Jackpot!: The Trials And Tribulations Of Turning A Slot Machine Into An ATM

Have you ever wished that slot machines dispensed money as easily as an ATM? Well so did [Scotty Allen] from Strange Parts, so in collaboration with his friend [Matt] decided to combine the two. After a four-month journey fraught with magic smoke and frustration, they managed to build a fully functional ATM slot machine.

The basic idea is that you insert your card and enter your pin like on a normal ATM, select your winning amount, and pull the lever. This sets wheels spinning, which come to a stop with three-of-a-kind every time, and you win your own money as a bucket load of coins with all the accompanying fanfare. The project took way longer than [Scotty] expected, and he ended up missing his original deadline to show off the machine at DEF CON.

They started with an old broken Japanese slot machine, and replaced the control board with an Arduino Due after a lot of reverse engineering and hacking. [Scotty] did a cool video just on getting the original vacuum fluorescent display working. Integrating the ATM parts proved to be the biggest challenge, with number of very expensive parts releasing their magic smoke or getting bricked in the process. [Scotty] came up with an ingeniously simple hack to interface the ATM hardware with the Arduino. The cash note dispenser uses multiple sensors to detect if there are notes loaded and if one is successfully dispensed. These were spoofed by the Arduino, which controls two coin hoppers instead to dispense appropriate amount of quarters or pennies. The build was rounded off with some very neat custom graphics on the glass panels, and the machine was finally showed off at a local arcade.

This was an awesome project, and we can appreciate the fact that [Scotty] made no attempt to hide the real emotional roller coaster that anyone who has worked on a large project knows, but is rarely documented in logs. [Scotty] has made a name for himself by building his own iPhone from parts and touring Shenzhen’s many factories. Check out the videos after the break

15 thoughts on “Jackpot!: The Trials And Tribulations Of Turning A Slot Machine Into An ATM

  1. I just remarked to a fellow slot machine player who was bemoaning his particular machine’s ‘cold streak’ that ‘These things aren’t ATMs!’ Well, well. There were three of us playing side-by-side and he was definitely having a rough go at the time. His fidgeting actually made me resolve to cash out at the next threshold and I did.

  2. Is it just me, or do these videos do a better job of generating drama than explaining what is being done or what was wrong? For example, there’s a lot of drama around blowing up ATMs, but I feel like it’s never explained WHY all these things were blowing up.

      1. What wonders me most is why these “criminals” blow up the ATM (or PIN) machine.
        The money involved is questionable, the area is littered with cameras and the danger of recognized is just as big a being blown up in the process. But what does happen is that the machine is in many cases not rebuild.
        So in effect, more and more machines dissapear, some because the are blown up, others because they are dismantled by the banks themselves to prevent them from being blown up.

        Now I’m not into conspiracy theories but if I was, I would most likely think that the banks are involved, stimulating or perhaps even creating the stories about machines being blown up. Perhaps even trained criminals educated to blow these up FOR the banks. This way they can reduce the number of machines WITHOUT creating public disturbance. Because the banks can always claim that it is safer not tho have them… because the are “blown up” otherwise.
        So in the mean time, cashflow is even more reduced to digital currency, and we all know that digital currency is great for spending, because you aren’t aware of how much you are spending until it is already spend. You don’t feel the pain of paying so to speak. So with less machines to maintain by the banks and more digital currency being used the economy thrives… and everybody is happy (sort of).

        Fortunately I’m not into conspiracies and therefore I’m convinced that these criminals are just stupid, creating more damage then there was money to gain. The fact that they risk live and limb of themselves and innocent bystanders (although they mostly blow these machines up at night) doesn’t seem to be important. This all makes me sad. Though believing in the conspiracy as described above would make me even more sad.

        1. “Fortunately I’m not into conspiracies and therefore I’m convinced that these criminals are just stupid, creating more damage then there was money to gain. The fact that they risk live and limb of themselves and innocent bystanders (although they mostly blow these machines up at night) doesn’t seem to be important. This all makes me sad. Though believing in the conspiracy as described above would make me even more sad.”

          All it needs is a stolen vehicle, a canister of Nitrogen gas and some form of remote detonation (pyrotechnics anyone?). And when you finally manage to blow it up properly (without causing too much damage), all you need to do is bring the canister of cash with you to break it open somewhere else.

          The dumb idiots however don’t measure how much gas is needed, and therefore just pump the whole container in the ATM before igniting it. When they realize their explosion does not have the effect they wanted, they can just bolt and dump the vehicle. Costs for the thiefs? 100 USD and a wasted night. Costs for insurance? Way too much.

          And with anything that is not profitable anymore, ATM’s will disappear…

        1. He does, but you probably missed it. He shorted a 110V mains line into the logic the first time, then by misconnecting a printer connection the second time.

          I personally would have thought these machines would be a little less susceptible to damage, but I suppose they are built to a price point really.

          1. I suspect the problem isn’t that they are built to a price (they in fact need to be built to stand up to the rigors of many many customers using them over many many years) but the need to have VERY sophisticated anti-tamper stuff in there designed to detect anything that even looks like an attempt to tamper with the thing (think about criminals stealing PINs and card details)

          2. I gleaned that, but it would have been nice to have seen what exactly he did (i.e. how do you pull each of those two things off?). I feel like this could have been a much shorter, much more interesting video if the “drama” had been excised and replaced by a much more technical discussion of what was being done. It’s fine though – maybe the video isn’t targeted at me.

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