Once upon a time I was looking over projects on this site, and I stumbled upon this http://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Skee-Ball-Game/. That is an inspirational read, but it wasn't quite what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted mine to be slightly larger in size, have electronic scoring, and to basically take ideas I've found across the web to make my skee ball machine one-of-a-kind and over-the-top. So, much like the previous skee ball instructable, I am not going to be able walk through each step with meticulous detail. It would be 100 pages long and nobody would ever build it.
OK you're thinking, what is this instructable going to do for me? Let me tell you! I will give you everything you need to accomplish this project even if you've only done minor woodworking in the past. I am also going to tell you all of the materials used, which is a treasure hunt of it's own. We will go over some of the more complicated steps in detail such as the scoring rings and wiring the electronics. I will give you all the plans I used to build it, all of the parts, and finally I will also give you all of the software needed to make the game work on your PC. When you are finished you will have a fully functional electronic skee ball machine which uses a Flash interface, automatically keeps score, has sound effects, and a siren light turns on for a few seconds at the end of each game.
Let me warn you from the start: this is not easy, cheap, or something you can do in one weekend. It takes endless hours of hard work to make this project. Each step has its challenges, but I'm here to help you through it. To make it easier on my wallet I purchased materials every couple of weeks as needed instead of all at once.
Finally, what I want is to give you the tools and ideas to make your own table. I encourage you to experiment and to make your own small changes and adjustments along the way.
Main Materials list (*not a full list):
3 sheets 1/2" plywood 4'x8' (MDF is also an option)
50' Rubber Cove Base (found at Lowes/HD, or online) - this is the material for the rings.
1 roll of Cork 1/8" - 18"x25' (found on ebay. Only need around 10' so you'll have some extra)
wood screws (various sizes)
1 welcome mat 22"x34" - this is really a cheap PVC foam pad - Home Depot
40 rivets 1/2"
40 rivets 1/4"
1x2 wood strips 8 feet long - lost count. Maybe 10 of these
2x2 wood strips 8 feet long - same, I think I used 3 of these
old PC - enough power to run a SWF file without hiccuping
LEDWiz Controller +GP (groovygamegear.com) This is used for scoring, game controls, and future LED lighting.
Red Siren Light (amazon)
1: SPDT relay switch
2: arrow shaped Pushbuttons - your choice of colors
1: rectangular pushbutton
1: round pushbutton for computer off switch
9: 2.5" wooden balls
7: cherry scoring switches (ebay)
20 gauge wire. At least two colors. One should be black. I went through about 40' of wire total.
Felt (optional for sound dampening)
Frost King weather strips (a few small strips)
50 pack Female quick connectors (optional, you can also solder the connections)
40 1" L shaped Corner Braces
8 felt covered leveling screws (optional)
1 6-8' Power strip with at least three slots for powering all game parts.
2" black Vinyl numbers - 100, 100, 50, 40, 30, 20, and 10 (ebay)
Circular Saw/Table Saw (Optional)
Philips Screw Driver
Drill Press (optional)
Heat shrink tubing
3" hole saw
Staple Gun (optional)
Dremmel tool (optional)
Tiny flat-head screwdriver for connecting wires to the LEDWIZ
All said and done this will cost around $5-600 depending on how much of these materials/tools you have laying around. You will have lots of left-over material if rings need to be replaced or if you need some more cork on certain areas.
Let's start with the hard parts, and go from there.
Step 1: The ramp
In my mind, if I could make the ramp the rest would be a piece of cake. Using the attached ramp template, take two pieces of 1/2" plywood scraps and clamp them together. Trace the pattern and cut the pieces using a jigsaw or scroll saw, Take your time, this stage is critical for the game to be playable. Once the shape is cut, sand them to be smooth and even. Next we attach 1x2" cut so that when attached to the inside of the ramp shapes the total width is 18". Make sure the 1x2s are attached so that they on the curve and not sticking out above it. Next we will attach a sheet of plywood over the ramp. There is a technique we will now learn called kerfing. This helps the plywood to bend. Using a table saw I cut groves into the plywood evey 1/8" or so. Just enough space between the cuts that is about the size of the cut itself. I did this for the length of the curved shape across the plywood. Once kerfed soak the plywood sheet in warm water for at least an hour. It should be bendable but still fairly strong. A helper is nice for this part. Starting at the top of the curve attach the plywood with small wood screws. Start to bend the plywood onto the curve and place screws in every few inches. Work slowly making sure not to crack the plywood. Once fully attached allow the plywood to dry for a day, As a precaution I filled in the kerf slots with homemade MDF. I took some sawdust (if you don't have any you will shortly), and mixed it with wood glue. I removed a few slats at a time and spread the wood glue/saw dust mix inside the groves. This adds strength as the ball will be hitting this ramp thousands of times over the course of many years. Filling the kerfs is optional, but strongly recommended. The final step is testing the ramp once dry. Don't worry about exposed screw heads at this point, but try to get them sunk into the plywood - carefully. This ramp will eventually be covered in cork. Consider this project officially under way - this is really one of the hardest parts of the whole machine. Don't worry, more challenges await.
Side note: there are many alternate techniques for making the ramp. Due to my limited tool set this is how I did it. The previous link that I mentioned in the intro has an alternate method. Use which ever method you think is easier. If it works, it works.
UPDATE - I do not like my ramp now that I have played it for a bit. The angle is too steep. The ramp would be better if it were more gradual and longer. If the ball hits it while slightly bouncing it reacts like it is hitting a wall. This should be tweaked from my directions and images. Make the ramp slope longer and more shallow!!!