Dinosaur Pinball




Introduction: Dinosaur Pinball

I decided to make this pinball machine after seeing my grand kids playing "pretend" pinball on the i-phone. Made from complete scraps, bits and pieces that probably would have otherwise ended up as land fill. I hope to add lights and sounds eventually but the overwhelming urge for the grand kids to play a real game of pinnies comes first! I guess this will have to wait. This is my first instructables submission so I hope I can explain it well enough! Any questions please don't hesitate to msg. Thanks to kris82 - Homemade Indiana Jones Pinball Machine for a great instructable and I eagerly await your tut on scoring without electronics ;)

Tools Required:

Mitre saw or mitre box and hand saw/power saw.

Electric drill and drill bits

Philips head bits or philips screw drivers

Electric sander or sanding block/paper

Heavy duty stapler and staples






Wire cutters


Bench vice

Tape measure/ruler

Paint spray cans (blue, green, yellow, red, brown and clear)

Marbles/ball bearings etc (pinballs)

Step 1: The Base

Materials in this step:

(A) 1 - Laminated chipboard 400mm Length x 600mm Width x 20mm Thick (back board)

(B) 1 - Laminated chipboard 900mm Length x 600mm Width x 20mm Thick (base)

(C) 2 - Pine timber planks 65mm x 20mm x 940mm Length (sides)

(D) 1 - Pine timber plank 65mm x 20mm x 600mm Length (front)

(E) 1 - Thin piece of sturdy bendable timber, cardboard etc about 800mm long.

60mm Wood screws

Wood glue

Liquid nails

firstly cut the two sides (B) using either a square and hand saw or preferably a drop saw to 940mm in length. We are allowing 20mm each for the thickness of both front board (D) and back board (A)

Cut the front board (D) to 600mm in length. Do NOT glue the front piece of timber on yet as we need to cut a piece out of the base later. Just screw it in place for now so it can be removed later.

Lay the laminated chipboard base (B) on a flat bench and screw/glue your sides (C) to the side edges of the chipboard base (B) remembering to leave 20mm each end for the front board (D) and back board (A) to screw to. I countersunk and used 5 screws each side spaced evenly with a thin line of wood glue.

Now cut your thin timber, cardboard etc (E) to the height between the chipboard base (B) and the top of your sides (C) and allow enough length to get a nice even curve for the ball to follow when you use the plunger. I fixed my curved timber in with two very small screws at either end and a smear of liquid nails where the timber/cardboard (E) meets the sides (C)

Now its time to decide what your theme might be if other than the dinosaur pinball. This can be anything at all its just my grand kids love dinos :) Reason i say chose your theme now is you may want to do something different with your back board. Your imagination is the limit.

I simply got 4 round plates and traced around them to get the effect you see then cut it out with a jigsaw. A couple of things to remember is to start the cut out shape you desire above the height of the sides so you have something to screw the back board and sides into. (Refer pic 1 above)

When fixing your sides and back board together slightly tilt the backboard on an angle as this will look better when we put the legs on later. Remembering the whole pinball machine must be higher at the back so as the ball rolls toward us. (Refer pic 2 above)

Step 2: The Flippers

You may want to use kris82's method of making flippers at this point. Mine work fine and are powerful enough but seem a little more labor intensive and fiddly to get working. I will still add the instructions for those who want to give it ago.

Materials in this step:

2 - Flippers (template above). Made from small timber blocks about 30mm depth and 100mm long per flipper ( I used Oregon pine)

2 - Bolts 70-80mm Length x 8mm Radius with 2 washes and 3 nuts per flipper

(Use carriage bolts if possible. They will lock into the timber and give a better looking finish)

2 - Small flat brackets ( I used a small piece of angle with two holes either side and flattened it. See pic 4, 5)

2 - Small bolts and two nuts to suit

2 - 220mm pieces of an old broom stick (Yeah not kidding)

2 - 180mm pieces of 32mm electrical conduit

4 - 32mm electrical conduit brackets

2- Large washers

2- Large bottle caps

Small screws

To make flippers similar to the ones I have made print out the template above. You need to find a nice little piece of timber with no flaws such as knots or cracks. Cut the template out using a jigsaw and sand into final shape.Drill two 8mm holes through the flippers as in the template.

Now on the base board measure up 100mm from the bottom of the base board at each corner. Get a straight edge and rule the line across the baseboard. This is where our holes will be drilled for our flippers. Now mark the center of that line across (measuring from inside of the side boards it should be 300mm to center) Sit your flippers on the base board line close to the center and sit the ball you will be using in between the flippers. Leave about a 5mm gap either side of the ball and flippers then trace your flippers and hole onto the base board. (Ref pic 1)

Remove the flippers and carefully drill 9mm holes out of the baseboard. I accidentally over drilled the holes and needed to sleeve the holes as you can see above. Not necessary if done properly. Now get your bolts and carefully tap them into the hole in the flippers. Now add one of the nuts and tighten with one spanner on the bolt head (if not using carriage bolts) and one on the nut. As tight as you can without breaking the flippers. (Ref pic 2, 3)

Lightly tap the bolt through the hole in the base board and from underneath add a washer then another nut and tighten so as the flipper has a little tension but turns quit easily. Add the small flat bracket and the another nut. Tighten the last two nuts against each other that has the bracket in between it. On the hole on the other side of the bracket you can add the small bolt and nuts as above. This is for the elastic band that will tension the flippers. (Ref pic 4)

Cut two pieces of 32mm electrical conduit to 180mm long and attach them to either side with the 32mm brackets and small screws. Cut two lengths of broom stick at 220mm long. This should fit snugly in the 32mm pipe but be loose enough to move freely. You need to screw a large washer to the broomstick inner ends so that the stick doesn't fly out when the elastic band retracts. Just screw your bottle caps to the outer of the broom stick and all there is to do here is apart from a few screws to secure the elastic bands. (Ref pic 4, 5)

Step 3: Plunger

Materials in this step:

1 - 200mm piece of broom stick

1 - 32mm x 20mm piece of electrical conduit

4 - Tap/faucet springs with tapered end cut off (Preferably find 1 spring that fits the broom stick at about 200mm long)

1 - Small tap/faucet spring piece about 20 mm long.

1 - Large washer

1 - End cap (Bottle cap etc)

1 - Piece of timber 45mm x 400mm long

1 - Piece of timber 15mm x 200mm long


Liquid nails

Cut another piece of broom stick at 200mm in length and liquid nails and screw the large washer on one of the ends. This is so when the plunger and spring/s is pulled back the plunger does not come out of the hole in the front board and also to give the spring/s something to push against. now slide your spring/s plastic washers onto the timber rod as in the pictures above.

Drill or jigsaw a 32mm hole in the front board making sure that the plunger sits flush on the baseboard and is set in about 20mm from the sideboard. (See pic 1)

Once you have cut your 32mm pipe add a smear of liquid nails to the hole in the front board and insert the piece of 32mm pipe into the hole of the front board. Sit the blank end of the plunger into the front board hole with the 32mm pipe we just glued in and pull back. Now slide on the little spring. This will stop the end cap slamming against the front board when we use the plunger. Liquid nails and screw your end cap on.

Cut a piece of timber 45 degrees at one end and measure and cut the other end square at about 400mm long. This is our guide for the ball to shoot out of and will stop the plunger moving too much left and right. Liquid nails this into place and screw from the under side of the base board. I added another small piece of timber above the plunger to stop it moving too much up and down as well. We will paper mache the top so no need to fill the top right in.

Step 4: Back to Kinder!

Materials in this step:

Chicken wire

News paper

Flour and water

Plasters finishing compound

Plasterers tape

2 - Pieces of scrap timber (for rear of backboard)

Now the fun begins. Remember paper mache? Hmmm I didn't either. Anyway here is a link on how to make it.

