Wire Railing

My 2mm stainless steel rods came in today, they’re pretty thin but really strong. I drew up a quick and dirty support idea to 3D-print and try out:

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I’m waiting for it to come off the 3D printer, four of them take about 30 minutes to print.


Power 2.0

The power system has been upgraded, and the cables rewired. I actually cleaned a few things up. The 1.0 version had two 5v/12v supplies, and the 2.0 version has one dedicated 5v and one dedicated 12v supplies that will supply higher amperage. The 5v supply is 60 amps! It will power LEDs, Fast Boards, and servo motors. The 12v will do 17 amps, plenty to drive my new RGB-LED DMD board along with whatever else I need. I’m really happy with how the wires cleaned up and got simpler.

Tougher Solder Joints

Last night I removed all the playfield mechanics and their connectors, then made new ones with longer leads. I soldered them back on, followed by two layers of heat-shrink tubing. That ought to fix the wire breaking issues. I did this for all the solenoids, but not the switches as they seem to be holding up pretty well. I will add heat shrink on all new devices, solenoid or switch, in the future though.


Oh yeah, one more thing: I was going to start the wiring harness for the DMD but found that I don’t have any more Molex 7-pin KK-series connectors, so I ordered some additional ones today.

A Few Goals

Okay, so recovery was needed and things are mostly back to normal. This week my goals are to strengthen the wires at the solder joints on all the mechanical parts, and to fix the plunger lane guide and the sticking slingshot guides. My 12v supply arrived Saturday, and I also ordered a new 5v supply which will be here later this week. I’ve ordered a couple of servo motors to test out with the new control board. If I get that far, I’ll replace my power supplies with the new ones, and wire up the RGBLED-DMD board I got from Fast Pinball, but that’ll require a mount that I’m not sure I’m ready for yet.

Aside from fixing behind-the-scenes wiring, I plan on dialing in the solenoid strength for my flippers and slingshots, and maybe I’ll even get a full “game” config working where you can hit the start button, have the trough eject a ball, shoot it, then let it drain and reset everything.

Recover Week

So this week I haven’t done much, I’ve been taking time to recover from the weekend show. I really was exhausted, and coming right back to work has been tough. Anyway, no more excuses. I trimmed the left flipper leaf switch so it won’t collide with the playfield apron, I rewired the amplifier and got the music working again (sounds great!), and started tracing the issue with the start button since the ammeter says everything is fine. It’s probably the ground wire.

I picked up a new 12v power supply to run the new RGBLED-DMD I got from Fast Pinball, and I also ordered a 5m strip of WS2812B RGB-LEDs to play around with, and a cute little board that will run 12 servomotors. That should be enough for me to stay busy this weekend.


Northwest Pinball and Arcade Expo 2018

I’m back from a tired weekend in Tacoma attending the expo, and have a few things to report. I had several problems getting my prototype up and running which took most of the day Saturday to track down and fix. Still, it would have taken much longer without the excellent assistance of the other Fast Pinball booth workers (and extra thanks especially to Aaron, Eli, and Brian!).

First off, I had a ground wiring issue on the cable from the Fast power filter board to the Fast nano controller. Once that was fixed, I started to see weird reboot issues occasionally on the controller. Eventually I found that my power switch is flaky and not making a good connection. So I removed it from the loop, but then still saw some problems. I replaced my 5v/12v power supply and things seem to be much happier now.

Secondly, my molex connectors work great, but disconnecting and reconnecting several times put too much stress on the wire at the solder joint, and I had several of those connections break. Consensus is that heat-shrink over the joint should help reinforce the wire and take up some of that stress.

Problems aside, Sunday was a great day and I ran the entire time without seeing any reboot issues. I also got a fantastic RGB LED display board to incorporate into my machine!

Aaron’s vision of the booth really came out. We build a “wood-paneled basement” to put the finished project games in, and it really looked great. You can see my in-progress cabinet on the other side of the divider wall. Brian’s playfield artwork on the wall made it great, and his Jupiter Crush machine is plain amazing!


The Night Before Expo

I’m leaving tomorrow for the NW Pinball and Arcade Expo in Tacoma WA. I’ve worked hard the past six weeks to have something to show, and I’m pretty proud of where I’m at right now. Sure I’d like to be even further along, but I really can’t complain.

Last night I worked on some wiring and a little surprise, too. I stripped all the metal from the cabinet sides and added some temporary artwork. It looks really great for being temporary, and really dresses up the machine! I can’t wait to show it off this weekend.

I installed the flipper buttons with their leaf switches. I had a hard time finding the right size screw to hold the leaf switches and ended up grinding down the threads on some screws that were just barely too big around.

Tonight I finished up the wiring. I moved the ball trough bank of switches to their correct home, which I neglected to do the first time. I finished the wiring for the cabinet molex connector that feeds the start button, left and right flippers, and 12v power to the ball trough. I’m short one RCA cable to finish up the speaker wiring, but I’ll see if I have a spare at home and take it with me to maybe finish at the show. I also forgot to make the RJ45 cables I need to connect the Fast Pinball boards together, I think I’ll do that before I leave tomorrow morning if I can remember.


Now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag, yes, my pinball machine will be themed after the cartoon “Invader Zim”. I will transition from this blog over to my Project Zimball page: Invader Zim Pinball Machine for continued development.