Introduction: Mini Virtual/digital Pinball

Before you do anything!!!!!
Read this CAUTION!!!
IF YOU CHOSE TO BUILD THIS...make sure you don't use anything less than (10.2) on your iPad. I had an iPad 3 with version (9.?)and it wouldn't work well with the icade core. A bunch of lag time :-(
I also chose not to do anymore updates to my iPad Air or my pinball app just in case..., so I'm still using (10.2) and the latest pinball arcade update was for swords of fury :-)
Also keep in mind to enjoy this type of build you will need to download the pinball arcade app and have to pay for the tables you want to play. It does come with one table, but the rest are in app purchases.
OKAY LETS GET CRACKING!!!
I've been looking at diy mini pin instructions for a couple of years, and finally decided to try it myself. At first I was unsure, because I'm not that crafty, and don't even have the proper tools for such projects. After attempting this a year ago with a smaller scale machine for my iPhone 6 Plus, I decided to go bigger, and try to make something comparable to the nicer ones I've found here, and on other sites. If you feel intimidated by such a project, you came to the right place. I did too. Trust me. It's easy. If you really know what your doing you will be done with the cutting in less than a few hours/minutes. It took me about a day to get all the things together, but hopefully if you read this, it will help you find what you need to knock this project out in no time. Trust me, it's just choosing the wood and the tools. If you choose to go with my measurements, I've listed all materials and tools (and showed pics of all I remembered to take a snap shot of) I used while going through this. The list may look like a lot, but I knocked the basic build out in a couple days. (Im not that skilled haha)
This instructable almost didn't happen. Several times I almost scrapped it. I know it's long and maybe boring, and even some things will be left out. It's my first one though. The main thing is, if you truly want a pinball machine you will end up building it yourself anyway. Im just here to show you my way.
Welcome, and let's get started.

Here's a list of materials and tools I used for the build

Materials:
-iPad Air
-Icade core
-4 pieces of poplar wood .25" x 5.5" x 36"(Home Depot)
-1 piece of hardboard panel, also called chip wood-16"x20" (local art store)
-1 bottle of titebond 2 premium wood glue
-1 piece of plexiglass/acrylic sheet 8"x10"
-1 piece of aluminum extrusion for plexiglass( I think that's what it's called. You'll find it in the plexiglass aisle next to the plexiglass)
-1 piece of small 90 degree trim
-some small wood trim of your choice for corner support
If you choose to paint:
-whatever color and brand you want for body
-1 can of rustoleum chrome spray paint for siderails and lock bar
-1 can of clear coat spray for extra shine and seal on the chrome(not necessary)

Tools I used:
-power drill gun
-saw of your preference for straight cut(I used jigsaw)
-fine wood jigsaw blade
-metal jigsaw blade
-mini screwdriver set(for taking apart icade core and add screws to your pin if you want) I used what I had
-various small drill bits for pre drilling the few screws I used. (Screws came out of icade core, I just reused them :)
-1 1/4 hole saw (I used a hole saw for buttons. Just be sure it's big enough but not to big for your arcade buttons if you choose to use different ones. The one I used was a little big, but it's all I had, plus it's not noticeable)
- also used a Paddle Bit for my fake speaker holes

Step 1: Mock Up

If you've seen any instructable on mini pinball machines, then the first step needs no introduction. Simply make a cardboard mock up of the mini pin as close to scale as you want it to be.
Sorry, Not much detail here. I just laid my iPad down on a piece of cardboard and marked it to the size I wanted. After that I just added the walls, and back box. I used tape to put it all together. I had to re-size a few times by simply cutting the tape and cutting my cardboard down, just so I could get it to look like a good size for my iPad.
Keep in mind, you need room for your buttons and parts to go inside. That's why my second pic has a little wider dimensions. I ended up finally taking it in some, and my finished product is a little more cramped, but what I wanted. I wanted it to be as small as I could go, to make it look more in proportion with my playfield(iPad).
If you are using the same size iPad I am(iPad Air), don't worry, I did all the work and measurements for you already. If you're not, just read all of my instructions, and hopefully it'll make it easier on you, and I've done my job. :)
Hang in there, if I can do this, I assure you, you can too!

