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PinKadia! The Ultimate virtual Pinball / Arcade / PC combo cabinet!


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I'm a 42 year old guy who grew up in arcades in the 80's and 90's. I love arcade games and pinball, and video games in general. I've also been an electronics technician for 20 years. (15 as a civvie, 5 in the military)

This WAS my mancave a while ago. It housed my custom simpit that I made for racing and flight sim games. It had three 42 inch TVs for surround view, as well as 12 transducers combined with SimVibe software to give vibrational feeback from telemetry data from the racing games I played. The console on the right rotates around to switch between a shifter and flightstick. The dash has two tablets that act as tachometer / speedometer, and a button box / control panel. I love it!



That being said, I always thought the 3 screens (that spanned almost 10 feet!) were a bit much. So when I got myself a 55 inch UHD 4K curved TV, for my normal PC gaming, I found I loved playing my racing games on it much better. I would get 2/3 of the same visible screen field of view that I had with 3 screens using a custom 21:9 resolution of 3840x1640, with much nicer colour and resolution. Also, with VR headsets coming out, I wouldn't be using those screens as much when I (someday) get one.

So I decided to ditch the 3 screens setup and use them to make a combination Pinball and Arcade cabinet that would also play PC games! (I can move the simpit in front of my UHD TV's new location easily when I want to use it).

Commence the start of the creation of PinKadia!

After reading ALOT of posts of other projects, here is where my priorities were, and what I wanted:

-I wanted something that would play Future Pinball, Pinball FX2, The Pinball Arcade, Visual Pinball, MAME Arcade games, and PC games (ie fighting and action games)
-I wanted two player controls with actual (PC / Xbox 360 / One) hardware for maximum compatibility and ease for all games
-it had to be made using many of the components I already had (I already had most of the electronics needed)
-it had to be made as cheaply as possible to keep me from becoming single (my wife is not a big gamer)

Things that will come later on down the line and were not a priority:

-DOF, LED controlled lighting, feedback, etc
-printed artwork
- or otherwords... anything really costly that I didn't already have.

So I came up with this mock-up to tide me over and help me figure exactly what I wanted.


What a beauty.... boy my wife just "LOVED" seeing this in my mancave for weeks on end.... but it really helped me tinker with different ideas instead of rushing into things. What I found was that I wanted to have a 3 screen setup, and I wanted to make use of the ENTIRE 3rd screen. Not just for the DMD like everyone else, but also to extend the backglass (only possible with Future Pinball) to make use of the excellent movie clips / colour DMDs / gadgets and other things you could see in Future Pinball. I HATE trying to "squish" a square backglass into a wide rectangular screen. This would allow me to make use of that space in a good way!

Both Pinball FX2 and The Pinball Arcade can now support DMD / displays on the third screen (TPA uses a mod, PBFX2 has native support now). So with the extra space left over on the 3rd screen, I can put nice animated logos or whatever I want there using Pinball X as a frontend, as well as having animated videos for the backglass.

By having arcade controls on the cabinet this would also allow me to play MAME vertical games on the playfield, and MAME horizontal games on the backglass or playfield. I could also play almost any PC action game on the backglass as well (since they are 16x9 games). 

I also wanted to make use of my 5.1 speakers in the cabinet.

So on with the build... I began with de-bezeling one of my 42 inch TVs, only to find that the main support for the framing of the TV came for the plastic housing itself. (This is because this TV is not an edge-lit LED TV, its a back-lit LED TV) So I had to keep the TV housing fastened together.


I cut off the plastic for the IR / Power LED, and control PCB. I just taped the PCB on the bottom of the TV where it won't be seen.


For the size of the cabinet itself, I used the standard Williams Widebody plans that you can find all over the Internet. I then adjusted to sizes to work with my 3 screens. 42 inch TV for playfield, 27 inch monitor for backglass, 19 inch 4:3 monitor for DMD / extended backglass. I had found a place here in Canada that had Pinball legs and bolts for a decent price. The Canadian dollar is horrible right now, so getting anything from the States can be expensive.

