Brackets for brackets

My attempt at finding a bracket for the scoop has failed again. I am tired of ordering pinball parts – there are too many different items that do the same thing, and it seems impossible to get simple specs, such as hole distance etc.
In relation to Space Attack!, the bracket-incident means that I cannot make a video showing a playable game. As I also have other projects, one of which is of a more serious nature, I am contemplating shelving the project for a while, and return to it when I get a 3D printer later, and thus will not be dependent on other people/stores for sourcing some parts.

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‘Machine elf’ – working title for the software side of the Servalan I/O driver board

I have made roughly 50% of the inputs and outputs that the board will support. This will, of course, never be a fixed number – as some applications probably will have inputs that does not result in an output. For pinball and mechanical games, this could be a target that adds points or something, in contrast to an input from a pop bumper skirt that needs a solenoid to fire for at set duration.

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Raspberry Pi 3 Model+ review

So, I have spent some time with the Pi. The best suited OS was Raspbian, running on a 1080p screen using a wireless mouse + keyboard. I was using the Pi with two agendas in mind. One was to see how it does as a secondary PC, being used next to my primary computer. It would need to play videos/Youtube/podcasts/Netflix/Prime and be subject to an occasional Google search. I have two ‘tower-PCs’ in my home office, both running Windows 10. I also have an old 2.1GHz HP running Ubuntu 18.04. Doing any kind of work on the Pi with Raspbian, was a horrible experience. This is simply way too slow and painful. Opening a browser could take 10-20 seconds, streaming videos looked horrendous.
This leads into the next agenda, which is using it to run something like a video game or a pinball machine (the latter using the GPIO-pins). The problems with the latter is that you probably need to use the Pi as the dev platform, not only the target for running the application – which in turn needs you to live with a sluggish work environment. In comparison, I am making my non-pinpall project on my PC (octa-core 4GHz), while testing the game on lower spec machines which communicate directly to the U-HID microcontroller.
Now, this project could be done in some form on a Pi, but you would need TTL’s to get 5V from the 3V3 from the Pi, you would need shift registers to make up for the lack of pins on the Pi, pins that might not be strong enough to begin with. Pair that with a complete lack of snap, and I am on the way out.
In the GPIO part of Pi, I will take any 8-bit Arduino every day over this fancy 64-bit 1.4GHz multicore SBC. The software is too ambitious for the hardware.

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Microcontroller video test

A blinking ‘PRESS START!’ – in black & white 128×56 resolution. Wow. But this could be more than adequate for a simple pinball display. Remember in the old days, when colored plastic were used to make display color? Not just games like Space Invaders, but also early pinball machines…and newer ones, even games from 2011 and 2012 etc.

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Microcontroller (Arduino 2560) for pinball?

(video below in Danish) I have put in some work in regards to my thoughts about using a microcontroller to build a pinball machine. No operating system, no firmware no nothing. Going bare metal. Instant boot, no computer, no fancy graphics. The innovation would need to be made in the mechanics. This could constitute a very sleak build..and it may prove perfect for creating older style pinball machines.

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STM32F407VET6, en route!

I just ordered a couple of the STM32-based microcontrollers. These are very interesting as they have assets that may make them viable alternatives to Arduino. My favorite Arduino is the 2560 due to it having 70 I/O pins. The Arduino has a clock speed of 16MHz, 256kb (-8 for boot loader) of flash memory and 8kb of SRAM. These numbers look very dated compared to the VET6, as it has 82 I/O pins, a clock speed of 168MHz, 512kb flash memory, 192kb RAM and it is 32bit instead of 8bit.

So, the numbers are ‘higher’, but does this mean ‘better’? When it comes to my projects, which are mechanical in nature, I need I/O pins with +5V logic levels outputs. I need a well-developed IDE and I need a tried and true uC with a critical mass of users. On top of my head, the 168MHz clock speed is of no use to me over 16MHz. The 12 extra I/O pins are nice, but not a deal breaker. Regarding storage space for the program, I don’t think I will come near using the 256kb the 2560 has – so 512kb for the STM32 could prove overkill (for me). I just installed the STM32 board library into the Arduino IDE, which was pretty easy, but you still have to seach hard on the web for information compared to any Arduino.

I will return with my thoughts after testing!

/Nicholas

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MP32C64 with Tapdancer!

I finally got around to soldering my MP32C64 pcb and downloading Tapdancer for my phone. After some tinkering, I could play classics like Who Dares Wins, Bruce Lee, Buggy Boy and many more. Man, I spent a lot of hours in my youth with the C64. It is probably one of the defining moments of my life.

