Wireless pinball controller for tablet gaming

wireless-pinball-controller

This wooden box is a wireless pinball controller and tablet stand. The idea is to set it on a workbench to give you some of the thrill of standing and playing the real thing. [Jeff] has been rather addicted to playing a pinball app on Android lately, and started the journey because he needed a way to give his thumbs some relief.

An Arduino monitors buttons on either side of this wooden controller. [Jeff] is new to working with hardware (he’s a Linux Kernel developer by trade) and was immediately struck with button debouncing issues. Rather than handle this in software (we’ve got a super-messy thread on that issue with our favorite at the bottom) he chose a hardware solution by building an SR latch out of two NAND gates.

With the inputs sorted out he added a BlueSMiRF board to the project which allowed him to connect a Nexus 7 tablet via Bluetooth. At this point he ran into some problems getting the device to respond to his control as if it were an external keyboard. His stop-gap solution was to switch to a Galaxy Tab 10.1 which wasn’t throwing cryptic errors. Hopefully he’ll fix this in the next iteration which will also include adding a plunger to launch the pinball, a part which just arrived in the mail as he was writing up this success.

We’ve embedded his quick demo video after the break.

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Rube-Goldberg provides liquid refreshment

rube-goldberg-soda-machine

The image to the left doesn’t make this look like much, but inside of the cardboard vending machine lives a clever Rube-Goldberg device. The video after the break gives a look at the inner workings to show how a quarter manages to dispense a full can of Coke. But that’s about all the detail we get on the project.

There are two sets of counterweights used in the design. Some marbles, and what look like giant pinballs. The coin chute, located on the left side of the venting machine, funnels the money into the waiting marble. When the marble rolls off it lands on a spoon. The weight rotates the spoon-filled disk and causes one of the waiting pinballs to drop from their rack. As that metal ball falls it operates a ratcheting system to dispense just one can. It looks like the capacity of the machine is limited to two refreshing cans of sugary liquid, but that could be scaled up if more room were made for cans and counterweights alike.

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Mini Pinball MAME machine is small enough to fit in any game room

A huge collection of pinball machines in your basement is one of the crowing achievements of a geek, but what if you could have a huge library of physical pinball machines at you fingertips? [veriix] shared an imgur gallery in a reddit post documenting his wee little pinball machine he built from scratch.

Inside the pinball cabinet, there are two monitors. A 4:3 Samsung monitor serves as  the backglass for the machine while a 23″ HDTV provides the playfield. On the software side of things, [veriix] used PINMAME and Visual Pinball 9 running on an old motherboard he had lying around. The result is impressive. The HD monitor playfield provides the right perspective to fool [veriix]’s brain into thinking he’s playing a real pinball machine.

We’ve seen PINMAME builds before, but those were encased in full-size pinball cabinets that took up far too much room. [veriix]’s machine is much smaller, and perfect for the garage, den, basement, or anywhere you’d like to set up an awesome game room.

You can check out [veriix] playing his mini pinball machine after the break. Thanks [Johnny] for sending this one in.

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Pinball Stomp: Part 2

This is the 2nd and final part of this project. If you haven’t seen part 1 yet, jump back and check it out.

Now that we have the controller box made and ready to go, we just have to build some simple stomp sensors. As I said before, I doubt this will hold anyones attention longer than a night or two. With that in mind, I wanted to make this as cheaply and simply as possible.

To make these, you need the following:

  • Foam board or thick cardboard
  • aluminum tape
  • wire
  • duct tape

That’s it… no really, that’s it. Check out the video after the break to see how it all went, and what the kids thought of it.

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Building giant temperature displays from Gottlieb display wheels

On Saturday, we found a cool article where pinball machine display wheels were being used as a display. In that article, one of the listed inspirations was this giant Gottlieb wheel being used to display the water temperature of a pool.  Before we go further, we’d like to mention that this project is hosted on a magazine’s website that requires you to register to get 1 free download. We did, and no financial information was required.

[Ludovic], they author of the project, was looking for an efficient and highly visible way to display the temperature in his pool. He wanted something he could see from 30 yards away, that had minimal power usage. These pinball reels were perfect, being easy to read and having virtually zero power draw when not updating.

Keep reading for a video and some more information.

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Using pinball score reels as wireless displays

[Scott] put together a system where he can use pinball score reels as a wireless display. As you can see in the video below, the result is really neat. The sound alone makes this shoot pretty high on our “things that are cool” radar. The display required 24V AC to operate the solenoids that actually let the display rotate, but he found that an 18V DC supply would allow him to fire a single solenoid. No problem, he just staggered their operation. This is barely perceptible due to how long it takes for the mechanical part of the spinning to occur.

You can download his Arduino sketch and see more on his site. He has big plans too, he just got 4 more of these to add once they are cleaned up.

[via Adafruit]

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Pinball Stomp: part1

Despite my atrociously short attention span, I’ve always loved pinball. Maybe it is something about all the flashing lights and clunking solenoids. Maybe it is just the simple physics at the center of it all. I’m not really sure.  My kids, however, don’t share my enthusiasm. I suspect part of it is that they never wandered through a fog filled arcade in the middle of the night, hopped up on Reese’s Pieces with a shrinking pile of quarters in their pocket. The other part might be the fact that they have gotten used to the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox Kinect (we just got one last week).

Watching them jump up and down playing an extremely simple and repetitive game with the Kinect gave me an idea. I envisioned pinball projected on the side of my house, the kids jumping up and down in front of it to move the paddles. Keep reading to see how I plan to build it and what I’ve done so far. There’s a full video, but also text of the entire thing.
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