myPinballs Custom Pinball Controller for Bally/Stern Games


By applejuice

2 years ago


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    Topic index (key posts)

    3 key posts have been marked in this topic

    Post #175 New Product Demo Video Posted by applejuice (1 year ago)

    Post #186 List of games being targeted for software Posted by applejuice (11 months ago)

    Post #189 Preview of new revision of the product Posted by applejuice (10 months ago)


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    There are 204 posts in topic. You are on page 1 of 5.
    24
    #1 2 years ago

    About a year ago i started work on a life long ambition of mine: to build a fully featured pinball control system for early bally and stern games with the goal in being able to produce a board set and software framework for other like minded people to modify and create new games from old playfields. I also wanted to be able to create new rules and sounds for a game i made back in the college days some 25 years ago.

    I developed a double board set and had some protos made. 1 controller board and 1 driver board, that are designed to work together, and replace all other bally boards except the power section on the old power driver board.

    IMG_3643.jpg
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    I wanted to create a board set that would work together and include additional options on the boards so that people could add extra features to games should they wish, but also be a direct plug in to the games original wiring. The main features of the board set are:

    - Control Original Segment Displays, or use low cost serial Led displays
    - Control Original Switch Matrix
    - Control Original 16 Drivers plus Solenoid expanders
    - Control Original 64 non-matrixed lamps
    - Additional 16 mosfet drivers for flashers, motors, magnets etc
    - Additional RGB Lamp Control for extra lamps
    - Large SD card sound/music storage capabilities
    - Multiple Channel Sound with background music
    - Sound line out for connection to external amps/audio setups

    IMG_3772.JPG
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    The hardware is one side of the project, but the software framework is the other. I have been working on creating a pinball library framework which people can use to get their own project off the game in conjunction with this hardware. The framework is made up classes for all the major pinball items, so lamps, switches, drivers, displays and sounds. The game itself then has various other files including feature modes and base modes to make the game playable. I have based my design concepts on the work of other more complex pinball frameworks, such as pyprocgame. This is the framework that i use for my rewrites of Indiana Jones and Whirlwind (see my other blog posts). Without the ideas from this software i wouldn't be here.

    The framework is all written using the arduino code language and C++. I am making sure that you can still use the standard arduino ide to modify the files to create your own game from. The framework is very modular and i'm pretty happy with it so far.

    Here an example videos of the attract mode with all 64 lamp being controlled along with the displays

    » YouTube video

    Here's a vid of me explaining some of the rules that i am recreating using my framework and api and showing them working on the game

    » YouTube video

    Here's an earlier video of some game play, before i got the 2nd channel (background music/sound) working

    » YouTube video

    Please get in touch if you are interested in creating your own game from an Early Bally or Stern game and would purchase my board set.

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    #2 2 years ago

    Damn, you've got a shit ton of projects going on. Cool stuff!

    #3 2 years ago

    Holy crap I definitely want a set!

    #4 2 years ago

    Wow I'm impressed! Nice work.

    #5 2 years ago
    Quoted from applejuice:

    1 controller board and 1 driver board, that are designed to work together, and replace all other bally boards except the power section on the old power driver board.

    So does that mean in reality, replacing 3 boards? (CPU, solenoid driverboard, lamp board)
    Curious what you're going to price it at. For comparison, Alltek is $350 for all of that (but it's only a replacement, doesn't give you the option of adding new rules, or sounds). Very cool project!
    http://www.allteksystems.com/ordering-bally-stern.html

    #6 2 years ago

    This is very impressive, congratulations !

    But one tip - if you want to sell it then remove the name 'bally' from the pcb or someone will probably sell you letter from their lawyer..

    #7 2 years ago
    Quoted from toyotaboy:

    Curious what you're going to price it at. For comparison, Alltek is $350 for all of that (but it's only a replacement, doesn't give you the option of adding new rules, or sounds). Very cool project!
    http://www.allteksystems.com/ordering-bally-stern.html

    I'm working on pricing it at £199 plus shipping, so that would work out at around $300. That will buy you the full board set and access to all my framework, libraries and game code. I've been developing this system with low cost in mind so getting new game rules, features and sounds on older games doesn't break the bank. Of course there are compromises, but i think i've built up a decent solution and one that doesn't need external computer power/brains.

