution of 1200x600 seems to be about right too, quick video of holding a spare speaker panel over it for a fit...
» YouTube video

I use a native lcd resolution of 1366 x 768 on Indy and that has always worked nicely. I'm colour dots though not full hd screen

#422 3 years ago
Quoted from applejuice:

I use a native lcd resolution of 1366 x 768 on Indy and that has always worked nicely

Yeah, I can't see the whole screen though the speaker panel, so need to cut it down a little.

#423 3 years ago

I've found a 13x6.5 opening will fit between speakers and leave a half inch top and bottom for the brackets/moldings. This then gives a 2 visible ratio which will work well with your 1200x600, depending on the various resolution options on your monitor. I run 450x900, but it gets doubled when pushed to the display, so really 900x1800 so you can see that with a native resolution of 1080x1920 I'm losing about an inch at the top and a half inch or so on the bottom and sides based on how it is mounted. T

#424 3 years ago

I had been running a small Arduino Nano to control the RGB LEDs in my F-14, but it couldn't run the "radar ring" and all of insert lamps without dropping some data. And even when not running the radar, it would very occasionally drop data being sent from the game code, especially during intensive light shows.

I'm also planning to add a bunch more controlled RGB lamps. Freeplay is making me a custom version of the F-14 ramp without all the holes for the 6 regular bulbs, should be a cleaner look. I can then use some strips of RGBs along the length of the ramp, a bit like he shows on the ramp thread here :

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/f-14-tomcat-custom-ramps#post-3183763

Will need to do a few adjustments to pinmame to light certain sections in red or blue to look a bit like the original lamps. Once the ramp arrives I can experiment some.

So, anyway, with all these RGBs to control the Arduino just isn't up to the task. MOcean did some work converting and adjusting my Arduino code to run on a Teensy and also made a much neater job of the python end of things. So now under the apron I just have a little RJ45 breakout board which the various lamp strands connect to (I have 3 at the moment - radar, inserts and GI. Will be adding a 4th for the ramp).

IMG_20160717_094335_(resized).jpg

The Teensy is then mounted on a small adaptor board, which connect to the breakout board via a regular old piece of CAT6 cable. The Teensy then connects to the controlling PC over USB, like the Arduino did.

IMG_20160717_094413_(resized).jpg

The CPU on the Teensy runs at 72Mhz compared to just 16 on the Arduino, 64k of RAM compared to 2k and 256k of flash memory up from 32. But the even better thing is that it's still programmed the same way. A quick test program shows that we at least have it wired up properly.....

1 week later
#425 3 years ago

Hooking this all back into the original game code didn't take long. The Teensy seems very capable of keeping up with signals for the lamps and running the radar effect. This video shows that with an attract mode running GI changing, inserts patterns and a couple of different things in the radar. The sync between the RGB lamps and the regular matrix ones is spot on too.

Although in this I'm switching all the GI lamps at the same time to the same colour, I have the same control (colour, flash etc) on each lamp. So I could make the left side GI red and the right side blue, in some modes, maybe....

#426 3 years ago

Can't wait to see what the new ramp looks like!

#427 3 years ago

The LCD controller looks pretty cool. I may have to use one of those on my next project.

#428 3 years ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

Can't wait to see what the new ramp looks like!

Me too I'm hoping I can get 2 strips on there, one above and one below the diverters. I have a strip that has like a silicon cover on, so I think the ball will roll next to it just fine. Thinking about an effect like this for some modes :

http://www.tweaking4all.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/LEDEffect-TheatreChase.mp4?_=19

or maybe this

http://www.tweaking4all.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/LEDEffect-RunningLights.mp4?_=16

#429 3 years ago

So, thanks to Freeplay40, this clear ramp arrived in the mail today. Unfortunately the LED strip I had in a cupboard and I thought was RGB turns out to be just red, so I've ordered some actual RGB strip which should turn up in the next few days. Off on holiday soon though so might not have much time to tinker around before then. That said on vacation I might make some progress on the game code, we'll see DSCN6522_(resized).JPG

