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The "Version 2.0" Pinball Cab Build


LegoYoda
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Right, so I think it's time to start a bit of a what I did and how it's going  build log....  During Lockdown  last year I built  "Version 1" of a digital pinball cab and I was quite pleased with myself!.. At the time...

 

It was a 60%-ish scale variant of the standard WMS cab with a 27" playfield and 2 x LED light strips + PIN2DMD. I was happy but I made mistakes.

 

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  • i forgot to NOT scale the height so it has to be on wooden blocks to not be uncomfortable to play
  • To small for the speaker s to face the right way
  • No space inside for any extras (no subwoofer, no feedback, no plunger, nothing)
  • No SSFB, no nudge etc.
  • Woodworking skills were lacking so some of it is a bit hacky (the plexiglass just rests there), there's a lot of wood filler in there ;)
  • Didnt think much about servicability
  • 27" monitor was a bit small
  • Could not get a handle on the VPX side of things (so...much..interconnection)

 

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Still it played well enough and  I put well over 100 hours in to Fx3 on the thing so decided in early spring 2021 to start with version 2...

 

[Next Post Please]

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So,  with version 2 I wanted to go bigger and better, with more feedback and lights. and, hopefully, a much higher level of quality overall.

 

Goals:

  • Bigger, but not full size as I dont ahve the room!
  • Move to as large a monitor I can have for the playfield that still supports high refresh rates
    • IMO 120Hz + reresh rate is far better than 4k Visuals in Virtual Pinball as most tables dont really need 4k but the smoothness and responsivness of the ball at 120Hz + is amazing.
  • More LED's. Given it took me a while to understand DOF I want to have more than 2 strips.
    • left and right strips, rear strips and something to simulate the flashers/strobes/beacons
  • Bigger backbox monitor (like the 4:3 aspect as can cut off the SW DMD area on most B2S files and can still maintain Artwork almost like the real thing.
  • Better Sound.  Want to have proper speaker direction, subwoofer, Surround sound playfield
  • Support for feedback. Minimum Solenoids, shaker motor, replay knocker.
  • Bottons with labels for Navigation as the family hated the guesswork
    • flashing real buttons where needed to and a more sensible button placement. Minimal "non authentic" buttons (if possible)
  • A plunger and Nudge support
  • ARTWORK! on the side.
  • LOCKED 144Hz framerates (current card can do about 130 in PFX3 but 90 in VPX)
  • Sort out VPX and DOF correctly and get Pinball X working and configured right
  • Tim the cab right.... as it's not 100% size off the shelf parts for lockdown bars, side rails etc are off the menu. Need alternatives.

Outcomes:

  • Going for roughly 80-85% size with a bit more height so I dont need those stupid blocks for a comfortable standing position.
  • Settled on a 1440p 32" monitor that can drive at 165hz (so, really, 144Hz at 10bit colour depth).  It's not super expensive and it is still a monitor (so will remember its power state and have DisplayPort input)
    • Amazingly hard to get HFR monitors not curved at this size and above
    • only real options greater than 32" a4k AND 120Hz  but are OLED and cost thousands!!! (nope....)
  • Moved 2 x LED strips to backbox, 2 ont he back, 2 down the sides
  • Turns out 4:3 monitors max out at 21".... so that's what I have.... (thank you eBay)
  • 4 x exciter speakers, 2 amps and a 6.5" sub will fit nicely.  reuse older amp for SSF and shift to a 2.1 setup for main speakers
  • TBD on the feedback....  Pinscape? Zebsboards? something else?
  • Real arcade buttons easy, 6.3V stepdown required and space for it needed. LOTS of wiring incoming.
  • TBD for plunger. Zebs? Kit from GGS?
  • Vynil printed artwork.  plenty of options from community (thank you wonderful people)
  • Switched to 2060Super GPU as that can cope with 1440p > 160 fps and prob allows for alittle future proofing if new SW comes out with RT support.
  • Watch lots of youtube videos and finally understand the SW side of things....
  • research trim types..
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Phase 1 was to sort the backbox front out.... V1 had an uncomplicated mounting mechanism with magnets holding it in to the surrounding frame of the box. That worked so I did it again here but with a better finish and more accurate placing.

