Tiny Pinball Machine Also Runs X86 Code

As arcades become more and more rare, plenty of pinball enthusiasts are moving these intricate machines to their home collections in basements, garages, and guest rooms. But if you’re not fortunate enough to live in a home that can support a space-intensive hobby like pinball machines, there are some solutions to that problem. This one, for example, fits on the palm of your hand and also happens to run some impressive software for its size.

The machine isn’t a mechanical pinball machine like its larger cousins, though. Its essentially a 3D printed case made to look like a pinball machine with two screens attached. It does have a working plunger for launching the ball and two buttons on the sides for the approximation of authenticity, but it’s actually running Pinball Fantasies — a pinball simulator designed to run on x86 hardware from the 90s. This sports an ESP32 on the inside, which has just enough computing capability to run an x86 emulator that can load these games in DOS.

The game includes haptic feedback and zips along at 60 frames per second, which really brings the pinball experience to its maximum level given the game’s minuscule size. It’s impressive for fitting a lot into a small space, both from physical and software points-of-view. For more full-sized digital pinball builds, take a look at this one which comes exceptionally close to replicating the real thing.

13 thoughts on “Tiny Pinball Machine Also Runs X86 Code

  1. i love/hate that these days if you are dissatisfied with the insane hardware demands of modern games, you can simply run the 90s or 00s version of the game under an emulator. even emulation isn’t as big a penalty as the modern assumption of fantastic capacity :)

    i’m tickled because i’m in the middle of trying to decide if i should install x-plane 9, 10, or 11…at least those guys know about the problem and keep distributing AND SELLING older versions. but i’m already telling myself “if all else fails i can see what WINE does with msfs 2000”

  2. I was going to mention that the editor forgot to give the hacker’s name. Then I saw it was [sprite_tm] and felt silly for not assuming that a project with an ESP32 doing wild stuff is not theirs.

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