I was able to get the following built in a day.


This was a mock up for the arcade controls...I tried a couple of different layouts to see how I would like it.


Three buttons on the side. Main flipper, 2nd flipper / special, and nudge.  I personally can do without a "real" nudge control for now. A plunger was also not a priority either. That may come later. So I just have a normal button for now until i get a big dome type Launch button. The coin door is not for functionality, but just for looks and simple access. Maybe i'll get it working later on.



Now comes the sucky part.... taking it apart for mudding. All open cut parts of the MDF were sealed with dry wall compound. Other areas were covered with wood filler.


Then all the sanding which made a lovely dusty mess in the mancave.




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Finally, i got to put on the oil-based (no-scent) primer to help seal the MDF for painting. Then I painted the inside and back of the cabinet black. the outside was painted with "amazing" red.


Now I could put everything back together.  I installed chrome T-molding for the backglass. Then I installed the "front" speakers, backlgass 27 inch monitor, and 19 inch DMD / extension monitor. The 19 inch monitor sits only a little bit inside the lower cabinet.


The back of the cabinet has two small fans and a door for the backglass screens, and two large fans and a door for the lower cabinet. I also made some extra vent / access holes for cabling that may be needed in the future. the fans draw air out of the cabinet.



The back door allows access to the PC and cabling. The PC is mounted on a shelf on rails, so it can just slide out of the back for access if needed.


For the PC I used some mounting hardware from an old server case. I originally had on old i5 dual core CPU and server motherboard, but that got replaced with an i5 2500K later on. Dual core cpu worked fine for mostly everything, except when it came to playing 3 videos at once through Pinball X. Quad core cpu was needed for that. PC specs are:

i5 2500K quad core cpu
8 gigs ddr3 1600 ram
nvidia gtx 960 video card (all 3 screens connected to this one video card, via HDMI, DVI, display port)
750 watt power supply
250 gig ssd
500 gig hard drive
sound blaster audigy 2 sound card for 5.1 sound (that was removed when the motherboard was changed). 
logitech 5.1 speaker system (older set i've had for years)


Here's the subwoofer and air-intake fan that brings fresh cool air into the cabinet.


This is where the rear speakers are mounted. I actually swapped the front and rear speakers so I could reach under the cabinet and adjust the volume if need be. (I had to swap the audio cables on the sound card for this to work) The center speaker will go in the middle hole.


Now for the controls! I decided to use two Logitech F310 gamepads for two players and for pinball controls: 

-they are really cheap
-they provide both direct-input and x-input compatibility
-they are completely xbox 360 compatible (which works with ALL games / emulators). No need for xpadder-like software.
-they have a button that allows the functions of the d-pad and left analogue stick to swap. VERY important as some games won't allow some functions to work with the d-pad. The d-pad is what I will be using for the arcade stick. This allows me to have d-pad and "left analogue stick" functionality at anytime on the arcade joystick at the push of a button. you can't get this with a normal xbox 360 gamepad.

Now the un-fun part. I had to do some reverse engineering to find out how this sucker is wired. I wanted to have all the normal buttons and the "triggers" for buttons as well. You need to replace to potentiometers for the triggers with correct resistor values and hope it works. Unfortunately, getting the triggers to work this way would also mess up the resistance for the analogue sticks. So I eventually had to give up the trigger buttons and use the left and right stick buttons. As a result, I had to make my two center buttons (red/green) the "home" button (for player one and two) which would just open STEAM Big Picture Mode, which I wasn't going to use.

Normally, you only need one common ground when wiring buttons to most gamepads... not this one! It had FIVE different grounds, working with diodes in a matrix encoder. A pain to figure out, but I got 'er done! So I mounted the gamepad to a board and had all the wires I soldered to it goto terminal strips. Then I can have the cabinet's arcade buttons AND the pinball button wires use the same controls off of the player one gamepad.



