From the business end

October 21, 2008

Here is a reverse angle shot showing the backglass, the scoring hoops, and the LED scoreboards (single digit, alternates with an animated arrow pointing at the hoop).  The area from a few inches in front of the flippers was all sheet cake (red/yellow/blue area).  The big yellow button was the ball launch button, and the squares on either side were speaker covers.  


POST Muckem

October 21, 2008

John here.  The push to finish the cake once I arrived in Austin was intense and involved a lot of running around for parts and not a whole lot of sleep.  My part was making the flippers work and helping out with the assembly.

Arriving in Austin, I was united with the servo gearsets and gears that I ordered from Servocity. After a combination of changing the Hitec 645 gearsets to 625s (a speed for torque trade) and an external 2:1 gearset (again, more speed)…well it was heartbreaking: the newly very fast and still strong servo + gear combo thwacked the 3/4″ delrin ball a mere 2 feet up barely-inclined melamine.   I had a 1″ delrin ball and a 13/16″ bearing, but they just made a piddly short rainbow shape. It was sad, so sad. Lesson learned: there is no substitute for solenoids.

Having learned that lesson, I went into overdrive to find some proper flipper mechanisms. There were some parts around from playfields I had bought (to make coffee tables, Shorty’s style, but it would be waaaay easier to find a complete mechanism. I called around town and (as time was running out) was helped by the awesome and friendly Brandon at Oldies But Goodies Pinball. It turns out that he is the operator behind the well-maintained machines at Creekside Lounge. Best pinball in Austin, hands down (sorry, G&S).

Back at the workspace, I ditched everything electronic and went with buttons, relays and flippers, running the 43V solenoid coils on 18V. After some cogitating about proper orientation and sleeving (basically doing a flipper rebuild) it worked like a charm, even without an end-of-stroke switch: no heating, no worries. Wham! and the ball is lost in the garage clutter. Sweet victory. The other aspects of the cake came together, and about 3am we were set to go.

How we rolled.

How we rolled.

Austin 360 has a great slideshow of the Maker Faire. Wish I’d seen more of it.


October 14, 2008

The buttonmashing end of things is going to be processed by a Basic Stamp Homework Board, talking to a Seetron SSC II.  Why the ancient, pre-2000 approach?  It is what is on hand.  Also programming the BS2 on a modern Mac is a kick after years when I had a dedicated crappy laptop running DOS to do Stamp / MELABS compiler / programmer stuff.  Also, major efforts were done in two nights, one of which was digging stuff out of bins in the basement:  Buttons, wiring, servos.

I had some fairly nice servos on hand:  HS-5645 and -645, which I was hoping would work.  While they were fine brutes for turret-nudging, they are a bit slow for the flippers.  I am off to the vendors for some faster servos.  Whatever I end up with, I am going to overvolt them (at least 7.5V) to get more speed and torque out of them.  Word on the street is that the internals are robust to around 9V, so thence I go.


We are making good progress on the cake.  Here is of in progress picture:

Pinball Cake

Pinball Cake