Status report: Project VPIN – Self-made „Virtual Pinball“

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Documentation: VPIN – build your own Virtual Pinball in a old cabinet

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Why why why…

I as a 70ies child was always been fascinated about „game machines“ and since my first impression with „Pong“ and all the following experience starting from Atari VCS to Commodore C64, Amiga, Atari ST, from I386 till today still this topic for me is a „passion“. So i thought to myself after playing the table „MARS“ from Pinball FX2 on a normal TV-Screen:

A 90° rotated screen would be much better… hmm?!? and the whole stuff driven via oldschool buttons in an old cabinet realy cool too.

After many hours in boards and search engines I’ve learned that there are so-called „VPINs“ which means Virtual Pinball’s in the housing/cabinet of a pinball machine already exist … in some software variation (Virtual Pinball, Feature Pinball etc.) but exist.

I personally like the virtual pinball of Pinball FX2 or Pinball FX3 from Zen studios and bought at Steam xmas-sale a lot of tables.

Eigenbau Flipper / Self-made Virtuall Pinnball (VPIN)

Eigenbau Flipper / Self-made Virtuall Pinnball (VPIN)

 
Pinball FX3 & Ambilight

Pinball FX3 & Ambilight

Here we go….

First of all, I bought a (none virtual) old housing/cabinet (PinBall Champ82) incl. coin insert, glass & apertures.

After spending a lot of my Christmas time ‚digital‘ in boards like Flippermarkt.de, Arcadeshop, Ebay, Ebay-Second-Hand, Amazon ratings, Alternate & Google and also ‚analogous‘ in Euronics, Mediamarkt, Obi & Toom (DIY stores) parts or components get more and more clear and arrived slowly.

After

  • Samsung S27A350H (Backglass screen)
  • Nec Multisynch 1760NX (DMD screen)
  • Wavemaster Moody 2.1 (Sound system)

arrived at home i was able to make the next steps direction dimensions / diameter and the first step was a design for „wood for the backglass screen & speakers“ (so a ‚Backwood‘ – Hehe):

Backglass-Zeichnung/Draft

Backglass Design

Parts & Components:

Pinball:

Electronics:

Computer/TV:

‚UHD‘ costs (available):

  • Mouse & Keyboard
  • Filler, Spray/Paint etc.

The Backbox (top part)

As i already wrote the 17“ Screen and the 27“ TV from Ebay second hand where already at home so I could make the division as described above. Which of course brings you to the point in the so-called backbox (top part of the cabinet) but also in the complete cabinet to have some space for the 17“ Screen to work as a Dot-Matrix Display.

So that the dot matrix display (DMD), ie the DMD monitor can be adjusted in height (to fit exactly into the cutout) and is screwed to the floor of the back box in a stable manner.

For the purpose of ventilation, I have drilled a hole with the socket drill (120 to 80 adapter) at the bottom left of the „suction fan“ and made an exact cut-out for the „blowing fan“ with the jigsaw to the top to be supplied with new air from below.

In parallel, I have already for the „next project Ambilight (see my website for more details)“ with my router 3 notches (á 16 mm wide, 4.2 mm low) to have the LED strip mounted flat.

Then there was still several times filling, grinding and varnishing… and again.. and again…

The mounting of the film went quite well and with a hair dryer I could turn the corners of the fan blanket nicely… anyway it is a very exact, longtime work and the whole notches and overhangs have to be carefully cut-out with the cutter knife.

After this stuff I decided to mount 10×10 mm aluminum strips to the edges so that the printed film is protected. The whole is sawn at 45° and black not glossy (RAL 9005) varnished and with a very, very good glue attached.

Last part was the front, the so called „Backglass“… in my case „Backwood“ :-).

Der letzte Teil war dann die Front, das sogenannte Backglass… in meinem Fall dann Backwood :-). After painting & amp; Co. I used brackets to fix the 27″ Led-TV (2 pieces of wood), then with a fine perforated plate (top of the wood) and moss rubber put into tension, the speakers mounted, cable shortened and ready is the ‚back-wood‘.

After the complete insert was mounted on I could attach the DMD monitor and finally the wood piece. Done.

Pinball Case / Housing

A
t the case i dismounted all wood stuff, made a hole and a reinforcement for the subwoofer and a hole for the rear panel (to maintain easily computer during regular business). Then it started with all the sometimes rusty metal parts… and a nice Coke bath helped (yes, without Jack Daniels) and then some finish (polishing) made them look better again.

After some web-research, visits in stores & amp; I chose the Samsung UE40J6250 as a „playing field TV“, because of the dimensions, the angle of view and functions (such as „auto-power-on“ etc.) and thought ’should be suitable for my project‘. My Pinball case had 52 cm, the TV „stripped“ still round about 52.6 cm (the frame in front i used to center the front) so is the plan was: on each side a notch of 0.5 cm and 2 wooden plates á 52 cm (cross) with the 4 holes for the M8 screws of the wall bracket …. feels kind of strange to de-case a brand new TV :-).