Firstly you will need to find some old chicken wire laying around that can be molded into a mountain, ramp etc. Once you are happy with the shape of your ramp and mountain, mark where entry and exit points will be and cut out the entry hole into the back board and the return hole through the mountain. Make sure your ramp inlet isn't too high on the back board and is a little higher than your mountain outlet otherwise the ball will get stuck. The inlet (Ramp) hole on mine is about 260mm up on the backboard which is challenging to get the ball up but not impossible. The outlet (Mountain) is about 50mm lower. I didn't get a photo of the inside of the mountain but all it is, is an old water pipe from a car running through the mountain and held up off the base board by the chicken wire. Simple.

Once you have your holes jigsawed/drilled out staple your chicken wire in as many places as possible to all surfaces making sure its firm in place. Now you can start the messy task of paper mache. I did 3 coats letting each coat to near dry in between. Many would be happy with this and not go any further, which is fine. I decided to try something different and applied a plasterers top coat finish in about 4 layers using plasterers tape on each coat. In the last picture you can see I created cracks in the side of the mountain. This was achieved by adding a fairly thick coat and blasting it with a hair dryer on a 30 degree day. (see last pic) The result was pretty cool.

The rear of the back board is simply piece of timber running from the ramp to the mountain and blocked off both ends. (ref 2nd pic) I also have a piece that covers the back completely so the ball doesn't fly out if it is hit hard.

Step 5: Multi Ball Cage

Materials in this step:

2 - 75mm screws (Rear)

2 - 50mm screws (front)

4 - small rubber bans (sides)

2 - Medium rubber O rings or thick rubber bands

6 - Pieces of fly screen rubber cut to suit or plastic wall inserts can be used.

2 - Little brackets bent into a T shape

4 - screw caps (glued onto the head of each screw)

1 - Gate made from old laundry peg basket (Could use small square metal wire)

Ok we need to add a few targets to make the game a bit more interesting. The first is a multi ball cage that is simply four screws with two separate pieces of fly wire rubber cut to size and screwed on each screw. The two larger screws at the back have a little bracket in between which holds the plastic gate up of the baseboard. I manufactured the brackets from two little brass angles. These can be made from any light metal such as tin etc. On each side add your small rubber bands as the the side walls.

The gate was made from an old laundry peg basket cut to size with the top and middle prongs left longer. This is so the gate can only open when a ball hits the twisted rubber O rings which deflects the multi ball out the gate and will not let any balls back in. I also had to add a weight on the bottom of the gate so it closes once the ball is hit out of the cage. Basic but effective. The middle prongs go into the little brackets we made earlier. Glue screw caps on head of each screw.

Step 6: Wire Ramp

Materials in this step:

1 - 75mm screws (Rear)

2 - 50mm screws (front)

1 - 40mm x 40mm x 100mm L block of pine (for deflector)

1 - Single wire ramp. Shaped about 240mm long (I made mine out of a brass tea towel rack)

1 - Double wire ramp. Straight about 300mm long (I made mine out of a brass tea towel rack)

1 - 100mm thin piece of timber or cardboard (for bottom of deflector)

2 - Little brackets bent into a L shape (for holding up bottom of deflector)

2 - Little brackets bent into a U shape (for gate hinges)

1 - Piece of fencing wire (bend into rounded V shape)

5 - Pieces of fly screen rubber cut to suit or plastic wall inserts can be used

2 - small rubber bands (sides)

1 - Medium L bracket (for deflector to sit on)

4 - Tiny screws (either side of top of ramp - to stop ball falling of edge of the deflector and gate hinge)

2 - 45mm screws either end of deflector

1 - Gate made from old laundry peg basket (could use small square metal wire)

1 - Short piece of wire (To hold gate shut)

Cut your block of pine on 45 degree angle each end. Then shape it as in the first pic above. This will require you to saw small slits along the length of the deflector and chisel out the shape. Finish off with sand paper. Measure and mark the center of the deflector and drill two tiny holes to the radius of the fencing wire spaced evenly from the center mark. Be sure you drill the holes on roughly the same angle as our bent V shaped fencing wire.and do not go all the way through the timber. Insert the wire and dab with a little wood glue.

