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Author Topic: [6/29/19]*Alpha w/ Optical Support*-Major League SkeeBall -- SkeeBall Controller  (Read 11094 times)

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Sharkdoc

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Watching, just picked up a project machine and very curious how this will play out. Missing the marquee on mine so liking the lcd replacement. I've used ipac on a mame cabinet before. So basically imagining ripping the guts out of mine and adding a Pi with Ipac. Curious which switches you are using. Would love to test the software out too!

zimmer62

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I would love to test this out.  I've just picked up a beer ball unit that has a build in LCD and PC...  I'm sure I'll have to hack something up to make it work, but that shouldn't be a problem.

My background is software development.  Mostly in C# if you need an hand with anything I'd love to help!


nipsmg

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Shark and zimmer:  check PMs.

stangx

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Finally got back to this project.  One side of new optical sensors are installed. Other side should be done Friday. Will post video of nipsmg games in action. Amazing work nipsmg :notworthy: :notworthy: :applaud: :applaud:

newmanfamilyvlogs

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As was mentioned in an earlier post, so few people have room for a SkeeBall machine, but I've always loved physical interaction games like this.

I could see the software being applied to a custom build in the footprint of a traditional arcade cabinet that plays similarly to those handheld 'pinball' games, or a pachinko machine. An inclined pegboard with cutouts/catches, flippers at the bottom, and standard pinballs. That would allow for an arbitrary number of holes as well. The play field could be constructed by a series of interlocking 3d printed plates.

zimmer62

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I've been working with my Beer Ball machine, to try and see if I can interface this software with the minigen board that's already in it.

Beer Ball has a PC in the scoreboard that connects to the a minigen controller board under the lane via RS232 Serial.

I was able to capture some packets and make sense of reading some of the packets.  When putting the machine into diagnostics mode, it sends out a diagnostics status request packet which returns a machine state with all of the sensors, and switches encoded into two bytes.  I've got that down a working quite well I should be able to have a program that simulates keystrokes or whatever is needed to run this game. 

I do have to figure out if I can force a ball release.  The strange thing about this game, is that the PC is hooked to the board, but it appears the board does it's own thing and just reports the score back to the PC when polled.  Pretty much like it could run without the PC's beer ball software. (Which I haven't tested)  I'd like to keep physical modifications to the machine to a minimum, and reversible.

A couple problems I see for me right now are:
1) The machine might not let the me trigger a ball release (I don't know this for sure, but I don't see a serial packet that's job is to trigger the ball release)
2) The mingen board seems to be responsible for the audio.  Some other games from BayTek have an audio input on the minigen board, but beerball does not, so I might have to bypass the speaker or see what happens adding the audio input jack to the board.  If that doesn't work having a separate audio system when running something other than beer ball mode.

If I can't get the machine to let me trigger a ball release I might be forced to make a machine modification... Another option is to double up on the sensors so that each system runs independently of each other.


geoffb

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Great looking front end - what do I need to build one?  I have wanted a Skee Ball for a while, but no luck finding one - If I build one what HW do I need?  Pi, PC or ??

thanks

nipsmg

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Geoffb, where are you located?

nipsmg

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Finally got back to this project.  One side of new optical sensors are installed. Other side should be done Friday. Will post video of nipsmg games in action. Amazing work nipsmg :notworthy: :notworthy: :applaud: :applaud:

Don't know how I missed this.  Looks great.  Why is the game so offset on  the monitor?

Sorry there hasn't been much progress on this.. work has been hell.   I'm also working on a MAME project simultaneously.  I have my optical sensors and mounts, I'll probably end up doing something with them in the spring, which means updating the system to allow for optical switches and not require the ball drain switch.

stangx

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The offset was due to windows update. Looks perfect now. I too have built a full Mame system and a visual pinball cab. Full VR setup with Sim Racing at the other end. Seems though after a few beers everyone ends up on the skeeball. I put wire switches in as I needed up and going quickly for a child's birthday party. One side of the optical sensors are done. Will now wait till you update to optical to do mine. Thanks again for all the time you have put into this.

stangx

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All optical sensors are now installed and working great. The only game that does not score correctly is classic skeeball as the key mapping is different from the other games. 100 holes score 50, 50 to 10 holes all score 10. Any way to change that would be awesome. Other than that the games are all scoring and working great. Put a speaker system behind the TV, so now the games with sound are even better. Gotta love games with sounds it adds to the whole experience.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2019, 07:05:45 am by stangx »

nipsmg

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NICE.  It seems like within the next week or so the average temperature in my garage should rise up above negative 4 Billion degrees Fahrenheit, and I'll get back to work on the skeeball, so I should be motivated to make some updates and to able to implement support for optical sensors.

