(Topic ID: 203037)

I want to build my own Pinball Machine!

By Rudi

3 years ago


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Topic Stats

  • 30 posts
  • 16 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 years ago by Mbecker
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders

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#1 3 years ago

Hi, I want to build my own Pinball Machine, because I want to understand what is going on with the electronics and software and also because I don't have a lot of money. What is a good resource to get started? Where can I buy parts for cheap? If it is possible I would like to build my own Medival Madness. I don't know what the figures are made of, I have a 3D Printer that can print ABS, but it will probably brake too fast right? I know the manuals are available online, but is the artwork also available? If it is too complicated, I would also do something simple with figures that are not hit directly. I think the sides of a Pinball Machine are made out of Plywood. I would choose aluminium-skinned composite sheet because it is more durable. Or is this a bad idea?

#2 3 years ago

if you do not have an indepth knowledge of electronics aspect of it, you do not want to start with this. You need to know how to fix games inside and out first. Understand machines, by several manufacturers fully before tackling a project like this. It's a huge undertaking.

#3 3 years ago
Quoted from Rudi:

don't have a lot of money

Quoted from Rudi:

good resource to get started

Your state lottery.

Quoted from Rudi:

build my own Medival Madness

You're going to spend more than just buying a MM Remake from Chicago Coin, dude. The only reason these projects were ever viable in the first place was because MM's were 12-15k.

Can you even fix a broken game? If not, you have no business even trying to build one, IMO. I think you're vastly underestimating the level of technical and engineering expertise needed here, and it covers a broad swath, not just some narrow road. If you're absolutely determined to do this (not that I can see how you can if you have no money...building games is expensive...), then http://pinballmakers.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page is likely going to be your best resource for general information and trying to educate yourself BEFORE leaping balls-in to something you have what seems like little to no experience with.

#4 3 years ago
Quoted from Rudi:

I don't have a lot of money.

This could be a problem. You'll need some money. Anyway, here is a link to a home made pinball that is loaded with info...so you might look at it and post some questions directly to it's creator. It's cool, but beyond my time and skillset.
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/frozen

#5 3 years ago

I'd recommend watching The Ben Heck Show on YouTube. It features two pinball builds from scratch. He features electronics builds and can give you a great start. Also review the builds here in the Homebrew section. Lastly, I'd recommend reviewing the restoration sections. Lots of detail on hardware and cabinets so you can understand their construction.

Good luck.

#6 3 years ago

It is more expensive to create a game from scratch than to buy it new. That said, you don't have to buy it all at once and with time and effort you can get there.

http://poormanspinball.blogspot.com/2012/08/to-baldly-go-where-no-ones-gone-before.html is one of my favorite examples of how it can spiral out of control but worth the effort. The Ben Heck Show also reinforces this point. Even if you have the tools, the parts, electronics, and materials do add up quickly.

#7 3 years ago

To those saying, don't do it and you can't. We were all neophites at one point. I don't see the need to knock a total stranger down for an idea. I'm sure once they get introduced to the topic with some direction they can decide if its still for them.

I will add though Rudi. You came to pinside and appear to have posted without much effort into researching the idea before you ask questions. Maybe, take advantage of the search features and do some research. You can learn a lot both about the machine and process your interested in, and the community.

#8 3 years ago

http://pinballmakers.com/

Has everything you need to know. Well, a lot. Read all that then join the pindev slack channel to talk to other pin makers.

#11 3 years ago
Quoted from jwilson:

http://pinballmakers.com/
Has everything you need to know. Well, a lot. Read all that then join the pindev slack channel to talk to other pin makers.

I'd already linked it...

Quoted from VacFink:

To those saying, don't do it and you can't. We were all neophites at one point. I don't see the need to knock a total stranger down for an idea. I'm sure once they get introduced to the topic with some direction they can decide if its still for them.

There's a difference between being a 'neophyte' and just plain ignorant of what is involved. A neophyte blacksmith wouldn't try to forge Excalibur (from copper) as their first project.... this guy doesn't even seem to know what a pinball cabinet is made out of, and thinks that he's got a better, yet completely logically unfounded, alternative for it. That composite aluminum stuff is meant for signage, not bearing weight and having a million things screwed into. I have a bunch of Berzerk sprites made out of the stuff.

All I'm suggesting is that the guy do at least some *basic* research before spouting off about starting some project that will just be a money pit. I'll also challenge him to give me the smackdown and prove me wrong. If he thinks he's got a better way to build a pinball cabinet, where it can be cheaper, lighter, and strong enough....prove it. I'm pretty sure Stern would love to talk to him if he pulls it off. Pinball needs innovation badly, but I believe there's some things that just can't be 'shortcut' around...

