(Topic ID: 266636)

Pinball Poker? Poker Time? Undecided poker themed homebrew...

By zacaj

2 years ago


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  • Latest reply 3 months ago by zacaj
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There are 298 posts in this topic. You are on page 6 of 6.
#251 1 year ago

What a pita!! Hope it works well this time!

#252 1 year ago

One of the issues I kept running into with the plastic covers was the rollover buttons. My 'free floating' 3d printed ones had ended up working pretty well, but sometimes they'd cause hangups with slow moving balls if the button was also stuck at an angle. In my quest to solve all potential ball trap points, something needed to change. Then someone on the slack channel mentioned these inductive proximity sensors: pasted_image (resized).png

Given their side and range, plus the fact that I don't have a wooden playfield in the way, these seemed like a good way to avoid having to deal with sticking the rollovers through the playfield at all. I ordered a few and my initial tests seemed positive. They were easy enough to power from my 12V supply, and just acted like a normal switch once I added a pulldown resistor. The one issue is that I'm using a switch matrix, so I needed some way to interface these 'constant' switches in. I designed yet another little board to go under my playfield which would basically just hook 4 proximity switches into the matrixpasted_image (resized).png

I designed some simple 3D printed mounts, and replaced all my rollover buttonspasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
This wasn't quite as well thought out as I'd like, and I had issues fitting them into a few places. I was able to get around that by using some 12mm sensors in a few positions instead of the better range 18mm ones, but the detection of the 12s isn't quite as wide as a star rollover would be. The biggest problem is the rollover in the shooter lane. The 5 bank of drops doesn't leave much room between the rollover and the wall, and the area is just wide enough that the ball can sometimes worm its way past without triggering it. pasted_image (resized).png I may have to look into cutting my support rails a bit to make room if this doesn't work out, but I'll see how noticeable it is first. Since I eyeballed the entire cabinet without any planning I've been leaving about 5/8" room on both edges of the bottom of the playfield through the entire length so that nothing could possibly obstruct the support rails, but it could be that this area is far enough forwards that I don't need to worry about it.

Overall these proximity sensors are really cool, and if I'd known about them before I started building my whole playfield might be completely different. I could see myself avoiding rollover lane switches entirely, and maybe some of my hanging gate switches on shots too. The one downside is how tall they are. Compared to the very compact sensors I've seen on the Alien pinball machine, they really obstruct stuff under the playfield, and there's a lot of stuff like mounting them sideways in ball guides and stuff that you could never do. Once I get another shipment of spares in I'm going to chop one open and see if all that size is really needed, or if it's just a big empty cylinder to fit some standard industrial form factor or something...

#253 1 year ago

Only issue with the alien ones is that they are way more expensive. That, and range is very limited. I think I saw bar form factors a while ago that you could hang above an area to detect a ball going by below. Might be an option for that one by the drops. Proxies are pretty sweet! Although I prefer reeds where they fit… also another option for that space, mounting above or even below. They are rectangular so a wider detection path - but also spendy.

#254 1 year ago

Some playtesting with the new protector has revealed one problem I didn't anticipate: the difference in height between the ball (on the plastic) and the posts (off the plastic). Almost every hanging gate has been getting the ball stuck now. The controlled gate on the orbit wasn't raising high enough when open to let the ball past. The one way gate on the mini playfield was only raising *just* high enough to let a ball through normally, so now with the added 0.06" balls would get stuck under it every time. The spinner isn't spinning well since the ball has to slightly force itself past it. I'm going through and shimming things like this with spare bits of PET-G to resolve the issue. Just surprised the tolerances were so close on so many things...

1 week later
#255 1 year ago

Had a small get together at my place last weekend, and had the game set up and playable during that time, with a camera on it. I recorded about 12 hours of video, although some of that time it probably wasn't being played... Twice I had the solder break on the flipper wiring to the resistors. I'll need to think of a better way to mount those. Currently they're just hanging awkwardly from the coils from when I first attached them for testing, which obviously is bad. Once the flippers just died randomly, and came back next ball. Not sure if that was a tilt or something correct that the player didn't notice, or if something malfunctioned. Will have to track it down in the recording and see. One time the ramp switch didn't register, which has been a recurring issue. I've got it tweaked 'just right' so it's 99% good, but I need to figure out a better solution eventually. This wouldn't be too big of an issue, except the lock post in the ramp won't let the ball back down, since it doesn't know it's there. I had two other stuck balls, both times they were caught by the shooter lane diverter, pressed against the back of the drop target next to it. Both of these issues will at least be alleviated by a ball search, which I'd never gotten around to coding before. So the next day I added one in. Not too complicated... I shouldn't have put that off so long. Besides from that I had no reported issues, although I'm sure a lot of that was people just not knowing how the game is supposed to work.

Another thing that's been on the todo list for a long time: adjustable GI. When I originally got the led strips, I got some super bright 12V ones since I was worried about how well they'd work. Although the center of the playfield is still a bit dark if you turn off all the other lights in the room, overall it's more playable than some games, but in a lit room they're a bit much. Usually more light would always be better, but they tend to make it harder to see some of the mini displays, especially the ones along the edges. I considered trying to hook them up to a solenoid driver, and manually PWM them to get them to dim, and also give me manual control of them in the code (although I don't really know when I'd use that), but that sounded like it could be a bit of a pain (and who knows if my mosfets can handle that much current), so instead I ordered a cheap 12V LED dimmer off eBay. pasted_image (resized).png
It had these annoying bullet plugs that a lot of electronics have, but I've never had a good way to deal with. I was about to go about my usual process of cutting off the plugs, then buzzing out the wires to figure out which is which, and heat shrinking some new wires onto it, when I had a light-bulb moment: what if I just opened it up? Sure enough, two phillips screws on the back were all that was needed to open the case and see four nicely color coded wires soldered to spots on the board pasted_image (resized).png
A little bit of soldering, and I now had my own wiring and connectors attached pasted_image (resized).png
The dimmer works great, and I now have fine tuned control of the brightness of the GI (and can even turn it off if needed). Still need to find some way to mount this in the cab, but that'll be an issue for later on. At some point before the weather gets too cold I'd like to take the game apart, clean the inside of the cab and put in some final cable management for everything, then sand and stencil the cab with some playing cards.

