(Topic ID: 34215)

Star Trek: Mirror Universe Pinball

By Zitt

6 years ago

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  • Latest reply 3 years ago by CaptainNeo
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#1 6 years ago

A few months ago; I bit the bullet and got myself a Techshop.ws membership for the Austin/RoundRock location. While not cheap; I expect to make good use of the money spent.

For those that don’t know what Techshop is... in short it’s a “gym-membership” type of place which has over $500k in high tech machinery which the hobbyist can use once they’ve taken the required safety courses. Austin has a Waterjet, 2 shop bot CNC machines, mills, laser cutters, cnc sewing machines, tig/mig/welders, sand and powdercoating , etc.

My first course was Shopbot CNC ... Last month I completed Waterjet.
This means I’m now able to use either of these machines.

For the last couple of years; I’ve been wanting to do my own pinball table. Those that know me... will already know the subject matter in question.

About five weeks ago; I settled on a plan.

Create a Star Trek: Mirror Universe pinball table.

The plan; Scan in a 1979 Bally Star Trek pinball table. Mirror it. And customize it for the mirror universe.

Before (my previous PF/machine restore):

After: (<u>click the picture to get a larger higher rez on flickr</u>

Yeap; that’s right... the shooter lane will be on the left side (evil grin) and will have a negative feel. What has been done:
Re-colored the playfield; fixed worn areas (in computer). Then flipped the playfield.

Areas changed:
1) “vectorized” nearly all aspects of the PF.
2) removed “reversed” text and replaced with Star Trek: series font.
3) USS becomes I.S.S. Enterprise.
4) Space Station K0 becomes Battle Station K0
5) Transporting people become their “mirrored universe” counterparts complete with sashes and skin.
6) “enter Hyperspace” becomes “Avert Subordinate Promotion” “by thwarting and assassination conspiracy”.
7) “jump to warp” becomes “Employ Agonizer on Crewman”
8 ) “where no man has gone before” becomes:
“Your Mission: Conquer all worlds and civilizations to expand the empire like no man before”
(may be too wordy)
9) “Ready Photon Phaser” becomes “ready photon torpedo”
10) Spelling “bally” becomes “Terra” (Terra meaning Earth. Short for “Terran Empire”; the mirror universe’s “federation”)
11) Removed same player shoots again language; opting for “shoot again” text over insert.
12) Drop Target Special becomes Terran Empire logo.
13) colorized planet with purple glow like the re-mastered series from cbs. Not sure I like it... may go back to original look.

You’ll note that I’ve removed all the switch lanes from the design. The plan is to design a set of hall effect pcbs which replicate functionality without slots in the PF.

I’m curious how Kevin O’Connor would have approached a project like this.

Anyway; interested in what you guys think.

Post edited by Zitt : I guess Inline images aren't allowed on this forum.

#2 6 years ago

I also did the inital CAD work on getting a CNC-ready Playfield.

My next step is to see if I can source some inserts from Pinball Resource. I'll need to do this before I commit to keeping the same sized inserts as on the original.

I haven't done much work on the Plastics yet ... but I have a plan which I don't want to talk about until it becomes a done deal.

Merry Christmas to all!

#4 6 years ago

I've been working on the Plastics for the machine...

Remember to click the images to get larger/higher rez renderings

Here's what they basically looked like on a prototype machine ... I re-did the text here:

Why ProtoType? Well... YEllow/Silver uniforms do not fit the theme of the known Mirror Universe... That and I really enjoy the Busty Blonde.

So; now I needed to "mirror universe" it up.

However, I'm kinda torn between two designs. First; here's a screen cap of Scotty put on one of the pieces:


1) Busty Blonde has been Mirrorized.
2) Spock has a beard.
3) Uhura has been Mirrorized - complete with black stockings.
4) Those.... um... who-knows what has been removed and cartoonized-screen-caps of Kor and the Romulan Commander have replaced them. With the req factional logos in place.
5) Scotty Screen cap from Mirror Mirror.

My issue with screencap is it kinda looks out of place with cartoonized Evil-Spock and Evil-Uhura... but "matches" the screencaps of the foes.

Option 2:

Took a screen cap of Scotty from The Animated Series (TAS) and heavily modified him to make it a mirrored version.

I'm also thinking about putting Evil-Sulu on the other arrowed plastic. But depends on which direction I got in.

Should I loose the arrows on these plastics?
Which should I go with?

#9 6 years ago

Trust me - The plan for the plastics should rox the socks off you guys. I don't want to say anything until I have some examples ready. Lets just say the new plastics will be orginal and kick ass.

As far a the color scheme - I'll consider your idea. However; if you look at the concept of the TOS episode - you'll note that the mirror universe was very simular to our own universe. I think that darkening the colors violates the simular but different implementation.

Finally, as far as the DIY kits... I don't think that is a wize idea.
1) I don't "own" the orginal art . I can claim it as a dervative art; but if I sell; it becomes a copyright infringe issue.
2) Star Trek is a Licensed product - policed by Paramount/CBS I'm sure. So; to sell means I need a license. not something I'm interested in tangleing with.

Having said that; I would be interested in working with someone like CPR whom might already have the licenses to product such a kit.

#11 6 years ago

Other than PBR; whom else should I contact for Early Bally SS inserts?
PBR doesn't list 0.6in inserts on their site; and they aren't answering emails until the 3rd.

Just looking for backup options.

2 weeks later
#12 6 years ago

Mid week last week; I activated my Techshop.ws membership and schedule myself for the Laser cutter SBU on Saturday. No; I didn't feel like I needed the SBU; but given my issues with my personal laser cutter - I still needed to make some progress.

After class; I scheduled a 2hr block on Laser cutter#2. I wanted to use the Laser cutter to create the Inserts I'll need for the new playfield. I went to Regal plastics earlier in the week and got some material:

Translucent White @ 0.25"
Translucent Yelllow @ 0.25"
Transparent Green @ 0.25"
Transparent Yellow @ 0.25"
Transparent Orange @ 0.25"
I already had Transparent Red @ 0.25" so didn't need it.

No; I didn't need all these colors to exactly match the existing Inserts; but I wanted to experiment to find the right mix for what I wanted on my pinball table.

I drew up some inserts in CorelDraw X4 ... and decided that I wanted to take three different tests:
1) Try Transparent Inserts without anything. Just "clear".
2) Transparent Inserts Frosted.
3) Transparent Inserts Clear with a "spiral galaxy".
4) Transparent Inserts Frosted with a "spiral galaxy".

I figured; since I was creating my own table... might as well add some enhancements for some added details. Hence the spiral galaxy might look good.
I also figured that I don't really like "clear" inserts; some frosting would hide the bulb filament and/or the electronics/LEDs under the inserts.

Here's a Corel rendering of my work:

For the frosted; I hit the acrylic with a 220 grit orbital sander... the followed up with the sandblaster. The spiral galaxy would be etched into the acrylic with the laser cutter.

The Translucent White and Yellow look really good. Here they are compared against existing inserts and being back lit by a White #555 LED:


InsertsCAD3r4.png STMDSC_0373.jpg STMDSC_0371.jpg

#13 6 years ago

Now for the Red 0.61 insert test:
Top is the clear insert, bottom is the frosted insert.

Top is the clear/spiral insert, bottom is the frosted/spiral insert.

Let's try the a bigger insert... how about the shoot again insert.
Before (stock/old insert):



Based on the current tests; I gotta say I'm diggin the Frosted/Spiral inserts. I wouldn't do the spiral galaxy for every insert... but as an emblieshment to specials like the green; red; amber inserts. I think they do a good job of defusing the led light while adding a little something extra.

I ran out time on my 2hr block in the laser cutter today. I didn't get to the transparent yellow, orange, and green. But I have a block allocated to me for sunday afternoon. As a result; I'll withhold final judgement as to the inserts until I have the other tested.

That's all for now; see you guys tomorrow.


#19 6 years ago

I can’t claim originality here... as I remember the XENON machine at a past TPF which had NIXIE tubes instead of the standard VFD displays. I always thought they were cool.

Now that I’m designing Star Trek: The Mirror Universe; I’m thinking that I want to put NIXIE displays in the machine instead of stock Bally displays.

I’ve been doing some design work; and have come up with the following schematics which use the IN-12A tubes from Russia. They are nearly the same digit height as a stock display and and are relatively inexpensive compared to other tubes.

The Schematics are posted here for review... I’ve never designed a display before... so will probably need to do some design tweaks once I get the Tubes in.

I went 7digits instead of 6... so they can be used in other machines. I’ll either de-pop NIXIE_A7 or figure out how to make my Bally FW run a 7digit display.

Anyone see anything obvious?

1 week later
#20 6 years ago

I did finish the inserts a couple of weekend ago; but had a puzzle to put together - more on that momentarily.

Here's the Clear Yellow and Green inserts. I didn't bother to photo each version; since I pretty much decided I like the frosted Spiral Galaxy versions.


I didn't need to clear yellow; but I cut them anyway... because I need the smaller peices you'll see next. I think I'm going to use the clear yellow inserts to represent the 3X bonuses.

Observent people noticed there some details peices on the CAD drawing I showed earlier. These detail peices are for the Nacelle graphics in the original playfield. I was always... dissappointed these warp nacelles didn't light up on the original PF. So; I wanted to see if I could change that on The Mirror Universe.

Anyone like Puzzles? If so... have I got some fun for you:
All kinds of colors of the rainbow. And no... I not real fond of puzzles.

I laser cut some plywood in about the size of the nacelle image on the PF. and put together the puzzle of Yellow, Red, Orange to replicate the nacelle. Once I had the 20some odd peices in the correct order I "tooth pick" clamped the pieces tightly together:

and then used some acrylic solvent to glue the pieces using capillary action. I made sure these peices were tight together to ensure a tight bond was formed. I haven't really tried to "Break" these parts; but I've dropped them a couple of times and they haven't shattered.

I made two with the Yellow/Orange/Red/Yellow combo - the identical combo as the PF graphic. Since I had the peices; I went ahead and created a combo which more closely resembles the Enterprise... W/ Red as the main color; orange/yellow/white.

Once I had the pieces welded together with the solvent; I need to make them level. However, I notices that even tho I cut these parts from the same file; their with minor gaps between some of the pieces where they didn't meet. I didn't want to see unfiltered light come from between the acrylic. I pondered; thought about Epoxy w/ some kind of dye... but remembered that I created some crafts with the wife many years ago. It was some plastics stainglass in a bottle. I had pearl white; but couldn't find the Red or Yellow. I tried Michaels... and all they had was some sh1tty martha stewart glass "paint" for $4 a bottle. "Meh" I thought. So I waited until Monday when Hobby Lobby would be open. A lunch trip turned up the exact thing I remembered:
[url=http://www.plaidonline.com/gallery-glass-window-color-ruby-red-2-oz/84/16015/product.htm]Ruby Red Gallery Glass[/url] and the [url=http://www.plaidonline.com/gallery-glass-window-color-sunny-yellow-2-oz/84/16004/product.htm]Sunny Yellow[/url]. These two oz bottles were like $2.75 a bottle. Using the bottle applicator; I filled the cracks with the appropriate color. I didn't get the Orange- because I wan't sure Pumpkin Orange would match the acrlyic orange. Since red and yellow always border orange; I could use one of the two. I used pearl white for the center "star" on the red insert.

Once I had the cracks filled; I proceeded to attempt to use the orbital sander to help level these inserts; at which one of the yellow inserts went flying into the neather regions of my garage. a quick search didn't turn it up. At that point I went to manually sanding these parts flat.

The result?


And the money shot:

I like the red a lot better than the yellow.


#24 6 years ago

Thanks guys!

I just put the finishing touches on the silk screen for the Base board for the Nixie display.

Here’s a image of the boards as they stand today.
Base Board:

Display Board:

New features added:
1) The “Right angle” Display board has surface mount LEDs under the tubes; the idea here is that when the display is “active” meaning PlayerX is up... the switched LAMP driver on the side of the display turns on these LEDs causing them to backlight the display ... to help identify which player is active. A Brightness POT on the baseboard controls the brightness.
Opto-Isolated the “lamp” input from +5V logic.