(Um...not to mention that you're turning the inside and outside of the cabinet into a huge conductor in a system that carries enough voltage to potentially kill someone running across their chest from hand to hand...)

-1
#12 3 years ago

I have already replyied, but somehow it is gone. So basically what I said was a big thank you for all the help and critique I have got. I didn't think it was easy, but it seems harder than I thought. However I am studying mechanical engineering at the moment, so mechanisms will probably be good to understand for me. I want to get better at electronics and programming, so I think it is a very good project. I researched before, but I did not find pinballmakers.com, which is really helpful I think. I wanted to copy MM, because I won't be able to afford it within the next years. I know now it will be better to start small and if I like it get bigger. One thing that still bugs me is the price for the parts. Is there really no source where I can get a decend kit for cheap? I can't understand why most parts are so expensive. The material is really not that expensive. I think the most expensive thing is the labour cost. It is probably because there is not much competition. The electronics will be cheaper because I can get them from Aliexpress.

#13 3 years ago

Pinball parts are expensive because they are made in low volume, relative to most things. No one is getting rich making pinball I assure you.

I wouldn't waste time re-inventing the wheel - just pick one of the half-dozen existing pinball control systems (I recommend P-ROC, but if you're a glutton for punishment and also very cheap, OPP works fine).

#14 3 years ago

A pinball machine like MM has something like 2500 unique parts. Even the most successful home made MM’s out there started by converting an NBA fastbreak or other similar era game to avoid a huge cost and part count purchase. If you really want to do this, a good reality check is sourcing a full parts list and attaching a cost to the items.

#15 3 years ago
Quoted from Rudi:

However I am studying mechanical engineering at the moment, so mechanisms will probably be good to understand for me.

#16 3 years ago
Quoted from Rudi:

I have already replyied, but somehow it is gone. So basically what I said was a big thank you for all the help and critique I have got. I didn't think it was easy, but it seems harder than I thought. However I am studying mechanical engineering at the moment, so mechanisms will probably be good to understand for me. I want to get better at electronics and programming, so I think it is a very good project. I researched before, but I did not find pinballmakers.com, which is really helpful I think. I wanted to copy MM, because I won't be able to afford it within the next years. I know now it will be better to start small and if I like it get bigger. One thing that still bugs me is the price for the parts. Is there really no source where I can get a decend kit for cheap? I can't understand why most parts are so expensive. The material is really not that expensive. I think the most expensive thing is the labour cost. It is probably because there is not much competition. The electronics will be cheaper because I can get them from Aliexpress.

A few suggestions that May help you with All of your questions and comments. Yes MM is expensive and but your pursuit of knowledge can be achieved with a lower bar and maybe even Get you your wishes. You wouldn't jump into making a car and start with a Ferrari! I suggest you gather your knowledge like most everyone hear by buying a low cost 3-600$ pinball machine even an EM. Ground up restore it. I mean photo and take Every dam part out and polish it, catalog it, detail it, and repair minor bits as you go. If you succeed with this challenge you will gain a Wealth of how to, learn the parts market resources, and understand troubleshooting hand on! IF you are successful with That you should be able to sell that game for 10 (ish) times what you paid for it! Use that to buy your MM OR take that win fall and roll it into a slightly more complicated Used machine rinse and repeat. You will learn WAY more this way rather than a "it's expensive and Anyone can just build it!" Fail for sure. Good Luck! Basically, build a few puzzles with all the pieces Before you start making your own! lol

#17 3 years ago

Agree!! Start with buying something dirty and broken off Craigs List and get a big education on tearing it apart, and how to clean and repair it and learn the all the nuances of how it all works.

No shortcuts to being a rocket surgeon.

#18 3 years ago

It can be done, but it's really hard. See e.g. https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/theres-one-more-mm For an example, and there are a few other threads related to building a machine from scratch too

It'll definitely be cheaper and faster to save money and buy a fixer than try to build something from scratch. And you'll learn to repair and understand how pins work

#19 3 years ago

Building a machine from scratch will be much more expensive than buying one whole in almost every case.

I would say, start by buying a cheaper machine ($1000 or less) that is mostly in working condition and start to take care of, rebuild, and restore this machine until you understand the fundamentals of every working part. I would say best to start with an EM (my opinion).

Alongside that you could learn 3D CAD software like http://www.solidworks.com/ as well as learn a coding language like Python. It is possible for anyone to put all these pieces together to make their own machine from scratch but the first step is to realize the *scope* of what you are dealing with here (and the scope is quite large).

