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Budget Pinball Cab with 26'' playfield, custom build from spare parts


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Hi folks,

after finishing my first arcade cab project in january '14, I felt so well that I decided to plan a follow up cab project. This time it was pinball time. :D

The most important part was the budget, to ensure the family holidays and minimize the arguments with my wife, I set a maximum budget of 300€, that's around 400$. Sure, with this budget, we won't see another Lotaris Pin, but entry level pinball arcade feeling should be possible. I knew, that my old 26'' Acer TFT Screen was still working, without this, I would not have ever started this project.

I checked 3 older PC towers in the basement for usable computer hardware and was lucky to find this stuff still working:
- Mainboard woth 4 GB DDR2 Ram
- Intel Core2Quad Q6600 CPU with Fan
- Geforce GTX 275 Card
- 400W Power Supply
- 2x 160GB harddrives
- USB Wlan Stick
- 19'' 5:4 Screen
- some case fans

I quickly build a cab setup from this parts and tested the hard and software. Luckily, It was running fine and very responsive on Windwos 7 64. Here's a pic of my test build on my desk. ;)

Alright, having the PC parts available for 0€ costs, was a huge step forward. Possibly many people still have old PCs in their garage or basements, just check it out, you won't need a CoreI5/I7 and a GeforceGTX660 to get VirtualPinball, FuturePinball, PinballFX2 or PinballArcade running fine!

Next step was planning the cab and the needed parts.
After my successful working with 1.6mm MDF plates from my arcade cab project, I used the same plates again. Having lots of screws and glue left, was a nice bonus.
I was able to get all needed MDF plates, 4 simple table feets and a 26mm drill for 60 €, this was all I needed to build up the cab itself.

drilled and screwed it from the outside, then filled up the engulfing holes with Moltofill:

Testing the best hardware position:


Used parts of an old Creative 2.1 sound system and mounted it in the cab. You can see the creative amplifier board mounted on the side wall and the subwoofer mounted in the cab bottom. The stereo speakers are mounted left and right of the backglass screen. They are invisible from the outside, just drilled 2 holes in the cab walls to let the sound come out.

Also attacted a fan to blow some air inside the cab:

Next I cut a door in the back, to reach the hardware. Also installed 2 more fans to get the hot air out of the cab:


Time to get some paintings on the cab. Fist the primer, then the black paint (had lots of it left from the arcade cab):


Installed the hardware and power cables:


Second testrun with HyperPin and Future Pinball:

Spend an evening with Adobe Photoshop and created the custom side art decals. I was heavily inspired by the PinAcolada Project from Daniel Potter. :) Sent the artworks to the printer shop, so they can print it on adhesive vinyl stickers. Costs 50 €.


Alright, the basic cab was done, the computer hardware was installed and working, not it was time to make it a pinball machine. I ordered an IPac2 board, 10 meters of cabeling, 11 arcade buttons (2 of them with leaf switches, the others with simple microswitches) and for the nudging / tilt effect an almost new Sidewinder Freestyle Pro gamepad. All this was shipped for 110 €.

This was the best part of all: installing the buttons and wireing everything to the IPac2. The first pinball experience with real buttons was so fantastic!!!





Had some sleepless nights thinking how to create a lockdownbar. In the end, I decided to make it very simple. I cut a 10mm MDF bar to fit the cab front and rounded the edges. Then i put an adhesive vinyl sicker on it, the sticker was left from the side arts. Worked like a charm. Sure, it's no polished metal bar, but feels good to the hands. Also, I bought a Logitech K400 wireless keyboard with trackpad to manage the system. Was 20 € on Amazon Warehouse Deals. ;)

Last part was covering glass and siderails. I ordered 5mm Plexiglass and 3 meters aluminium rails. The glass was 40 €, the rais, 30 €.

The bill:
- computer parts 0 €
- screens 0 €
- MDF plates & legs 60€
- decals 50 €
- Buttons, IPac2, Sidewinder 110 €
- Glass 40 €
- Rails 30 €
- Logitech K400 Keyboard 20 €
- Cables 10 €
Total 320 €

With this, I was able to get really nice pinball experience in my living room, even my wife spent some hours in Pinball FX2 topping my highscores. :)
I'm thinking of adding a analog plunger in the future, but for now, I'm more than happy with the result of this small budget project. ;)


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  • 2 months later...

Actually, I did not draw real plans for the mini pinball cab, I did a Powerpoint sheet with a simple side view model of the wood body with the screens position.

Then I measured both screen dimensions and cut the wood plates in the width, so both screens will fit in the width.

I will upload this sheet later, when I have access to my laptop.

Don't make it more complicated by creating big plans, usually a sheet of paper or Powerpoint is all you need. Use a ruler to find the dimensions of the hardware (screens, big computer parts, maybe a plunger), and make the MDF plates fit them.

My screens are 26'' for the playfield (16:10 , 1920*1200) and 19'' (5:4 , 1280*1024). Both share nearly the same width, thatswhy I decided to make the cabinet one single part, not with a wider Backglass housing.

@mikekim: Great idea, I will try to do this. My lockdownbar is one of the parts, I will improve soon, also replacing the thin legs with real pinball legs.

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