Step 2: Measurements of Cabinet and Back Box

I started the measuring process, after I got my cardboard mock up to the approximate scale I wanted. All I did was measure the dimensions of the cardboard, and rounded to the nearest measurements. Now, if you aren't using the same type of wood, these measurements will probably not come out the same, because after you piece this together, the sides of the back box will shrink/grow as will the sides of the finished pinball machine, depending on the thickness of the wood you go with. I went with the poplar wood, because it was strong enough to hold the iPad and light enough to glue most of it(practically all of my machine is glued)

Sides-
For the sides, I went with 1 foot long, 5 and 1/2 inches high at the back, and 3 1/2 inches high at the front for each piece. It is also important that you leave a 2 inch flat spot on the top rear of each side panel so you will have a place for your back box to sit.(see pics)
Note-I forgot to write the back and front height measurements on the boards at the time of documenting. I did go measure them though so I could give the correct ones here.
Where was I? Ok...
I cut one side, and it turned out crooked, but not to bad. You simply sand the lumpy looking spots if you get that bad out of line.
After sanding it to where it looked somewhat straight, I laid it down and marked the other side, so they would be the same. If you measured them both the same it shouldn't matter, right? Well, for the most part. Haha. Again, if your like me, and most people that cut with a jigsaw, it's going to be crooked. No problem, just hold the two sides together after you have them both cut, and sand them down to where they are really similar in dimensions.

Front and back of "cabinet"---
For the front and back pieces, the height is easy, because they have to be the height of the front and back of your side pieces (5.5 in back and 3.5 in front)
The width on the other hand, was decided by simply measuring my iPad Air and giving myself a little room to play with.
My iPad air measured over 6 1/2 inches wide so I went with 7 inches for my width. (Notice my pic of the front of cabinet says length of iPad +1/2 inch, that's what I meant on that pic. Should of said width though)

Top of Back box --
After a few times of sizing my back box down in my cardboard mock up, I decided on some measurements that I felt were a good scale compared to my pinball table.
As you can see in the pics
The top is simply 9inches long by 3 1/4inches wide

Bottom of Back box--
the bottom needs to stay the same length but the bottom of a pinball back box needs to be a little less wide than the top to have the authentic look.
My bottom piece measured 9 inches long by 2 inches wide.
Sides of Back box--
The sides are both 7 inches tall( I forgot to document that so I added a pic of it already together with the 7inches wrote on it)
The top of each piece is 3 1/4 inches wide and the bottom of each piece is 2 inches wide (see pics)

Later, as we piece it together, I will tell you how I got the dimensions for my fake speaker panel, and backglass(plexiglass)
Also note, I waited to put the button holes in the cabinet until after I finished putting it together, because I wasn't sure how it would all fit.

Note-{If you don't plan on using the icade joystick with your machine, and just plan on using the necessary buttons, I would recommend going ahead and cutting your button holes before you put it together. If you do want to use the joystick, you need to read step 8 first because it explains better detail of the room you need.(JUST MAKE SURE IF YOU DO CUT THE BUTTON HOLES FIRST TO KEEP IN MIND YOI NEED ROOM FOR THE NUTS THAT HOLD THE BUTTONS IN PLACE TO CLEAR THE TRIM THAT HOLD THE IPAD UP INSIDE THE CABINET (see step 8)
Now with that being said if you cut the holes before piecing the cabinet, you can put the side pieces together and drill them out at the same time. I would make sure you have a death grip on them or clamp them down so the hole saw doesn't spin the wood. The only reason I would drill the holes before you glue it all together is so they line up and are the same on both sides.
Now in mentioning using the joystick, I liked the idea of incorporating it for the pinball games that require you to pull down on the joystick to launch the ball.

Now... get to cutting. Haha.

