So the OPP cards are all done, and not much else has been happening lately. Yeah, maybe I could lay out another couple of cards to make one or two people happy (and that might happen at some point), but that isn’t really interesting to me. (edit: strangely since I wrote that sentence, I ended up doing that, and the new “plank” boards are in the repository. I have no plans on fabricating the PCBs at the moment unless I need them. Basically there are two types: 8 solenoids and an interface in a single plank (1019), or 16 incandescents and an interface in a single plank (1020).) Where do we go from here?
The original goal of the Open Pinball Project was to create a complete pinball machine from scratch. The tag line at the top of the site is “Open source pinball hardware and software – one group’s quest to build the perfect pinball machine, or at least a pinball machine for a reasonable price!” I think that OPP is going to go back to its roots.
The goal was to build ten pinball machines. I know that is never going to happen because I’m just not interested in doing that and only a fool would give me money. (Well, except those kick starter people…thanks for that). A second goal that I always had in the back of my mind was to create a completely open source pinball machine. That is where we are going to go for the next couple of years.
What is an open source pinball machine? The idea is that there is going to be enough information on this website and in the repository that a person can build a copy of the pinball machine from scratch. It will contain a whole bunch of things such as:
- Bill of Materials (BOM), so all parts can be purchased from reputable suppliers. This is in stark contrast to all my previous projects that simply reused parts salvaged from random pinball machines. Parts like flipper assemblies, pop bumper assemblies, side rails, lockdown bar, legs, etc.
- GCode for using a CNC router to cut the playfield
- Instructions for making the cabinet and backbox from scratch (may also be cut using a CNC router if that make sense)
- Art files for playfield and cabinet graphics
- Wiring diagrams
- Sub-assembly diagrams for interactive toys
- Source code to run pinball rules (based on MPF)
- STL files for all models for 3D printing or whatever file format makes most sense
- Templates for creating ball guides
- Hopefully step by step instructions from start of project to end of project
- A lot more stuff should be on this list…
Here is a quick rundown of the pinball machine:
- Disaster! themed – destruction from tornados, earthquakes, sinkholes, volcanoes, and maybe a giant animal if lucky
- Wide body machine – If only making a single pinball machine, throw everything into it so there doesn’t need to be another one. Wide body = more space.
- LCD for displaying animations and slides
- playfield layout
- Standard pinball parts from an established supplier
- Pinside thread will eventually be created to get more collaborative input
- Single board computer for running rules
- Future pinball simulation of playfield
- Planning NeoPixel full RGB lighting
I fully realize I can’t design a pinball machine from scratch. (Well not one that is going to be fun to play). I’m hoping for the machine to be a much more collaborative project and take input from many different sources. Because of that, it is going to take a long time. (Since it is only a hobby, I work on it when I have time. Right now my basement is currently running at about 48 degrees, which doesn’t make me want to spend much time down there. In the summer when my basement is 65 degrees and the upstairs is in the high 70s, I seem to do a lot more work in the basement).
This year, the focus will be on the playfield. The playfield design is going to be as original as possible. (Basically I’m not going to steal a previous playfield design. That would be the easy way out. Because of that, it is going to take a large amount of time and many revisions.) To that point, Joe and I have started to bat some ideas back and forth. Currently we are throwing a playfield design back and forth using Future Pinball. The physics in future pinball aren’t great, but we should be able to get the basic shots and geometries down. I expect that we can throw general ideas at Future Pinball, but building a white wood is not just a good idea, but necessary.
To add more collaboration, I’m trying to sign up people in the MA/NH areas for play testing of the white wood and beyond. That adds one more avenue for creative ideas to be discussed and proposed. A couple of people have said they are interested including some players that are much better than I am. Other nice thing is that it forces the design to move forward and has less chance of getting stuck at some point. Any people that are interested, send me a note (email is on the about page at the bottom). When I get things far enough along I will set up bi-weekly meetings to gather people. I’m hoping to make the prototype portable enough that I can take it to various locations to get as much feedback as possible.
Goals for the pinball machine:
- Hopefully it will be fun
- Rules will be run by MPF. I state this with every new pinball machine and then back out because I don’t have enough time. Without MPF, people won’t be able to extend the rules. I feel it is a requirement.
- It would be great if another person would build one to verify the documentation, but since I can’t control that, oh well.
- Boot time must be minimized. Van Halen takes 1 or 2 minutes to boot. Taxi takes maybe 10 or 15s. That means that I never turn on Van Halen or SS3 if I want to play a quick game. I realize this is inter-related with MPF, but this is very important for how I play pinball at my house.
Okay, this post has gone on for long enough. Time to get back to it and publish this before more things happen and I have to revise it yet again.
Well, if nothing else, this pinball machine is going to be a “Disaster!”