Unboxing a New Pinball Machine Step by Step

In this video blog entry, I show you step by step how to unbox and set up a brand new pinball machine – in this case a Led Zeppelin machine from Stern Pinball! Follow along as I crack open the box, install the legs, and get the game ready to play. WARNING: Setting up a pinball machine can be a dangerous operation. The machine can fall on you, leading to serious injury or death. You could also hurt yourself lifting the machine as it weighs hundreds of pounds. Please get help as needed.

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Pinball Speaker and Color Display upgrades

In this video blog post, I show you how to upgrade the speakers in a Stern Iron Man pinball for higher quality sound, and I change out the red LED display for a ColorDMD color LCD display. I hope you like this new video format for my blog, and stay tuned for more entries in the series!

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Fabricated Pinball Streaming Rig

Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve really been enjoying streaming pinball on Twitch (see previous post), but one thing that hasn’t been fun is moving machines around to make room for the mic stands I was using to hold the cameras. They take up a good amount of space and in order to switch from game to game I was invariably having to move machines around to make space.

Inspired by the camera rigs I’ve seen used in tournaments, I decided to make my own. The beauty of them is just how compact they are – they are almost the same width as a machine and (because they are on wheels) they can be slid from game to game with the machines pretty much right up against each other. Instead of using aluminum extrusions, though, I decided to try making mine out of wood – mostly because that’s what I had on hand already, and plywood is relatively inexpensive.

I started with a quarter sheet of plywood (2′ x 4′ x 1/2″) and off to my backyard wood shop I went!

I started by making repeated cuts lengthwise, making 2″ wide strips.

Plywood often has a slight bow to it, but you can make a straighter and stronger piece by laminating two pieces together, flipping one relative to the other so the bows are in the opposite direction. They sort of cancel each other out and you end up with a straighter piece. They won’t be perfect but it was plenty good for this purpose.

These laminated pieces are the basis of every part of my rig – the legs which have casters at each end, the uprights, and the cross piece at the top. Here are all the pieces of the puzzle.

Because my longest piece is only 48″ which isn’t tall enough for the rig, I ended up using small strips to form a U joint. Each individual piece of my design shown below is primarily glued together, with a few pocket screws in some of pieces. The pieces are then assembled into the final rig with only nuts and bolts, making breakdown easy for storage or transportation. Here are the main components ready to go!

And then together for the first time! It looks like this should work! All done with about a quarter sheet of plywood which I already had left over from another project Рthis was a very cheap project to put together.

I couldn’t stop there though and decided to build a mobile computer rig for my old computer re-purposed for streaming. I bought two of the cheapest 20″ monitor I could find online, a dual monitor mount, and put it together – it’s also on casters for easy moving from game to game. Having two monitors allows me to monitor both the streaming software and the Twitch dashboard simultaneously and is a huge upgrade over the laptop I was using sitting on a stool before.

One more upgrade worth mentioning – 802.11ax AKA WiFi 6! I put a new wireless card in my PC which allows me plenty of bandwidth for wirelessly streaming from the garage instead of having to run a long ethernet cable across the driveway ūüôā It’s kind of incredible the speeds you can get over WiFi now – speeds that were only possible with a wire only a short time ago.¬†

A coat of black paint on the streaming rig and it is all done! Tune in to catch the show at https://twitch.tv/abpinball!

Here is the cut list and dimensions in case you want to make one yourself.

  1. Make 10¬†strips, 2″ x 48″ x 1/2″
  2. Laminate 8 of the above pieces into pairs, forming 4 separate laminations
  3. The remaining 2¬†strips should be cut to 30″ wide and assembled at a 90 degree angle – this will be the top cross piece.
  4. Cut¬†2 of the laminations in half crosswise, forming 4¬†pieces 2″ x 24″ x 1″. Two of these will be the legs and two will be the upright extensions. The remaining two laminations (2″ x 48″ x 1″) are the main uprights
  5. Use scraps to make the U joints / caster supports / etc, assemble and enjoy!

Important Note: I made mine 30″ wide and while I’m happy with that, I do have to stretch the uprights outwards a bit to clear the legs of the machine on the way in and out. There is plenty of flex to do this and I’m happy with my dimension, but be aware and adjust as necessary for your needs. Another inch width probably wouldn’t hurt.

 

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See Alpha Bravo Pinball live on Twitch!

Hi!

The world has changed over the last several weeks, and at least for now pinball nights with friends are a thing of the past. As an experiment and to try to get some human interaction in my pinball playing, I started streaming on Twitch. I’m very pleased with it so far – while not the same as playing with friends, having folks follow along on the stream and interact via chat is a fun thing for sure and adds a certain amount of pressure to play well that can be easy to miss when you’re just playing alone.

If you’d like to join in, head on over to my channel on Twitch. Hope to see you there! And if you’ve thought about streaming yourself, I highly recommend it! I got a lot of good advice on setting up my stream from Deadflip’s guide.

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