 

Starting simple.  decased the monitor and routed out 15 mm depth for the bezel so the screen sits mostly flush with the glass and doersnt reflect in game as much and then strapped down with metal strapping. A suprisingly secure fit TBH.

 

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Routed out some channels for the Backbox LED strips. These are intended to replicate the Beacon and strobe/flash effects in DOF as I dont think i want anything on top of the machine (so i'm not spending the money).

 

Speakers are  car stereo speakers and not fit nicley in the front, facing forward and looking as they should. the DMD is routed out to a few different levels so the DMD matrix itself actually is flush with the front of the wood.

 

Routed out a space for a Williams Logo (3D print from eBay) to fill the deaadspace in the middle (i like the look also). drilled holes for wires for LED strips and pilots for the speaker grilles (whicl will secure the plexi over the main front.

 

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sanded, primed and sprrayed the wood with a BMW metalic black from Halfords....  I dont intend to have graphics on the backbox so this makes it look nice and shine a little whilst still being easy to do!

 

Checked everything still turned on and worked, updated the Pin2DMD Firmware from 3.15 to 4.18 (which took a while as the .upd file didnt want to do antyhing for some reason). cabled the  back and added quick connects (choc blocks) for spealers and DMD pwer as this will be hinged on the backbox and need to be able to be disconnected for maintenance easily.

 

End result is a good start with a  backbox that looks more like the real thing than before (yes, I know.... LED strips arent close to authentic), is better built (tollerances!) and  should be easy to use and maintain.  One thing to note, i did actually put black tape on the monitors bezel and then refiutted it so you CAN'T see any silver showing through the front now it's finished...

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  • LegoYoda changed the title to The "Version 2.0" Pinball Cab Build

Winding back a bit..... When designing verison 2 I tried to learn 3D CAD SW so I could pre fit everything... I failed...  Backed off to using Inkscape as it's a vector drawing package that can draw plans to scale easily and allows everythign to be precice.  Built the plans out to the size i wanted and ensured all the items I wanted would fit in.

 

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Bought a circular saw and started cutting  2 sheets of 18mm plywood.  I'm not the best woodworker in the world (learning as I'm doing) so there's nothing fancy about the joints in this build.  mated edges are being hidden by trim vs looking good by default.  Maybe V3 will be better here?

 

Also, realising I'm not building this in a mega logical order, rather pannel by pannel to keep myself motivated and show myself progress. Next I actually built out the front pannel with a coin box from Amazon (not commercial grade), drilled out the button holes, cut out the coin door with a jig saw (not super neat, again, learning!) and then sprayed it black in advance.  (quite why I did this now is beyond me....)

 

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Finally, after cuttoing the main pannels of the  cab did a dry fit to ensure everything fitted together. the idea beingt o mark out areas for whener the internals would go (motherboard shelf, amps, shaker motor, sub etc...

 

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As the basic shape fitted together moved on to creating the mounting for the major components that need a home. And, because i'm tackeling this in the order I felt like doing it (vs a truley logical one). this means mounting some rear fans, ensuring that I ahve space for the amps and controller boards (keyboard and LEDs) whilst still leaving space for the coin door to open and close (providing accesssto the volume controls).

 

Exhaust fans first. Easy cuts with a hole saw and then some bolts.  Going for 2 x fans in (on the base of the cab, near the front) and 2 x Fans out (on rear behind motherboard and graphics cards). All fans are matched so shold be slight positive pressure overall as a 5th fan (PSU) wil be blowing air in also (should help convection up to the back box).

 

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Next, Control panel / cab apron.  On V1 I made this far to big so this is reduced in size and is going to house the main navigation buttons for Virtual pinball that did not have a "real" equivilent (up, down, left, right, ok, back). using small 12mm buttons for this witht he diea to get decals placed on them later.

 

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Turning it over it's very easy to wire these buttons up and add in some "bump stops" for the playfield monitopr to rest upon when installed.  Again primed and sprayed as this wont have a graphic on it when finished. GND are all daisy chained together and then connected witha  Choc block to a single cable running witht he switch buttons.  Cable length was measured already + slack.

 

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The screws in the corners are the mounting mechanism. they go on to a metal clip and then slide down towards the front of the cab, securing the apron and panel in place.  easy to remove for maintenance bt also secure for the 99% of the time it's in use.  This actually worked really well and is something I'd do again for V3.