While I was in the game I also took the opportunity to wire up a few more inserts: 3 in the center of the playfield to show your progress towards a potential wizard mode, and two more in the mini playfield. I stopped using the star rollovers I had installed there to sense the ball a while ago when I made the new diverter, and luckily I was able to find some white inserts that were the same diameter as the star rollovers to replace them with, so now I finally removed the switches and wiring underneath too. pasted_image (resized).png

#256 1 year ago

One thing that didn't cause any issues during testing, much to my surprise, was the lack of plastics. I thought for sure some airball would end up sitting on top of the slings, or manage to fall into the apron area since there's no apron, but that didn't happen once. Nevertheless, it needed to get done. I started by just sticking some index cards on the posts, and hand cutting them roughly to fit the shapepasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
Once I had a few forms ready to test, I grabbed some scrap material from my last playfield cut to practice cutting with scissors and see how clean I could make them. Before I could actually get cutting though, I realized that one of the scraps I'd grabbed looks a lot like my slingshot.... Because it was! Not sure why I didn't think of it sooner, but obviously if you cut out a playfield protector, the left over 'negative' space will be sized to the unplayable areas, which is where the plastics need to go anyway. pasted_image (resized).png
So I drilled a few holes for the posts, peeled off the protective layer, and then drew a border with dry erase marker so they'd show up, and: pasted_image (resized).png

Not bad! The left sling went the same way, but I needed to manually cut out a bit to fit the gate inpasted_image (resized).png Most other plastics weren't so clear-cut, but I was able to eyeball it and get them to fit without major issues pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
Even the apron was almost ready-made once I chopped it out of the scrap border plastic, although it's not perfect as I had to leave a hole for the handle.pasted_image (resized).png

I don't have any 'front' wall for the apron yet either, so I guess technically an airball could still get up there and end up stuck between the apron and the glass, but that's still much better than it falling in and potentially hitting the mechs or something

One thing I hadn't really counted on was the actual mounting for the plastics. For the slings it wasn't too complicated as I just needed to swap the phillips screws for standard pinball ones with a 6-32 thread on top, but many places were made mostly out of mini-posts, which I used since they have the smallest diameter, allowing me to fit more stuff into some tight spaces. They worked great for that, but since they have a pointed top I can't use them to mount plastics, so I'll need to swap some of those out. Trouble is, no one makes a similar post with a wood screw on the bottom and a threaded top, so I may need to dig in deeper than I was hoping and start installing some t-nuts and machine screws. I didn't really plan the playfield with that in mind beyond a normal "well I can swap to machine screws later if the wood strips out", so a lot of those posts are above mechs and may need to have the t-nuts recessed or other annoying things.

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#257 1 year ago

I scanned the plastics I had in with my printer and started mocking up some simple art using a CC vector playing card art pack I found online, then just printed them out on paper for a test
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The paper didn't really turn out that great. Colors were very muted compared to how they look on screen, and without being glued to the plastics it still sags a bit and looks a bit messy, but they still really help pull the playfield together. I'd like to try to make up a few more paper bits to put on the playfield itself, at least where my hand written rules currently are, but that'll have to wait until I take the plastic off again. I've basically given up on ever having full playfield art for this, but I think a splash of color here and there should be more than enough. Once I've got the rest of the plastics made/mounted and drawn up I'll get them printed professionally somewhere for some better colors.

#258 1 year ago

Liking the playing cards plastic art!

#259 1 year ago

Since things were looking pretty good as far as my pintastic target, I decided to make a questionable decision and try to get some cabinet art in too. First, I took out the playfield and neatened up the cabinet wiring some more. pasted_image (resized).png

It still doesn't really look that neat, but everything is actually routed around and attached down, so I'm not really sure what more can be done on some fronts. Part of the mess is probably just the weird way everything is arranged and packed in, plus a lot of premade components that weren't meant to go together like this, like all the extra wiring on the transformer and power supply, or the USB, HDMI, and ethernet cables that I can't really chop down to their exact lengths easily.

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The playfield wiring also isn't as neat as I'd hoped. When I started this project my plan was to have just two connectors going from the cabinet to the playfield: one for power and one for data. The driver boards were all going to be mounted to the playfield like on a Spike game. Instead I have two big black hoses full of ~30 separate solenoid power lines snaking all the way to the driver boards in the cab. My single power connector became two since I separated out the low and high voltages. And instead of a single 'data' connector, I now have an ethernet cable, an hdmi cable, a switch matrix cable, and a led cable. Those last two probably could have been combined, but there isn't much I can do about the others since they're standardized. All of that winds up as a lot of connectors (14 at last count) that I need to unplug and remove from their routing to remove the playfield

With the playfield out I was able to take the cab down to get it sanded. That also meant I finally got to clean it out a bit. A lot of random stuff accumulates at the bottom of a pinball cab when you're building a game in it!
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Now, time to sand it down:pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

Next stop, Home Depot to buy some paint. I've never done a cab 'restore' before, so this should be interesting

#260 1 year ago

If you’re doing decals, be aware that every little divot and/or hole becomes very apparent upon application of the decals. Usually you’d sand, bondo, sand down a few grits, paint, sand, clear, sand.. lotta sanding lol. Probably extreme for what you want, but on the other hand the bondo/sanding in the beginning could be worth it. Course if you go with stencils I guess that’s all pretty moot.

#261 1 year ago

Oh noo i love whirlwind!

#262 1 year ago
Quoted from Mbecker:

If you’re doing decals, be aware that every little divot and/or hole becomes very apparent upon application of the decals. Usually you’d sand, bondo, sand down a few grits, paint, sand, clear, sand.. lotta sanding lol. Probably extreme for what you want, but on the other hand the bondo/sanding in the beginning could be worth it. Course if you go with stencils I guess that’s all pretty moot.

I'm planning on just some simple em/ss style stencils for now. I don't really have the art chops needed to make some good art anyway, but I can draw some suits and geometric shapes. I think. Maybe the cab will just be white too, who knows. I've still gotta figure those steps out, but for now I wanted to get it stripped down while I could.