1 week later
#430 3 years ago

Working through some of the animations, moving to higher resolution from the old 128x32 greyscale.... Found a nicer font than I've been using, and now playing around with some colours etc.

second_sortie_rotate.gif

#431 3 years ago

Or a nod back to the F14 logo on the machine, red lettering with white border....
second_sortie_rotate.gif

2 weeks later
#432 3 years ago

Some more work going on. I mounted the new clear ramp, and underneath a strip of RGB LEDs. I've also been reworking pinmame to be able to drive the new RGB lamps via the Teensy. As all the GI lamps are also now RGB, I also had to intercept pinmame calls to the original GI relay and instead send that through to the Teensy.

So this first video shows pinmame running, with the GI hooked up. At the moment the lamps under the ramp are just being used as additional GI (I need to turn the brightness down a bit on them yet). Pinmame is happily running the inserts which actually contain RGB lamps just as if they were on the lamp matrix.

Just a very short piece of attract mode in the new game, showing that the ramp changes colour nicely up there...

#433 3 years ago

Very cool, with the clear ramp and all

#434 3 years ago

This project is making me want an f14 and new playfield from Peter.

1 week later
#435 3 years ago

So, with that lovely clear ramp the only downside is that I'm now missing the red "lock" and blue "landing" lamps on each diverter lane. Like you can see in this picture here :

http://www.actionpinball.com/games/f14e/pf8.jpg

So I decided I could use 6 of the LEDs in that RGB strip instead, as we have individual control over each one. I then needed to make a small adjustment to pinmame as up until now it's only been driving these lamps white; now it needs to be able to specify a colour. I'm pleased with the way it turned out, I might adjust a little in the future but for now it's good.

4 months later
#436 2 years ago

Is this project still going on?

#437 2 years ago
Quoted from davijc02:

Is this project still going on?

It is, but other things in life just seem to have been higher up the list lately! Actually your timing is good..... just yesterday I spent about 3 hours clearing up the room here with my pinball machines in (I have 3) as it's been used as general storage for some time. Got F-14 connected back up to my laptop again to see that it all still runs, looking good. So hope to be making (finally) forward progress again!

4 months later
#438 2 years ago
Quoted from Snux:

It is, but other things in life just seem to have been higher up the list lately!

Snux,

Are you still building/selling the sys 11 interface? And for that matter are P-rocs still available? I emailed the contact email at pinballcontrollers.com but no reply for a couple weeks.

I'm very new to this but have been brainstorming a couple ideas for a custom machine for years. I really like system 11, but not stuck on it.

Couple questions if you have time. How do you change the sound on older sys 11? On sys 11C one could use a pinsound card which makes it fairly straight forward.

Second, can you explain the setup between the donor game, how the proc is controlled (via pinMAME?) by the PC.

Finally, how difficult are the animations (for a non computer science major) (environmental actually) to program? And what program do you do that in?

I had sent you some code ideas (modes a couple years ago that you liked) now it's my turn to start what will be no doubt a years long experiment. I have 23 years experience of flying fighters in the US Navy and Air Force. Great project!

All these questions are probably answered previously, but through a bunch of posts, honestly, I got lost.

Thanks for any help, and I look forward to contributing as much as I can to your project.

#439 2 years ago
Quoted from kilmarnock1350:

Are you still building/selling the sys 11 interface? And for that matter are P-rocs still available? I emailed the contact email at pinballcontrollers.com but no reply for a couple weeks.

Yes, a Sys11 board still goes out my door from time to time. P-ROCs are indeed still available, surprised Gerry didn't reply as he's pointed a few folks in my direction recently.

Quoted from kilmarnock1350:

How do you change the sound on older sys 11?

When you use a P-ROC it's the same situation regardless of whether you are in a Sys11 or any other machine. It's the PC that's running the game that produces the sound, the original sound card isn't used any more. So you're typically playing mp3 or wav files. You can connect your PC via an amp to the existing speakers. In fact for Sys11 there is a "line-in" on the original sound board which I've used instead of a separate amp, but then you don't get stereo.

Quoted from kilmarnock1350:

can you explain the setup between the donor game, how the proc is controlled (via pinMAME?) by the PC.