2) I added decode logic to support 7digit display ROM hacks:
where by D5 =1= D6 causes the 7th digit to become active. U3 & U4 provide this functionality.
Feature is jumper selectable to for native 7digit or Rom-Hack 7digit mode via JP1.

3) Clearly labeled Test Points with voltages. Added 80V test point.

4) Additional decoupling caps near U1,U2,U3 and well as a bulk cap for 5V.

5) Nixie tube display board is at a “right angle” to the base board (like original); but is back set far enough so “front” of IN-12A displays are near same position as the VFD display.

6) HV areas “inside” dotted lines. Generous ground planes to help with thermals.

7) Same PCB sizes as original.

The Schematics are posted here for review... I’ve never designed a display before... so will probably need to do some design tweaks once I get the Tubes in.
At this time; the design remains my copy-protected property! Once I've proven the design; I'll consider open-sourcing the design for others to build.

I went 7digits instead of 6... so they can be used in other machines. I’ll either de-pop NIXIE_A7 or figure out how to make my Bally FW run a 7digit display.

1 week later
#25 6 years ago

Tonight I finished the CNC work on the Playfield as I have a 1pm reservation on the Techshop.ws CNC machines for Saturday. Earlier this week I got some Russian Birch in 4x8 sheet to create the PF on. The veneers/cores look to be dense and high quality which should yield a good looking PF.

The CNC simulation yielded this rendering (click for full size image):

The simulator says 44minutes of machine time – but I’m guessing it’s gonna be longer than that.

With luck by 6pm; I’ll be back at home with a fresh playfield.

There are two things missing from this PF at the moment – One is the ball lane and the other is the beveled edges of the kickout hole.
I’m not sure yet how to generate these with the tools I have on hand. I need to learn Cut3d and figure out how to incorporate it into the design. I’m hopeful I can add it later after the PF is already CNCed or do some of the work by hand.


#29 6 years ago

This weekend was suppose to be the weekend for real progress; sadly – it didn’t happened.
On Friday; I went to techshop to check on file readiness and water jet a unique piece for the Playfield.

Turned out all the work I’d done (6hrs or more) in the Trial version of Cut2D wasn’t usable in the production version Techshop had. Those a-holes think it’s cute to prevent files created in the trial version from working in the production version unless you spent 500 on the full version. OFcourse the Trial version only outputs from their trial library so I couldn’t export tool paths. I recovered; but I spent a lot of late night hours rebuilding the CNC files. I understand a company wanting to protect their IP – but this is just well – going too far.

Now onto the unique piece I was to water jet. I built the file in CorelDraw. Let’s just say CorelDraw is absolute crap when it comes to outputting DXF files. When I bring it into FlowPath to generate the waterjet files... the parts have in-exact curves and broken lines. I have to repair it in FlowPath which takes about an hour. When I take it to the waterjet; the part some how grew by 1.2x ... not that I caught it at the time. So; 40 in aluminum and 40 dollars in machine time is down the drain. I’ve recreated the design in a real cad program and we’ll see about cutting it in a few days when I get more material.

After about 4 weeks; my 12A Nixie tubes arrived from Russia. First thing I noticed is that the numbers are upside down to what I thought the proper orientation was. To make matters worse the Library that I dled for the Nixie tubes was incorrect and the pin numbering was off. This renders one of the two circuit boards for the nixie displays invalid. I’ve fixed the pinout in the library and have re-laid out the display board. Plan on submitting it to BatchPCB tonight. I think the PCBs are running behind because of Chinese holidays... so not sure if I’ll actually get the PCBs in time for TPF’13. I gambled by committing the PCB before I had the tubes... and lost that bet.

I did get my ColorDMD for the STNG installed last Thursday... so at least that went well.

Hoping your weekend was better,

#32 6 years ago

Sorry to hear that your weekend did not go as planned.The whole cad file thing really sucks.
What program did you end up using to correct the errors?

I tried using FlowJet's cad software.
However, earlier this week; I re-did the files in QCad so they should be natural DXFs now.

Last night was a good night. I figured out the toolchain to take the ball lane and kickout hole from Sketchup into the CAD software.

I used Sketchup 8 to create the files (easiest 3D software I can barely use). Once I had the file in Sketchup; I exported the model to a 3D model in DAE format. Then I used Meshlab 1.3.0 to convert the .dae into an .stl which could be read by Cut3D. Here’s the models as the look in MeshLab:

Once I had the tool paths figured out; I imported the .v3d file into Cut2D and aligned it in the file. The simulation shows me this:

I couldn’t figure out why the Ball lane path is “etching” the non-lane wood. I tried a couple of things but they didn’t seem to make it better – only worse. So; I plan on leaving the 1/4” ball mill a little higher when it’s cut to try and avoid the etches.

Collets are on order via Fleabay since Monday... And I ordered the 1/4” ball mill before I went to bed.
New NIXIE tube board is on order as of today.

Now I just play the waiting game until the collets and mill are in. I'm also hoping to have something to report by next weekend on the Plastics front.


#36 6 years ago

Looking forward to seeing this come off the cnc. I am cutting a playfield currently for someone. Easiest way I found to do the shooter lane is in vcarve pro using the fluting option with a ball nose bit.

Wow - thanks for the advice. I'll have to look into that feature in the future.


A while back; I put the breaks on further work on the Plastics. The reason I stated was that I was working on a plan to knock your socks off. Tonight is the moment I reveal the plan and work that has been done.

When I realized my art skils were not up to the task... I decided to consult a professional. I approched Gordon_Purcell (a well known Star Trek graphic novel artist) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Purcell
with the project; and he agreed to do the work on commission. It wasn’t cheap; but I decide to do it because I was spending so much effort to make this a one-of-a-kind original; that it would just stupid (in my mind) to leave the plastics art to an armature artist like me.

The schedule we settled on was for him to deliver me Pen and Ink drawings electronically by this past weekend to enable me some time to create the plastics prior to TPF'2013. Monday he delivered the drawings.

Oh; and BTW: <strong>I'm retaining all rights to the art for now... as I have worked out final rights with the artist. No one is allowed to reproduce these for any reason.<\strong>



Now that I had the ink files; It was time to do some photoshop work on it ... I decided I wanted to color the drawings rather than hire another professional; thereby spending more bank.

TBH; I'm very pleased with the results.
Gordon did an EXCELLENT job giving me the baseline for the art don't you think?

I may do some more work on Sulu as he looks off with the teeth.

Comments / Suggestions?

Now I need to send him the plans/Ideas for the BackGlass. First; I have to scan the existing backglass and measure the critical parameters. So; now is your chance to provide ideas for said backglass; I want to get him something by Friday.

On other fronts, the Nixie tube boards and digikey parts came in today... I’m only missing the backlight leds ... once I have them; I’ll be ready to start assembly.


#40 6 years ago
Quoted from CaptainNeo:

Since it's going to be Mirror Universe. You going to have Mirror effects on the playfield as well? could add some nice touches.

Kindof obvious now, wouldn't it be?

3 weeks later
#42 6 years ago

The Mirror project was put on hold for the last three weeks... First due to the SxSw Intel LANfest I was hosting... and then Texas Pinball Festival this past weekend. Now that I had the Pins back in the Garage'cade; I've refocused my effort on the Nixie Pinball Display.

I hand assembled the base and display boards and soldered them together.

I didn't want to commit the untested display to my Bally Star Trek... so I needed to figure out how to facilitate debug.

First problem was how to supply 190VDC to the HV section. Some googling found me some 555 timer circuits which would run off of a 9V.
Had most of the parts except a 250V 4.7uf cap and a pot. A trip to Frys solved that problem.
A bread board and an ATX power supply and I had a 190V psu. The ATX supply provides +5v to the display and +12V to the 190V psu's input.

Here’s a picture of the prototype 555 190V Nixie supply:

Initial debug turned up a dumb assembly mistake..– I swapped U1 & U2 despite the clear labels on the silkscreen.

I hardwired the display inputs to only lite digit 1 and display an 8 (1000b). 8 because it's the digit which uses the most current given the largest area. This will allow me to verify the anode current before committing to a final anode resistor. To "latch" the 8 digit; I used my RatShack Logic pulser to toggle the LE pin.

I was able to empirically calculate the Anode resistor using the built-in test point and pot. 21.4k... now I just need to find some 22k 603 resistors to make it work. 21.4k gives me 2.5mA of anode current which is typical for the NH-12A tubes I’m using.

Here’s the top view of the display boards:

And the money shot for the backlite display:

I decided early on that I wanted the backlite to be purple rather than some other color because I thought it’d contrast nicely against the orange digits.
You can see the testpoint and Anode pot right below the Nixie tube. Obviously; these will be de-poped for “production” boards.

With the resistor calculated; I need to focus on creating a Display tester so I can run the display thru all the digits and functions.


#48 6 years ago

Someone mentioned using an Arduino to drive the pinball display as a tester.
Initially I dismissed it because I had an “activewire” microcontroller board here which was collecting dust.

Turns out the activewire board only has drivers for WinXP... none for Win7.
While at Frys today; I saw they had some Arduino usb devices for fairly cheap. I ended up getting a Nano which had 14DIO pins – barely enough to drive the display.

A few hours later; I had a working Pinball Display tester:

I’ll publish the code later; but thought you’d guys want to see the display functional asap.
Tests all the digits and the BLANK functionality which is between the 9 and the 0.

Next step is to desolder the current display PCB and build a fully populated display based on the latest PCBs. Once I have a fully populated display; I can test all the digits and the 7digit emulation capability.

#50 6 years ago

Today; I verified the Nixie Pinball Display as completely functional.
I populated all the nixies on a FabB Display board; installed all the backlit LEDs and ran the full test against it.
All the digits work; and the emulation works as expected. Setting A5 = A6 = 1 emulates the 7th digit.
I haven’t checked for the 7th digit in non-emulation mode; but expect it to be low hanging fruit.

I did find that the 300k resistors along with the 110V “bias” voltage via Zener were necessary. Without the bias; some digits would see ghosting in non-active digits. By driving the anodes and Kathodes to 110V when not in use; the digits won’t flicker.

Here’s a video of all the digits working:

Next step is to finalize FabB of the base and display boards while the changes are still fresh in my mind.

1 week later
#51 6 years ago

Cornfused here.

Last week I put the “Tested” nixie display into my Bally Star Trek; and sadly – only digits A4-A1 work. A5, A6 won’t light.
Tonight I cut the D5 trace between Q5 and U4; and hard wired from the pin2 side of R44 to the base of Q5 and Digit 5 lit.
This means that my logic must be flawed at U3A and U4; but apparently can’t see the forest for the trees.

Maybe a second set of eyes would indicate the problem? Anyone feel like looking for a bug?

The tester doesn’t indicate there is a problem; so wondering if it’s a timing issue I’m missing.

#56 6 years ago
Quoted from Half_Life:

Ok, reread your post above while looking into this further. Totally missed the fact that you stated "tested". I'll assume that this means "on the bench" and also assume means works as it should.

yes bench tested with my own custom tester based upon a Adrino.
If you look at the video I posted previously; you'll see that digit's 5,6,7 clearly lite in order.
The only thing the tester isn't doing is "mulitplexing" the digits rapidly.

In that case, is it possible that one of your other displays is blanking the 5th digit? Can you verify the 5th digit is being enabled as it should? It may be a connector issue between the MPU and the displays. Can you get repeat results by moving the Nixie display to the other display spots? Do the other displays work as normal?
I'm still going to look at the truth tables for U3 and U4 but will assume they will be correct due to valid bench test results.

Please look at the truth tables. I "thought" I was clever and had the logic proven... but clearly; I'm missing something.

In attract mode; the other normal displays are showing digits 5&6 during high score. Nixie's displays are dark.

Moving the display follows the display; meaning it has to be either timing or logic.

#57 6 years ago

While I try to figure out what is wrong with the jumper selectable native 7 or 7 digit emulation for the nixie tube display
( http://forums.arcade-museum.com/showthread.php?t=270984 )
; I've been working on the two of the plastics I had forgotten about.

