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Conclusion

And this is the result. It's a tiny pinball machine with all the functionality that the Pinball Fantasies DOS games had, plus a bit more: haptic feedback, tilting by actually bumping the case, a physical plunger, the entire table is visible at the same time and a backbox for artwork and the dot-matrix display.

There's some parts I'm not entirely happy about. The backbox LCD has a viewing angle that is too small for how you'd normally use it, making the dot-matrix display is pretty hard to read depending on how you're looking at the main LCD. I could probably source a 2.3" landscape LCD with a better viewing angle and redesign the backbox PCB without having to change anything else, so if that irritates me too much, I can always fix it later. I'm also not too sure about the analog plunger idea: in the end, it is a capacitor that is majorly abused. I may need to change that to something else, or perhaps simply replace it when it's too cracked to work: luckily, MLCC capacitors are cheap.

Even with these things, I'm happy with the end result. I have a pinball machine again which I can fire up if I need to get my mind off things and simply watch a ball bump around a playfield, racking up points as it goes. It's also a nice memento to my youth and a throwback to every time I fired up a virtual pinball table in DOS on my thrown-together 486 machine.

As usual, the sources for the project are all online. You can use them to build your own tiny pinball table, to re-use things I implemented for this or simply to look at the code. If you manage to do anything with it, I'd appreciate a message. Have fun! I know I did.

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9 comments

mike wrote at 17 Sep 2022, 7.26:

nice. would you consider selling the finished model?

aldo wrote at 31 Jul 2022, 7.03:

wow. was this project validated from your employer or is on your time? how long was the development? i think at least 3 months full time. should i engage it from zero could be a 1 year project.

Eric wrote at 24 Jul 2022, 14.09:

Many thanks for sharing this fantastic project !!

pf old fan wrote at 23 Jul 2022, 18.16:

Oh I see the desktop version here: https://github.com/Spritetm/pbf-table/tree/master/esp32/components/emu/unix Thanks for that!

pf old fan wrote at 23 Jul 2022, 18.02:

Hello, this is a spectacular project, congratulations on this achievement. I would have a little hope you could produce some of these to sell someday :) In any way, would you mind in sharing the SDL desktop implementation of this? That would be awesome as a revival opportunity but also as a nice example of thinking outside the box solution to restoring classic games.

Thomas Seidel wrote at 22 Jul 2022, 22.56:

I played this game 15 years ago day and night. Where can I buy this awesome table?

Sprite_tm wrote at 22 Jul 2022, 12.39:

Jean-Paul: Take a look at the Github; it contains the kicad projects for the PCBs and you can derive the BOM from those.

Jean-Paul wrote at 22 Jul 2022, 10.28:

Great project! I am not so good as you in building these kind of projects but i'm willing to give it a try and see if i can make it also. Is there a BOM available with a bit more details about which hw is used? For example: if i search for a ESP-Wrover-Kit there are numerous.. Which would fit? Which screens did you use? These kind of details i would love to know. Thanks in advance for your help.

George wrote at 22 Jul 2022, 6.28:

If you are interested, all 4 of the Pinball Fantasies tables are available on Future Pinball that you can play on your PC. These will only be available on the PinSimDB site until the end of July. After that, you might ask around at https://pinballnirvana.com/. http://pinsimdb.org/pinball/table-268-speed_devils http://pinsimdb.org/pinball/table-610-billion_dollar_gameshow http://pinsimdb.org/pinball/table-194-partyland http://pinsimdb.org/pinball/table-258-stones_n_bones

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