After I mooved the plunger a little bit down (use the plunger currently not really as analog version), I created a micro-switch solution which „switches, as soon the plunger is pulled“.

With the help of a hole cutter tool I was able cut the 28 mm holes for the additional flipper buttons and the 4 navigation buttons into the sheet metal.

By these preconditions and after a long period of thinking, I was finally able to measure the dimensions with respect to the dependencies between pinball buttons (leaf switches), plunger & amp; playfield TV notch.

Attention: this should be carefully considered because of leaf-switches, movement of the plunger, covers for the glass pane / TV and play comfort/usability – so mix betwenn „view of the playing field and reach the buttons“. I decided for playing field a 15 mm distance from the glass, so that some air can circulate a bit there too. But then I finally was able to drill the notches for the Playfield TV into the housing / case (a router is really a great tool btw.) and also fix the whole thing with wall-mounting screws.

Then again with the router drill the whole holes and notches for the buttons that they fit in more flat instead use the spacer (ring).

Also the case, the computer and screens inside need a circulation… so I provided with the jigsaw (+file and emery paper) then fan cutouts (take up air right & blowing out left).

The illuminated buttons can be disassembled in such a way that it is possible to place a (inkjet)printed stickers on normal paper in front of the button. In combination with LED’s as lighting behind this looks quite nice. So I created a small graphic for the most important keys (arrows Left, Right, Top, Bottom, Enter & ESC), the whole printed, cut out » so a nice addon i thought.

The power supply I fixed with 3 woodden parts. It is also placed not to far from the mainboard & amp; SSD (distance of cables). The holes of the chasis fans I made started with the jigsaw, a bit with the file, then emery paper, so that these are nicely fit into the pinball housing.

I painted all parts black none glossy (RAL 9005) and started with pasting the foils. The whole proccess went quite well without big air bubbles and other hurdles etc. and as usual with projects like this: the real fun is always » bring the whole stuff together (see picture assembly front). Hint: check details @ the rear panel.

For pasting the foil on the sides you should be already two people because these are quit long… and the same here: cut-out for the fans and pulled with a hair dryer the foil/film over the edges.

Afterwards, I also attached the 10×10 mm edges and afterwards the housing could finally „stand on its own legs for the first time“.

In the case I mounted 2 cold cathodes which I can switch on/off to illuminate everything inside.

Because of ther was a distance between aperture and Playfield monitor, I used a sticker below and above (in the end that no one can look inside from top) and pasted at the playfield monitor a small black plastic stripe direction glass pane for optical reasons.

Design

I liked to design the self-construction pinball-cabinet by myself, so I my thoughts where: for the reflection reduction inside black none glossy and outside the whole with a special selfmade design.

So I started with roughly measured dimensions plus a little extension (cutting security you know :-.). First I started with a texture … I wanted to keep the pinball cabinet in the basic tone like „black and dirty“ and set accents with logo and graphics or light effects.

For the flange/essay where the backbox is fixed I had some space on the front. This graphic will be place here (adhesive film).

The design was quite complex… only the right / left side of the pinball has around the 100 layers and should be designed that this works together at corners etc. but after 5 nights the work was done and the printed adhesive foils were a week later „in dá house“.

Electronics

T
he IPAC2 I use as „button input » keyboard“. First of all I provided in the case power via a master-slave socket strip. The power supply comes via the junction box into the cabinet and goes directly inside in a light/socket surface-mounted combi (into light part for „children security reasons“). Then I started wiring the IPAC2 with the first switches and the LEDs I mounted on a cable clamp (address them with software may be a follow-up project). I liked to see something so I started immediately with a power supply equal times to play with the lighting and builded the buttons with the IPAC configuration (see below). Tested = successful – yes!!! :-).

In order to turn on and off the „Computer“ and also all of the components in one step, I have choosen a „master-slave“ combination. The power connection at the PC (mainboard Power) in the end the power supply is used as master on an easy to reach button (see picture „white button“). You can maintain/use the whole thing via the pinball buttons only (see configuration). In addition, I placed also „embed“ reset button (see picture red) and also placed the volume control including headphone connection at the bottom of the case.

After my 12V power supply smoked a little bit and during measurement my multimeter got killed, I browsed Amazon (again) for an industrial power supply (see components).

Then the end of this working package was visible… or in other words: I was able, after the installation of the power supply, to install/mount the TV.

