(Topic ID: 269461)

Stargate SG-1/SGA homebrew project

By MeesterPieter

11 months ago

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  • Latest reply 4 days ago by MeesterPieter
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#1 11 months ago

Hey Guys,

I'm working on building my own pinball machine.
I'm reading a lot of usefull stuff here on the forums, so since by now my project has been taking (some) shape, i thought it would be nice to share.

The shape of the project is still very flexible. My goal is simply to have fun while building and to learn new skills.
I do like to take small steps to start with a (simple) working prototype early, and keep evolving it. Simply to keep it manageable on my own.
first i want some working flippers and not much more, just to have a prototype that moves
for controlling it i am going to start with arduino. when im further im going to see how i can build a deeper game layer by using a different main board.
with the arduino, i'm first going to control the sensors and coils, and perhaps some lighting as a next step

The theme of the pin is for now leaning towards stargate (the series) but its not written in stone.

enough with the why and what, here's whats been brewing for the last months

first of all, i needed some parts, and since i wasn't sure what im going to buiild, so i bought a few playfields which got most of their parts left

ive decided to use the DE simpsons as a main template, so first clearing that worn playfield

ive bought a 60x120cm 12mm birch plywood board to build my prototype

my starting point for the layout will just be the bottem section copied from the simpsons, im drawing it in autoCAD so i can print it as a template for drilling
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#2 11 months ago

I've also been experimenting with some adressable led's to use for the lighting of the playfield.
I have an empty DE SW playfield , so that was a nice model to try out how these cheap ws2812 leds would look.

When i started this project, i figured a 3d printer would be quite essential for making some prototype parts.
So i build a simple cheap anet a6. i figure its good enough for prototyping.
Making brackets for the led's was one of the first things i used it on

the ws2812 leds are bright enough to light the playfield inserts.
very cheap (+- 8$ for 50 on aliexpress) and easily controlled via arduino
so i ordered a few more, and plan to use them as lighting for my pin

ive made brackets which make it easy to take the leds out by twisting them.
if there's any interest i can add any and all of the 3d printed designs i make on thingiverse, if you need anything just ask
most of my designs are made with sketchup, if you want the sketchup file just send me a PM
here's the single led bracket: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3913330
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#3 11 months ago

while i was replacing the body of a popbumper i thought it might be handy to make a bumpercap, so i also made a replacement for the cooling tower on the popbumper (https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4394524)

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#4 11 months ago

I have drawn the holes for the flippers, slingshots and ballthrough in autoCAD, so i can print a template to drill and grind holes in the playfield.

im doing that with some basic tools, for the smaller holes im using a drilling standard that i turned around instead of a drill press so i can also drill holes near the middle of the playfield

for the larger holes i bought a simple router, never used that before but still quite happy with the first results

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#5 11 months ago

next we need some assemblies to be mounted, i will also be using the data east apron for now

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#6 11 months ago

Now i can add the ball guides around the slingshots.

im using the simpsons plastics as a template to make some temporary plastics.
themed plastics are still a few evolutions away, but while im printing them i can do at least a simple logo, so im just making em PnP Pinball plastics for now

since im starting to print some more parts (plastics, posts and various other bits, ive put my 3d printer next to my workplace
easier since it can take up quite some time for printing parts
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#7 11 months ago

My brother in law helped my get the ws2812 leds working on my starwars playfield, next step is im trying to learn myself to make some coding to control the solenoids and sensors.

after quite some fiddeling i found out that there's a decent arduino simulator on the web ; tinkercad
for those interested, here is a link to one of my concepts: https://www.tinkercad.com/things/3Z0Opq2tRS4

that's been quite an improvement, especially since im just starting on this stuff. makes it much easier and faster to test a circuit and coding.
also learned that the basic stuff isn't going to cut it, since working with these heavy solenoids can lead to some easy coil burning.

after analysing the original DE schematics, i found that the flippers work on different voltages, around 48v and 20v i believe. this to prevent the coil from burning when you keep pressing the flipper.
I've thought up 2 ways to cover that in my setup, first i need to program the arduino so that i can switch from 1 power source to another after a certain length of time, and second i want to implement a fail safe in case my program is buggy. that would be with a programmable timer switch.

for switching the solenoids with the arduino i will be using a separate 5v power source, a mosfet driver and a timer board

driving the solenoids will be a +-40v power source, for testing purposes i made a simple setup without the arduino and with an old train transformer for a lower voltage

the 5v power source will also be used to power all the lighting and such as that also runs on 5v

here's my first simple test with a 5v switch, that uses a mosfet driver to switch on the higher (+-12v) voltage

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#8 11 months ago

After putting the bottom assemblies on my playfield im already noticing it is getting heavier and bulkier to work with without damaging stuff.
So i guess i'll need a playfield tipper a bit sooner than i expected!