Unfortunately, I was unable to get the old-school parallel / printer cables (DB-25) I needed to allow the control panel to just "plug-in" to the gamepad board. I was building this part during Christmas holidays, and the very few shops we have around here didn't have any. So I just mounted it anyway with the shorter wires (which I got from a couple of JAMMA harnesses) connected directly. As a result, the player one gamepad and pinball controls all look like this mess. Keep in mind.... most pinball cabinets only have around 10 buttons / controls to wire up.... I have OVER 40, with multiple separate grounds, and LEDS on each button (except the flipper buttons).  When I get the cables I need and I'm ambitious this will be mostly gone and all tidied up....either way I won't see it!


As you can see.... the player two gamepad is much tidier.


For the control panel, the insides of the playfield walls, backglass walls, and DMD bezel, I decided to use carbon fibre vinyl wrap. I had some left over from the simpit, and liked to way it looked with chrome trim. I'm a sucker for chrome and shiny car stuff. (I used to have a 1971 Chevelle with a custom 415 horsepower engine, but that was another life!) This is one of the few things I could buy around here. (at Walmart or Canadian Tire)




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This is how my Layout looks for my screens for Future Pinball. This is required in order to use my extended backglass. Screen 1 is the playfield, screen 2 is the backgass, and screen 3 is the DMD / extended backglass. 


Setup Future Pinball the way you normally would for your playfield and backglass. Exit Future Pinball. Then you then MUST configure Future Pinball's backglass resolution MANUALLY through the windows registry... NOT through Future Pinball itself. I have my backglass set to 1920x1600. What this does is, it "extends" the backglass from the 2nd screen down onto the 3rd screen. It can be larger than this, but anything past the bottom of the "translite" in Future Pinball is useless. I also use Future DMD on the bottom of the 3rd screen anyway, because you can't adjust the physical size of the DMD in Future Pinball itself (Future DMD can be ANY size). Overlays (which are used for movie clips, custom colour DMDs, gadgets,etc) can be made to ANY size!

This picture below shows my Future Pinball displays across the 3 screens. The black areas are the unused parts of the windows "desktop". The blue background on screen 3 is the desktop background. (I normally have it black but changed it to blue just for illustration purposes)  This is the pinball table with no modification or custom overlays.


This picture shows a custom overlay I made with a simple castle wall picture with extra stats for the game showing (which were normally shown in desktop mode on this particular version of the table).  This area can be used for anything you want in Future Pinball!


Here you can see it displayed on my 3rd screen.


For my DMD / Extended backglass bezel, I just made it from thin backboard used for book shelves. I then covered it with carbon fibre vinyl, and covered the edges with automotive chrome trim. I covered the speaker holes with speaker cloth from Fabricland. 



Now you can see how the bezel makes it look like I have a 4th screen that is separate from the backglass and dmd.


Now I just had to fasten the aluminum trim and throw the playfield TV in...


....and it's ALIVE!   PinKadia lives!!!!




This is my BAM IR Led tracking hat. I made this for Freetrak / Track IR on my simpit with a ps3 eye camera, and they both work great with BAM Freetrack tracking through FaceTrackNoIR. It looks totally cool!


I replaced my fans because they were used in a server, and were very loud! These new fans are cheap, quiet, and have red leds in them.


Finally I added cheap LED colour-changing lighting that plugs into a molex connector from my cpu power supply. (The sub woofer on the floor is from my home theatre, not the pincab)




A video demonstration:



Things to do still:

-add glass to the playfield

-setup mame media (MAME is all setup to play)

-visual pinball

-controlled lighting, DOF, feedback,etc..

-big Launch button

-"maybe" a plunger and tilt

-and whatever seems cool at the time!



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Not sure if this is allowed on these forums, but here's some footage of Future Pinball in Pinball X. If Pinball X footage is taboo, please let me know and I'll remove the videos.


