Monthly Archives: July 2016

7/14/2016 – Pintastic…Done!

So Pintastic came and went and now it is over.  Here is a little secret about all these pinball shows that no one ever mentions.  They have a ton of EMs that are just a blast to play.  Yeah, I played the Game of Thrones, Big Lebowskis and the Lexi Lightspeeds of the world.  I might have played a good amount of Metallica.  But what was I playing on Saturday?  EM after EM after EM.  I spent about 1/2 hour playing a Chinatown which was kind of like a bingo machine/pinball machine hybrid and discussing the rules of the game with a random person also fascinated by the machine.  Yes…EMs have rules, and some are quite complex.  It was probably one of the simplest looking games, but the depth in it, and how scoring occurred were wonderful.  Where do you see EMs on location anymore?  Never.  Pintastic, Allentown, The York show, all of them tend to have a whole bunch of EMs that most of the people are overlooking.  I think I fell in love with the little flippers this time.  (Before I was shying away from those, but I decided to give them another chance this time).  Maybe it is because I’ve been playing more pinball, or maybe it is because I can predict the ball motion a bit better now, and maybe (unlikely), but maybe, I’m starting to actually learn how to nudge the machine and have it do something.  (Probably not on the last point, but I can always dream).

So Friday night, I tried to start a new trend.  If you happen to see Jaap (guy from Dutch Pinball who does The Big Lebowski) at a bar, send him a White Russian anonymously.  He was out with the Mezels and a bunch of other pinball people (maybe a couple of the LED people).  Just buy a White Russian and have the bartender give it to him.  Why not.  Not everybody puts a drink prominently on their pinball machine.  It’s got to taste better than Genievre…really.

So the homebrew pinball panel happened, and the person who won the free boards was…somebody who wanted to do a 60s style Batman.  OK.  The contest was really short.  Basically there were three people who said they had ideas.  The first guy  stumbled around his idea and I can’t even remember what he said.  The second guy said 60s style Batman.  Last guy I knew, so, well, I disqualified him from the contest.  (He sees me every week at pinball league, so if he really wants boards, I’ll probably just give them to him).  Michael Ocean chose the 60s style Batman and the rest is history.

I guess I should say something useful about the OPP project.  I’m done with the new version of firmware, and I’m writing regression test scripts to make testing the firmware easier.  Yes, they take a long time.  (Mostly because I’ve been busy).  There are already tests created that verify the code download, board serial numbering, reset, and jump to bootloader, and reading state input functionality.  I’ve visually tested the solenoid driving stuff, but I have to write those regression tests so, well, they are reproducible.  Hopefully in the next couple of weeks (maybe the beginning of August?) I will be done.  None of the stuff that I’m adding is really necessary, but there are a couple nice to haves in there.  The newest version of firmware doesn’t require the firmware to be loaded twice.  Woohoo.  I found that bug and kicked it really early.  (Turns out that if you don’t have any Neopixels, the interrupt for the Neopixel driver keeps hitting since the FIFO is always empty.  I forgot to disable that interrupt if there weren’t any Neopixels.  By burning twice (the first image had a number of Neopixels configured), it gave it a number which made sure that it was happy.  That is now fixed, so with the new version, you only need to burn the code once.)

Well, that’s all I have time for tonight.  Go out, find a couple of EMs and play the heck out of them.  They are an absolute blast.  Side story which is somewhat related:  There was a Haunted House machine in the Pintastic auction and Mike T asked me if I would want it.  (Yeah, I know it isn’t an EM)  I told him no, I don’t want it, but it is definitely a machine that I would like one of my friends to have.  Used to be one at the Pinball Wizard arcade, but Sarah absconded with it to her house.


7/4/2016 – Come to the Pintastic panel

Pintastic is 7/7/2016 to 7/9/2016.  If possible support your local pinball shows so that they keep happening.  As an added bonus on Friday (7/8/2016) there is a homebrew pinball panel.  I will hand out a set of OPP cards (up to 20 wing boards) to the best deemed design.  (Michael Ocean is the judge and gets to pick who he thinks has the best design.)  More than likely, nobody else will be there who wants the cards, so if you are interested, just show up, and you will probably get a set of cards.  The panel is on Friday at 4:00 pm.

I’m currently working on a new version of the firmware.  This took precedence over other things that I was expecting to be doing because somebody ask for a new feature.  Basically he needed a kickback for an outlane like F14 has.  The switch for the outlane is a bit above the kickback spot, so he needs to delay kicking the solenoid for the appropriate amount of time.  That was a big enough feature request that I decided to take the time to get that done.

As part of the update, I’m planning on writing regression tests to test all the different features of the firmware.  Right now, I basically run all of the commands by hand, it takes quite a while, and I may miss some of the commands.  By automating it, I won’t have any possibilities of missing commands and it should be much more robust.  The regression tests will be in the repository when they are finished.

A couple more people are now starting to run the cards, and they send me questions as necessary.  Feel free to toss me a note.  I’m working on a lot of different things, and usually answer people’s questions rather quickly.  If there are things in the documentation that aren’t clear, make sure you ask in lieu of accidentally destroying your cards.  A couple people have asked me to add different sections to the document, and I’m trying to keep up with the requests.  (As a note, the populate board document has been updated recently with a lot more information.  Make sure to grab a new version at:  populateBrd.pdf in the repository.)

That’s about all.  See you on Friday (7/8/2016) at 4:00 pm if you get a chance.