Open Pinball Project – Open Source Pinball Hardware on Kickstarter

By on April 17, 2016
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A really small project funded on Kickstarter, $404 gathered against the $72 requested. Open source hardware and extremely low cost contrl board dedicated to the retro gaming and pinball enthusiasts!

The Open Pinball Project (OPP) has existed since 2012. During that time the first generation of pinball controllers were built and are currently controlling two white woods and a fully functional pinball machine. A lot was learned by making the first generation of cards. Here is a video that Joe made with the Blue October white wood.

The OPP hardware consists of a processor card and wing cards.  The processor board is a standard prototyping board that can be purchased from for about $4.

Each processor board is attached to up to four wing boards that provide the ability to drive a pinball machine.  The three types of wing boards that have been built and tested include:

  • Solenoid driver wing board – supports four solenoids and switch inputs to control the solenoids.  The processor firmware supports PWM’ing solenoids to support single coil flippers.
  • Incandescent driver wing board – supports eight incandescent or LED bulbs.  The driver is powerful enough to support pinball flashers.
  • Input connector – supports up to eight digital inputs for monitoring switches, targets, tilt bobs, etc.

Wing cards can be mixed and matched, so a single processor board can support up to 16 solenoids, 32 inputs, 32 insert lights, or any mixture of wing boards.

Processor cards communicate with a main controller which runs the rules for a pinball machine.  The main controller can be as simple as a Raspberry Pi, or a full fledged computer to run streaming videos.  The OPP hardware is supported by the Mission Pinball Framework (MPF).  There is also full documentation to allow control of the OPP hardware using a simple serial interface.  Each processor board comes with a USB to serial port converter, so the pinball machine can be controlled over USB.

An interface board has been developed to allow the processor boards to communicate together.  (The interface board does not count as one of the wing boards on the processor).  The interface board allows a single USB port to control up to 16 processor boards.  With a single USB port, up to 256 solenoids can be controlled (although that seems absurd).  Multiple USB ports can be combined in a single pinball machine if desired.



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