Stangx:  how did you handle "gutterballs"? 




stangx

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The sensor is right where the ball starts to go down the return lane. That is why you can't throw your shots too quickly. Has to register ball count before next ball can score. Here is a pic where the gutter sensor (ball counter) is. Also I used existing wires in the machine. 5.5V power supply with sensors hooked up to an I-pac2 from Ultramarc. For the key mapping.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2019, 10:33:21 am by stangx »

nipsmg

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No new updates on the software (yet), however, I wanted everyone to know this runs PERFECTLY on an Atomic Pi.  $35, windows 10, hooks up via HDMI, works full speed.   Just pulled out he old PC and mounted this in the cabinet with standoffs. 

Perfect, cheap ($35 ish) solution.

Gumpyme2

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Is there somewhere I can buy a Pi with this SkeeBall loaded on there and how to connect the scoring sensors and buttons?  Ive built a Mame, so I think I could get it working if there were directions how to wire it all up.  This looks so awesome!

nipsmg

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nope.. and I'm having some issues with the Atomic Pi.  Turns out--- it works fine in windowed mode, but not so much in fullscreen (no audio in fullscreen)..  which is infuriating.

I may switch to linux, which will be *my* first test of the cross/platform capability of the code.  It *should* in theory just run on monogame 3.6 on linux, but i've never actually tried it.





Gumpyme2

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I bought a project machine and would be happy to help test. ( Also a Beerball ironically.)  I have built a Mame Cab, but it was a challenge!

nipsmg

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Watching, just picked up a project machine and very curious how this will play out. Missing the marquee on mine so liking the lcd replacement. I've used ipac on a mame cabinet before. So basically imagining ripping the guts out of mine and adding a Pi with Ipac. Curious which switches you are using. Would love to test the software out too!

I'm using the stock switches, I just hooked them up to an iPAC-2.   Make sure when you say a Pi, you mean AtomicPi, NOT a raspberry pi.  I have not successfully gotten this to run on a Raspberry Pi yet.

Howard_Casto

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nope.. and I'm having some issues with the Atomic Pi.  Turns out--- it works fine in windowed mode, but not so much in fullscreen (no audio in fullscreen)..  which is infuriating.

I may switch to linux, which will be *my* first test of the cross/platform capability of the code.  It *should* in theory just run on monogame 3.6 on linux, but i've never actually tried it.

I don't know if this helps, but I tend to make most of my apps run in "fake" fullscreen mode.  By fake I mean you just take the window, remove the borders and auto size it to the desktop upon startup.  Fullscreen tends to cause problems with arcade software, so I try to avoid it. 

nipsmg

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Howard:

    I can do that. -- I'm just annoyed by it.  It worked fine on the old PC, but there are some notorious issues w/ the Atomic Pi and audio drivers.  I'm build on MonoGame 3.6, and I think 3.7.1 is out, so I'm going to try to update to the latest version and recompile and see if it was just a monogame issue.

    I specifically built auto-scaling into the engine to support variable resolutions.  I don't know if that will work right with the window, but it might.




Howard_Casto

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Welcome to my world.  People don't realize that the majority of software development time is fixing fiddly bugs or compatibility issues.  It's the main reason I dramatically scaled back what I make for the hobby... getting it to work on my machine is easy, it's getting the damn thing to work on everyone's machine that gets you. 

nipsmg

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Yeah.. I've got a little more work to do re: supporting optical sensors, then I'm going to open source it.  I'd love people to contribute to it and extend it.
I'm not going to sell it, so I don't really care.

