“”A pinball machine that plays itself, doesn’t that take all the fun out of it?” I hear you ask. Maybe if you’re not into autonomous robots it might. Me, however, I’m very much all about building robots that can do cool stuff, and this one does some pretty cool stuff.
This project was built as a senior design project for Kennesaw State University, and was a literal childhood dream come true for me to build.
The features include a working score system that tracks how many points you get, a multiball plinko machine, and an autonomous activation switch on the front that you can flip on-the-fly. There is an above-mounted USB camera that is constantly detecting the position of the flippers and the position of the pinball during play and it makes decisions based on their relative differences. More pictures of the project exist here!
While you may not be able (or even want to) recreate the project exactly, I hope this gives you inspiration or a starting point to make awesome stuff.
So, prepare yourself and…
Let’s Make Robots!
Obviously, there’s lots of supplies involved in this project, and I don’t think I can list every single piece, nor do I think it would be useful. However, I do want to provide a list of major pinball components, and tools needed to build this project. In later sections, I will try to have a more detailed list for specific components.
- Access to a CNC and/or Laser cutter
- Dremel & sandpaper
- Soldering Iron
- 3D printer (depending on your machine)
- Linux Computer
- USB Camera
- Lots of 22 / 24 AWG wire
- Lots of heat shrink for the wires
- 3/4 Inch plywood (we used Baltic birch) - 2x 4x8 sheets
- A nice power supply - Like this one!
- Buck Converter (Light Power) - Like this one!
Pretty much all the pinball components can be bought on Pinball Life.
- Left and Right Flipper assembly
- 2x Flipper bats
- 2x Flipper buttons
- 2x Leaf switches
- Pop Bumper Assembly
- 2x Slingshot assemblies
- At least 6x star posts for the slingshots
- At least 2x 2” rubber bands for the star posts
- Launcher mechanism
- As many #44 bayonet-style lights and mounting brackets as your machine needs
- As many playfield inserts as your machine needs
- As many spinners as your machine needs
- As many rollover switches as your machine needs
- As many stand-up targets as your machine needs
And, of course, an Arduino Mega!”