Rombus Miniature Pinball Emulator

Of course we all love video games, but there’s something interesting about the tactile feel of an actual pinball table. Unfortunately, few…

Jeremy Cook
3 years ago

Of course we all love video games, but there’s something interesting about the tactile feel of an actual pinball table. Unfortunately, few of us have the room for a full-sized unit, so hardware hacker extraordinaire Matt “Circuitbeard” Brailsford decided to build something much smaller — complete with a playfield screen and another for the back glass.

The setup features a LattePanda board at its core running a Windows-based pinball emulation. While video game emulation is well-established, pinball is a bit more fragmented, so getting this to work well — using Visual Pinball for the emulator and PinballX as the table selection screen — was quite a challenge.

Selecting the LattePanda did have a nice side benefit, in that the official 7" screen that he used for the main play area plugs in via a ribbon cable. This leaves an HDMI socket free to extend the desktop onto the second screen mounted vertically for the back glass display.

Physically, the unit measures 26 x 14 x 25cm tall including the legs, so it won’t take up too much space when not being played. Buttons are available for the flippers, mag save (to avoid guttering — available in some games), along with other user interface controls. Due to size restrictions, the device doesn’t have a mechanical plunger, but instead works via capacitive touch.

Naturally, Brailsford is thrilled with the way everything turned out, and if you’re wondering where he developed his skills, this is actually his fourth unique “Rombus” emulator build. We even covered one of his previous projects here — an ’80s racing game converted to play Outrun!

UPDATE: More details can be found in Brailsford’s write-up here.

Jeremy Cook
Engineer, maker of random contraptions, love learning about tech. Write for various publications, including Hackster!
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