I forgot about the orbit/arch plastics which are at the top of the PF. Might as well bang them out before I try to make the plastics. I scanned them into my computer a while ago; and took this time to clean them up and vectorize them. I tried to color match them against the new plastics shown previously - reusing colors and the like.

Additionally; I put some extras on the plastics - namely an Klingon D7 Cruiser, the ISS Enterprise, and a star field. I got the Enterprise from the promo plastic which I scanned in and cleaned up.

The result:

Any other suggestions?


#59 6 years ago

More debug this wkend seems to point to the 4555 1to4 decoder circuit.
I pulled the tristate buffer (u4) and solder bridged the outputs of the 1to4 decode straight to the transistors thru a 9.1k resistor.
The display does the same thing without U4.

This points to U3 (cd4555) being the culprit.
Now; given I’ve already verified 7 digit emulation with the arduino which doesn’t work in the machine; seems to be a clue.

I’m leaning toward the output of the MPU bring TTL compatible; but not CMOS compatible. I don’t think the signal to the displays is meeting CMOS high requirements for digits 5&6. According to my mpu schematics; the digit enables are driven directly by the output of a 6821 PIA.

So; next step is going to be to wire in an oscope to see what D5’s levels are.
Then figure out how to solve if hypothesis proven.

#62 6 years ago

Yeap; confirmed the same thing before reading your reply. <Sigh>

Welp; This pretty much sums it up:

PeakToPeak; my displays (digit enables) are only getting 1.6V for a high. Well below the cmos “good” for a 1. This is measured at R44 and R43 closest to the connector on stock displays.

This is the reason why my Nixie design isn’t working. I can design around this with either a transistor or some other translation logic; just not sure why the value is so low.
I see why it works on stock displays as all we need is for the high to be > ~0.7V to turn on the digit enable transistors in the original design.

Just need to confirm with other pins / people that they see similar results. I only have the one Bally Star Trek; no other era pins.
By confirming other pins; we can determine if this is a design change is warranted.


#63 6 years ago

I did some "dead bug" rework to the existing display; basically epoxing two SMT 2N3904s to the top side of U3. I cut some traces and soldered a 20K ohm pull up between VCC and the collector of the transistors. Emitters were tied to ground. Bases were connected to the series resistors currently present in the schematic.


The goal here is to work out the kinks in the design so they can be incorporated into a FAB B board and be relatively confident the design will work out of the box.

Because the BJTs are single transistor inverters; I needed to rewire the input to U3. I wanted to reuse the existing CD4555B chip already present to keep the design simular. Turns out that by swaping A & B inputs vs the schematic; the following boolean logic become obvious:
U3A Q1 = !B*A = D5
U3A Q2 = B*!A = D6
U3A Q0 = !B*!A = D7

Remember that when the MPU is driving A5 or A6 high; the BJTs invert that to be an active low. So the boolean math makes it logical.

The result (finally):

Here are some pictures of the display installed in my Bally Star Trek machine:

Known issues:

Digits are too light when running in multiplexed mode (in a real machine); plan to drop the anode resistor to ~2.7k from 22k to brighten the digits. Not a good idea for non-pinball machines which aren't multiplexing the digit enables; but should be fine for more machines.

Need to "fix" the native 7 vs emulated 7 digit jumper selector given the need to invert D7 in native mode.

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#67 6 years ago

Updated schematics are posted here:

Fab B changes:
* Changes around D[5..7];
+ reworked for transistor inverters with pullups.
+ U3A rewired to enable proper output with inverted signals.
+ U3A always enabled ( !E tied to ground ).
+ U4 I5 & I6 pull from Q1 & Q2 outputs instead of main connector so that cmos levels are observed at input of U4.
+ D7’s resistor moved to base of Q20 and reduced resistance given below.
+ D7’s non-emulated mode drives D2 which is now a SCHOTTKY diode so that lower Vf(D2) doesn’t impact ability to drive Q20 directly.
+ Additional Boolean math notes around U3A decode logic.
* As observed in Nixie newgroup (among others); Added R70 and R71 to bases of Q6 and Q5 to help protect cmos logic in the event of a shorted MPS-A42.
* Reduced VR1 from 110V zener to 91V Zener to keep “standby” voltage rail lower than Nixie striking voltages.
* Changed R62 to 1% 30 ohm resistor to enable LED current measurement via ohms law.
* Added J5 to R62 to enable pads for LED current setpoint measurements.
* Collector / Anode resistors reduced from 22K to 2.2k to enable brighter digits in multiplex mode.
* Stuffed anode/kathode standby resistors. Was empty, is 300k.
* Changed TP4 testpoint. Was 80V is 90V.

Please let me know if you see anything of concern.

#70 6 years ago

Once I've proven Fab B as functional; I plan on TAPR/NCLing the design on my blog at Pinball-Mods.com . You'll be able to order up the boards and components. Board from BatchPCB and component list from Digikey. You'll have to find your own nixies which shouldn't be hard for now.

I do not plan on offering assembled units at this time unless there are overwelming amounts of pre-orders.

#71 6 years ago

This weekend; between income tax sessions; I worked on the PF Apron... I scanned the original into the computer:

As you can see; some TX tax labels, scratches, and some minor rusting makes the apron less than ideal for a project like this.

I've decided I want to replace the logos and text... along with probably changing the base coat to black. Here's my initial revision:

I'm just not sure what I want to do with the two triangular pieces. I've kinda already done the Enterprise on the arches. The imperial sword is already present in the center graphic on the apron... and I also have a plan for something else later in the project.

I thought about doing a mirror Kirk in one of the pieces; but that would cost more for the artist to do.

Anyone got any suggestions?


#75 6 years ago

Still haven't decided on what to do about the apron; so was hoping that work on the Shooter Scale would trigger some creativity.

Here's the old scale:

Because the PF has been mirrored; the shooter is on the opposite side of the PF. This means the existing scale cannot be used. Therefore my plan is to duplicate the scale and mirror it so it'll work on the correct side of the PF.

Once I had the measurements done in QCAD (DXF); the plan is to waterjet it at Techshop then then bend the piece on a metal break. Since I'm waterjetting a new piece; might as well make it Mirror universe:


I decide to replace the generic scale with a Terran dagger cutout and changed up the scale a little bit while still paying homage to the original. The plan will be to do some powercoating / laser etching to make this scale look correct.

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#79 6 years ago

My Friends on the DFW Pinball list made a suggestion to improve the shooter scale by putting the scale as a warp factor. The result:

Inspired by TheAngryAngel’s TOS crew ( http://theangryangel.deviantart.com/art/Star-Trek-TOS-Crew-166580809 ); I began working on the apron triangles. I started by changing the color of the insigna “frame” to red so it would match the background I picked in Rev0. After playing with Photoshop; I decided while it was an awesome piece of art... it didn’t really match the mirror universe; so I began the search for high rez mirror universe photos from the original episode.

Using his work as a “template”; I began to photoshop in the various mirror alternates. Dropping Chekov as he hadn’t join the crew yet. In his place; Marlena Moreau
http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Marlena_Moreau .

For the other triangle; I decided a “credits” listing would be appropriate.

Rev 1:

At the moment; I think I’m going to lay down the black and reds using powder coat; maybe even the outlines. As far as the pieces themselves; I’ll going to try to see how direct printing looks. If not; I’ll print them to plastics and bolt them down to the apron.

Thoughts / Comments?

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2 weeks later
#89 6 years ago
Quoted from Aurich:

This is fantastic.
So I've read the whole thread, and I don't think I missed it, have you made plans for the backglass yet?

I have submitted ideas to the graphic novelist... he's still working on the pencil designs as time permits.

I’ve completed assembly of FAB B of the NIXIE tube displays. The emulation and 7 digit native modes work as designed. I’ve posted a youtube video with it installed in the backglass.

Obviously; the 7digit modes do not work “ideally” with a machine designed for 6digits. I may spend some time in the future to make a 6 digit “right angle” board if there is enough interest.

Need to confirm in a 7digit machine that it works properly. I already have a volunteer.

Next step is to write a blog post with schematics and pictures.
Need to send the boards out for Black PCB fabbing.

Also completed Rev0 of the Proximity sensor PCB. Got them back from oshpark today and they look good right now. Waiting for parts from Digikey before I can start assembly and debug.

1 week later
#92 6 years ago

Thanks guys.
I hear you Hellfire. May have something to report in the future.
Worst case; PCBs, schematics, and boms will be posted to pinball-mods.com in the near future.

Right now The only Fab B prototype Nixie display is at a friends house getting tested in a native 7 digit machine (Orbitor).

I'm working on the Inductive Proximity sensor design... but for some stoopid reason I can't get the damn Collpits Oscillator to oscillate. <Sigh>

#94 6 years ago

IN-12As but IN-12b could be subbed as same pinout.

#95 6 years ago

Hellfire and all...
Please see:

I'm "toying" with the idea of providing pre-assembled SMT kits.
Please voice opinions / interest there.

Oh and BTW: 7digit non-emulated mode checks out. This would be a drop in replacement on any Stern / Bally 6 or 7 digit machine. Tested in Bally Star Trek and Stern Orbitor.

#98 6 years ago

Anyone have some diagrams or thoughts on "magnasave" features in black knight 2000?

I've been trying to think of clever additions to the machine while it's still on the design table.
I'd love to have a "tractor beam" on the playfield.

A quick google search didn't come up with anything on the magnasave feature.


1 month later
#99 6 years ago

Things have been quiet here lately... why? Well; I had to put the ST:M project on hold so I could build a storage shed in the back yard. Public Storage was charging me nearly 400/mo to store my projects... that was money I could be spending on the Mirror Universe... or a ST:LE. Luckly, I completed that project last month.

I've been slowly working on the cabinet for this project. I'm reconditioning a fairly beat up Bally Star Trek cabinet. What've done is re-glued the front corners... and stripped the paint off 3 of the sides of the machine with CitriStrip.

Right now I'm experimenting with Cabinet prep. I've put the first coat of ebony wood stain on part of the cabinet. My goal is to get the wood dark enough to simulate the black of space. Then I'm going to do a custom stencil set to paint the ISS Enterprise firing on the Planet.

Has anyone done wood stain instead of regular black paint? Were there any Solid State machines with Stain instead of paint?

Worst case I'll just paint over the stain... but I'm kinda hoping I can get the wood dark enough with stain to make it look good.

#100 6 years ago

As I stated; been working on the cabinet for the Mirror universe project. I bought a couple of "project" Bally Star Treks from a fellow pinball collector out of Shertz a few years ago. These have been setting in storage for a while... and were very rough.

I took the cabinet with the most flaking and damage as the donor cabinet for this project. Here it is in all it glory:

I began by stripping all the hardware (coindoor) and side rails off of the machine so I could access the state of the "bones" (ie wood) of the cabinet. I noticed that the front corners were beginning to separate.... also some of the plywood cores were starting to come apart.

First I used some white gorilla glue to repair the plywood core:

Then I used ratchet straps to re-glue both sides:

I CNCed a diamond shaped piece out of MDF and glue it in the old shooter hole:


With that I began stripping the old flaking paint off with CitraStrip along the way I tried to save as much of the wood as I could. When possible; I reglued the laminate back to the plywood... or used some wood filler to fill in the rough areas.

I also repaired the bottom - not pictured. 3 of the four sides had lost the plywood under the grove... which means the bottom would probably fall out at some point. I fixed this by saving as much of the plywood core on the 1 "acceptable" side... then using quarter round pieces from Lowes. The quarter round piece was secured with the same gorilla glue and some 18 gauge pin nails.

I bought some mill wax ebony oil stain as I wanted to stain the cabinet black instead of paint. I wanted something "different" looking. Here's one side stained with several coats. Looked like absolute trash...

That just would not do AT ALL.

The next day I went to our local WoodCraft store ... they seemed to have a better selection of stain.

Since I was in new territory on this project; I decided to get a couple of product. The first was a Ebony Wood Dye product and the second was a Black Water-based Stain. The guy at the store claimed the dye would dye the fibers of the wood in a "molecular" like fasion ... while the Stain is pigment based (and would act more like paint). I added the later. I figured I'd buy both and try it on the cabinet.