Step 3: Testing My Measurements

I'm going to start breaking each step down with only a couple of pictures. As for this step, all I did was simply prop up my pieces of wood and set a couple of glasses underneath my iPad.. LOL. I just wanted to see if everything looked OK. No need for this step, but just showing you how I got to where I needed to be.

Step 4: Putting Cabinet Frame Together

IMPORTANT: for the next 2 steps, be sure when putting these pieces together, to make sure to look at my pics. Notice, for the cabinet, I glued/screwed the front and back pieces of the cabinet to the inside of the side wall pieces. You have to put it together this way so the iPad fits.
I did the opposite for the back box in the next step. I glued the side piece boards to the inside of the top and bottom boards.(see pics in back box section/next step) this didn't matter as much, because it's wider than the cabinet anyway. If you're following my measurements, be sure to glue the back box as I did too, so the measurements I give for the back glass fit. Let's move on. :)


After looking and deciding that the measurement looked OK, I tried to glue the four pieces of the cabinet together. It didn't work out. It was hard for me because I'm impatient. Haha. I decided to drill one hole in each corner of the cabinet so I could place one tiny screw in each piece of wood at the corners, to hold it together until I could add wood glue for hold and support.
Be careful where you drill, you do not want to split the wood. I ended up taking the edge of a board(from my side piece of the cabinet) to mark the thickness before I drilled.(see pics)
You could probably skip this step(of adding screws) if you are more patient than I am with wood glue, or if you get somebody to help you hold it until it dries enough to let go. Just make sure it's straight/square. (We don't won't a parallelogram shaped pinball machine :)

I only added the screws so I could get it together quicker. I ended up countersinking the holes with a standard screwdriver by twisting it in the drilled out holes. It made the screws more flush and helped it pull it together, because they were so small at first I couldn't get them to catch.
Once you get the four pieces together, it's a great idea to add support to the corners. Use a piece of wood trim to do this :)
I added plenty of wood glue to the corner support trim pieces so the cabinet would stick to each side of the support. With the glue and the screws, no need to worry about it coming apart later. You could probably even remove the screws after 24-48 hrs, but I just left them. I figure the graphics will hide them later anyway.

Step 5: Putting the Back Box Frame Together

More of the same here. By now you should also have your back box measured and cut. Simply do the same thing as with your cabinet frame. Glue it together, making sure it's straight :)
I started with putting my cardboard backbox on top of my cabinet to see if It looked good. Maybe not quiet to scale, but close enough for me, so I went with it.
Just glue your pieces together. I simply put support corners in as I went this time. No screws needed. Make sure it's straight or it won't look good in the end. My final pic in this step shows the back box frame sitting on the cabinet frame. That's just to check it out. I didn't put them together til much later.
Once you get your framed pieces together, you can sand it to make corners match up if need be. I didn't worry to much about perfection at first. Just depends on you :)

Note-- You can size your back box on down if you want, but then you will have to size your other measurements from here to make your backglass fit your own measurements.

Step 6: Measuring Bottom of Cabinet and Back of Backbox

As you can see in the last picture of step 5, I simply set the cabinet down on the 16x20 piece of hardboard, marked it and cut it.
IMPORTANT- Don't glue the bottom pice of cabinet on yet, because you will need to add the parts from the icade core to the bottom panel on beforehand. In the next steps I'll show you how to break the icade core down and how to install the parts to the bottom panel of the cabinet.

