Zizzle POTC pinball mod using Arduino microcontroller...

(Topic ID: 97587)

Zizzle POTC pinball mod using Arduino microcontroller...

By MoSeS_1592

3 years ago

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  • Latest reply 8 months ago by MoSeS_1592
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    #1 3 years ago

    Hey all,

    I wanted to share the mods I made to my Zizzle POTC machine. I want to thank Mocean on this forum for the brilliant idea of using an Arduino micro controller to power the coils in the machine. Part of the reason I did this mod was to protect the PCB from any high-voltage responsibilities. I have another Zizzle that has what appears to be a fried voltage regulator/PWM IC and I have a feeling that somehow something in the 24V circuit got shorted to the lower voltage logic portion (5V?) of the PCB and toasted everything. I also noticed that the playfield LED’s and LCD backlight flicker and dim when coils are fired, and I assume that the constant voltage fluctuations are not good for the PCB in the long run. As I don’t want to risk frying another very hard to replace PCB, I want to do everything I can to protect it.

    With that in mind, my goal was to completely isolate and remove the 24V circuit from the PCB and have it powered by its own, separate and isolated 24V power supply. The plan was to use the Arduino to control the four coils completely independent of the machines PCB or main power supply. I decided to use the Arduino ‘Leonardo’ board since it had more interrupts (five total) then the standard ‘Uno’ board, and I figured this would make coding a lot easier. After a lot of soldering and coding I have everything working perfectly. Aside from what I mentioned above I made several other mods to the machine as well and will list them, along with photos, below:

    - Added illuminated power switch on front of cabinet. Switch in rear has been removed.
    - Added a 6-outlet surge protector inside of machine for GI, USB, 9V, and 24V power supplies.
    - Added authentic arcade buttons for flippers and disabled the faulty stock buttons.
    - Added a 5V and 9V GI circuit. The 5V circuit powers #44-style pinball LED’s and bayonet bulb sockets were added to playfield in selected areas. The 9V circuit powers the LED strip and bar lighting on the playfield. It also powers the two flasher lights added to the playfield (described below and in photos).
    - Added two flashers to playfield that pulse when pop bumpers and slingshots fire. Also fires periodically during attract mode (thanks to Arduino). The flasher bulbs are actually #44 6.3V incandescent bulbs over-powered to 9V so they are very bright. They are only on for fractions of a second so they should last a very long time. These are controlled by microswitches that are mounted and mechanically triggered by the pop/sling coils (or Arduino relays in attract mode).
    - Added LED strobe light over the Cannibal Island target (see photo) that strobes red/green/blue for 10 seconds when target is hit. This too is controlled by a microswitch attached to the target under the playfield and is powered by one of the three 5V 1-amp USB chargers inside of the machine.
    - Arduino code simulates end-of-stroke switch on flipper coils… Flippers triggers at full force (24V) for 200ms then voltage drops 60% (using PWM) while flipper is being held. This avoids the coil from burning out if the player holds the flipper button in for a long period of time. From what I read coil damage happens a lot on these pins.
    - Pop and sling coils pulse and are not held “ON” when their switch is activated, thereby removing the risk of a coil getting stuck on if a switch gets jammed.
    - Arduino monitors for idle activity. If a game has been started and 3 minutes pass with no activity, the code triggers a relay that activates the end-of-ball switch several times to put the game back into game-over mode.
    - When the machine is in game-over mode, all coils and flipper buttons are disabled. The start button on the front of the machine is now only connected to the Arduino, and when it is pressed the Arduino triggers a relay to activate the start-switch circuit to the PCB. This way the Arduino knows when to re-activate coils/buttons for game play.
    - Furthermore, when in game-over mode, the Arduino, via relays, periodically on roughly 3-minute cycles, activates attract-mode events where flashers and LED strobe light flash in three different pattern sequences.
    - Toys and props added to playfield to enhance esthetics. (see photos).
    - Added center bumper post between flippers since ball drains so easily down the middle.
    - Added bumper posts to side drains to shorten width of the drain since ball drains so easily.
    - Used small 1/2” X ¼” self-adhesive velcro strip on playfield between rollover lanes to act as a ‘speed bump’ to increase the odds of the ball falling into one of the lanes. Anyone who has played these knows it is very, very difficult to get the ball to go through these lanes, as there is no skill shot possible to make it happen.

    All of the materials for this project ran just under $50 and I purchased all of it on Ebay. I used three USB wall chargers (each cost $2) inside the machine to power the GI and Arduino. I mounted a second, standalone 24V power supply used solely for the coils. This plugs directly into the home-made circuit board I constructed to interface the Arduino to the rest of the machine. I mounted two strips of header pins on my homebrew board that line up exactly with the females on the Arduino, so it plugs directly into it (see photo). As you can see by the photos the four JST-style coil connectors now plug into my new homebrew circuit board and no longer into the main PCB. In fact, the flipper/pop/sling switches are no longer connected to the main PCB either, so a 24V request is never even sent to the PCB. The flippers/pop/slings and their respective switches work even with the main PCB completely unpowered and disconnected from the machine.

    Hope you like my mod. If you have any questions or would like to see the code, pinouts, wiring specifics, etc, just let me know.

    Lastly, I was able to find and order 2, 5, 6, and 7 – pin JST connectors through Ebay. These, along with a standard IDE ribbon for the LCD display are all of the connectors the main PCB uses. With these connectors it’d be pretty easy to whip up a small homebrew interface board for literally all of the wiring harnesses these machines use. Since coding libraries exist that allow multiple Arduino boards to communicate serially, it’d be theoretically possible to use one board to control coils (as I did in the above project), one to control an LED matrix for all of the playfield lights, one to handle a switch matrix and logic, and one to control the LCD display (with the help of pre-written libraries) and a sound board. This would work nicely since the ‘Uno’ boards have 20 I/O’s each and the Zizzle’s have less than 20 switches and playfield lights. In theory this would allow for programming of a completely new rule set if desired, a dip switch for multiple selectable gameplay rules, and an open source way to have a rom, along with cheap, readily available, non-proprietary hardware to restore and maintain non-working machines as they age and the non-repairable, proprietary PCB electronics eventually and inevitably fail. In all likelihood I doubt I’ll have time to take it this far, but it is food for thought, and I’ll share any further progress I make while messing around with it.



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    #2 3 years ago

    Beautiful work on this. I have another project with my students that uses Arduino to read the switch matrix on a Brunswick Aspen. No reason that we couldn't read the switch matrix on the zizzle, except that's diving full into abandoning the current /software/ (rule set) that is really quite excellent on the zizzle machines.

    The extent to which you really polished this to completion is outstanding. This could resurrect most dead Zizzles since the driver circuit is typically what fails. The lack of a replacement coil is a bit problematic.

    Finally , you could use this to finally replace the coils with "beefier" coils as many used to discuss. These are now on a separate power supply and old stern gen 1 coils and assemblies were 24v? If not the Aspen certainly uses old Stern gen1 flipper assemblies and only a 24v (maybe 28v?) power supply. I guess my point is that if someone needed to replace the flippers in the absence of suitable replacement coils it might be possible to upgrade the assemblies and the coils.

    Man, this is great work!

    #3 3 years ago

    Thanks! I thought I read a post a long while back in some other random forum that someone found the manufacturer or some distributor in china that had the coils (or compatible ones) for the Zizzles. If I come across it again I'll post a link to it.

    I thought about beefing up the flippers with new coils but my concern was too much power given to the ball might start breaking some of the toy-grade plastics or start to strip/chip/break the pressed particle board-type cardboard/wood used for the playfield, not nearly as sturdy as a solid wood playfield.

    I purchased a junker POTC for backup parts that didn't work. It must have been stored in a hot attic or wet basement because just the force of the rubber ring around the posts (the ones by the pop bumpers) had partially pulled the posts out of the playfield and closer together and damaged the playfield. I would love to replace the cheap-o stock rubbers with real ones but I'm worried that too much elastic force on the posts will eventually damage the playfield. Do you know of anyone who has tried this or have another source of good replacement rubbers that fit the Zizzle machines? My main goal is preservation and I don't want to make any mods that may potentially damage the machine in a few months/years.


    #4 3 years ago

    they sure can glitch to burn down popcap coils, I've fixed 2 of em for that same reason, my own needing a DC-DC relay to control the solenoid, so popcaps no longer score points isnt a big deal, it still helps get top rollthru's.
    when I disassembled popcaps, one of the clear cores was pretty cracked up. crazyglue and a longer screw made it solid again, then added a polycarbonate or lexan rounded triangle to their tops so they all share the impact-load.
    (a pain to trim for the bottom one being under the right ramp having a switch there)

    the slingshots were trying to recoil fire, solved with light rubberbands so the arms wouldnt bounce-trigger.

    a mod for stock that might be a good one is flipper EOS switches and resistors to shunt power away from their single coils when holding the ball so coils dont warm up, or resistors warming up to rob flippers of power.
    bad idea to hold the ball any longer than necessary with stock setup, your arduino solution a real nice one but maybe more complicated than most people can do, so EOS switches maybe worth a mention for those.

    I got a little more forward hit power using the old stock flipper button springs as flipper solenoid returns, theyre lighter and dont 'clunk' like the stock return springs did. totally agree too much power is likely to start breaking hard to find pf plastics. a little more hit can be gotten from stock ones with that simple spring swap, costs nothing.
    (almost nothing anyway, the reliable arcade buttons arent spendy.)

    hadnt really noticed dimming for solenoids being triggered, but I'd also replaced stock power supply with 24v 3.75a unit is about 3v better and 1.5x available current. LED's are supposed to dim some with flipper hits and cannon sound(?).. I wouldnt think it a power problem really, same time definitely agree voltage drops through its sensitive little brain could do bad things to it pretty quickly. without modes to try for it'd sure be boring gameplay.

