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Williams Blackout 40/28/? - first time build


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I figured I'd start a thread now that my project has officially started. I spent the last few months lurking and reading a lot before I committed.


I posted an ad on craigslist a month ago for an empty pinball cabinet. A local called me and said he had an empty Williams Phoenix machine (standard size) and would deliver to me for $100 and some change. He called me a few days later and said he had another cab in better shape, a 1980 Williams Blackout (also standard size). He came by and brought me both cabinets. He thought the project was cool and gave me both cabinets in case I needed anything.

The Blackout cabinet was pretty complete minus the electronics, playfield and backglass. The Phoenix wasn't in very good condition and was missing the playfield glass, lockdown bar and legs. With two cabinets I have picked the parts off the worst cabinet and put together one good cabinet. I chose to use the Blackout cab because it was in much better physical shape, and I liked the retro black/red/orange paint. Both have coin doors and mechanical, knockers, buttons, backbox, side rails. The plan so far is to keep the Blackout cabinet as original. I'm going to make use of the coin mechanism, backglass lock, stock flipper locations.

Some pictures of the cabinet:


For the build, I'm planning on the following equipment:


Playfield: Insignia NS-40D510NA15 LED HDTV, 1080p, 60hz, 176° horizontal and vertical viewing angles. This display ALMOST fits without decasing (20-5/8" wide). The Insignia logo at the bottom will need to be trimmed, otherwise it is a perfect fit. The playfield length will be approx 35-5/8".

Backglass: Insignia NS-28D310NA15 LED HDTV, 720p, 60hz, 160° horizontal and vertical viewing angles. I tried a 32" but it was just 1/8" too wide (and unfortunately the same price) and I didn't want to modify the cabinet. I chose the 28", which should be just fine. NOTE: the 28 and 32 inch Insignia LED TV's unfortunately cannot be decased because the enclosure holds in the display layers.

DMD: I haven't decided yet. I'm looking for 15" displays that will fit.


Processor: Intel i5-4690K, 3.5GHz (up to 3.9GHz), 4-core, 64bit processor. Found a great deal through a friend.

Motherboard: TBA. I just need something with at least 1 PCI-express 16 3.0 slot Z97 chipset.

Video card: EVGA SuperClocked Signature 2 02G-P4-2661-KR GeForce GTX 660 2GB 192-bit. Found an open box at Fry's, and not only was it on sale, but there's a $30 rebate on it right now and only cost $140 after rebates. I plan on using this to drive the playfield, backglass and DMD display (if I use a 15").

RAM: 8gigs. Whatever has decent performance versus cost.

Drive: Looking at options for SSD, but if something happens, I can't play. Wondering if I can use my 1TB for tables, and a SSD for the OS? Will likely get a 120/128gig SSD.

Accessories: bluetooth trackpad/keyboard combo

I'll just use the onboard audio, as I think that'll be sufficient. Haven't decided on connectivity like ethernet or wifi.


Virtuapin Digital Plunger kit V2

Ledwiz for outputs

All new buttons for flippers, start, navigation, etc.

I want to use the original coin door and have a free play hidden or enabled with a lock.

2 contactors for the flippers (will add contactors later if I feel I want them, but will build with them in mind)

LED flashers in the back of the playfield


One large fan for backglass

One large fan for the back of the cabinet, one in front to pull air through.

Custom wood bezel for the backglass with speaker holes

a couple of small speakers for the backbox and an amplifier. Haven't decided on sub yet.

Here are some pictures of the LED display fitment. You can see that the 40" fits width-wise, except for the insignia logo. I will decase this display since the bottom is too deep.


I've got the processor and plunger kit on order. Both of the Insignia TVs, EVGA video card and a power supply for the Ledwiz have already been obtained.








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I did indeed. I was adding up all the parts and pieces and it'd have cost me well over $300 for everything I got, and much of it was duplicates because of the second cabinet.

I looked and the second cab seems to have lots of warping and cracking at the seams, which leads me to believe that it was outside. Some of the wood has puffed out and all 4 corners of the cab have a gap. I'll probably take all the hardware off and trash the cabinet.

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  • 1 month later...

