Skee-Ball Scoring With Coin Slot Switches

Bowling is great and all, but the unpredictability of that little ball jump in Skee-Ball is so much more exciting. You can play it straight, or spend a bunch of time perfecting the 100-point shot. And unlike bowling, there’s nothing to reset, because gravity gives you the balls back.

In one of [gcall1979]’s earlier Skee-Ball machines, gravity assisted the scoring mechanism, too: each ball rolls back to the player and lands in a lane labeled with the corresponding score, which is an interesting engineering challenge in its own right. He decided to build automatic scoring into his newest Skee-Ball machine.

At the bottom of each cylinder is an arcade machine coin door switch with a long wire actuator. These had to be mounted so they’re close enough to the hole, but out of the way of the balls.

Each switch is wired up to an Arduino Mega along with four large 7-segments for the score, and a giant 7-segment to show the number of balls played. Whenever the game is reset, a servo drops a door to release the balls, just like a commercial machine.

The arcade switches work pretty well, especially once he bent the wire into hook shape to cover more area. But they do fail once in a while, maybe because the targets are full-size, but the balls are half regulation size. For the next one, [gcall1979] is planning to use IR break-beam targets which ought to work with any size ball. If you prefer bowling, you won’t strike out with break-beam targets there, either.

Have A Router? Build A Skeeball Machine


There are a lot of hackerspaces and maker labs all around the world that have amazing capabilities for manufacturing. Mills, lathes, drill presses, laser cutters, and CNC routers are no stranger to the any maker’s arsenal of tools. Do you know what isn’t? A DIY Skeeball machine.

This, ‘should be a project for every hackerspace’ project is the brainchild of [fungus amungus] over on Instructables. Despite what you might think about the complexities of building a Skeeball machine, [fungus’] build is actually rather simple, and also easily transportable.

The main material used in the build is seven sheets of 3/4″ plywood. These sheets were cut out on a ShopBot CNC router, and held together with screws in a tab-and-slot construction scheme. The playfield is covered with cork for what we assume is a proper Skeeball experience, and all the electronics controlled by an Arduino and Laptop.

The electronics for this build are very simple – just a few IR distance sensors mounted under the holes. The laptop is running a Processing sketch to display the score on a TV above the cage, allowing for some improvements in the gameplay and scoring system of the original Skeeball machines.

It’s a really fantastic project, and something that we’re sure will be the center of attention wherever [fungus] brings it.

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Mechanical Skeeball Built From Knex

We don’t really know what to say. This Skeeball cabinet is built entirely from Knex. It works exactly how you’d expect Skeeball to work. You plug in quarter and it dispenses balls and keeps score.

[Shadowman39] worked on the build for more than a year. Everything that went into it is a Knex part with the exception of a few rubber bands, and the paper numbers that are used on the scoreboard. There are six motors which drive the machine. Four of them are responsible for turning the scoreboard digits, the others handle ball return.

The link at the top starts off with a bunch of images of the various parts, but you’ll want to watch the video after the break for a closer look. It shows the coin hopper in greater detail. It’s built to only accept quarters and to reject all other coins.

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