And that way... got a problem on your machine?  Here's the code and some instructions, happy debugging! :)

Gumpyme2

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I am trying to figure out what to buy and wire up in advance of the software coming out.  Any suggestions?  Is there a thread somewhere on the physical build?

   a display of some kind to put in the top of the cabinet.. (this one fit nearly perfectly per this thread: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073JYHTV6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1),-  Ill size this to my beerball machine and see if it will work.
   HDMI Cable
   AtomicPi
   A keyboard encoder.  Do I need something like a KeyWiz or IPAC-2?
   7 Optical sensors- suggested Adafruit 2167 3mm beam break sensors
   Amp and speaker
   7 Buttons- (maybe joystick encoder if the buttons will be on the other side of the machine)
I would also like to see LED support.  It may already have this, but it would be cool when starting another game (or just having a button for it) if it would make the sounds like when it releases all the balls.

nipsmg

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Just a heads up, I do not have support for optical sensors yet.  You can buy them, but I won't have that support implemented any time in the next month or so as I just started a new job.  I have them too, but haven't implemented them.

The scoring for the classic skeeball game relies on the ball hitting every switch on the way down, which won't work with optical sensors.

nipsmg

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I took howards Suggestion and I compiled a windows version of the app with a borderless full screen window... and it works perfectly with sound.  Its a pity the atomicPi is a limited run because this is an amazing solution for <$50.


nipsmg

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Im hopeful that the RPI4 has a non-experimental OpenGL driver that works with monogamies.  If it does, Ill probably end up just imaging them with Linux and selling a conversion package.

nipsmg

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I'm curious to any of you guys using this, how have you wired up your controls?

I just somehow miraculously won some legit skeeball rail covers.  I now want to finalize my control setup, but I'm not exactly sure how I want to do it/ where i want to put the buttons.

Also, I am (as we speak), working on optical support.

nipsmg

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So-- to talk this out a little bit before i move forward.

Optical Support is going to be tricky, because there are different ways to implement, the two primary ways being:

Ball drain optical switch in the Rail
In this setup, the optical switch is put where the ball drain switch is in a normal skeeball machine.  In this setup, every ball will hit the ball drain.  So when you score a pocket we'll have to add a "score increment" to a variable, and every time a ball hits the drain if the score increment is >0, we'll have to decrement it.   If "scoreincrement" is 0, it means we count it as a gutterball, no score, or whatever that means.

This is NOT the ideal setup becuase we will be unable to tell the timing of when the zero score happened (this may matter for some games). 

Scenario:
  •   - Throw 3 balls rapid fire
  • ball 1 could go through the scoring hole (say 50), starts rolling down chute sets scoreincrement =1
  • ball 2 misses all pockets and ends up in the drain,  subtract 1 from scoreincrement, scoreincrement = 0
  • ball 3 hits a scoring hole, (say 50) adds one to scoreincrement (scoreincrement =1)
  • ball 1 comes through the ball drain, and sets scoreincrement = 0
  • ball 3 comes through the ball drain, scoreincrement is 0, recording a gutterball.

Why is this bad?

If we were playing bowling, the "gutterball" was recorded as the 3rd ball when it was actually the 2nd,  so you end up with a strike in this frame instead of what you should have gotten, a 5 in this frame (5 -) , and a 5 as the first ball of the next frame.
 

The timing is off here.  This might matter in a game like bowling, where the order of the gutterball matters.

Optical Switch spanning the scoring box on the bottom for "gutters".

This woudl be ideal, because we can disregard a ball once it's recorded, and we'll know when a ball misses the scoring holes entirely.  I'm worried this might be susceptible to "bounce" if the ball bounces or something causing it to record multiple gutters.