So time for a little update. I've been busy and haven't posted much.

I got a few more parts:

- Gigabyte Z97X-UD3H motherboard

- Toshiba Q-series pro 128GB SSD

- 15" 4:3 monitor (almost exactly 10" tall) for $5 at a local surplus store

- Various microswitch buttons for menus, start, insert coin, alternate Launch button. $3 each at the local surplus store

- Logitech K400r wireless keyboard

- Cheap computer case to install the computer parts in. I completely gutted it down to just a frame. $10 at the surplus store.

- A friend gave me an old MAME cabinet he built with an iPac and a bunch of buttons and a joystick. Keeping for spares/etc.

On order:

- New black legs, cabinet protectors, leg levelers, bolts

- LED-Wiz

- New Coin entry plates (mine were old and one cracked)

- Backglass trim

- Coin door and Backglass locks

- 4 flipper buttons and leaf switches

The Virtuapin plunger V2 came in and I had trouble getting it to install. It seems like it won't work at all if the Intel USB 3.0 drivers are installed. I uninstalled them and it works. I'm fine, since I don't have anything that would use USB 3.0. Its very easy to use and so far works as advertised.

The computer is built and running smoothly. I've installed some of the software and all looks just fine. I'm trying not to rush through things and learn what I need to do and add more progressively. So far its super fast and I've been watching movies on it, trying to see

I got the nVidia GTX 660 set up with my displays and it looks pretty nice on the 40" and 28" inch Insignia displays, as well as the 15" that I'll use for the DMD. The 28" LCD is right at 15.5" tall, and the 15" LCD is right at 10" tall decased, giving a total of 25.5" inside the backbox, which is right at 26". I test fit and it fits pretty much perfectly. I'll build a speaker panel about 10" tall and get some clear plastic to cover the backglass display. I cut off an aesthetic strip that was hanging on the bottom of the 40" LED display, and now its pretty much symmetric top and bottom and fits into the cabinet perfectly.

In the coming weeks, I'll be cleaning up the cabinet, mounting the buttons and displays and testing out some of the software. For the time being, I'm only using the LED-Wiz for lights on the buttons, a knocker (already have it) and maybe some LED lighting. I plan on adding contactors and more lighting at a later time.

More pictures and such later.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Spent most of Saturday with a friend doing the wood internals. We cut the speaker panel, Backglass LCD mount, Playfield LCD mount, equipment panel and some extra mounting pieces.

I cut a 36" x 20.25" board that the Playfield monitor will mount to using the VESA mounts. I could have made a frame, but we had some MDF and just cut to size. Also cut some rails that will go along the sides and allow the Playfield to rest securely.

Also, since the bottom of the cabinet is a really thin particulate board, I wanted to cut a board that would screw down to the two internal supports that goes across the inside. We cut a 39" x 20.25" board that will go from the back wall to the front support and give a nice base to mount computer, IO cards and power supplies.

Then we cut the Speaker panel with two 4" holes. The LCD I got for the DMD was exactly 10" tall by 12" wide. We cut the hole to be about the same aspect ratio as a real DMD, with a height of ~3.1". We routered it out and rounded the edges. It fits perfectly in the backbox.


Some pics of the buttons and plunger kit



Next is installing the mounts and speaker panel, doing some paint, and mounting some things in the cabinet. I have most of the parts I need to get it running, minus speakers and Amp.

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In regards to mounting your monitor .... will it be a flat 0 degrees or tilted and will you mount it a few inches below glass or close to it?

Any ghosting issue with your monitor on your recent testing? Pinball fx2 works well on my modest cpu and ball play is smooth with a older graphics card. I haven't bought the playfield led yet. Just testing tables w my desktop 24 inch monitor.

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In regards to mounting your monitor .... will it be a flat 0 degrees or tilted and will you mount it a few inches below glass or close to it?

Any ghosting issue with your monitor on your recent testing? Pinball fx2 works well on my modest cpu and ball play is smooth with a older graphics card. I haven't bought the playfield led yet. Just testing tables w my desktop 24 inch monitor.