I wanted a lightweight demountable tipper, since i only have a very limited amount of workspace, and i expect the project to be shelved for at least several weeks every now and then.
I've seen a lot of sturdy 3d printers made with aluminium extruded frames, which are easy to build yourself
after checking the weight it should be able to handle, i decided to build a tipper from 2020 aluminium profiles
the only thing i couldn't really find for an affordable price was a pivoting housing that i could easily screw down at different angles.
so i designed that in 3d and printed it. its not really state of the art, but it works fine for now

i've made a separate topic on a little how to build a playfield tipper, you can find it here: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/diy-playfield-rotisserie-tipper-light-cheap-and-demountable
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#9 11 months ago


Congrats on starting your project. You're infected, and surely there won't be just one game. Love the updates and photos here. I actually enjoyed the DE simpsons playfield layout, so its a good candidate for some tweaking/a custom project.

On one of my custom games, I used those WS2812 LEDs in the exact way you're using them (I think even the same model). The main thing is being very careful about routing around coils and high EMI, otherwise you'll notice corruption in the LED data stream when you fire coils or run motors. For a first project, shouldn't matter much, just a heads up.

If you're programming it based on an Arduino, I can only offer some tips from the many projects that I've had to consult on where people have tried this:
1. Count in milliseconds (microseconds if you have to).
2. Watchdog watchdog watchdog (or you'll have components melting off of your board).
3. Single wound or double wound coils, get the PWM frequency right on the former. Never turn anything "ON" and hold it
4. Use interrupts wherever possible to maintain tight timing intervals
5. Optos are really just LEDs themselves, so apply appropriate current limiting hardware (I've seen company after company do really stupid things to mess this up)
6. POWER CHARGING/FILTERING - Flippers need a lot of current available for the initial flip. Charging caps and a decent 48V supply will help you immensely here. Otherwise your flippers will likely perform like poop, and nobody likes poopy flippers.

A switch matrix is also a valuable thing to learn, though many just go direct because it's simpler.

I've done most of my games on the Multimorphic system, and that's what a ton of manufacturers use. The good news is you can drop some of their hardware in piecemeal if you're wanting to dab with your own microcontroller runtime environment (it's all pretty much serial).

Once you fire that first coil, light the first lamp and detect that first switch hit, you probably won't come out of your house for quite some time (Which I guess is a good thing in our current situation).

Looking forward to updates!
-- Jimmy

#10 11 months ago

thanks for your feedback, i hadn't even thought about interference from the coils, but yeah, i'll keep it in the back of my head!

to prevent coil burning im already working on making the code so that coils only fire for a specific duration, and im planning on physical timers on all of them because its very easy to make a mistake and burn a few.
Ill check out what watchdog is and your other reccomendations.
once im a bit further towards a testable arduino coding i'll be sure to drop it here, in case anyone likes to give me some more pointers (i'll probably need those )

#11 11 months ago

Looks good. For WS2812 I would recommend to use an existing library (i.e. octoWS2811) or even a ready made board such as Fadecandy or even OPP in the new generation. Those are relatively inexpensive and will solve a lot of issues for you. They will also work with Frameworks such as MPF (shameless plug) if you want to use them later on (http://docs.missionpinball.org/en/dev/hardware/fadecandy/index.html).


