Rockin In 2014

Welcome to 2014 and it looks like it is going to be a very interesting year.  Many new things will be happening this year at the OPP, and I predict the starting of a serious shake-up in the pinball industry.  This year is definitely going to be fun!

People like to make resolutions at the end of the year, so here they are for the OPP:

  1. Have a Logo created
  2. Visit at least one show (Allentown or York, and maybe hit both) and bring a prototype.  (Best case, it is going to be a working white wood with almost no rules, worst case, it is going to be the EM converted to solid state using the driver/input cards)

Everybody needs a logo, and the OPP is but one of them.  As mentioned so many times before, I have no artistic talent.  ZERO.  I’ve reached out to my one contact, but nothing has come of it.  If you are foolish enough to be reading this, and have some small thread of artistic talent, send me an email.


Enough with the begging.  On to the technical stuff, which is really where all the fun is located.

The power supply board is completed.  The design will be checked into the Google code repository in the next couple of days.  The board manufacturer is on vacation until 1/6/2014 so some extra days can be spent verifying the design.

Since the board is 10 cm x 10 cm, the extra unused space is being used for a respin of the RS232 interface card so that the communication connector matches all the other connectors in the system.

The last piece of the card is a custom Raspberry Pi shield.  That card contains the Raspberry Pi header, voltage translator, a MOSFET so the Pi can turn on and off the power supply, and all of the connectors necessary to interface with a complete system.  I continue to believe that the Raspberry Pi is going to be my best option.  I love the HD streaming video, and hey, I already have one.  My friend is trying to talk me into switching, but I haven’t found any good reason to consider another platform at this moment.  When I get the Pi shield, it will be more difficult to switch to a different card.

The Pi is going to provide the SPI interface (LED drivers), UART (a COM port running at logic levels instead of RS232 levels) and single GPIO bits for stuff such as turning on/off the power supply.  There are standard connectors for the solenoid drivers, input drivers and LED driver boards.  There are also spade terminals to provide the higher current voltages such as powering the LEDs for lighting.

There is a bug in the current version of the LED driver board.  It is rather simple to fix it using a cut and a jumper, but the first hard bug in a design is always disappointing.  That board was done very quickly and is the easiest of all the boards, which seems to make it most likely to have a bug.  I’ve re-thought the strategy of that card, and will change the connector so that a single control line can turn off all the LEDs at once.  It will make “blanking” all the lights that much simpler.

Kicad has been updated to a newer version, so many of the design files are also being updated.  As a stretch goal, generic part numbers will be added to all the designs with a python look up script to make ordering assemblies that much easier.  Doubtful that this will be completed before the check-in of the boards.

I noticed some of the headers have pin 1 on the left side of the connector and other have pin 1 on the right side of the connector.  I’m pretty vigilant in making sure I don’t mess stuff like that up.  I finally went through the documentation between Molex and TE Connectivity and they pin out their connectors in opposite directions.  Super annoying.  It means that when I build up boards, I have to make sure that I use an assembly picture to make sure all the connectors are rotated properly.  I added pictures of populated boards to the interface document, and that is the safest way to make sure they are correct.  Here is a link to  the current version of the interface document.  Wiring diagrams were also added to make wiring solenoids and inputs a little bit easier.

That’s all for right now.


4 responses to “Rockin In 2014

  1. emailed you a logo

  2. The pi is.. an interesting mix of stuff. Its so close to being awesome but damn it falls hard. Need a bit more gpio, and well, faster gpio access.. its cpu is just too anemic, but its video core is pretty good. I’m using it in my open pinball controller project for all the A/V work.

    good luck with your logo!

  3. Not an issue with my design because all the real time GPIO is offloaded to small cheapo processors. The Pi is simply doing the non-real time rules, displaying the score, and blinking some lights using the SPI bus. None of it is real time, so it can have as slow GPIO access as it wants. Way future, I want it to be able to stream video which is why I went with the Pi instead of the ‘fin processors.

    The only actual GPIOs I’m going to use with the Pi is the serial port (at 19200 bps), the SPI bus (at maybe 1 Mb/s), and a single output that turns on and off the power supply.

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