 

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Learning from V1 that you never really finish a build or something always goes a bit wrong I crimped the ends of all wires so they wouldnt get degraded from any repeated install, remove, install in to any terminals. Plus it looks more professional!

 

Next up, Amps and controller boards.  I wanted all volume controls accessible from behind the coin door and the button wiring to terminate near the front of the cab to save on spagetti and keep it out of the way of any power runs later. 2 x Shelves stacked should do the trick. Top one with the main 2.1 amplifier (Backbox L+R and Subwoofer)  with a iPac for keyboard encoding and a Teensy 3.2 + octo board for LED strip control.

 

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The iPac and the Teensy are superb things and very easy to use/control.  The Amp is "ok" (it is cheap) L=R sounds good enough (given Pinball Roms are not the most HiFi sound) but the Sub output seems to distort REALLY quickly before it gets to the level of punch I'd like.  Unsure if this is my mounting of the sub or the amp....  Intend to troubleshoot later by connecting center channel to one of the other amps to test...

 

Bottom shelf contains 2 more 2 chanel amps for the exciter speakers that will be used for Surround Sound playfield effects. Stacked to the inside of the cab we have enough space for ventilation and accessibility as well as a bit of cable management....

 

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These pics jump around a bit as I didnt really take hem in the order iI did the build.... also visible in this shot is 1 fan hole on the bottom, L=R routed out channels for LED strips and the channel for the plexi glass.  NOTE, i chose to slide the glass in from the BACK of the cab to make the front easier to build.... I am already regretting this decision as maintenance and upgrades force me to movethe cab away from the wall to remove the glass. Bu the decision was made....uggh...

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At this point I seemed to stop taking a lot of pictures but, over the next few weeks, the backbox was built out fully and the main cab was then screwed together and the holes for the legs were drilled and test fitted.

 

Thanks to the wonderful VP community there was a whole forum thread with load of 'don't use it commercially' artwork and that's something that Version 1 really lacked. So, got the 'pinball invasion' design which i thought looked really good and altered it ever so slightly to fit in a frame correctly on my odd scale pinball machine.  Had it printed on Vinyl online and applied it to the cab.

 

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Managed to get the backbox and cab sides on well and also cleanly and got the T-Moulding installed.  Back box looking good so far.  Trim still to apply.

 

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Applying the vinyl to the front, I think I didn't sand or clean down the wood enough as its a little bobbled and textured underneath. It was also a total pain getting the sunken buttons cut cleanly. 

 

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Basically, I failed.... The overall look is fine from a few ft away, just don't inspect it to close! Added a bit of trip to the edges and this looks like I'll do this across the board to neaten it all up.

 

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Notice that there is no plunger here.  It's still not turned up and is on back order. I guess this is because 'times we live in'  happy with the way the coin door looks though.

 

Overall, Version 2 is looking smart, once it's all together I'll make a call ont he front and might get it reprinted and try again.  Be nice if I can find some plastic surrounds for the sunken buttons and cover up the jaggies but I cant work out what, if they exist, are actually called.

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Fitment time for the first internal components.  Intake fans and subwoofer on the cab underside.  These are quiet fans rated for airflow over static pressure (because we're just concerned with moving air through the case not any radiators etc).  They are offset from each other to provide a balance of air moving around all areas of the case and logically distinct areas for toys and electronics.  One thing I forgot to mention before is a 3mm deep square route out where the PC PSU will go. Means there'#s a cradle for it to rest in.

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Also installed  at this time wa the main grounding wire in to all the metal parts of the cab that move outside . This includes all the legs and mounting plates as well as the coin door. Secured with a screw and washer.  This will be connected to the ATX PSU case as these are grounded by default so it's a simple route to ground (using an UNPAINTED screw, obviously).

 

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Underside of the cab, mounted the subwoofer, fits nice and although it sticks out a  bit this will never be seen or felt due to its positioning.  Also installed fan grilles for safety.  The empty hole you see is for the PC PSU intake when mounted.

 

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Also installed the undercab buttons at this time.  Green for PC Power on/Off (monentary press switch) as well as white (view change) and 2 x USB 3.0 ports that route around to the motherboard.  When I built version 1 a single port wasnt enough as sometimes you wanted a real keyboard AND mouse  or USB stick combo..... they are very cheap at £6 so totally worth it.  Not straight in the photo... Are straight now....