#12 11 months ago

I've used some neopixel library during testing, but i'll probably start from scratch again when im making it next time
but lighting is a little further down the list, probably the first lighting i will make is working on illuminating the starwars playfield as wall art, and implement what i've learned into the Stargate pinball

i've mounted the black rails on the field to have a basic perimeter so the balls won't fly of the field, but i'm not commited to the standard DE size playfield yet, holes are easily filled in a prototype, but for now it is good to have a boundry

also noticed something about my data east back to the future apron, the one from my donor playfield was different from my working pin

apparently data east made different versions of the plastic apron they started using since BTTF , one of them is flat on the top, had some plastic plate glued against it. and the other one has a raised edge on top. after some searching for pictures of BTTF aprons you see versions without the plates, with the plates and with the raised edge. probably the early type had issues with airballs and they sent out some plates to glue in to fix the problem and changed the apron to one with a raised edge for the later run and the following games?

anyways, ive fitted the apron decently and now i'll be needing some wiring to the solenoids and switches on the bottem playfield

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#13 11 months ago

wired the coils i have mounted on the bottom playfield, using some connectors near the coils so its easy for testing and i can later make a wiring harness without to much effort

after that i did a little testing to see how the flippers respond with my power source, tweaked it a little so it now puts out about 43 volts

the flippers respond well enough at the moment

control of the flippers for testing is done with flipper buttons at 5v through a mosfet for this test:

also noticed that my layout of the right outlane was incorrect, i'll be adressing that soon

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#14 11 months ago

i've adjusted the mounting position of the apron, it was a bit too far to the left, also moved the wooden rail next to the right outlane a bit to the right as i noticed it was to tight for the ball earlier.

for prototyping i thought it would be easy to just mount a set of flipperbuttons to the side of the playfield so i can easily test the playfield when needed.

further i added the sensors on the ballthrough (which needed a little modification on the mounting of the playfield on the rotisserie since the mounting bars offcourse were exactly where i needed to mount a sensor.. )

i also needed to put my power adaptors somewhere, so i mounted a wooden board on the bottem of my rotisserie. easy to remove when i need to work on the assemblies, and still keeps it compact and easy to prototype.
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1 week later
#15 10 months ago

The wiring for slings/ballthrough/flippers and the sensors for those is connected.
I've temporarily used some relais to get power to the solenoids to get it working, the flippers, slings and ballthrough is working

i'm lacking more relays so i can only use 4 at the same time but at least i can test a bit more properly now.

also had to lower the voltage of the flippers to 30v, because the relays cant handle more so the flippers are a bit weak now

for me this is a nice checkpoint

here's a video:

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#16 10 months ago

Looking great! Following

#17 10 months ago

i had to drill out a lot of rivets on the ramp to remove the lights, also my ramp flap is rusted so it will need replacement, but for testing it will have to do.

to see how replacing the rivets would go i tested it on a small protector that was mounted on the ramp, drilled one old one out and replaced it with a new one

ordered a rivet gun head in china for a few bucks and some rivets, worked well just hammering a few times on the rivet and its mounted as well as the old one, just need to hammer it on a softer metal next time because the head did get a bit flattened, anyways it looks better then pop rivets
and i'm not afraid anymore that i'll remove rivets somewhere that i'm not able to put back

the rivets i used are 3x6mm

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1 week later
#18 10 months ago

Im working on the layout of the playfield at the moment.

i dont want to change too much, cause the shots on simpsons were decent, and changes means i'll have to test a lot, so im thinking about keeping the layout of the shots the same, but only tweaking them slightly or altering the function, so a VUK hole could become a lane to the pop bumpers, and the shot in the right up corner would not stop at the rollover posts in the middle but would go through around to the left upper corner and down into the vuk.

also i had the idea of shortening the inlane and making the ball entrance next to the right slingshot, that means i got some spare room behind the 5-bank stand up targets. i was thinking about making it possible to shoot behind the 5bank and letting the ball go to a vuk (similar to the Xwing 4 bank targets on the StarWars Trilogy) somewhere along my project i might then also consider placing a cannon somewhere on the playfield to hit those

anyways, i'll still be thinking a lot about it, but i dont want to just copy the simpsons layout completely, but to many changes may have a negative impact on gameplay

the things high on the list of changing are the "donut" roll-over switches on the middle top section , and the shot to make those during play (i find it a bit to hard to hit) and the popbumpers are a bit too far away from each other (perhaps because they wanted the ramp to fit between them?) my bumpers on back to the future are a bit closer to each other and seem to work better, perhaps i'll mount 4 bumpers instead of 3

anyways, good ideas about what to change and not are welcome

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3 weeks later
#19 9 months ago

I've been drawing the rest of the holes from the simpsons playfield in autocad, printed those so i can use that as a template. not yet sure about the changes i'm going to make but probably moving the 3-bank a bit farther up and the bumpers a little closer together. maybe the 5-bank a bit further down and still doubting whether to shorten the inlane.

