Wednesday, May 9, 2012

homebrew project.. Back onnnnn

Ok, so after watching this video:

I'm re-inspired, and I realize that I can't just go from never designing a pinball in my life, to the level that Stern is at.  I should know better being an engineer, and realize how a design has to go through iterations, and learning from your mistakes.  I need to start out small, simple, baby steps.  Here's my goal and iteration list:

Version 1.0 - completely mechanical, no electric at this point.  I want to be able to layout a full pinball, with foam board, and have everything powered by motion (of which I have a ton of great ideas to incorporate modern things like multiball).

Version 2.0 - Add LED general illumination, rollover lights, and mp3 sound using a 5V arduino board.  This can run off of 4 D batteries, or a 5v wall plug.

Version 3.0 -  Add a scoring system (using Arduino counter code), add an Arduino driven 7-segment display for output)

Version 4.0 - Update to 14-segment display like on late 80's williams pins (earthshaker, funhouse), add animations

Version 5.0 - Impliment a 12V system to power DC actuator driven flippers, pop bumpers, drop targets, etc.  Run off of rechargable AGM (small sealed car battery).  Use DC to DC converter to drop 12v down to 5v to continue running arduino system.

My intention of this project is multi-fold.
1. I REALLY want to design a pinball, from scratch, while innovating new features that have never been seen before
2. It would be nice if this takes off, to actually sell a small run of them.
3.  Offer something the pinball community has never seen before.  I want to make something simple, affordable, light, and easy to work on (because it will be dead simple).  Ideally, I want to make it possible to stack playfields, and just have cabinet stands (that don't move), and then swap them out to keep things rotated (without having to trade, or sell/buy all the time).  I hear all the time about people living in small spaces in europe, people stuck in small apartments.  If I can offer a way for those people to own pinballs, at affordable prices (and not take up a ton of space, or be able to stow it away), I've hit an all new market.  Also on top of being affordable and lightweight (cheaper shipping), being powered by low voltage and power, it's completely possible to charge up batteries with solar power and have pinball in 3rd world nations (if this business really takes off, I'm totally going to donate a couple to random nations).

I've already come up with a mission statement, a logo, and designed my first mechanism in solidworks this morning.  I don't want to reveal anything until I have a few more mechanisms designed out, and I have my first foam prototype built, but I'm really excited to getting this going.

1 comment:

  1. I ran into this blog this morning, and it is strangely familiar to mine. Your goals are about the same that I have for my pinball project.

    From reading your blog, it seems you are a mechanical designer by trade. (Relatively few people have solid works licenses at home.) My background is electrical engineering so I'm strongest in the electrical design. If you get a chance, you might want to check out It could be that we might be able to corroborate on some aspects.

    Post a comment on the above website. I'm trying to post on my blog every week or two, or as I have more time, and I'll try to remember to check your blog. Best of luck on this.

    I also believe that pinball needs a major reboot.