    that traingle between center standup and popcaps, I used a standard black flipper band is thicker than the stock band there, helps keep the ball up there a little better and doesnt put a bunch of tension on those posts. on my friends heroes vs villians we used blue gel bracelets as slingshot rubbers, and on the lower right island triangle at the top of the shooter lane, looks cool and theyre not overly tight. another candidate might be Scuncii hair ties stacked up, theyre very stretchy VERY bouncy silicone rings, lots of colors to play with too.

    your extra pf lighting.. NICE!, works well with your Mark2. btw, theres just enough room in the very bottom of the popcaps (between X and round) for a 5mm LED. I used slow-fast fade-blink 7 color changing ones there, they liven it up a bunch. its drilling wire size holes for the LED's legs and a little crazyglue, wiring flattened out to miss the mechanicals. I got like 100 of those LED's if you want a few. theyre also good for making mini-strobes, just series wire 3 ultra-bright whites with em and they'll do random slow on-off and fast strobing.

    mine a Mark1 "dead mans chest" darker pf, had to add in LED's under slingshots and other places too for sure. right now its 3 blue LED strips at the skirt, going to replace one of those with a white or yellow one soon for still being too dark.

    #5 3 years ago

    Nice work it looks really night and day from regular zizzle.
    Agree with comment above pops locking on is an issue with these little tables.

    #6 3 years ago

    Hilarious that you also own a spare Zizzle. Sounds like everyone who has one also has a broken one in reserve. As it stands, my "spare, for parts" would be made fully working by your Arduino coil build.

    I find it interesting that you chose to use interrupts instead of just polling the switches in the regular game loop. I bet that would be "good enough" though you've made it very clear in the quality and thorough nature of your solution that you weren't going for good enough! I suppose you're right that strengthening the flippers (either via coil or mechanically strengthened by increased leverage of a new assembly) could damage the machine. I worry less about the plastics, but your point that they could be torn out of the cardboard/mdf playfield is well taken.

    I've toyed with the idea of turning the Brunswick Aspen into a scaled up version of the zizzle PotC (by recreating the playfield layout). I've also toyed with just selling off my Zizzles...

    #7 3 years ago
    Quoted from MoSeS_1592:

    Hope you like my mod. If you have any questions or would like to see the code, pinouts, wiring specifics, etc, just let me know.

    Great write up MoSeS. I have a Zizzle PotC G1 sitting around that I would love to do your Arduino mod to. Could you post your code and wiring specifics in more detail? That would be great.

    #8 3 years ago

    I will say that in retrospect it would probably have been just as easy to poll versus using interrupts. I thought it would be easier, and the code does use a combination of both polling and interrupts, but after actually doing it I think strictly polling would have been just fine.

    I will write up a list of what components i used on the homebrew board to interfae the Arduino and post it when i get a chance, along with the pins used for each component so it is compatible with the code. Same goes for the code... towards the end it got a bit sloppy, i need to clean it up and add necessary comments and i'll post it.


    #9 3 years ago


    I love the idea of adding lights to the popcaps! I thought about doing this but didnt realize there was room in one to stuff an LED in. I will definitily do this mod. I'd love to get a few of those color change LED's if you have a few extra.



    #10 3 years ago

    Hi Brian,

    If you want to generate some wiring diagrams and "cute graphics" of arduino boards I'd highly recommend Fritzing.

    #11 3 years ago

    Yeah Ive heard a few people mention that Fritzing program before but I've never used it. I'll give it a shot this weekend and try to make some fancy diagrams to post.


    #12 3 years ago

    no prob MoSeS, PM me your address I'll mail you some. wired series they'll color change more in step, parallel they'll do their thing independantly of each other looks cooler I think. you might have the 3rd zizzle on the planet with slow-fast-fade-blink-color-changing LED's in the popcaps if you install em real quick..
    tight fit but they go right through the floor pointing straight up, one in each lights them up great.

    somewheres in ebay I found a potc skull and crossed swords for a topper, playing with resistors I put yellow LED's in its eyes, got them randomly dim blink flashing with the voltage pulses from the color changers looks very cool.

    I put 2 superbright whites behind one, 2 strings like that, into Saitek F1 Super Challenge (same as Route 66?) about 8" apart for 2 random slow-fast strobe lights, really animates the pf with lights and shadows. a color changer aimed at a sign target got the lettering pulsing, other aimed at pf art does a little color popping stuff too but less noticeable for white strobes. the giant toy pinball is actually a fun one with good flow, dont pass if you see one working for sale for cheap. 16 LED's later its looking pretty awesome here. EL wired its long clear ramp too. simpler gameplay than a zizzle and lots faster-meaner, you can earn up to 3 extra balls on it too.

    #13 3 years ago

    I just youtube'd some clips of the Saitek pins and they look cool! Are the flippers coil-powered in those? You've got me thinking now, if I can find one cheap I may have to pick one up and mess around with it. Does the F14 game have a rule set that is more in-depth than simply 'hit random target and earn point'? Like, hit targets in order to light letters, activate jackpot, attain jackpot, etc.?

