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Author Topic: Build your own Pinball Machine  (Read 25804 times)

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fredster

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Build your own Pinball Machine
« on: August 18, 2004, 01:42:32 pm »
I've been looking for sites on how to build your own Pinball.

With all the brains on this site I'm sure somebody could come up with some great ideas.

I'm not talking about virtural pinball machines, I'm saying the next level from mame - a real pinball machine.

Anybody have any good links to doing just that? Some of the ones I was trying to find are dead.

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2004, 02:23:43 pm »
Now thats something Id like to see! I own a pinball machine,and before I got it I had never owned one before. I have learned alot of stuff about pinball machines since owning this one. The one thing I do know is that there is about a mile of wiring under the playfield,over 50 fuses,tons of bulbs,etc. Like you said though. with all the brains on this site (me not being one of them) Im sure somebody could do it.
My tag line was inappropriate for a family oriented site. It has been changed by saint.<-- THATS better than anything I could have come up with!!!!!!! Thanks Saint!!!-

aristotle

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2004, 02:24:03 pm »
Might be hard to customize your own machine considering pinball machines require PCBs.

itismejs

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2004, 02:27:27 pm »
Might be hard to customize your own machine considering pinball machines require PCBs.
You can get an old pinball machine that has EVERYTHING in. (like way too many flippers,buttons,whatever.) Then all ya have to do is change all the art and move parts around and just cut off extra parts.  It would like a lot of time but it sounds like fun.

mp2526

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2004, 02:28:03 pm »
Not much out there.

http://www.phobe.com/pinfools/index.html
http://www.pinball4you.ch/okaegi/pro_6809.html

http://www.pinball.org/silver/v2n4/pinit.htm (Article about the pin-it-yourself project...now defunct)

there are a few more I can't remember any links at the moment


One of my many projects (don't know when I'll get to it) is to build my own.  I have a lot of pin parts in my junk collection and I plan on using a pic microcontroller to run as the brains.

I actually just got an old Gameplan Foxy Lady cocktail pin that if I can't bring back to life, I plan to "emulate" the functionality using a pic.

I'll post pics and info on my site when I get around to it.

mp2526

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2004, 02:31:22 pm »
There actually is quite a bit of physics involved in designing playfields I think this would be the hardest part to get right without creating dead spots.


They make replacement MPUs for older Bally pins, at one time I had thought about designing my own pin but based on the rules of one of these Bally pins (Xenon to be specific)  This would probably be the easiest aproach.



I've actually put a lot of thought into this whole build your own pin idea, so if you have specific questions, I might be able to help you out.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2004, 02:34:45 pm by mp2526 »

GreenKnight37

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2004, 03:33:48 pm »
Hmmm....Theres actually a company that makes custom pinball machines, though I cant remember the link to it.  They built one for Monster.com though, so if you do some Google searching you might find it (I just checked though, you're gonna have to wade through lots of junk).

Your best place to look up information would be the Rec.Games.Pinball newgroup.  I frequent that place, and its a very very active board.  They could surely point you to some good links.

But if you try this, its gonna take a long time!  A MAME cab is childs play compared to building a pin.  You've gotta get all the angels and stuff correct, it has to be programmed to react to certain events...it would be really difficult, but I wish you the best of luck if you try!

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2004, 04:42:00 pm »
My advice although I hate to rain on your parade. Give up --BINGO! Either that, or I was attempting to say "before" but it was too many letters to type-- you start. I admire your idea and ambition but this is never going to fly. For what it will cost you, you could probably pick up 5 working or 10 non working pinball tables. IMHO it's just going to be technically to hard and to expensive  :-\

mp2526

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2004, 05:12:32 pm »
Well, depends on how you go about doing it and how custom you intend on getting it.

With the prices of pins lately, you would be hard pressed to find a working pin for under $500-600 and that wouldn't still need some work.  A pin in good working order will cost you more like $1000 plus depending on the type.  I can guarantee you I can build a pinball for less than $5000.

