Thank you for using this guide. We have compiled and wrote a full tutorial that will help you with most parts and setup found in a modern virtual pinball cabinet.
In this guide we will build a virtual pinball from a salvaged pinball cabinet and document and explain every steps along the way and make it easy for you to follow. Virtual Pinball does not change that much over time, this guide will be your ultimate reference for many years to come.
This guide is a companion in your adventure of building a virtual pinball machine. You will need different resources and software and this guide will point you in the right direction. We created a free guide called Virtual Pinball A-Z a few years ago where we explained the different parts and components and guided fans to build there own. The guide was more of a reference guide than a how-to. In this guide, we are documenting every step from installing a power supply to connecting solenoids to the Sainsmart board and the LED lights to the Led-Wiz board for special effects.
Making guides takes a long time and we have over 500 hours invested in research, testing and configuring the virtual pinballs we have built over the years. We built several virtual pinball machines so far and Every time we are building one, we learn something new. Many people ask how much will it cost to build one? Let me just say by analogy:” how much does a car cost? “ It is difficult to get an exact number, it will depend on the parts you use, the computer, whether or not you are using force feedback. You can build a virtual pinball cabinet for 1000$, like you can buy a car for 1500$. The one we will build, in parts alone we is over 4000$. We will have a break down in the parts section .
How to use this guide?
This guide was put together in chronological sections. If you are following this guide to build your own virtual pinball machine, you will be able to follow every step and end up with a commercial grade machine that will amaze every one coming to your house.
Now be aware there are a few things you have to keep in mind, even if the process is well explained, building a Pinball is fairly sophisticated and will present some challenges. This guide is to help you overcome these challenges and put give you the tools to complete the project. Don’t put all your faith in this guide….. This is a guide and cannot possibly cover every single possible issue people are encountering. You will need to learn and read about different topics, learn about the concepts and search on the forums for specific issues.
Be mindful that there is more than one way to accomplish your goal. We will not talk about every possible avenue; we will describe our process, which have been tested in many Pinball cabinet builds.
A lot of time and effort was put to make this guide and we wanted to keep it free. We produced this guide and the YouTube series at high standards and we hope you will use it as much as possible and share with the community.
What are going the be the challenges ahead?
Learning how Windows works seems trivial, but the core of the pinball runs on windows. Knowing how windows works is essentials such as running programs as administrators, creating automatic start-up of the pinball software and installing and removing software.
You will need to solder wires, connections and parts. Even if soldering is not complicated, you might have to practice before soldering on expensive Virtual pinball parts. Soldering smaller parts can be difficult and challenging. Seeking help or asking someone with better skills is always a good idea.
Familiarize yourself with the terms current, voltage, amps, live wire, ground wires, neutral. These terms will be used throw-out the guide and it can be frustrating reading about something when you don’t understand the terminology. I created a glossary of terms that are explained but depending on your level of understanding you may have to research the topic. We are suggesting that you read the excellent guide called ” Pinball Electrical 101 “
You will have to cut custom pieces for the cabinet, such as the doors, front of the back glass, dmd overlay. Practice makes perfect, don’t get discourage if your 1st attempt is a failure, you will have many failures through-out the project. What will determine the quality of your final project will be your determination and your attention to details but you will have to try again and again.
We use Photoshop and Illustrator to render the graphics that will be printed for the Pinball. You can buy graphics online but you will pay over 300$. If you do it yourself, this will cost between 100$-200$. If you decide to do it yourself, just ensure that the graphics are high quality vectors or the quality will be poor
Sample of side art and back glass found online
DOF ( Direct Output Framework ) is a software that allow interaction between hardware devices and Pinball Tables. ( ie. LED, solenoids, contactors, knockers, strobes, beacons, fans, gear, shaker.This part is confusing to many users and will be explained in detail.
Doflinx is a utility to provide a bit of extra force feedback functionality in your pinball cabinet. It uses the great DOF by Swisslizard to connect to PacLed64, LedWiz, SainSmart, Pinscape and Ultimate IO devices . By default certain pinball system do not support DOF , as a result DOFlinks will take over and enable effects.
If you ask anyone who ever built a Virtual pinball about their experience, one word will come out : “ Frustrating “ Stuff does not always work and you need to find why! This guide will help you go through the issues but you may still get puzzled. We have a dedicated section explaining the different software used, we will mention the best practices. This guide might not have the answer for your exact situation, but it will point you in the right direction. Many things can go wrong: the programs, version of windows, patches, anti-virus, malware etc that you may have on your system.