On many pinball machines like early solid state Bally and Stern games, you’ll often see little capacitors on most of the playfield switches. Sometimes they’re there but a leg is cut off. Why are they there? What do they do? And are they important? We’ll talk about that.
After restoring a vintage 1979 Bally Paragon Pinball, I go on a quest to see what’s involved in re-programming a game like this and doing my own, custom ruleset. You may be surprised at how many things you have to take into account and keep track of. Let me show you some early progress trying to hack a pinball and re-design a new operating system and set of code.
This video goes over some general, philosophical considerations in pinball design. In future videos I will dive in deeper into the specific technology and coding.
This is the next video in my series of work on Paragon. After the first look (http://pinballhelp.com/first-look-bally-paragon-pinball/) I discovered there were still issues with the MPU board that were the result of continued corrosion even after the battery was removed and the board was supposedly cleaned. Whoever did the previous work didn’t clean the board enough and corrosion continued. I’m going to do my best to salvage the board.
After getting my Trident operational, I installed the BSOS system and have been working on fine-tuning the custom code and sounds. Here’s a short demo of what the new Arduino-based controller does to a standard Bally 18/35/Stern early solid state game.
Resources (courtesy Dick Hamill):
The code is all available on GitHub. It’s broken down into a base library and then machine-specific implementations. Rewriting other games requires a moderate knowledge of C/C++. https://github.com/BallySternOS
Here’s a suggested parts list. If you bought all these things, you could create 6 of these boards. If you don’t need that many boards, you might find cheaper ways to source smaller quantities. I haven’t done any work to figure out if this is the cheapest way to source any of this stuff.
Cheap Arduino knockoff x6 ($20.99) – needs CH340 driver for programming / has to be ATmega328P https://www.amazon.com/ATmega328P-Controller-Module-CH340G-Arduino/dp/B08NJNJCTX/
0.1″ 40-pin connector (40 pieces for $7.99) https://www.amazon.com/Honbay-Single-Female-Connector-Arduino/dp/B06Y4S6G29/
32-pin Prototype PCB (2 pack for $9.99) – this won’t work for Alltek or MPU-200 because they have a 34-pin connector https://www.amazon.com/Prototype-Snappable-Arduino-Electronics-Gold-Plated/dp/B081QYPHHP/
Wire ($7.99) – tons of wire https://www.amazon.com/REXQualis-Breadboard-Assorted-Prototyping-Circuits/dp/B081H2JQRV/
Boot switch – x2 ($8.99) this switch will work for activating the Arduino board and toggling the speaker (see the writeup here to find out why: https://ballysternos.github.io/install.html) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XMH174C/
I found this old video the other day and realized I didn’t have a post on my main site showcasing this video so I wanted to add it (also, this was before I learned the proper pronunciation of “Bally” LOL…. bah-lee).
You ever run across one of those pinball deals that turns out to be so sweet, you are afraid you’re going to get mugged getting the game into your vehicle? This is one of those deals. A really amazing find that I didn’t expect..
As soon as I thought I had the game operational, I waxed the playfield and got ready to put it back together only to find out one of the flippers was out. This was a rather tricky issue that took a little bit to figure out — not your typical flipper problem, so I thought I’d do a video of it and go through the process of diagnosing why a flipper might not work (on a Bally-35 early solid state game).