2/28/2015, Lights, Camera, Action

In the last three weeks, some major pieces of work have been completed and a lot of little things.

I was having some issues reliably communicating with the incandescent cards.  My original interface card between the parallel port and the incandescent boards used simple FETs to convert from 3.3V to 5V.  When I sent the interface card to Cactus Jack, I made him an interface card using a 3.3V to 5V driver chip.  The problem with using the straight FETs is that the slew rate is very fast, and I was getting a lot of reflections on the signal lines.  I had a couple of extra driver interface chips around and built up a card.  As soon as I installed that card, the light bulbs immediately started working reliably.  I’ll eventually create a Kicad version of the card that will also be combined with the RS232 interface card.

Spent a good amount of time finishing up mounting the playfield in the correct position, making a plate to mount the shooter rod, etc.  After remounting the lockdown bar to the correct position, the playfield now easily falls into position, and the shooter bar now lines up properly.  One more mechanical fear removed.

All the incandescent bulbs have now been replaced with LED bulbs.  The warm white three LED bulbs from Pinball Life seem yellow to me.  I was expecting a slightly different color, but I’ve grown used to the color.

Spent some time just at the end of the week starting to work on the rules.  Nothing big happening yet, but just starting to write the code.  The code for the coin drop was ripped out because the machine will be on free play.  I’m expecting to only have the eleven modes completed.  I don’t think that I’m going to be able to get multi-ball to work by Pintastic.  The main problem is that I don’t know how to hook up a second switch, so I can detect when both balls are in the drain.

So I’m officially declaring it four months until Pintastic New England.  (Pintastic is actually on the 11th of July, but close enough.)  I only calculated it this week, and was completely surprised that it is only four months, and not six months until July.  Doh!  I better get crack-a-lackin.  The one nice part is that all of the electronic hardware is tested.  That means most of the stuff is coding, and adding artwork.  It is going to be a lot of work, but it looks like it is possible to make it.

Because of time constraints, I’m starting to drop out unnecessary nice to haves.  I was planning on doing new plastics, but since the plastics are in good shape, I’m expecting to re-use the existing ones.

I’m declaring that the machine will hopefully as good as a NIB Stern machine.  As everyone knows, Stern typically tosses out machines with far from finished code.  By July I’m hoping to have SS3 playing well enough to have fun for the casual player, but won’t have the depth of rules that I’m currently expecting in the end.  A lot of time has to be spent on getting the physical outside of the machine and playfield ready, and that is going to have to take precedence over having a set of rules that you can spend months trying to master.

Here is a quick video of the current progress:

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