------------------------------
Current physical switch implementation
As it stands right now for physical swiches, we're always "Waiting for ball" once a ball hits a scoring pocket, because when it ball hits one of the higher pockets (say 50), it hits ths switches for 50,40,30,20,10 and ball drain.  so we have to "turn off" the lower switches until the ball drains out.  This is annoying as it prevents fast-throw and speed type games, because you very often don't end up getting scored the 2nd time, or you might even end up with a lower score depending on the timing of the ball drain switch
Scenario:
  • Ball 1 is thrown
  • Ball 2 is immediately thrown after
  • Ball 1 sinks in 50 and is scored fifty becuase waitingforball = false, and heads down the chute, sets waitingforball = true
  • Ball 2 hits the 100 is not scored, because waitingforball = true and starts rolling down the chute
  • Ball 1 hits the ball drain, sets waitingforball =false
  • ball 2 continues down the chute and is down by the 30 switch, hits 30. waitingforball=false, so score 30. set waitingforball=true
  • Ball 2 finally hits the ball drain sets waitingforball = false
     
You just got screwed out of scoring the 100 pocket.

Even in the worst optical case is 100x better than the physical switch case.
---------------------
So I'm definitely implementing optical and migrating my machine over to optical switches.. for sure.

So for optical options I have to implement 2 modes:
  • Optical with Ball Drain
  • Optical with Gutter detection

I'm worried about the 2nd optical option and the potential for recording multiple gutters due to a bounce, so I might just live with the ball drain option and tell people to not expect great results if you play these games like an ---uvula--- and throw 3 balls rapidfire in a game where that matters....  it won't in most games to be honest.

make sense?  Comments?  Insight?

PL1

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Optical Switch spanning the scoring box on the bottom for "gutters".

This woudl be ideal, because we can disregard a ball once it's recorded, and we'll know when a ball misses the scoring holes entirely.  I'm worried this might be susceptible to "bounce" if the ball bounces or something causing it to record multiple gutters.
Not sure exactly where you're talking about mounting the gutter IR LED/sensor.   :dunno

Maybe pictures or a diagram would clarify the path that a gutterball follows and reveal options for where to position them.

For example, the scoring ring LEDs and sensors mount on the back of the playfield like thatpurplestuff did with the mechanical switches in this pic -- LED on the left (or right) side of the hole, sensor on the other side.



The 3d printed mounts fit inside protective 1/2" x 1/2" C-channel aluminum.   ;D



When the ball passes through the scoring hole, it breaks the beam.

With the right impact-absorbing padding and/or deflection wedges, you can greatly reduce the odds of accidently scoring on the bounce-back.

Hopefully you can create a smilar fall-through-the-hole-break-the-beam-and-absorb-or-redirect-the-bounce-back path for gutterballs.   :lol

If you can't avoid bounce-back, maybe you can add some debounce code so there's a limit on how often gutterballs can register.


Scott

nipsmg

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Pl1:



I'm taking about a break beam across the width of the cabinet at #1, or in the drain at #2.

If you have it at #2, EVERY ball will cross that sensor, even after it's hit a scoring sensor.  So you have to have a count of all balls that scored, and decrement when they pass #2.  If the count is 0, then we count it as a gutterball because it hit #2 without hitting a scoring hole.  However, we don't know the exact ORDER as per my scenarios above.


If we can find a way to direct a beam across #1, then we no longer have to worry about keeping a count, becuase each ball can really only hit each sensor once.  My concern was with a bounce in the gutter area at #1.


nipsmg

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Need Help Testing Optical Support

If anyone is willing to help me test optical support, even just with their keyboard simulating the pocket hits, please let me know.

Gumpyme2

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I can help test.
I bought these whisker switches to mount for each hole.
Electrical Buddy Cat Whisker... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L8JR3W7?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

They seem very durable, low profile, and will mount easily.  (About $5 each).  Personally I have little kids so I am not worried about counting gutter balls, Im fine with getting to roll it again.

PL1

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Found some pics in Entropy42's thread here that might help clarify the path that gutterballs travel from the face of the playfield to the ball drain (rectangular cutout on left of the near face), assuming that your cab is similarly constructed.



Looks like gutterballs would fall off the face of the playfield onto a flat, open, sloped surface that guides all balls to the drain.



Unclet posted a downward-looking pic here in Ixliam's thread.



Based on that info, maybe you could install a "gutterball playfield" in the gap between the playfield and ramp.

- Make it parallel to and above the "flat, open, sloped surface" so there's room for the scoring balls to pass under it on their way to the ball drain.

