Instructables

Mini Futuristic Skee Ball (Phase 1)

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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
Speakers
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:
Jigsaw
Circular Saw/Table Saw (Optional)
Philips Screw Driver
Drill
Drill Press (optional)
Soldering Iron 
Heat shrink tubing
Wire Stripper/Cutter
3" hole saw
Rivet Gun
Staple Gun (optional)
Dremmel tool (optional)
Sander
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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millwajc22 days ago

Nickles.... Could you provide instructions as to how I can set up the keywiz to recognize/register a "0" or "miss"? From reading your instructions above it doesn't seem like it was incorparted into the keywiz but is incorporated into the flash game.

Thanks in advance for your help! I'll be sure to post pictures of the final project!

nickels (author)  millwajc16 days ago

http://www.johnkalnin.com/skee/Profile1.cfg

Save that file and replace the one you downloaded in the "JoyToKey_en" folder. That adds "W" to button 11. Let me know if it works. Thanks!

Worked like a charm! Thanks! I can't wait to share pictures of my skeeball machine with you!

nickels (author)  millwajc16 days ago

D'oh! I do not use the gutter or miss on my table which is why forgot to map it to the keywiz, but yup, a miss is programmed into both the original Skee Ball game and also Skee Wars (and all future games). I need go back into the JoyToKey software and figure this out. I'll attach a new config script as soon as I get it working. Sorry about that!

Ol_Rusty3 months ago

This is perfect!! I have been trying to figure out how to repair an old Sportcraft skee ball game and this will work just right plus I have all the electronics already there for me along with the ramp!!

us0769274 months 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
millwajc us0769274 months ago

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!

us076927 millwajc4 months ago

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.

Bill

IMG_0332.JPGIMG_0334.JPG
millwajc us0769274 months ago

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)?

nickels (author)  us0769274 months 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 (author) 5 months ago

Check it out:

http://johnkalnin.com/skee/games/skeewars.html

nickels (author) 6 months ago

Game select screen finally working. Also attached is a screenshot of Skee Wars in action with four people playing (one-four players) - Round one "Tatooine" with a x100 multiplier. It is player 2's turn, shown by their player number being active. Each round has its own background and there are sound effects for each hole in the game. I am thrilled that I finally have another playable game. Two more games are in the works with many more planned for future release. The next game on deck is Time Bomb. I am sure that will be a hit, followed by Wild West.

Game-select.jpgSkeeWars.jpg
jimenezeg nickels5 months ago

Nickels, this is awesome! Is the next game ready for download?

nickels (author)  jimenezeg5 months ago

Yes, and it makes this machine a zillion times more fun.

http://johnkalnin.com/skee/games/instructableUpdat...

About 15 megs because I included a flash player and some of the music is long. There is also a game select screen now. More games coming soon.

nickels (author) 6 months ago
Renamed and changed the theme for Super Skee - It is now called Skee Wars. Just need to design the main game screen and add sound effects. The core code is done and the game works fine. Now that I have a theme the rest should fall into place pretty quickly. Can't wait to add this to my machine...
SkeeWars.jpg
millwajc nickels6 months ago
Ohhhhh man, I am excited to see this!!!
jimenezeg7 months ago
Nickels, another update. The build is 98% complete and we just finished the installation of the scoring switches. After extensive testing this morning, my son says the machine rocks! Still gotta install the front panel buttons and clean up the wiring. Thanks again for the inspiration and we look forward to the next phase with the LEDs and games.
14, 11:13 AM.jpg
nickels (author)  jimenezeg7 months ago
Looks fantastic! One question, are you putting on the front panel buttons: up, down, and select? Those three buttons are used for controlling all the menus, changing the volume, and picking games. I have been working on the new games non-stop. I will get them to you before the next instructable is done. I'll message you when I have them ready to go... still have weeks to go, maybe a month. Creating, designing, and programming these games is more difficult than it looks.
jimenezeg7 months ago
Thanks for the inspiration. Next is the painting and Phase 2: the electronics! :-)
13, 7:21 PM.jpg
nickels (author)  jimenezeg7 months ago
!!!OH MY GOD - SWEET!!!
It appears that my skeeball table is no longer one-of-a-kind :(
Hopefully the painting and electronics go smoothly for you. Let me know if you have any questions, as I had to consult many people to get that part working correctly. How does your table play? I'd love to redo my ramp but it is what it is, and works well enough. So glad to see that someone used this instructable, nice work! Keep us updated with more photos as this progresses! Awesome, this made my day.
jimenezeg nickels7 months ago
The table plays very well. I agree with you on the ramp. There is one section that if the ball is not rolled properly it will serve more as a wall than a ramp. There is also an issue with balls getting stuck between the 50 pt well and the back wall. However, my son thoroughly enjoys playing the machine and can't wait to get into the electronics phase!
nickels (author) 8 months ago
Good news update!

I am wrapping up a few more games for this table, and almost ready to add the LED lighting. These games take forever to program from scratch, so it is still a while away from being fully finished. "Super Skee" or "Mega Skee" (name TBD) is almost done. It is a 1-4 player game. Each round is three throws, and one mega ball at the end of the third round. For each throw your score is multiplied by 100 for the first round, 250 for second round, 500 for the third round, and x1000 for the megaball.

After that will be a "Wild West" game where you aim at holes to take out the bad guys, "Time Bomb" where you need to hit specific number combinations to defuse a bomb (ex: 100 followed by 30), and "wack a hole" where you only get points for hitting the lit up hole containing the mole. I have big plans for more games, but three kids and a full time job are making it take longer than I hoped.

Coming in 2014 - Mini Futuristic Skee Ball (Phase 2) !!!
millwajc nickels7 months ago
That's good to hear! Can't wait to see it!

BTW how is the cork holding up?
nickels (author)  millwajc7 months ago
The cork is fine for now. I have a ton left over so I can put on another layer if it ever comes to that.

If I could do this again I'd adjust the ramp. The angle should be more shallow where the curve is more gradual. If the ball has any bounce on mine it reacts like the ramp is a wall instead of a ramp. You get some bad bounces on it. :(
jmillward10 months ago
I'm planning out my build now, I wanted to ask and see what you did for the playing/rolling surface. Is that cork you laid by chance? Also, what did you use for the balls? Thanks in advance for your help!
nickels (author)  jmillward10 months ago
The surface is a 1/8" cork sheet. If I did this again I'd probably go 1/4" as on my table the balls bounce a little if thrown poorly, and they hit the ramp while bouncing which makes them fly off of it weird. I got a 18"x25' roll of it on Ebay for around $50. The balls were purchased from craftparts or a similar store online. I searched for 2 1/4" wood balls and ordered nine of the cheapest ones that I could find. Good luck with your build. My update with all new games will happen eventually. No time to code right now.
nickels (author)  nickels8 months ago
I just checked as I want to try out smaller balls. I ordered my original ones from woodcrafter.com - they were 2.5" balls. I think 2-2.25" may work a little better though, we'll see.
us076927 nickels8 months ago
I just purchased the PDF from Instructables. Are there any drawings with all the dimensions for this project??? I can't wait to get started.
Any reason you went to smaller balls??
Thanks
Bill
nickels (author)  us0769278 months ago
The file you want was mentioned in step 6:
http://johnkalnin.com/skee/SkeeballFileAtachments.zip

That zip contains a Google Sketch-up model of the table. Download Google Sketch-up free software and open the file. You just have to learn to rotate the model around, remove some pieces, and use the measuring tape to see all the cuts and part placement. It is simple to learn and a very useful tool for building projects virtually before doing it in real life.

The balls are smaller because this table is 80% scale of a real table. Therefor the balls are 80% scale of a normal sized ball. A regular ball will not fit into the holes.

Feel free to ask more questions along the way. Good luck with your build!
jmillward11 months ago
Wow! Nice job! Where did you find the original plans from? I saw that your skeeball was sized at 80%. I'm thinking about building my own skeeball but at 100%. Anything helps thanks!
nickels (author)  jmillward11 months ago
Thanks! Actually I found the measurements from a guy named Unclet on another forum. Here are the original dimensions I used for my table:
http://unclet.arcadecontrols.com/SkeeBall/SkeeballPics1.html

Here are the dimensions broken down by area: http://unclet.arcadecontrols.com/SkeeBall/pics1/023-SkeeBall.jpg http://unclet.arcadecontrols.com/SkeeBall/pics1/024-SkeeBall.jpg http://unclet.arcadecontrols.com/SkeeBall/pics1/025-SkeeBall.jpg

This thread is a must-read for you. It has more files you'll need like the ramp template.
http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php/topic,91011.0.html
ChrGon12 months ago
So how big is the whole thing when you finished?
nickels (author)  ChrGon12 months ago
The front area is 19" wide, the back is 23" wide. It is 126" long (front part 8', back part 30"). It is about 5'6" tall. All of the specs are in the attached files at the end. The Google SketchUp model is pretty accurate for all of the measurements.
MrRedBeard1 year ago
My wife and I love skee ball! So this would be awesome to have. I checked out the youtube video and I have to say the sounds are awesome.
nickels (author)  MrRedBeard1 year ago
Thanks! I did that for my kids, as they are huge SMB fans. If anyone wants to hear them just check out the flash software here: http://johnkalnin.com/skee/SkeeBallController-V1_7_siren.swf and use the keys d,r,f,a,s, and q. When the game ends the 5 key starts a new game.
seamster1 year ago
Very nice! Everything looks great. Thanks for mentioning and linking to my version.

What kind of balls are you using, and where did you get them? I actually made another version that was slightly bigger than the one in my instructable, and had a really hard time finding good balls to use. I ended up using women's size (11-inch circ.) softballs, with the leather covers removed. They worked, although they were still a little too big for my liking.

Love all the nice features on yours. I ended up selling both of mine, so maybe it's time to make another one.
nickels (author)  seamster1 year ago
Thanks! Your instructable was the first thing I read that convinced me to try building my own. Loved your color use and woodworking skills.

Here is where I purchased the balls used on my table:
http://www.craftparts.com/balls-split-ball-wooden-wood-balls-c-277_279.html
These were the best ones I could find after a long search. Ebay had some options but I wanted 9 balls that were 2.5" diameter. This site has every size and then some, and the prices are great. It says the type of wood varies. The ones that I ordered are hard, smooth, perfectly round, and work really well. My table is 80% of a real table, so the ball's scale works pretty well (should be 2.4" but close enough). Only negative is they are unfinished and I don't really know how to oil or stain a ball shape.

I literally studied your instructable before designing my table. Thanks for putting it up and inspiring me to make one for my kids!
Thank you for the compliments!

Regarding finishing your balls, there are lots of things that would work. If it were me, I'd use a hand-rub polyurethane or shellac and just do one half of each ball at a time. You'd want to set them on a soda cap or egg carton or something so they don't roll away while they dry. Just my two cents on the matter.

You did well, your kids should be proud of their handy father. Glad I could inspire you!