    When I have time I'll take some pics of my Marvel Heroes machine and post them here. This one is NOT my "spare" pieces/parts machine, it is another one I made several lighting mods to. In addition to lighting mods, I gutted a plastic ramp from one of those tabletop spiderman toy pin's and retrofit it into the Zizzle, essentially adding a mini third ramp to the game. The ramp allows the ball to go up and over the pop bumper triangle and drops the ball so the pops knock it around, thereby increasing the chance of the ball getting knocked up into the difficult-to-hit rollover lanes, and is reached by shooting from the left flipper. I also added two flasher lights as toppers on the backbox that flash when the pop bumpers are triggered, and a (real) neon bar on the back of the playfield as GI.

    #14 3 years ago

    Marvel Heroes mods. As I mentioned in my last post the new ramp is visible. I thought a good idea for the future might be to add a target at the top of the new ramp to take the place of the rollover lane targets, and just connect the rollover lane switches to one of the flipper lane switches strictly to score points. I outlined the edges of the ramps in black to make them stand out more and used a little tripod LED mount thingy (I picked up at walmart in the auto accessories isle) over the spinner. In this machine I also added a 6V DC circuit to power four incandescent #44 bulbs along the playfield. The neon blue along with the bright GI LED's seemed a bit too 'vibrant', so the natural, softer light from the incandescent bulbs offsets this very nicely.

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    #15 3 years ago

    *** Fyi, no Arduino mod in the Marvel pin (yet!).

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    #16 3 years ago

    Marvel looks pretty great with those light mods. One of things that I don't really like on these zizzles is how small the LCD screen is for the score display. What kind of options do you think are available for a bigger score display? Could you just a bigger display and wire it up somehow?

    #17 3 years ago


    That is a great idea. My knowledge on LCD interface is next to nothing, although from what I read there is a pretty much universal controller chip/ form factor that almost every basic LCD display uses, and I assume the Zizzle's use it as well. I know there are pre-written code libraries to interface Arduino's to LCD displays too. That being the case I imagine it'd be theoretically possible to swap in a larger, fancier (9-segment i think?) display. Or if an Arduino could detect a request for a specific digit from the Zizzle's PCB, it could take the request and output it to a controller chip for a customizable, graphical, dot-matrix display. If you could interface this then the sky's the limit. Probably a lot of coding needed for this though!

    #18 3 years ago

    Saitek F1 Super Challenge, the only thing thats not boneheaded hit stuff score points is the top right rollthru spinner, going through it 4 times gets you an extra ball, 8 or 12 times for 2 or 3 extra ball, 3 being max pretty sure.. but the music is an ok loop and the sound effects on targets and other switches are entertaining enough. pretty sure its the same guts and layout as "Route 66", you can find em for about 50 bucks sometimes.

    about the LED's, 2 teeny wire size holes for their legs and lock em in with crazyglue, not a lot of room but doable.

    Super Heroes looking pretty good there, just picked up installed zizzlinger marvel charachters for my friends 2 weeks ago, venom over the venom ramp, mystique over her ramp, and 4 other charachters scattered around so dr doom isnt lonely or something. was a little fun wire size drilling for stainless wire and Z bends (have bender) for ball clearance, bending eyelets for post top screws etc. the replacement board had whisper quiet sounds so I just hooked up a little Lepai amp to it and a 6" speaker into the bottom cover, its pretty LOUD now.

    el cheepo-depot solution for teeny zizzle scoring display.. fresnel lens magnifier will low tech fix that real quick lol.

    one thing zizzle shouldda done for sure, earn a credit for every time wizard mode arrows get knocked out 3 times.
    it doesnt have a game credit routine, and a loud knocker sound to just mimic earned games wouldda been nice.
    I have a couple simple mods in mind that wouldnt have anything to do with its little brain, upcoming soon when I get the simple wiring circuits sorted for em, wait and see type things to make em a little more realish..

    #19 3 years ago

    Here is the code I wrote for this project. I added some comments to the code, hopefully enough that you can make sense of it. I can add more or answer specific questions if anyone needs. The code is confusing because most of the events have to be timed simultaneously in loop() without using the 'delay()' function or else the code will hang and things don't work. So there are several if/then/while's to check for things like, "if flipper already triggered and has been triggered for more than 200ms, then use PWM to drop voltage (eos) until button is no longer pressed. I found that even a 50ms delay() will make the flippers/slings not fire on time and make the game control sloppy and virtually unplayable.

    Some of the code is probably redundant and i'm certain this could be very streamlined by an avid programmer. For what it is meant to do though, as far as i can tell so far it has worked flawlessly in my machine. I'll provide a Fritzing circuit diagram when I get a chance to make it. Also, I used the "Ywrobot" 4-relay board I bought on Ebay for i think $7 (see in photos).

    I had to zip the code file because the forum won't allow me to upload a file with a ".ino" or ".txt" extension. I inserted a plain text version of the code too so you can view it without the compiler.

    [attachment=1788111,] // Error: Image 261983 not found //
    #20 3 years ago

    Here they are.

    #21 3 years ago

    Here is the code. I'm not sure if the forum will let me attach this. If not I can email it to anyone who wants it, just let me know.