Quoted from stefanmader:

Oh noo i love whirlwind!

Don't worry, whirlwind is safe and sound https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/whirlwind-back-from-the-depths-

#263 1 year ago
Quoted from zacaj:

I'm planning on just some simple em/ss style stencils for now. I don't really have the art chops needed to make some good art anyway, but I can draw some suits and geometric shapes. I think. Maybe the cab will just be white too, who knows. I've still gotta figure those steps out, but for now I wanted to get it stripped down while I could.

Don't worry, whirlwind is safe and sound https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/whirlwind-back-from-the-depths-

Thank god

1 week later
#264 1 year ago

Usually people spray cabs to paint them, but I don't really have the space to do that, so I opted to try using a roller. I set up a tarp in the middle of my game room, put the cab down on it, and applied about 6 coats of paint, sanding between each few. The texture from the rollers sanded off pretty easily in most places, but I still had a lot of places where the sanding wasn't doing much. I think this was more to do with the wood than the painting though. If I was doing a proper restore I'd have used more filler and stuff to get everything flatter so that the sanding would hit evenly. Also I'd have a power sander instead of just a sanding block. Whoops. I'm not aiming for perfection though, as long as nothing doesn't look like an obvious mistake, I'm okay with it. pasted_image (resized).png

After my quart of paint ran out, I decided to try to do some webbing like many EMs have. Both because it looks cool, and because it'll probably help hide more of the imperfections in the base coat and wood. I saw a few people recommending Montana 'marble effect' spray paint with good results, so I gave it a shot here. Originally I was going to bring the cab out in my yard to spray it, but because of the weird way that it works, even a tiny bit of wind messes it up, so I had to do the spraying in doors :/ Luckily with a bit of 'masking' around the sides I was able to do it without any mishaps. pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
With my black stern siderails, black painted lockdown bar, and some black legs and shooter rod housing I picked up, the white really pops; I'm pretty satisfied with how it turned out overallpasted_image (resized).png pasted_image (resized).png

I still need to figure out the stencils for the side art to go on top of this, so that'll be a task for another day. I figure I'll need to mask those anyway, so it doesn't hurt to have the rest of the game reassembled when that happens, and in the mean time this looks leagues better than the peeling whirlwind art that was on it before

#265 1 year ago

thats a really cool effect

#266 1 year ago

Love the marbling effect - looks sharp

#267 1 year ago

While out shopping, I saw a Cri-Cut for sale, and thought "that would be handy to cut some stencils!". But then I thought: "wait, why do I need stencils? what if I just cut the art out of vinyl directly?" So I grabbed a roll of 'removable' adhesive vinyl from the supply area and tried it out on the cab. It looked fine, and seemed to peel back off without damaging the webbing, so that sounded good. Except I didn't want to drop $300 on a cricut. So I bought a $10 'drag knife' vinyl cutter attachment and hooked it up to my CNC router instead ezgif-4-1c785d45dba7.gif

Took a few tries to get everything adjusted properly and figure out a workflow, but once I worked out the kinks it worked quite well. pasted_image (resized).png
Hand positioning and applying them to the cabinet also took some trial and error, but no major issuespasted_image (resized).png

As always, learning that even a tiny bit of art goes a long way. I'm not going to win any awards here but it's turned out pretty solid despite my zero art skills

#268 1 year ago
Quoted from zacaj:

While out shopping, I saw a Cri-Cut for sale, and thought "that would be handy to cut some stencils!". But then I thought: "wait, why do I need stencils? what if I just cut the art out of vinyl directly?" So I grabbed a roll of 'removable' adhesive vinyl from the supply area and tried it out on the cab. It looked fine, and seemed to peel back off without damaging the webbing, so that sounded good. Except I didn't want to drop $300 on a cricut. So I bought a $10 'drag knife' vinyl cutter attachment and hooked it up to my CNC router instead [quoted image]
Took a few tries to get everything adjusted properly and figure out a workflow, but once I worked out the kinks it worked quite well. [quoted image]
Hand positioning and applying them to the cabinet also took some trial and error, but no major issues[quoted image]
As always, learning that even a tiny bit of art goes a long way. I'm not going to win any awards here but it's turned out pretty solid despite my zero art skills

bloody brilliant! I should have bought a cnc router instead of a vinyl cutter.

Nice work, cab looks great!

#269 1 year ago

Yes!! Looks fantastic!

#270 1 year ago

Wow! Very nice looking cab.

3 weeks later
#271 1 year ago

Did you decide on an official name yet?

1 week later
#272 1 year ago

Falling behind on updating this thread as the final crunch intensifies

Lots of little things going on...

I've been trying to track down all the 3D models I used for the build to print up spares. In a few cases I can't actually find the original file anywhere! Not sure what to do about that, as I thought I'd been tracking everything fairly well, with consistent naming and versioning. A few small things I had to re-model, or I'm stuck with just the generated g-code and I can't really edit it anymore.

With some plastics with art on them, I figured the mismatched drop targets stood out a bit, so I made some quick stickers for thempasted_image (resized).png

In a bunch of places I had holes in the playfield where I'd installed features and then removed them later, so I'd just taped some paper over them, but that was also a bit ugly.pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
Luckily, I had some scans of the playfield from before I'd cut many of the holes, so I printed out stickers of the wood grain and covered them up pasted_image (resized).png

As more playtesting got done, I started having issues with a few connectors falling out of stuff. Usually I'd used connectors with latches/ramps to prevent that, but in some cases I couldn't. So I 3D printed some little braces to hold stuff in pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

I did a bunch of little quality of life things in the code. Hold start to end game. Tweaks to a lot of switches. More instructional text. A lot more feedback as stuff is happening, like these little blinks when you hit something to help you know it wasn't a near miss or something ezgif-7-04f2deb9bb95.gif

#273 1 year ago

The drop target stickers are so cool. Am i right that if you hit them, then you display a card on the display in front of it? So that it looks like the card is falling down.

#274 1 year ago
Quoted from stefanmader:

The drop target stickers are so cool. Am i right that if you hit them, then you display a card on the display in front of it? So that it looks like the card is falling down.

