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The Pinball Video Game Controller Project Begins!


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So this is the next project that me and my GF will be tackling.  We're going to build a table top pinball controller, basically a 'box' styled after a 'chunk' of a pinball machine, complete with buttons, coin door, plunger and the likes to be used for pinball video games, namely The Pinball Arcade on PC but it should also work with Pinball FX2.  We'll be buying some pinball machine components for the styling but the first test builds will just use a cardboard box.

These are the first two components, a TeensyLC and accelerometer, this will act as an XInput device to the computer, the accelerometer will read as movement on the left analog stick for nudging and the flippers will be controlled by two buttons.  Well be taking a real pinball plunger/shooter assembly and strapping an optical encoder to it so it'll read as the right analog stick.  The final build will have the standard XInput/Xbox 360 buttons on the top face for system motivation, up, down, left, right, forward, back, home, A, B, X, and Y but our first 'card board box' build will be just two flipper buttons and the motion sensing.  For added effect we'll look at adding some kind of motors for rumble and also real pinball machine solenoids, when you hit the flipper button, the box will make the real 'clack' sound of a pinball table as a real solenoid moves inside the box.  In addition to that we'll also be looking at some LED lighting, but that will come as we design the wooden and metal box later.  This project will take some time, while we should have a kitbashed prototype in a couple of weeks the final build will likely not be done until late summer, time permitting.

Basically our goal is to build a box that can as accurately as possible simulate playing on a pinball machine without taking a real pinball table and installing televisions and a PC inside of it.  ...But if I ever have a larger place to live in...  Well, this box would cover 90% of the technical work on such a full size digital pinball machine, the real work would be in terms of physical construction and restoration. :)

So far the most interesting thing to happen is the questionnaire I had to answer upon ordering the TeensyLC.  No jokes, this came in my email:


Your recent SparkFun order contains 1x DEV-13736. This item is export controlled by the United States government. By law, we are required to gather the following information from you as the importer:

1) Do you intend to sell or send this item to anyone in any of the following countries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria?
2) Will this be used in any military applications?
3) Will you be the ultimate end user of this item? If no, please go to 3.a.
3.a) If you are not the end user, who will this item be sold or transferred to? Please include full name, physical address, end use and confirmation that they will not sell or transfer this item to any party in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria.
4) What is the end use of this item? Please provide a specific description of the intended application of these items.
5) Where is the location where the item will be used?


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Nice! Funny thing, buying stuff like that. When I worked in England I ordered a nice optic for my rifle. They refused my order because the IP was traced to a literal offshore location so I basically had to do the same thing. I callled them up (which isn't cheap btw) and basically told them "hey yeah I uh, I am American. I'm just working in another country. Plz send scope."

Its good that they ask this stuff but at the same time, it's like when a website asks if your 18. Naturally, I've been 18 since I was 14.

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