Picture of Mini Futuristic Skee Ball (Phase 1)
Google Sketch-up Concept - Imgur.jpg
Google Sketch-up side view - Imgur.jpg
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
19" monitor
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)
Wood glue
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) 

Tools Needed:
Circular Saw/Table Saw (Optional)
Philips Screw Driver
Drill Press (optional)
Soldering Iron 
Heat shrink tubing
Wire Stripper/Cutter
3" hole saw
Rivet Gun
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. 

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phase 2?

nickels (author)  the_PROCRASTINATOR5 months ago

Writing it up now, but I'd hate to publish it before the games are done. They are close enough to get the new instructable out there. Will probably be published in a day or two, just need to finish writing it up and take the last few photos for it.


YES! I am about to start a virtual pinball and Mame machine. I would like to do this update before starting a new project. THANK YOU for all the WORK!

nickels (author)  the_PROCRASTINATOR5 months ago

Good thing I double checked my work. The wiring diagram and descriptions are all wrong in my Phase 2 write-up. I probably should have written it up as I did it, not off the top of my head 6 months later! At least I figured it out before publishing it. I also have a MAME machine sitting gutted in the garage and everything ready to go in the basement. Too many projects, too little time.

nickels (author) 5 months ago

This game is about 50% finished, but it is going much faster than coding and designing TimeBomb. Skricket uses the rules from the dart game, but there are no double or triple scores. Each player gets three rolls per round (no time limit), and you try to close out each target number. Once you have a number closed you can score that amount each time you hit that number until your opponent closes it as well. The game ends when you close out all of the numbers and score higher than your opponent, or you both close them all out. A tie is possible. Two player game.

nickels (author) 7 months ago

Quick update - I took photos of the LED lights and wiring. I am about to write up the next instructable (Phase 2) finally. The game "TimeBomb" is coming along nicely. I have it working up to level 6 out of 20. I could use some beta testers soon if anyone wants to help me bug hunt the early levels before I officially release it. I will probably publish the instructable before the game is ready, just so that people building this can add the LEDs without having to un-assemble the play area. I attached some photos showing the scoring holes lit all red, all blue, and mixed. Can't wait to add in some animated lighting effects to the other games!


I want to be a beta tester!

nickels (author)  the_PROCRASTINATOR7 months ago

I just sent you a friend request on FB. Easier and faster to communicate there. Not stalking you, it was linked to your profile. I am already testing the early stages myself and will be looking for help with this soon. So, the friend request you just got from some weirdo named John is me. :)

Cool! Thanks again.

How did you place your LED's so that the ball would not hit them?

nickels (author)  the_PROCRASTINATOR7 months ago

You are jumping ahead but here is a photo that helps show how I did it: hot glue to hold the LEDs in place. Simple, probably a million different ways to do it so feel free to experiment. Also, here is where the lights connect to the LED Wiz:
1 - 10 Red
2 - 10 Blue
3 - 20 Red
4 - 20 Blue
5 - 30 Red
6 - 30 Blue
7 - 40 Red
8 - 40 Blue
9 - 50 Red
10 - 50 Blue
11 - 100 Left Red
12 - 100 Left Blue
13 - 100 Right Red
14 - 100 Right Blue
15 - Buzzer
16 - Relay for Siren


Cool, you are adding a buzzer too! Great project!

Thanks you the info. I am replacing all the plumbing in my house right now, so I don't think I will jump too far ahead...

Good morning Nickels, I finally put the finishing touches on the machine (Plexiglass Ball net frame, Back-sign,side graphics, sanded and sealed balls). Nice to know I will be taking apart again soon :) I loaded the new game and was wondering if anyone else has had their siren light get stuck on? It has happened a few times. Most the time starting a new game resets it, but today I had to reboot the computer. Just wondering if it is my HW. Here is a couple more new pics.