Technically, yes it will be harder than throwing together a MAME cabinet and will probably take some time to get it to the state that it can be played, but people have already done it, so it's not like I'm breaking new ground.

Plus, I realize I will probably spend more on it than if I bought a new Ripley's, but the point is the experience and the feeling of accomplishment.

Meh, we'll see.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2004, 05:15:42 pm by mp2526 »

fredster

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2004, 05:22:20 pm »
Quote
My advice although I hate to rain on your parade. Give up --BINGO! Either that, or I was attempting to say "before" but it was too many letters to type-- you start.

Now that's not the old BYOAC spirit!

I agree, it depends on how you build it.  I was talking about something pretty modest.  I don't care about "pinball physics" either.  I think it'd be fun to get it to do some things.  I mean 3 pop bumpers and a launcher assembly.

I go to arcade auctions all the time.  I've seen real junk go for $30-100 bucks.  You can get one working in the $200 range.

A lot of people don't like video games, but Everybody loves pinball.  

It doesn't have to be a haunted house or Kiss to be playable.

I don't even know why you have to have a controler.  It seems like you could build one like in the 1930's (without flippers) that use some kind of basic circuit logic.

I am going to take some measurements of the cabinet of the '86 Genesis I have and see if somebody will post it.

I mean, it has a lot of little parts, but if the people here can make a star wars yoke from pop cans and hack a trackball to a mouse PCB, this should be a piece of cake.

The parts would be hard, but if it were reduced in scale and didn't have a real fancy double ball play, it might be fun to do it.

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2004, 05:58:52 pm »
Fair comment, I was imaging trying to build something like "Adams Family" from scratch. Getting all the parts fabricated etc, lol.
If you are just going for a flat play field with 2 flippers and some channels and bumpers then yeah go for it, it should be cool and not too pricey.
Make sure to keep us updated if you do this, I'd love to see it.

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2004, 09:04:32 am »
I had this dream once; it's what eventially led to me building a MAME cabinet:  "Why spend $2000 building a machine that'll play one game when I can build a MAME cab for $500 that will play many games?"

One tricky aspect of pinball is lights; getting the lens inserts into the table wood.  I never figured that one out....

Before you even think of starting, get Visual Pinball and use it to mock up your layout  from the downloads section at http://www.vpforums.com/ .  See http://webpages.charter.net/celamantia/vp for examples I have created with Visual Pinball.

If you insist on going down this road, look at http://www.marcospec.com/ for parts.

You may want to follow the thread at http://www.vpforums.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=30528 .

Another option is to take an existing pinball and re-work it. http://home.insightbb.com/~galactica5/BG_Pinball/bgpinball.htm shows the results of one such project.

To look for pinballs in various states of (dis) repair to use as parts sources, or if you just change your mind and decide to buy a pinball, see http://www.xmission.com/~daina/classified/data/machines_for_sale_recent.html .

--Chris



« Last Edit: August 19, 2004, 09:09:18 am by Chris »
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mp2526

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2004, 10:11:28 am »
"Why spend $2000 building a machine that'll play one game when I can build a MAME cab for $500 that will play many games?"

Because I already have a couple of MAME cabs :)

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2004, 10:16:43 am »
"Why spend $2000 building a machine that'll play one game when I can build a MAME cab for $500 that will play many games?"

Because I already have a couple of MAME cabs :)
Well, at the time I went through that thought process I had exactly 0 MAME cabs.  I counted them twice to be sure.  :)
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mp2526

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2004, 10:42:46 am »
Just for informational purposes, if someone wanted to build a modern (by modern I mean 1970's and later) pinball they haven't changed much in basic functionality.  There are 6 components that make up a pinball.

1.  MPU - Brains of the pin, contains the ROM image with all the game logic.

2.  Solenoid control board - Controls firing of the 10 or so coils in the playfield (pop bumpers, sling shots, drop targets, etc.)