Step 7: Icade Core Breakdown

Turn the icade core over and on the bottom, Take the starhead screws out with a starhead bit if you have one. If not, I used a small flat head screwdriver.
Next peel the foam pads/ feet from the corners off, and take those screws out as well. They are Phillips head and easier to remove.
Finally turn it back over and take the joystick apart. Just unscrew the ball, remove those screws, and you are seconds away from taking this baby apart!
Be sure and save your screws from the joystick, as I believe if my memeory serves me, we will need those later.
Once you have it pulled apart, you will need to take the screws out of the "controller circuit board" (that's what im calling it)
All we need here are the parts. You can label your buttons with a pencil at this point if you want. Easily done by hooking the icade via Bluetooth to the iPad. Fire up the pinball app and press each button to see what they do. I even went as far as firing up high speed 2 table because I wanted to use the gear shift buttons in my build. That's why you will see later that I have 3 buttons on each side. I have flippers,nudge, and shift buttons. If you don't plan on playing high speed 2 you will only need 2 buttons on each side. After all the labeling, Unhook all the micronswitches from each button. If you don't know how, just YouTube it :-) it's easy. I'll add a pic in here of a couple of buttons I labeled. In this example I labeled left nudge and up shift.(again shift is only for high speed 2 table)
The next part gets ugly. You will have to take a saw and cut the battery pack away from the bottom of the icade. Careful not to rip any wires and not to cut yourself.
Once I cut it away, I had to improvise to cut away the rest of the access plastic using a pair of Garden shears/cutters. Some tough cutting, but all I had.
You should now have all your parts free'd up. The last pic shows them laying freely on the (already painted) bottom piece of the cabinet.

Step 8: Cut Holes for Buttons/icade Parts

For these steps you should know, I painted to early. Not sure what I was thinking.
Side trim iPad support--
If you decided not to cut your button holes in the beginning be sure and do the trim first here so the nuts on your buttons will easily screw on without hitting the side trim support that hold the iPad.
Soooo...Before you even cut your holes grab some of that small 90° Wood trim, and glue it to the inside walls of your cabinet. Again the trim is needed to support your iPad. To place it in I just held it inside against the side walls of the cab, with the same exact angle of the top of the walls, gluing it flush of the top of the side walls. As far as placement from front to back, I knew I wanted to add a lock bar so I left about a half inch space near the front of the machine on each side and glued the trim in.

Buttons-
Go ahead and use your hole saw to cut your button holes. I just eyeballed them. You can measure and make it perfect if you want. If I were smart, I would have cut the holes, using the methods I spoke of earlier, before I glued it all together. Keep in mind to leave room for all of your buttons and joystick to go through without hitting each other. In my pics you'll see I have 3 holes on each side, on hole in front for a launch ball in some games, and a small hole for the joystick to launch ball in older tables without auto launch.

Joystick--
to make sure the joystick fits, install the flipper/nudge buttons on the right side and then hold your joystick box to the front of the machine to guesstimate where you will need to drill the hole for it. Note(to drill the hole for the joystick, I cut out and used the piece of plastic the stick originally went through as a template so the screws would line up to attach it to the cabinet later.
After you drill the hole simply push the chrome joystick piece through, from the inside of the cabinet out to be sure the joystick box clears the flipper buttons. I had to go back and re-drill the hole a few times to give the joystick clearance to click up and down. In other words the hole that the stick goes through will end up a little long-gated just so it can click up and down to be able to launch the ball. You have room for error here, because you can put the plastic bezel over top of the hole once your done just as it was on the original icade. Before the bezel goes on, again use the template to drill your holes for the screws that will connect the joystick base to the cabinet. Be careful not to drill to big a hole for the screws because they are all that will hold the controller to the cabinet.
You may want to hook up the wires too, to be absolutely sure it all clears. Do the same for the left side, so that the buttons over there don't hit the left ball launch button. You can probably just put the buttons through the holes to see if they will hit, and eyeball if you have room to hook your wires up. It does get cramped. I put the 2 screws in to hold the controller at this point but had to take it back off after the check for painting purposes.
My pics won't show this whole process to well since I just thought of some of it :-/
Use your best judgement and take your time.
All you are trying to do here is get the holes all cut before painting and making sure you have room for everything. I added another few late pics of finished machine to show bezel and the button/joystick clearance.