nickels (author)  the_PROCRASTINATOR7 months ago

Well yours certainly looks fantastic! Incredible job. The bug with the siren is on me I'm sure. I am playing in the code to make the LEDs work and I guess I am adding more problems. I'll comb the code to see what I messed up. If you notice any pattern or figure out when the light gets stuck let me know - any help troubleshooting is appreciated. The next game "Time bomb" is well under way now, been coding the crap out of it the last couple of days. It is coming along nicely. I'll post if I figure out the siren issue and upload the latest files when they are fixed. D'oh!

for me the light gets stuck on if someone resets the game while the light is on then it will stay on till the next game is over.

nickels (author)  ElizabethB17 months ago

OK I added a ton of extra code to turn off the siren:


The sire will go off when you go to select a new game, and also at the start of the game. This should keep the siren from getting stuck. Please let me know if you spot any other bugs. Thanks!

ElizabethB18 months ago

we are excited for the new game! So we can be ready should we buy stuff like LEDs ? Does the new game even use the lights?

New Years eve will be at our house this year and we are thinking of a skeeball tournament ( to keep from riots breaking out ) thank you for doing the programming it has made the Skeeball game the most popular in our game room!

nickels (author)  ElizabethB18 months ago

The LEDs will always be "decoration", meaning they are used for show and not really essential for any of the games. They will light at various times, and they will be used, but the games will essentially work fine without them. If you do buy LEDs I use 14 of them, 7 red and 7 blue - one color for each scoring hole. Also, please grab the latest software as I just updated Skee Wars last night (bugs removed, minor features added):


I am working on the second part of the instructable and also on the next game, "Time Bomb" as we speak. I have no time frame, but I am doing my best to get them finished ASAP. Good luck and hope your New Year's kicks butt!

Got in done and put into place on Christmas Eve! Wife loves it. Can't thank you enough for putting together this GREAT instructable. Made me look like a champ!

nickels (author)  the_PROCRASTINATOR8 months ago
Wow, that looks fantastic! Really sweet. Hey, I just updated Skee Wars cause I found a few bugs with the timer and multiple players. So, grab this I just uploaded it a minute ago:

The timer flashes when it gets down to five seconds now as well. Happy holidays and enjoy! Damn that is awesome.
the_PROCRASTINATOR made it!8 months ago

This the point I can finally say, "I made it!"


Yoda Ball Kicks @$$! Great game! Thanks for building the Skee Wars game!

nickels (author)  the_PROCRASTINATOR8 months ago
Skee Wars took me longer to program than it took me to build the machine in the first place! I know it is taking a while, but there is another really good one coming "soon"ish and I have more plans to keep making games for the foreseeable future. Thanks for posting the video! Your ramp looks like it works fantastic. Makes me hate mine even more. hahaha

I am almost finished, but I need your help on the input. The up,
select, and down are not working. On your write up, you call out 1 thru 11
(in) and 16 (out), but your diagram calls out 17 thru 27 (in). Which is correct?

nickels (author)  the_PROCRASTINATOR8 months ago

OK, I think I mostly figured this out thanks to the attached photo, the sketch is correct but the wording is not. Slots 1-16 are the outputs for controlling lights. The only one you use at the moment is slot 16 for the relay that controls the siren light. The other output slots 1-14 are for the LED lights, and I have a vibration device using slot 15. Above the output slots on the top of the LEDWiz are the input slots numbered 17-32. So, the scoring switches use slots 17-23, the up button should be 24, select 25, and down is slot 26. The rest of the input slots 27-32 are empty. Do your scoring switches work? Thanks for pointing this out and I will update the instructable with the correct directions for wiring the LEDWiz. Looks like your table is in the home stretch - lookin good! Good luck and feel free to ask any more questions.


Thanks for the help. I probe the terminals with a ground to see what function would trigger. Up = 17, Select = 18, and Dwn = 19. My scoring switches are not connected yet.

Here is the Skee Ball machine I am building for my Wife. It is about 80 percent complete... Only a few more days to go before Christmas... Special thanks to Nickels for posting his plans on Instructables. Sorry my video quality is low. I shot it with my cheap cell phone.


nickels (author)  the_PROCRASTINATOR8 months ago

You have them connected to the wrong slots. Move them up as a group to 24, 25, and 26 slots. The first slot 17 is for the 100 scoring switch and so on - it is shown in the top sketch on step 5. I bet if you have a game running and hit the up arrow it will score you 100. Great video - love the bg music!

