Building Your Own Pinball Machine
I gave a presentation entitled "Building Your Own (Pinball) Machine" at the Chicago Pinball Expo on October 2nd at 3pm. The game
was unveiled there for the first time. Because I had experienced problems tripping the breaker when powering the
game up in my room, I didn't switch on the 25V/6V transformer in the presentation for fear of blowing a fuse or
tripping a breaker there! I played it conservative so I could at least get the presentation done. Therefore there were
no GI lamps on for the presentation.
Blah blah blah I like pinball. Me talking and Mike doing PowerPoint.
Note that afterwards the game worked fine in the exhibit hall with no power issues (thanks the heavens for that!).
After the presentation folks get their first look at the game.
One fun thing I did was to keep the game covered up with blankets and unveil it for the first time at the show at
the seminar. I just thought it would be fun. You always see pictures of games leaked or know something about them,
but in this case it was a 100% surprise. As I said at that time, there are probably thousands of games more worthy
of a fun introduction like this ... Anyway it was fun.
Talking with some people afterwards.
Have subwoofer, will travel. Mike and I moving the game to the exhibit hall.
Having a big heavy external subwoofer is not desirable except for the great bass it can provide of course. It was
awkward to move around but not a big issue for a home environment. Mike Hanley was a great help to me as he
handled moving the game to my room then to the seminar area and then finally over the Exhibit Hall. That allowed me
to concentrate on other things. Thanks Mike!
Me with a look of relief now that the seminar is over. Also note the stress of not knowing
if the game will blow a breaker in the exhibit hall or not ...
I spent about 6.5 hours total trying to get the game to work in my room Wed night and Thursday morning. It kept
tripping the breaker in the room or the GFI outlet in the bathroom. On my last test, I had all fuses removed and
I think even the ground wire off so only the transformer primary was hooked up and the breaker still tripped.
Wed night was bad because I had just guzzled a couple of pints at the Ram Brewery across the street with my
Working on the game in my room - note the open toolbox (sigh). The low point of the weekend.
Setting up the game in the exhibit hall. No breaker tripped - all is okeh!
Mike plays the first game. Still some issues.
The little activation arm on the ball release coil came unhinged in transit so balls were not delivered to the
plunger lane properly. I removed the apron and fixed this easily.
I had a software problem and the game locked up intermittently. I did a code update Saturday at noon and all was
well after that. Of course one of the times it locked up was PRECISELY the moment Mike and I went out for dinner
Firday night. So the game sat there unplayable for an hour and a half.
My friend and supporter Wayne Neyens honored me by playing my game. Wayne designed
about 175 classics for Gottlieb in the 1949-1965 period. I am now only 174 games behind him.
Roger Sharpe also tried out my game. Roger will play anything with flippers! I believe
he had the 7th-highest score at Expo.
It's neat that Roger tried out my game. Things have gone full circle now after 30 years. It was Roger's book
"Pinball!" that got me started on pinball collecting back in 1978. Up until that time I was just an avid player.
His book introduced me to the history of the game, the industry and and had me salivating to own a game. I was
in university. When I got back home at the end of the term, I bought my first game, Southern Belle (designed
by Wayne Neyens).
So I became a pinball collector, historian and amateur designer. And now the guy who got me stared in that direction
has played my game! What would have happened had I not seen Roger's book in the university book store that day?
Would I have gone down the path I did? Would I have built the game that Roger played? Roger planted the seed that
spawned 30 years later.
Video of Roger Sharpe Playing Gooligan's Hooligans
Someone actually took video of Roger playing the game, for which I am grateful. Click
here to watch the YouTube video.
The video was created by YouTube user finstersrc30 ("Eddie"). Another Roger Sharpe fan!
Download/View Expo Seminar Presentation
The presentation I gave was in PowerPoint format. I don't like giving out Office files on the web. You can either
download or view the presentation as a single PDF file, or view it in HTML format in a separate window. The HTML
generated from PowerPoint isn't perfect but usable. Clicking on the links below should open up the presentation
in a new tab or window in your browser.
Click here for the PDF version.
Click here for the HTML slides version.
Martin Ayub at Pinball News has made available the audio from all of the seminars. You can listen to the audio
from my seminar (plus read commentary and see additional photos) at pinballnews.com.
Click here for seminar reports and audio from Pinball News.
If you listen to the audio with
the above PDF or HTML pages open then you can page along in synch with my text. Not sure how long the audio will be
available there. Thanks to Martin for all his great work on reporting on the shows.
Last updated: May 19, 2010