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