Pinball build throws down the gauntlet

[Jeri Ellsworth] is building her own pinball machine. Her build log is delivered in the form of daily videos that walk through the progress. In addition to seeing the intricate ramps, traps, and controllers she outlines her build techniques. These include reproducing parts based on old pinball machines and bending acrylic with a custom tool or a toaster oven.

The driver she’s planning to use is an Altera FPGA with a bunch of FETs to control the heavy-load components. There’s not a ton of info on the actual electronics but we had a heck of a fun time looking at the creative field components. Our favorite by far is the television from Day 7. The screen is translucent with a rear projected image. When the ramp in front of it is raised the pinball can be jumped right through the screen!

We couldn’t find a project page for this but we’ve embedded [Jeri's] videos after the break.

Day 8

Day 7

Day 6

Day 5

Day 4

Day 3

Sorry, can’t seem to find the video for Day 2.

Day 2

Day 1

Comments

  1. that’s quite the ambitious project… it looks like it will be a lot of fun once it’s complete though.

    I’m surprised they didn’t start with an existing cabinet and modified it to fit their needs. Not only would it be easier but isn’t that how most modern pinballs are made anyway?

  2. Nocturnal says:

    The “Day 1″ video is actually a different pinball machine, being built concurrently.

  3. yuppicide says:

    Pinball freakin rocks. I’ve always wanted my own custom pinball machine based on a punk band I like.

  4. Agent420 says:

    Designing good table play geometry is probably the most difficult part of any pinball project… the electronics are really pretty simple.

    Owning two vintage machines (a Super Soccer, ’74 Gottlieb EM, and Centaur, 1st gen Solid State) I agree that no video game equals the ‘life’ of real mechanical devices.

  5. Stu says:

    Have u guys checked out Fat man & Circuit girls TTS + webcam chat system yet? Its great fun.
    Congrats to them I’m looking forward to seeing the end result – nowt is cooler than working with pinball machines!

  6. Pete says:

    @Stu – Yes, I checked it out earlier today for the first time. I did feel a bit voyeuristic though, as I did not participate in the conversation for the few min I was there. It is really neat though.

  7. hrpuffnstuff says:

    All I have to say is Jeri had me at FPGA

  8. Richard says:

    Jeri, you’ve got some pretty neat ideas there, and the skills to make them work.

    The flip-up TV is a really cool twist… I’d love to see somebody do that with a full-size TV – just imagine the prank potential! ;-)

  9. Kyle says:

    Cool! I used to like to build pinball machines out of K’NEX when I was younger. Roughly full-size, used official K’NEX balls from the Big Ball Factory set. Mostly mechanical, but I think I did add an electronic scoring system to one of ‘em. That was fun.

  10. nubie says:

    Don’t forget to check out Bill Pullman pinball that Benheck is building.

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