Future Pinball
This is a video of a small selection of the many fantastic Future Pinball tables running in attract mode on Pinball X.
Note: I had to edit EVERY table myself to get those "extras" to fit into the 4th display area. Some (like SLAMT1LT's movie clips, custom DMDs) I just had to re-size, re-locate and layer correctly.  Others, I had to make my own custom overlay / title / score ,etc.
The DMDs are displayed using Future DMD.
I captured live gameplay footage of all 3 screens simultaneously using OBS MP.
The gameplay on alot of these tables (SLAMT1LT's tables / MODS in particular) show alot more than what you see here as these tables are just in attract mode in this video.
Thanks to the MANY contributers / creators of these amazing tables.
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PC Games:


Here are some PC Games running on Pinball X (via Rocket Launcher).


Since my arcade stick and buttons are wired to an xbox 360 compatible gamepad, PC Games simply work with no hastle, and the button colours match the game menus and prompts.



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Pinball FX 2:


This is Pinball FX2 running on Pinball X.
The video backglass and flaming "Pinball FX 2" logo will still be displayed when a table is launched. 


Pinball FX2 now has cabinet support, so the table launches directly (no menu) and the DMD will display on the middle screen. It will also display backglass stills if you want, but I use these videos instead.
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After a lot of requests to demo BAM 3D head tracking on PinKadia, here's a video demonstration!




This is using one PS3 eye camera, and my 3 point IR LED hat, and Freetrack through FaceTrackNoIR. The two camera, or Kinect V2 method is much better, but this still looks damn cool!


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It's not a taboo to talk about other FE's at all, as long as they don't blatantly rip us off like AtomicFE


And of course as long as it isn't post and thread like "HS is crap because this & this FE does that & that so much better trollolol" ;)

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  • 3 weeks later...
Well it was only a matter of time.... but I finally got Visual Pinball up and fully running on my cabinet and in Pinball X with videos, and art. I've got about 160 tables installed so far which includes VP X (10), VP 9, and Physics Mod 5 tables, as well as d2bs backglasses. 



This went surprisingly well using the all in one VPX installer that setup everything very nicely. Had to learn a few new things (I used VP many years ago), and needed a few more things added and updated for the newer Stern sam tables. I did have to update the VP PM5 version to the custom version that has separate registry settings (to allow for the nudge keys to be reversed).


I had to use "setDMD" to position and size most of the DMDs automatically, and I also had to edit the settings for DMD rotation for roughly 40 tables in the registry. Then I just had to edit each table's script to allow for the d2bs files to be used.



A perk of the split screen bezel for the third screen I didn't originally plan on, was being able to have the larger size DMDs display in the top portion instead of being squished in the bottom half. (Baywatch, Batman Forever, Frankenstein, Strikes N Spares, etc). I modified Draco's excellent Visual Pinball logo to make it fit a little better to have it act as a marquee for Visual Pinball. (Like I did with PFX2, and TPA)



I "could" extend the d2bs backglass screen down on the third screen like I did with Future Pinball, but that would mean editing each d2bs file! Maybe if I can make some good custom "grill" settings to do that easier, I might...



Here is a video showing off about 70 tables in Pinball X. I mixed up up tables from VPX, PM5, and VP9. I show how the different types of tables and different DMD sizes work with the split bezel on the third screen.





I used OBS MP as I did before to record video of each table / backglass / and dmd / marquee. I could have used other videos, but most of them were of older versions of the table or d2bs file.


As far as the whole VP physics are better than FP war that I keep reading....  I agree that "some" tables do play better on VP than FP, but I'm not blown away by it. I do love being able to play the original rom versions of the arcade pinball machines I grew up with. I know that I will be using VP alot more if I ever go the DOF / feedback / lighting route.



Some of the VP tables are gorgeous (Circus Voltaire, Theatre of Magic, TOTAN, etc). This shows what is possible in VP when its done right.



That said, I do still prefer playing most of the updated and modded FP versions (SLAMT1LTs, etc). Every time I hear the original sound of the arcade rom versions in VP it just doesn't even come close. 


I'm not a fanboy by any means.....if its fun "for me", then I'll play anything on any system. Good job on VPX.... man things have changed alot since I last played it back in 2008!

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  • 2 weeks later...
A small update...