 

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Whilst here I also drilled holes in the fake coin door mechanism and mounted the "service" buttons.  These will be wired to the PinMAME equivilents for "ent, esc, -, +" and are behind the door for authenticity and to keep the front uncluttered.  I intend to further modify this to add buttons for "coin in" to the reject buttons...

 

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Also fashioned a stand and mount for a microswitch that acts as a "door open" switch / keypress.  This is designed to be pressed whent he coin door is closed and open when , well, open... This technically works, but it also repeats  the keystroke so I think i need to think this one through again. Good idea, poor execution. not totalyl sure what I've missed (perhaps wrong switch type?) but I guess I'll go read more!

 

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Next up, speaker and button wiring!

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This next stage is where I found out if I'd given myself enough room in real life to go with the internal design...  Just. Speaker wiring first fror the bottom shelf (exciter speakers) wasnt too bad with easy tie down points and simple runs up the side to the speakers.

 

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Next wanted to finish off the  buttons for the coin door.  Service buttons were easy to  wire up with chained GND wire and  single wires per button.  all cut oversized so that they can be easily looped with the door open to the correct location without strain or rubbing on edges etc.

 

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Also added in the mount for the coin in switches.  These are bolts trhrough the microswitches in to a montherboard standoff that's inserted and glued in to a hole I drilled in the plastic.  Looks a little janky but this is a secure and good solution for the problem.  I'd probabely do this a little differently if I did it again (longer pole with plastic standoffs, secured in  with epoxy vs UHU glue...  This does work though and has a satisfying amount of travel and click. Means the door unit is almost totalyl self contained and can be moved to another build if I do a v3 build

 

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One of the miustakes I made in V1 was the not throught through button wiring with GND loops all over the place and spare connectors hanging and getting in the way.  This time, all the GND chains for the different sets of buttons (door, fliper L, Flipper R, navigation buttons etc) all bunch up locally and then pass through to a terminal block so we're only running  1 or 2 GND wires to the keyboard encoder. Neatens the 'last mile' cabelling. All wire ends are crimped to ferrules so any maintenance doesnt break  bits of the (stranded) wire off.

 

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Wiring up the iPac it's still a lot of wires but it's maintainable and simple (markings for ease of maintenance and reconnection)

 

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Cable spagetti is still a thing but this is all logicall laid out.... no wire groups going THROUGH other groups...  This took AGES (like -5 hours) to make it usable. Note the wire for the bulbs is NOT done yet...

 

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Time to bring a few things together...  The front / coin box / volume control concept has turned out well and the view through the door is exactly how I wanted it to be (no wires in the way, weasy to see, easy to alter settings.  happy with this.

 

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Finalised the wiring for the backbox now before trying to mount it to the main cab. Trying to keep power away from  data / audio where possible and routing through holes to main cab.

 

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Now a test fit for the backbox on the cab giving it the first look of how it will stand when put together. Honestly, quite pelased at this point.  much better than V1 already and no where near done. some more bits of trim added around the botton and back of the cab, framing the vynil sticker and preventing it peeling away and hiding my below average knife cutting job.

 

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At this point i finally got the back box hinge through the post and realised i'd forgotten to drill the holes before applying the graphics....  So attached them to the back box first and am now going to have to be VERY careful in drilling and ensuring it's right first time...

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Drilling from the outside in for the backbox hynges worked nice but also threw up an issue with the  placement of my monnitor support placement (another case of measure twice cut once).  It's so close the bolt wond go through

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This now means a very careful bit of drilling to get a recess cut out to place the bolt in (had to remove the minotor bracket and use a forstener bit to  create a recess for the bolt, slide the bolt in and then re attach the monitor bracket.  This did work however so now I placed in the LEDs mounted in aluminium channels (with a diffuser on top). One each for the sides of the playfield (46 LED long in 60LED/Meter format) and 2 x 25 strips on the rear for the back playfield effects and "flashers".

 

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With that done it was time to attach the backbox correctly . It worked.  Notice there is a bit of adesign flaw here..... I initially though that because my cab is not full size so has a "fake" lockdown bar (wooden) I would slide the glass out the back so you simply fold down the backglass and  slide the glass out.  This DOES work, but I forgot two pretty important things....

