Status June 2013

It’s been a long time since I’ve written, and I just wanted to note that the OPP has not fallen off the face of the earth.  I started my new job in MA, and things are going well there.  The traffic in MA is fantastic!  Because of that, I’ve been getting to work around 7 am because it drops half an hour off my current commute.  I’d rather go early and have a shorter commute, than go later, and wait in traffic and nearly double my commute.

Enough about non-pinball related stuff.  Disaster GUI.  I’m currently running it on a 64 bit Windows 8 box.  It is working and streams hi-def video very cleanly.  This is the main focus of my work.  I’ve added another screen resolution because the cheap laptop that I bought can not handle the prototype resolution without the information being off the screen.  That ends up meaning there is now a passed parameter called -scrSize=(FULL|PROTO|SMALL).  It defaults to FULL.  Since I was always running the GUI in PROTO, I didn’t notice that VLC wasn’t properly stretching the HD video.  That should be happening automatically, but maybe I need to pass a different parameter when I create the canvas.  I also noticed that the scores only look proper when the size is PROTO.  I didn’t bother scaling them for the other two sizes, so now I need to go back and do that.  Since I’m basically going to be working on a 64 bit platform, I’m going to check the code in as 64 bit.  If your build is on a 32 bit platform, you just need to run the batch file to switch it back.  (The batch file copies the appropriate DLLs, 32 bit or 64 bit, to the appropriate location)

I haven’t started the code to take in the rules file and output a C file.  That code should be fun to write, so I’m actually looking forward to that.  After that I need to write a bunch of build scripts to compile the files, create a JNI interface, etc.  All good stuff!

Other stuff lately includes I’ve gotten to play at a lot of good pinball locations.  Went to Pinballz in Austin, TX.  They keep their machines in very good shape and I had a blast playing them.  Got to play a lot of machines that are talked about highly and I have never had a chance to play.  The quality of the machines is also very high.  Most of them worked extremely well, and one week I even went on 80’s kickback night, so I got to play Pinbot for 25 cents a shot.  Nice!

Since I’ve moved to MA, I’ve been going to the Pinball Wizard arcade up in Pelham, NH one night a week after work.  Their machines are also in pretty good shape, and they have the 100 tokens for $20.  That always suckers me into paying more money for machines than I would normally pay.  The quality of the machines are a little bit worse than the place in Austin.  I’ve been playing a lot of machines to try and give me more ideas.

Last thing is that I’m considering switching processors for the project.  As I said before, the driver boards, and LED boards are very difficult for me to produce.  It takes me approximately 4 hours to build a single board.  That would not be good enough to build a machine because I need 8 or 10 boards per machine.  I considered dip soldering the boards which should work nicely, but I’m now thinking of going with a surface mount design.  It takes a lot less time to populate/reflow solder the boards.  I could also reclaim some board area because the surface mount parts are significantly smaller than the DIP parts.  If the project gets large enough to actually do a run a boards that I don’t produce myself, it would be much cheaper to produce an all surface mount board.  I am also considering switching to the STM8 processor because it is cheaper than the current Freescale processor that I’m using.  One of the projects at work is using that base processor, so I’m probably going to be pretty familiar with it by the end of the project.

That’s about all for tonight.  Sorry that I haven’t been writing posts lately, but with the changing of the jobs, moving from one state to another state, etc, it has been busy.

Last thing is that PinMaineia is in a couple of weeks.  Not sure if I can make it this year, but I’m going to try.  My wife’s mother lives in Portland, so if I can talk the family into going there for the weekend, I might be able to make it for at least one day.  Support your local tournaments!

If you happen to be in the Pinball Wizard arcade in Pelham during the week, and see a geeky looking guy with glasses, and carrying a backpack, it’s probably me.  Stop me and introduce yourself.  It would freak me out to find out that somebody actually reads this stuff.


2 responses to “Status June 2013

  1. It sounds like a positive change for the hardware design, but I’d suggest focusing on getting a fully working prototype before revving your boards again. You’ll find a lot more quirks and things you want to change once you start plugging things in to a real machine.

    • Yeah…changing jobs/moving to a different state, etc, has really cut down on my free time. I have to really focus, and not go down too many different holes. I have enough hardware boards to make 5 different pinball machines. I have enough chips to make one full up pinball machine, so I should just focus on getting a running prototype. I did lose access to the CNC machine that I was using at my previous job.

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