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    element14's The Ben Heck Show

    Join the Ben Heck team every week for amazing hacks! Watch them build and mod community-inspired projects using electronics!

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    So here's where the team are at with the Pinball control board for the miniature pinball machine: Felix has put together a prototype board with the Arduino and Teensy microcontrollers, which will control the solenoids and also take input from bumpers, buttons and other mechanisms that Ben is designing. Ben had to reprint the disc for the pop-bumper though, and now it will fit with the conductive metal rings to give us a circuit that can help rack up the points!


    Felix gives an update on the progress of the pinball board. He goes over the headers for the Arduino and headers for the Teensy, the shift registers, the LED Driver, the MOSFETs, the amplifier, the screen, the regulator on/off switch, and the battery. There are also two headers for the inputs and the outputs to drive the lights, as well as, four headers to drive the solenoids.  One more thing they will need to add are headers to drive the servos on this board. They will need to make sure that whatever mechanisms Ben comes up with will be supported by the main board. Felix runs various tests on the board and shows you what that looks like on the Arduino IDE.


    Ben reprinted the disk for the pop bumper. The conductivity the ring isn’t great to begin with but as long as there’s some conductivity the MCU should be able to detect the closed switch. After he’s unable to get a reading it becomes clear he’ll need to rewire and solder the wire to the ring.  Ben goes to work putting the pieces together. He points out the mounting points for the pop bumper and the solenoid.


    While Ben is working on that, Felix fires up a switch example. He’s attached the solenoid and the two contacts to the board. There’s a bearing that appears to be working.  It looks like it makes efficient contact and it can trigger the microcontroller to send a signal to actuate the solenoid.


    Servos are easy to use with the Arduino environment so Ben is using one of them for the ball loading mechanism.  He points out the playfield and the positioning of it on the table. He then cuts a test portion of the lower playfield on which to mount the ball loading prototype.  Ben puts a switch in place that tells you when the ball is drained.  Servos keep pretty good track of their own position but a HOME switch will help dial things in even more.  Once Ben figures out where to put the home switch they will be able to wire it up to Felix’s example board.


    Felix shows a hello world example for the LCD to confirm all the connections are correct.  It’s a simple proof of concept to show that the LCD is working.  After all that is in order, he is joined by Ben who hooks the mechanisms he’s constructed to Felix’s test board.  Using switch case to make a State Machine is a good way to keep track of what your code is doing without staying stick in while(x) loops.  Ben does some coding with Felix and demonstrates how you can use case statements to make programs within programs.