Tag Archives: Pinball Machine

Become a DIY pinball machine wizard

This Maker was able to recreate an arcade classic using commercially available parts and an Arduino Mega.

Pinball machines might not be a common sight in America anymore, but if you’re nostalgic about these ancestors of video games, chances are you’ve thought about owning one yourself. Since you’re reading this blog, there’s also a good chance you’ve thought about building one!


Bob Blomquist decided to go from thinking about it to actually constructing his own using commercially available parts, including an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560). As you might suspect, as shown at 9:10 in the video below, even a relatively simple table like this requires a massive amount of wiring.

Blomquist’s project features several interesting techniques, including the use of an off-the-shelf voltage divider too step down the 24 volt power used with the “pop bumpers.” This allowed the bumpers to be powered by 24 volts, while this output is reduced to 5 volts for Arduino input. In this case, the circuit tended to leak current, so an analog input was employed to filter out false signals.


The voltage divider is a very useful concept in electronics, and more information on building one of these yourself can be found here.

Besides showing off a few electronics tricks, this detailed video also reveals all kinds of interesting components used in a standard pinball table. They are quite interesting in their normal use, and for that matter, some of them could certainly be repurposed for other Maker projects!

Become the wizard of this Pinball Contraption

This Lego Pinball machine is comprised of over 4,000 bricks, 6 servos, 5 motors, and an MP3 player.

Philip Verbeek recently debuted one of the most legendary LEGO creations we’ve ever seen.


The Maker used more than 4,000 LEGO pieces, six servos (three LEGO, three littleBits), five motors (one littleBits DC, one LEGO XL, two LEGO M and one LEGO L) along with an MP3 player, LEDs, buzzers, displays, speakers, and mini basketballs to round out the pinball themed design.

At the brain of the aptly named PinBallContraption lies a LEGO NXT (AT91SAM7S256 and ATmega48) and a pair of littleBits Arduino modules (ATmega32U4).


The Maker also incorporated four light dependent resistors, touch sensors, photoresistors, and an IR sensor, which let the project’s NXT and Arduino modules know what’s going on inside the game.


Additionally, the device is equipped with a littleBits cloud module. This allows Verbeek to continue firing the tiny LEGO basketballs with a set of flippers, all while tracking his current score from his smartphone. However, for those not as tech-savvy or simply looking to spark up some arcade nostalgia, there are mechanical controls as well.


Once a player drops in a €2 coin, the PinBallContraption comes to life. Similar to other pinball machines, different elements affect a player’s score in various ways — some increase your tally by a point or two, others knock it down. Meanwhile, conveyors shuttle the basketballs around the game’s playing field at an impressive rate of one ball per second.

Interested in learning more? You can flip on over to the project’s official page here.