Saturday, July 27, 2013

Brain transplant successful!


Got my Chipkit replacement today!

1) A larger than usual box made me suspicious... 

2) Ah! There's my little box!

I noticed a small difference between the old and new board -
I guess I wasn't the only one having problems with the USB port, right?
3) Factory-applied hot glue on the USB port! Note the perfectly aligned USB port (not!) as well... 


I moved all the cables into their correct position, burnt the firmware onto the new card, booted the machine and this happened...


What had happened was that I've accidentally swapped the start button with the motor pin, so the motor revved up to about fifty million RPM and due to not being perfectly aligned (kinda causing a rumble effect actually) it tore the arm off.

It's a good thing actually - now I know that super glue wasn't enough and I'll need to put a screw in there as well. Glad it happened now and not under the glass!

Once that was fixed I was back on track!

Oh, I even got hardware status feedback from the soundboards after a firmware update and some soldering - and it's awesome!
Previously the only feedback would be a single message being sent over the serial port which could easily been missed. Now I'll just pull the actual status whenever, wherever.

Today was a good day!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Status update!

All right.

So far I've got everything but the plastic transport from ramp-to-VUK in place, including servos, motors, lights, switches and solenoids. Meaning, I've more or less finished the machine.

What I didn't expect (well, should have...) was that my crappy soldering of the Chipkit USB port would come loose, so now I can't program the board. I'm rather fed up with it so I'll just order a new Chipkit Max32, move wire by wire to the new board and hopefully don't break anything else in the process.

Before moving the USB cable, and ultimately breaking the port, I managed to get the servos and motor up and running in code, as well as the accompanying diagnostics menu for them.

Here's some videos for a change!


In the videos everything just goes on/off in an instant. The final version of the code will of course feature speed control and less jerky, smoother movements. The idle light sequences are just placeholders as well (i.e random lamp lights up) and will obviously be replaced when the new board is up and running.

I've also noticed that the magnet doesn't work anymore, and by measuring the port it would seem that the port is indeed broken (regardless what I've previously said...)

So, up next is:

1) Making the transport section. Don't know why I've not done this part already...
2) Checking the magnet driver port. The port is broken, will order a new board for this unless repairable.
3) Order and replace the Chipkit.
4) Beautify the playfield - attach top plastic overlays. Not critical and might be skipped completely, actually.
5) Tilt blobbin'. Also optional. We'll see about this.

Then - I can finally start coding the ruleset!

Monday, July 22, 2013


Organizing lights and creating/arranging groups, schematics and color schemes is almost as tedious as the light board soldering was. Phew.

But at least things are moving along!

Friday, July 19, 2013

One down...

Added a power relay to keep playfield power off when booting and when doing maintenance. Reused my old relay board, which finally became useful. And I only broke a single light doing so!

Not really broken, just under maintenance.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Holy smokes, Batman!

Got use for my fuse-box in the pinball the other day...

Yes, I know I should not be doing stuff on the machine while it's on and active.

Yes, I know I should turn it off before disconnecting wires or reconnecting them.

Despite this I always manage to break something by doing just that...
This time the fuses took the hit and saved me from burning most of my electronics. It's rated at 8A so imagine what damage could have been caused if that would have passed through the Chipkit instead.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Backtrack...Back on Track, I mean!

Great success!

1) Spot the error... Yeah, it's that one.
Did a little voodoo-soldering last night and got the switchboard up and running again. The error was pretty easy to narrow down...

Once the IC was replaced I noticed that the current had rippled through the ones following the damaged one, so they needed to be replaced as well. After that - all is good!

I also noticed that the loose cable was indeed VERY loose. Two solenoids had basically no connection at all - which in turn explains why the left bumper mysteriously stopped working. Three times have I replaced the "broken" MOSFET (doh!)...

From the top of my head, following things remain to be fixed until the hardware is finished:

  1. Passage between the left ramp and top VUK. The design is made (will be clear plastic instead of metal) and a cardboard prototype has been created. All that's left is to recreate it in plastic. 
  2. Connect flashers and GI to +12V. 
  3. Add a power relay to keep the lights off while the machine is booting (could possibly blow a fuse). It's possible to modify the lightboard to let the Chipkit keep the signal low, but it's easier this way and way more accessible.
  4. Adjust a few of the switches. Some of them gets stuck in the closed position and needs a little tinkering to open/close properly. Most notably the center VUK and shooter lane. 
  5. Add a switch for the upper level drophole (can't believe I missed this). It's possible to work around this in the rules, but that would mean the RAPTURE-mode is not possible to handle during multiball. 
  6. Connect the center VUK rail with the right ramp. Just a nut and bolt - easy as pie. 
  7. Connect the servos- and motorcable from the playfield to the cable from the motherboard. 
  8. Attach the plastic overlays above the orbit lane. Need some customization there, but nothing big. 
  9. Enable the service buttons and tilt-blob (optional, can be done with the cabinet closed).
I should say - "finished"- as there is probably going to be a little tweaking here and there, but I will be able to start the actual GAME programming pretty soon! 

2) Lit and almost fully functional playfield! 

Two thumbs up! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Let there be lights!

After around two years in the making - this is a most welcome sight! 

1) Most lights active. Global illumination lights are mostly absent in this picture.
The final version will be a bit more brighter. 

2) View from the underside. 

A little more to do on lighting before calling it done, such as - global illumination, reversing the polarity of two of the bumper lights and some general adjustments.

But it's looking rather good!