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Michael Rennie was ill…

Well, I have decided to leave Facebook and Twitter in an attempt to return to the better internet-times of the late 90’s and early 00’s, where I used forums a lot more than I have done recently. Being on forums ensured engaging with people that wanted to read/write more than three words or just give a quick like. The same goes for a site like this – though it is only one-way.
In regards to Space Attack, it has sort of grown into a light pseudo-puzzle game – in which enemies attempt to steal your orbs. When you lose all your orbs, the game is lost. Some orbs are earning points constantly, thus losing those are worse than losing the standard green orbs.

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New playfield

Well, the new playfield is under way. Stuff is being mounted, both on top and below the playfield. The girl has been exchanged to a more challenging one.

/Nicholas

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Pinball, no-go?

Hi all.

I have recently sold off my last pinball machines. I need to rethink my relationship with pinball, since it has annoyed me to a greater and greater degree over the last couple of years. I think I will either: 1) Get a modern, late 90’s or later machine 2) Go with an old Bally again. They look nice 3) Not get another pinball, stay 100% computer/video game

This will not affect my not-pinball project! 🙂

/Nicholas

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New artwork en route!

Changing the drop target bank position on the playfield suggested that I then needed to adjust the artwork. I have just done that, and it is getting made as of now!

/Nicholas

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Space Attack!

Well, stuff has been happening this weekend. I forced myself to work on the not-pinball project, even though other things demanded my attention. I worked on the wood-side of the project, which is my least favorite part of making a not-pinball machine (or pinball machine). I try to keep a neat tech-like office, so I like there to be MOSFETs and caps, PCBs, lab power supplies and programming. I do not care for burned wood smell, wood dust etc. No matter, it went fine, and I can now proceed to the next step. I will need to redo the playfield artwork, since I have changed placement of playfield items since the ‘whitewood’.

Stay Tuned!

/N

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Trying out new designs

I have never really found a site layout that I love. But I am trying once again, this time with a more ‘Android-like’ look. This means that the main text and images in posts created earlier might look dodgy.

I expect to have real updates soon, hopefully regarding my not-pinball project. This has been standing still for way too long. However, I have taken small steps to get me to the next point in the development of the game! Below is an earlier image of the playfield. Don’t worry, I have moved beyond that – but not much 🙂

/Nicholas

 

 

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Python books!

Just grabbed some Python books at a sale. This way I am ready, should I wish to give the language a spin. Which may be never!

/Nicholas

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Another Nvidia Shield!

My wife ordered another Nvidia Shield TV for the bedroom, after having a hissy-fit from using our old Wii U.

/Nicholas

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GM: Studio 2 in the house!

I finally made the plunge and bought GMS2. It has been out for just under a year, so I am not that late to the game – however, I do have other projects going that I have to finish first, before diving heavily into Studio 2. But it is very exiting. No more backgrounds, now you use sprites! Everything has layers now. Rooms can have children. Totally new UI, made from the ground up – this time in C#.

/Nicholas

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The return of RTS!

I have been spending some time with Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation during christmas. I am very impressed with the game, and I see it as a return to form for the RTS-genre. In Ashes, there is no micromanagement. Of course, you can still opt to place non-armor units behind their tougher counterparts, but most of the time you will probably end up just having them in a big bunch. Heavier units, like Dreadnoughts, do traverse the map a lot slower than lighter units (which may, or may not, make sense). This means that your units will not arrive at the same time, which can be devastating when assaulting an opponent. But like older RTS games, this is negated by having several meeting points prior to the final goal.
The game map is made of up of several ressource nodes, being power, metal or nuclear stuff. These nodes are connected by lines. If the line is broken, you do not get ressources from beyond that break. This is a great mechanic; do you take the nodes, then move your troops to claim the next, or do you back them up with forces to repel an enemy attempt at taking your node? The tug of war is a great experience and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Many of the maps are very large, meaning that your reinforcement will take some time to arrive – at which point the battle for a node can have shifted several times.
I tend to overthink stuff too much, and I will do that with Ashes of the Singularity as well. First off, science fiction is my favorite genre. However, these modern RTS games always have floating tanks, laser weapons and units tend to look very ‘video game’-like. This goes for Ashes as well. I prefer the C&C (1995) style; modern units with a touch of science fiction. I cannot abstain from thinking about how much energy it would require to hover a tank. This is just personal preference, though, but for me it does retract somewhat from the game.
A bigger problem is bland maps. They are pretty boring, and comes off like big flat symmetrical levels, with the some elevation differences. I really miss the C&C/Red Alert cliffs that blocks ground forces and creates kill zones. When playing Ashes, I never take the environment into account.

The conclusion is that Ashes of the Singularity is an amazing game.

/Nicholas

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