Control :: Electronic :: Solenoid

A renewed interest in vintage pinball machines, combined with the growth of the “Maker” movement, has made this an opportune time to build your own pinball machine. Individuals all over the world have simultaneously discovered that we’re now at a technological crossroads: designing and building a pinball machine is a real possibility for the average tinkerer or hobbyist. And a cottage industry has sprung up, providing new and reproduction pinball parts, as well as electronics and control systems, that are ideal platforms for these new Pinball Artists.

The system that I have used the most, and have had the best experience with, has been the “Power Driver 16” from Multimorphic (aka PinballControllers.com).

This system was originally developed to replace older stock controllers, and then evolved to allow modification to the code and thus custom control. Although the Power Driver 16 is meant to be run with a P-ROC system, you can easily connect to almost anything with a serial interface, including an Arduino. This is the approach we will be detailing here…

You will need several things to build the test system outlined:

  • A computer, with the Arduino development environment loaded. You can find it here.
  • An Arduino Uno board, available for purchase many places, including here.
  • A Multimorphic Power Driver 16, from PinballController.com.
  • A Mini Master RS-485 level shifter, also from PinballController.com.
  • Wiring and connectors.
  • Solenoid mechanisms (e.g. Bumpers) to be tested.

The Arduino code detailed in this post uses the Serial Monitor to control the Power Driver 16, and can be found on the Space-Eight.com download page here.

Documentation for using the Power Driver 16 can be found here, or reference the schematics and images below (to be added later).

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4 comments

  1. Hi Brian,

    Thanks a ton for putting this together, it inspired me to take on a project of my own, I’m converting one of my old EM machines that is all rotted out with an RPi/Arduino solution. My biggest question was do you have the reference schematics anywhere you reference here? I’m looking for the solenoid driving circuitry for the most part.

    Thank you,
    Justin

    1. Hi Justin,

      The solenoid drivers are off-the-shelf from either Pinball Controllers, or FAST Pinball. I’ve used both, but my current favorite is FAST:

      http://fastpinball.com

      The FAST stuff has it’s own FTDI interface, so would work well with a RPi (personally I would target a RPi2, since it’s compatible with the Mission Pinball Framework). The Pinball Controller stuff is SPI communication bus. Not sure if RPi has that (probably does), but Arduino definitely does, but still needs a level shifter to make it work.

      Hope this helps,

      Brian

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