Sit the deflector block on the thin timber/cardboard bottom and trace the outer shape. Do NOT cut the inside of the bottom. Easy mistake to make :) Liquid nails and screw or nail the bottom to the deflector. Now sit the deflector on the baseboard and mark where the rear and front screws need to go to hold up our deflector. Add the medium L bracket (pic 1, 5) to the rear screw and the little L brackets to the front screws then add the fly wire rubber to all the screws. Carefully screw them in nice and straight. Add the two 45mm and two tiny screws to the top of the deflector. Add the rubber bands around the screws to form the V shaped wall. Sit the deflector on the front and rear L brackets

Now you can sit the both ramps in place and shape the left ramp to a curve. The left ramp is lined up to go straight down aisle as in last pic above. The straight double ramp will need to be set in place and the bottom marked and drilled into the base board so as there will be no lip for the ball to hit. Make sure you drill the holes on the correct angle and not straight in.

Now sit your gate with the small U brackets in place and screw them in. A little wire is wrapped around the right hand side screw so that it just catches the gate. When the ball hits the gate it should open it and drop down onto the playing arena.

Step 7: Ball Recovery System

Materials needed in this step:

2 - Corner pieces of timber rounded

1 - 45mm screw with fly wire rubber

1 - basic box to catch the pinballs

As above you can see this is very basic. First remove the front board if it is not already. Cut a hole about 100mm long and 40mm deep into the base board depending on the size of the balls you are using. You will need to add rounded pieces of timber in each bottom corner of the base board so the ball will always return to the middle of the table then drop into the hole cut out. The box is just made out of scrap timber left over and can be made to what ever dimension suits your table. I will not go to deep into this as I am intending on changing this to a better looking ball catcher. Once I have completed this I will update this section.

At this point you can also add a screw in between the flippers to rebound the ball back into play. This is optional.

Step 8: More Playtime!

Refer to Step 5 for information on paper mache and plastering.

Fix the front board back on this time using glue as we will not need to take it off anymore. Simply form the shape of the mountains with chicken wire as we did earlier and staple it to all surfaces. You may need to reinforce the chicken wire with a few screws on the left hand side as it does not have much support. Just insert a few longer screws into the side walls just under the chicken wire and tie off with more wire. Make sure they are not exposed. Paper mache and plaster (Optional)

Now make 7 more 45mm screws with the fly wire rubber and put them where they are placed in the last pic above.

As you may have noticed I jumped the gun on painting and therefore used a lot more paint than I should have. In hind sight NEVER start painting before you are 110% sure you are finished with construction. Might be my impatient nature at work!

Are you sure you're done???


Step 9: Painting & Finished Product

So this isn't my strong point so I'm sure all you talented instructablians will do a much better job than I did. A few tips I can give is if using the same colours as I did, start with your base colours such as earthy tones. Brown then green for the land and blue for the sky. Then work out where and how your red flames will come over the top and finally yellow making a crossing/flickering pattern. I didn't quit achieve what I would have liked to but all in all I'm pretty happy. I will be adding and improving this project including adding the legs, better ball retrieval system and more.

I hope I explained myself well enough and that you enjoyed my first instructable.

Thanks for viewing.

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    8 years ago

    I am not old enough to have grandkids but to know that there are grandparents out there as talented and happy to make their grandkids toys is awesome and it looks to be a fun one at that


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks RwdCivic. I love creating toys for my grand kids. The bonus is it brings the kid out in me :)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    That is beautiful. Could you explain a bit more how the multi-ball cage works. Does it need to be pre-loaded with a ball, or does it catch and release a ball on it's own?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for your kind words r-philp. The cage is preloaded with a ball and can be released by hitting the ball on the playing field into the o-rings at the front of the cage which forces the multi-ball through the gate. The lugs at top of the gate will not allow a ball to come back into the cage. I will upload a video in the next few days.