Virtual pinball cabinet

I remember the days, when I was playing with my father, Pinball Fantasies on my Amiga 500. That was long time ago (early 90's) and since those days I became a big fan of pinball machines and I always wanted one...

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I started looking for pinball machine to buy. While browsing the internet I have found some intresting projects of...virtual pinball machines! And that was it, I started to gather knowledge, how to build it, configure, install tables etc. In this short article I want to share with you, step by step, how to build your own virtual pinball cab.

Lets start from the parts list, we'll need:

  • Material to build cabinet. You can use chipboard or plywood. I recommend chipboard as it's available in various colors, so there's no need to paint. Total price with CNC cutting ~100EUR. Cad files with project, can be found in this article. 
  • Arcade controller ~10EUR 

arcad usb controller

  • Arcade buttons - 10 pcs. - ~30EUR

arcade buttons

  • Backglass 21' 4:3 monitor (used) ~40EUR
  • Playfield 32' FullHD TV (used) ~200EUR
  • Plexiglass playfield and backglass cover ~40EUR
  • Real pinball trolley ~20EUR

pinball trolley

  • Stickers ~30EUR
  • RGB leds + controller ~25EUR
  • Real knockers (used) + 5V relay ~25EUR

knocker arduino relay

  • PC mainboard with 4GB RDDR3 AM and Core i3 processor (used) ~160EUR
  • GTX 660 Ti NVidia graphic card or similar (used) ~80EUR
  • 120GB SSD HDD ~70EUR
  • Stereo amplifier with speakers ~25EUR
  • PSU ~15EUR
  • t-molding in chosen color ~10EUR
  • Pinball legs ~30EUR
  • Other components, e.g. cables, some slats, screws ~30EUR
  • Some time and skills to combine the parts, configure PinballX frontend etc- priceless;) But it's worth!

Total cost: ~940EUR

Of course you can use cheaper parts, like e.g. slower processor, cheaper graphic card and HD Ready TV for playfield. You'll save ~200EUR, but it's not recommended because of a great loss of experience (Future Pinball is very demanding on performance).

First step is to combine all the chipboard parts together. The very important here is t o have all the holes for screws and wooden pegs very precisely drilled. To achieve this I recommend to print the project in 1:1 scale, put it on chipboard, and then drill the required connection holes.

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Once drilled we can insert wooden pegs in place and start assembling chiboard parts together.

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...holes to mount pinball legs

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After cabinet is assembled, now it's time to put interiors...here you can see white 6mm pcv on which mainboard and some other parts will be placed.

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...arcade controller + power button

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Now it's tricky part. I've decided to put plunger from the real pinball machine:) Here's the idea...

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To add some feedback experience, I've also added real knockers. To do that I've to used 12V arduino relay with 3-5V trigger and connected it to the flipper buttons.

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 Time to fit playfield and add speakers...

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Almost there. Time to mount plexiglass playfield cover. To do that I have used aluminium slats.

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Some virtual pinball machine pictures with sticers in place.

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To build a virtual pinball machine it takes a lot of time. But once finished it gives a lot of fun. If you like pinball machines for sure it's worth of doing it.

Future Pinball tables:

IMG 20160218 163708 IMG 20160218 163631 IMG 20160218 163511 Virtual-Pinball-01 Virtual-Pinball-02 Virtual-Pinball-03 Virtual-Pinball-04 Virtual-Pinball-05 Virtual-Pinball-06 Virtual-Pinball-07 Virtual-Pinball-08 Virtual-Pinball-09 Virtual-Pinball-10 Virtual-Pinball-11 Virtual-Pinball-12 Virtual-Pinball-13

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Some tips & tricks:

  • Do not hurry:)
  • There are many similar tutorials on youtube, e.g. Build your own Virtual Pinball Cabinet - 42"/DMD/Backbox, watch them all and find your own way doing that.
  • After many research I recommend to use PinballX as a frontend. You can use Hyperpin as well, but in my opinion it's not that stable and easy to configure.
  • You can find lots of free Future Pinball and Visuall Pinball tables on http://pinsimdb.org/ and http://vpuniverse.com/.
  • Use Future Pinball with BAM (Better Arcade Mode) add-on. It gives a lot of  configuration options for best playing experience. E.g. camera point of view and head tracking.
  • If you want to add head tracking to your virtual pinball I recommend to use PS3 Eye camera with removed infrared filter, together with Track IR - lots of tutorials on youtube.

At the end I want to thank to my girlfriend Paulina for her understanding and patience:) Hopefully someone gets inspired by this article to build his own virtual pinball machine.

Copyright@2017 Arkadiusz Neubauer

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