I’ve been lurking around this site for several months now looking at all the really great cabinets that have been put together, and I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and build my own cabinet.
I’ve built a MAME cabinet in the past, but this project seemed exponentially harder with the electronics knowledge required to get all the great toys to work with VP. Many, Many, Many thanks go to H4ck3r and Maxxsinner for putting up with my stupid questions. The Pinball Electrical pdf was extremely valuable to me. Also many thanks to Chriz99’s build threads. There was SO much great information in them.
To begin with, I decided to purchase a lot of the electrical components of my pinball cabinet first, because A) They were a lot cheaper and I could buy them now vs saving up a few months for them like the TV and computer. And B) This was the real big mystery for me as I had absolutely NO electrical knowledge other than how to put a computer together.
I put together a little test board to see if I could get all the components working together nicely through the ledwiz. I ended up picking up (6) 24v contactors from H4ck3r that I tried to drive with 12v. They worked ok, but they really weren’t snappy and the sound from them wasn’t quite what I expected. I also picked up a few solenoids that Mameman had recommended in his build and set them up on my test board. These solenoids seemed to give a much better thump, and didn’t have the lag that the siemens contactors had. The only problem I noticed with them is they were almost too loud.
A few weeks later I picked up a 24v power supply to drive my pinball knocker and also hooked up my contactors to it to see if I got better performance. Wow, what a difference. The contactors were perfect. I would definitely recommend the contactors over the cheaper solenoids, but if you’re on a budget, the solenoids work fine. Just be aware that you will have to use a relay for each solenoid as the amperage is too much to run straight from the ledwiz.
Next I went on to working on the backglass flashers. I know Chriz99 and most of the people on this forum really like the Cree LEDs, but they seemed a little too bright from the pictures and videos I have seen. Plus the price tag was pretty high. Instead I opted for the cheaper Chinese LEDs (link) that you can find on eBay. They don’t run as hot, so you can also get away with getting the cheaper heat sinks. Even though they don’t output nearly as much light as the Cree LEDs, they will still cause you to see dots if you stare at them directly at full power.
At first I tried using stranded wire to the contact points, but that proved extremely difficult as the wire would constantly move on me, so I ended up using some solid core wire I had left over from another project. That ended up working perfectly. Since the positive wire was common, I just soldered it to one contact point then soldered all positives together.
After getting all the flashers done, I moved on to setting up a board to hold all my resistors for the LEDs. I ended up using Cat5 because I have boxes of the stuff and it’s already color coded.
Next was, how do I make an external plug for my cabinet, so I didn’t just feed an extension cord through some hole in the back? I ended up using some panel mount IEC power connectors (link) at the recommendation of the people at the BYOAC forums. The connectors basically use the same plugs that computer power supplies use. So I took a spare power cord I had and cut both ends off. Attached one end to the power connector and put a standard power receptacle on the other. After it was all done I had my glorified extension cord.
One of the things I wanted to do was to have everything power off or on with a single button, so I ended up using one of those green power strips (link) that Mameman had mentioned in another thread. This ended up working perfectly and it was fairly cheap at only $20.
For nudging I went back and forth on whether to go with tilt bobs / mercury switches, the nanotech motion board, or the Microsoft Sidewinder Pro gamepad. For now I’ve decided on going with the gamepad because of the low cost and people seem to have some pretty good success with it. I have not set this up yet, but I will report back once I have.
For the PC I’ve decided on going with the Core i5 2500k. I also picked up a pair of GTX 260s that I’ll be using for the video cards. I’m still undecided on whether to use a solid state drive or not. A group of co-workers recently were all “upgraded” to SSDs and out of 7 drives 5 have completely failed. It could have been a bad batch, but that’s not a good sign. My other alternative is to use a regular hard drive and hope the nudging doesn’t cause drive failure as well. I’ll probably end up going the SSD route and just perform a clone of the drive once I have it completely setup the way I like it.
For my playfield TV I purchased the Samsung UN46D6000 46” LED at the recommendation of H4ck3r. This TV is awesome! It fits perfectly in a widebody cabinet, has an extremely small bezel, and the picture is amazing. De-casing it was a little scary as the TV cost a little under $1000. A screw up here would have meant the project was over for me as the wife would have never allowed me to buy another one. It ended up being pretty easy, and the only issue I ran into was removing the IR sensor from the plastic bezel. A minute or two later with a heat gun and it was off.
Now that I had my playfield, I could move on to the actual wood working on my cabinet. I based my design off Mameman/Chriz99’s builds, and I’m completely amazed I had very few screw ups. Compared to how the build for my MAME cabinet went, this was a breeze. I don’t know if I’m getting better or just extremely lucky.
Here are a few pictures of the woodworking I’ve done so far:
So, this is where I’m at right now. I’ve just fit the TV and it’s almost perfect. There’s a little wiggle room in the slots for TV that I need to address, and I need to figure out some way of securing the TV so it doesn’t move if I decide to nudge forward. I may end up building a frame that better supports the TV as Chriz99 did on his build.
As for the artwork, this has been something I’ve been thinking for awhile. At first I thought about just getting some already existing art and slapping it on the side, but I wanted to make it more personal since this thing has completely consumed my life these last few months. After talking to my son, I’ve decided to go with a LEGO Batman theme. I figure I’ll have the Batmobile on it shooting some pinballs at the Joker and Penguin. I would also like to do a spotlight that is pointing to some clouds hovering above a silhouette of Gotham. Once the machine gets powered on some LEDs behind the artwork would light up the bat symbol. On the sides of the backglass I was thinking about having Batman and Robin climbing up the side of the building like they would do in the old campy 1960’s Batman shows. I’m not sure what else to put on it, but I’m completely open to suggestions.
This project has been a complete blast so far and I can’t wait till it’s finished.
Added some finished build pics
CPU: Intel Core i5 2500K 3.3GHZ (OC 4.6 GHZ)
MB: ASRock Z68 Extreme4 LGA 1155
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 4GB DDR3 1600
Drive: Intel 40GB SSD
Video: GeForce 560 Ti 1GB (Playfield)
Video: GeForce 260 2GB (Backglass / DMD)
OS: Windows XP SP3
Here is my shopping list detailing where I found items and how much they cost.
Here is my fplaunch mod that allows for a software based switch for enabling / disabling force feedback.
FPLaunch Feedback Mod
**Note: Removed the shaker intensity mod as pixelmagic's tool now has this incorporated into it.
Here is my wiring diagram for my cabinet. I use 24v to power my force feedback devices and 12v to power all of my LEDs and relays. I have also separated each component into it's own diagram so it's not quite so confusing.
**Note: I have recently updated the Booster Board diagrams to include the Gear Motor as well as a second booster board. Click to see the full size image.
LEDWiz + Booster
Looks good so far.
How does the cheaper solenoids sound? I was thinking of using them for pop up bumpers and ramp gates
What relays did you use?
Last edited by pinballlooking; 08-31-2011 at 06:56 PM.
They sound pretty good on the test board, just a little loud. This can probably be adjusted depending on how far back you put the solenoids from wood they'll be striking. I'll be using two of them no matter what as I only have 6 of the contactors.
I'm using these 12v relays. In hindsight I should have soldered them to a board instead of soldering wires directly to the poles. Oh well.
Great work so far. Man do you have at screen down far in the back. I think we normally run it around 4" down from the top. You slot looks closer to 10?
It's about 8 inches down. From the pictures I've seen I always thought the TV laid down flat. It never occurred to me that the slot slanted up towards the back. So much for no major mistakes so far. I'll think it over tonight to see if I can live with it, or if I want to re-cut the sides. Luckily nothing is glued yet, so it's as simple as taking the screws out.
Thanks for spotting the mistake before I went any further.
great work DeeGor! go for a ssd, you will not regret! it's a difference like night and day.
So I decided to go ahead and re-cut the sides so I can route the slots properly this time. I thought about leaving it, but I know it would drive me crazy every time I looked at it.
Being that the slot actually sits higher up, it gives me more real estate for the LEDs that I want to mount on the side of the cabinet.