It's the reverse sadly. The display shows a card until you hit it, then you "collect" the card and the screen goes blank

#275 1 year ago
Quoted from zacaj:

It's the reverse sadly. The display shows a card until you hit it, then you "collect" the card and the screen goes blank

You could have it show the back of the card after you hit it, like you turned it over, even do a flip it over animation if you wanted to get fancy. could use the same image as on the targets.

#276 1 year ago

With a month and a half to go until pintastic, I was in a pretty good spot. The game was working fairly well, I had most of the features done and lots of issues worked out. I figured it'd just be finishing touches and bug fixes, and I was actually ahead of schedule! So then I got to thinking if there was anything else I could do in the leftover time. One thing that'd stood out from testing is that my pencil-drawn instructions and labels on the playfield weren't readable enough for people to notice. So I figured maybe I could draw up some simple text boxes on the computer for those. Using some gottlieb EMs as reference, I found out what font was usually used, and tried to copy some of their basic styling, and I drew some stuff up in inkscape pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
Those didn't look too bad! So I got a bit more adventurous with some of the other instructions I had.
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But I needed to figure out how to get those onto my playfield... When I first started drawing these I'd figured I'd just get some "clear sticker paper" from Staples, but it turns out that... doesn't really exist. I ordered a few things like projector transparencies and decal paper, but those also didn't work out. Everything ended up transparent still, not opaque ink on a clear background, so they didn't look too good pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
After a bunch of searching, I figured that what I really wanted might be "window decals" which... aren't decals. They're just vinyl stickers. I ended up ordering some from signs.com since they were the only site I could find that had an exact scale option. I got both decals and window cling, thinking that the decals might rip up the wood but the cling would have a weaker adhesion, but it turned out the cling couldn't stick to the wood at all, and the decal's stickiness wasn't too bad
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The decals went on fine though, and had pretty good 'blocking' so the woodgrain didn't show through, although some of the pencil was barely visible in some of the lighter colors so I had to go back and erase all that.

With that looking pretty good, I went ahead and spent a few evenings drawing even more instruction blurbs. And then got on a bit of a roll I did a few smaller things like keylines for all the inserts. And some graphics for the magna save, and around all the displays. And then I did all the major shots and lanes too because why not? pasted_image (resized).png Now I had to tear down the whole playfield to install all these.... Most of the small ones weren't too bad. The larger ones (some are up to 20 inches long) got a bit more complicated though, especially the ones that needed to line up with lots of different playfield features. I'd never really done decal work before so I had to figure it out a lot as I went, but luckily they were forgiving enough that I could peel them off a few times to get them right before they started to loose their strength, and were slightly stretchy too so I could bend them a bit to line things up. That stickiness also became an issue though when I tried to put some over the displays, and the stickers started to sag down over the hole. pasted_image (resized).png
I ended up having to cut out some spare plastic sheets to cover the displays with in order to support the stickers. Then a new problem was revealed, as the backlights of all the displays had some light bleed that was showing through the stickers and didn't look too good, so I had to mask off portions of the plastic with electrical tape pasted_image (resized).png

There was also a few issues with the center, clear portions of the stickers not adhering to the plastic perfectly, creating bubbles or trapping little bits of dust, so I also had to manually trim out the center portions with an exacto knife in some cases pasted_image (resized).png

The biggest challenge, however, was also the biggest sticker. Somehow this massive part, which I couldn't find some way to split up, didn't come out one-to-one scale, despite being in the same file as everything else pasted_image (resized).png
The piece should be 23x8", but instead it was 24x8.5". A small enough different that I didn't notice it during proofing, or when I got the sheet, until I cut it out and actually put it on the playfield. And since it was the biggest, most complicated piece, I saved it for last too At this point, there was under two weeks until pintastic. It'd take at least 2-4 days for another decal to be made, plus 3-5 days to ship, and I still needed to reassemble everything and do a bunch of final testing, so I didn't have time to wait for a replacement. At first I figured I'd just leave it off, but that one decal was basically a whole quarter of the playfield, so it was really obvious. In a flash of 1am, "nothing left to lose" decision making, I decided to just cut the whole decal up by hand and rearrange it to fit. pasted_image (resized).png
This went... much better than expected. In the end the one decal became 16 separate pieces, which I then cut apart, layered, and stuck back together so that all the keylines still matched up. Close enough! With the plastic protector over it you barely even notice. It'll be fun showing it to people and seeing if anyone asks about it. I've ordered the correct decal, along with a few other corrections too, so the next time I do need to tear the playfield down and get the protector off, I can replace it.

Since I was already ordering from a printing place, I also got some reverse-printed decals for my plasticspasted_image (resized).png
They weren't quite as vibrant as I'd hoped, but still much better than my inkjet-printed ones are. Plus they're adhesive, so the paper doesn't sag under the plastic. Before: pasted_image (resized).png
After:pasted_image (resized).png
Aaaand... done! I wish I'd been able to come up with a few more bits of actual art besides the one hand of cards between the flippers, but I wasn't able to really find anything else that fit with the theme and art style so far.
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#277 1 year ago
Quoted from zacaj:

It's the reverse sadly. The display shows a card until you hit it, then you "collect" the card and the screen goes blank

now that i think about it, it wouldn't make sense otherwise, you wouldn't know what to shoot for right, when every card only shows the backside.

cool graphics!

#278 1 year ago

Looks awesome

2 weeks later
#279 1 year ago

Very cool Zac

#280 1 year ago

Very inventive build. Following. Keep up the good work!!
Happy Thanksgiving.
Steveo

1 week later
#281 12 months ago

Finally got the game set back up again after its trip to Pintastic, so an overview of the past few weeks...

I didn't want to mess with the functionality too much since things had seemed mostly solid, so once all the art was done, I tried to focus on finishing touches.