After I got home; I stripped the back of the cabinet and put down some test swatches:
Upper right hand: Ebony Dye
Upper LEft: Satin Black Stain
Lower Right: Stain over Dye
Lower left: 50/50% mix of both

I didn't like the ebony stain as is... as it still had a purple/blue hue to it.
The stain looked ok; but had a paint like view.
The Dye under Stain had what my mind thought was the best of the two. The Dye in effect raised the wood grain a little; and the stain still let the overall look like a satin look. The 50/50 worked; but wasn't as vibrant as the Stain over dye.

With this decision; I proceed to dye then stain the cabinet. The Outsides of the cabinet were stripped of all paint; then dyed then stained. The inside of the cabinet I decided to lightly sand the interior then spray it with a Satin Black spraypaint from Rustolem. I also sprayed the bottom side with the same Satin black so it'd look more finished.

The results:


Yes... I probably could have save myself some more time by just painting the cabinet with some latex black... Or any black paint; but I kinda wanted to have the wood grains show thru the background. I may regret this decision later... but I'm currently very happy with the way it turned out.

Tonight I worked on the stencil design for the cabinet. Obviously; it's going to be a black background; however, I wanted to pay a nod to the original cabinet design. I traced the existing design and pulled it into Corel Draw. Given Black background; I still wanted to keep some of the same colors in the stencil. So the stars became Yellow. The planet Yellow/Red... and The Phasers became blue. I going to make the Enterprise BattleShip grey.
I removed the Klingons ... instead having the Enterprise fire on the planet.


Still need to work on the front design... and the Head. I'm thinking about keeping the Head design the same... but change the blue background to black.


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#105 6 years ago

Good points; originally I had a star like explosion over the planet... but that file was lost when corel draw sh1t a brick a week or so ago. I'll look at it again.

Yeah; the plan is to have the Enterprise grey on the head as well.

#107 6 years ago

Did some more work to the side art; terminating the phaser beams on the planet. Not ideal; but probably the best I can do with a stencil application.

I also worked on the front art; "inverting" the shooter location and making the color scheme similar to the sideart.

Not sure about the text at the bottom. Again limited by a stencil (IE shading); but need to look at this further.

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2 weeks later
#109 6 years ago

After attending Quakecon 2013; Lockman, MrRed, and I picked up a donor head from DanW in Garland. Dan graciously donated this head to the Mirror Universe project. Very much appreciate these guys help in getting this head to Austin.

It started life as a Supersonic head... and was a rough from a paint flaking/ding perspective. All of this mattered nothing to me... as it was going to be dye/stained black just like the cabinet. Here are some before shots of the head:

The back vent hole were coming apart; good because I wanted to improve the ventilation anyway...

I went about destructing the head... to create new vent holes. Since eventually I plan to put more than just the original boards in the head... I decided I wanted some active cooling (IE DC FANs)... What better way to integrate vents... but using something from the Enterprise.

Using the great work by colosseumbuilders.com, I recreated the Enterprise's impulse engines in CAD using the following as a guideline: http://www.colosseumbuilders.com/enterprise/ComputerModel/Impulse/index.htm

The resultant CAD file yielded the following rendering of the DXF file. In order to practice for the upcoming Playfeild CNC work; I wanted to practice with by CNCing out these vent holes in the Russian Plywood. Ken and I went to Techshop.ws this past Saturday and CNCed the back vents:

Once I got home; Saturday night I began re-assembling the head:



Then I lightly sanded and vacuumed the inside of the head to prep it for interior paint:

This time I decided to paint the inside prior to staining the outside; so:

After the interior dried; I needed to replace the Veneer which I removed during the deconstruction phase.

I thought about going to woodcraft to get it; but really; I didn't want to drive 30minutes in traffic... so I opted to get the iron-on type from Lowes. It comes in a roll; and you melt the glue with an iron.

The smaller roll of veneer was on clearance; so I opted for it... but turned out to be a hair short. I filled the seams with Plastic Wood filler so the seams wouldn't be visible on the back without a close inspection.
Not sure what I'm going to do about the small section... worst case I'll apply a patch after-the-fact.

After some lite sanding with the orbital sander the back and the head was ready for the Black Dye:

followed by the Black Stain:

Even the bottom didn't escape the black of space...

The plan is to let the Stain/Dye cure overnight. Then I'll begin to spray the Polycrlic Satin clear coat over the stain to seal the wood and prep is for future Stenciling.

My head did not come with any of the metal trays for the displays... if anyone is parting out a early 80s Bally Solid State machine... I'd very much appreciate the opportunity to obtain these trays for my Nixie tube displays. Please PM or email me. Thanks!

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#110 6 years ago

While waiting on the Head to cure... I decided I wanted to do a little something extra for the background of the cabinet - approx where the Klingon ship would have been. I debated internally in my head of I wanted to go this far... in the end deciding "it's my machine; make it yours!".

I did some looking around on google images for Hubble space telescope pictures when I came across this picture of the M82 Galaxy:

Now that I had the picture... it was time to figure out how to get in on the cabinet. I had some White backed Water slide decal paper for my color laserjet; so I figured I'd give it a shot. Some water slide work... some Airbrush work... and we are left with two similar yet uniquely http://www.flickr.com/photos/52968060@N00/9512135603/sizes/l/

I coated the airbrush/decal work with some Matte clear spray paint while we waited on the head to cure.

I knew I wanted to do something different with the background black... that was adding holographic gold and silver flake to the topcoat before I stencil. So I did some google searching and ended up purchasing some gold and silver flake from PaintWithPearl.com . The idea was I wanted to have a star field over the black. Nothing really special about this webstore; other than they seem to be the most competitive w/ regards to color selection as well as price/ounce.

I mixed about 1/8 a tsp of silver and 1/8 tsp of gold into the polyacrylic clearcoat I was going to spray over the black stain to seal it. With my Harbor Freight spray gun I sprayed the cabinet and head.

In retrospect; the metal flake at 0.004 inch was just too small... looks more like star dust; not a starry night. Ideally; I'd have gotten several sizes and mixed them for a more random look. Here's a close up showing the gold/silver flakes:

Here's an attempt to capture the holographic nature of the flakes in the sunlight:

If I had it to do over... I'd proably have used less "dust"... and gotten some larger flakes to try and break up the eye candy... I may still try to apply some bigger flake; but honestly... I don't want to spend more time / money on the internet. Maybe I'll feel differently tomorrow.

In general; I'm pleased with the result... just need to put the finishing touches on the stencil designs so I can start that process.

#112 6 years ago

This past weekend; I intended to wrap up the Impulse Engine modification to the Mirror Universe pinball head. Unfortunatly it spilled over to Monday; mainly because I couldn't get my Laser cutter into a completely operational state.

Anywho; The intent was to make the vent holes to look like the Enterprise's Impulse Engine. To do this I created a stencil using the same scale and rendering as before. Since My laser cutter only has a 12x24 table; I had to only do 1/2 the stencil opting to flip it for the opposite side. Here's the stencil I created:

I laser cut this out of dry erase poster board and sprayed it lightly with some stencil spray adhesive. Here it is positioned for the left Impulse Engine vent:

Since I didn't have any grey spray paint on hand... and it was near or after midnight; I opted to spray with primer grey:

I then flipped the stencil (after the primer had dried for a couple of hours) and sprayed the other side with light stencil adhesive and then grey primer:

Now I needed to do some shading of the upper piece; So I used the drop pieces cut from the stencil as a stencil. Adhesive and some transparent black airbrush paint:

Next I needed to stencil the center panel lines. I had already laser etched the panel lines into the wood; but I decided attempting to hand paint the etch lines would be problematic. Cue Stencil number 2:

Adhesive, positioned:

Sprayed with Black Opaque Airbrush paint:

With the Stenciling complete; my attention returned to the Vents themselves. When I CNCed the wood; I also Laser cut a grill based upon the original render of the engines. The CorelDraw file looked like so:

As you can see; there are two grills (finger guards if you like) and two 60mm Fan brackets. The grills were a particular bitch to cut... The heat would cause the grills to warp. I went ahead and cut them; only to find that one of the long lines broke on one of the grills. The result of these grills it pictured here:

Upon reflection; I determined that the cause of the warpage was proably the amount of heat "transferred" during the long cut lines. The "spaces" between the grill lines were about 0.1"... while the solid part of the grill was ~0.8". This ratio was critical to the look I wanted (and to match reference photo). I also knew that the long runs were just too flimsy; so I had to modify the grill design to keep more "solid" acrylic in place. This would strengthen the grill and should help reduce the heat-induced warping. Design Rev#3:
I also changed the order of cut on the file. I opted to do the periphery outline AFTER the center grill portions were cut. Again in an effort to minimize heat transfer and aid in preventing cutting mishaps if I had to restart the cut.

Here's the Laser At Techshop.ws cutting the Rev3 grills:

With the new grills complete; it's time to begin the assembly of the fan brackets:


And the Test fit along with overall shot:

And a Closeup of the grills:

With that the back of the Star Trek: Mirror Universe head is complete. The grills were wrapped up and stored safely until the final stenciling is done on the sides and the whole piece is clear coated.

Post edited by Zitt : Inlining attachments

3 weeks later
#116 6 years ago

As mentioned

I've been working on a plan to add sound effects and background music to the project. To this end; I'm currently redesigning the AS-2815-3x/51 soundcard with modern components; specifically, I'm replacing the TTL PROM and 4bit counter which are both getting rare / expensive with a single MAX 3000 CPLD in 44pin PLCC. The CPLD cost 1.50 is single units... where the TTL PROM and 4bit counter are in the 5-6 range. The CPLD has just enough room to replace all the logic chips and house both sound PROMs for AS-2815-32 and AS-2815-51 designs. The -51 proms can be selected via a jumper wire. "In theory" it should work with any game listed with the AS-2518 boardset:

The sound effects tie into the existing switch matrix and run off of a raspberry pi.

The card should be a drop in replacement for existing card using mostly SMT components to keep PCB costs down.

IF anyone is interested; I posted my rev-99 schematics here:
Still need to take free gates and tie them up so they don't float.

Also need to renumber components now that the layout is nearly complete. Then generate SilkScreen. I put a small prototyping area under the RazPi... just incase I need to do some rework.

Hope to have the design committed to OSHPark by the weekend.

#117 6 years ago

If anyone cares; I just submitted my RazPi AS-2518 combo soundcard to OSHPark.

Here's their render of the boards:

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#123 5 years ago

A couple of days ago; my custom stencils came in from TwistedPins
. I started with the head because it was still on the hydraulic table from the fan installation. I decided I wanted to use the same head stencils as the original bally; just change up the colors a bit.

I started by laying down the yellow stencil:
9809090656_88dc2e92ba[1].jpg 9809143453_67a2ffa06e[1].jpg

At this point; an improvement I'd suggest to these stencils is that for the first layer... the "red" covers should be removed. IE the planetoids shouldn't have any masks "inside" the oval shapes. That way you lay down a solid color and the second color (red) goes over the yellow so there are no registration offsets. This is what I did; I went ahead and removed all the squiggly shapes from the planetoids.

With the stencil ready; I taped off the surround areas with newspaper and put down some grey primer. This was done mainly to get the "grey" which I had chosen for the enterprise. Yellow generally goes over light grey than black so I sprayed everything.

I waited overnight for the grey primer to cure then masked off the enterprise grey and sprayed down some "Gold yellow" spray paint. I decided to use spray paint as it is easier to clean up than trying to spray the sign lettering enamel I used for the Bally Star Trek repair many years ago.

I let the yellow dry about an hour before carefully removing the masking. Here's how the first stencil turned out:

Another night time cure to let the paint harden before I put down the red-orange stencil. I decided I wanted the planetoid to be the same colors as original. The difference was in the Enterprise as you'll see in a moment. I sprayed the planets and then the Enterprise-shadows as "Driver blue".