The P-ROC is basically the interface between your PC and the pinball hardware, it replaces the existing CPU board in the game. In the case of Sys11, you also need one of my boards since the Sys11 CPU board also has all the drivers on for solenoids and lamps. The PC runs the software (either pinmame if you want to play the original code, or one of the other pinball programming frameworks for custom stuff) and send commands like "pulse that coil" or "blink that lamp" to the P-ROC. The P-ROC let's the PC know if a switch has been closed so it can do whatever needs to be done. Somewhat simplified, but that's the gist of it.

Quoted from kilmarnock1350:

Finally, how difficult are the animations (for a non computer science major) (environmental actually) to program? And what program do you do that in?

These can be a bit of a time suck. Essentially you're playing video files, so you need to get your animations into mp4 format or something like that. For video clips I use a freeware program called VirtualDub. I've ripped a DVD of Top Gun and some other stuff I found on youtube, then I use VirtualDub to cut sequences, resize them and so on. For animated text, I use a program called Xara3D and convert the output from that into video.

My development has been more or less at a standstill for some time now, too much else going on in life but I will get back to it sometime. My main mistake has been to get distracted by all the "bling" because it's easier (and sometimes more fun) than writing the main code. So I have nice RGB LEDs, lots of video clips and such, but the base code hasn't really moved for a while. In some ways I wish I'd stuck to alphanumeric displays because then have less bling to think about.

If you want to know more about Sys11 stuff, drop me a PM and I'll send you my standard copy/paste reply and you can go from there!

Quoted from kilmarnock1350:

I had sent you some code ideas (modes a couple years ago that you liked)

I remember, thanks! The ideas are still on my to-do list, unfortunately, like a bunch of others. I need to win the lottery and get some more spare time!

#440 2 years ago
Quoted from kilmarnock1350:

Snux,
Are you still building/selling the sys 11 interface? And for that matter are P-rocs still available? I emailed the contact email at pinballcontrollers.com but no reply for a couple weeks.

Very sorry to hear this. I try to respond to all emails within a couple hours of receipt. If you don't hear back from me within 24 hours, always feel free to contact me again. Perhaps the email got accidentally filtered out as spam.

Please either PM me here or send me a direct email: gstellenberg@multimorphic.com

... and yes, P-ROCs are still available and will be for a long time.

Thanks.
- Gerry
http://www.multimorphic.com

1 year later
#441 10 months ago

OK, time to blow the cobwebs off this one and literally clear the layer of dust from F-14. Life has been too busy the last couple of years and the pinball mojo kinda disappeared and every time I looked at the machine and its Frankenstein code that I'd cobbled together I just couldn't be bothered.

An extended Christmas break has changed that. I've also decided to switch programming framework and use the Mission Pinball Framework (MPF) instead of the hybrid concoction of Skeletongame, pyProcgame and pyProcgameHD that I was using before. That's after coming to the conclusion that I am not comfortable programming in Python and although Skeletongame does make it simpler it's not for me. That plus MPF has matured a lot since I played around with it a few years ago.

In order to use MPF all my RGB lights (inserts, the radar ring and GI) are now controlled by a Fadecandy board. I could probably have persuaded MPF to drive the Arduino, but it supports Fadecandy out of the box and it was a simple change to make.

At the moment I am recreating the original Williams F-14 ruleset in MPF. It's a good way to learn the framework as it takes away the distraction of coming up with all your own rules. It also means I won't need to run pinmame if I want to play the original, although that is still an option. At the moment the only downside of pinmame is that at the moment it won't drive the Fadecandy or the RGB DMD, but I might come back to that one day.

At the moment I've most of the non-multiball code working....

