Monthly Archives: August 2015

8/17/2015, Why have I never stopped at Flippers in Grandy, NC

Disclaimer:  No technical content on this blog entry, so if that what you seek, just skip over this one.

My family has been visiting the Outer Banks in NC since 1968.  To get there you drive down to Norfolk, VA, and then take little two lane roads until you reach the Outer Banks.  This year, the drive down from Boston was split into two days and spent the night in Norfolk.  Getting up in the morning, we got a jump on the traffic and I got a chance to stop at Flippers.

Wow, the arcade is fantastic!  They have both old and new machines.  This is where the NC state finals are held, and it is very easy to see why.  They probably have 50 or 60 pinball machines, and all of them are in exceptional condition.  The machines play like they should play.  They haven’t clearcoated all the playfields so that all the shots are easy.  The playfields are the original playfields, and they play how they did 30 years ago.  Spectacular.

Here were some of the highlights:

  • Humpty Dumpty machine that you can play for a nickel.  First flipper machine ever, and it just has to be given a try.  It almost seems like a nudge machine instead of a flipper machine.  It is very difficult to move the ball up the playfield and a flipper can only move it up one level.
  • Big Bang Bar.  Set at 50 cents per play.  Actually all the machines that I played were 50 cents a play.  I now understand why people call it a single shot game, but it was really fun to play it.  The callouts are not for the kids.
  • Cactus Canyon revisited.  Very fun game.  Seemed to have lots of different shots and a good amount of depth.
  • Monster Bash.  First Monster Bash that I have played that didn’t have major issues.  Tons of fun to shoot Frankenstein and electrify him.
  • Medievel Madness.  Always a fun play.
  • Tons of new Stern machines including Kiss, Walking Dead, Star Trek, etc.  By why play those, when you have so many classic titles to choose?  (Well one reason might be because they are only 50 cents a play)

I’m hoping to break away from the family and do one more trip up there to play for a couple more hours.

If you are going to the Outer Banks in NC, you will be driving past Flippers, and you should really stop.  Stop for a couple of minutes to play some really rare machines, or spend more time, and really get a chance to experience the best arcade that I’ve ever seen.


8/11/2015, Second Gen Boards arrived

Good gosh!  I am consistently amazed at how quickly boards can be produced in China and get shipped to the US even with slow Hong Kong post shipping.  The boards were ordered on 7/28/2015.  It is now 8/11/2015, so the boards were received in 2 weeks even choosing the slowest shipping option available.  (They did up their shipping rate by $3 which annoys me, but it continues to be a really good value for the money.

It is funny how when laying out boards, it is always zoomed into the board, so it seems like they are rather large.  Then when they are received, wow, they are really itty bitty boards.  Each wing board is approximately 1″ x 2″.  When eight of them are thrown down on a single PCB (i.e. the mashup which is in the repository), it is still only 4″ x 4″ of PCB (or < 10 cm x 10 cm).

Last night I cut out all the boards using the tile saw.  Next time, I might change the mashup layout a little bit to minimize the number of cuts that I have to make, but all in all, it worked out really well.  It took about an hour to cut out the 80 boards.  I soldered up two of each of the cards and I’m shipping them out to somebody who is interested in working on the embedded code for the next generation boards.

After looking at the PSoC 4200 in a little bit more depth, I’m not really that jazzed about their initially programmed bootloader.  It uses too many resources and does not seem “hardened” enough.  One of the lower priorities will be to rewrite that piece of code.

Here’s a quick picture of all the boards cut out:


Here are the boards that are populated.  Note:  When I tried to do the mashup, I lost the VLED voltage plane, so I had to add a wire.  I fixed that issue the day after I ordered the boards, so the Gerbers in the repository are correct.


Here is a mockup of the PSoC 4200 with the wing boards.  This guy supports 4 solenoids, 8 inputs, and 16 incandescent bulbs (Note:  Inputs don’t require a card because they are attached to the inputs of the processor.  You can see the connector soldered straight to the board):

Sol4, Inp8, Incand 16

Here is a mockup of the PSoC 4200 with the wing boards.  This guy supports 8 solenoids, 8 inputs, and 8 incandescent bulbs:

Sol 8, Inp 8, Incand 8

Last mockup with the wing boards.  This guy supports 4 solenoids, 16 inputs, and a SPI interface that can be used to talk to WS2812 chips (Neopixels):

Sol 4, Inp 16, SPI

I did some quick power measurements on SS3.  Power for SS3 in Attract mode 142W.  Power holding up both flippers 202W.  Base power for the four power supplies creating 48V is about 50 to 60W.  Taxi in attract mode is 110W.  Holding both flippers up is 140W.  I’m going to be removing 4 of the PC power supplies and replacing it with a single 36V supply.  That should reduce the power by a good amount.