I let the orange/blue combo cure in the TX sun for a few hours; then removed the masking. The Result:

There were some slight registration issues with the blue and grey; but really not that bad. Again; If it were me; I'd have created the stencils with the entire Enterprise in "yellow" and then have the "red" overlay cover the yellow to avoid the registration issues. I'm guessing TwistedPin did the stencils that way so someone could just do a single color... but really; the Red fades long before the yellow; so in my mind the yellow stencil should cover all the areas Red+yellow.

Anyway; I'm digging the custom Enterprise colors. Thoughts?

Post edited by Zitt : inlining images

#130 5 years ago
Quoted from Anth:

Cool project. Being left-handed I like the plunger on the left idea. I could be wrong but shouldn't it be called the "Mirrored Universe" to be proper?

The TOS episode is titled "Mirror, Mirror"... and DS9 / Voyager / Enterprise episodes carried similar titles. "A Mirror Darkley" was the Enterprise episode IIRC. So while; yeah - I see your point... it doesn't follow the Star Trek Cannon to call it "mirrored".

Would be killer to show this off at the Houston Expo

Sorry - that's not going to happen. My goal is end-of-year "complete" with hard deadline for TPF.
No chance of "pulling" that in to Nov for Expo. Unless Expo wants to hire me full time to work on this.

Everyone else... THANKS for the comments.

#131 5 years ago

I'm thinking about how to get stereo out into the world from the RazPi which would be mounted in the backbox on the Mirror Universe. Traditionally on later model pinball machines; they shrunk the vertical size of the backglass and put a speaker panel in it.
I don't want to do this because it would be non-traditional to the look of the machine.

As a result; I'm left with an issue which I could use the communities help with... Similar to what Jags did here:

I'm looking at mounting some speakers to the backbox in some way. I'm looking for suggestions as to what might look "trek"-like. I came across these
but the price is kinda :EEK: and while high-tech looking; doesn't really scream TREK to me.

Anyone have some older speakers (cheap/gift) which might be mod-able to the a Trek theme? Any other suggestions on speakers? Anyone got some Logitech marketing contacts? ;D


#133 5 years ago

humm... the vent? that's an interesting idea.

#136 5 years ago

Now my attention turns to the stenciling of the side cabinet. First color... yellow:




Once the yellow dried overnight; I pulled the stencil up:

Yeap; that's right... The use of the waterslide decal came back and bit me in the butt. The stencil pulled the toner right off label.


#137 5 years ago

After many choice explicatives; I decided there wasn't much I could do now... so I went ahead and continued stenciling the grey; opting to see what (if anything) the Enterprise would cover. Of course; I designed the decal location to be where the Klingons were; so I knew it wouldn't cover jack... but it made me feel better. I also figured if the next stencil pulled up more; I could fix it once and be done.

Down goes the Enterprise stencil..

This time I left the protective backing on the section which went over the waterslide decal.
I sprayed the grey primer and let it dry overnight. The backing protect the label; so I proceeded to cover the paper areas with the black stain to match the color of the cabinet. I then re-airbrushed to blend the new black with the background image. I then re-sprayed the holographic flake and clear coat as best I could with airbrush.

Good as new? no. but, not too bad I guess.

Now for the orange stencil.

The orange wasn't Red enough for my Nacelles... so I sprayed them with cherry red.

And finally; the blue phasers:

Ofcourse; the blue phasers crossed over the nebula - I had to use some of the stencil to prevent paint bleed. At this point more toner came off; so I had to do some more repair. The result:

I'm not real happy with the blue phasers; they tend to not showup well on the black without a grey border. Not sure what if anything I'm going to do.

Post edited by Zitt : inlining

#138 5 years ago

Now my attention turns to the front stenciling... First the Yellow:

I decided that I'm going to start "wrapping" the images under the cabinet to give it a unique look.




And the final result:

With that; I've completed one of each side of the cabinet. Now the "Busy" work of finishing the other sides of the cabinet begins.

Post edited by Zitt : inline

#140 5 years ago

In between stenciling; I waited for the LED test boards to come on a slowboat from china... I received them early last week. In short; I wanted to do some insert testing with some LEDs to find the "optimal" LED current using my inserts from earlier in the build. I didn't want the inserts to blind the player... but I also wanted to make them look right. As a result; I used the following circuit to vary the current thru the LED:


Basically the single 2n3904 transistor is operating in constant current mode; R2 is empty and the current is measured via the emitter resistor at R8. This particular board was designed to have two uses.
1) Enable "current" test early on...
2) Then after current is known; remove the active circuitry and simply populate the resistors R2 and R4.

Three of these boards would be used to lite under the dual lane inserts. For the LEDs; I went with 0.5W LEDs from Kingbright. the AA3535 series. I went with high power so that I could keep the currents low but still get plenty of photons from the LEDs. This was recommended by a friend in the "know" and I really appreciate his advice.

For the test boards; I went with smart prototypes out of china because they allowed me to order White silkscreen. The white silkscreen will help reflect and stray photons back toward the insert.

Here's the board installed under the test playfield. It mounts with two wood screws; and allows the pots to be adjusted.

Here's how the board looks from the top w/o the laser cut inserts:

Here's what I think the inserts should look like during play:

With this the measured currents were as follows:
Neutral White: 36.1mA ~= 41.2ohm 1/4W at 5V supply
Red: 24.07mA ~= 86.6ohm 1/4W at 5V supply

Given these are 150mA peak current LEDs; I'm not operating them anywhere near their peak currents. It should help prolog the life and keep them running cool... even with the large ash heatsinks (planes) I built into the boards.

3 weeks later
#141 5 years ago

I've been quietly working on the remaining cabinet stencils and should be ready to clearcoat the cabinet by next weekend. I'm thinking about going with some 2part DuPont™ ChromaClear® 2370S™ Flexible Matted Clear if I can get it locally. Between stenciling sessions the house got struck by lightning about a week ago... so I've been digging out of the random bad electronics and such. One of which is my Color LaserJet which I need to finish the apron.

Anyway; tonight after dinner I did a marathon session at Techshop... leaving just after 10pm. The main thing I did was put the "base" on for the Apron. Like the cabinet; I wanted it black with a holographic star field. So I did a base coat in black and followed it up with some clear powdercoat with the holographic flakes in it. Here's a closeup shot of the powdercoat:

I'm planning on waterjetting the inlayed pieces out of some 22ga steel and then doing a heat transfer of the graphics onto those pieces. Here's a mockup of the overall look; if it works as I hope it will.

A massive order of PCBs are on the way from Hong Kong ... so I expect to be working on various electronic boards... including the 5 Nixie Pinball displays over the next few weeks. More later.

#144 5 years ago

Tonight I put what I hope is the final touches on the cabinet... prepping it for Clearcoat this weekend. As I stated before; I wasn't real fond of how the blue phasers "merged" into the blackness of space.

My decision was to "underline" the phaser beams with a stencil-like grey line. I think it does a pretty good job of "highlighting" the beam.


3 weeks later
#145 5 years ago

I've been busy the last few weeks on other tasks including some PCBs for the project. I submitted another set of 4 PCBs to the china fab house last night so was able to spend some time on the apron.

Early last week I had a few minutes after work; so I went to Techshop and waterjetted some apron pieces out of some mild steel sourced from lowes. After cutting; I sandblasted them and This weekend I put them under some 220grit sandpaper to remove the coarseness added by the sandblasting. Once I had a smooth surface; I powdercoated them with some "Mirror chrome".

A few months ago I sourced some SinglePrint(tm) Multi Surface Laser "no weed" paper from them during a sale. The idea here is that using a heat press; I'd be able to "bond" laser printed graphics to the powder coated surface. Then be able to apply the needed clear powder coat over the label to give it a single resilient surface.

With the label printed using my color laser jet; I proceeded to bond the label to the substrate. I didn't have a heat press and I really didn't have the room for one anyway... so I thought I'd use a household iron. Once I received the paper; the included instructions said in italics "do not use a home iron".

Then I remembered I had a hot laminator which I used in attempting to make homebrew PCBs using laser paper. The laminator claimed it did 300F max... and would apply some pressure; so I figured what the hell. worth a shot.

I preheated the substrate in the toaster oven to 300F and then applied the mirrored SinglePrint to the it and ran it thru the laminator about a dozen times. When removing the paper; it hadn't bonded to the surface. Humm. However, it was in place so I ran it thru twice to re-flatten the paper to the substrate... at this point I had nothing to really lose; so I put the substrate+paper back in the toaster oven set to ~325F. I let it bake there for about 2minutes; then quickly transferred it to the at temp Laminator. Running it thru 3 times. The returned the combo back to the oven for another heat session. I did this for about 4 times then let it cool for about 30seconds before peeling the paper from the substrate.

This time it was better; but not perfect.

As you can see; some of the label stayed with the paper.
I could "erase the label" and try again; but the label isn't really "solid enough" for my tastes. The toner is somewhat transparent which leads to muddled colors against the metallic background. It's probably be perfect on a white powercoated substrate.

I may try to source some vinyl labels in order to get the look I think I want.
Here's the other apron pieces positioned on the apron:


#149 5 years ago

Looks to be a busy weekend. I got my SMT assembles back from SteveC for the Nixie Tube displays... I've already assembled two full displays. They'll go into testing hopefully Saturday afternoon... and if functional; the remaining 7 will be built.

Sneak peak... After work today... this happened at techshop.ws:

I <3 me some CNCing.

So yeah... me is happy:

#151 5 years ago

Today I had another 4hour block on the CNC machine at techshop... I finished up drilling the holes in the PF:

I also flipped the PF and CNCed out the proximity slots on the underside of the PF:

I have about 7 hours total in the PF including setup and actual CNC time.
I cleaned the wood "fuzzies" from the top of the PF with a wire brush attachment on my dremel. There is currently Primer grey on the underside of the PF... trying to dry in this cold as$ texas night. Yes; I know your not suppose to paint below 50F... but I really don't have a lot of choice if I'm going to meet the TPF'14 deadline.

Tomorrow I hope to begin inserting the inserts.

#153 5 years ago

I've been working on the PF; inserts are in. Glue is drying. Tomorrow I hope to complete sanding the inserts flat in prep of clear coat on the whitewood this weekend.

In between sessions in the cold garage; I've been working on the External speaker solution. A while back I asked for some suggestions and Femto over at the Aussie Pinball forums suggested that I make the speakers look like the nacelles of the Enterprise. I liked that idea; but was unsure how to execute it. Well; that all came to a head a couple of weeks ago when I came across some older
Altec Lansing FX2020 Expressionist

speakers during the uptenth time I looked for a suitable speaker set. These speakers had the same basic shape as the warp nacelles so they be a good starting point. Once I had the speakers this past weekend; I unpacked them and promptly voided the warranty by taking them apart. Once I had them apart; I hatched a plan to making them into warp nacelles. First; I was going to ditch the polycarbonate "stands" and replace it with a 3D printed "wrap" which I'd mock up in sketchup.

Removing the 4 silver screws on the front allows the speaker grill to be removed; then you have access to the speaker and the 4 screw tubes/standoffs which sandwiches the polycarbonate stand between the sliver ring and the black body. I decided I wanted to sandwich the 3D printed "nacelle wrap" identically as the stand.

Here's my 5th revision of the nacelle wrap:

Here's a rear view showing the hollow center for the speaker tube... thereby still giving access to the rear panels.

The wrap is about 4.5inches in diameter and about 5.9inchs long not including the spoke pattern guard.

One of the tradeoffs I ended up doing was that I wanted a "speaker grill" rounded like the front of the nacelles. IE a semi-spherical shape. The problem was I wasn't sure I could find a suitable material to "bend" in the correct but exacting shape. As I result; I brought out the spoke patterns into a spherical speaker grill to give the nacelle shape. I'll probably print the body in grey and the nacelle spokes in black to give it a better indication.

If anyone has the capability or know how to create an oval grill please let me know... I was thinking something like this:
but have no idea how to shape it easily.

#156 5 years ago

I've done some more work on the speaker wraps; basically divided them up into ~3 inch sections so they could be printed easier on the Makerbot build platforms. I wasn't sure that 5.9" tall would print on the Makerbot Techshop has. Since I divided the one wrap into two sections; I put little "snap" dowels into the pieces so they'd go together and could be glued in place.


