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Author Topic: Building a Coin Op Crane Game  (Read 7308 times)

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IMMark

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Building a Coin Op Crane Game
« on: January 06, 2005, 11:04:47 am »
Hi all,
I have been considering building a crane game for sometime now.  With a finished Mame under my belt, this may be next. 
I have two kinds in mind,
1. would be to take a modern "Tonka Crane" and fit it to work with hand cranks, as with the old time machines.
2. The other type would be the more modern overhead rail type, that would move via motors/buttons.
I just wanted to get input from the "experts"; you if anyone has done this, or thought about it?  Any ideas on making the inner workings, interfacing?
As always....Many Many hours of Happy Gaming!

Ixliam

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Re: Building a Coin Op Crane Game
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2005, 09:41:53 am »
I don't think it would be too bad, just know that if you are the first one to do it, you will have a bit more added expense involved as you "figure things out" while your building it. If you have a good reason for wanting one (even if the reason is "because I want one"), then by all means give it a shot. I'm not familiar with the tonka toy, but I would think that one of the overhead style cranes would be easier to make.

But I do encourage you to go for it, I had some naysayers when I was thinking of building my own skeeball machine, but I went ahead anyway with it. Now I wouldn't have been able to do it without the help of UncleT taking dimensions and pictures of his, but the crane machine is just a box with a crane in it (nothing like a curved ramp). I've had to rework a few things as I built it, but that's part of the fun of doing it yourself. I know have a non-scoring functional skeeball machine. Just make sure you plan, plan some more, then plan again. Do that before you make that first cut in the wood, know what your going to do and how it will all come together. Good luck!

Brad

IMMark

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Re: Building a Coin Op Crane Game
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2005, 12:30:22 pm »
Hey Brad,
Thanks for the reply, I didn't think that I was going to get one.  As for the why, growing up we had a coin op version, probably from the 60's, wish I still had it, they sell for $1500 plus now if you can find them.  It ran on a timer (60 secs) to see how much you could load in a hopper.  Anyway it is just one of the game room additions that's still on the wish list; along with the Skeeball machine.  Is your Skeeball complete?  Or is that what you mean by "non-scoring
'  I thought that someone had posted a program that would take care of the scoring aspect??  If not drop me a line, I have some thought on building one.  All these great ideas and so little time and $$$$.  Thanks for the encouragement...that's one of the best parts about this site ;D

Ixliam

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Re: Building a Coin Op Crane Game
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2005, 07:00:17 pm »
What I meant by non-scoring is that I haven't finished that part yet. Randy sent me a test Keywiz to put on it and when he gets his software ready I will be able to put a monitor up there to show how it works. I have a circuit drawn out for the scoring, but I believe I am going to use a printer port interface and a custom program to run the scoreboard along with sound effects. Course this is just vapor ware at this point since I haven't built much on the circuit counter yet. Basically it will use a matrix to control the displays anode (if using LEDs) sing the TTL from the data lines for the lights and then the TTL from like ACK/STROBE/ETC to control the cathode. So for each light, it would kick on one data line and then the alternate line.

Brad

IMMark

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Re: Building a Coin Op Crane Game
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2005, 07:29:09 pm »
Sounds great,
I give you a  lot of credit, pretty big size project.  Will you post something when complete, would love to see it and really curious how the software Randy has will work.  Also something I though of, I know you are already past this, but as far as making the curved ramp, have you ever heard of curfing?  Basically, you take a plywood then cut lines in it maybe 2/3 of the way through and spaced anywhere from 1/2 inch to 1/8 inch apart, the result is a very flexible piece of wood with a solid top, you can then mount to maybe 3 support boards with the shape you desire.  For what it is worth, just thought that I would throw that out there.  I know what you mean about all the naysayers, but it isn't always just the price or how long it takes, sometimes like the mountain, you just have to climb it to see if you can. ;)

Ixliam

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Re: Building a Coin Op Crane Game
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2005, 07:59:44 pm »
My skeeball project is here at http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php/topic,29727.0.html.

Curfing is an idea, but I guess someone else can try that besides me :) I'm getting closer each day to having it complete, and today I put a good bit of the trimmings on it. Since my college classes start back on Monday and I am taking a pretty good load, I won't have as much time to put into it as before, so it will just move at a slower pace. At least it is playable, and I've found myself going out there to work on it, then blow an hour playing it!

I think your crane would be an easier project that my skeeball one. The fellow I purchased my skeeball display (the origican skeeball kind) from was almost ready to build one of those mechanical fortune tellers, simply because he couldn't find one that wasn't over $2500. He wanted the old grandma kind. Now that would be almost as complex as doing your own pinball machine.

Brad

IMMark

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Re: Building a Coin Op Crane Game
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2005, 03:04:30 pm »
Hey Brad...Awesome, your Skeeball looks fantastic...and the best part even if you are not finished yet; you've reached the playable stage.  Is there any chance that you would be willing to share the plans (assuming you have put together a working document).  Something to avoid mistakes you've made or shortcuts that you've learned?  Also I am curious what you think about the cork, will it hold up?  Did you coat it with anything?  But really a great job, looks like you could start your own Chuckie Cheese ;D
Mark

Ixliam

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Re: Building a Coin Op Crane Game
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2005, 01:32:16 pm »
I do plan on putting some type of guide document out there. Right now my cad drawings are pretty rough, and I have been assembling notes and details on building this as I go along. Some of it are just ideas on how things could be done (like the ramp), notes on what not to do (like the mistake I made with the ball return being too high), etc.