OK. Tonight was the full function test. Wife loves it. She beat me almost every game. She cheated by distracting me during my turn... Plus she has hundreds of games of experience over me. I got some solid 2.25 plastic balls that felt better than the pine 2.5 balls, but the are so heavy that they cause false scoring trigger due to the extra impact to the backboard (Jarring switches). I want to find hardwood 2.5 balls. If anyone knows a link, please post it. I can't thank Nickels enough for the instructable. Big thanks from VillageHaunt.com

nickels (author)  the_PROCRASTINATOR8 months ago
Awesome! You can check ebay they have wooden balls at times. Here is where you can get them in any size:

us0769271 year ago

Hi Nickles...I finally put together a copy of your skee-ball game. I will now pass it along to the guy who does the electronics to finish it off. I had the grandkids here this week & they loved it...even without auto scoring. Thanks for your plans & ideas. We added a gate to control the ball return so it holds 9 balls and changed to 2 1/2" balls. Bill

Finished 1.JPG

I'm trying to build a gate on my skeeball machine. Any tips/hints/ideas regarding how you built the gate to hold the balls back? Thanks in advane for your help!

Here is a photo of the gate. Hope it helps. Also used 2 1/4" ball instead of 2 1/2".

Let me know if there is anything else I can help with.



Thanks for the photos, this looks like it would work for me! How do you control the motor? I looked online and it looks like you can hook it up to an arduino. Is this how you did it, or does the arm just rotate clockwise when power is applied (and the gate opens)?

Millwajc, you can hack a servo tester to open and close the door by pushing a button. The servo tester can be bought off ebay for as low as 3 bucks!

nickels (author)  us0769271 year ago

Very sweet - love the customization!!! Wow, that looks great. My only concern is that there is only one button on the front. Do you have up and down buttons somewhere near the front? What are you using in place of cork, is that carpet? Looks cool what ever it is! Also, what did you use for those side bumpers - I need to add them as well? Make sure you get the latest game files that I posted in another thread here. Excellent.

Nickels, Big thanks again for all the help. We have all our electronics now. I formed the ramp out out stainless steel and it has sweet transition.

nickels (author)  the_PROCRASTINATOR9 months ago

Looks awesome! The ramp is my biggest grip about mine, the transition is too steep and sometimes the ball bounces enough before it gets to the ramp that it acts like it is hitting a wall. What does the green button do? Putting it on wheels should make the height pretty good for an adult player. I'd love to see how you made the ramp, that is really cool.

The green button will operate the servo to drop 9 balls at the start. It
was one of those extra arcade details I wanted. The alley starting
height is 1 inch higher than the sketch-up model. The wheels are only
temporary, but we did add adjustable feet, so we should be able to gain
an inch or two. The ramp is made out of sheet metal and I am using 2.5"
balls. I scaled out my ramp patten. Can't wait to get it all done.

nickels (author)  the_PROCRASTINATOR8 months ago

You certainly upgraded the guts of the return area! Very cool. I just want you to know some future games require balls to come fast and furious, so I hope you have a way to keep the return open. The one I am working on now uses more than 9 balls in a row during game play and you will certainly not want to push a button because there is a time limit to complete each level. Did you find the base cove plastic for the rings? It is called Flexco TP Rubber Wall Base 4" tall 1/8 gauge with no adhesive. I am back working hard on coding the next game thanks to all of these recent discussion about it.

MORE GAMES! Alright! The servo will have the option to hold open. My ball area is designed to slow the return, so I hope it still works with the super fast future games. If not, I will buy 10 more balls... HA! HA! HA! I found wall base on Craigslist for only 3 bucks a box, but it is grey... I think I will buy it anyway. If it does not work out, maybe I can trade you a steel ramp for your extra Wall Base. Coding is cool. Do you think you will do an instructable on the Flash creation??? That would be sweet!

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