I haven't decided yet. It all depends on clearances inside. I just got some wood cut for the cab that takes some internal space. I might be an inch or so away from the glass, but it does look nice when I test fitted it flush against the glass. The way I designed the playfield board, is that there are side rails I can move if I want to change it later.

No ghosting so far runing FX2, VP9.9 and a couple of test tables.

I'm still working on what buttons I want and configuring the VirtuaPin plunger kit V2 (has 15 available) as well as the LEDwiz.

Aside from having the Digital plunger and the Nudge sensor on the Virtuapin kit, I want the following buttons:


Extra Ball

How to Play


Launch button (Alternative to the digital plunger)

2 Flipper buttons

2 Magnasave buttons

1 input for the coin door (wiring them in parallel)

maybe some service buttons

For outputs:


Start LED

Extra Ball LED

Exit LED

How To Play LED

Authentic Launch ball LED

Coin door LEDs

Amplifier: Lepai LP-168HA 2.1 channel

Speakers: FaitalPRO 4FE35 4" full range

Sub: Dayton Audio DC200-8 8" sub

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Speakers were ordered Friday. Mental note for future: DO NOT CUT HOLES BEFORE I GET SPEAKERS! I made that mistake and cut a 4" hole thinking that speakers are generally the same. They're not. Took me a week to search all the dimensions out there to find a compatible speaker for the panel.

Went camping this weekend but did get home early enough to do some work on the Cabinet. I took all the metal parts off late last week, and spent some time polishing them up with some buffing compound. I didn't take the side rails off, but pretty much everything else came off. I removed the original side rails and lightly sanded the insides. Then I took some flat black spray paint and went over the entire inside of the cabinet and back box. I just wanted a solid color, as the cabinet is a bit discolored.

Test fit the bottom panel I cut as well as the computer. I'll be cutting the case apart a little so it fits better. Lots of wasted space, and a motherboard panel is way too expensive.

One thing I did was tried to keep the original back-glass locking mechanism. It keeps the original full height back glass locked in place. Even though I'm using a speaker panel, I can use the same locking setup. I also kept the original playfield prop bar and coin mechanisms (they work!). The metal is all in good shape and only a few items inside were corroded from sitting. Cleaned it all up and re-installed into the cabinet.



Next up is cutting button holes and then mounting the speaker panel and LCD displays.







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Coming along nicely Frodus! Will you be using the buttons on the coin door (service buttons)? You can wire them to the iPac for in game operator controls (like volume or menu edits)? Are you going to mount your power button in factory location too?

I decided to buy a samsung 40 led monitor at bestbuy instead of the insignia. I couldn't tell much of a difference but I have always had good luck w samsung in past. Not sure the extra 50 makes a difference though! I think I am going to order a virtuapin cabinet. I have all tools to make my own but it's so time consuming I think this time I'll buy premade. If I can find a old cabinet that needs a home locally and can't be restored to original glory I will use that but short of that ...

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Yes I will likely wire up those service buttons.... but I don't really need to, since I'll always have a wireless keyboard handy inside the cabinet. Power button will just be a push-button to turn computer on and off. I'm going to wire a 20A relay to the 12V of the computer power supply, so when I turn the computer on, the 12V turns on, closes the relay, and turns the monitors/power supplies/etc power ON. I don't like having to switch things off.... just "sleep" or "shutdown" within windows and everything goes off automatically.

I found my cab locally. Just throw something on Craigslist under "wanted" and wait a week or so. I also called a few local pinball repair places to see if they had empties. I had several options within just a few days.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've gotten pretty far along the last couple weeks.

I've done the following:

- Mounted BG monitor into the backbox

- Mounted speakers and DMD into the speaker panel and backbox

- Installed 8" subwoofer

- Mounted side rails for the PF/Mounting board to rest on

- Mounted 4 buttons (Start/Coin/Instructions/Exit) as well as the two flippers (Might do the Magnasave's later, we'll see)

- Mounted the VirtuaPin digital Plunger kit V2

- Mounted the computer, LEDWiz, VP Plunger board, power supplies, Lepai amp and plug strip to my base-board

Still need to:

- Get glass/Lexan cut for the backglass

- Install some fans (one 140mm fan for bottom, and two 100mm fans in the backbox)

