Monthly Archives: December 2014

12/27/2014, Clearcoated playfield

The days before Christmas, I took time to fill in most of the post holes. Many of the holes could not hold the post studs anymore because they were stripped. The holes for the guides were also too large. Sometimes larger screws were used instead of the original screws. I’m going to change the studs back to the correct size, so that involved filling the playfield holes.  Some of the holes were so stripped they required two skewers to fill the hole.  I will end up drilling a pilot for each filled post hole to make sure that the post is at the correct position.

I ended up picking the bamboo skewers and glue method. I took a bamboo skewer, dipped it in some wood glue, then jammed it in the hole. After the glue dried, I used dikes (diagonal pliers) to cut off the extra skewer. Next, I used an exacto knife to make it flush with the playfield and get it ready for sanding.  Here’s a quick picture of the acupuncture playfield.


The days around Christmas gave me some time to work on the playfield.  You may remember in the last few pictures that the playfield had the old art. I spent a couple quality hours with the orbital sander to remove the old art and create the “white wood”.  I ended up using 180 grit sandpaper to remove the artwork, and moving up to 220 grit sandpaper for the final smooth coat.  I purchased some 600 grit sandpaper, but since this is a a sublayer under the eventual mylar, it didn’t seem worth it.

After finishing the sanding, I used masking tape to mask off all the holes/light sockets in the playfield.  Polyurethane isn’t conductive, so it will destroy all the lamp sockets that it coats.  After masking off all the holes in the playfield, I wiped the playfield down with a rag, then wiped it down with some mineral spirits.  Let that dry and did a second wipe down.

The weather outside was over 50 degrees, so I could spray polyurethane outside and avoid the fumes.  I used four coats.  The first coat soaked into the wood as expected, the second coat soaked in a little bit, in a few areas, but most of it provided good coverage.  The third and fourth coats provided perfect good smooth coats.  The playfield stayed outside for a few hours to out gas.  Here’s a quick picture of the current playfield.


I started looking for a backbox.  Sarah had some but they were too expensive for what I needed.  I just got in contact with K’s Arcade, and they think they might have some good candidates.  Hopefully I can also pick up the few remaining parts that I need.  That includes stuff like a lockdown bar, the plate that the lockdown bar locks into, a couple of flipper buttons, etc.  Mostly little bits that I haven’t picked up yet.

Next up will be putting the playfield back together.  Making a big order from Pinball Life for LED bulbs and some other random playfield parts that are broken and the parts I can’t scrounge from somewhere else.  I’m hoping to get the playfield into the cabinet by the end of January, but end of February is more realistic.

To finish the art, the top playfield parts will need to be removed again, and mylar added, and recoated with clearcoat, but that is many months away.  I still do not have any idea how I’m going to create the art on the playfield.   I have a couple ideas for art on the cabinet and backbox.

After the playfield is back together, and in the cabinet, I can start programming the rules.  That will involve finishing the framework, and hand coding all of the functions.  I’m not going to take the time to have the auto-generator to create the function code.  While that is a cool idea, I’m not sure how many people would use it, or if people would simply hand code the rules so they have more control of the machine.

12/14/2014, Video of Light Show

Finished some wiring today, and dragged an old computer down to run the lights.  I wanted to be able to have the old computer sitting down there so it didn’t need to set it up and torn down each time.

I wired in a PC power supply, and grabbed the 5V to power the lights.  It also uses the 12V for turning the FETs on and off.  There were a couple of light bulbs out, but since the whole thing is going to use LEDs, I didn’t feel like spending the time to change the bad bulbs.  Strangely, when I look back at my last post, I was pretty certain that I wasn’t going to work on the wiring.  Turned out it was low hanging fruit that needed to be done, and I had bought more crimps, so it made it pretty simple.  Here is a link to the video.  The blinking lights are slowed using a 100 ms sleep so the lights don’t blink too quickly.  I turned the basement lights off which is why the video is grainy.

The 5V from the power supply definitely doesn’t have enough ummph to run the mixture of 44 and 47 bulbs.  The playfield has about 50 bulbs, and when trying to run all of them, the bulbs get really dim.  Looking back at the bulb measurements I did, a 44 is 220 mA, a 47 is 136 mA, while a 4 SMD LED bulb is about 30 mA.

The test worked well enough, that I’m probably just going to tear down the setup and start working on the top side of the playfield and the cabinet.  Both need to be sanded down so art can be applied.

11/30/2014, Playfield Locations Completed

Stitching the scans together is completed.  I was originally going to stitch everything by hand which is a pain, but at Joe’s suggestion, I ended up using the Microsoft ICE program.  First the rows of the playfield are stitched together.  Then all the the rows are stitched together to form the whole playfield.  Make sure that the camera motion is set to Planar Motion 1.  If ICE is allowed to automatically select the camera motion, it seems to default to Rotating motion where it warps the center of the image.  You can still see issues in the image, but it seems pretty good.  Here’s a quick low-res picture of the stitched together playfield:


The real image is around 250 MPixels.  I then took this image, and imported it into GIMP.  I started by reducing the scan from 600 DPI to 150 DPI.  600 DPI might be necessary for reproducing the artwork, but as mention before, I’m going to replace all the artwork.  150 DPI is sufficient to locate all of the features.

In GIMP, first create another layer the same size as the playfield artwork.  Then I started overlaying circles and rectangles.  With the new layer selected, use Tools->Selection Tools->Ellipse Select or Rectangle Select.  Create a rectangle or circle that matches the size of the feature.  I created a rectangle or circle covering the pop bumpers, inserts, holes for post screws, holes for GI light bulbs, slits for inlane, etc.  After creating a circle or rectangle, choose Select->Border and make a one pixel wide border.  Next fill the border with black by choosing Edit->Fill with FG color.  Finally fill it in with a hash pattern using Tools->Paint Tools->Bucket Fill inside of the outline.  After a few short hours, I had the following picture:


Here are a few quick pictures with the plastics still on it.  I grabbed these right before the teardown of the playfield.  I will eventually scan the plastics to get their sizes for making new ones with new art.


Notice my swank flipper buttons at the bottom.  Oh the things that you can do with an electrical junction box.

There is still a free T-shirt available.  Not really know why I’m bothering to mention it except I’m sick of carrying the two sizes of T-shirts in the glove box of my car.

Next up will be finishing the wiring of the feature lights and sanding fun.  (I can put finish feature lights wiring for another two or 3 months until I get around to doing it.  For some reason, I’m not very excited about it.)  I’m getting bored of doing mechanical work, so I might start working on the pinball framework again.