- Hitting the lit rescue target lights the kickback.
- Kickback working including a short grace period
- Bonus scoring
- Bonus multiplier via the top orbit
- Hitting the moving lit 1-6 target lights the spinner and Bonus multipliers
- Yagov kicker shot awards the kills
- Left inlane gives Launch Bonus Hurrup to the vuk
- vuk shot spots random TOMCAT letter
- TOMCAT targets light locks.
- The diverters on the ramp will route the ball to a lit lock
- Once 3 balls are locked, the vuk shot will start the multiball. At the moment this just kicks the 4 balls onto the playfield, no specific code here yet

The only thing I'm not planning to recreate fully is the display animation etc. I've decided to go back to the RGB DMD matrix display, including 2 half size ones on the apron (the glass *just* clears them). A couple of slightly blurry pictures. At the moment both the apron displays mirror each other for testing.

DSCN0036 (resized).JPG

DSCN0037 (resized).JPG

So far I didn't write one line of Python code to get all of the above working, and I'm pretty confident I can finish the original ruleset without writing any. Once you get your head around the "config" style of the framework and the whole event-based activity it's really good to use.

So next steps ...

- put some new switches in F-14. I've found that some of the old switches are really flaky, especially the 2 centre locks. Often a ball will land in there and the switch won't register even though it's closed. Pinmame and MPF both get confused at that point. Got some replacements on order.
- work out how to attach the apron displays.
- get the full multiball code working
- put some more sounds in - I spent a few hours dumping all the original sounds and music from pinmame, so just need to plumb them in.
- add the missing lamp shows

Then we can extend to the additional Second Sortie rules, but I've learned over the course of this extended thread not to run before I can walk

#442 10 months ago

Great to see you're at it again!
And interesting to read about the step to mpf.

#443 10 months ago

Wow what an awesome project! Why did you decide to ditch the HD and go back to the RGB DMD? I thought the HD display was sick!

#444 10 months ago
Quoted from Snux:

I've also decided to switch programming framework and use the Mission Pinball Framework (MPF) instead of the hybrid concoction of Skeletongame, pyProcgame and pyProcgameHD that I was using before. That's after coming to the conclusion that I am not comfortable programming in Python and although Skeletongame does make it simpler it's not for me. That plus MPF has matured a lot since I played around with it a few years ago.

In order to use MPF all my RGB lights (inserts, the radar ring and GI) are now controlled by a Fadecandy board. I could probably have persuaded MPF to drive the Arduino, but it supports Fadecandy out of the box and it was a simple change to make.

I'm not a programmer, and python intimidates me.. If I were to restart my homebrew project would you recommend MPF as well? What's the advantage of MPF over skeletongame/pyProcgame? is it because it's all one system?

#445 10 months ago
Quoted from LargemouthAss:

Why did you decide to ditch the HD and go back to the RGB DMD?

2 reasons I guess. Firstly it feels a bit more "old school" which I prefer. Secondly, my artistic skills are on the same level as a potato and generating all the graphics it would need is beyond me. It was fun to play around with but a real time suck. Keeping a DMD display (although colour) means I can focus on the game itself instead of what to put on the display. That said the DMD will play video clips if I decide to circle back on adding some.

Quoted from toyotaboy:

If I were to restart my homebrew project would you recommend MPF as well?

That's a tough call, there are vocal advocates for each of them. You should probably try both and see which you prefer. Folks that didn't know python have and are producing impressive results from Skeletongame, and it's also the base framework behind some commercial machines now (TNA, Houdini and Oktoberfest) so is solid. I have a programming background (although very old-school) and for me python just doesn't "click". I looked back over the F14 code I'd written some years back and it was a real mess, so starting over was going to be a good idea. I looked at Skeletongame again, then at MPF and decided to give MPF a shot for a few weeks and see how it went. At the moment I'm certainly finding it a more comfortable environment to work in.

3 weeks later
#446 9 months ago

Great to see you're back at it! I bought a Tomcat a little while back, in part because of inspiration from your project. Looking forward to more.

#447 9 months ago

It’s good to see you back at it. I kinda wish I hadn’t sold my proc setup.

1 month later
#448 7 months ago

Hows it going? As you know I am working on my own System 11 conversion. Staying tuned to this thread as you are probably the best resource when it comes to this. Pulled your F-14 code down from MPF and using it as a road map to how I can do RK. A good 3 years into the project, as we all are hahah, and I decided to start fresh again. Hope to see some progress from you to motivate me.

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