Pinball Table Scoring

Hey all,

I'm currently working on building a Pinball Table for my dad as a Christmas present and thought about adding in a scoring system. I'm unsure how reliable it would be as I only have button boards which I have leftover from another project I did earlier in the year...and not a lot of money to finance further parts.

My thoughts are to place the button boards on either the sides or specific "bumpers" and display the score according to how many times a button is hit - say 10 points for one, 100 points for the other button I have. Then, display this information on a LCD - either, or SparkFun LCD-00255 Basic 16x2 Character LCD - Black on Green 5V - Proto-PIC. REALLY simple stuff! :slight_smile:

Currently I have an Arduino Lilypad which I assume will be up to the task of running it all?

The whole setup would be run from a 3.7V LiPo battery.

Need any more details? Just gimme a shout :slight_smile:



A 3.7V battery? I take it that the bumpers are not active then, this is the real old style pinball?
Still why a LiPo battery when a 5V to 12V switching PS would cost less, not need recharging and last longer?

If you put 2 bare wires about .5 to 1 mm apart along a bumper right at 1/2 ball diameter then if the ball touches it will make a connect. 1 wire to ground, 1 to a digital input pin the pullup on that pin on.. it should drop low on contact. All you need is wire or other conductor that can take being hit. If you cover the wires with a strip that is conductive on the inside and only makes contact across the wires when the ball hits the outside (you could put it on springs) nothing would be visible but then you'd need some kind of springs. That's about 1 step from solenoids or other-powered bumpers. A very short twitch is all you'd need, but you'd need more than tiny power.

With the right mechanics it's possible that one stepper motor going 1 step and back could 'bounce' multiple bumpers all at once. You wouldn't have any old optical or floppy drives, etc, that you can salvage from?
It's sometimes amazing what can be found inside 'junk'.

You could wire up all the targets for 10 points to 1 pin, 50 to another, etc, to save pins and make scoring easy.

Yes, I'd go with the bare wires shorting for minimal contact closure force unless you have real weak buttons.
Have the grounded wire press on contact against a wire connected to one side of a capacitor with the other side going to an internal pullup resistor, and creating a PCINT interrupt, same as the DTR/Reset does.
That way a touch creates a low that sticks around a little bit and gives the PCINT a chance to register.

Reading the pins in a fast loop looking for a 0 on the inputs might work just as well too as only 1 short at a time is possible unless multiple balls can be in play.

Brass tack heads close together might make easy to see "targets". And if you could make the whole 'floor' conductive while still allowing decoration then you'd only need 'anodes' on the bumpers/targets.

Long ago one of my brothers bought an old Bally table. It needed regular cleanings with tuner spray, those things ran with sparks flashing underneath... I can't remember the voltage but at least 12V and more mechanical than electro. 20-30 years ago there were a number of places where you could pick up used pinball machines in pretty good shape for a couple hundred. There might still be, ask an arcade manager. Where they have decent ones the should also have the dead and dying ones with salvageable parts.