Monthly Archives: April 2016

4/23/2016 – Received boards

I received the boards on Thursday.  So the boards were ordered on April 8th, and they were received on April 21st, so that is about a 13 calendar day turn if you pay for the more expensive DHL shipping.  That is quite amazing to me.  (The shipping was about $30 as compared to the slower shipping which would be about $20).  I like to give order to receiving times so other people ordering from Iteadstudio can figure out what is the best option for them.

I built up a three of the solenoid boards, tested them, and they worked spectacularly.  Next I built up a couple of the interface boards.  I immediately found out that I messed up the panellization a little bit, and because of the error, I only got 60 good boards instead of the 120 boards I was expecting.  I fixed the issue in the repository, so now the Gerbers for the panellized 1016 board are correct.  Water under the bridge.

I ended up purchasing a stencil for populating the incandescent surface mount board.  I originally was using ohararp.com for my stencils, but they require a you to purchase an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet which is $25 plus shipping.  Since the boards are so small, I started searching around for other options.  I found oshstencils.com which sells stencils on a per square inch basis.  I needed three stencils (top low side switch, top high side switch, and bottom high side switch).  I ended getting all three of these plus a holder for the PCB boards for about $16.  Very good price.  I should be receiving them by the end of this week, and I’ll report on how it works out.

Just added a new benefit to the Kickstarter campaign.  Anybody that pledges at the DIY or Big Spender level will get future orders of boards for 75 cents a board plus $5 shipping.  At that price, the project will still be self sustaining.  I feel that it is the right thing to do reward the original supporters.   I don’t really know how useful that is to people because how many machine is a single person really going to build.  It’s been three years, and I’m still working on the same machine.

I’m building the new boards to replace all the SS3 Gen 1 boards with Gen 2 boards.  I’m not sure if I will have time, but I may take SS3 back to Pintastic this year running on MPF.  It would be a significant amount of work and would involve doing some rewiring, a complete rewriting of the rules, and a lot more testing.  The benefit would be more extensive real world testing, fixing the incandescent bulb interface to not be bit banged on the parallel port, and better testing of the MPF interface.

Did a significant amount of work on the Populating boards document.  It’s getting much closer to being completed, but still needs more info on general wiring playfields.

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4/9/2016 – Incandescent Board Testing Complete

Got a little time this week and finished testing the surface mount incandescent board.  I had previously tested the board being populated as a low side switch, but had to go back and test the board as a high side switch.  That involved building another test fixtures, with each of the LED bases tied to ground, and the incandescent board turning on and off the power supply.  It went well and everything worked the first time.

The one nice part of performing this test is that I really needed to think about how the 12V to turn on and off the MOSFET was going to get to each of the cards.  All of the cards have a 12V rail where a wire can be attached to send this voltage to the other wing boards.  That’s nice, but how is the 12V going to get to the first card.  I had an extra pin left over on the ribbon cable between cards, so it makes a lot of sense to use that to carry 12V between all of the different cards.  The only issue left is how does the 12V get attached to the first card.  I added a simple 2 pin 100 mil header so the 12V can be sent to the first card in the chain, then all the other cards get the 12V over the ribbon cable.  Very nice and very clean implementation.

I also found out after hooking multiple cards together that it was difficult to send the data to the first card in the chain.  Three pins of the 4 pin header were used, then the last pin needed to be moved to one of the ribbon cable connections.  Do-able, but very hokey.  I ended up adding a 3 pin header so it is easy to switch between using the 4 pin header, and the ribbon cable connectors.

All the cards needed to be panellized.  I spent a couple of hours over the last few days doing the panellization and running everything through freeDFM which should insure everything will go smoothly when ordering from IteadStudio.  After doing a little math on Friday, I found out that I could actually fit 12 cards in a panel for the interface cards.  Fantastic!   That means that it makes 120 cards per order.  Very efficient.  On Friday night I ordered the three different cards which included solenoid cards, incandescent cards, and interface boards.  I ended up paying for the faster delivery.  (The Kickstarter people deserve it.)

Things are moving quickly.  Gotta finish building the Sultan’s cards, and then it is mostly a waiting game until I get the cards.

4/1/2016, Wasn’t this Kickstarter day?

Yeah, this was the original planned day for the Kickstarter start.  I got sick of holding off on it, so I started it about a week earlier.  The Kickstarter has been funded, so I’m already moving on to updating the solenoid and the interface boards.  I’ve already panellized the new versions of the boards, but I need to test the surface mount incandescent boards before I can send off the order.  I just wanted to take the time on my blog to thank all of the people who have supported the Kickstarter.  When starting the Kickstarter, I wasn’t sure that it was going to get three supporters who wanted cards.  We are past that at this point, which hopefully means that other people find it useful.

My idea behind an open source project was to make sure that others would have access to it and be able to make use of it.  There is no point to an open source project if others don’t use it.  Of course pinball is a niche hobby, and people building their own pinball machines is even a smaller niche of that niche.

There are a bunch of people who read the blog from Australia.  When I picked the shipping countries, the easiest was to pick US, Canada, and the EU.  If the person that reads the blog from Australia/New Zealand, etc,  want cards, send me a note and we’ll figure it out.  (My email address is on the bottom of the About page in this blog).   I’m pretty sure it is about $15 shipping to those places.

Got a chance to play the Hobbit, at Funworld in Nashua, NH on Thursday.  Sorry Joe, I didn’t get a high score, so your initials will not be on the leader board.  (I told you it was unlikely).  The game felt floaty as others have mentioned.  I also got a ball stuck in one of the pop ups.  Evidently the code doesn’t know how to clear that issue, because the glass had to be popped.  It is strange that there are already two Hobbits in southern NH.

I have just updated the firmware for the boards to version 0.1.1.  The biggest fix is it removes debug code that accidentally got left in the build.  It doesn’t affect anyone using MPF and the OPP boards (since they don’t use the non-volatile configuration), but others using the OPP boards in white wood only mode, should update their code.