3.  Lamp matrix board - controls the lamps through a matrix configuration to limit the amount of IO lines required by the MPU

4.  Power Supply - self explanitory, except you need multiple voltages, typical 12v, 5v for the logic boards and higher votlages (24 +) for the solenoids.

5.  Switch Matrix - Again the input switches throughout the playfield that tell the MPU where the ball is, and again this is matrixed to conserve IO lines on the MPU

6.  Playfield - this is were I believe the hardest part of building the pin is.  At least getting it to work right and honestly getting the game flow to work correctly.  You can't just throw stuff out there on the playfield with out some thought as to how fast or slow or technically challenging you want your game play to be.

I actually have most of this built or scavanged from my parts bin, I just need the time to start putting it together and I have yet to decide the best way to set up a temporary playfield to test the physics and game play, that allows me to move things around, yet will stand up to being hit by a 1 1/16" ball bearing.

I definately plan to take lots of pics and will put them up on my site for anyone interested, but I don't know when I'm actually going to be able to start it as I have just received a Gameplan Foxy Lady cocktail that needs some love.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2004, 10:44:39 am by mp2526 »

fredster

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2004, 10:45:37 am »
I didn't even think about this project until I bought a Pinball.  I had no idea how they worked, and really wasn't that interested until I had one.

I bought an '86 Gottlieb 'Genesis' machine http://www.ipdb.org/search.pl?any=genesis&search=Search+Database&searchtype=quick

Now I was at first put off by the complexity of the machine, but when I started tinkering with it, it doesn't look that tough to me to make a playerfield.  As long as you have some parts, a person can figure a way to get it to work.  

They didn't have computers when they made the first ones, so how hard can that be?

If anybody has seen a baby pac machine, even small pinballs can be really fun.  

I started looking for sites that had homemade pinball machines.  A couple of guys had figured out how to interface a really crappy computer to run the pop bumpers and slingshots and count the score.

If we were to compare, I was describing making a go-cart, not a car.  I'm a tooling engineer, not a software engineer.  These guys that came up with the drivers for the board didn't leave the software around.

A concerted effort by the boys here would blast this door wide open.


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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2004, 11:18:56 am »
I hear you, however, I'm a bit of a perfectionist.  I'm looking to build a car, not a go-cart.

I believe you will have no problems building a simple playfield and for the most part getting it working pretty well, but I'm willing to bet that as you play it you will notice dead spots and places the ball just doesn't flow well.  But, it will be more than enough just to play and I'm sure you would still enjoy it.

Yes, they didn't use computers to build pin playfields, but they also have years of experience and even the pros have built a few turkeys.

Like you I wasn't interested in pins until I started playing the Pinbot we have at work.  It had been sitting around broken for a long time, so I opened it up to see what was wrong and it was just a loose wire on one of the flippers.  Ever since then I've been hooked.  I now own a few and am always looking for more.

I'm not saying don't go for it and I'm more than willing to provide any insight to what you are trying to accomplish.

fredster

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2004, 11:32:18 am »
Chris,

I just got some time to look over your links.

These are very useful!  Thanks so much!
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mp2526

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2004, 12:08:21 pm »
Man, I totally forgot about PinMAME-HW.  

http://www.pinmame-hw.com

When I was looking into this, they had just gotten started.

This isn't nessessarily creating a new custom pin but will allow you to use existing pin roms to interface a PC to real pin hardware.

This may just be the ticket to bring my foxy lady back to life if I can't repair the existing boards.  My only concern would be that windows not being a real time OS I don't want to burn up any of the coils because windows decides to take some processing cycles to do some other task while in mid pop bumper activation.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2004, 12:11:52 pm by mp2526 »

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2004, 02:12:21 pm »
Might be hard to customize your own machine considering pinball machines require PCBs.

not really, the old pins were electrical/mechanical.

Lilwolf

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2004, 09:02:09 am »
If you are really considering building your own..

You REALLY should build it in VPinball first.. And make sure your idea is fun.

It would suck spending THOUSANDS and find that your game...well... isn't much fun after 10 - 20 minutes...

