Mmmmm, Raspberry Pi

Yesterday, I finally got my Raspberry Pi.  (Only ordered it 3 or 4 months ago.)  I’m planning on trying to stream video/display scores for the Disaster pinball machine using this guy.  Basically the Raspberry Pi will use the USB connector to read information from the pinball’s main controller (i.e. Raspberry Pi is the master, main controller is the slave.)  The Pi will poll the main controller to get the score of the active player, check to see what video should be playing, check what sound effects should be active, etc.   The main controller will respond with that information on the USB.  The Raspberry Pi will hopefully be powerful enough to do all this, but you can never really tell until you get the code up and running.  It seems like other people have gotten VLC and the java bindings working on their Pi, so that is the route I’m going to head.  I have a single 5 second video that I produced which is basically a camera flying around 3D “Disaster” letters with mountains in the background.  It is a start.  As I’ve said before, I am not artistically inclined, so I will try to get somebody else to do the heaving lifting on that stuff.

Next major step is to make mini pinball layout with at least one flipper, a bumper, a kicker, etc, and try and get the solenoid driver board to run them.  I’m hoping that during my vacation coming up, I will be able to play with it a little bit, but there is a lot of work to get to that point.   Something small that I can easily throw into the car.  That also means that I need to get the power board up and running.  Lots of work, not much time left.

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4 responses to “Mmmmm, Raspberry Pi

  1. I love that your using rasberry PI for the horsepower. $25 for more CPU power than any pinball has ever seen before, and running efficient and quickly booting (and flexible) linux.

    You say your doing a “disaster” pin? I’ve always wanted to see something like this. Taking earthshaker (earthquake vibration), mix in storms (whirlwind topper), tornados (twister). Maybe somehow mix in a tsunami wave, a section of playfield move as a landslide, a volcano (mini red balls shoot out and drain), kick earthshaker up a notch by having a section of the playfield cut out (and hinged) with crack marks, and the ball drops through the playfield (ball is actually plopped into a hidden wire ramp, and delivered back to the ball return).

    • Pretty close to the mark. The Pi is just for the display stuff. The main controller is a Freescale 52212 which can do all of the real time stuff. It then saves and posts it to the Raspberry Pi at a much slower update rate. This makes sure that graphics/display stuff can’t ever hurt the real-time stuff. I’m sure you have played video games that when lots of explosions start happening, the whole game slows down. That would be unacceptable in a pinball machine.

      Main areas in the disaster machine include the tornado bowl (either formed plastic or using wires), hole that can be opened and closed at outlet of tornado bowl, up kicker to kick multi-balls into the tornado during tornado multiball, three or four bumpers directly under the tornado, an orbit that is a normal orbit, or a post moves out to kick balls into the tornado bumpers, inner orbit to shoot ball directly into tornado, inner orbit on other side to with ramp that can be raised or lowered to feed into tornado or into bumpers, two exit rails out of tornado that feed left and right flipper lanes, one of the ramps has a bridge that can drop if earthquake occurs, a couple kick out holes sprinkled around so different tasks can be completed, and a volcano that can shoot out balls during volcano multiball. I’d attach my layout picture, but it is in my scribble, and I need to lay it out in VP to get the spacing correct.

      It is definitely going to be a tight layout. (tight meaning not much space, not meaning that it is going to play well since of course, I’ve never laid out a pinball before. I wish I could use the other meaning but that’s why it needs white boarded.) I have seen some pretty amazingly tight layouts, so I think that it is possible. The tornado bumpers may either be 3 or 4 bumpers depending on space constraints but the layout works for both of these options.

      I also want to put one or two motors below the playfield to be able to raise and lower it. Nice feature of that is that you don’t need to ever level the machine. There is a g force transducer that can automatically level the machine as necessary. The other nice thing is that the “tsunami” is going to be the playfield getting more and less steep in a “wave”. I haven’t seen this done before so it might be a new idea. (I certainly haven’t played every pinball machine out there in the world.) The landslide will be able to tilt the machine to the left or the right. That should also be interesting. Earthquake would “jiggle” the motors a little bit to get the shaking.

      That’s the general idea of the playfield. I certainly would appreciate any other ideas that people can toss out. I’ve never done this before, and I’m pretty sure, at the end of this process I will never want to make another pinball machine from scratch, but hey, I never will have to because I will already have done the core design.

  2. Sounds like you have some great ideas! If you pull this off, you could have the best original themed pinball in a long time (maybe ever).

    Seriously, send me an email from this post, I would love to collaborate on some ideas. If you have some rough sketches, I can sketch something cleaner (one that may mechanically work better). I can also model some things up in solidworks, then you can farm them out to 3d printing services for real parts.

  3. I’m just hoping to make a pinball that is playable and enjoyable. The proof is in the pudding, and that won’t be done for a long, long while. Like I said, I’m always looking for people who can give great input or even help. I am sending you an email offline from my personal account.

    About working up cleaner sketches, I just need to get the time to learn a little bit about VP. It is just another program that you need to learn enough so that your first layout has a chance of not failing completely. My sketches are currently second generation with the first generation being so overwritten with notes, that I copied every thing over in a much cleaner format. They have no physical bearing on spacing at this point because I haven’t taken the time to find out the real size of things.

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