World Domination Pinball

A custom made, scratch built pinball machine

Playfield Construction

The construction of the playfield was definitely the longest part of the project, and it’s something that has undergone lots of refinement and improvements. The first step was to find a nice piece of plywood. Looking back, I have spent a huge amount of hours working on this one piece of wood. I sized my playfield to be 600 x 1200 x 15 mm, which seemed pretty close to commercial pinball machines. Next, I hashed out the rough design I had simulated, and worked out a good spacing between parts.

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I then started to build some of the features. I used some stainless steel strip for the guides around the outside of the board. The wire-frames are constructed from brass wire soldered together. The ramps are built from acrylic and bent into shape using an old electric bar heater.

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I bought proper pinball assemblies from Pinball Life and eBay. This included 3 pop-bumpers, 2 slingshots, a bank of drop targets and the two flippers.

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I also built a nifty contraption to kick the ball up from underneath the table, using an old coil.

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Once the positions of the parts were fixed in place, I could start routing the holes for the lights. This was quite time consuming as I did it all with a hand router and jigsaw(!). In retrospect I should have used a CNC router, this would have saved a ton of time and would have probably done a better job. The light inserts were cut from 6 mm acrylic and then epoxied in place. I also found an easy way to get round lights on the playfield using some 12 mm diameter acrylic rod: Drill a 5 mm hole in one end of the rod to mount an LED, and then glue the rod into a hole on the playfield. Much easier than hand routing! Once the inserts and cutout were made, the playfield was then sanded to perfection.

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I then could paint all the pieces I had built, and get started on the artwork! The art was painted by hand directly onto the playfield and then coated with a clear automotive paint.

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More construction photos here!

Next: Cabinet Construction

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