Pinball Machine Needs No Wizard

Ever since he was a young boy, [Tyler] has played the silver ball. And like us, he’s had a lifelong fascination with the intricate electromechanical beasts that surround them. In his recently-completed senior year of college, [Tyler] assembled a mechatronics dream team of [Kevin, Cody, and Omar] to help turn those visions into self-playing pinball reality.

You can indeed play the machine manually, and the Arduino Mega will keep track of your score just like a regular cabinet. If you need to scratch an itch, ignore a phone call, or just plain want to watch a pinball machine play itself, it can switch back and forth on the fly. The USB camera mounted over the playfield tracks the ball as it speeds around. Whenever it enters the flipper vectors, the appropriate flipper will engage automatically to bat the ball away.

Our favorite part of this build (aside from the fact that it can play itself) is the pachinko multi-ball feature that manages to squeeze in a second game and a second level. This project is wide open, and even if you’re not interested in replicating it, [Tyler] sprinkled a ton of good info and links to more throughout the build logs. Take a tour after the break while we have it set on free play.

[Tyler]’s machine uses actual pinball machine parts, which could quickly ramp up the cost. If you roll your own targets and get creative with solenoid sourcing, building a pinball machine doesn’t have to be a drain on your wallet.

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Old Pachinko Game Tweaked To Add A Reward System


[Tim Higgins] picked up an old pachinko game at a garage sale for his wife, but it ended up sitting unused in the garage for a few years. When he finally dusted it off, he decided that he wanted to restore and build a nice cabinet for it, though he thought the idea was a bit lame.

He says he likes to use some sort of CPU in his projects, and even though it was overkill, he made it his goal to add some sort of microprocessor to the game. He didn’t want to ruin the original aesthetics of the machine, so he decided that he could use an Arduino to drive a rewards system for skilled pachinko players.

Using some PVC pipe, he built a treat hopper which is controlled by the Arduino. When the player wins, the microcontroller triggers a small hobby servo, which dispenses gumballs/candy/etc.

[Tim] says that his wife loved the gift, and he was quite pleased with how it came out as well. Hit up his blog for additional build details and be sure to check out the photo slideshow of the restoration that we have embedded below.

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Thirty Year Old Pachinko Machine Meets An Arduino

When [Jim’s] thirty year old Pachinko machine started to freeze up and shorted out his computer’s graphics card he decided it was time to replace the old electronics with an Arduino. Originally the Pachinko machine ran off a 48 volt supply and control was achieved using about 20 relays, the random numbers were generated using some complex mechanical reels which we hope will find their way into a new project in the future.

All of this and the daunting amount of wire inside the machine have been replaced with an Arduino and an MP3 Shield for the sound effects, powered from a much safer 12 volts. The new machine runs just as you would expect a thirty year old machine to run, with all the grinding sounds and flickering lights. Check out the video after the break to see an overview of the project.

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The Vibrotron

Behold the Vibrotron! Constructed by the Carnegie Melon University robotics club, the vibrotron is a piece of a larger project called the robOrchestra. The mechanics in action here are quite simple. You have two reservoirs of small steel balls. One at the bottom, one at the top. The bottom ones are fed to the top ones using an Archimedes’ screw. Once at the top, they are dispensed through some tubing down to plink off of a vibraphone key. All of the timing is done via solenoids mounted at the end of the tubes. The final product reminds us of the Animusic animations that were put out a few years ago.

For this system, since they wanted this to be an automated and reconfigurable bot, they are using an Arduino to control the solenoids. This way they can change songs as they please. We have to admit though, we’d love to see one where the timing for the song was all done through tube length or some other passive system allowing it to be hand cranked and purely mechanical.

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ArtFall: Pachinko For Techies

[vimeo= 2758525]

ArtFall allows you to draw on a whiteboard, then have small geometric shapes interact with your drawing like a barrier. Imagine a pachinko machine where you have to draw the pegs in. Not only can you draw barriers, but you can change the direction of gravity with either an iPhone or a Wiimote. The footage also shows some sound interaction as the pieces seem to bounce with the bass from some music. The effect is quite nice and somewhat reminiscent of the whiteboard pong we saw recently.

[thanks eric]