 

1. I really should have used quick connects / Molex connections for all the wires going to the back box (Speakers, LEDs, Display, Power) as you have to unplug and unscrew them to get the glass out at the moment...

2. You have to pull the machine away fromt eh wall to remove the glass.... this is STUPID.

2a. the fake lockdown bar covers the slots that would have been visible for front exiting glass anyhow....

 

Anyway, lesson learnt and something for V3... It wouldnt be a hobby if everything went right first time!

 

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Hoestly though, apart from the "issues" with the servicability of the design I am far happier with how this is turning out. IOt now looks the part with some plastic trim around the edges, a proper backbox and som decent attempt at plexi

 

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As this build is much bigger than V1 there's a lot more room for me to work with and attach things down how I would like.  However, it's still not full size so I do think I have to be clever with space (confirmed later, Space, it seems, is ALWAYS at a premium).

 

I've designed the lighting used by the cab (all the LEDs, the front cab buttons, DMD etc.) to all be powererable from the 5V / 12V auxillary rail of the PC PSU I'm using can peak at 90Watts over the single cable it's got and the stuff I have is about 70watts total if all on all the time.  The Front buttons all use 6.3 Volts so I need to step down the 12V raill. A fe molex connectors and a variable stepdown converter from eBay are all that is needed here.  These break out to terminal blocks for connection to 5V and 12V accessories.

 

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In place in the cab these are screwed down and the wiirse connected to the various elements (not shown here are the GND wires to the button bulbs as I dont have a controller at this time).  This bit took blooming ages as  there's so many connections to get between the LED strips and the  blocks, Teensy and power supply... Doing this in a way that is sane to undersand and wont break loose was crazy.  Another design change for V3 will be to use a different colour wire for the "data" signal for the LED Strips... using Yessow isn't sane (as it's the same colour as the 12V live feed). never mind, i put a sticker on it!

 

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Another thing I learnt from V1 was "do cable management as you go with  reusable cable ties"  so i did....  it pays off later a lot.

 

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Connecting the buttons around the doow area... Even if you're trying your best this gets really complicated.  Again, for V3, if I had more space i'd use longer cable runs and have trunking to hide things or clip things to the walls.

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Once all in place I fitted the motherboard shelf (The PC PSU goes UNDER this shelf as does the subwoofer).  Thi was by design.  The cables for the LED strips being under the shelf was an oversite.  At this point I hadn't tested them correctly and I was soon to regret fitting the shelf before doing so.....

 

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Also noticed at this point that the sides were bowing out a bit now (I'm not sure why, anyone with woodworking experiance care to jump in). only by 3mm (wider) in the center but that's enough to make the glass come out of it's channel in the middle.  Perhaps I did the main case up too tight?  Squished it?  Dunno, but this brace was installed to pull the sides together that 3mm.  It also makes the cab VERY rigid.

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Now screwed dowen and configured the  Wiring for the 6.3V lamps.  Things I did right here include crimping the ends of all teh wores for easy reconnection later, things I dd wrong... I probabaly should have put these on the side or something and  ensured that I routed power away from the  other cabeling (Audio and Data). It works though, and the wiring is overkill for the amperage it's using/

 

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Installed the WiFi Antennas outside the back of the cab where no one can see them.  It was amazing how much of the signal got lkilled by having them directly in the cab (attached to the card).  Got some antenna extenders adn placed them on the outside of the cab and the network speeds are much better (100Mbit vs the 5Mbit I was getting before). Power isolation switch also in the rear and the 2 x exhaust fans.

 

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Finally time to install the PC in to the cab.  This is a failrly basic system (Ryzen 2600, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, WiFi Card and a 2060Super 8GB).  It's mounted on to an acrylic motherboard test bench (with metal posts for the PCIe Cards) and this is mounted to the Motherbboard shelf.  The second card is the older 2060 6GB from Version 1 (which couldnt quite pump out the FPS at 1440p/144Hz) because both of these are mining ETH whilst not in use. IT turns out building one of these machines is expensive and GPUs are stupid at the moment so they need to pay themselves back somehow...

 

There should be enough space at the back to route and hide cables and the (insane) anmount of USB connections that seem to be needed for a fully loaded virtual pin.  PSU is under the shelf drawing air in from outside so is nice and out of the way with space for cable management under there also.

 

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