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STAR WARS: Pinball Unleashed - 46"/32"/DMD Widebody Build

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Loving how this artwork is looking...I'm wondering if you are taking into account your side trim with the boarder that you have around the graphic?

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@Lucian045, thanks! I have thought about the trim, and definitely expect some adjustments to be needed before finalizing the art in order to clear it properly. I was going to wait until I have the trim in hand and the cab built before I make those final adjustments.

And btw, I'll probably be hitting you up for the printing, if you're still in that business... :)

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@Lucian045, thanks! I have thought about the trim, and definitely expect some adjustments to be needed before finalizing the art in order to clear it properly. I was going to wait until I have the trim in hand and the cab built before I make those final adjustments.

And btw, I'll probably be hitting you up for the printing, if you're still in that business... :)

Sure am...my printer will eat this thing up lol. Looking forward to seeing the finished artwork.

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Spent a several hours on the cabinet over the past week, and made some progress on the woodworking...

Cut slots in the cabinet sides for the playfield TV using a 1/2" router straight bit. After cutting the initial half-inch slot (which took three progressively deeper passes), I adjusted my metal guide to enlarge the slot just a hair, since the TV is pretty much right at 1/2" thick, and I didn't want the TV to bind or rub too much when sliding it in and out. I cut the slot 3/4" from the top edge in the front and approximately 4.5" from the top edge in the back, which seems to be a pretty common approach lately. Gives the monitor some depth in the cab, but also a decent angle toward the player. The shape of the side almost gives the illusion that the playfield slopes backward, but it doesn't. ;)


Also used a 1/16" slot cutting bit and the router to cut the slots for the playfield glass plastics and t-molding, which I'm planning to put around the backbox. I hear 1/16" is pretty tight for the glass plastics, so I may end up enlarging those slots slightly. We'll see when I get them. Luckily that's something that can still be done after the cabinet body is assembled.



Backbox partially assembled. Got some intake ventilation holes cut, as well as an access hole for the wiring between the backbox and the cab body.



Test fitting the pieces for the cabinet body. Strap clamp was a new purchase for this project. Love it! Every project is an excuse to buy new tools, of course! :)



Playfield TV de-casing time! Have to admit, it's a slightly cringe-worthy process, taking apart a several hundred dollar, brand new piece of electronics like this. Luckily this thing was extremely easy to de-case.


Inner cover removed:


The on/off switch and remote sensor were just held in with two screws and then slid right out:


After unplugging the cable, the speakers simply lifted out:



Fastened the on/off switch and remote sensor board onto one of the available screw holes (after insulating the board from the metal of course with some tape). Faced the sensor toward the front of the monitor (front of the cab) so if needed, I can simply open the coin door and point the remote in to make adjustments, etc.


This TV is perfect for a cab; even after de-casing it has a nice black bezel around it.


Test fitting the TV:


About 1/4" of black bezel showing on each side, so the playfield isn't completely edge-to-edge, but looks really nice. Once the sides are painted black and with glass over it, I doubt anyone would even know the difference.


Installed some 1x2 railing to give the monitor extra support on the sides. I actually made the slots a bit deeper than I needed to. I'll probably run some insulation through there to fill the extra gap and give the monitor a little cushion on the sides.


Woohoo! Finally taking shape and looking like a pin! But oh so much more work to do... ;)


So remaining woodwork items consist of cutting the holes for the fans, intake vents, coin door and subwoofer, building the support framework for the backbox monitor, and cutting/routing the DMD/Speaker panel. As soon as I get the cabinet hardware, I'll make sure everything fits okay, and then I'll probably add some glued blocking to reinforce the joints too. So hoping to have the woodworking done over the next week or so I can start on the finishing/painting.

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So I managed to get in a few more hours of woodworking yesterday...

Cut and routed the 120mm fan hole for the backbox cover, cut and installed the hinge and used the router to round the edges of all of the fan and vent holes. Also built the framework for the backglass TV and installed it (the TV) temporarily. And finally, I cut and routed the fan holes for the back cover of the cabinet itself.

I had originally purchased those huge 200mm fans for the build, but I've since decided to just stick with 120mm fans. The 200mm units look impressive, but I found that I kept having to re-think every choice I was making with the dimensions of the various back pieces just to accommodate those big fans. Ultimately, it's not worth the hassle to me. Those big fans are really major overkill anyway. I think three 120mm fans for the cabinet and one for the backbox, with strategically placed intake holes, will be plenty of ventilation, and these 120s I purchased are extremely quiet (only 11dBA) too.