I've rewired the powersupplies to add some fuses and a fuseboard. Wiring is still a complete mess but i'll be removing it all soon since i'll be cutting some more holes. also i've wired up the slingshots. everything is still powered down to 30v because of the relays, but even op 30v the slingshots seem to be firing too strong. so i'll have to set a short duration on them when i'm controlling it through the arduino later in the project. for now they work and because the mosfets are heavy duty they can take the heat

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1 month later
#20 8 months ago

it was time to disassemble and get ready for the next phase, getting all of the playfield holes in and start on getting the game elements in.

took everything off untill the bare wood, and i've been busy on making all the holes in the board with a router. i've made some slight changes , mostly to the popbumper layout and the target bank in front of it because i didn't like the original dynamic, so i've put those a little closer together and the target bank at a slightly different angle.

i know it would've been easier to sand the simpsons board but i really wanted to learn how to make my own board, since i'm hoping there will be more after this first version. i did make some slight errors while routing but nothing serious. also i didn't make the holes for the lighting yet since im not doing those (yet) and before i'm drilling all the holes for mounting all the parts and screws i'll first be checking fitment and how things work out with my changes.

making the shooter lane took a few tries with a normal straight milling jig, put some small blocks under it to give it a slight angle since the start is about 6mm lower then the end, and it came out pretty nice.

so next up is sanding the board to get some smoother edges, making some corrections to the small errors i made, and then fitting all the parts so i can start drilling some more holes

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1 week later
#21 7 months ago

been busy mounting some ballguides and stuff, making it fit nicely looks easier than it actually is

also picked up a nice empty maverick cabinet to fit my project in, i'll need to source some more parts to make it complete but that'll come later

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3 weeks later
#22 6 months ago

my cabinet didn't have hinges, and late data east / early sega hinges are apparently unobtanium, so ive made a cardboard model so i can cut make my own sometime. also repainted the rusty old coin door i already had, so i can use that on my cabinet

and been busy building up the playfield, i already regret some of the adjustments i've made to the popbumbers, because now i'll have to make all sort of changes to the mounting of the ramps, ballguides etc

also found out that sometimes the location of a part on top of the playfield doesnt have to be precise, but is has to be to fit it all right on the bottom

anyways, sometimes im thinking "why didn't i just sand off the simpsons playfield" and offcourse i still can, but i'm learning a lot and im not planning on this first playfield to be the final version for my game.

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#23 6 months ago

i made a few prototype popbumpercaps, first a copy of the simpsons towers and then i made one resembling a ZPM for the stargate theme.
I also made a plastic for the kickouthole as i've drilled a 30mm hole instead of an 31mm and offcourse the original one doesn't fit anymore

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#24 6 months ago

tidied up the cabinet a bit, removed the white paint and primer where i could. I won't be making the decals for a while but it looks nice enough at the moment for prototyping. Since most of the cabinet hardware is missing and i do like the stainless wpc look better than the black that is usually used on DE/SEGA so i'll probably replace all trims with new wpc stainless style hardware.

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#25 6 months ago

Looks great. Hell of a job, respect

One of my favorite tv series.

Would also make a nice article in the club magazine Spinner of the NFV

#26 6 months ago

Thanks for the support, im still working on ideas in my head about how to fit the stargate theme in with the current layout. I have a few good idea's but at the moment most effort is still going into the building part.
The ZPM cap was an idea because i remembered the atlantis ZPM's were also in a nice triangle setup, so perhaps if i can print those in the right color and draw up some nice art for the popbumper playfield area maybe that can work.
I'm no member of the NFV so i don't actually read the spinner, but perhaps if i've made some more progress

#27 6 months ago

starting to look like something

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1 week later
#28 6 months ago

making some more wiring

im using 18gauge wiring for the coils and 22 gauge for the sensors, and im making connectors between everywhere since i need to take parts of regularly.

im not using a switch matrix yet but i'm leaving the diodes on the switches so i can do that later on

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5 months later
#29 26 days ago

didnt have much time to work on my pinball project lately since i've also started on the restoration of my '85 bmw 323i baur.

now that the wiring is done i needed to make a backboard to keep the ramp level, so made a nice wooden board that fits nicely.

i've tested the function of all the solenoids and switches by hooking them up to a single mosfet, so i'm sure everything is functioning now.

i hoped to wire everything first without using the arduino to coordinate switches and activation time on the solenoids but that didn't work very well.
when i wired the popbumpers and VUK's with their switches they kept clacking the solenoids, so i really have to work on the arduino software so i can give all the solenoids an exacter activation time and a little cooldown so it won't keep clacking.

