Auto power circuit for an arcade machine

Some of the pinball machines which [Jeri Ellsworth] has restored have ended up in the break room at her work. We’re sure her coworkers are thankful for this, but sometimes they forget to turn off the power to the machines, and letting them run constantly means more frequent servicing will be necessary. She set out to fix the situation by building a circuit that will automatically power the machines.

We think the solution adds some much needed functionality. Instead of hunting for the power switch, you can now power the machine up by hitting the left flipper, and it will automatically shut off after about five minutes of not having that flipper button pressed. For this she grabbed a 555 timer chip and built a circuit to control the relay switching the mains power.

She added a magnet and reed switch to the left flipper switch assembly to control her add-on circuit. It connects to the base of a PNP transistor which controls a resistor network and capacitor. This part of the circuit (seen to the left of the 555 in the schematic) allows the timer to be re-triggered. That is, every time you press the flipper the 555 will reset the timer. Don’t miss the demo she filmed after the break.

Comments

  1. Alex Rossie says:

    What is it with the funny camera angles.

  2. Marcus says:

    What’s with the unneeded resistor and PNP transistor? The 555 has a retriggerable mode, why didn’t she use it?

  3. pod says:

    people at Valve are going to have fun with those pinball machines

  4. Per Jensen says:

    HAD: A pinball machine isn’t a Arcade machine…

    • dext3r says:

      An arcade is a place that houses both video and pinball games. I would say that YES, a pinball machine IS an arcade machine.

      “An arcade game is a coin-operated entertainment machine, usually installed in public businesses, such as restaurants, bars, and particularly amusement arcades. Most arcade games are video games, pinball machines, electro-mechanical games, redemption games, and merchandisers (such as claw cranes).” – Wikipedia

      How’s that for being a doucher?

      • Per Jensen says:

        In general terms, when speaking of an Arcade machine, it’s a machine that runs an electronic game on a computer monitor. Not a mechanical machine.

      • Mikey says:

        @Per Jensen: Except, no. The original arcade machines used light guns and objects that moved physically with NO ELECTRONIC screens. They were completely mechanical.

        @dext3r: However, I disapprove of this definition, since many arcade games are no longer “coin-operated”, the pay ones usually take some kind of card now (gameworks, or at the mall), and even the older restored ones, might have the coin slot still, but put in “free-play” mode in someone’s garage (or again, just have it swapped out to the more modern card reader device).

    • xeracy says:

      syntax error! syntax error!

  5. notdave says:

    i would be somewhat of a long shot, but i can imagine someone (who plays pinball differently than others) getting extremely upset that the game shutoff in the middle of a high score that hadnt required pressing the left flipper for more than 5 minutes. having this configurable (or on either left OR right flipper) would be an improvement.

  6. slinky says:

    Wow… so much *facepalm* in so few comments!

    Great job on this Jeri! You’ll save a lot of power and lightbulbs. I may have to implement this on the old Black Knight machine.

    P.S. Per Jensen: An arcade machine is a MACHINE found in an ARCADE.

  7. voodoo says:

    I would say inb4 Jeribashing/creepyposta, but I’m too late. I’ll never understand those who make us all look like incredibly mean neckbeards. Oh well.

    Nice to see some 555 stuff around, seems an underused component these days.

  8. I know of at least one arcade where they could possibly save some money with this. We usually visit Ocean City, NJ, during the off season and go to Jilly’s Arcade. There’s usually only a handful of patrons there. Most of the pinball machines are not being used.

    I bet they could save some money with something like this. They just need a sign that says, “Hit flipper to turn on machine.”

    (*We’re there in early winter/late spring. I’m sure it’s packed during the summer.)

  9. HackTheGibson says:

    So what about high scores and such?

  10. lochnessduck says:

    Excellent work! Arcade machines take a lot of energy in my opinion (sometimes mental energy to endure its noise), so this is super handy!

  11. xorpunk says:

    Nice article. She does impressive work every time.

  12. internationalwaters says:

    who’s hand is that?

  13. N0LKK says:

    Personally I would have used a clock works timer. As for as the videography, just a simple, but awkward way to get the narrator, and project in one view. I guess Jerri could have moved the machine in green screen studio. Sexism is one more misused overused term. What the link lead to was at worst low level stereotyping. Guess what? Stereotypes often do fit. Not that I saying Jerri fills that stereotype, her videos taken as a whole say’s she doesn’t.

  14. signal7 says:

    I think this is a great idea. Personally, I think I would have done it using an RC network and a few transistors, but in the end, her part count is probably lower than mine would be.

    Cool project.

  15. vonskippy says:

    Her co-workers must be dumber then a sack of hammers if they can’t learn how to turn off a device when it’s not being used.

    Instead of a power off switch she should have invented a shock collar for her co-workers to wear that would provide a “reminder” if they walked away from the machine with it still powered up.

  16. TMD2 says:

    Any chance Jeri (or some other enterprising person) can make up a bunch of these and sell them to those of us who collect pinball machines but have no talent for the electronics? I’d love to put them on all of my 12 machines since none of the visitors to my home arcade ever remember to shut them down…

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