The Open Pinball Project (OPP) has existed since 2012. During that time the first generation of pinball controllers were built and are currently controlling two white woods and a fully functional pinball machine. A lot was learned by making the first generation of cards. Here is a video that Joe made with the Blue October white wood.
The second generation of cards was designed within the last year, and have been significantly improved versus the first generation cards. A prototype run of cards were fabricated, and those have been sold to several enthusiasts. The open pinball project wants to raise enough money to purchase a full set of solenoid and interface boards.
Okay, here is the video that has some actual information:
Each processor board is attached to up to four wing boards that provide the ability to drive a pinball machine. The three types of wing boards that have been built and tested include:
- Solenoid driver wing board - supports four solenoids and switch inputs to control the solenoids. The processor firmware supports PWM'ing solenoids to support single coil flippers.
- Incandescent driver wing board - supports eight incandescent or LED bulbs. The driver is powerful enough to support pinball flashers.
- Input connector - supports up to eight digital inputs for monitoring switches, targets, tilt bobs, etc.
Wing cards can be mixed and matched, so a single processor board can support up to 16 solenoids, 32 inputs, 32 insert lights, or any mixture of wing boards.
Processor cards communicate with a main controller which runs the rules for a pinball machine. The main controller can be as simple as a Raspberry Pi, or a full fledged computer to run streaming videos. The OPP hardware is supported by the Mission Pinball Framework (MPF). There is also full documentation to allow control of the OPP hardware using a simple serial interface. Each processor board comes with a USB to serial port converter, so the pinball machine can be controlled over USB.
An interface board has been developed to allow the processor boards to communicate together. (The interface board does not count as one of the wing boards on the processor). The interface board allows a single USB port to control up to 16 processor boards. With a single USB port, up to 256 solenoids can be controlled (although that seems absurd). Multiple USB ports can be combined in a single pinball machine if desired.
The processor boards can run in stand-alone mode. By just providing power, the boards will automatically control flippers, slingshots, and drop targets. This allows white wood layouts to be tested without the hassle of hooking up a computer and writing a bunch of rules.
Using the OPP hardware, a 5V power supply for the processors, and an inexpensive 48V power supply purchased off eBay, a fully functional pinball machine can be made.
The funding goal is a paltry $72. That is enough money to fabricate 80 copies of both the solenoid and interface wing boards. With such a small funding goal, the purpose is not really to raise capital, but to see if there is enough interest within the homebrew pinball community to continue the project. The money will also allow the OPP hardware to become self supporting. (i.e. selling a blank wing boards for $1 will raise enough capital to purchase more wing boards when the stock runs out.)
All of the money collected towards the goal is used to purchase the blank PCBs. None of the money is being used to enhance my coffers (that includes the money where I've promised to play a game of pinball at Pinball Wizard Arcade in your stead).
Here is the timeline for the project if it is funded:
- April - Kickstarter campaign
- May - Panellize solenoid board and interface board designs
- June - Order boards by June 1st. Spend rest of June verifying BOMs for boards, and creating more documentation
- July - Boards received. Build full set of boards, test, and verify interface with Mission Pinball Framework (MPF) is working.
- August - Ship boards for the Do-It-Yourself'er supporters. Build and test Big Spender Cards.
- September - Ship boards for Big Spenders by September 1st.
Risks and challenges
The risk for this project is low. All boards have been previously prototyped and tested. Incandescent boards have been fabricated as panellized boards to prove the capabilities of the manufacturer. The highest risk is not correctly panellizing the solenoid and interface boards.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (36 days)