I wanted to cover up the apron since it was just a clear piece of plastic and a bit ugly, so I had the random idea to just use green felt like on a poker table. And what goes on a poker table? Chips! pasted_image (resized).png These are just super-glued together, but they're holding up alright. With the lockdown bar and instruction card on, it doesn't stand out too muchpasted_image (resized).png

At the request of a tester, I added a quick shooter gauge. I would have liked to use an existing one from a game with some nice art, but none fit the weirdly shaped bottom corner I ended up with...pasted_image (resized).png

And, as a last finishing touch: pasted_image (resized).png

Leading up to the event, I had a few people by for last minute testing. This mostly went well, just a few bug reports, and mostly not game breaking, so I was able to resolve the important ones in time. With just 2 days to go however, suddenly the game completely died. No lights, no displays, and half the coils wouldn't fire. Eventually I found that the 5V fuse had blown, which would explain why the displays and lights died. I'm not sure what caused the fuse to blow, other than that I found one of the power connectors the for the displays had come off the board, so maybe it somehow brushed something? But it's not really a connector with exposed metal or anything. Anyway, the 5V also powers the mosfets for the solenoid drivers, so without that, some coils weren't getting enough power to fire. Sadly the way that they were getting power was that they were somehow powering themselves off the 3V from the CPU chip through their inputs, which managed to also smoke the CPU from the stress, so I basically had to rebuild both driver boards. Wish I'd noticed that I'd blown a fuse quicker, but not really sure what to do about that problem overall, so instead I just packed 2 spares of every chip used on the boards, in addition to a whole spare driver board, and crossed my fingers that'd be enough. Next game I'm going to try to move to a completely different architecture for driving my mosfets so hopefully this won't be an issue anyway.

Besides from spare chips and driver boards, I also prepped 2 spare Raspberry Pis (although I've never had one of those fail) and 3D printed spares of every single part in the game, since I wasn't sure how the 3D parts would hold up. I've had some games at shows get 200+ plays in one day, and looking at my audits, I've played less than that many test games during the entire development cycle, so despite the game being mostly solid for the past few months I really was moving into new territory.

#282 12 months ago

Heading to pintastic, I was mainly worried about three things: broken 3d printed parts, ball sticks, and something going up in smoke. I arrived early Friday morning and set the game up in the free play area:pasted_image (resized).png
A quick inspection showed that everything had survived the journey intact, except that the upper 3 bank of drop targets had nearly worked its way lose from the playfield somehow. I'd never seen it come loose at all before, so this was a bit of a surprise, although considering that, for various reasons, it's only held in by two screws, I probably shouldn't have been so surprised. If any bank was going to do it, it'd be this one. It was at this point that I also discovered I didn't have any half inch, #8 wood screws, which I'd bought specifically to replace loose #6 wood screws (which is what I used for everything on this game) with in exactly this sort of situation. But I did have 3/8", and I reasoned that the thickness was probably more important than the length here, so I installed those. A few test games, and a quick chat with the creator of the Pincraft homebrew who walked by, and then I reset all the high scores and pronounced it "good to go" and left to check out the seminars.

I came back a half hour later to check, and the game was... still working! Had a few nice chats with players, and got a quick interview done by a youtuber, and then I left again. I tried to check on it every half hour or hour or so throughout the days, but I wasn't planning on really being there the whole time and sometimes I didn't get back for 4 hours at a time.

Issues encountered, day 1:
- about an hour in, I came back to check on it, and it was turned off! Uh oh, what could have happened? So I turned it back on and it all worked fine. No idea why someone turned it off, and didn't try to contact me
- soon after, I got a text that there was a part loose on the playfield. Turned out to be a random 1/2" wood screw. I searched all over the game but couldn't locate anywhere missing the screw, so I just tossed it in my spare parts and closed the game up again
- another text, another part loose on the playfield. This time it was the spring off my left inlane gate. There's nothing holding this on besides gravity and friction, so I'm honestly surprised this had never happened before but, more than a year of testing and it didn't, so I never worried myself about improving it.
Oh well. I put the spring back on and we're good to go pasted_image (resized).png
- came by, a player was trying unsuccessfully to start a game. "Ball Missing". Oh boy, we finally have a ball stuck! I confirm there's only 2 balls in the trough. Search high and low all around the playfield... no ball. I finally find it in the coin box area, sitting right on top of one of my boards, but no damage luckily. No clue how it possibly could have gotten down there.
- another part on the playfield. it's the spring again. I reinstall it.
- game has crashed. The cause? No space left on the SD card; my debug logs have filled up the entire 32GB. I sorta knew this was a possibility, but besides from turning off the logs I hadn't found any good solution since I can't delete the old logs while the game is running easily. I delete the logs and restart the game, problem solved.
- another part on the playfield. it's the spring again. Grr. I wonder if maybe the spring has gotten stretched out over time, and replace it with a new one. Maybe the extra tension will hold it on well enough?
- while showing the game to someone, I notice that the left outlane diverter gate is stuck down. Did the mosfet blow? Nope, it's being PWMed properly to stay down, so the driver board software is working properly. The game software thinks it shouldn't be engaged though. Something must have gotten out of sync between them, so I restart the software and it resolves the issue. No idea how long it was like that, but the coil still hadn't gotten hot, so I guess my PWM settings must be pretty good. I'd considered just having the gate stay down during play (vs turning when the outlane switch is hit) but had been worried the coil would eventually cook, so I'd avoided it. Might be worth another look since I've been having issues where the gate doesn't turn fast enough to divert balls
- someone reports a stuck ball. hopefully it's not in the cash box again. nope! It's... stuck on the left inlane gate. the new spring is just strong enough that a very slow ball isn't heavy enough to push the gate open. I try to stretch the spring a bit and find a happy medium between the two and cross my fingers
- finally, near the end of the day, I again get a stuck ball reported. This time it's sitting in the outhole, and not getting kicked over. I worry there's a switch issue, but it turns out the coil fuse for that bank has blown. I replace it and get ready to turn the power off quick once I see what's locked on but the game works fine. Not sure what blew the fuse. Looking at it, it's a fast blow, 4A. In retrospect that probably should be a slow blow to account for random situations where too many coils just happen to fire at once, but it's never been a problem before, and I'm wary of swapping fuses at the event, so I put another 4A in.