    It is designed for all early Bally and Stern games so there's plenty of great games to rewrite rules for. I also realise that this could be used to replace boards from a dead game so I will continue to expand the software framework and maybe work on other rewrites in the future. One of the best parts if you are wanting to create your own game, or rewrite an old game is you aren't starting from scratch you can use the code i have already written as a starting point and all the basics are taken care of within the software framework.

    Quoted from toyotaboy:

    So does that mean in reality, replacing 3 boards? (CPU, solenoid driverboard, lamp board)

    You only need to replace 2 boards - the mpu and lamp driver. The new controller board handles all game control, displays and sounds. The new driver board handles all lamps and coils. You just leave the old solenoid power driver in there to run the 5v and 12v supplies. The old sound board can be left disconnected.

    #8 2 years ago
    Quoted from aeneas:

    This is very impressive, congratulations !
    But one tip - if you want to sell it then remove the name 'bally' from the pcb or someone will probably sell you letter from their lawyer..

    Fear not, i won't be including any copyrighted names etc. The boards will be populated with the name 'Custom Pinball Controller'. The name you see currently is just for my own prototype testing boards. They work on old Stern games to, so the name should be more generic Also, i should point out that putting in new hardware and running your own game rules, sounds etc probably voids your warranty from 1979

    #9 2 years ago

    This is sweet! Breathing life into a lot of dated games.

    #10 2 years ago
    Quoted from applejuice:

    You just leave the old solenoid power driver in there to run the 5v and 12v supplies.

    If you just need +5 and +12 volts could you replace the solenoid driver with a PC switching power supply?

    I'm interested in this so add me to your list.

    #11 2 years ago
    Quoted from docquest:

    If you just need +5 and +12 volts could you replace the solenoid driver with a PC switching power supply?
    I'm interested in this so add me to your list.

    Yes you can and i included an ATX d-type power plug on the controller board (see pics above) for just this type of eventuality. For me personally i like to use as much of the old game as possible and just plug into existing connectors, but this option is certainly another possibility. I forget to mention that on the original thread, so thanks for the question

    I have added to you to the 'interested' list

    #12 2 years ago

    You sir are one smart gentleman.

    #13 2 years ago

    My party animal has needed this for a long time now, but need ballpark price before I jump in.

    #14 2 years ago
    Quoted from GRUMPY:

    need ballpark price before I jump in

    Quoted from applejuice:

    I'm working on pricing it at £199 plus shipping, so that would work out at around $300. That will buy you the full board set and access to all my framework, libraries and game code

    #15 2 years ago

    I'm interested in a set of these boards... great work!

    Jody

    #16 2 years ago
    Quoted from applejuice:

    you can use the code i have already written as a starting point and all the basics are taken care of within the software framework.

    No coding skills required?

    #17 2 years ago

    please add me to the interested list

    #18 2 years ago
    Quoted from kursiv:

    No coding skills required?

    Coding skills will be required but lots of the grunt work in developing a framework has already been done.

    #19 2 years ago

    Yes, definitely interested. What year machines would this be compatible with?

    Eric

    #20 2 years ago
    Quoted from shimoda:

    Coding skills will be required but lots of the grunt work in developing a framework has already been done.

    Yes, as mentioned you will need some coding skills for this type of adventure, but as shimoda says I have created a framework with a library which makes things alittle easier and allows you to stay within the arduino code sketch files for writing your game feature logic. Of course you can go deeper should you want to and do whatever you like.

    You would also be able to use my high voltage/ future spa game code as a basis for your own game to, so you could use the bonus feature, or the kickback mode code etc etc, or use the extra drives to add a motor, some flashers, or a magnet somewhere.

    #21 2 years ago
    Quoted from emsrph:

    Yes, definitely interested. What year machines would this be compatible with?
    Eric

    It is designed to work with all bally/stern games from roughly 1976-1985. All the ones that could use the altek replacement mpu board or the AS-2518 mpu.

    #22 2 years ago

    Great. Would be good to go for my Harlem Globetrotters (same generation as your Future Spa). I'll keep an eye on this thread for progress updates!

    Eric

    #23 2 years ago

    WOW

    #24 2 years ago
    Quoted from emsrph:

    Great. Would be good to go for my Harlem Globetrotters (same generation as your Future Spa). I'll keep an eye on this thread for progress updates!
    Eric

    Yes, Globetrotters would be a great game to use with my board set.

    #25 2 years ago

    Quick Update: I made a tweak today to the display controller framework to solve a small ghost issue i was having with the displays. The previous digit was ever so slightly visible in the next digit along on the display. This was tracked down to the digit enable lines being turned high before the binary number was latched in to the decoder. Swapped those 2 events around and now the displays are really crisp I've also made improvements to the score methods in the game code and scoring is working really nicely now to.

    #26 2 years ago

    I'd be interested in this as well, half my collection is old stern/bally's and would love toy play around and make some rule changes to a few things that would make them better, plus I have some ideas on rethemes that would be cool.

    #27 2 years ago

    Also very interested! Following closely.

    #28 2 years ago

    Please add me to the "definitely interested" list. Thank you and good job

    #29 2 years ago

    Definitely interested. Love the way you eliminated the shooter lane on your High Voltage play field. Was that to make it more interesting looking or to gain a couple inches of room?

    #30 2 years ago

    Cool!

    #31 2 years ago
    Quoted from Mk1Mod0:

    Definitely interested. Love the way you eliminated the shooter lane on your High Voltage play field. Was that to make it more interesting looking or to gain a couple inches of room?

    Thanks, it was to have more room for the shots and orbit higher up and also I wanted an upper playfield. At the time I made it whitewater just came out, so my launch was a nod to that and I had a load of Zacarria games at home to play on which often had an overhead launch

    #32 2 years ago

    Update: I've been working on a few new items in the framework and game code. Firstly the bonus count up sequences that you get in nearly all early Bally/Stern games. I've added some extra code to the bonus 'mode' game file and the game will now count up the triangles on hv that you have collected at the end of the ball along with multiplying each count by the games multiplier level. The game will also remember when 'panels' of triangles are complete and count them up to after the current 'panel' is finished.

    Here's a quick video with some voice over by me explaining how it works so far:

    » YouTube video

    Also, I've done some more work on the display controller and shot a quick video to show the response between switch events and display updates by using the spinner in game. Interestingly i had some debug statements in the update method previously that were causing a slight flicker on the displays as they were updated. I now have debug turned off and the display are smooth and solid during a score update. (Any flickering/pulsing in the video is due to the speed of the camera lens)

    » YouTube video

    Cheers

    #33 2 years ago

    Half tempted to use this in a Gottlieb game (Amazing Spider-Man) so I can add totally cool sounds and turn the shots into mini-modes.

    #34 2 years ago

    flash gordon is BEGGING for a soundtrack
    Flash-Gordon-Cabinet.jpg

    » YouTube video

    #35 2 years ago
    Quoted from toyotaboy:

    flash gordon is BEGGING for a soundtrack
    Flash-Gordon-Cabinet.jpg
    » YouTube video

    Something like this perhaps?

    » YouTube video

    I thought i'd change a couple of the sound files on my current setup to show what could be possible with a flash gordon game. I had a few spare mins today I created a quick background music file and a new speech call of 'Gordon's Alive' then copied them and the other sounds to a new sd card, swapped the cards over in my setup and shot the quick video. Just to show a starting point for a FG game really and how a musical bgnd track sounds with sound effects overlaid on it.

    #36 2 years ago

    Update: Sounds back to normal now Was fun to have a switch calling out 'gordon's alive'. Anyway, Now looking at some fine tuning on some of the framework. First up is adding the flashing display to the active player that is present on Bally games. This will be a tweak to the display controller library which will perform some timed blanking out of the display whose id matches the id of the active player. I may add a setting to that can turn this feature on and off.

    #37 2 years ago

    This is very cool, i am interested. I have a couple classic stern games that i would love to enhance the rules of.

    #38 2 years ago

    As a Born Again Classic Bally Fanatic, I am very interested in what you are doing here! The possibilities seem endless!

    Will these boards replace both the standard and Squawk & Talk sound boards? What about the reverb on Centaur?

    Great job! Please add me to what ever list you have for updates and such!

    Thanks!

    Rob Bell
    Robsgameroom.com

    #39 2 years ago

    This is amazing work. Congrats on getting this project this far. Looking forward to reading more.

    #40 2 years ago
    Quoted from MrBellMan:

    As a Born Again Classic Bally Fanatic, I am very interested in what you are doing here! The possibilities seem endless!
    Will these boards replace both the standard and Squawk & Talk sound boards? What about the reverb on Centaur?
    Great job! Please add me to what ever list you have for updates and such!
    Thanks!
    Rob Bell
    Robsgameroom.com

    Hi, thanks for the comments. Yes, the custom pinball controller board handles all game control, logic and sound creation and delivery

    Just to explain my thoughts on reverb and echo. On my other sound board projects for Bally games such as the S&T board, i am producing a new daughter card which plugs onto the J2 output connector to add these effects. I included the same connector on my custom controller board so we will be able to plug this daughter card on here to and add the same effects

    bally sound effects board component layout v0.1.png

    #41 2 years ago

    I am interested too...

    #42 2 years ago

    Interesting...

    #43 2 years ago

    ok so I've been thinking about this thread.. been keeping my eyes open for a trashed bally / stern project pin just in case.

    Just to clarify, if you replaced the stock boards with this board, you're starting from zero (other than basic framework that would probably get you flipping, perhaps some basic rules like start game, play 3 balls, end game, example scoring for a switch). But until someone starts posting open source code of specific games they've recreated rules on, everyone would have to create code to get rules correct? IE there's no way to extract code from the original game and somehow plop that into the code to run this board so you have a starting point of a stock machine?

    Any chance you can show some of the code you used for your example? How does it compare to other frameworks? Could you run different frameworks with this hardware? (FAST for example)

    #44 2 years ago

    I believe he has a basic framework you can start with. What I'd like to see is it become Mission Pinball compatible.

    #45 2 years ago

    Looks like it's running on an Arduino Mega, which can't run Python, so I don't think MPF is possible.

    #46 2 years ago

    Yes, but the Mega has a USB port on it and it could be made to take MPF commands.

    #47 2 years ago
    Quoted from toyotaboy:

    ok so I've been thinking about this thread.. been keeping my eyes open for a trashed bally / stern project pin just in case.
    Just to clarify, if you replaced the stock boards with this board, you're starting from zero (other than basic framework that would probably get you flipping, perhaps some basic rules like start game, play 3 balls, end game, example scoring for a switch). But until someone starts posting open source code of specific games they've recreated rules on, everyone would have to create code to get rules correct? IE there's no way to extract code from the original game and somehow plop that into the code to run this board so you have a starting point of a stock machine?
    Any chance you can show some of the code you used for your example? How does it compare to other frameworks? Could you run different frameworks with this hardware? (FAST for example)

    Hi, Thanks for the post and questions. Been a little slow to reply (for obvious reasons) recently, so sorry about that. A very strange week in pinball!

    So the idea is that people wanting to create their own game get access to all the code i have written via a github area which includes all the framework and libraries, but also all the game code from my High Voltage/Future Spa rewrite. So you will have more than just the basic shell game. You will have bonus count up modes and kickback modes and spot number/letter modes etc etc. I also aim to keep expanding the code base with more modes and features that can be reused/ used as a starting point for other games. Also, if other people also want to add their own modes etc back into the code base then great. I have created it in a modular way so each item is its own file and the library is very much class driven. I will start to show some examples of how the code works etc soon to

    #48 2 years ago
    Quoted from jwilson:

    I believe he has a basic framework you can start with. What I'd like to see is it become Mission Pinball compatible.

    Quoted from jwilson:

    Yes, but the Mega has a USB port on it and it could be made to take MPF commands.

    The main concept for this board set and controller was to make a system that can run older 80s games at a low cost that doesn't need a pc type computer to run the software from. This is the primary focus for it. However, there may be ways to expand its use should you wish and i am always open to new ideas and ways to use things. I am not into limiting peoples creativity. I did spend along time creating the driver part end so that it wouldn't be too hard to hook up other systems. For example the driver board connector is compatible (to a point) with the wpc driver setup. There are some changes as the lamp system is not a matrix one on these games, but this could be a starting point for a MPF hook up should you wish.

    #49 2 years ago

    I like the standalone nature of it for sure! But it's good to have options.

    1 week later
    #50 2 years ago

    Update: Been working on sorting out the flashing display for active players. Just about finished this up. Also fixed some issues with multiplayer scoring and am working on the match code to replicate the features seen on games like elektra. New video later today hopefully

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