With the cork, only time will tell. I am planning on coating it with paint as most of the skeeball machines out there are. How it holds up, I'm not sure. So far, it seems to do well since I am only rolling balls across it, not slamming them into it at high speed. The scoreboard didn't survive that too well with the initial cork I put on it. I do have two layers down. Since cork is porous, I read online to use a water-based glue since the cork will soak it up and form a stronger bond. It works great, long as you don't place something on top of the cork to weight it down that it bonds to as well... like wood. That's one reason for the second layer. I patched the cork up, and well, it looked like crap. So I put another layer on top of it, which will make the thickness of cork 3/16" thick. I used wood glue the first time, which did hold well but took to long to dry. The next layer got spray cement, which held well to the cork.

My suggestion would be to use what I read on a flooring site, contact cement. I hope that this does start folks building these, or even making alternate types (like the roller ball games which have baseball themes, or knocking down clowns, etc).

I do plan on possibly selling the circuit interfaces if there is enough interest in them once I create them. My idea would be to have it not only be able to control the display, but to operate a solinoid to release the balls, fire off a strobe/bell/flasher at certain scores, and handle the ball scoring input all in one chunk. Course I have not built it yet, but thats the direction I will go. This will interface with a PC (low end so even a 386 could use it) and handle sound effects as well.

With those two options available, people can either go with a monitor and use RandyT's program and Keywiz encoder, or use the original style of display or 7-segment LED's and display it that way.

Brad

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Re: Building a Coin Op Crane Game
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2005, 06:11:02 pm »
Two Bit Score sells a "universal crane game" kit that allows you to take a non-functioning crane game of any type (overhead style) and make it work again.

IMMark

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Re: Building a Coin Op Crane Game
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2005, 01:08:02 pm »
Thanks Ken,
Never new about the "Two Bits"site.  What I am really more interested in, is a bit older machine...this is the one I liked the best (picture)
Not the best look at it but, 4 buttons run it left, right, up and down.
I thought it would be fairly simple, to operate the motors, via an Ipac...or maybe some type of simple microcontroller?
But it is good to know about the others as well...could help, I marked Two bits site for future reference. 
So thanks again ;D


Ixliam

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Re: Building a Coin Op Crane Game
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2005, 06:06:22 pm »
Wouldn't see why you would even want to use a computer interface, it would just be more difficult to get it up and running. For one, those motors would have to be driven by relays. You would then need to buy a relay board for the PC, then write custom software for it. If you are proficient at electronics and can program decently, you could write the program for it and then build the circuit. This is similar to what I did with my skeeball. I would suggest just designing how it works first, then figure what gears/motors you need, etc.

For instance,most of those once you go down to a certain point it continues on down, grabs whatever (always air in my case), then returns to the top. Something could be mounted on the chain to trip a momentary throw switch that goes to a flip-flop, which cuts off the players connection and grabs the item. When it gets to the end, it hits something to reverse voltage causing it to return.

It looks like it has a clock, so you could use some type of electronic timer for that. After a certain time, its cuts the players power and/or does the grab.

If you are wanting to do sound effects and whatnot through a computer, then that is another issue. I could have done my whole skeeball with just circuits, but since I want to have sound effects, I just interfaced it to the machine through RandyT's Keywiz, using the same buttons he is using for my program as well (that way I can test both). What the program does is use the data lines on the printer port to control the scoreboard and ball count. A button on the front of my machine resets the ball count/score. The program scans the keyboard, waiting for certain keystrokes. When those are hit (via the ball scoreing rings), it increases the ball count, then slowly increases the score (so you see it add - at full PC speed you don't see it). It then plays a sound depending on the ring, and if you get certain scores it does other sounds as well.

The big difference in mine and RandyT's program is that Randy's utilizes a monitor, mine uses the custom circuit. I have some other chips coming in that will probably work better, as those will let you drive several 7 segment displays and have the PC tell it what to display via serial connection. That would make the whole display be only two chips (plus misc parts) instead of 7 which is what mine is now.

Just plan, plan, and plan. Nothing more important than that when your the first one to attempt to DIY something like this. I've probably wasted about $50 in misc things as I went along - parts not needed, circuit redesigns, or the most recent was forgetting that one chunk of my LED's didn't have the resistor on the cathode, so I smoked them when I turned them on. I tried some cheapies at Radio Shack, but they were not even close to the brightness or quality of the ones I had. You can barely see them lit. So, I get to order another pack of them for about half the price of Radio Shack. I will end up getting a relay and probably a solinoid as well, and try to automate the entire machine since I am far enough along in it.

Almost forgot... this is supposed to be about your project :) My bad. I got carried away I guess...

Look up things online about parallel port interfaces, that should help you if you are going to try the PC route.

Brad

  
 

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