I'm thinking the best material would be ABS. The wrap in grey and the vanes in black. If only techshop had a makerbot 2X... then the wrap could be printed in dual colors (IE vents in charcoal and wrap in grey)

I'm kinda hoping someone with 3D printer at home will step up to own the print of these wraps. I feel like these buggers are gonna take several overnights to print... lots of trips to Techshop which could be used assembling other aspects of the machine.

#159 5 years ago

What are peoples thoughts on using a modern flipper assembly vs the stock bally design for this machine?
I haven't looked at the difference between the assembly; so unsure if it's even a wize move.

I was thinking that it might make more sense to use the modern flipper just to get the ?better? EOS switch contacts:

#169 5 years ago

Over thanksgiving weekend; I worked extensively on the PF. I started by spraying backside of the PF with grey primer ... unsure why the older Bally PF had the grey paint on the backside... but I figured when in Rome; do as the romans do.

Once the grey primer was dry; Sprayed the inside of the insert holes white; partly due to the Romans... partly due to the desire to have a clean looking insert. Here's the back of the PF trimmed up and sprayed.


With the white dry; I began gluing in the inserts. Once I had the inserts glued inplace and dry; I took a 80 grit orbital sander to the whole PF to level the inserts and remove the white primer. Here's the PF at 80 grit:


And again at 220grit:

Then I proceeded to sand the inserts to 500 and 800 grit. At this point I considered the PF ready for ClearCoat. For this I used ChromaClear 2part 4 automotive clear. I put down one light coat and 3 medium coats. Heres the PF after clearcoat:

I let the clearcoat cure for a little over 24 hours; then sanded it flat with 220grit orbital sander to remove the orange peel and give the inserts another flat process. The PF/inserts needs to be flat so the sign shop can print the insert circles and artwork without any gaps in the art.

Here's the PF being back lit by shop lights:

While I waited for the clear coat to arrive; I received the vinyl decals from Callie Graphics. I went ahead and installed them on the powder coated blanks:

On Friday afternoon; I took the PF and artwork files to Austin Color Labs so they can put the artwork directly on the PF. I hope to hear from them by end of week with a printed PF. When the PF gets back from the printers; my plan it to put 4-6 coats of clear coat over the art then sand flat and polish to a shine.

While I wait for the PF; I'll try to clear coat the decaled apron inserts... if we get a warm day in the near future. In the meantime I have PCBs to assemble; including the ATX PSU board.

1 week later
#172 5 years ago

Barry - The plan is for it to make it's debut at TPF'2014....

Unfortunately; My Stern Star Trek LE arrived late afternoon on Friday... It's been kinda hard to focus on the project when there NIB machine setting in the gameroom waiting to be played. None-the-less; I will attempt to make some progress on this project.

I've been working all week on various PCB projects; soldering PCB assembles. The ATX -> 2815 PSU board is nearly complete; but I'm missing some fuse clips which should be in Monday I hope.

While I waited on the Fuse clips; I went ahead and assembled my plan for the Nacelle Inserts I created and featured earlier in the worklog. I didn't want to just lite them with LEDs... I wanted them to be more active. I took my Bally Star Trek Flipper Button Mod
and shrank it to fit within the insert dimensions using 603 chip LEDs.

The result can be seen here:

#173 5 years ago

Got the Playfield back from the great people at Austin Color Labs...
Remember; this was direct printed onto the Playfield:


#178 5 years ago

I'll do a test splotch before I clear it. I have another printed piece which will take the clear first.
Honestly; The PF looks awesome except they made an error and sprayed most of the PF white before laying down the color. I supplied the "white" file... but not sure what happened. The inserts are fine; just the shooter was suppose to be bare wood.

Also something's up with the red special insert (over planet)... somehow the paint didn't seem to work right over that insert. May try to use a water slide decal to "fix" it.

I'll take some detailed shots with my Nikon SLR later... For now the PF is on the way to work tomorrow for a Maker Faire.

#182 5 years ago
Quoted from btw75:

I'm guessing American Color Labs in Austin - http://www.aclaustin.com/


Wouldn't be fair to post the price I paid as they told me it was a learning experience and they'd have to charge more to be profitable. If your interested; email them.

#183 5 years ago

Looking for leads on new Bally Side rails for the machine.
The ones I have are scratched and bent; so thinking about buying a new pair.

Ideally; I'd get some without the brushed finish... so I could powdercoat them. Not sure yet if I'm going to do that.
Anyone know where I can get a pair?

1 week later
#184 5 years ago

Ok. Been working on the Playfield over the holiday break. Not making as much progress as I'd like... but here's some.

First; I needed to tackle the Special insert.... basically; something went wrong at the printer and it didn't come out right:

I took the graphic file back into Photoshop and trimmed a new copy up for printing on some white water slide decal paper. Some patience and water yields this corrected implementation:

Much better.

Some black sharpie on the trimmed edges and a couple coats of acylic clear and that area is ready for the 2part automotive clear coat.

While I waited for some clear; warmer days for the clearcoat... A friend (Ken) and I went to Techshop to work on the PF rails. I didn't want to put yellow painted wood back on the PF... I wanted something which would tie the machine together. I measured the wood and created a CAD file with the exact measurements. The plan was to cut these parts out of 1/2inch 6061 aluminum. I sourced the Aluminum from a local supplier in 4ftx4inx0.5in dimensions. This DXF file was then sent to the waterjet machine at techshop which results in the following parts:


If you want to watch the Waterjet in action cutting this piece; see Youtube:

I wanted the tops of the rails to look like knife edges; but no so much that they would be a danger to anyone working on the machine (Read: Me). Ken helped me put the 45 degree angles on the aluminum using the Jet#1 manual milling machine. Once the rails were milled; I proceeded to drill and tap the appropriate holes in the bottom side of the rails. For the purposes of this test fit; I used #6-32 x 5/8" machine screws. The result:

While I had the rails attached; time to test fit the apron and shooter gauge:

No obvious issues during the test fit. Tomorrow I hope to put 4-6coats of clearcoat on the PF... if the weather holds.
More later...

#185 5 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

I'd do modern.
Less money, better spring action, replacement parts are available and cheap.
I've been using WPC style on my system 3-7 rebuilds and the difference is night and day.

Ok. Revisiting this topic as I need to do a Flipper order soon as clearcoat is curing.
I'm thinking about getting a left and right flipper assembly from Pinballlife
with a FL-11630 coil.

Thoughts? I'm not sure if these flippers are NO or NC contacts.
Looks like the original Bally flippers are NC. EOS opens the shorted high side coil.

#187 5 years ago

Thanks smokey... truth be told... I was all ready to start sanding down the clearcoat today; but fear set it ... I had a nightmare last night that the clearcoat wasn't thick enough and I blew thru it to the art underneath. So I came home from work today and put yet-another 4oz of clearcoat on the PF. I think I have about 6-8 coats on it now.

I'll probably wait until Thursday to sand the clearcoat.

Still not sure what to do about the flipper assemblys.

#191 5 years ago

Ok if I do this; which lug is the common? center?
Which is the "high power" coil, which is the hold coil?

#193 5 years ago

Rockin! thanks.
Have lots going on with the Playfield and Techshop. Hope to have something cool to post by sunday.

#195 5 years ago
Quoted from btw75:

I think I'm swing by techshop and stalk you!!


I have a Shopbot#2 CNC appointment for Saturday at 2pm.

#196 5 years ago

Lots happening behind the curtains... but thought I'd take a break to update the worklog.

ClearCoat is on the Playfield I put about 6 coats of clearcoat on the surface to ensure I didn't blow thru the clearcoat and destroy the art underneath. I waited about 24 hours before beginning the process of re-leveling the surface.
You'll note that I still had some "orange peel" problems with the clear coat.

I needed to remove the orange peel so I started by sanding with 220 grit orbital sander:

Then the hand sanding began with 320:

wet sand 500:
NOTE: I wouldn't recommend wet sanding a traditional PF. I've had issues with the plywood swelling under the clearcoat. In this case; I used a spray bottle to wet the surface and then used the wet/dry sandpaper. I did this because the clearcoat under the art and the white under the art did an excellent job of sealing the wood around the cnced holes. The sprayed water just beaded on the surface.

wet sand 800:

At this point; with this era of machine... I might have stopped here for a "matte" finish; but this is "The Mirror Universe"... so maybe I should put a mirror shine on it.

wet sand 1000 followed by 1500:
Closer... but that still won't do.

I'd done quite a bit of sanding... all within ~30hrs of laying the final coats of clear; so I decided to wait another 24hrs for the "time to decal" interval on the paint can.
So; stay tuned.

#197 5 years ago

So I waited at least a day; but in reality... I think other aspects of the project got in the way; so yesterday I got back to addressing the playfield shine - or lack there of. I chucked a buffing cloth into the cordless drill and proceeded to use rubbing compound on the clear coat:

Then polishing compound:

And two sessions of Carnauba Wax:

Yeap; I think we'll call that a near mirror shine.

#198 5 years ago

I wait on fasteners and other supplies to arrive from Pinball Life, PBResource, and McMaster-Carr; so let's get back to the backbox. Time to put it back together with the tin and such. First; I assembled the Fan Controller which will be used to keep the new fans in check. This designed was a KISS re-implementation (keep it simple stupid) of the Fan Controller I designed for the Captain's Chair
a few years ago. Here's the TAPR/NCLed schematics for those that are interested:

PCBs assembled and tested:

Some Standoffs and Installed:

While I was monkeying around in the backbox; I needed to redo the cards which were deteriorating with age. Also; the cards were not Star Trek; but supersonic as that was the head used as a donor. So I scanned the cards into the computer and recreated the same font which a little "flair" for the Mirror Universe. I printed the cards on 110lbs card stock using my color Laser printer and trimmed them with a xacto blade. I kept the original OQA tag from the supersonic head as I thought it would serve as a reminder.


Some closeup shots:

With that update; I think we're done with the updates for the night.

#202 5 years ago

Thanks... While I'm having fun... The pressure of the deadline is taking a toll on my enjoyment

#205 5 years ago
Quoted from RyanClaytor:

I'm assuming the Texas Pinball Fest is the deadline to which you are referring. I wish you luck completing everything on your to do list by then. I'm sure it will be the belle of the ball. REALLY wish I could go to experience your labor of love in person.

Yeap. The other source of concern is I'm still waiting on the backglass design.
I don't like it when things don't go to plan.

Regardless; another 7hrs at techshop planned for tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have some more to share then.

#208 5 years ago

Now for the interactive portion of our project.
Kudos points to the first poster who correctly identifies this 3D Carved Item... and speculates correctly as to it's function on the machine.


This took me the better part of 12hrs to make on the CNC mill... and I still need to figure out how to remove the items from the 0.5inch block of aluminum.

#211 5 years ago

you guys are close. Not the dagger; but the sword which goes thru the planet.
Sorry scale doesn't translate well. The blade is 16in long. So no; it's not a shooter rod - to big.


#214 5 years ago

not pinball legs; although, I was already thinking about something like that.

Ben - we are using PLA. The problem right now is sketchup did a piss-poor job of creating printable shapes.
At the moment; the speaker wraps are on hold until I get time to figure out another 3D printer tool.

1 week later
#217 5 years ago

Anyone interested in a trade?
This completed machine for this?

#218 5 years ago

Progress update: I am working on assembling the PF; mainly the bottom parts. Ran into a problem tho... Initially; I had hoped that I could just "flip" the outlane and ball trough parts with the left shooter. Turns out that it wasn't really possible. As a result; I'm currently importing the parts into CAD so they can be mirrored. The Plan is to cut the parts out on Techshop's WaterJet when it comes back online.

#221 5 years ago
Quoted from Renegade:

Forgive me for asking, maybe this is obvious to everyone else, but how did the print shop apply the playfield? Is this vinyl, a silkscreen, a giant inkjet..?

Direct Printed = Direct paint on the playfield.
I'm unsure of the technology; but I think it's a solvent based paint (ink seems like an incorrect term) which is applied to the PF and a UV light in the head of the printer "Cures" the paint as it prints.

I'm not a sign shop; but that's my guess based upon what I saw during the walk thru.