    #22 3 years ago

    I'm trying to make a simple game from an arduino. Any chance you could help with the code? It's basically the simple 5 light game, hit the middle light and it speeds up etc... until you hit any other light then the game is over. I want to add some sounds but I am not good with writing code, I just picked up a kit for the arduino and am slowly learning but some help would be ideal.

    #23 3 years ago

    Here is the basic wiring for the controller I made. At some point I’ll try to post a Fritzing diagram that’s a bit more specific but that Fritzing software seems pretty involved and I have to learn how to use it.

    The diagrams shows single examples of how each switch, transistor, and coil are connected to the Arduino. It should be pretty easy to extrapolate how to repeat this multiple times on a breadboard. Please keep in mind I pulled these diagrams from Google and modified them a bit. The diagrams show examples on an UNO board but it makes no difference here.

    For the relay board it is self-explanatory. The board was designed to be used with Arduino, and there are 4 input pins, along with Vcc/Gnd that connect directly with the 5V, Gnd, and I/O pins on the Arduino. No external power needed. The relay board already has screw-type wiring harnesses to connect the relays to their outputs.

    Parts list:

    Arduino – Leonardo Microcontroller
    TIP102 transistors X 4
    2k-Ohm resistors X 4
    10k-Ohm resistors X 4
    1N4007 rectifier diode X 4
    JST 2.5 XH 2-Pin Female Connector Plug X 4
    JST 2-wire RC battery plug male and female connectors
    Female and Male Pin 2.54mm headers
    ‘Ywrobot’ four-relay Relay board
    24-guague speaker wire
    gray/blue/orange electrical caps
    zip ties
    hot glue
    USB 1-amp wall chargers X 3
    6-outlet surge protector
    Mini microswitch (normal/open/close) X 3
    USB cables (one for Arduino and two for GI)
    An additional 24v power supply
    Bayonet bulb sockets
    #44 incandescent bulbs and pinball LED’s
    9V DC power supply
    Arcade buttons
    12 LED strip/bar lighting as desired
    LED strober * * (see note)

    Side notes:

    ** The LED strober actually came out of a disposable peel-and-stick shirt sticker that said “AWESOME!” haha, and flashed when the sticker was pressed. I found a 2-pack at a gas station for 50-cents, so you’re on your own with this one. I removed the sticker and pulled out the guts. It used two tiny 3V watch batteries in serial at 6V, so it works just fine on a 5V DC USB-driven power supply J

    The DC power input socket glued on the bottom of the homebrew board is the one from the back of the pinball machine.

    I used a 15-foot extension cord for the main power cord for the machine. Inside the machine it is connected directly to the surge protector (which I cut the plug off of) and the illuminated power switch on the front of the machine.

    For all under-playfield wiring mods I used the two-wire red JST RC battery plug connectors. This way, if desired, I can completely rewire the game back to its original configuration simply by switching the labeled connectors around.

    To make quick work of the wiring mods I shot hot glue (with a glue gun) into the electrical caps and pressed them over the solder connections on the wires. That way there is no chance of them coming off, and it is very difficult to screw these caps on the thin gauge wires without breaking the wires, and the glue eliminates the need for this.

    Coil.jpg Switch.jpg
    #24 3 years ago


    Let me see your code and I'll see if i can help. I've only been doing Arduino code for a month or so solely for this project, so I may not be much help, but I'd be happy to take a look. You may also want to ask for assistance on the Ardruino (http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?action=forum) forum. They can probably help you tremendously.

    #25 3 years ago

    Thanks. I'll jump on that forum and see if I can learn a thing or two.

    #26 3 years ago

    lol I still cant manage to upload pics here.. it drag drops opens new window showing it then POOF!!
    youtube user 'elosavilla' inspired what I did to the F1 Saitek, some similar some different with LED's, and EL wired the whole big clear plastic ramp. nope.. the flippers are mechanical-manual not solenoid driven, I dropped in some softer springs for them to work easier. had thoughts about adding flipper solenoids but it'd remove the manual control feel and add something possible failure needing another power supply. the 3 (eeek!) spring bumpers got red-blue blinking LED's into their bases under the mini incandescents so theyre always flashing, and flash top-bottom when playing. during gameplay with everything (stock and added) lit, its VERY busy visually. it just has the 2 spin bumpers but they get things moving fast, lots faster than the zizzle, so its kinda more fun playing, "dumber" or not. looks identical to their "Route 66" just different artwork. it'll do 1-2 player games, kinda gotta watch the indicator because a no score ball is a redo-freebie.

    #27 3 years ago
    Quoted from Mocean:

    I've toyed with the idea of turning the Brunswick Aspen into a scaled up version of the zizzle PotC (by recreating the playfield layout).

    Interesting idea. I think that would be a good venture to try.

    #28 3 years ago


    The Saitek's still sound cool enough that I'm gonna try to get my hands on one. Funny you mention EL wire, I used some of that to trace the rim of the solar ramp in my PinBot machine. Great minds apparently think alike . I ordered some new EL wire on ebay about a month ago, it's called 'chasing EL wire' because it is animated. Looks really cool! I plan to upgrade the EL wire in my PinBot to this and add a switch to the visor so every time it opens the animation pattern changes a little.

    Check it out here:

    Lastly, with uploading photos to the forum I had the same problem with photo uploads where it would upload then disappear. I noticed that when I changed the file name to include NO spaces, numbers/letters only, that fixed it. Only worked for images, didn't work for the zip/txt/ino files.

    I'd love to see some pics of your Saitek if you get image uploads working!

    #29 3 years ago

    heck, I'd like to show the toys but the files werent anything but letters and numbers, no spaces etc. for them to show up right, it'd take a pretty light sensitive video camera or phone to catch all the light-color-shadows at play, I'm pretty good with transcoding video with brightness-hue-saturation-contrast etc. but the source file has to have some quality to begin with (I'm saying video would be lots better than snapshots for this). yeah for a giant TOY, the Saitek is really pretty good (but simplistic) gameplay. a few bits of 1/16" adhesive back dense foam tape here-n-there to help some bounce at outlanes, in-out dividers, tops of (eeek!) "springshots" helped. the springs are really bouncy but cant compare with active slings.

    the link for the animated type EL wire didnt show up, the little ones I'd picked up only do on, slow or fast blink, off. nice thing about those cheepos, expose em to 9-10v for a bit and their controller gets locked ON (twice here now) so theres no messing with the control button after zappin em.

    simple-cool effect. 1-2 red LED's inside the mainbox an inch above the tops of the slingshots, from the sides aimed down to bottom cover "floor", now the target indicators glow a soft red when not flashing or lit solid blue. folding a sheet of paper to make a trough across ( /\______/\_ ) making it a little brighter and containing it from the other inserts. if ya hate it, undo.

    3 weeks later
    #30 3 years ago

    Hey all,

    Just a heads up, I made a new mod to this machine that involves a servo to divert the ball on the ramp and create a new timer shot for the game. Check out the “Zizzle ¾ Pinball – Servo Ramp mod” topic on this forum.

    I also made a YouTube video that shows all of the mods I made to this machine. The video is at:

    if the embedded video didn't work the URL is:



    #31 3 years ago

    lookin pretty good now MoSeS, can see you did the popcap LED's parallel, in series they like to all fade blink together simultaneously instead of independantly and random. been so busy with electric boat upgrading I hadnt got back to tinkering the (TOY!) machines more. last I'd done is white yellow blue LED strips to the apron, makes the lower pf graphics pop more, and the ring of 4 blue LED's from under the chest's pedestal. been thinking about a couple lines of red LED's from under the slings would be a cool easy-lazy do.

    #32 3 years ago

    Yeah those color fading LED's really enhance the pf and make it appear more active. As you can probably see I used one above the servo too in order to indicate the arm is down and timer had been started.

    Thanks again for those LED's!

    #33 3 years ago

    no prob.. they were ebay or amazon, like 100 for 5 bucks and lots neater than I expected. think i described what else theyre kinda fun for, one of those in series to 3 ultrabright white, 2 strings like that makes a helluva random pf strobe. they also (with resistors) drive the 2 yellow LED's in my skull topper eye sockets to rarely randomly blink, and the yellow LED's in the rollthru dividers are always on but theyre also pulsing.. all just playing with resistors coming off the popcap LED's to other little strings till I saw what I liked.

    #34 3 years ago

    Hey all,

    For anyone interested I created a thread called “PinBot Mods” showing all of the similar mods I recently made to my Pin Bot machine.


    2 years later
    #35 1 year ago

    Already have stripped off all the original elektronics of my sizzle clone. Used your sketch and modified it a little. I have one arduino for powering the coils (works nice without interrupts) and a second one for led's,sound and display. Used the chance and made a Full-RGB-Led mod. Firing coils, sound and led's already working, next is adding a 14 segment score display. Got a short vid about led's here:

    20161020_222306 (resized).jpg

    20161020_222246 (resized).jpg

    2016-10-21 08.11.22 (resized).jpg

    2 months later
    #36 1 year ago

    Excellent work so far! The video doesnt seem to be working though. Its a crazy coincidence but I am currently modding a star galaxy as well. Been looking for one for a few years now and finally picked one up off of craigslist. In this machine I'm using an UNO board to control the coils. Since there is no real rule set for this machine I added my own LED's and three Star Wars micro machines ships attached to three servos which are controlled by an additional UNO board. I will be using a MEGA board for the logic ruleset and lighting. I used a 12v relay in place of the playfield spinner circuit. This essentially acts as a switch to let the driver UNO know the game is in-play and to stop functioning while in game-over mode. If you noticed the rollover lane sounds are a direct rip-off from Star Wars so I have the arduino trigger that switch in conjunction with the ship moving via the servo. This way the ships have 'shooting' sound effects while they move.

    Can you double check the video you posted? I would love to see it.

    I'll post some pics of my lighting and servo mods soon. Please keep me updated on any progress you're making with this project. I'm very interested to see what you come up with.


    #37 1 year ago

    Sorry, video was removed. But i added i new one! check it out!

    Still prototyping, so the 14 segment display is just put on the table, but nice demonstration of sound and led-animations though.

