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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...

 

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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...

20210827_095348.jpg

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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.

 

plans.jpg

 

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...

 

20210729_152240.jpg

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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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