Pinball machines are very complex systems. Manage the complexity by starting small (very small) and working up from there.

#20 3 years ago

depends how custom you are going. people have been moving existing layouts around and redoing art for ages. Then there's making a game using largely existing parts. Then a full custom and even your own OS & hardware.

I'm around £35K and 10 years in...

#21 3 years ago
Quoted from Yelobird:

sell that game for 10 (ish) times what you paid for it!

If you're buying a 300-600 dollar EM and expecting to sell for 2500-4500, you're absolutely batsh......

#22 3 years ago

It sounds like what you really should be doing is purchasing a 500 dollar game thats a total disaster cosmetically but more or less functional. Then you have your mechanical engineering project in front of you and you electrical engineering project as well. You can do with it what you will but absolutely no one would argue you could not take those parts and make a new game- be it cosmetics, programming, engineering, etc.

Forget about building this from scratch- there is zero chance you have the background to do this- you get that by working in the area for a while. I have a lot of the skills and some of the experience I would need to do this and I have no illusions- building a game would be incredibly difficult. Set yourself up to succeed.

#23 3 years ago

You guys are getting trolled

#24 3 years ago
Quoted from Frax:

If you're buying a 300-600 dollar EM and expecting to sell for 2500-4500, you're absolutely batsh......

I said (ISH). I was not selling the OP a game nor promising a win-fall of fortune. Point was that many have bought Very rough entry level machines that needed full love and made Extreme payback on their effort. I would not call that Batsh....

#25 3 years ago
Quoted from Yelobird:

I said (ISH). I was not selling the OP a game nor promising a win-fall of fortune. Point was that many have bought Very rough entry level machines that needed full love and made Extreme payback on their effort. I would not call that Batsh....

Uh yeah, I went through 40 games in 4 years. I know how to fix a game up nice, keep it a bit, and sell it for a big profit. But *NONE*...not a single one...of those was an EM, and it was several years ago when the market wasn't nutso on used games. Nobody wants EMs outside of a few diehard guys, and they want extremely nice original condition games for the most part, not restored ones. There's just no money in EMs except for a few specific titles like King of Diamonds, Slick Chick, add-a-ball wedgeheads etc. Meanwhile, if you can buy a solid state game for 300-500 and fix it up and it's cosmetically *DECENT*...you're almost guaranteed to make money on that garbage. I've seen two Firepower 2's sell for over 1k in the last month, and 4 years ago they would've been 500 buck games when WORKING.

#26 3 years ago

I sold a firepower that looked HUO for $1500 about a year and a half ago.

-1
#27 3 years ago
Quoted from Frax:

Uh yeah, I went through 40 games in 4 years. I know how to fix a game up nice, keep it a bit, and sell it for a big profit. But *NONE*...not a single one...of those was an EM, and it was several years ago when the market wasn't nutso on used games. Nobody wants EMs outside of a few diehard guys, and they want extremely nice original condition games for the most part, not restored ones. There's just no money in EMs except for a few specific titles like King of Diamonds, Slick Chick, add-a-ball wedgeheads etc. Meanwhile, if you can buy a solid state game for 300-500 and fix it up and it's cosmetically *DECENT*...you're almost guaranteed to make money on that garbage. I've seen two Firepower 2's sell for over 1k in the last month, and 4 years ago they would've been 500 buck games when WORKING.

Ok, your the semantics championship? If I change it to "More than you paid for it" will that help understand I was just recommending the Educational value not the Win Fall value... Umph

#28 3 years ago
Quoted from Yelobird:

you should be able to sell that game for 10 (ish) times what you paid for it!

Good luck. Thats rare, like finding a needle in a haystack. Doubling your money is doing very, very well these days in pinball. To find a game that you can come out 10 time what you paid for it is incredible. Think about what that says...You're going to find a $500 game and sell it for $5000? A $1000 game for $10000.

....that's the stuff dreams are made of. Almost like winning the lottery.

#29 3 years ago

maybe first do a total shop job, then do a build

#30 3 years ago

Look up the Pinball amigos and the minions build they did (on pinside). Years of work with 3 guys with loads of scrap parts available using extensive skills of all 3 guys. And that was with the help of an existing wpc boardset and wiring harness. Not saying you can’t do it- but realizing the scope, cost, commitment and timeframe is a critical first step. Just a huge huge, but awesome, project—for those who can pull it off.

I think most of not all the people realizing success in homebrew Pinball started at least with a good Pinball background / knowledge set.

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