A buddy is going to help me get my arduino programmed a bit better so i hope to get the playfield basics working soon

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#30 22 days ago

Been to my buddy to work on the arduino coding, we already made a basis for it a little while ago but now we had time to adjust the coding to the actual thing.

couldn't work in my regular workshop due to covid, so disassembled everything and hauled the whole project to my buddy.

first thing to get going are the flippers, since i've already burnt through some mosfett's we started out with a dual function coding for the flippers, a regular pulse for primary activation (set on approx. 40milliseconds) and after thet the coil starts pulsing to prevent it from becoming too hot. originally the data east coils i'm using were switched from around 50volts on primary to around 20volts on secondary. Since i've read somewhere that it is also possible to pulse solenoids to simulate a lower voltage we tried how that would work out. All the coils are powered with circa 45volts at the moment

for the primary power 40ms seemed pretty well after a few tests (on full power at circa 45volts). then after that 40ms the coding switches the coil to a pulsing mode, we tried some different delays, 1ms on, 10ms off, then 1/5 and 1/4. 1ms on 4ms off seemed to work well enough for now, it did make a bit of an irritating noise however. we tested some faster and slower pulsing rhytems and settled on 2ms/8ms for now.

i thought it would be interesting to show the effect of the different delay settings, here's a video on the testing of the settings mentioned above

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#31 21 days ago

anything for you? https://thestargateproject.com/
like you have nothing to do

#32 21 days ago

Lol i've already thought about making an infinity mirror stargate, but this one looks really nice maybe something for the far future as a topper or something, but for now i'm still mostly focused on the playfield.

#33 21 days ago

testing the flippers:

after we got the flippers tweaked right, started hooking up the three turbobumpers.

had some ghosting issue's which were solved with some resistors placed between the switches and the arduino, after that they seemed to work well enough for now. I still have to tweak the pulse time better, and for that i'll need to have to populate the playfield some more around the bumpers, but for now they work and i have a basic setting that will be easily adjusted later on.

at this point the wiring is getting messy quite fast, so maybe i should start to make a temporary prototype PCB to keep it a bit more reliable everything from the switches to the arduino to the mosfet controller is very flimsy at the moment.

well anyways another large step forward, mostly thanks to my buddy doing the programming on the arduino

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#34 21 days ago
Quoted from PeterG:

anything for you? https://thestargateproject.com/
like you have nothing to do

Oh my god that thing is incredible, a little to big for the playfield though.

Your projekt is really cool, a lot of complicated stuff with the arduino, very impressive.!

#35 19 days ago

tried building a little prototype PCB today, used a simple empty board with some traces and made some connectors on it

basicly it just makes the wiring a little more straightforward, a connector for the switches, the resistors fitted on the board, al the grounds connected to each other on the board, 1 connector going to the mosfet controllers, and 2 connectors for the pins and ground on the arduino.

got enough spare room so i can add some more connectors later for the other solenoids, and at some point ill probably need to redo the whole thing to a larger PCB but for now it'll do.

anyways, i edited the pinlayout on the software since i chose some more clustered pins on the arduino, connected everything, and it even worked on the first try for once
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1 week later
#36 12 days ago

made some slight software changes and started with adding the turbobumpers on the PCB

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#37 8 days ago

added a switch for the kickback and connected the wiring for the kickback. still need to get another plunger for it as its too short at the moment.
added some more wiring on the playfield and also added a start button.
i still need to add the switches for both droptarget assy's , but apart from that all the switches and solenoids are ready for the next phase.

wired up all the solenoids to my power supply board, i split them up in sets of 2 or 3 coils which each then have their own fuse
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#38 4 days ago

more wiring..

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