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Thread: Custom Pinball FX controller - eventually a cabinet ....

  1. #1

    Default Custom Pinball FX controller - eventually a cabinet ....

    I usually start a thread as I begin a new project, it helps to keep me focused and motivated.

    I've decided to build a customer controller for this game. The basic, main design elements will be as follows:

    -Based off a 360 wired controller (already hacked and soldered)
    -Provide nudge capability
    -Incorporate a touchpad for menu navigation
    -Include a plunger

    I have the basis for a design and will post some rough sketches sometime soon. Hopefully this will give others some ideas and prompt some collective building action

    This will ultimately form part of a Video pinball cabinet (not a traditional style one though!).

    Examples of my previous work which shows the quality I'm aiming for:

    Arcade cabinet (completely scratch built).

    Heavily customised desk (excuse the mess):

    Console cabinet for my son (still under contruction):

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    Just to give an idea as to what this will look like. Rough concept:

    The sides and the nudge bar will be covered in black PlastiDip - a durable rubberised finish.

    The remainder of the case will be covered in blackboard vinyl. It has this finish:

    The artwork will have clear acrylic over the top

    The plunger will be made from a modified balltop joystick

    The touchpad I have bought for this project:

    The nudge bars will be pushed forwards to activate. Tension will be applied using secateur springs (also purchased):

    Last edited by ericleroi; 06-25-2013 at 04:34 PM.

  3. #3
    Junior Member JTenebrous's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Somerset, England


    Your custom work looks great - will be watching this thread with interest, since I intend to try a not-dissimilar project at some point. I'm particularly curious about the nudging features. Is this going to be a matter of on-off nudge activation, or have you figured out some way to incorporate analogue functionality? I wish I knew more about hacking a 360 pad - I'd like to have a system whereby the travel of the nudge was measured by a potentiometer, and that value somehow linked to an axis of the 360 controller. Or, of course, doing something similar but with an accelerometer that I've seen people using in various Visual Pinball cabs.

  4. #4


    Thanks JT.The nudge feature will be digital for now. If Zen support some third party products and open up control options, I'll consider what can be done in the analog department.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2013



    Nice work on your previous projects, very professional.

    I would just like to comment on your idea, my worry would be unwanted nudges. I own a homemade cabinet and when I play pinball, games can get very hectic, especially during multiball. The lockdown bar is also there to lean on for support during play. If I were to play on your current design, there would be a lot of unwanted nudges. I personally use my magnasave buttons for nudging which work very well during play.

    I just wanted you to consider this while your at the design stage.

    Good luck with your project.


  6. #6


    Thanks for the comments, feedback and for the interest Dan. I'm also conscious of activating the nudge too easily which is why I went for the secateur springs. They just arrived today and if I set the tension correctly (i.e. compress them somewhat), I'm going to need to give them a fair old shove to shift them. The bars will bumped forwards to activate rather than be pressed down. I hope it works out - there seems to be plenty of tension to play with.

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    Started this today. Buttons and springs have arrived. Still waiting for the touchpad ...

    Will post some more progress later.

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    Nudge bars have been completed with a routed beveled top:

    Will be working on the main box section next.

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    Pictures showing the position the nudge bars will be when deactivated and activated. Still need to tidy the cuts on the top panel up a little.

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    I though this would take a bit of engineering and it's proving to be the case. Still, I'm quite please with how it's turning out. I still need to shape and adjust things a little but it's giving me confidence that it's going to work.

    Progress today:

    Front piece cut and shaped:

    Frame for the spring loaded mechanism:

    Spring retaining hole (I'll probably make this deeper and glue a washer in it):

    Secateur springs in place (I had to get someone to help me with this due to the strength on them):

    View from the top:

    It's a decent fit at the moment. The nudge bars will need to be adjusted to allow a small range of movement (about 5mm). Still, it's looking good.

    Any expansion gaps will be filled in with expanding foam tape so it should look nicely finished when done.

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    My touchpad arrived today. Looks like it's going to fit the bill perfectly. I'm not taken with the light coloured triangle in the corner so may cover the touch area in black vinyl. I tried it out to see whether it still functions and there are no issues with it.

    Also ordered a shooter. The Balltop joystick idea wont work out as the shaft isn't a uniform width. I need to investigate hooking the pad up to a slide potentiometer as someone else has done. I can get away with soldering but electronics isn't my strong suit. If anyone can throw in some advice, I'd really appreciate it.

    I only get to work on projects at the weekends unfortunately ...

  12. #12


    I've added a retaining plate to keep the nudge bar level and also a corner stopper. The stopper helps the nudge bar to track in the correct directions when pushed in.

    Now I need to do the other side ....

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    The sides have been shaped and routed along with the back of the top panel.

    Last edited by ericleroi; 07-06-2013 at 04:14 PM.

  14. #14


    Started work on the frame. The basic shape has been cut out. Insets for the artwork and touchpad will need to be cut out. The sides will be heavily beveled to help integrate into the panel better. The buttons will be in clusters of 4 either side of the touchpad. It will be finished with black Plastidip ... eventually.

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    Just throwing in a few progress pictures ...

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    Well this panel's taken most of the day to do but has turned out as well as I'd hoped:

    Turns out that the trackpad is exactly the same depth as the MDF. It's always great when you get a break like that.



    Close up of the beveling:

    And the inset for the artwork:

    I'll get some acrylic cut and do the artwork soon.

    Edit: To give an idea what this will look like in place ...

    Last edited by ericleroi; 07-07-2013 at 05:50 PM.

  17. #17
    Junior Member kattyrampton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    171 U Laura St, Jacksonville, FL 32202


    Hey, you had really given dashing look to the cabinet!!
    It shows that how perfect you are in your profession, and after looking at those pics I would just that "What an Amazing project! Your attention to detail is something I admire, too. Well done - and thank you for this lovely project that actually given me an another view to create a project something similar to yours; hope you continue with other projects for us to drool over.

  18. #18


    Thanks kattyrampton. I'm currently in your part on the world and will be getting back onto this project when I return from vacation

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