I added led lights to the speaker bezel. I had to basically mount some thin cardboard inside around where the speaker holes are (had carbon fibre wrap on the cardboard). Then I stuck led lighting strips on the inside and connected them to the same molex connector for my rear fans.  Then I put speaker fabric over the opening. Its not the best solution, but its easy, and it works with the small space I had.


Each speaker light strip can have its light colour separately changed to any light colour via a remote just like under the cabinet.





...and now I'm on to getting MAME media started.... blah!


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  • 3 weeks later...
Well here we go. I got MAME up and running in PinKadia!


I have it setup to have Pinball X show the marquees on the backglass screen. (which I had to make into 16x9 pictures, over 2700 of them!) 


I captured videos of gameplay using OBS. I liked Tom's MAME videos from the GameEx FTP, but Pinball X makes them stretch and fill the whole screen with the wrong aspect ratio. I do use them for the games I haven't video captured yet.


The vertical games are perfect for the playfield screen. Horizontal games could be played on the backglass screen, but they would be alot smaller compared to the playfield screen, and I would need to have my head looking upward all the time to play.


My main priority was to have the game screen as large as possible with HLSL effects (no screen curve, or glow, etc). With the game this big (42 inch TV for the playfield screen) HLSL really is needed to make the game not look blocky and yuck! I also wanted no bezel obstruction of the game screen.


I use Rocket Launcher to manage the bezels and backgrounds. This allows me to use a default bezel / background for ALL games, and I can have it easily change to a random / specific one or use MAME's artwork. Its easy to just add another background this way, and I don't need to deal with "lay" files!  


If the original arcade or a custom bezel works well to cover the leftover unused screen area, I'll use it. Otherwise I use a chrome / metal hexagon bezel that I made to match the style of my Pincab (it looks much better in person than it does in the videos!). 


I made several different ones to better fit the different sized marquees as well. I used Pinball X to have my backglass screen act as a DMD screen sized the same as the marquee, and centered. Then I had windows use the "blank" metal hexagon / chrome trim picture as a wallpaper background picture. When I ran Pinball X this way it displays the marquee overtop of the metal hexagon picture. I used OBS to capture the entire backglass screen with the new 16x9 marquee as a small video. (I would hit flipper button, then "record" over and over and over again) Then I just played all the recorded videos back to back, and saved each as a picture with the name of the MAME rom file to match. It sounds complicated, but it was the easiest way to do this. I got over 2700 done! I know...,. I'm crazy.


The reason I had to use OBS is because I couldn't find a program to "screen capture" the backglass screen (acting as the dmd screen) properly. They either require the "screen to be captured" to be the primary screen (which messes up Pinball X), or they will only capture the DMD portion of the DMD screen in Pinball X. I needed the entire screen with the marquee AND background....and OBS only does video capture.


I have over 2700 MAME games setup.... I'm not about to make custom backgrounds or bezels for that many games!



Here is a video showing around 80 MAME games. It shows a mix of vertical and horizontal games with and without the arcade bezels.



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  • 1 month later...
Well, now it is time for more upgrades.... as a result this is what happens in the middle of a project upgrade... total mess everywhere which makes my wife sooooo happy!









I always wanted to add in a plunger and a big LAUNCH button.  Can't easily find either in Canada, and buying from the US is costly with our crappy CDN dollar and costly shipping.



So, I found a place in Ottawa that does repairs and sells parts called Pinball Medics.   







Since I was taking my daughter to Ottawa Comi-Con, I was able to stop by his place and buy what I needed from him. He had everything except for the mounting plate for the plunger, which I didn't need anyway.  He's a great guy and had a fantastic Pinball collection which I sadly didn't have time to check out....  :(




Here's a video demonstration of my plunger setup:








Hopefully I can maybe make a couple of custom tilt-bobs to work as a digital nudge type of setup. Then, I'm off to update the control panel with a different button layout, a third 4-way joystick, and all three joysticks will have BAT tops instead of BALL tops.