- Wire the buttons, plunger, knocker and coin mechanism

- Configure the Pinballx, Visual Pinball and Pinball FX2 along with xpadder (so I can use the service buttons to raise/lower volume)

- Wire a relay off the computer PSU that will connect power to the power strip and turn the cab on/off when taking computer out of sleep

- Bring inside from the garage and start playing








(Sorry this one is blurry)


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Another power option is to get one of these "sensing" powerstrips. I used this exact one on my pinball machine and on my Mame arcade cabinet and they work very very well. Basically you plug the pc in at the master plug and then when it senses the PC turning on, it powers the following 5 outlets as well. Same in reverse when shutting down. I ran my pc power switch to the normal position under the front of the cabinet and it takes care of turning on all my monitors, amp, etc. Just another option for ya.



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Hi, looks great so far!

Like you I'm now 'lurking' around looking for tips and ideas for my build. I was just wondering,

1. Does the digital plunger act like an ipac then to all the buttons?

2. For the playfield, is it best to have the screen parallel with the cabinet or slightly lower at the back as I've seen both? and I'm wanting in use BAM which adds depth to the table

3. Do contactors add 'feel'? I'm a bit new to this :0) do they knock the cabinet when the ball hits things?

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Thanks for the feedback!

1) It shows up as a gamepad/joystick. You can use xpadder to remap to a keyboard press instead.

2) I don't know. I just kind of picked something and went with it. Some people like more gap in the back and less in front. I can change the side rail pretty easily to allow me to do that later.

3) I am not using contactors, but thats the idea. They are basically a large relay that when it closes, it makes a knock.

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Another update:

Per lbeckm3's recommendation, I bought a smart surge protector. Once the computer turns on, the plug senses the current flowing and turns on 5 other outlets. Now i just have one button at the bottom of my cab to turn the computer on and off, and when it goes on, the rest turns on.

For software, I'm going with Pinballx and Nukelauncher for Pinball FX2. I will add Visual Pinball and maybe Future Pinball later, but this seemed pretty easy to set up. I'll have to use x360ce to emulate an xbox360 controller with my virtuapin plunger V2 (gives me analog nudge and plunger ability). I got a handful of tables from the steam store (halloween sale on a couple tables too).

Got the DMD working in FX2, and the backglass images with pinballx and the FX2 media pack. Wired my buttons up and am mapping those today.

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Another update:

Per lbeckm3's recommendation, I bought a smart surge protector. Once the computer turns on, the plug senses the current flowing and turns on 5 other outlets. Now i just have one button at the bottom of my cab to turn the computer on and off, and when it goes on, the rest turns on.


Excellent! Glad that worked out for you! I'll have to check out Pinball FX2, I haven't done anything other than Visual Pinball (well one FP table, but we never play it). Keep updating us on your progress. FYI - Visual Pinball is a bit of a nightmare to get everthing in the right directories and named correctly, but stay with it and it all works out. PinballX, if you get the full meal ticket, makes some of this easier with the game manager (directly pull down missing artwork etc.). Anyway, keep us updated on your progress - looking great!


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So the power strip doesn't turn things off anymore. I don't know why.... But it worked the first couple times. I think my computer either uses too much in standby or it doesn't use a lot (I don't have a ton hooked up o the power supply ). I'll look at it again tomorrow. Kinda bummed.

I had some issues with setting up fx2 but ended up getting the tables all straight. The only issue right now is that fx2 doesn't completely exit when I hit the exit button, and my plunger is set up weird.

The plunger goes from like 0 to max.... But X360ce thinks that the stick is all the way up, and when you pull back it goes all the way down. It needs to show as only half the stick. It works... But it goes haywire on menu screens.

Will take a video when I can. Tomorrow is busy and I travel next week for work.

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Finished the cabinet up today. Still need a few things before its 100%, but its working!

Need to wire the LEDs on the buttons to the LEDwiz, along with the Knocker. No contactors for now.

I ended up running Pinballx, Nukelauncher and Pinball FX2 on Steam. Works pretty well. I'll be adding VP later, this was just to get it going quickly.

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