Mademoiselle Pinball Table Gets Rock ‘n Roll Makeover

Once upon a time, there was a music venue/artist collective/effects pedal company that helped redefine industry in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. That place was called Death By Audio. In 2014, it suffered a death by gentrification when Vice Media bought the building that DBA had worked so hard to transform. From the ashes rose the Death By Audio Arcade, which showcases DIY pinball cabinets made by indie artists.

Their most recent creation is called A Place To Bury Strangers (APTBS). It’s built on a 1959 Gottlieb Mademoiselle table and themed around a local noise/shoegaze band of the same name that was deeply connected to Death By Audio. According to [Mark Kleeb], this table is an homage to APTBS’s whiz-bang pinball-like performance style of total sensory overload. Hardly a sense is spared when playing this table, which features strobe lights, black lights, video and audio clips of APTBS, and a fog machine. Yeah.

[Mark] picked up this project from a friend, who had already cut some wires and started hacking on it. Nearly every bit of the table’s guts had to be upgraded with OEM parts or else replaced entirely. Now there’s a Teensy running the bumpers, and another Teensy on the switches. An Arduino drives the NeoPixel strips that light up the playfield, and a second Uno displays the score on those sweet VFD tubes. All four micros are tied together with Python and a Raspi 3.

If you’re anywhere near NYC, you can play the glow-in-the-dark ball yourself on July 15th at Le Poisson Rouge. If not, don’t flip—just nudge that break to see her in action. Did we mention there’s a strobe light? Consider yourself warned.

Want to get into DIY pinball on a smaller scale? Build yourself a sandbox and start playing.

11 thoughts on “Mademoiselle Pinball Table Gets Rock ‘n Roll Makeover

    1. Well, this one would have apparently required restoration rather than preservation. from the linked story:

      “It wasn’t in great shape – two of the legs were falling off and the headboard glass was cracked. The playfield was chipped and peeling in some parts and the wires had all been cut. For all intents and purposes, it was trash- but it was perfect for what we wanted.”

  1. Sort of full circle here. Long before personal computers one of the entries in our local high-school science fair was a computer built from relays that had been harvested from old pin-ball machines. Output was an Oliver typewriter (already ancient way back then) worked with pin-ball solenoids.

  2. I’m not sure I dig this trend. It still plays like an old machine (albeit, an old machine in very good shape), but it’s missing the kitschy charm that goes with an old machine. If this was done on-the-cheap, I totally get it, but it looks pricey. I’ll reserve judgment until I see a revamp into a theme I like as that could “turn-the-tables”.

    1. That’s a great question! We had never built a pinball machine from scratch, and the prospect of designing the physics of the playfield was a little daunting, so we wanted to start with an existing playfield and modify it – that way we wouldn’t have to worry about the ball getting stuck anywhere or the game not being very fun.

      This playfield was beat up, but very usable. We had to end up replacing many of the electric components anyway, but the bumpers, switches, and flippers are still in their original locations. Other than the playfield it’s just a big wooden box, so we screwed some 2×4’s to the inside to reinforce it and it works great!

  3. Triac? The left lowest bumper should be a beam pentode as in a 6L6. The rest of the bumpers are right at home. As to the original, it probably never made much. Maybe in an ice cream parlor, that hair-do on the right was about 30 years out of date.

  4. Hi!

    Really cool refurb! I love the black light and glowing ball and the electronic numbers!

    I own a 3rd generation Mademoiselle just like the one you modified. It is still intact and fully working. I wonder if you saved any of the old parts? I would love to buy them from you if you still have them. Get back with me by email if you would.

    THANK YOU!!!!

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