On another thread, someone mentioned bendable MDF.  Might be perfect for a custom table.  

I think the trouble will be getting everything perfectly flat.  Your either going to have to do Plexi (probably the only real idea).

but build up a prototype in visual pinball...  Then get something similar the the vpinball hardware setup... Then start putting it together..


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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2004, 09:11:00 am »
You REALLY should build it in VPinball first.. And make sure your idea is fun.
When I created my Fight Night table, it took months of playtesting to get a layout that flowed well... and once I let other people play it, they found lots more places where things didn't flow well.  Granted, Visual Pinball's physics aren't perfect, but it's still a great way to see if you like the table you're going to create...

--Chris
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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2004, 09:41:52 am »
If I learned anything from this thread, it's that visual pinball is way cool.

I hadn't tried it before, and I see that it's a must if I plan on going forward with this.

I downloaded that and pinmame with the roms for the tables I have and it is cool (it has some bugs, but it's still very very cool).

I have to get a fundamental understanding of the driver boards for scoring.

I have a solid state machine, but I'll have to see if I can find an electro mechanical machine to base it off of.
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mp2526

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2004, 10:18:48 am »

On another thread, someone mentioned bendable MDF.  Might be perfect for a custom table.  

I think the trouble will be getting everything perfectly flat.  Your either going to have to do Plexi (probably the only real idea).

but build up a prototype in visual pinball...  Then get something similar the the vpinball hardware setup... Then start putting it together..

Maybe I don't understand you correctly, but why the need to use plexi to get everything flat?  Typical pin playfields are just plywood with a coat of laquer on them.  There were a few newer ones that used a polyurethane finish and there were a few that did use a plexi type material over the playfield, but you should have no problem getting a good quality sanded 3/4" plywood playfield to work just fine.

I agree that visual pinball is definately the place to start if not just to see if you idea is fun, even if the physics are just right.

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2004, 10:38:23 am »

On another thread, someone mentioned bendable MDF.  Might be perfect for a custom table.  

I think the trouble will be getting everything perfectly flat.  Your either going to have to do Plexi (probably the only real idea).

but build up a prototype in visual pinball...  Then get something similar the the vpinball hardware setup... Then start putting it together..
Maybe I don't understand you correctly, but why the need to use plexi to get everything flat?  Typical pin playfields are just plywood with a coat of laquer on them.  There were a few newer ones that used a polyurethane finish and there were a few that did use a plexi type material over the playfield, but you should have no problem getting a good quality sanded 3/4" plywood playfield to work just fine.
I had considered using thin plexi as well, because of the insert issue.  I can't think of a way to make lamp inserts that will lay nice and flat; one could just cut holes in the playfield for the lamps, put a lighting gel (essentially a really thick sheet of cellophane) over the hole, and cover it all with plexi.

--Chris
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fredster

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #25 on: August 20, 2004, 11:23:46 am »
Aren't the playerfields made of Birch?

Maybe birch plywood, about 5/8" thick?
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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #26 on: August 20, 2004, 11:39:47 am »
I had considered using thin plexi as well, because of the insert issue.  I can't think of a way to make lamp inserts that will lay nice and flat; one could just cut holes in the playfield for the lamps, put a lighting gel (essentially a really thick sheet of cellophane) over the hole, and cover it all with plexi.

--Chris

Ok, I get the problem now.  I could see a few ways around this.  

1.  Use your gel idea and get it as close to flush as you can and build up enough wax protection on the board to flush the lamp covers.

2.  Do the same thing, except instead of counting on the wax to flush up the covers (which I admit is a bit of a stretch), spray a few coats of polyurethane to level the playfield.

3.  Cover it with plexi (or non scratching similar product), but it you would need to make sure the switches and what not were extended to account for the extra thickness, or use a thinner playfield.  Also, you would need to be sure you used a material that would not yellow with age and not become brittle as the ball would probably crack it over time.