#222 5 years ago

Need some advise.
Seen many a Bally ST playfield with paint damage on the LLY where the ball eject occurs. I've also seen damage near the space station.

I'm thinking I want to put some Mylar from the LLY area into the pops; and the two half moons near the slings. Currently I have nothing but clear in those areas.

At this point; I'm not sure the clearcoat is thick enough to protect these areas from the ball for a long period of time.
While the machine won't be in an arcade... it will be a TPF and other charitable events... I just don't want to risk long term damage of this PF.

What do you guys think?

#224 5 years ago

Lots of work behind the scenes getting the gross-level assembly started on the PF. Basically; I went thru and assembled all the Turbo bummers; kickout; switches such from the bottom side. No real pictures of this due to the tedious work involved. Once I had the big parts on the bottom of the playfield it was time to start installing some lighting. As I stated earlier in the thread; I created some custom LED boards to replace the underside switched Lamps.

An example of these switch lamps is as follow:

This being the center Xk's ... an butt load of lamp sockets which I hate tending to on my Bally Star Trek. To this end; I created custom LED boards which would bolt to the underside of the PF and give me the needed light. Given these are LEDs; they should last a lifetime under normal use.

I started by carefully laying the Blank PCBs I designed out on the backside of the PF, drilling 0.24 of an inch into the wood, then Tapping said hole with a #6-32 tap. When the holes were tapped; I screwed in a 1/4" nylon standoff which the PCA (Printed Circuit Assembly) would mount to:

Once I had the standoffs in place; I went ahead and assembled the PCBs using the Skillet method and some soldering paste. Here's a majority of the pcbs in the skillet during reflow:

Once I had the SMT components done; I hand soldered the thru hole components. Which the PCBs assembled; the rest of the switch lamp matrix is assembled:

I ran out of 5 red LEDs and 5 white LEDs; so I need to order some more to complete the rollover switches and the lane indicators.
More coming; stay tuned.

#225 5 years ago

Once I had the switched lamp matrix resolved; it was time to begin looking at the "inlane" mechanics - namely the ball eject mechanism and the shooter lane. Initially; I had hoped that I could just "flip" the inlane and ball trough parts with the left shooter. Turns out that it wasn't really possible. As a result; I'm currently importing the parts into CAD so they can be mirrored. The Plan is to cut the parts out on Techshop's WaterJet when it comes back online. Today was that day. I had to cut new eject brackets as well as the ball trough as mirrored images. I decided I wanted to cut all the pieces out of 16gauge stainless steel so I would never have to worry about rust on these parts.

Here's the "flattened" brackets coming off the waterjet machine. Took about 20minutes of machine time to cut these badboys:

Then I spent some time on Techshop's JET finger break bending the brackets into their correct orientation. Here's the final product vs the original brackets:

Once I got home; I assembled the ball trough giving us this:

I still have to assembled the eject solenoid and the eject bracket; need to order some parts from McMaster-carr to finish the eject assembly.

#226 5 years ago

If you recall; there was a interactive portion where I asked people to speculate on what this was...
// Error: Image 174282 not found //
...its now time to answer that question.

With the Eject lane in position; I was now able to install the shooter lane. This item above was carved out of 18x4inches of 1/2inch thick aluminum. When assembled it becomes the inside "guide" of the ball lane. Nobody guessed it's function; but that's ok. Now you get to see it in all it's splender.

The pieces make up my rendition of the "Terran Sword of Conquest" as correctly identified by SaminVA above. I carefully cut out the 3D pieces and assembled them into the sword. The sword is made up of the little nobby thing you club someone on the head with... the handle... the hilt... and the blade itself. Each one of these pieces are bolted together with two pieces of steel. One JBwelded in the the knobby thing with a set screw at the base of the handle.
The second steel rod is jb-welded to the sword blade. A set screw fastens the hilt to the rod, and the rod to the handle. No; it proably wouldn't make a good sword this way; but it's really just an ordimental piece. With the sword assembled; it's time to bolt it in it's place on the PF:

Now I think you guys can see why I went with a "bladed" side rail... the two complement each other quite well.

Another angle with another surprise feature of the PF...

Several months ago; I contacted Cliffy at
and asked him to do a custom inlane switch protector for this project. He graciously agreed. For inlane switch; he cut me a custom Enterprise switch protector which I cnced a place for it making it "level" with the PF wood/clear.

Here's the mandatory money shot for the kids at home:

Starting to look like a Pinball machine now; isn't it?

#227 5 years ago

A couple of weeks ago; I did a pretty big PinballLife.com order... part of which was those awesome new Aluminum Flipper bats:

Today; I executed the strategy for these bats. First went ahead and powdercoated them black... then a second clearcoat powder with the metal flake seen on the apron. Once I had the bat powdercoated; I laser etched a jig on the tormac laser cutter at techshop. This etch allowed me to position the bats in such a way that they ready to get their treatment:

The Bats go into the Laser cutter to get their dagger etches:

I hear the audience screaming for a money shot... who am I to argue?

And that concludes my weekend update for you guys... Next up I'm thinking it's time to start the wiring harnesses for the boards, switches, Etc. I wanted to get the LED boards in place so I can figure out how to route the harnesses under the PF. Not sure how long this will take... so bear with me.

#233 5 years ago

Honestly not sure. I may have to make adjustments once I actually begin playing it. At times; that seems far away.

#236 5 years ago
Quoted from Sjsilver:

Looking closely at the image, it's not that the wire guide sticks out further than the sword edge (the sword edge and the wire guide both seem to be behind the yellow line), it's that there is a gap where the sword point tapers and the wire guide starts.

Right; my assumption is the ball will be fast coming off of the shooter tip and that gap wouldn't be big enough to matter.
It's a concern; but one I'm not going to worry about until I see an actual problem.

#239 5 years ago

I needed to work on the eject mechanism. I carefully measured the standoffs on the original part and engineered an alternate plan since I didn't have the time to replicate the part exactly. Instead I opted to buy some off the shel threaded inserts with nylon sleeves.

For the base which holds the eject bracket; I got a 7/8" threaded #8-32 standoff from Master-Carr.com #91125A210. This piece would be mounted to the top with an #8-32 screw and would provide the rotation point for the eject bracket. To space the arm off the base I went with a 3/8" nylon spacer with 1/4" I.D. and 1/2" O.D #94639A141.

Then goes the bracket arm. For the top of the bracket; I went with a PRess-Fit Drill bushing, 0.25" ID, 0.5" OD @ 3/8" length or #9491A252. I topped it off with two flat washers (think they were 1/4") and star washer and another #8-32 machine screw.

For the plunger arm which goes into the solenoid; I went with a 0.25" tall round spacer with a 1/4" OD and and 8-32 screw thread, #91125A140. The nylon spacer on top was a 1/8" long with 0.25" ID and 0.5" OD.

Here's a picture of the original eject mechanism vs the new one:

Here's the mechanism with the coil and other hardware transferred:

And mounted in the PF:

My only concern is vibration loosening the #8-32 screws holding the threaded inserts in place. As a result; I may end up locktite-ing the screws in place later.

#240 5 years ago

With the eject mechanism squared away; time to move on to the Proximity sensors. For those who don't recall; I didn't want switch holes taking away from the art of the playfield. As a result; I wanted to use a Proximity sensor to sense the ball instead of a mechanical switch. I went thru several designs ... none really worked. Settling on the tried and true TDA0161 design used in modern Williams designs. Mixed in a little of my own circuitry and out came a custom layout which was 80% SMT except the "owner replaceable parts" Basically the diodes and the output transistor remained thru-hole... along with the TDA0161 which remained socketed.

I stenciled on some solder paste and went to work hand assembling 8 PCBs for use on the Playfield switches. All the SMTs were mounted and they went into the skillet for reflow:

I then hand soldered the thru hole components and ran thru a bench test and calibration to make sure they worked prior to install.

I was trying to figure out how to mount the sensing coils in the Playfield slots (underside); when it dawned on me that I could just mount the PCB over the slots and run the sensing coil on the bottom side of the PCB... pushing the leads down so the coil touched the bottom of the slot. Luckily I had incorporated 3 mounting screw holes in the design so mounting ... so the PCB became the coil mount.

I marked the mount holes with a center punch; and proceeded to drill and tap each mount hole for a #6-32 nylon standoff as the light boards were mounted. Here's the PF with the proximity sensors mounted:

And a close up showing a set of PCBs mounted with the coil leads going into the slots:

With the PCBs mounted; I could then transfer the wiring harness from the donor PF to the Mirror Universe. Of course it too had to be mirrored but that was easily accomplished by flipping the harness:

Now the fun of crimping connectors and re-soldering coil/switch terminals begins.
I also need to re-assembly the GI circuits/lamps. The cheapskate in me wants to try an re-use the old GI lamp sockets. However, the do-it-right guy in me; want to order new GI lamps so I won't have to deal with the damn flickering due to warn-out GI lamp sockets. Yes; I know you can solder/hack an old GI Lamp to work... but my experiences has been it doesn't work on every lamp.

#242 5 years ago
Quoted from btw75:

Do you think there is a risk that phantom switch hits occur or are they pretty focused?

Won't know for sure until the whole system is together and playing.
My gut says no; as the ball has to be within 12mm of the sensing coil to trigger it.

Post edited by Zitt : wrong unit. mm not cm

#244 5 years ago

Sorry - meant 12mm. IE less that 1/2 inch.
I think at best right now; I saw a little more than a 1/4 of an inch.

#246 5 years ago

I'm frustrated. Learned last weekend that my Comic book artist continues to have life-getting in the way issues; and probably won't make delivery of the backglass art in time for me to get it on the machine for TPF. I asked him to be done several times... but family / deaths / real-work deadlines keep getting in the way.

So; Yesterday I decided I was going to scan my existing CPR repro backglass and create my own.
Well; the same HP Scanjet 4670 I used to scan the PF is not giving me a interference pattern on the scans.

Sigh. Not sure what I'm going to do now.

#251 5 years ago

No it isn't a morie pattern.. Hard to describe. I'll try to post a picture later.
Right now I'm knee deep in Backglass "Mirror-izing".
Hopefully I'll have something to post in a few days.

#252 5 years ago

I learned last weekend that my Comic book artist continues to have life-getting in the way issues; and probably won't make delivery of the backglass art in time for me to get it on the machine for TPF. I asked him to be done several times... but family / deaths / real-work deadlines keep getting in the way.

So; On Thursday - I decided I was going to scan my existing CPR repro Prototype backglass and create my own. Well; the same HP Scanjet 4670 I used to scan the PF is now giving me a interference pattern on the scans.

As a result; I decided to use an existing scan of the production backglass and "mirror-ize" it to have some of the features of the ProtoType Backglass.

First; here an example of the original Production BG:

And here's My current revision of the BG I've modified:

I'm not sure about the nasa render of earth replacing the planetoid... I like it... but it may be too much for the BG.
Comments? Suggestions?

#256 5 years ago
Quoted from Miguel351:

Also, why not "mirror" it as well(visually flipping the continents)?

Because if you look at the original logo - Example:
Trying to stay true to the universe.

I'm going to try a few things out tonight w/ regards to Earth.

#258 5 years ago

I've taken into account some of the suggestions provided... Replacing the Earth with a custom Terran Empire Logo I created in Photoshop.


#263 5 years ago
Quoted from MrSanRamon:

Looks great, but I'd change the color of the shirt of the guy just above 3up to red.

LOL - great minds think alike. The wife was like "make that dude a redshirt" Sunday night.
Yesterday before bed - I made it happen. So yeah; There's a red shirt on the BG now.

#264 5 years ago

Rev5 changelog:

1) Reworked Terran Logo again... Put "blade" behind planet to look similar to existing logos. Blade is smooth as opposed to chiseled. Ideally this would go thru the planet; but no idea how to do it right in photoshop.

2) Due to KLOV peer pressure; "flipped" Player 1&3 with 2&4.

3) Dude on left is now a RedShirt.

4) Uhura now has nipples and dark stockings.

5) All new art has "film grain" applied to it so it blends better with original artwork.

6) McCoy now has some muscles under uniform.