Day 2:
- while showing the game to McSquid, the left drop target bank starts having trouble resetting. Luckily, my code will retry a few times and then give up, so it's not a huge deal, but after the game I check it out and see that it's starting to come loose like the 3 bank did the previous morning. Again, this is a bank where I had to remove one of the 4 mounting brackets to make it fit, so maybe that's a problem, but there's not much I can do about it. I swap in some #8 screws just in case
- a few hours later I get a report that the game is 'stuck'. When I get there it's sitting on the bonus collect screen, but not counting down. Somehow, the bonus 'total' that's supposed to be awarded has become NaN, which basically means a divide by zero or something happened somewhere. The game keeps trying to subtract 1,000 from the total and give it to the player, but when you subtract something from NaN you get... NaN. Not sure what caused it, but a reboot fixes it.
- a couple more uneventful hours pass, and the NaN bug strikes it's head again. Weird that this didn't happen on day one, but twice on day two, but nothing I can do about it right now
- another part on the playfield. it's the spring again. I reinstall it. Looks like this will just be a thing for now. I'll try to make a new version of the gate with some little overhang to hold it on in the future
- around 8pm, the fuse blows on the outhole again. Still no idea what's causing it, but again just replacing the fuse fixes it. I suspect that maybe the left outlane gate (which is on the same solenoid bank) might be stressing out the fuse when it gets stuck on, and that combined with some other coils may be blowing it?

And that's it! Not a single broken 3d printed part. No smoke. Not even any real ball stick areas for me to address. The game was received pretty well; a lot of praise for the lower flipper and the right outlane VUK/popper once I explained it.

That's probably my biggest 'failure'/takeaway from the weekend though... Most people didn't pick up on any of the more advanced features/rules I'd worked in while playing. A lot of people got confused by the secondary flipper buttons for the magna save and popper, and I'm reminded sadly of the new Black Knight's action button magna save. Not many people actually picked up on how the poker hands worked, or at least, they didn't have the flipper skills needed to actually aim at good cards. Most people just flailed around at the targets and got random hands, then double flipped through the 'end of hand' animation without even noticing if they'd won or lost. Also, very few people figured out the skillshot. Most just full plunged, which tended to send the ball flying all the way around to the left inlane to their surprise. I thought I'd done a pretty good job of making the skillshot obvious, flashing the lights brightly, etc, but apparently that wasn't enough. It's a bit saddening to see, but I guess that's just how a lot of players are. I don't really plan on changing anything on that front though; I didn't design this game with the 'mass market' as my goal. When possible I've tried to make it so the layman player can also enjoy the game as much as possible, but I'm not going to remove features that expert players can enjoy just because they may slightly confuse other players.

#283 12 months ago

Overall, the game got approximately 400 plays at the show.... I think. Before folding it up for transport, I also coded in a bunch of audits and stuff so that, for every game played, it'd store a big data file full of stats, timestamped, for me to dig through later. By counting those files, I reasoned, I could get the play count easily. There's just one problem: it turns out the RPi doesn't have an internal clock. Whenever it boots, it gets the current time from the internet. And there was no internet at pintastic. So when that happens it just picks up where it left off, meaning that the first games played on Friday were timestamped at some time Wednesday when it was last connected to the internet, and the games on Saturday look like they came right after the ones on Friday, so I have no way of actually knowing exactly which games were played which days. I tried to reconstruct everything as best I could, so I think my numbers are pretty accurate, but it's annoying that I don't have perfect results...

Anyway, some fun stats:
- Total Games: 382. Of those, 345 were single player. 28 were two player, and a few three and four player. No one did a five player game
- Top score: 2,297,380, by 'OLP'. Congrats, whoever you are!
- Lowest score: -584,410. Even more impressive. I've never seen someone get half that low of a score. Sadly no initials were given for that game
- Average score: 400k. Pretty good. When I started writing the rules for the game I wanted 1 million to be obtainable, but not a 'gimme'. You should be excited when you get a million points! I think my balancing has done pretty well on that front. pasted_image (resized).png
- Scores over 1 million: 32. That's about 8%, which would also put the 'replay' score right around there too, nice
- Most money lost: $4810
- Most money won: $5880, again by OLP. They must have been good at poker... This cash in also got them the 'Top Cashout' high score at 1,542,850. More than half their score from poker!
- Most hands won: 4. 4 is a pretty good game... I think the max I ever saw someone get during testing was only like 9, and they were familiar with the game and concentrating on just winning hands.
- Most hands played: also 4. So whoever played that 4 hand game had a 100% win rate, wow!
- Average cashout: 140k. This is slightly off since I realized that I had a minimum cashout of zero, meaning that anyone who lost points is going to be counted as just a zero, bringing the average up, but I don't think it'd affect it that much. Considering that the average score was 400k, I think this number is pretty well balanced. Maybe it should be a tad higher? I don't want the game's scoring to all come down to the end of game cashout, but also, it's Poker, you know?
- Average bonus: 50,000. This feels a bit too high to me, considering an average game is 400k. Almost half people's scores is coming from bonus? I'll probably have to tweak this a bit lower.
- Multiballs played: Hand: 84, Straight: 13, Flush: 10, Full House: 12. Nice to see that the three main multiballs all had similar play counts, but the discrepancy between 'Hand' multiball (the 'gimme' multiball for completing your first hand) and the rest is a bit higher than I'd like. When watching people playing, I noted a ton of people were lighting multiball but then not starting it. At first I worried they didn't know how to start it, but even when pointing it out, they still couldn't do it, so I think really the ramp shot is just way harder than I thought it was. I wish I'd made an audit for 'multiballs qualified' vs 'multiballs played', I'm sure it would be quite depressing
- Flubbed multiballs: 68. Also depressing... 68 of the 119 multiballs played scored zero points! I guess people just forgot to flip or something? There's no ball save so I know the multiballs can be short, but I'd expect most people to at least get to bat the ball around a bit. Similarly, not a single person got a jackpot in Straight multiball. I'd thought that one was easier than the jackpot for full house, but one person did get a nice 700,000 point jackpot from full house
- Most skillshots made: 7. That's a pretty good number. Again, I think the high ever was only around 9. Sadly this is counteracted by...
- Zero skillshots made: 232. That's not single skillshots either, that's entire games played where the player didn't make one skillshot. More than 50%.
- Biggest spinner rip: 58 spins. The average spinner rip is only around 20, so that's really amazing. Maybe they managed to combo it and get two hits in?
- Ball Times: pasted_image (resized).png
- Game Times: these were a bit lower than I'd hoped. I think optimally a game should last around 3-4 minutes, but the majority were shorter than 3 minutes. I'd put a lot of thought into trying to make the game easier for less skilled players, but couldn't come up with that many ways to do it without making it easier for more skilled players. A timed ball save would probably help here by just inflating the minimum possible ball time, but I'm not a big fan of them in games where you can plunge directly to a flipper, AND have savers on both outlanes to help you... pasted_image (resized).png
- Average poker hand win/loss: 1.47/1.05. Not bad. I guess at least some players are trying to play the poker a bit, otherwise I'd expect an even distribution
- Right outlane ball save used successfully: 68 times. Sadly this number isn't that useful without a 'number of right outlanes' audit, but it's nice to know that 68 people got to have the 'saved the ball using the popper' moment. When watching people play, this is probably the most exciting, successful moment that I saw
- Ramps shot: 99. Surprisingly low across 400 games, but people just seemed to have a ton of trouble lining up this shot for some reason.

And finally, all my audit data, zoomed out to fit on screen
pasted_image (resized).png

#284 12 months ago

Well, to be fair, many people were probably only playing/getting to play a single game before moving on. Things like skill shots and what the shot angles are can take a couple of games for some players to figure out, and if there's a line queued to play it, if you're not a show asshole you're only going to play one game and move to the next machine of interest so others get a chance.

#285 12 months ago

How in Sam Hell did you take that screenshot!?

Seriously though, I love all those stats. Yours go into quite a bit more detail than mine - I'm going to have to make sure I add a few columns in time for next show. Speaking of which, I don't recall if this has been asked yet or not, any chance of seeing this game at MGC?

#286 12 months ago
Quoted from Gornkleschnitzer:

Yours go into quite a bit more detail than mine

You should see all the other ones I added but were broken I had an audit for every skillshot position made/failed that I thought would be super interesting but the numbers aren't adding up for some reason... Step 2 of doing a bunch of cool audits is to actually test them I guess...

Quoted from Gornkleschnitzer:

Speaking of which, I don't recall if this has been asked yet or not, any chance of seeing this game at MGC?

Only if someone pays to ship it out and back for me Sadly every show to the west of me is a super long drive. I'm not even sure if I'll bring it to pintastic next year either, to be honest. One showing was enough to get most of what I wanted out of it; I don't really have the time/interest needed to really tour it around everywhere like some builders do

#287 12 months ago

I'm thinking of copying your tiny displays idea in the playfield for an upcoming project, anything you would do different on that? words of wisdom?

#288 12 months ago
Quoted from BorgDog:

I'm thinking of copying your tiny displays idea in the playfield for an upcoming project, anything you would do different on that? words of wisdom?

Better connectors was a big one. Mine weren't locking or anything so stuff kept sliding off. Hardest part is just getting the signal integrity+refresh speed good enough. 20+ displays is really pushing it, so if you can make do with less (or separate strips with their own driver circuitry) that'd be good. Viewing angles also aren't the best, and there's some that look better 180 degrees off that I couldn't turn sadly, but options as far as displays to use this size are limited.

I'd love to find a slightly larger display too for the shots. I think mine were 1.8"? The square ones for the drops were 1.4". The 1.8s were also dimmer which was annoying. Made it very hard to actually make readable 'signs' like 'light jackpot' or 'multiball' in a way that people would actually read at a glance. The problem is that if you go much larger, the resolution increases (beyond 160x128), and the driver chip these displays uses only supports that much, so you end up with completely incompatible displays, which often don't support SPI to boot, making them much harder to daisy chain together

If you want my schematics, part numbers, code etc for reference send me a PM. Technically the whole codebase is on my github somewhere but I doubt it's too accessible as is

#289 12 months ago

thanks. if I ever get to that point I'll hit you up, still early planning stages. I see there are some small RGB OLED ones out there, a bit more money than the tft but I might give them a try.

#290 12 months ago
Quoted from zacaj:

Better connectors was a big one.

Oh boy, looks like my build-in-progress is fated to have some communication issues then. 0.1" header pins/plugs you're using, I think? Mine's full of those... now I'm considering investing in hot glue.

Quoted from zacaj:

Only if someone pays to ship it out and back for me

That one hits home 100%... people beg me to bring Undertale to other shows all the time - unlikely for a travelphobe who can barely handle Milwaukee.

#291 12 months ago
Quoted from Gornkleschnitzer:

Oh boy, looks like my build-in-progress is fated to have some communication issues then. 0.1" header pins/plugs you're using, I think? Mine's full of those... now I'm considering investing in hot glue.

Yeah, all my boards are 0.1" headers, except the pins for the high voltage/amperage solenoids which are 0.156". Basically, you never want to use plain headers like this: https://www.digikey.com/en/products/detail/adam-tech/PH1-08-UA/9830442pasted_image (resized).png

Ones with a locking ramp like this are much better: https://www.digikey.com/en/products/detail/molex/0022232081/26679pasted_image (resized).png

Basically every place I've used the plain headers I've had issues with the connectors coming off from time to time. With the locking ramps, I've only had one come off ever, and I might have yanked it when working on something so I can't even really count that either.

I'd avoid hot glue though. Spooky uses it on many of their games and you still have issues with connectors coming off eventually. The little 3D printed brackets I documented earlier in the thread have worked great so far, I bet with a bit more work on them you could make some really good clips. I'm also thinking about adding holes behind the connectors on some of my boards where I could wrap a zip tie through eventually.

I've been wondering if the classic 0.1" headers are just a bad idea though. I mean, they've been using them since the 70s, right? Must be something better by now? I just used them because I had the parts around from working on other machines. Maybe there are some good ones with a built in clip now-adays? Or something like the MiniFit Jr connectors that gottlieb system 3 uses? I'm not a connector expert though so I don't really know how to compare...

