Home Pinball: how to become one of these entertainment machines

Pinball casero

Now that it’s time to be home, to be confined, you can get a homemade pinball machine so you can hang out. You have several options to achieve this, as I will now tell you and making use of everyday development boards such as Arduino or the Raspberry Pi. Maybe you still have certain devices at home for it and enough material to get your hands on it as a good maker.

If you don’t have the ingredients for this recipe, you can buy them online without any problem. These services will remain active during these weeks of confinement by the coronavirus. Therefore, the material will be guaranteed so that you can distract and isolate yourself from what is happening in these difficult times. And once the project is complete, you’ll be able to play a few games with your loved ones…

Remember that there are also emulators for Raspberry Pi that can turn this SBC into a retro gaming machine.Pinball and its history

bagatelle history Pinball

It was, and still is, a very popular type of gaming machine. There are many fans who still enjoy them in arcades where they still remain, but there are also those who have them in a game room of their own at home. With the flourishing of the maker community and the DIY projects, you can also create one of these pinballs cheaply.

It has several names, such as pinball, flipper, but it is also known as flask, pimbola, etc. Whatever you call it, the operation and juice procedure is the same in all of them. Although the elements it has vary, the difficulty, and the theme of the decoration.

It is based on a ball that is driven by a spring at the beginning and that will run through the whole circuit or board with different designs and decorations. The ball will bounce or change direction in the presence of these elements, and will fall towards the lower area due to the inclination of this machine.

The idea is that you don’t sneak through the hole, or you’ll lose that ball (like a life). For this, you have at your disposal some controls that will move two paddles or flippers. With them you can throw the ball up again, and depending on the route and elements of the set with which it interferes will be adding a score.

It seems strange to explain how such a popular machine works, but surely there are some younger people who may not have seen a pinball machine… It became popular in the 60s and 70s, where it was very popular in taverns, clubs, ice-cream parlors, bars, casinos and amusement parks.

I am now remembering Jeri Ellsworth (Tilt Five), who I was lucky enough to interview recently, and who loves these parlour games. And by the way, unlike many other similar games, this one wasn’t born in the United States.

The origin of pinball was in Europe. It dates back to the 18th century in France. There, some very rudimentary games called Bagatelle started to be commercialized and became famous in all European countries. It consisted of a horizontal board on a table and with a series of holes and wooden stops where you had to aim for the ball to go around the circuit.

Gradually that evolved until in the 1930s and 1940s, engineers Arthur Paulin Whiffle and David Gottlieb of Automatic Industries began to integrate more modern elements into the game. And Harry Williams would invent a system with a coil electromagnet called the Tilt (fault) to prevent cheating.

Then, a few decades later they continued to evolve, until the popularization of the American pinball machines Williams Manufacturing Company. They would flood the youth arcades of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Having a pinball machine at home


There are several options, from buying a machine to creating it yourself. Here I’ll try to explain both ways so that you can choose the one that interests you most in each case. Besides, I will put links to buy so that you can access all the material you need from home…
It is the most comfortable option, and with which you can get the best result by having a product already finished and with guarantees. For this, you can buy both some that are for the smallest type of toy, to more professional options and similar to those you have in the arcade, but in your own home. For example:

Create your own home pinball machine

The other option, the favorite of the makers, is a DIY project to create your own homemade pinball without having to buy it already done. For that there are several projects on the net that you can follow. Some of them are very interesting. In order not to repeat content, nor to make shortcuts, I prefer to show you other interesting projects already developed and tested so that you can choose the one that interests you the most.

I’ve selected the most interesting ones so you don’t have to bother…

  • Leroy Marlin has a wooden mechanical proposal. It’s similar to the video I left you in this cardboard section. It can be a good initiative for the little ones, if you have children at home.
  • Instructable DIY electronic pinball. The partners of the Instructables community have one of the best projects to make an electronic Pinball similar to the ones you can buy. You only have to use Arduino for it.

I recommend, that in order to not be exactly the same as the originals, you give them a much more personalized touch. Instead of using wood, if you have a 3D printer, you can use printed pieces to make it look even better. Or you can combine a wooden structure and 3D printed details.

Leave a Comment