7) Everyone's boots have been blackened to better match the show.

Remember to use URL to get very high rez image

#271 5 years ago

Exactly. Sleeveless Kirk . True to episode

#274 5 years ago

Ok. Rev 6 is online. Change log is somewhat minor:
1) New Terran Logo Revision; "stabs" thru planet like most artistic representations.

2) Spock has his dagger in his right hand. Beware of Evil Spock... he might just stab u in the back.

3) Kirk's is on his hip.

4) Per anatomical study on aussiepinball; I "raised" the nipples a bit on Uhura.

I couldn't find any "Mirror Universe" position I liked.

Thinking I'm about done here. Ideally; I'd add Uhura's Dagger; but we'll see.


#280 5 years ago

Adjusting the Lettering won't work - Using existing lightboard; so moving Star Trek will cause the bottom to be darker.

#283 5 years ago

Rev 7 Change log:
1) More nipple adjustment per anatomical study at AussiePinball.

2) Reduced "The mirror Universe" to be under Trek as suggested. Not sure I like it; but the forum participants have been vocal about it.

3) Changed Can play to more redish purple hue; so it's not completely standout.

4) Some sword shading under the planet to give it a more realistic look.


Gonna call this done unless someone wants to take the raw logo file and convert the red pattern background into a "blood red" sphere or something. I've reached the limited of my hobby grade knowledge of photoshop.

#298 5 years ago

It's was an awesomely mild weekend here in Austin; so I spent quite a bit of time in the garage working on the underside of the Playfield.
Thru the cold snap earlier in the week; I sent an internal goal of wiring the GI circuits/Lamps with color coded wire - A color a night. Rather than wiring each lamp with a bare stapled wire - I point-to-pointed each in it's specific color. IE Green, orange, red, and white. With the GI squared away during the week; I spend this weekend tackling the Hot common of the switch illumination (Blue). I also crimped my fingers swore; as I completed the Inserts wiring.

For the top GI connection; the original harness had two blue wires which were soldered to the "Common" of the lamp matrix. Instead I made a custom harness out of some 22gauge blue wire. Each one of these lamp boards had to be wired into that common.
I tinned a piece of raw copper clad (blank circuit board material) and used it as a common tie point for the upper playfield's common hot. Each board was crimped to a length of blue wire and it was soldered to this tie point. The inserts were then crimped and installed on the connectors. Each LED board has a header so it can be uninstalled and fixed if necessary. For the upper playfield; A chain of 22awg blue wire moves between each led board in a circle; so in effect - each board has two 22AWG paths to hot. This should help with redundancy and supply more than enough current flow to lite the leds on the board. In the case of the upper two boards; they have 4pin connectors ... with 2 Anodes and the 2 signal wires.

And yes; for the most part; each LED board has a little Terran Empire logo in copper and silkscreen.

For the middle of the PF; I tapped into the blue wire harness and used a rounded barrel terminal to house the common hot. This common point feed the Klingon LED board as well as the center Enterprise inserts.

2 qty 22AWG blue wires feed the center inserts common point:
I had to cut the tie wraps for the middle of the harness and feed some of the shorter wires between the drop target inserts and the led nacelle boards. With this new route; I had enough slack to make it to the large center insert connector for all signals.

Finally; I added another common hot tie point for the center Xk's inserts:
I'm not real happy with the way this turned out... the wiring harness and connector are in the way of each other. Can't really be helped at this point; but you can still disconnect the board with minimal effort so it's still a win.

At this point; I'm about 80ish-% complete on the bottom side of the PF:

What's left to do on the bottom side?
1) Still need to wire in proximity sensors.
2) Flippers
3) Slingshot switches
4) Drop target assembly
5) Wire GI to nacelle boards; need to double confirm PSU board outputs the polarity I think it does for the GI so I don't hook it backwards.
6) Mount outhole switch and inlane switches.

My only question for you guys; is there typically a suggested method to refurbing the drop target assembly? I already have some new drop targets; but I'm wondering if I should try to source some new springs for assembly. Thoughts?

#302 5 years ago

Need help:
Can someone with a 7digit Bally machine measure the clear opening in the artwork over the displays?

I need this measurement to adjust the Mirror Universe BG openings by the proper amount to allow for the 7digit Nixies.


#307 5 years ago

Thanks - My Nixies are already here. 3 of the five have already been built and tested.
I just wanted to be sure my "display borders" in the art were correct before I send it off to be made.

#308 5 years ago

I'm now prepping to fire up the Playfield using my ATX PSU -> All but solenoid power board. IE replacing the rectifier/psu board which normally attaches to the big transformer in the game.

On this ATX board; I have a 12VDC -> GI zener/FET regulator ( example: http://www.ti.com/lit/an/slva119/slva119.pdf ) to drive the GI voltages.
Right now; I'm using a 9.3V Zener which brings the GI output voltage to 9VDC (with no load); which gave me pause. My initial reaction was that was way to high... now though I've talked myself into thinking it might be ok.

If I were using a normal Bally system with transformer and AC GI; I'd expect a 6.3VAC winding. After dusting my college lectures off from 20 years ago... This usually means 6.3Vrms IIRC. Given that most non-polarized LED bases contain a Bridge rectifier; wouldn't that mean the Vdc inside the LED is 6.3Vrms * sqrt(2) = Vpeak - diode drops*2.. IE by my calculation; the DC in a typical LED (prior to any resistors/leds) would be ~= 7.51 V w/ a standard diode... or 8.31V with a schottky type bridge. If you factor in GI voltage tolerances which should be build into the LED designs; am I really that far off?!

Of course; I can drop the zener diode in the regulator from a 9.3V zener to a 7.0v zener... and avoid this whole concern about possibly shortening the life of the GI LEDs via them being over driven... however, If I want the plastics on the the PF to be lit very well... scrubbing every ounce of voltage from the GI regulator might be a worth while endeavor.

Anyone have any knowledge they'd like to share?

#310 5 years ago

I slept on the Vreg thing... and came to the realization that I hadn't considered the "peak" voltage != constant voltage of DC.

IE in the rectified AC situation; the LED is subject to periodic high voltages for the 120Hz cycles.
It's one thing to drive the LEDs at peak voltage for what... 50-70% of the wave... it's something completely different to subject the LED to the same DC voltage for 100% of the time.

I've ordered a couple of zener diodes to bring the voltage down to a more reasonable level.

#314 5 years ago

I'm about 95% complete with the underside of the PF.
Everything has been wired up except the lane LED boards and the rollover LED boards. I'm waiting on a delivery from Mouser which should be here on Tuesday.

The drop target assembly was disassembled and cleaned. New drop targets installed and the coil was moved to the opposite side so it fits correctly.

Would anyone happen to have some detailed pictures of the outlane hole?
I need to figure out what outlane rollover switch was used. I'm hopeful PBR or PBL carries it...

I'd use a microswitch assembly from PBL if it's be easier:


#317 5 years ago

We're in TX ... even the liberal are conservative

#318 5 years ago

Tonight I put the near finishing touches on the underside of the Playfield. I ran out of Butane for my cordless soldering iron; so I couldn't solder in the new fuse block for the solenoids. I tried in vane this weekend to source some butane from both Lowes (was out) and Walmart (doesn't carry?!)... so; meh.

Anyway; the red star posts from the donor playfield are already in the ultrasonic cleaner... so hopefully; I can start assembling the top of the PF tomorrow night.

Here's detail pictures of the 99.9% PF all wired up:


#320 5 years ago

Tonight I finished soldering in the Fuse holder for the Solenoids and began installing the Posts. I wanted to do something a little different for the upper PF... matching the Posts to the Art where possible. As a result I decided to put Blue transparent Lane guides instead of the red Bally opaque lane guides. Since guides and the posts were blue; I figured I'd need some blue LEDs to accent the guides from a GI perspective.

Here's a Day/Flash shot showing the installation:

I worked with Art @ www.CometPinball.com to get a sampling of his LEDs. I went thru several iterations focusing on the blue variety to see what lit the area the best. I wasn't very scientific about the installation; kinda moving them somewhat systematically to see what popped.

Yeap; Even tried white LEDs. Didn't like that I could see the white bulb thru the lane guides.

And finally settling on the 1st & 2nd blue LEDs I liked (no ambient light, no flash):

If I were to grade the Blue Comet LEDs for this application (according to my minds-eye):
2) Optix Maximus Blue
3) 4+1 SMD Tower Blue

I really like the pattern the Faceted Lens puts out; especially the Warm White. If I were an LED designer; I might try combining the Optix Maximus lens with a facetted ring; so as to combine the "flood" in the vertical direction and the pattern spread in the horizontal direction.

The Pop Bumpers contain Comet's 6 crystal FAN LEDs; which I think fits the pop bumpers perfectly.

Phase 2 of the LED tests will comprise of the White versions of Comet Pinball's against the Star Trek: Mirror Universe plastics... but I need to get them printed first.

#321 5 years ago

While I have you guys' attn....
Where can I get a slingshot arm top?

The nylon /white piece?
The Mirror universe donor had one missing... and the other is very dirty.

#323 5 years ago

Received the Star Trek: Mirror Universe translite from GameOnGrafix.com today... Overall I think it looks pretty damn sweet.


This weekend I hope to start cutting out the windows for the nixie tube displays and begin mounting it to the Acrylic I hope to get tomorrow from RegalPlastics.

#326 5 years ago

Neo - I will; AFTER I get the final artwork from the comic artist. (or should I say IF)

#328 5 years ago

I'm planning on making a lite block on the vinyl cutter at techshop... but I need a scan of the backglass which I can no longer do. Sigh.

#330 5 years ago

I have an original but no scanner as it broke
Regardless I have taken the ipdb pic and adjusted it to give me approx. Locations for hidden text

#333 5 years ago

No...I'll post later but high score, match, shoot again, tilt are hidden texts

#335 5 years ago

Right now; the artwork is a translite - as a result; I want to make sure the lamps behind it don't wash out the colors and I need to provide a mechanism to enable the hidden text which is illuminated by said lamps. So I used a black layer to create a "lite blocker" layer which if successful will be sent to the vinyl cutter at Techshop where it can be use to create the dark silver layer necessary to "block" said lamp light.

I took the ipdb.org picture, straighten and scaled it in photoshop then used it as a template to enable the custom "silver layer" for the mirror universe:

I wanted:
1) the yellow part of the sky to "glow" and contrast the dark planet side features.
2) the pants of the crew to be dark (unlike the original).
3) Artists signatures to glow.
4) Hidden text is an Original Series font.
5) Gold parts of logo glow... as does some shading on the red part of earth.
6) Primitive ruins glow.

Here's a rendering of what it should look like if the lite block comes out like I hope:
The hardest part is going to be getting the dark to register closely to the translite.

Now it's time to turn back to the backbox ... namely to install the ATX powersupply and PSU board to enable the LED test Phase2.
SteveC came to the rescue and 3d-Printed a set of ATX psu brackets I designed a couple of months ago. The design is based on a 3dprinter psu bracket I downloaded off thingaverse IIRC.

Once I had the brackets mounted; the PSU just slides right in an attaches via the atx mounting screws:

Now to figure how where to mount the PSU board... I could have mounted it above the ATX PSU... but I thought the original wiring harness may have trouble reaching up there; so I decided to mount the PSU on top of the PSU fan... that way the airflow cools the linear regulator used for the GI lamps. I center promptly voided the warranty of the PSU; but drilling #6-32 holes for the nylon standoffs. With the standoffs in place; the board was mounted to the psu:

After mounting everything; I notices the psu may be a little high... to high and it'll smack the credit/ball display. To low and it'll smack the player 3 display. I'm working on the light board right now... so should have an idea if I need to make an adjustment early this week.

That's about all there is to report from this weekend... got a lot of irons in the fire... controlled chaos keeping them all in check. Stay tuned.

BTW: Is anyone else having issues with Flickr uploads? I Keep getting "reconnect" messages on uploading batches of pictures.

#336 5 years ago

Phase 2 of the LED test begins now that I have the PSU board installed.

Here's the Orbit with a donor plastic from the donor PF. Bullet style: