(Topic ID: 250320)

Volcano Blast: Cabinet in progress


By Gornkleschnitzer

10 months ago



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    #1 10 months ago

    [Spoiler alert: The work-in-progress drawings get discarded and started anew in post #9. Don't get too attached to the old ones!]

    Back in 2008, I really wanted to build a pinball machine, and a significant lack of knowledge and funding didn't stop me from trying. I brought into existence a shell of a game, called Volcano Blast!, themed around a medieval village with a superstitious king and fast-approaching doom. The cabinet was satin-black-painted construction plywood, the computer was nonexistent, and the playfield looked like this.

    15aa073ba9c4e63d23693f139432efdb85a42b38 (resized).jpg

    Obviously, I didn't get far. Most pinball construction techniques were foreign to me and most of the desired mechanisms were out of my financial reach, me being in high school at the time. Not that more money would have helped, though. The design I laid out in Future Pinball - which managed to survive on an old hard drive - really wasn't worth playing, in hindsight.

    Although I still have the translite someplace, nothing else survives of this build, having been sacrificed to Lionman to resurrect a Swords of Fury from junk. I have no regrets about this. But Volcano Blast is going to live again!

    Quick content note: The new design, art, and story will be heavily anime-inspired. If you hate anime, drain this thread now. I have retroactively edited this first post; here's a quick reminder while that the WIP shown below served some inspiration, it was ultimately discarded in favor of something that flows better.
    Screenshot 2019-08-27 22.53.07 (resized).png

    While I built only a cardboard construction prototype of Undertale and called it good enough, this one will absolutely get a proper whitewood so every shot can be tested and confirmed to be truly shootable. Probably will start on the physical stuff in 2020 as I bought a few too many games this year!

    #2 10 months ago

    Awesome...following

    #3 10 months ago

    cool. count me in the hate anime club, but following along anyway because #homebrew

    any chance you might share the vp setup sometime, would love to give it a whirl.

    #4 10 months ago
    Quoted from BorgDog:

    any chance you might share the vp setup sometime, would love to give it a whirl.

    Yes, I'll be getting around to that eventually - and thanks for reminding me I also need to release some resources from my previous build. VP design, laser cut templates for walls and scoops, Teensyduino source code for the controller boards, and probably more stuff. I can see the VP template being useful to someone as it includes size and shape outlines for flipper mechs etc.

    Tweaked my design a bit last night and will be doing more tonight. Pics to come. Left ramp is now in place. Added a scoop as one destination from upper flipper, and will probably add the ramp Y-junction soon for the other shot. Top flipper's two shots are looking a bit like STTNG, actually, with the Borg ramp and Command Decision scoop.

    Also, the amount of "Rule of Three" in this game is getting ridiculous:
    - 3 flippers
    - 3 jet bumpers
    - 3 balls
    - 3 saucers
    - 3 ramps (if you count the short plunger lane ramp)
    - 3 main characters
    - 3 wireforms
    - 3-bank of drop targets
    - 3-bank of standup targets
    - 3 paths to a mini wizard mode

    #5 10 months ago

    Cool, I hadn't thought of putting mech outlines in VP, I'll have to do that, thanks for the idea.. now I need to measure and make patterns for all my mechs I'm using.

    #6 10 months ago

    Next pic as promised.
    Screenshot 2019-08-29 22.25.11 (resized).png

    UT's ramps turned out decent (albeit crooked, as like the rest of the game), and I realized something tonight: I should probably stick with what I know rather than design for something I can't promise. And a nice-looking and properly functioning Y-combining ramp entrance in plain view is something I can't promise. The compromise? Turns out I did have enough room alongside the ramp for a lane to the back of the game, and I'm fairly confident I can engineer a hidden ramp to accomplish the same task.

    Still a little on the fence about how I'm going to control this game. Building a PC into the last game's cabinet worked very well as far as debugging, and the processing power required to drive the LCD. But the thought of running everything off dev board firmware - and creating a new game in this day and age that can boot to attract mode in under five seconds - is unbelievably enticing. The display would have to step from LCD down to a DMD made of LED panels, and the audio capabilities would almost certainly take a quality hit, but I do like the idea. Will have to experiment with it a bit and see what the Teensy 3.5's in my drawer are really capable of.

    #7 10 months ago

    Hidden ramp is easy enough by copying and pasting. Actually constructing it IRL will be slightly more challenging, of course.

    Polished up the nearby areas a bit. I re-angled the 3-bank of standups to keep the ball from banking off of them into the volcano scoop (top lane next to ramp), as I think that could get old fast.

    Rule of three now gets even more intense as there are now three independent standups too.

    For a game with a lot of predictable shots, there's a LOT of rubber here. Behind the orange standup, feeding the upper right flipper, and everywhere it's visually obvious. I think it will be a nice balance between flow and randomness. The bounciness also seems appropriate with some of the thematic elements.

    Click the picture for a clearer version - Pinside seems to heavily compress inline PNGs.

    Screenshot 2019-08-31 11.04.26 (resized).png

    And now for something completely cringy.

    So, that old "game" I built? Here's the Future Pinball design. It makes Magic Girl look complete in comparison.

    volcano blast original (resized).jpg

    Here are some comments, and I have no qualms about being savage about them because it was my own work.
    1. You know those games that feel like they managed to fit a widebody design into a standard width? Well, this is a game where if you cut out all the crap and actually made it a standard body, it still wouldn't be fun.
    2. What's with all these giant chunks of scenery? It looks like a bootleg version of WH2O.
    3. Cutting it awfully close with the glass clearance, aren't we?
    4. I guess there were supposed to be TWO volcanoes on this thing. Dunno about you but I can't see any at all. Seems like the sort of thing you should probably plan into any CAD design from the beginning.
    5. I need to promise some sort of reward to anyone who can decipher the point of all the shots, most of which come out in the right loop.
    6. There are like 4 diverters hidden under the chunk-hills. Not sure why any of them actually exist.
    7. Why the Whirlwind ball lock? There are plenty of other places to lock balls.
    8. You know that star triggers are difficult to clearcoat, right? And are we supposed to aim for those or what?
    9. Please explain the point of the red standup in the left outlane.
    10. I don't think you could intentionally make a single one of the shots on the left. They are ALL too narrow.
    11. I tried to BUILD this!??

    1 month later
    #8 9 months ago

    Minor changes, and I think I'm about ready to call this layout done - until I play the whitewood, that is.

    Screenshot 2019-10-04 22.00.02 (resized).png

    Two saucers on the left seemed weird. What is this, a Gottlieb ball lock? I replaced the upper saucer (behind the drop targets) with a captive ball, as really the only goal here is to drop the targets and then get inside. Once you hit the ball, the targets will reset, deflecting the game ball down into the one remaining saucer. Good enough IMO.

    The scoop above the upper right flipper has been downgraded to a saucer. No need to complicate the subway layout just to add a second way to pass the ball from the left flipper to the right.

    On the right, the shooter lane ramp is gone. I realized with my last build that it seems to add some randomness to the trajectory of the ball, which is a problem for something called a SKILL shot. Using a ramp with a curved edge was important for Undertale, because the lane feeding the upper right flipper could also be shot back the other way from the upper left flipper on that game. But with no upper left flipper, there is no need for a smooth upward shot, and thus a simple one-way gate is good enough.

    Also added a vertical light shield layer in front of the back wall, which will hang from the rear glass channel (think Whirlwind). Should tie together the back of the playfield and provide a place for some status-related lights in the space on the left.

    Tonight I just couldn't resist messing around in Photoshop to see what I could come up with for a display-worthy game logo.
    vb dmd logo dots (resized).png

    I'm liking it so far. Since I already built one game powered by standard PC components, I decided I want to challenge myself this time around, and attempt to use only a set of embedded controllers this time around. With the chips available in the present day, I'm fairly confident I can build something that is at least reminiscent of an early 90s Williams title that has been retrofit with a color DMD. To save on memory, display graphics will be limited to 8-bit buffers - 6 bits for color, bit 7 for "opaque vs. transparent" when drawing one buffer over another, and bit 8 for essentially a "color vs. fill next X pixels" instruction that will hopefully condense graphics memory usage even further. More details on this once I start prototyping the display controller!

    As mentioned in the first post, it'll be a few more months before I build anything. I have at least three games needing shop work first.

    2 months later
    #9 6 months ago

    Those of you designing games in simulators with the intent to build: Turns out, "sit on it for a few months" is a really good idea. Sometimes after playing your design for a while, it just gets old, and you realize it could be better.

    What could be better about the design I started this thread with? Well, LOTS of things. After a month or two of looking at it, I realized it didn't flow well enough, nor did the isekai-under-glass even accurately depict the environment I was trying to build.

    I did want to go 90s-retro on the display and internals on this build, but I think I'm going to need higher display quality to really present this game the way I want it. So, scratch the LED idea, we're going desktop-computer again on this.

    A brief summary of the backstory:
    - A high school is built around a dormant volcano. It's dormant. Nobody believes it will ever erupt, and nobody wants to, because it's a symbol of the school darn it.
    - Among the ordinary student body are three girls - the founders and only members of the Pseudoscience Club - with inherent magical abilities to control forces of nature - water, earth, and electricity (and, after an accident with a clock, time itself). Introductions later.
    - The volcano erupts, much to almost everyone's surprise, raining down wholesale death and destruction.
    - Time-girl pulls a "Groundhog Day" and resets time. The trio tries to warn everyone, and fails; it's dormant, why would it erupt?
    - So each of them has a plan to try to save the school from the volcano using various strategies, supplies, and magical abilities. You, as the player, are helping them make it happen.

    So between three plans and a bit of time manipulation, there are actual story-approved excuses for everything we know and love about mode-based pinball gameplay. So how does one design a playfield depicting a volcano in the middle of a school courtyard...?

    Like this.
    Screenshot 2019-12-18 10.30.55 (resized).png

    PLEASE note that the artwork is a very quick Photoshop paintbrush job done by hand with a mouse. It is in no way representative of the desired art quality and serves only as a guide to some of the colors and shapes that could be expected.

    Rule of three remains in force, and nearly all of these were intentional:
    - 3 playable balls
    - 3 jet bumpers
    - 3 wireform assemblies (if connected pairs are considered one assembly)
    - 3 blooming cherry trees in the scenery
    - 3 main characters
    - 3-bank of drop targets
    - 3-bank of standup targets
    - 3 banks of targets total (scattered thin targets will spell B-L-A-S-T)
    - 3 possible exits from the jet bumper area
    - 3 possible exits from the volcano ball lock
    - 3 flippers
    - 3 VUKs
    - 3 destinations from the shooter lane depending on pull strength
    - 3 shots that can be redirected depending on context

    This version also potentially flows MUCH better, including two ramp diverters for the shots that otherwise would be repetitive. The diverters will require some custom machining, as they are directly over the playfield slide rails.

    Not going to do anything "EXTREME AND EPIC" with the construction of this one - in fact, cabinet design will be based on the older System 11 style, shallower play area with backbox neck. With minor modifications to the depth, I was able to cram the whole playfield and all its scenery into a volume only slightly deeper than my Swords of Fury.

    The next step, before I consider trying to finalize any art or get any game-specific parts produced, will be a fully flippable whitewood. A sorely-missed step on Undertale and one I will not skip this time around.

    #10 6 months ago

    Hmm, two rough parted-out playfields next to a fresh sheet of 20-1/4" x 46" plywood. I can't imagine what's going to happen next!

    IMG_20191222_151553464.jpg
    #11 6 months ago

    A local contracting company turned out to be the perfect diagramming resource, with a large-format printer that could produce a map of playfield holes and components in one shot. My spray adhesive was dried up, apparently, but I was able to smear some wood glue over the board and get the paper to adhere that way. Definitely not a perfect laydown as I did have a few wrinkles, but for a playfield meant only to test shots, I think it's good enough.

    I will wait for it to cure (additional glue may be necessary) before I actually proceed to cut out any holes, but in the meantime I just couldn't resist placing a few components on top just to get a feel for how it will lay out. It's amazing how much bigger it is in person when you're used to looking at the design on a relatively small laptop screen.

    IMG_20191223_222207107 (resized).jpg

    3 weeks later
    #12 5 months ago

    Yes, 26 days have passed.

    Yes, I'm slow and had other things to deal with and it was cold outside.

    Yes, this game will use a 1980s Williams ball trough.

    IMG_20200119_152907490 (resized).jpg

    Definitely good to be test fitting things on an inconsequential whitewood, as I've already made a couple of modifications to the cut diagram by way of pen annotations on the paper. I can also take this opportunity to start cutting guide walls out of thin cardboard, as preparation for the laser cuts I will eventually order.

    Will double-check the flipper gap eventually, but I'm fairly certain I have it perfect this time around. A few hardware components had to be substituted due to me not having enough of them, but it's at least physical enough that I can tell what fits and what doesn't.

    #13 5 months ago

    Whitewoods made of parted out playfields never look good. Tarnished metal and yellowed rubber abound.

    That said, it's still a super cheap way of proving a build will go together as it should, and so far, this build is definitely going together as it should.

    IMG_20200120_223854937 (resized).jpg

    Ran out of the correct length of wood screw, so some of the posts are attached with drywall screws, set off with washers to avoid splitting the top of the posts.

    Basement lighting at 10:40 PM is not particularly good, but this should give you a fairly good idea how the components are laid out.

    IMG_20200120_223903871 (resized).jpg

    Once I have the basic mechs fastened down, I can hook this thing up to the transformer I have sitting on the basement floor and actually do some flippable testing!

    1 month later
    #14 4 months ago

    Wow, this thing has been sitting here for a month. Life happens, along with other annoying things like being tired or unmotivated.

    Temporary wires are in place!
    IMG_20200222_181525445 (resized).jpg

    I figured that the flippers, slingshots, and jet bumpers would be good enough for testing purposes. I have a few more mechs laying around (a ramp lifter and a VUK, in particular) that I will install in due time. Another feature I wanted to make sure to do right is the bank of drop targets, currently still depicting the Temmies from Undertale.

    IMG_20200222_152124731 (resized).jpg

    My only issue was hole size, it seems, as the mech installed quite smoothly and seems like it won't be giving me any issues to speak of.

    I assumed my heavy transformer brick would be enough to drive the game temporarily, but my assumption was incorrect. A quick voltage test gave me 53 VAC through one pair of secondary taps, and I hooked it up. When I plugged it in, I was disappointed to find that the current really wasn't there. The slingshots barely kicked, the jet bumpers could push the ball up to about an inch, and the flippers couldn't even raise all the way. This transformer has a lot of secondary taps at mains voltage, so I think it's designed mainly for isolation, with a low-current 50V for some other purpose.

    IMG_20200222_183943571 (resized).jpg

    It was nice to know I didn't horribly flub any wiring, but I still needed power to test this game. I moved the whitewood to sit alongside UT, clipped some jumper wires onto coil lugs and ground braiding, and added a snubber diode to protect this very expensive power supply.

    IMG_20200226_103855038 (resized).jpg

    Being at least somewhat safety-conscious, it was also very nice to have a fast-acting emergency shutoff by way of the coin door interlock switch, particularly when my overly sensitive slingshot switches fused together.

    Obviously, it's not much of a game when you have to operate the flippers by touching a wire to a ground plane, so I couldn't do much shot testing for now. I will probably build a temporary cabinet front, with flipper buttons, for that purpose. In the meantime, though, the bumpers were working very well, and it gave me the opportunity to see what improvements I would have to make to the courtyard area.
    IMG_20200226_091829849 (resized).jpgIMG_20200226_091803406 (resized).jpg

    My VP design tried to do some bumper micro-managing with precise rubber angles and an outside deflector. When testing this out in real life, I found that these methods were actually pretty ineffective at keeping the ball within the bumper area. With nothing to lose as far as playfield integrity, I pulled a few posts and re-mounted them in new positions, eliminating several of them in the process.

    IMG_20200226_102237472 (resized).jpg

    The post/rubber arrangement on the far left will be removed, as it will no longer be effective in that position. All told, this change removed three posts and two rubbers, which will also be a small but welcome cost savings. Whitewoods are VERY GOOD. These changes, along with a post holding a ball gate that will have to be moved 1/4" to the left, are very minor things that most people wouldn't even notice, but encountering them on a printed and cleared playfield would be a huge setback as far as looking professional.

    1 week later
    #15 4 months ago

    Big things are coming.

    No exact promises as to when.

    I really need to fix my screen recorder.

    1 week later
    #16 3 months ago

    Undertale was designed completely out of order, with a decent chunk of the software being written before the playfield was even ready for it.

    Volcano Blast! will be no different.

    Except for some well-hidden switch/lamp/coil test modes, my last build was very much lacking in the operator menu department. Not going to let that oversight happen again.

    1 week later
    #17 3 months ago

    On this warm(-ish), sunny, quarantined day, I have fought the forces of procrastination.

    Arranged a few walls out of cardboard to test shots. Cardboard doesn't hold up the best, but at least it's something. Tested out all the major shots - everything is hittable - and shot some video.

    Since I haven't planned out any scoop mechs yet, larger holes are blocked off. The shot that ends up in the shooter lane will eventually be the Hot Springs scoop. Given that I hit it twice in the video, it will be a much easier shot than the extremely frustrating Library scoop on Undertale.

    Have been making a running list of things that need to be improved on the design before it can hit a "real" playfield. Nothing major, mostly just tweaks. I did spend some quaran-time last week finishing the teardowns on the playfields pictured in post # 10, and will be taking some measurements as I noticed that my lower playfield components (apron in particular) aren't quite centered properly.

    #18 3 months ago

    This is soooo cool!

    #19 3 months ago

    Very very nice

    #20 3 months ago

    Cool project!

    #21 3 months ago

    Thanks guys!

    So, been messing with a few things to make sure they will fit as intended. Tackled a few of the notes, just a couple more minor tweaks left on the layout. Ramps have been updated with the actual "flat laser cut" style that I've decided to go with, the same basic idea used in Captain Nemo and now Legends of Valhalla.

    I learned a couple days ago that Pololu is still taking and processing orders, and that's awesome. One thing I wanted to do was go back and revise my ramps to make sure they can be physically built - and, more importantly, solidly mounted. The initial design lacked a bit of foresight:
    bad ramp (resized).jpg

    The green highlight is a valid mount point, however it does put a screw head directly underneath the guide rail, which would make it a bit inconvenient to install - if not impossible, because it'll need to be a somewhat long screw! The orange highlight is a mount point with no actual mounting post planned on the playfield, and the red highlight is a mount point that literally has nothing valid to attach it to.

    Yesterday I tweaked and reshaped the area, and moved a few posts around, to come up with this revision:
    better ramp (resized).jpg

    As long as all four mount points use low-profile machine screws to avoid interfering with the ball rolling, this should work very smoothly. Every post is either the type with a tapped screw hole in the top, or (in the case of the leftmost one) at least doesn't have rubber tension on it. This entire ramp should be able to to be removed from the playfield with only those four screws, without needing to remove anything else.

    The VP design so far is below. Note the newly designed ramp exit points at the inlanes. This should be possible with just a bit of bending/riveting/spot-welding of very simple laser-cut shapes.
    Screenshot from 2020-04-05 13-22-48 (resized).png

    And finally... operator menu adjustments are 100% implemented for now!

    2 weeks later
    #22 83 days ago

    Still making no claims about being an artist, but I've nearly finished my playfield art sketch. New design includes smoke, energy, more lava, and the hot springs episode.

    Screenshot from 2020-04-19 17-53-44.png

    Street level is nearly 100% complete as far as layout and mechanical arrangement. This game will have twin back walls - one at 42", as expected on a System 11-type playfield, and one at the back (46") to support the layout elements that extend past the main wall.

    Upper level is mostly done - just need to finalize the school building plastics, find the best place to mount each piece, and finish up some bent-metal plans for ramp guides and switch holders. The red flasher in the upper left will be mounted horizontally to the diagonal wall in the final design.

    Remaining under-playfield planning includes shape and position of custom PCBs, scoops, and VUK guides. Looking into ATMEGA328 programming - a delightfully cheap programmable chip, currently $2.08 at Mouser, full of GPIO pins. One goal will be to reduce the amount of wiring as much as possible compared with last time.

    #23 80 days ago

    Now we're getting somewhere.

    Lamp/switch/solenoid driver PCB positions.
    pcbs (resized).jpg

    Since board houses tend to (a) charge per square inch of board, and (b) print a minimum quantity of 3-5 boards, I took this into consideration. Boards are kept small and thin whenever possible, and duplicated whenever possible.

    Pictured:
    6 RGB+white lamp duo boards (trapezoids with one red dot and one white dot)
    5 single lamp boards (the little ones)
    4 double lamp boards (trapezoids in and above inlanes)
    3 lamp driver boards (credit card sized rectangles)
    3 flipper controller boards with additional lamp and switch connections (larger rectangles near flippers)
    3 linear 5-bulb lamp boards (bottom center)
    3 linear 3-bulb lamp boards (on lower target banks and leading up center ramp)
    1 curved 5-lamp board (center right)
    1 white+RGB+white lamp board (ramp entrance)
    1 extended switch board with parallel bulbs (between bumpers)
    1 solenoid driver board (top right)

    Not pictured:
    1 hub controller (will go in the empty space in the middle)
    1 cabinet driver board (will go in cabinet and handle knocker, shaker, backbox GI, and all cabinet switches)

    LEDs will be warm white, dimming incandescent-style with a bit of Arduino code that I think I've already perfected. Testing out board-to-board communication protocol next, then I will start figuring out how to program the ATMEGA328's that are sitting on my desk.

    White dots are single (white) LEDs, and red dots represent RGBs. The flipper boards have one RGB light each; the two boards that have no need for it will simply leave that component off the board, and using breakout headers, drive external lights instead.

    Also... it's hard to tell how really complex a design is, until you have a look at the solenoid table. Oh my.
    sols (resized).jpg

    #24 80 days ago

    How are you planning to handle the communication between the boards, and from the computer to the boards?

    #25 80 days ago

    Computer to hub will be through a Teensy LC's USB connection. The LC will track which devices ought to be turned on and off (USB input), and what signals come back from the switch boards (USB output).

    The hub will then communicate to and from the other boards under the playfield. The 8 boards with onboard ATMEGA chips will use a unidirectional serial connection TO the boards that drive devices (coils/lamps), and a unidirectional serial connection FROM the boards that take switch input.

    I've experimented with some custom serial communication code and came up with a system that I'm fairly certain will work well. Data can be simultaneously sent and received from any number of boards at a time, which will cut response time down to as fast as I can switch the pins without HF interference issues.

    1 week later
    #26 69 days ago

    "How can you be so SLOW?" you might be thinking. "It's quarantine time and all the other homebrew projects are coming along nicely!"

    I work for an essential business, cut me some slack!

    That said, although I AM slow, at least I'm making some progress. Pretty much finished up the plans for the left ramp framework and the diverter assembly. The diverters needed to be custom mechs because all the diverters I've found have been standard through-playfield mounted, and this isn't going to work on a game with WPC slide rails blocking that spot. I came up with a design with an overhead linkage that will lead back to standard coil brackets mounted to the backboard. Having purchased all the local hardware I could, combined with mechanical bits from the parted out boards, all that remains will be the diverter arms themselves, which will be part of my laser cut order.

    Pictured: a huge mess.

    bitmap (resized).png

    Specifically, my Inkscape workspace in which the ramp walls and diverter bracket are taking shape. Had to do quite a bit of planning to make this work, as evidenced by all the random bits and bobs used as templates and measurements. Holes are cut for rivets, zip ties for GI and switch wiring, the diverter linkage, and the J-type speed nuts that will hold the school hallway wing plastic on top. The extended-height portion on the right will serve as a shield to prevent the ball from sneaking off into no-man's land in the upper left corner of the playfield, where the building is taller.

    Tabs are sticking out for mounting the floor (standard light shield plastic) and the switch that will turn the diverter on if the ball is to be diverted. Towards the center is a bracket that will help support the right edge of the floor in a couple of places, and left of that is a structural support that can be riveted to the floor where it may be weaker. The diverter mounting bracket also includes a tab to attach the return spring, and the whole bracket can be bent in the opposite direction to assemble the diverter for the right ramp.

    1 week later
    #27 58 days ago

    New plan. Excuse the lack of art (as is expected at this point) and the blocky VUK scoop.

    Screenshot from 2020-05-13 22-04-26 (resized).png

    I know you can heat up a sheet of PETG and wrap it into a cone. You can also vacuum form it into a volcano shape - like I foreshadowed in the Undertale build thread.

    This:

    Quoted from Gornkleschnitzer:

    The thing is, in a way I do like the way the molded plastic worked, and I feel like I would be able to use it for future endeavors that don't require such specific shapes. Maybe certain mountainous structures.

    ... isn't how it is going to happen.

    Thing is, I don't have the skills or equipment necessary to construct a complex shape like that, and actually make it look good. It also would be difficult to repeat consistently, which would be a problem if I built more than one game - not impossible considering the will of the UP Pinball Collective.

    So I took a page from the Special Force book (used as an example, but many games do this) and tried forming a volcano instead out of stacked light shields. Even without artwork, it turned out surprisingly well. This method gives me much more fine-grained control over shape and height, with the added bonus that it can be assembled fresh out of the mailer from the laser cutting service with no unusual prep work.

    #28 58 days ago

    In other news, a package from Marco showed up. In addition to some hardware for repairing targets on an EM, I threw in a few random pieces that I knew I would need for VB.

    IMG_20200511_205826229 (resized).jpg

    Contents:
    - Rubber stopper grommets for ramp return drops. With these in hand, I could measure the size needed for the holes they fit into.
    - PAL nuts for flipper buttons. Why not.
    - The remaining hardware for the custom diverters. Only the laser-cut metal blades remain.
    - Start and Extra Ball buttons, in theme colors. Why not.
    - Brackets and associated parts for the left eject scoop. Just to make sure I have what I need.
    - The resistors I originally ordered wrong, required for programming my ATMEGA328 chips.
    - A VUK assembly. I can use this to mark the holes needed for the volcano and hot spring mechs, and test-fit the entrance saucer+VUK combo mech.

    #29 58 days ago

    Two mentions of laser cutting and no mention of the progress? Hmph.

    path4512-0-0-8 (resized).jpg

    As you should expect by now, it's a big mess. Fortunately, it is separated into four layers for plastics, a layer for metal, a layer for playfield holes, and a layer for all the random measurements and chopping paths and other crud that helps bring this to life. I have an ever-growing text file detailing each piece, particularly the metal walls, to help avoid forgetting those small details that don't matter until you realize you can't build it without them.

    Once the files are completed and sent off, it's time to decide whether to do art or PCBs next. Or any of the many other steps in this crazy project.

    #30 58 days ago

    What service do you use for the cutting?

    #31 58 days ago

    All the cutting for my previous build was done by Pololu. Shredder565 had good success with SendCutSend on his TAF build, so I'm somewhat on the fence as SCS seems to have pretty good prices.

    #32 58 days ago
    Quoted from Gornkleschnitzer:

    A brief summary of the backstory:
    - A high school is built around a dormant volcano. It's dormant. Nobody believes it will ever erupt, and nobody wants to, because it's a symbol of the school darn it.
    - Among the ordinary student body are three girls - the founders and only members of the Pseudoscience Club - with inherent magical abilities to control forces of nature - water, earth, and electricity (and, after an accident with a clock, time itself). Introductions later.
    - The volcano erupts, much to almost everyone's surprise, raining down wholesale death and destruction.
    - Time-girl pulls a "Groundhog Day" and resets time. The trio tries to warn everyone, and fails; it's dormant, why would it erupt?
    - So each of them has a plan to try to save the school from the volcano using various strategies, supplies, and magical abilities. You, as the player, are helping them make it happen.

    Favorited. I believe your plotline is already 90% better than most of anything else out there

    #33 53 days ago

    Planning out the metal parts has definitely been the most tedious part so far. Fortunately I've at least created a few templates for mounting tabs, light cutouts, etc. that at least help with the simpler parts like guide walls. The rest of it is more complicated stuff that needs a regular dose of measurement to get right.

    walls.jpg

    And there are ten more pieces I need to lay out after these!

    #34 48 days ago

    While planning out the subway+VUK+lock system under the volcano, I ran into a troubling conflict of mechanical footprints as I was moving the lock release into place.

    conflict (resized).jpg

    Back in the Undertale project, I would have only noticed it after attempting to mount this repurposed kickback assembly in real life, and then gone into emergency damage-control mode to try and rearrange things and make it work.

    Thankfully, I have learned a few things since then, and the footprint conflict is obvious right from the diagram. The fix for this conflict (once the mech is in its final position and angle) is a laydown GI socket with topside wire access hole, and either adjusting the position of the rollover or replacing it entirely with a rollunder gate.

    #35 47 days ago

    Whoops!

    Haha, yeah that happens to all of us (multiple friggen times). Very nice updates though, and I have to say, I'm loving the layout.

    What are you designing in? I still do all of my crap in 2D.

    Oh, also currently working with the core Allegro group to integrate KMS support on the Pi 4.

    #36 47 days ago
    Quoted from Compy:

    Very nice updates though, and I have to say, I'm loving the layout.

    Thanks! Tried to make something engaging. We'll see how it plays!

    Quoted from Compy:

    What are you designing in? I still do all of my crap in 2D.

    A fair amount of my crap is 2D as well. Inkscape is pretty much my personal sandbox, with a healthy dose of measuring real-world parts, drawing shapes at odd angles to figure out depth, and attempting to visualize 2D objects bent into 3D shapes. Learning real CAD would probably be very helpful, but now that I'm nearly done designing a second game without it, I'm not sure I would actually need it anyway.

    (It occurs to me that if I did a design that really was complicated enough to be impossible without CAD tools, it would probably also be a nightmare to construct IRL.)

    The 3D bits are done with the help of Visual Pinball, and that was a bit of a lifesaver for a few parts. New volcano in particular.

    Quoted from Compy:

    Oh, also currently working with the core Allegro group to integrate KMS support on the Pi 4.

    Nice! I might have to hit you up for Pi tips. If it's powerful enough (and I can avoid the issues I had with the 3B last time), I might drop the desktop core for the cheaper option.

    1 week later
    #37 34 days ago

    Presenting, the apron artwork.

    Definitely not inspired by any particular brand or era.

    apron (resized).png

    Plastic and metal both almost ready to send in for a laser cutting quote. Basically just trying to think of anything else I might want to put on the order. We all know I'm going to realize what else I need just a few days (if not hours) after I send in the order...

    #38 33 days ago

    I do that every single time.

    #39 31 days ago

    I just supported my local Pinball Life.
    eh not much (resized).jpg

    Yes, Marco will get plenty of love too.

    Meanwhile, I sent out a quote request with my completed cut sheets for 0.036" stainless and 0.06" PETG. Within a day or two I'll see how much that will cost, and most likely get my order placed.

    I had a large area of wasted space in the metal cut sheet, so I decided to use it to make an engraved Yooper Pinball Collective sign rather than waste the metal.
    cuts1 (resized).png

    The plan is to build a second, more playable whitewood using these components. Once everything is known to fit together as designed, the metal will be polished and reused for the full game. Plastics intended to be clear (airball shields and such) will also be reused, and the rest will be printed and cut new.

    #40 26 days ago

    What are these packages I just got in the mail!?

    IMG_20200615_203426460 (resized).jpg
    #41 25 days ago

    A bunch of stuff from PBL!

    IMG_20200615_212115362 (resized).jpg

    A few duplicates shown. Two backbox latches, two lockdown bars, a bunch of surplus leg bolts, and also a pack of EM fuses. Just saving on shipping for multiple projects and hobbyists - I'm not building two Volcano Blasts....yet?

    I showed off a similar photo when a batch of parts arrived for UT a couple years ago.

    When I showed it off at work, one acquaintance had to take a second look because he thought it was a photo of drug paraphernalia at first.

    But was he wrong, really?

    #42 23 days ago

    And the metal arrived from SendCutSend!

    IMG_20200618_203553702 (resized).jpgIMG_20200618_203603800 (resized).jpg

    Thicker than I expected. Most of Undertale's metal was from Pololu's .036" option. SCS didn't offer this thickness; they had .048 and .060. I picked .048 and am very pleased. This will definitely hold up to a ball.

    The extra whitespace didn't apply, so I ended up separating the cuts a little more and removing both the emblem and the plaque from the submitted cut sheet. Cheaper that way too. Since SCS doesn't do plastic, I ordered my PETG from Pololu, and expect that in....not too long?

    Tomorrow, it will be time for another trip to the contracting company for a print of the diagram for whitewood 2.0.

    #43 21 days ago
    Quoted from Gornkleschnitzer:

    A brief summary of the backstory:
    - A high school is built around a dormant volcano. It's dormant. Nobody believes it will ever erupt, and nobody wants to, because it's a symbol of the school darn it.
    - Among the ordinary student body are three girls - the founders and only members of the Pseudoscience Club - with inherent magical abilities to control forces of nature - water, earth, and electricity (and, after an accident with a clock, time itself). Introductions later.
    - The volcano erupts, much to almost everyone's surprise, raining down wholesale death and destruction.
    - Time-girl pulls a "Groundhog Day" and resets time. The trio tries to warn everyone, and fails; it's dormant, why would it erupt?
    - So each of them has a plan to try to save the school from the volcano using various strategies, supplies, and magical abilities. You, as the player, are helping them make it happen.
    So between three plans and a bit of time manipulation, there are actual story-approved excuses for everything we know and love about mode-based pinball gameplay.

    Okay so Weeaboo Captain Planet ends up in Groundhog Day?
    Or basically the 2nd season of TMOHS?

    How many combos must you achieve beat the Time Loop?

    #44 19 days ago
    Quoted from Isochronic_Frost:

    Or basically the 2nd season of TMOHS?

    That is a brilliant comparison that I never even thought of.
    (For the uninitiated, TMOHS = The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, starring a girl who has god powers but doesn't know it.)

    haruhi_anime.jpg

    The main difference being in this case, they know about the time loop from the beginning and are voluntarily causing it.

    Quoted from Isochronic_Frost:

    How many combos must you achieve beat the Time Loop?

    Combos are good for points, extra balls maybe, and attracting the attention of one of the girls in particular who apparently appreciates the effort of combos. You, as the player, are the unnamed visual-novel protagonist who also attends their class. It remains to be decided whether you have eyes. Canonically, there could have been any number of time loops between morning and apocalypse, but the game will depict three, one for each anti-volcano plan.

    There are four steps to each plan. I'm weighing the pros and cons of letting the player play any step vs doing it only in sequence. I might make it an operator menu adjustment and see what people enjoy more:
    Screenshot from 2020-06-21 22-59-29.png

    Friday I took another trip to the contractor's office.
    IMG_20200620_151659193.jpg

    And picked up two pounds of 1/2" hex-head screws at work.
    IMG_20200620_153626262.jpg

    And it's show time.
    IMG_20200621_164711607.jpg

    I have already discovered a small handful of pieces that will have to be re-drilled if I'm going to get them to fit - and one very large and expensive piece that is so horribly measured, apparently, that I'm going to have to redesign it and have it re-cut. Yay.

    #45 17 days ago

    Okay, so here's the scoop.

    IMG_20200623_193106298 (resized).jpg

    And another!
    I'm happy about the fact that this is one single piece, no fasteners or welding necessary.

    IMG_20200623_221725364 (resized).jpg

    Now for the actual "scoop." Priority right now is going to be getting all the metal pieces finished and installed, so I can confirm if everything fits or if anything else needs to be re-ordered. But in the meantime, things are looking pretty good.

    Diverter brackets:
    IMG_20200623_221901255 (resized).jpg

    Subway tunnels:
    IMG_20200623_221922240 (resized).jpg

    Anything sticking below the surface will have to wait until I can depopulate the playfield and cut out the necessary holes. I felt it best to leave everything as a solid board at first, just so that all the printed lines are intact and I know where everything needs to install.

    Looking over the topside parts, I'm going to have to give tonight's work a rating of not-too-shabby out of 10.
    pf (resized).jpg

    #46 17 days ago

    If all you are using for the bends is the tools in the pics it way beyond not too shabby. Amazing work.

    #47 17 days ago
    Quoted from SickNate:

    If all you are using for the bends is the tools in the pics it way beyond not too shabby. Amazing work.

    Thanks!

    I do have a few things not pictured, but nothing especially high-end:

    - Bench vise
    - Really small rivet clamp that only works for one or two of the rivets in the design
    - Center punch for applying all the rest of the rivets
    - Drill press, used so far to undo a rivet that shouldn't have been
    - Two pieces of angle iron, mostly used as an extension of the vise but also used as a somewhat-effective-but-very-inconvenient bending brake when I was desperate
    - Increasingly tattered rag used to avoid damaging the surfaces too much in the vise
    - Bench grinder that will eventually be used to finish edges and shine up surfaces

    #48 16 days ago

    Rail bending in action on the Vise Extender (TM) a.k.a. two thin angle irons.
    IMG_20200624_174059476 (resized).jpg

    Not a one-size-fits-all solution to these wildly inconsistent pieces, but for the volcano VUK scoop in particular, it was perfect.
    IMG_20200624_181245_01 (resized).jpg

    I might run some rivets into those holes at the top to make it look like they're meant to be. The brace bends over and rivets to the other side, but a couple of stray rivet holes made it into the design on the bend-only side. That said, I might wait until it's in a cabinet and see how much vertical leeway I have - those holes might be a good place for brackets for a "smoke and ash" plastic over the volcano crater.

    In the home stretch as far as the metal, with just a few pieces to bend. These scoops copied the design from UT (before I thought to model a one-piece scoop as shown in an earlier post) and went together just as easily, which is to say getting the tabs to fit smoothly was very frustrating! Pictured: The scoops cooling down on the concrete floor after being spot-welded.
    IMG_20200624_221115035 (resized).jpg

    The rear scoop is the left eject, with a cutout for the subway from the volcano. The front scoop is the volcano tunnel, with an opening for the "nonviolent" lock release in the volcano. The scoops are not identical; the left eject scoop is deeper by around 3/8 inch.

    #49 11 days ago

    You know what's really tedious and not at all fun?

    IMG_20200628_135708654 (resized).jpg
    Constructing a System 11-era pinball cabinet without a table saw.
    Also, constructing a pinball cabinet with a circular saw which itself is from the System 11 era, and which can no longer cut straight.

    Called it quits for tonight after I badly mismeasured the two sides of the neck, cutting one too large and one too small.

    On the other hand, most of my pieces are cut, and more or less decently squared off. Cabinet sides, backbox sides, cab front, cab bottom, b'box top/bottom, two backbox shelf pieces to be adhered together, backglass lock trim, and the front and back of the neck box. Remaining parts are the two sides of the neck, backbox rear panel, speaker panel, and perhaps some internal bracing.

    IMG_20200628_163034829 (resized).jpg
    The rails are the 51-5/8 version as used in Bally cabinets post-1988 until they switched to the WPC-style cabinet design. Perfect fit so far. Finally bought myself a router, so now I don't have to find and borrow someone else's in order to join the corners and install glass channel.

    And the plastic arrived from Pololu! Still has the cloudy protective coating, but that just makes it easier to see how the shapes turned out. Although I don't have the spacers installed yet to give it proper depth, post #27 has now crossed into the physical realm:
    IMG_20200629_173731989 (resized).jpg

    #50 6 days ago

    Front panel is cut!
    IMG_20200705_091857606 (resized).jpg
    The plunger hole was cut after the photo was taken, and confirmed to fit.

    Stages of cabinet construction are planned as follows:
    1. Cutting.
    2. Routing.
    3. Drilling.
    4. Assembly.
    5. Sanding/filling.
    6. Prep and paint.
    7. Decals and trim.

    Step two is done, three is in progress.

    So far, everything seems to be fitting together PERFEC---
    oh bollocks.
    IMG_20200705_113814159 (resized).jpg

    Yep, left a space on the plan to make sure the slide rail brackets wouldn't interfere with the playfield mechs, but just conveniently forgot that oh, there are also pegs sticking out of the cabinet that you also have to avoid.

    A bit of hacksawing and wire-wheeling followed this realization.
    IMG_20200705_122416362 (resized).jpg

    Although it won't be quite as convenient to install now, shortening the nut does indeed make everything fit together as intended.
    IMG_20200705_122758979 (resized).jpg

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