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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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.

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Using 555 timers to add “free play” functionality to classic arcade machines

freeplay-arcade-board

[John Zitterkopf] is in the middle of restoring a vintage Sega Star Trek Captain’s Chair arcade game for the upcoming 2012 Texas Pinball festival, though one prerequisite for the show is that the game supports some sort of free play mode. At this point he doesn’t have the option of tracking down a freeplay ROM for the device, so he had to come up with a solution of his own.

He did not want to alter the machine’s operation in any significant manner, and this meant preserving the functionality of the coin chutes. To do this, he put together a small circuit that uses a pair of cascaded 555 timers to provide the machine with the proper signaling to simulate coin insertion, while still accepting coins. You might initially think that this could be easily accomplished by shorting a pair of contacts in the coin chutes, but as [John] explains, the process is a tad more complex than that.

If you have some old arcade games kicking around and are looking for a non-invasive way to make them free to play, be sure to check out his site for schematics and a complete BoM.

Hackaday Links: January 5, 2012

Now make it life size

Here’s a scale model of the classic Playstation game Wipeout. It uses quantum levitation, superconductors, liquid nitrogen, and incredibly detailed models of the cars in Wipeout. They’re able control the speed and direction of the cars electronically. Somebody get on making one of these I can drive. Never mind, it’s totally fake, but here’s a choo-choo that does the same thing. Thanks for the link, [Ben].

Found a use for eight copies of Deep Impact

Where do you keep all your wire? [Paul] keeps his inside VHS tapes. It’s one of the most efficient ways of storing wire we’ve seen, just don’t touch those VHS copies of the original Star Wars trilogy.

There’s MAME machines for pinball?

MAME arcade machines are old hat, but we’ve never seen something to emulate pinball. The build uses two LCD monitors, a small computer and PinMAME. There’s videos in the build log; tell us if we’re stupid for wanting to build one. Thanks go to [Adrian] for sending this one in.

LEGO binary to decimal conversion

[Carl] is doing a few experiments to see if it’s possible to build a calculating machine out of LEGO. He managed to convert four bits of binary into decimal. We’ve seen a LEGO Antikythera mechanism but nothing on the order of an Analytical Engine or some Diamond Age rod logic. Keep it up, [Carl].

Lubs and Dubs that aren’t for dubstep

The folks at Toymaker Television posted a neat demo of heart rhythms emulated with a microprocessor. It cycles through normal sinus rhythm, atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, and everything else that can go wrong with your heart. We know some nurses that would have loved this in school.

Jeri Ellsworth’s shooting gallery

Back with another interesting vidoe, [Jeri Ellsworth] once again brings us an amusing and educational hack. This time she’s made a “shooting gallery” in the style of the old arcade games that actually used projectiles. In her version however, she’s using LEDs in the targets which are detected by the gun.  In an effort to keep the feel the same, she rigged up a pinball bell to ding at the appropriate times and it is quite effective.

As usual, she does a great job of breaking everything down and explaining how it all works. She shows us around her prototype so you can see how it is constructed, if you can make it through the solder gun shootout in the beginning.  If she were to continue with this project beyond the functional prototype stage, we’d love to see small video clips being displayed for the targets pepper’s ghost style. Maybe we’re just having fond memories of Time Traveler.