Quoted from Gornkleschnitzer:

That one hits home 100%... people beg me to bring Undertale to other shows all the time - unlikely for a travelphobe who can barely handle Milwaukee.

Yep... I go to most area shows within 4ish hours and that's it. Usually I'll bring at least one game, usually to sell. Bringing the homebrew is not only more work, but you need to baby it a lot more, AND it's not for sale, so you're losing out on a possible sale and you know you'll need to tear it down and haul it back at the end too. I've only got room for one game in my car too, so what if I want to buy something at the show?

Now, maybe if the shows offered some benefits to homebrews specifically, I'd be more interested? Pintastic just treated it like a normal game for free play, I assume Pinfest and York would be the same. York at least had a homebrew/P3 'booth' but I think that was something the people at the booth just set up on their own, it wasn't done by York showrunners, so they probably paid for the spot to boot! Not sure how the expo booth was handled... I'd think a good homebrew showing could be a great boon to shows if the show got more serious about it, especially as homebrew games get more popular, so maybe that'll change in the future. We'll see

#292 12 months ago

Good to know I made a, um, wonderful choice of connectors... I'm getting good at 0.1" crimping, but evidently it will be a headache that keeps on giving. There are a couple of areas (5V main input, and solenoid drivers/ground) where I used our old friend, .156 IDC, which is at least pretty tried-and-true in this industry.

Quoted from zacaj:

I've been wondering if the classic 0.1" headers are just a bad idea though. I mean, they've been using them since the 70s, right? Must be something better by now? I just used them because I had the parts around from working on other machines. Maybe there are some good ones with a built in clip now-adays? Or something like the MiniFit Jr connectors that gottlieb system 3 uses? I'm not a connector expert though so I don't really know how to compare...

I LOVE MiniFit Jr. I'm using a handful of those myself (playfield-to-cabinet mostly) and they've pretty much always been good to me. I would have liked to use them for wire-to-board but ran into a lot more trouble than I'd have expected just trying to find MiniFit-compatible board mount sockets. It's a bit of a double-edged sword to have thousands upon thousands of components to select from. Probably going to keep looking though, because that satisfying little "snap" is exactly what I'd like to hear when I'm connecting the wiring harness.

Or maybe I did find them but thought them too expensive. Oh well, I saved lots of money on my project that I am then spending in unnecessary personal time in assembly work!

#293 11 months ago
Quoted from zacaj:

Now, maybe if the shows offered some benefits to homebrews specifically, I'd be more interested? Pintastic just treated it like a normal game for free play, I assume Pinfest and York would be the same.

I'm sorry that we at Pintastic didn't make it more clear about the special rewards for homebrew games. You earned a bunch of Bonus Points for bringing a game that you designed. If you didn't redeem the points, they will be waiting for you next show.

We have some internal debates about game placement in the Free Play room. We always try to give homebrew games special positioning, knowing that there will be a lot of photography and impromptu discussions around each one. If we put them all in one zone, which we mostly did, then we might have too many people crowded in one place. Our MyFlipR software supports a full range of positioning options and allows us to show the game position down to an individual spot if we choose. Do you think we should have special signage? What other actions could we take to give homebrew designers their just rewards?
.................David Marston

4 weeks later
4 months later
#295 6 months ago

How are the proximity sensors working? Which ones have have been more effective? The Alien ones or the 12mm switches? I am looking to build a custom game and have an Alien and have been trying to figure out were to get the sensors.

#296 6 months ago
Quoted from AD72:

How are the proximity sensors working? Which ones have have been more effective? The Alien ones or the 12mm switches? I am looking to build a custom game and have an Alien and have been trying to figure out were to get the sensors.

I never found a reliable source for the Alien ones. The range for the 12mm isn't quite enough for me, but the 18s have been quite solid. I've still never found a good way to reduce their form factor though, which is annoying. Would love to find a way to buy the individual components before they're all glued together. It's really just a small PCB and a coil of wire at the tip, no reason you couldn't mount the coil anywhere you want and then run the two wires to the PCB somewhere else, or even make a 4 in 1 pcb or something if you knew the design, but it's a bit beyond my electronics knowledge

2 months later
#297 3 months ago

Hi really neat reading your experience.

2 weeks later
#298 3 months ago

I used Poker in another tournament over the weekend. The last time I did this, I had a few cases where the game glitched out bad enough that it needed to be restarted, which... wasn't great. I'd like the game to be reliable enough that I can just put it out at an event/etc and not pay attention to it, and a tournament is the most demanding on that front so it's a good test.

This time, the first game played, the player was able to reproduce one of the issues from last time, where they'd somehow gotten into a single ball multiball. It turned out to be a bug where the single ball ballsave was being triggered during the start of multiball and getting mixed up, so that was easy to disable. No more code issues were encountered the rest of the day, however there were a few hardware issues.

First, the lane feed, which comes down behind the ramp, left drop targets, and then to the inverted inlane, keeps rattling to the right and not getting to the inlane. This has been a recurring but minor issue throughout the time working on the project, and I'm still unsure how to resolve it. In the end, the main thing I've learned is not to design something like this again.

Second, I'm still having occasional issues with the ramp. A very fast ramp shot managed to airball over the up/down post which stops the ball on the ramp to lock it. I have a ring around the habitrail there to stop it, but it still somehow worked its way by, so I adjusted the trail+ring to be even closer to the post to hopefully prevent this in the future. The nice thing about my 3D printed habitrail brackets is that this is very easy to do, but on the other hand I guess it's also possible it'll slide back out of adjustment :/. The 'ramp made' switch at the top of the ramp also is still missing balls occasionally. I've adjusted this as best I can and it still happens maybe 1% of the time. At least, the ball search now takes care of this and releases the lock, so it's not a game breaking issue, but it looks bad when it does happen....

Third, a drop target snapped off again. For some reason, this same target/position has broken 3 times now. No other targets have broken. I made the mistake both times of using a random spare used target I had around, so hopefully if I buy a new target and swap it in that'll be fine, but I'm worried it might actually be a design flaw. Maybe the slot for the drop target is too narrow, or the post+rubber behind it is too close or too far away? Who knows

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