Those of us beyond a certain age will very likely have some fond memories of many an hour spent and pocket money devoured feeding the local arcade pinball machine. At one time they seemed to be pretty much everywhere, but sadly, these days they seem to have largely fallen out of favour and are becoming more of speciality to be specifically sought out. Apart from a few random ones turning up — there’s a fun Frankenstein-themed machine in the Mary Shelley Museum in Bath, England — a trip to a local amusement arcade is often pretty disappointing, with modern arcade machines just not quite scratching that itch anymore, if you ask us. So what’s an old-school hacker to do, but learn how to build a machine from scratch, just the way we want it? A great resource for this is the excellent Pinball Makers site, which shows quite a few different platforms to build upon and a whole ton of resources and guides to help you along the way.
Building a working machine requires some serious skills from a wide range of areas covering woodworking, metal bashing, graphics design, electronics, game design and programming. For a newbie, there is so much to learn that it must be really daunting trying to work out where to begin! Luckily Pinball Makers has sections for each of these disciplines, and many more, with guides to the special pinball-specific construction techniques as well. Want to know how to construct a slingshot? Covered! What about an electronics platform to build upon? There are many options, some based around then Open Pinball Project (OPP) and some not so much. Now, hands up who fancies building a Hackaday-themed pinball machine (dark theme, naturally), and what would the game be? Answers down below!
Boy, have we covered pinball machines a lot over the years, here’s a beautiful machine built into a coffee table form factor, that might help you sneak that out of the workshop and into the living room. If that’s too big, and you ‘got the look’ when you wheeled your creation into the house, here’s a teeny tiny PI-based virtual machine to make you feel better. Finally, if building one is not your game, and you’re hankering for the real-deal, you might need some debug help with the older machines!
Thanks [Keith] for the tip!