Computer

I still had a WIN7 license so I reinstalled WIN10 Pro x64 from a USB flash drive and activated WIN10 with the WIN7 serial number (works since build 10565). I used as already mentioned on top of this page at parts/components a Asus mainboard & graphic card with the Corsair RAD, a Samsung SSD and a beQuiet power supply.

The „computer“ I assembled with some circuit board spacers on a lacquered piece of wood and fixed the graphics card with a threaded rod. Also the power supply then found its place including a special construction.

After the work on the cabinet/housing ended and the whole Configuration i started with the installation of the PC into the cabinet.

And after wiring of all screens, fans, etc. this part was quite fast finished.

The connection to the Internet (for the purpose of Steam) I solved with a USB W-Lan connector.

 

Software & Configuration

Due to the topic ‚virtual Pinnball‘ I installed from a software point of view first Steam including Pinball FX2  and Pinball FX3 tables. The next step was the configuration of PinballX. PinballX provides in principle:

  • Start & Overview / Selection of Pinball tables
  • Override of DMD Screen at startpage
  • Override of Backglass-Screen(permanent)

I had the following use-cases:

  • Selection of a table and then start the game (and play of course) / system shutdown
  • Multiplayer-Game

I had on the left side 3, rights side 1 (plus Plunger) and 4 in the middle buttons available to use (and of course 2 leaf-switches on each side too).

With the following setup I found a solution for my use-cases and the available hardware:

PinballX:

  • Button left top „F1“
  • Button left middle: „not used“
  • Button left bottom „not used“
  • Button right & Plunger „Enter(Return)“
  • Buttons middle: nicht belegt
  • Pinball1 right: „ctrl right“
  • Pinball1 left: „ctrl left“

ZEN Pinball FX2:

  • Button left top „not used“ (due to F1 – back to PinballX)
  • Button left middle: „ESC“
  • Button left bottom „TAB“
  • Button right & Plunger „Enter(Return)“
  • Buttons middle: „Arrow keys (L, R, O, U)“
  • Pinball1 right: „ctrl right“
  • Pinball1 left: „ctrl left“
  • Pinball2 right: „shift right“
  • Pinball2 left: „shift left“

ZEN Pinball FX3:

  • Button left top „not used“ (due to F1 – back to PinballX)
  • Button left middle: „ESC“
  • Button left bottom „TAB (Wizzard Power)“
  • Button right & Plunger „Enter(Return)“
  • Buttons middle: „Arrow keys (L, R, O, U)“
  • Pinball1 right: „ctrl right“
  • Pinball1 left: „ctrl left“
  • Pinball2 right: „shift right“
  • Pinball2 left: „shift left“

Pinball FX2

Pinball FX3

PinballX I split into 3 screens:

  • Display #1: Playfield
  • Display #2: Backglass
  • Display #3: DMD

Adapted the positions and usage of screens, the contend (wordings) and path to Pinball FX2 / Pinball FX3 (in steam) and finally the override of the DMD „ingame“ via Pinball FX2 / FX3 looks like this:

Now it´s time for some „Customizing“.

If you use both (FX2 and FX3) there are only a few tables left in FX2… so the first thing I´ve done: adapt in „…\PinballX\Databases\Pinball FX2\“ and „…\PinballX\Databases\Pinball FX3\“ folder the file „Pinball FX2 & Pinball FX3.xml“ (with tables I like).

Then in „…\PinballX\Media\“

  • Font » my custom font (overrides default which is Tahoma)
  • Loading Images & Startup Images » a Full-HD PNG my Dietle-VPIN Logo
  • Navigation Sounds » I changed the files 40% in loudness and created a new „launch.wav“
  • Startup Sounds » I like Pinball Wizard from Pink Cream 69 – so fit´s perfect

At „…\PinballX\Media\Pinball FX2\“ and „…\PinballX\Media\Pinball FX3\“ you have to make the most changes

Falls back is „Video first and if not show the Image“ in the following folders:

  • Backglass Images
  • Backglass Videos
  • DMD Images
  • DMD Videos
  • Launch Audio
  • Table Images
  • Table Videos

Soooooooo….

PinballX Anpassungen Backglass, DMD und Table Videos

PinballX Customizing Backglass, DMD and Table Videos

I like to design my own Videos soon… but till then „a search“ also works 🙂 e.g.: Pinball FX2 Backglass Video or click here you´ll find some Playtable- and DMD-Videos or Backglass-Images).

Delete the audio track in all playtable-Videos was also a good option for me… because the cool thing here is (see also my video) during table-selection (in PinballX) some things moove at Backglass, DMD and Playtable including good music. And if you ever launch a table » the Backglass-Video remains, music is faded out, Table is announced by Launch Audio and Playfield/DMD/Sound/Music comes from the game.

Ready is the

Self-made „Virtual Pinnball“ (VPIN) in an old cabinet

Images: