Prologue

Don’t call it a Renaissance. That would imply that pinball has somehow been forgotten and reborn. The truth is these games never went away. We love to collect and play the very same games we originally played long ago.

And don’t call it the Future of pinball. These games belong to a certain era. Pinball cannot be changed without becoming something other than Pinball. Well-intentioned people often talk about new business models. New technology that will bring back the money making power of pinball for coin-op vendors. But these dreams don’t match the reality.

No, we are firmly planted in the Classic age of Pinball….

Pinball machines are an art form. And like any art form, there is a language. There is a grammar. There are defined rules and forms that allow artists to communicate to their audience.

Consider the large steel ball that is the actual “pinball” itself: One-and-one-sixteenth inch in diameter.

Not one inch. Not inch and an eighth. Anything less or more would not be a “pinball”.

Similar is true for the Playfield. They are 20.25″ wide by 42″ tall. Sure, there are wide body play fields, but we always make the distinction by calling them “wide body”.

And the Thumpers, and the Drop Targets, and the Flippers… All standardized to the point where they are virtually interchangeable. These mechanisms are the words we use. The table is our grammar. The high score is our aesthetic. And the rules of the game are the way we communicate in this art form.

So yes, we are in the Classic age of Pinball, where people are now building pinball machines simply for the sake of Pinball.

And I’m going to show you How to Build a Pinball Machine…

2 comments

  1. January 10 (the day of this post) is my birthday. I’m nearing retirement and have dreamed about building my own pinball machine since I was a kid. I have a reasonably strong background in science (physics), but maybe not enough hands on yet. But I’m willing to learn and it looks like you are willing to teach … so who knows?

    1. Thanks for your post!

      Indeed, the purpose of this blog is to try to teach and motivate people to build their own Custom Pinball Machines. Each post is written as a “chapter”, and hopefully will be a reference guide and go-to resource.

      I also have a companion community page on Facebook where people can talk about ideas, techniques, the latest products and technology, as well as share links to projects they are working on: https://www.facebook.com/howtobuildapinballmachine

      And of course there are links interspersed though out this blog to downloadable content, where you can find templates, source code and design simulations: http://www.space-eight.com/Downloads.html

      I always recommend starting with a theme or narrative, and then collect some images for reference and start sketching… Then post updates so the pinball community can support your progress!

      Thanks!

      Brian

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