After all this is done, its just a waiting game for all my parts to arrive from China, so I can install feedback via 10 solenoids. I'll also be installing led strip lighting to act as 5 rgb flashers, addressable led strip lighting / matrix for animation, white strobes, and red / blue beacons (LED strobe versions).  Lots of work to do!


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  • 2 weeks later...

While waiting for my parts to arrive from China for feedback (solenoids, lighting, etc), I figured I would get some other upgrades done to the cabinet, now that the plunger is working.

After using the cabinet for a while, I really wanted to have a dedicated 4-way joystick for alot of the classic arcade games that really do need it. (Pac-man, Q-bert, Dig-Dug, and many more).  I also wasn't really happy with the "ergonomic" button layout. Yah, it was nicer for fighting games, but not for anything else for me personally. Also, in order for me to fit a third joystick on the control panel I would have to rearrange the buttons in order to have enough space. I also didn't like the ball tops, and the LED joysticks don't allow for easily changing the tops without reaching inside the cabinet.

Another thing I wanted was to eventually put in a spinner, but I needed to have a hole pre-drilled for it. So I have two extra buttons above the right joystick that can be swapped out with a spinner later on. I also put in a central "FIRE" button for those pinball games that use it (Star Trek, AC/DC, Alien Legacy, etc).  I also labelled every button with transparent labels from a cheap label maker. It worked surprisingly well, and you can't see the label unless you look real close at the buttons.


I decided to use a spare XBOX 360 gamepad (instead of the Logitech gamepad) for player one and the pinball controls. The main reason was that I wanted to have force-feedback outputs from the gamepad to use to create possible feedback options (solenoids, lighting) for Pinball FX2 and The Pinball Arcade in the future.  I also setup this controller so that the x / y potentiometer was completely accessible for the plunger in the cabinet. This gamepad was MUCH easier to wire up as it had only one common ground for all buttons, and the pads were larger and easier to work with.


Here you can see that I now have the entire control panel connected to two old school parallel db-25 cables for player one and player two, with a molex connector for the LED lighting. MUCH nicer than having all wires directly goto the gamepads. Yes, this involved soldering over 125 wires.... but now if I ever need to get access to the control panel or change / replace anything, I just unplug three easy to access cables.  Yes, its alot of work, and I could have used some other solutions instead of gamepads, but that would not have given absolute complete compatibility with ALL PC Games and emulators / pinball games without some hassles. I will NEVER have any problems with any game running properly on this cabinet using this.


Here you can see the extra trim I put around the side and front buttons. I found that the LED lighting was too bright at 12V for the LED buttons on the arcade panel, so I used 5V instead. Combined with the non-lit BAT tops, I found this to be much nicer on the eyes while playing. My white LEDS for the bottom white buttons have died out, and I didn't have any spares. So I put in similar colour LEDS as the A B X Y buttons to match for now. They look almost the same in person and much nicer as opposed to the picture.


With the undercab and speaker lighting, it makes for quite the colorful display at night time.... can't wait for my addressable led strips!



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I always try to find new ways to make use of the "4th display" area on my middle screen.

For MAME, I knew there were some cool programs out there that would let you see your control panel layout and other info for each game, either by pausing, etc..

I just wanted a way to show what the controls were for each game in MAME since there are so many different layouts. When someone else is using the cabinet, it would be nice not having to explain to them the controls for each game....but when I found CP-Wizard, I found exactly what I had wanted.

I am basically trying to setup as standard control panel layout for each control type for each game in CP-Wizard. I just made a background pic the size of my middle screen with the MAME logo at the bottom. Then I made the layouts I wanted and saved them as separate layouts.  Then I had CP-Wizard configured to use whatever layout for each control scheme as required.

I didn't need to have CP Wizard running in the background. I just had CP-Wizard do an Export-batch, creating control panel images for each game automatically with the correct naming of the files. These pics work with Pinball X as my DMD screen images for MAME. They display while browsing through each game and stay displayed while playing. Simple and easy to see to see while playing at any time.  I may just use this for PC Games and other emulators too.

Here's some pics of my current layout. Its simple, and probably not final, but works quite well.







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