Battery holder--
Another step that isn't shown in pics, (because I forgot to take one, as this was prob the most frustrating part for me through the build) is the part where I screwed the battery holder down and marked it on the board. You'll have to cut a hole similar to the battery holder but smaller, so you can replace the batteries when they die. This part wasn't easy. I traced an outline of the battery holder once I screwed it down, and then measured how far the actual battery cover was from the edges of the battery holder, so I could cut a square to be able to replace the batteries from the bottom. I did include a pic of final result from the bottom of the machine to show what I was going for. Just need a hole to get to the batteries. That's all. Doesn't matter what it looks like, it's on the bottom. Good luck. Again sorry I can't explain this part in words so easy. :-(
Just start small with your cut. You don't want the battery holder falling through, but you also want to be able to pull the battery cover off easily.

Once you got everything looking good and make sure it all fits, you will have to remove the parts and paint your cabinet. After you paint you can glue the controller bezel down to the front of your cabinet to hide drill imperfections around your joystick.
Probably another reason I painted first. I didn't want to remove everything. Haha.

Step 9: Paint

No explanation needed here. Just use the paint of your preference and go to town. Allow to dry!
Don't forget to paint the bottom piece to the cabinet that the icade parts go on, and the piece that goes on the back of the back box.

Step 10: Backglass

I added back glass to give it the full effect!
I added a fake speaker panel by just using some scrap wood I had.

Speaker panel-
I measured the inside of the backbox across and just cut a piece of scrap wood to the same length. Make it as high as you prefer. I just made it to the height I wanted. Keep it to scale. I then used a small paddle bit to make fake speaker holes. Probably could have went bigger but all I had. I cut another piece of wood from scrap and glued it to the top of the first piece at a 90° angle so I could add a pice of that aluminum extrusion to the top to hold the back plexi backglass. Cut the aluminum with a metal jigsaw blade or whatever method you choose. I glued it all together including the aluminum with the same wood glue I used through the whole project believe it or not. It held good. Make sure you glue the aluminum in the right position, where the opening for the plexiglass to slide into is in front.(see pics)
After you install the piece you can paint it too. Just glue it in and paint.

Glass part---
Just measure the inside of your back box and mark the plexiglass with the same measurements. Measure From side to side for width, Then top of back box to bottom of aluminum trim for the height. To cut it I clamped a straight edge piece of wood down on top of the glass, securing it to TV dinner tray(I didn't have a saw horse handy)
From there I just scored it with an exacto knife over and over. Careful not to slip or you will cut yourself or worse, ruin your backglass! Lol.
After you get it cut, it may be a tight fit, but I wedge mine by putting the bottom into the aluminum first and then lightly forcing the top in. this way it holds without any need of gluing or what have you.
I didn't list my measurements here because it could be different for you. Just cut long and trim/sand as needed.
Once you have the back glass looking good you can glue on the back piece we traced in step 6 to the backbox.
I cut a small hole in the back of my back box so I could push the glass out when I needed. You will only need to push it out if you want to add lighting
( truth be told I don't use the lights I put in it)

Step 11: Add Bottom of Cabinet

Grab the bottom of the cabinet and attach the Icade parts. I actually set the frame of the cabinet on top of the bottom piece, and then set my parts inside to make sure I had plenty of room for my buttons. Once everything looks good you can remove the frame so that you have plenty a room to work,and screw down the parts.
Once I got the parts secured how I wanted them, I went ahead and glued the bottom to the frame of the Cabinet.
WARNING:
It will be hard but not impossible to attach the back box to the cabinet if you glue the bottom piece to the frame at this point, but that's what I did.
I honestly didn't know how I was going to attach the back box to the cabinet until the very last step. I simply used an L bracket. I put one screw in the back of the cabinet and one screw through the bottom of the back box. AGAIN, , that's the last thing I did, because in the next step you want to get everything lined up before attaching the backbox.

