Saturday, February 27, 2016

We meet again, Captain Setback!

I was having a great time soldering new light cables and everything went smoothly... I thought.

1) I was happy. Until I tested the circuits...

Introducing, in the red corner - The Problem.

2) A typical layout with two power lines and two ground lines.

In the picture above, connecting Power 1 and Ground 1 should light up Lamp 1. The problem is that since I don't use LED's, which are single direction only, but lamps/bulbs in most locations, powering that line will also light up Lamp 2, 4 and 3 (in that order). Basically it's a grid of interconnected lines so "everything" lights up simultaneously. Doh.

...and in the blue corner - The Solution(s).

I planned the matrix layout based on LED's, so the easiest solution would be to simply replace all bulbs with LED's instead. That is rather expensive however and I really want to keep it "lamp-agnostic" in order to use whatever lamp suits the most.

Another possible solution would be to use current restricting diodes on each ground and power line. Slightly less expensive and should be quite easy.

The third - and here's where my hope lies - possibly solution: Using the light board's built in current restricting diodes on each ground and power line. However I'm not fluent enough in electrics to know if a single diode at the end / start of each line would be enough to keep current going in the right direction all over the playfield. I only know this once everything is hooked up, and I have roughly half of the ground cables left to solder, and in case I need to adjust something I'd rather do it now than retrace my steps later.

The million dollar question: 
Is it enough to "correct" the current direction at the start and end of each line, even if the cables are not drawn in series, but rather branch out every now and then? Would the, say, blue chain above benefit from a diode between Lamp 2 and Ground 2? Would the diode stop that from happening since that line is still connected to the diode?

Or would the current pass on from Lamp 2 to Lamp 4 regardless?

I've found a great tool online to troubleshoot circuits. Using this (which I assume is rather correct) I can see that it won't work with a single diode. The current would still pass in the other "legs".
I will see what the best solution would be, but right now I must say changing to all LED's would be preferable... :/

Check for yourselves here:
Lamp/Bulb based:
LED based:

Friday, February 26, 2016

I'm not alone!

It turns out I'm not alone in this world building a custom pinball machine!

*insert shocked audience reaction here*

Not that I ever believed that, but now it's easier than ever to keep track on the projects that are out there. With Pinball Makers website and all the great custom games that are currently in progress. :)
Head on over and see what the fuzz is about:

I specifically like this Nightmare Before Christmas table by Mark Incitti.
Looks really solid and seems like a very fun table - and you can play it today using Future Pinball!

Btw, this is totally not an ad.Even thou it sounds like it. ;)

Btw 2 -
I'm considering rewriting all game rules from scratch.... :O 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Love shine a light....

Almost done with all power/row connections now. :) 
It looks like crap, but works - and that's most important right now!

I found out that I'm short eight light ports, so I had to combine a couple of GI ports (again) in order to have enough for all the important lights. Silly me to forget that 8 of the ports on the flasher-row wouldn't be usable for the other lights...Thumbs up on that one.

The lights are grouped in big colored chunks, making it quite easy to visually debug or trouble shoot faulty cables. This combined with the maintenance mode and on-board LED visualizer will make light problems a breeze to handle in the future. 

It's nice to have a little progress at last! 

1) Cables that only a father could love...