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Upgrade/Project How hard would it be to build your own pinball machine with a custom theme?


Inserted Coin
What if you wanted to build your own pinball machine with a custom theme?

How difficult would this be, assuming you had the woodworking and electronic skills?


Pinball Author Apprentice
I would be curious about what the backboard electronics consisted of and if you were able to use stuff like a normal computer motherboard for part of it and what the roms were installed on. The other thing is making the ramps, if you made them out of metal then no problems there, if you were looking at the plastic ramps, then you would probably spend a good chunk of money having them custom made (unless you had your own molding machines :D ). I would say the biggest obstacle would be the money involved, including ordering pinball specific items (flippers, pegs,plastic ramps, etc). The rest you should be able to fabricate (cabinet, playfield, metal ramps).
MMM I just thought of something, I wonder if there was a pinball machine that used metal flippers? Wonder what the "feel" would be like? :D


Inserted Coin
Using a PC solves some of the issues with building the game in hardware, but it introduces a pretty good amount of programming as well as building a hardware interface.

I may try building something at 1/2 or 1/4 scale just as proof of concept.


Inserted Coin
Of all the people I know who collect and work on pinball machienes.
I only know one person who has built one totaly from scratch.
He built three diffrent ones and thay were all EM old school machienes.
It can be done, but it ain't easy.


Inserted Coin
It's a daunting task for sure. I need to start collecting information, even the basics like the tilt of the playfield are a mystery to me.

As a software guy, it's an intriguing project. The Linux article linked above got a lot of thought, and Vol 8 of Make magazine had an article about restoring an older machine.

First, I need to collect a lot of information, and I'm thinking the Visual Pinball software might be a good prototyper.


Inserted Coin
You mite want to look at pinmame HW.
It's a hardware driver for pinmame and it has evreything but display drivers.
Desine with visual pinball in real units, the layout of the playfield will be your blueprint, the artwork wil transfer over, the sounds will transfer over and the script will be the software to run it.