Step 12: Line Up Backbox to IPad to Lock Bar

All I can tell you for this part (since it was all custom fitting from here) is I sat the back box on top of the cabinet and I looked at it from all angles making sure it was straight. Once you get it where you want it, you can attach it to the cabinet with an L bracket or whatever method you prefer. I think it was the very last thing I did, but it is up to you from here. It may make it easier to get the rest of your measurements if you secure the backbox now. Just screw an L bracket into the bottom in the middle of the back box, and then set it where you want it and screw the bracket to the middle of the back of the cabinet.
After you decide, and have the backbox back in place where it's gonna be, set the iPad inside and push it close to the back box. Then measure across the front of cabinet to get the length of the lock bar. Next I measured from the bottom of my iPad to the end of the front of the cabinet. That's how I got my lock bar width. I marked the measurements down and cut a lock bar shape. I honestly cannot remember where I got the pieces for the sides and back of the lock bar. It was just some scrap wood I had from a previous project or something. Just glue The wood together and shape and sand curves in it If you want to do so. I thought it was a nice touch. It took a little work to sand the little curves in but I liked the look of it. Let it dry for a while because once you spray paint it the glue may not hold. I know after I painted mine it started to fall apart so I re-glued it and let it sit for like an hour before I attempted to paint it again.
Once I got a pretty good lock bar shape,I set it on the cabinet and then got some more of the 90° trim and cut it from the length of the back box to the lock bar to make side rails. You can see in one of the pictures how I just laid the trim down and marked it at the lock bar. Paint those, and glue them on. You do not need to glue the lock bar. You can if you want to, but I ended up going back and gluing another piece of wood on the bottom side of my lockbar to act as a sort of clip to hold it in place so I can remove it for giggles. I simply held the piece of wood to the bottom of the lock bar and up against the inside of the cabinet to get the space needed. I added very little glue so it wouldn't move as I got the measurement and then removed it so I could add more glue for support. Paint it and your done with the lockbar. If you chose to wait, you can now install an L bracket to secure the back box in the same method I mentioned above.
Sorry 2 of the pics uploaded upside down and I can't delete them. It's the two pictures showing inside of the cabinet view looking at the lock bar.

Step 13: Translite and Custom Buttons

Print--
You will notice in my pictures that I printed out some artwork on some special computer printer paper. I'm not sure what to call it. I know if you hold it up to the light you can see right through it. It's just laying behind my back glass. I actually printed two and laid them on top of each other because the paper was too thin once I added light behind it. The printed paper rests between the plexiglass and some sticky back foam rubber I stuck on the inside of the backbox just far enough back where I could push the glass back and cause the paper to wedge itself between the glass and foam.
Lighting--
I just ordered a roll of LEDs off of eBay that came with a power cord And taped them to the back of my backbox, drilled a hole in the bottom of the back box for the lights to come out(because they hx to plug in)and a hole in the back of my cabinet for the cord to come out. I wouldn't waste my time with lights because it's not really needed.
Buttons--
I also added an actual replacement button from attack from Mars that I ordered off the Marcos site or maybe it was pinball life. My colored buttons I just ordered off of the web too. Think they came from paradise arcade shop with the standard micro switches. I think it's a good idea to replace the microswitches from the icade core but not neccessary. I felt it helped with a small delay/lag in the button timing. Almost forgot I also added little felt pieces that you buy to put on the bottom of furniture to stick on all four corners for feet. I doubled up on each corner using a total of 8.
I wish whoever builds their pinball machine the best of luck and I hope my instructions helped a little bit. Hopefully it at least inspired you or gave you ideas about parts that you may be stuck on in your building. Thank you for looking.

Step 14: Questions

If you have questions, im not sure how instructables works yet, but hopefully you can message me!
Thanks again and happy pinballin'
Here's a link to a video. I wasn't sure how to put it up on the instructable page.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wIubnfIMDtQ

Comments

author
Swansong (author)2017-08-09

That looks fun! My husband would love this, he loves pinball :)

author
OogieMC (author)Swansong2017-08-09

It's pretty fun :-)
Hope it helps him to build one.

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Bio: Just a guy who loves hanging with my family. When I get time and motivation I like to create things. :-)
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