    Look at the pictures of installed topper...

    Currently playing with some Star Trek, ACDC und Ghostbusters themes!
    Currently Sound is provided by 2 Df player modules, one for music and 2nd for sfx (serial contolled by arduino)

    I also own a second Star Galaxy for spare

    01477766380274 (resized).jpg

    20161023_181257 (resized).jpg

    20161023_181228 (resized).jpg

    1 week later
    #38 1 year ago

    That is freakin' awesome so far!!! I love the Ghostbusters and ACDC idea. Just curious, I assume you added additional under-playfield LED mounts from your 'backup' star galaxy machine to replace some of the original LED's that were built directly on to the PCB's you gutted? I thought some of the LED's were directly soldered to the top of that driver board that sits right in the middle of the playfield. And I assume you replaced all the playfield stock LED's with RGB LED's?

    #39 1 year ago

    On a side note, since I created this thread a while back I did the same flipper/coil/arduino mod to my Marvel Zizzle and the Star Galaxy. I coded these a bit differently. Did not use interrupts as they were not needed. It was useful on the Star Galaxy pin to use PWM to limit the strength of the flipper coils. The power supply that came with the machine was a 23v i think. I added a separate, standalone 24v power supply for the coils as to isolate the stock PCB's from any high voltage tasks. The 24v power supply WAY overpowered the flippers for some reason. This did not happen in either of the Zizzle machines. I was able to use PWM in the code to lower the flipper strength, which worked out great because I could fine-tune the flipper strength to just the right amount for the machine, while still simulating an EOS switch after a quarter-second of the flipper being held ON. I added another chunk of code that would disable the flipper back to its open position after 5 seconds of being held ON. Probably overkill but want to avoid parts damage as much as possible.

    #40 1 year ago

    Hello, sure i will answer your questions. As i wrote earlier, i removed all the stock elektronics of the pinball maschine. (look at the attached Picture with the box full of PCB´s and wires ).
    The only parts i re-used from the Star Galaxy are the Solenoids und the 24V external power suply.
    In my Setup, i power the solenoids direct with the stock 24V Power suply for 100 ms, if the Button is still hold after this time, the power is reduced to 30% by PWM. This works really well on the Star Galaxy! Much more Power than the Stock Setup, no forced deactivation after some seconds (you can hold the ball as long as you wish) and best of all: the solenoids stay cool as ice even after heavy gaming!.

    Stock Star Galaxy: weak flipper power, forced solenoid deactivation after 3? seconds and solenoids became very hot after some games

    (for the Slingshots and Bumpers i used a 60 ms Impulse with a 100 ms debounce time by the way)

    Now to your question with the LED´s:
    As all PCB´s were removed, also the ring of the center PCB with the 5 or 6 LED´s was removed, see Picture of the Board.
    But i also removed all the other LED-mini PCBs, cause they were not needed any more. Illumination is done by 19x APA106 RGB LED´s , you can get 50 of These LEDs for arround 12 Euros. See the Picture of the 4-legged APA106 LED beside one of the stock one-colored LED mini PCB.
    I soldered the through-hole LED´s on small cut down parts of a prototyping pcb and hotglued them under the inserts (see Picture of the wired LED-ring, inplace of the Center PCB).

    Wiring was very easy, as these LED´s are daisy chained one after another and contolled by only one Arduino Data Pin, like the famous Neopixel LED´s (they use the same Arduino library by the way). Look at the Picture: orange is 5V, Brown is GND and green is the datawire, which goes in and out of the LED.

    "Used the Chance" means, the i was not forced by the given opportunitys of the stock Illumination but i could make my own light Show with full RGB and own animation Patterns and so on.

    I did not use any parts of my second Star Galaxy, cause no parts were needed. The second Pin is still full stock, so i have a very good comparisson

    20170108_111038 (resized).jpg

    20170108_111044 (resized).jpg

    01476299392303 (resized).jpg

    20170108_111328 (resized).jpg

    #41 1 year ago

    this is my current theme, inspired by Stern´s Star trek Pinball.

    Sounds were taken from the real Pin.
    Note the Mission select menu , flippers were deactivated during menu selection of Course...
    Every rollover contact is triggering different Sound and lighting effects along with different scoring.
    for example the right lane is counting "warp1...Warp2..." an every rollover contact and so on.

    Game rules are very simple at this time, but so was the stock Star Galaxy Pin
    Every Change is an improvement, lol

    #42 1 year ago

    Here are a few pictures and links to two YouTube videos that show the progress on my machine so far. I got a little bit lazy this time with the GI and used LED strips for most of it. I added a few GI LED’s under the slingshots, the ramp mount and rollover lanes. I took a few photos of the home made coil driver board and power strip mounted inside the machine. I added an illuminated on/off switch to the front of the machine as well.

    The video shows the Micro Machines ships I added (described in earlier post). As of now I simply have them hooked up to a servo tester, but in the end they will be controlled by an Arduino and will have movement that is interactive with game play. In one instance the two ships on the right will shoot each other when the ramp shot is active. The Arduino-activated relay will trigger the rollover lane that sounds the tie fighter sound built into the original soundboard (which is clearly ripped off from Star Wars haha).
    The second video shows the runway lights on the main ramp in action. During game play the runway lights will turn on after, according to my rule set, “three ships are prepared for launch”. Each ramp shot “launches” one of the ships. Ships are “prepared” by first hitting the playfield’s left side spring target or rollover. After all three ships have been “launched” the enemy ship (tie fighter) has to be destroyed by hitting the right side smaller ramp twice. Finally, after the ship is destroyed, the player must hit the “rogue planet” target 5 times to destroy it and win the game. Each object that defines the rule set has a set of new LED’s that will indicate the number of hits acquired and how many are still needed (see photos).

    Lastly I added a flasher topper to the top of the back box. When completed I plan to have it activate for 5 seconds every time one of the challenges in the rule set are completed, and maybe stay on if the player wins. See video clip.
    I disabled both ramp switches that, in the stock game, give you between 50 to 100 or so extra balls per hit. Ridiculous.

    #43 1 year ago

    Here are the YouTube video links:

    Topper Flasher:

    Runway Lights:


    #44 1 year ago

    20170108_191440 (resized).jpg

    20170108_192343 (resized).jpg

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    #45 1 year ago

    The Star Trek sounds are excellent btw!!!!!!

    2 weeks later
    #46 1 year ago

    nice Mods, Moses!
    how do you controll the LED-Strips? Do you have a dedicated Arduino for the strips or some kind of multitasking?
    My Setup at the moment is:

    1. Arduino (Uno) for firing all Coils and getting Inputs from Flipperbuttons, startbutton and slingshots/bumper contacts
    2. Arduino (mega2560) for serial input from 1st Ardu and rollover-switches, output to Playfield led´s, sound and DMD
    3. two df-player Soundmodules, serial controlled by 2nd Ardu
    4. Arduino (nano) for controlling DMD, getting scores and text-messages from 2nd (main)Ardu

    The new "DMD" replaced the old 14-Segment display and consists of 48x16 LED Matrix.
    Build up from three 32x8 Max7219 LED matrixes (aliexpress 3,50€). I will make some pics of the prototype soon.

    BTW: are you interedted in some code-sharing?

    Unbenannt (resized).jpg

    1 week later
    #47 1 year ago

    Thank you!

    The led strips are simply connected to a 9v power supply. None of them are interactive except the runway lights on the main ramp. The chasing effect is built in to the strip, so I will have the arduino (through a relay) turn the strip on and off when ramp shots are needed. As of now I have code completed for the driver board flipper buttons, pops, slings, and flippers. I'm still in the process of building an interface board that will receive switch inputs and control the playfield LED's. Your idea with using neopixels in place of the original LED's is awesome. In hindsight I should've done this too, but i've already drilled holes and mounted all the LED's I added to the playfield. I'm using a 3v power supply and series of transistors to have an arduino control the LED's. Again, in retrospect neopixel would have been easier. Actually I did not know about the existence of neopixel and the like until you presented it in this forum, so thank you! I ended up using a neopixel stick in a PinBot mod after seeing your work thus far.

    I'd be more than happy to share code with you but I'm guessing my coding knowledge is far less than yours.

    #48 1 year ago

    I'd be very interested to see how you coded for the serial communication between the uno and mega boards. I've never tried this before.

    1 week later
    #49 1 year ago

    Sorry for answering late, but i have a full size pinball maschine now too! Got my Stern Star Trek two weeks ago and was a Little bit busy with this Thing
    Heres the Code of my 3 Arduino´s:
    "V1.5" is the Code for the coil Arduino UNO
    "V1.9" is for the main Ardu (MEGA2560)
    "DMD V1.1" is for the Display Arduino.
    Unfortunately all comments are in german, so translate it with Google or don't hesitate to ask me, if you dont understand a Code block!
    Most functions at the end of V1.9 are for the LED animations. Don´t try to understand the whole thing, go pick yourself some usefull parts of my Code for your Project(s), so did I! I´m an autodidact in Arduino coding myself! Startet 2 Years ago. Your project, shematics and arduino Code were a big Inspiration for my Project.
    Serial communication is no big thing, there is even only one way communication between the ardus! So you only need to connect one wire from TX port of 1st ardu to RX port of the 2nd (as Long as they share the same ground). Sending one Byte with 115000 baud is done really fast! Mp3-modules are serial controlled to, look at my handdrawn "shematic" below.
    here are the latest Sketches for all 3 arduinos, development will be slowed down a while, as of my real Pin!
    Bild (6) (resized).jpg

    Added 14 months ago: new dropbox link (old one is no longer working?)


    2 weeks later
    #50 1 year ago


    you are from Germany?

    Welche Versionsnummern haben bei dir die <MD_Parola.h>und die <MD_MAX72xx.h>?
    Ich versuche deine DMDV1.1 zu kompilieren, habe aber dabei immer Fehler.

    Which version numbers have the <MD_Parola.h> and the <MD_MAX72xx.h>?
    I try to compile your DMDV1.1 to compile, but always have errors.

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