Friday, July 8, 2016

Pinball Tables


How it all began:

My sister in law sent me a picture of my nephew at the Children's Museum of Houston at a pinball table on pegboard with dowels and rubberbands that were all movable. I needed a project for the Utah Arts Festival and Make Salt Lake and began searching for how to make an improved version.

It was rough, until I found these video and I was saved:

I took screenshots of the build and adapted what I could.

Pinball Beginnings
These were unsable. Too big, not symmetrical enough, not long enough but motivational enough for me to keep going.


I got stuck for about a month on the flippers. I used every metal bolt I could find and epoxy and superglue. It wouldn't stay put. I got it to work for a day or two and then it stopped on the top or bottom. Finally I used wooden dowels with a nail drilled through the center and glued. That later caused its own problems but it worked. From overuse at the Arts Festival they died a horrible death and have since been replaced by metal with a hole drilled through.


Typical testing at the beginning. A lot of it not working, or not working mostly. Discovered here I needed a back stopper for both flippers. I had so many people willing to test and offer advice. Charles was all over it anytime I needed help. He's a great troubleshooter.


Bottom ramp isn't steep enough, balls keep getting stuck.


How the Flippers Work.


Took out the right side channel, this table is too small and I want more success for the players. Had to add wood filler. You can see my spinners and Pez heads on springs. As always, more testing. I film to get a record of what works. I have a gate to keep the ball from rolling straight back down. I can't quite replicate it without masking tape but I'm still working on it. The fishpond is on the dino pinball table.


Final Paint. I wanted a clear line between what was movable for the pieces and what wasn't. I routed the top left side so that the balls didn't immediately go back down the side and home. That kind of made a mess.


I'm missing some pez heads. I hit the thrift store and bought some toys to makeup for the shortfall. When I finished with more bobblehead bumpers I was asked about the headless toys in the garbage the next day at the Makerspace. heh. If you see Chewbacca and Wonder Woman pez heads around Make Salt Lake those are mine. The right side was sticking and I couldn't figure it out so Lisa took out the stick and turned it around. Boom. Fixed. She's a genius like that and she loves Doctor Who.

Pegboard Table

The finished product. Everything is on dowels and moveable. There are 2 layers of pegboard with 1/2" of space in between for stability. After going through all of my pictures and videos I have no idea how this succeeded. I have so much proof of failure and me in the video completely optimistic about the whole project. I seriously can't believe it. How did this happen? I also have no idea how kids were into this compared to the tables of activities around them. But no, they were lining up, they were crowded around the whole weekend. It was crazy. Some turned into pinball sharks. If they could have bet they'd have cleaned up. I am in awe and incredibly grateful.


Some pinball sharks, I love these guys. They started making up their own games and were showing newer kids how to play and tips for hitting the bell. The wooden dowels in the flippers died on this one first and Maker Charles took it back to the shop and replaced it with metal and also fixed the shuttle. He's a beast.

The Pinball Crew

Dino table

The dino table. I bought some plastic dino toys at the Utah Museum of Natural History and added them.

Bonus newspaper pics:

Deseret News

Salt Lake Tribune

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