Monthly Archives: July 2017

7/14/2017 – Youtube videos of talk available

If anybody is really bored this weekend, here are the videos of the talk that I gave on pinball electronics.  Goes from EM machines to what I call Gen3 machines.  Those who couldn’t make it to Pintastic 2017 might be interested.

I forgot to mention the total cost of the Van Halen machine.  All said and done, it cost about $480 to make it a reality.  That included everything from the base non-working Dolly machine to the two cards that I blew up and replaced because I kicked out the ground plug.

Without further adieu, here are the videos.  (It was broken into 3 separate files by the camera, and I don’t know how to join them together, so sorry about that.)

Look, it’s Dave Marston as the thumbnail!


7/12/2017 – Pintastic 2017, Now it is over

Pintastic 2017 has come and gone.  I am as happy to see it gone as can be.  Too much stuff trying to be forced into a small period of time.  It was all done.  Some could have been done better, but, everything was done.  Here is a quick run down:

Drove there Friday morning and met up with Dave Marston.  Made sure that he had my presentation, and we could display it on the screen.  That all went well.  Met with John C.(originator of pinball night back when I lived in CT), and we started the unload of the machines.  After about an hour and a half, both machines were set up in the free play hall.  That’s when I noticed an issue…I had forgotten to bring the boom box topper for Van Halen…

You can’t have a music pin without having any speakers, so it was back into the car to drive an hour each way to grab the topper from my house.  Doh!  My own fault for making sure all the machines were in the car, but not doing a final walk through to see if I had missed anything.

We got back to Pintastic at noon and finally got the machine all together.  One issue with Pintastic is that the free play room is amazingly loud.  Ear splitting loud.  My kids don’t want to go to Pintastic because it is so loud in the main room.   In my basement, the speakers are so loud on the pins, that I only turn the amplifiers up to about 1/4 power.  At Pintastic, I needed to turn the amplifiers the whole way up, and the call outs could not be heard clearly over the din.

Back to the machines.  Van Halen was running perfectly, but SharpeShooter was having issues with one of the solenoid cards.  After an hour, I finally traced it to the fact that the high power ground for that card wasn’t working properly.  I could have tried to jumper the wire to another ground wire, but then I pulled out the molex connector and squeezed it slightly.  That was enough to make the connection, and everything was working properly.  These are the standard molex connectors used for PC power supplies where the connector on the board is a pin, and the wires from the playfield surround that pin.  I have never seen those fail before, but it could be because I tugged the wires too hard and bent the circular pin.  It was an easy fix once I figured it out.

While the Van Halen pin never had any problems, players could not hear the callout to tell them how to choose David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar as the lead singer.  If I had it to do over, and wasn’t so frazzled from fixing SharpeShooter, I would have simply defaulted the game to randomly pick the lead singer.  As it was, people many times started a four player game before pounding on the buttons enough to start the actual game.  If I was standing there, I would explain how to start the game, but most of the time, I wasn’t standing beside the machine.  Van Halen actually ran all weekend and never needed to be reset.  That is a testament to that little Pi and how well it worked.

So now everything was working, and we decided to go to lunch.  (Went to BT Smokehouse which is by far the best restaurant in the area.  Much better than the Oxhead Tavern).  Got back, and found out that every once and a while SharpeShooter lost USB communication.  That was one of the changes that I made between two years ago, and this year.  I didn’t have time to fix it properly, so I threw a keyboard and mouse onto the USB bus which fixed the issue most of the time.  Now that it is home, I can fix it properly.

By the time we got back from lunch, it was almost time for the seminar.  I sat in on the last half of the seminar on making a 60 in 1.  The guy seemed really knowledgeable and seemed like he had been building them for years.  After that, I did my seminar on general pinball electronics.  I have to give a shout out to Richard K.  for giving his opinions on the best way to clean contacts and controllers in EM machines.  The talk ran a little bit long, and we didn’t get to the last few slides.  It sounded like there was a mixture of people interested in pinball electronics, and were building their own machines.  I gave away a bunch of free stuff and hopefully everyone was happy.

After the talk, I finally got a chance to go play some pinball.  We ended up playing until the close of the freeplay room.  We went into the VIP lounge but it was even louder in there.  There were so many people, and the room was so small, that we just walked right out.  We adjourned to the bar, had a couple of beers, and then closed out the night.

Next day, machines were up and running properly, so I got to spend more time playing a ton of EMs.  I love the old EMs.  They are certainly my favorites when going to a show like this.  There was a Zaccaria Time Machine that I really wanted to play, but it had a failure and wasn’t running.

At 11 am, I walked a couple people through what the inside of the machines looked like, and how the boards worked.  It ended up only being a couple of people from Manchester, NH, but I was glad to see their interest.

At about 3:00 pm, I ran out of steam, and decided to pull the machines and go home.  Through my own mistake, I had never really put the machines officially in the free play room.  The nice part was that I could pull the machines a little bit early and not be charged a fee.  I went back to BTs for a last meal and drove home.  I was absolutely spent on Saturday, and then spent most of Sunday laying on the couch.

When I get a chance, I will put the videos of the talk up on youtube.  Both John and Derek K. recorded the talk.  That’s about how it went.

7/4/2017 – Ready for Pintastic 2017

We are ready for Pintastic.  All the machines have been moved to the garage so I can put them in the car on Thursday night and drive them to Sturbridge, MA Friday morning.  I gotta tell you, I’m sick of building pinball at this point.  I need a vacation.

I just figured out last night, that not only did Joe and I retheme a whole machine including rules, electronics, and art from middle of January to now, but I also rewired SS3 from Gen1 OPP boards, to Gen2 boards, and updated the Pinball Framework to support the newer cards.  That is one heck of a lot of pinball for one year, and I am tired.

I will see whoever is going to Pintastic this weekend.  I’m giving a general seminar on pinball electronics on Friday at 3:00 pm.  There will be a good amount of free stuff given away.  Come one, come all.   I’ll be around all weekend so stop me if you are interested in seeing how the machines work.

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