So for the woodworking the only major things left are the DMD/Speaker panel, leg holes, coin door opening and button holes. Then it's on to patching and painting! Luckily that part should not be as brutal and exacting as my last build was since I get to put artwork over it. :)

Pics of the latest progress...









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Looks like you're doing a great job on the woodwork! Did you use the router to cut the holes, or just to chamfer them? What kind of bits did you use?

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RoccoC, thanks for the compliment! For the fan holes, I actually have a PVC plumbing flange that makes a great template. I just traced the circle onto the wood, rough cut it (about 1/8" inside the circle) with a jigsaw, screwed the plumbing flange onto the plywood and used it as a guide for a 1/2" flush cut router bit to clean up the hole. I then went over the holes with a 1/4" roundover bit to round the edge.

I do have a circle jig for my router as well, but the method above was more convenient. :)

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Another progress update...

Since the TV is so thin, I was concerned about the long-term rigidity of it mounted horizontally, plus it's my nature to over-engineer stuff. ;) So I decided to re-install the inner metal back cover, and reinforce it even further by installing brackets using the TV's wall mount holes (M8 size bolts btw). I used some washers on each bolt to elevate the brackets a bit so they're not squishing the cover. I think it's plenty rigid now. :)



And on to more woodworking...

So this circle jig is the bomb! Was a little intimidating at first trying to figure out how to use it, but it's actually quite simple, and it cuts PERFECT holes.


For those of you who may have never used one, here's how it works:

1. Attach the jig to your plunge router, install a 1/4" straight cut bit and insert the metal dowel pin in the jig bore that corresponds to the size of hole you want. There is a grid printed on the jig that makes it really simple to choose the size.

2. Attach a backing piece of wood to the work. Since the backing piece will not be cut, it allows the router to maintain a solid pivot point throughout the cut.

3. Identify the centerpoint for the hole you want to route and drill a 1/8" hole in the center. This hole is what the dowel pin will be inserted into when cutting.

4. Insert the dowel pin into the centerpoint hole and gently set the router down so that the jig is flat. Be sure the dowel pin is inserted far enough into the wood so that it goes all the way into the second piece.

5. Turn on the router, plunge the bit part way in, lock it down and rotate to make the cut. You'll want to make 2-3 progressively deeper cuts, depending on how thick your work piece is. If you take your time, you'll end up with a perfect cut, exactly the size you wanted.

So time to put it to work on the subwoofer hole. Attaching the backing piece...


Marked off the center point, drilled the 1/8" hole and inserted the router/dowel...


Three progressively deeper passes, and voila, a perfect hole. It's best to let the bit cut into the backing piece just a bit; makes for a cleaner hole...


Ran the round over bit on the edge to give a nice clean rounded off look (only one side done here)...


Also cut the intake ventilation holes using a drill hole saw and rounded those off too...



DMD panel anyone? Yes, I think so...


Used the circle jig again to cut out the speaker holes...


Did a rough cutout of the DMD window with the jig saw, staying 1/8" or so inside the line...


Built a guide on the back side with inside dimensions to match the exact size that I wanted the DMD window. Basically just lined the wood up with the pencil lines and screwed them down (being careful not to go all the way through the wood). I then used a 1/2" flush cut router bit to make the finish cut. The roller on the bottom of the bit follows the guide and makes makes a perfect and smooth cut...



Rough cut the edge of the panel with a jig saw...


Then used the edge of the remaining MDF as a guide, once again making the finishing cut with the router and flush cut bit..


Went over the DMD window with a round over bit and we have a perfect DMD panel. I didn't round the speaker holes because I'm going to be installing the grill on top...



In the home stretch as far as the woodworking goes. Only things left are building the mounting framework for the DMD panel in the backbox, building a light bar for the space above the playfield, cutting the coin door hole and drilling the button holes.

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@jasonsmith - Thanks! Definitely don't claim that my techniques are the best, but they work. Glad you're enjoying the posts. :)

@shakenbake - Thanks Brad! Looking forward to getting the parts I ordered from you today! The build is starting to get to the exciting phase where it all starts coming together. :D

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Question for you, where did you get your metal brackets for your tv? Also happen to remember what length m8 bolts you used? I have the same exact tv and pondering on how I should go about reinforcing the tv in the cabinet so it doesn't twist, and I like your idea with the 1x2 side rail supports and the metal bracket to reinforce the tv, but looked around lowes tonight and didn't really see anything like the bracket you used?

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Looks like angle brackets that are commonly found in the garage door opener area in lowes/home depot, Scott please correct me if I'm wrong

Nice work btw like the build

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Question: What Are The Siemens Contactors (page 1) And What Do They Do...??? Also The Booster Boards... I'm Not An Electronics Guy Too Much, But I'm Thinkin Of A PIN Build Myself After Lookin At What All You Guys Have Come Up With...

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@tyson171 - batdive is correct. Got them at Lowes in a section that has all types and lengths of metal bars, brackets, etc. It is indeed the same stuff used for garage door openers.

I threw away the package, but I believe the bolts were M8-1.25x16. They're in the specialty fasteners section (usually the ones in the drawers at Lowes).

EDIT: note that if for some reason you want to use the brackets without re-installing the back cover, you'll need to use shorter M8 bolts...

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Question: What Are The Siemens Contactors (page 1) And What Do They Do...??? Also The Booster Boards... I'm Not An Electronics Guy Too Much, But I'm Thinkin Of A PIN Build Myself After Lookin At What All You Guys Have Come Up With...

When activated, the contactors make a click/thunk that is similar to the sound and feedback produced by the flippers, bumpers and slings on a real pinball machine. They are controlled by the LEDWiz board, which is supported by VPinMame, so that when those devices interact with the ball in the game, there is also a tactile response. Put in the simplest terms, they're for force feedback, as are the shaker motor and gear motor.

The booster boards are basically a great solution that significantly simplifies the wiring of all the different toys (contactors, strobes, flashers, shaker motor, knocker etc.). Basically they allow you to simply plug in a standard ATX computer power supply, and they do all the magic of converting all the different voltages and such required for the different devices. If you go back and look at some of the older builds on here with force feedback and other toys, you'll see that lots of wire, fuses, resistors, diodes, etc. and 2-3 different power supplies were required to get all of it working.

Basically the booster boards make installing the toys much closer to plug and play than it was previously.

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So another small update...

Coin door cut. Just did the coin door freehand with the jigsaw...




Holes patched. Started out using 'Plastic Wood'. Hate it. Never fills screw holes well and doesn't sand smooth enough (also tends to chip during sanding). After getting frustrated with this stuff for the last time, I switched over to Bondo. It stinks bad, but works much better. Luckily I had a respirator to keep the fumes at bay. :) The only challenge with it, as many of you know, is that it dries FAST. Once you mix in the hardener, you only have about 2 minutes to get it applied before it becomes unusable. So the key is to mix it in small enough batches that you don't waste too much. But the obvious advantage to the fast drying is that you can sand and paint it really quickly after application.


Button holes drilled and then priming. Not too exciting, but the thing I do like about this step is how it makes everything looks so pristine. All the wood grain, bondo, pencil marks and other blemishes vanish. :) Starts taking on a more finished look which is really refreshing.




Installed a slide out tray for the computer gear. Used 18" ball bearing sliders so it pulls out for easy access to the components.


And painting! Used a combo of 4" and 6" foam rollers, along with a foam brush for getting into tight spots. I think for my next project I'm going to invest in a spray gun. But in comparison to my arcade project, this paint job is a breeze. I'm going to keep the inside of the cab white. I like the contrast, plus will make it easier to see in there later on...




A little mockup of the artwork so I could see it at full size. Really glad I did this because it led to some changes. To do this I took the art and saved it as a PDF within Photoshop then opened it in Acrobat, which has a feature during printing to allow you to 'tile' a large image into multiple sheets.


And Santa (Brad...aka Lucian045) sent me this pic from his workshop. He was really impressed with how it looks, so that's encouraging.. Can't wait to see it in person!


That's all for now. Should be lots more updates coming over the next couple weeks. Stay tuned...

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Looking great! You've passed me! My cab is still sitting in my basement just like I had taken my last pictures. Been CRAZY busy lately, but going to go to town on it this weekend. Quick question, what measurements did you use for your buttons? (how far from top and front of the cab to the center of the buttons? Also how far apart did you place them?) I was thinking about using mameman's measurements in his plans, but I've seen all kinds of different measurements that a lot of people say are official? Thanks m8!

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@Pinball999 - Thanks!

@Tyson171- I assume you're referring to the flipper button locations. I was real scientific about it. ;) I set my lockbar on it, rested my hands on and put my fingers in a comfortable position. Then I kept one hand still and made a mark where my flipper finger was. For me, that ended up being 2 5/8" from the front and 2 1/4" down (14" up from the bottom of the cab...and all measurements to button center). The buttons are 1 3/4" apart center to center. Note that there are 2-3 different ways to position the buttons. I did mine horizontal, but I've also seen them oriented more diagonal such that the back button is lower than the front.

When it comes down to it, the buttons should be positioned to be most comfortable to whomever the primary player is. Obviously in the process you have to also be mindful of where the buttons are in relation to things like your screen/ slots and any bracing you may have. In my case, I actually ended up trimming back my TV supports just a bit to allow for my buttons. This type of situation is why I try not to glue stuff in until the last minute. :)

Looking forward to seeing your progress over the weekend.

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Okay, so let's just say I've been a busy little bee over the past week. Got a LOT of stuff done on the build. Oh, and I apologize to anyone trying to read this post on a slow connection... :D

Added a couple extra parts to the stash. Picked up the PSU that will run the toys (flashers, contactors, wiper motor and shaker):


Also got one of these, circa 1998 off of eBay new in box for about $15. It has a built-in motion controller, similar to the modern Playstation SIXAXIS controller. This will be used for the nudge functionality. I'll get into more detail on how it's setup later in the build once I have it installed and working correctly.


Computer is mounted on the slide-out shelf. Since I de-cased the components, I was a bit concerned about making sure the video card stayed mounted firmly in its socket, so I got this nice back plate to secure it. I mounted the motherboard using PCB mounting feet, and I needed the back plate to match it in height. Was too late for a hardware store run, so I tried a couple different things as spacers (cutting tubing, etc.) but couldn't quite get the base I wanted. So my Macgyver mode kicked in as I shuffled through drawers and boxes. Ended up using a plastic spacer, a washer and some plastic beads from my wife to get it just right. :P Video card is nice and secure. Used some good 3M double-sided tape to mount the PSU. It's not budging either.




Coin door and lockdown bar/guide installed...


Doors, fans, grills and door hardware installed. I'm short one fan. Will need to order that soon. I considered using locks, but decided against it. I just couldn't think of any compelling reason for locks, so I used a double-roller catch on one door and a magnetic latch in the other. No particular reason I used a different latch for each. Just what I happened to have on hand.


Speakers and DMD are mounted in the panel. I cut and mounted a sheet of acrylic in front of the DMD to protect it. Just used my jigsaw with a fine cut blade, carefully drilled holes and screwed it in. There was some strategy involved with the dimensions of the acrylic because there are screw heads protruding from the front of the DMD that I had to work around or else it caused a bit more space between the DMD and acrylic than I wanted.

Also got the TV mounted and T-molding installed. Just need to pick up a piece of glass and make a bezel to hide the TV's bezel and speaker panel interior framing. I'm pretty pleased with how the backbox turned out.


Hmmm... what's that peaking around the side there?


Also installed the legs. The method I used was to screw them just snug into the brackets, and then install the screws for the plates on the back side. This ensured that the plates would remain in the exact orientation needed for the bolts to thread properly.

But of course, before I installed the coin door and legs, I installed the ARTWORK. :)





Start, Exit and Coin buttons...




I can't say enough good things about this artwork from Brad. The material he uses is INCREDIBLY forgiving. I probably stuck/unstuck parts of it a dozen or more times, and it never lost its adhesion. It's also really easy to get air bubbles out of it. It's called air release technology, and they aren't kidding. He includes a felt squeegee to apply it. One key to installing this stuff is to make sure you have several brand new, sharp X-acto blades on hand. It's critical to getting a clean edge. This stuff is pretty tough, so even with a brand new blade, I had challenges occasionally with cutting it. The important thing is to make sure you keep the knife straight and use the cabinet's edge as a guide. Just go slow until you get a feel for it.

So back to the legs for a second...when I first installed the legs and leg protectors and tightened them down, I noticed that the tension of the legs up against the artwork caused it to pucker a bit. I can only imagine the long term implications of this, so a solution was in order. Here's what I came up with: adhesive felt pads. Once I installed these, no more issues. Artwork stayed nice and flat, even with the legs fully tightened.


So, next up is building the light panel for above the playfield and wiring...LOTS of wiring.

We're having a graduation party for my son in a couple weeks, and my goal was to have the pin fully playable by then. I think I'm on track get meet that goal!

More updates coming soon. I'll get into a bit more detail on how I mounted the backbox and how the speaker panel is mounted, and of course all of the wiring. Stay tuned...

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Fantastic work so far, artwork looks really good.

nice tip on the felt pads for the leg protectors :beerglass:

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Very impressive how far along you have came in such a short period. One of the best Star Wars cabs I've seen yet!

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