4.  Another solution would be to use mylar sheets and cover the entire playfield.  Pinballs usually use mylar to cover areas where the ball would tend to do the most damage to the playfield, but some people have covered entire playfields with mylar
« Last Edit: August 20, 2004, 11:42:25 am by mp2526 »

mp2526

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #27 on: August 20, 2004, 11:41:18 am »
Aren't the playerfields made of Birch?

Maybe birch plywood, about 5/8" thick?

Yes, I just opened up the pinbot I have here at work to look at the lamp covers and noticed that the playfield is about 5/8 " thick and does look like it could be birch.

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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #28 on: August 20, 2004, 12:51:15 pm »
1.  Use your gel idea and get it as close to flush as you can and build up enough wax protection on the board to flush the lamp covers.
Lighting gels by themselves would not support the weight of a ball, unfortunately.  The poster at VPForums building his own table solved the problem by just not putting any lamps on his table...

I guess one solution would be to cut circles of plexi and glue them into routed circles on the playfield, putty the edges and sand flush.  That would work, although doing non-circular shapes would be tricky.  You'd also have a slight dark ring around the outside edge, but a good black border around the edge of the insert would hide this and the putty.

Maybe this is doable after all...
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Re:Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #29 on: August 20, 2004, 02:12:46 pm »
Is there a site that can explain how the electro mechanical pinball machines worked?

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Re: Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #30 on: January 16, 2005, 01:53:04 am »
Why not use some 1/16" or 1/8" colored plastic cut like 1/16" wider than you want and rout  out a spot for it to sit in. You could also put a dab of glue around the extra bit to hold it for sure.

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Re: Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2005, 05:13:38 pm »
Why not use some 1/16" or 1/8" colored plastic cut like 1/16" wider than you want and rout out a spot for it to sit in. You could also put a dab of glue around the extra bit to hold it for sure.

I agree I think that this is closet to the way they are done...at least in my Bally's.

But have to agree with the original nay sayers....I think a pinball project from scratch is pretty far out there...maybe if you picked up a working with damaged playfield...you could paint a cool theme and modify target placements, etc and have a nice project...but from scratch, wow that is dedication ;D

If you do it like they said, please take lots-o-pics and post
Good Luck!

Chris

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Re: Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #32 on: January 18, 2005, 05:20:25 pm »
Why not use some 1/16" or 1/8" colored plastic cut like 1/16" wider than you want and rout out a spot for it to sit in. You could also put a dab of glue around the extra bit to hold it for sure.

I agree I think that this is closet to the way they are done...at least in my Bally's.

But have to agree with the original nay sayers....I think a pinball project from scratch is pretty far out there...maybe if you picked up a working with damaged playfield...you could paint a cool theme and modify target placements, etc and have a nice project...but from scratch, wow that is dedication ;D

If you do it like they said, please take lots-o-pics and post
Good Luck!
Doing them from scratch has been done.  There's a guy on VPForums that has done several... he solved the lamp insert problem by simply not having any.  I suppose you could try this approach and use LED's on the plastics to indicate targets...

Reworking an existing pin has been done, too... if you look around, you should find a machine that started life as an Evel Knievel machine and was reworked into a Battlestar Galactica theme.  This approach would work well for late 70's/early 80's pins whose sound effects and rulesets are not theme-specific.  If you redo the playfield, though, you still have the lamp-insert issue to deal with...
--Chris
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Xiaou2

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Re: Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #33 on: February 07, 2005, 02:04:19 pm »

 I believe the lamp  inserts are farily thick... and may have a deep surrounding edge to them.   Youd then have to route out a perfect hole for them, (using a fostner bit would probably work very well).   And use glue to hold them in place.

 The depth of the thing has to be perfect as well.

 While pins do have wood with laqure.... they are subject to the ball eating thru the artwork over time.   Plexi or a removable mylar covering is a good idea to keep that from happening.
 

menace

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Re: Build your own Pinball Machine
« Reply #34 on: February 17, 2005, 07:43:10 am »
its better to not post and be thought a fool, then to whip out your keyboard and remove all doubt...

  
 

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