- Gutterballs would roll down the slope of the gutterball playfield to a hole near the ball drain.

- Mount the LED and sensor on the underside of the gutterball playfield.

-  The gutterball falls through that hole and into the ball drain path.


Scott
EDIT: This diagram might make it easier to visualize.   ;D
« Last Edit: June 27, 2019, 02:06:21 am by PL1 »

nipsmg

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Thank you for drawing it in crayon (seriously).  I was obsessed with trying to do a breakbeam across the whole damn cabinet, when this is a MUCH better solution.
We're essentially creating a "0" pocket, which is EXACTLY what I wanted to do.

So now that I'm using an atomic pi and don't have a PC power supply to tap off of, any suggestions about a compact economical way to power the break beam sensors?




nipsmg

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So I just went out to my garage and looked, and the biggest problem is going to clearance.
 
When the balls come down the chute and hit the black plastic chute on the bottom , they stick up above the surface at the start of the curve, so I can't put something flat across it.   I might be able to mount something raised just enough, but that's taking away height on the "wall" in the front on the lane side that keeps gutter balls from jumping up and back onto the lane. 

I'll have to play with it a bit to see what might work.  whatever I do, it'll probably have to be metal, as wood thin enough to actually work here would probably break/crack from the impacts.




nipsmg

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The more I look, the more I'm convinced it's going to be difficult.. if not impossible to pull this off-- and maybe even worse than the alternative timing wise.
See below




There's no clearance to put the sensors front and back, it woudl have to be on either side.  There's just little/no clearance here if I want to have enough of a slant on the metal ramp to acutally make the ball go down there in any reasonable amout of time.  IF the slant is so slight that it takes forever to drain, then it's not any better (and actually might be worse timing wise) than putting the sensors in the rail and tracking them as in my scenarios above, becuase a ball will hit the gutter, but not actually go through the hole that detects the gutter hit in any reasonable amount of time.

PL1

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So now that I'm using an atomic pi and don't have a PC power supply to tap off of, any suggestions about a compact economical way to power the break beam sensors?
If you were using a RasPi, I'd say a 4A 2-plug phone charger similar to this one.
- One plug to power the RasPi, the other to power the IR LEDs (and maybe the sensors) with 5v.
- Each IR LED will draw about 15mA @ 5v, 120 mA total.  Too much current draw for GPIO.
- Each sensor draws less than 0.25mA @ 5v whether or not the beam is broken.  :o  Current draw is low enough to use GPIO 3.3v and GPIO inputs if desired.



If you don't want to cut off the micro USB connector, there are adapter boards like this one.
- Not sure if the traces on this board would handle the current draw to power the atomic pi -- you might need a "baby breakout" or "large breakout" board instead.   :dunno



Inputs via GPIO:
Assuming that the GPIO pins are similar to the RasPi, inputs are limited to 3.3v.
- Use 3.3v and ground from GPIO to power the 3-wire sensors via the red and black wires.
- White wire goes to the GPIO input pin.

Inputs via USB encoder: (IPac, Arduino, etc.)
- Use the same 5v and ground that you used for the IR LEDs.


Scott

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Scott,

I'm going to be using the iPac-2 I'm currently using for the physical switches for input.

I've got a baby breakout board :



I think you were questioning if it could handle the current draw.  I believe the API requires 2.4, my power supply is 3A, and you said we're looking at 120mA -- in theory I should be able to tap 5v from there.


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I believe the API requires 2.4, my power supply is 3A, and you said we're looking at 120mA -- in theory I should be able to tap 5v from there.
Sounds good.   :cheers:


How hard would it be to remove the plastic chute and build different paths for scoring balls and gutterballs?

Maybe some walls (black) to guide the scoring balls to the right and straight out the ball drain.

Then add a steep gutterball ramp (blue) with recessed wall-mounted sensors, a cover (yellow) that guides right-edge gutterballs onto the ramp, and angled wall blocks at the bottom of the ramp that reduce the chance of scoring balls accidently reaching the gutterball sensor.


Scott

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It's doable, but i'm looking for a repeatable process for Model H and model S that doesn't require large amounts of construction (if possible).