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Virtual Pinball bartop assembly

Started by Yskonyn, August 04, 2020, 04:32:40 AM

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I've been a fan of pinball for as long as I can remember! At my football club we had a Terminator 2 table which ate countless coins of my pocket money. The movie coupled with the pinball table made such an impression on my younger self that from there on whenever I found a pinball table somewhere I just have to play it.
When Windows 95 included '3D pinball' me and my old folks ran regular weekend tournaments where the competition was quite fierce. Fun times!  :bd:
I've been on the lookout for my own pinball table ever since, but the price usually is prohibitive and regardless; I can't house a full size pinball cabinet anyway.

Just recently I came across a cool program called Visual Pinball and the communities over at and I entered the rabbit's hole...

Visual Pinball would be able to simulate that old and dear Terminator 2 table. The the software is designed to run on DIY cabinets. Surely something more portable would also be available and perhaps I would be able to get my pinball cabinet afterall!
After browsing the net for a while I came across the Sharpin Bartop Cabinet ( which seemed like the exact thing I was after, but Android wasn't going to cut it. It needed to be Windows driven. Would a motherboard fit into the Sharpin? Dimensions told me it would, but with limited room inside the cabinet heat might be an issue.

Still, I had my old Asus Z87-A motherboard laying around unused with 16GB DDR3 RAM still mounted as well as an Intel i5 4670K processor.
I could use the PSU from the old case as well. The only thing I needed to get was a videocard, but if all checks out it would be a minor additional cost as something like a 1050 would be sufficient.

I ordered it and went DIY:

First needed to reinforce the bottomplate to prepare it for motherboard mounting:

Then check how it would all fit best with regards to clearance to the monitor and room for all components needed within the cabinet:

Next mount the risers for the motherboard and attach the motherboard itself:

And build up from there:

I needed to drill a grille at the left sidewall and mount a case fan (not on the picture) to get proper airflow through the cabinet and push sufficient hot air out (the openings at the back weren't enough). I also mounted a RAM fanblock at the frontside of the cabinet to suck cool air from below and push it over the motherboard towards the exit fan.
The system intially had some heat issues (as expected), but with these fixes the CPU core temp under load does not go above 70 degrees Celcius, which is acceptable. Ideally I would have liked a tad lower temps, but considering the cramped space I am happy enough.

It resulted in this final prototype (still need to properly mount the second monitor and get rid of the cables in a neat way)

Currently I am running Steam with Pinball FX3.
Over time I will get Visual Pinball running as well and make a custom front end menu so the cabinet doesn't load into Windows desktop, but rather an Arcade menu system to choose pinball tables directly.

As keyboard and mouse solution I use a combined 'gamepad'-like device with has a keyboard and trackpad in miniature form and used bluetooth. Works excellent!

Motherboard: Asus Z87-A
RAM: Crucial Ballistix 16GB DDR3
CPU: Intel i5 4670K
Videocard: Geforce 1050Ti
SSD: Samsung 860 EVO 512GB
Network: TP-Link wireless dual band adapter
OS: Windows 10 Pro
"Pilots do not get paid for what they do daily, but they get paid for what they are capable of doing.
However, if pilots would need to do daily what they are capable of doing, nobody would dare to fly anymore."


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The virtual pinball software is about 80-90% to reality of physical play.  It has really gotten good.

Honestly, the older games (say 25 years old and older) play better virtually.  The moving parts (bumpers and whatnot) deteriorate over time and the action is muted.  Virtually, it plays much closer to what a new machine does.

Congrats on the build.  If I had that skill set I would build an arcade setup.



I really like the Wild Snake tables which combine pinball and space invaders.
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