DIY Virtual Pinball Machine In a Full-Size Cabinet

If you’ve been wanting your very own pinball machine, this is a relatively affordable way to build one.

Cameron Coward
25 days agoDisplays / Gaming / RetroTech

Pinball machines are masterpieces of electromechanical engineering, but their glory days are long gone. Arcades are all but dead, and the only place you’re likely to find real pinball machines today is tucked into a dark corner of a bar somewhere. Unfortunately for pinball lovers, buying a used pinball machine in working condition is going to set you back a lot of money — easily thousands of dollars. It’s possible to build your own, but that can also be very expensive and takes a lot of skill. An easier approach is to follow Smithsa3’s tutorial to make a virtual pinball machine in a full-size cabinet.

From a distance, this looks like any other pinball machine. But instead of real obstacles and flashing lights for the ball to bounce around, it has a screen to show all of that virtually. The two main benefits of this virtual pinball setup are the low cost and the ability to play multiple games. There are still physical controls, including a plunger for releasing the ball and a coin-op mechanism, so you’re not losing much of the classic pinball experience. This tutorial explains how to create the pinball cabinet from scratch, but it is also possible to use a vintage machine that is no longer functional.

If you do decide to construct the cabinet yourself, the process is similar to crafting a table and should be easy enough for experienced woodworkers to handle. The screen used to show the game is a used 37” LCD TV. You can find a used TV ike that for dirt cheap, particularly if it has a broken case that you won’t be using anyway. An additional pair of 17” LCD monitors are used to show the graphics on the back board. An old PC is used to run the games, which don’t require a whole lot of processing power or high-end video cards. A keyboard was modified to provide button input. There are different software options out there, but PinballX was used for this project. If you’ve been wanting your very own pinball machine, this is a relatively affordable way to build one.

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