Introduction: Electronic Pinball Controller

About: I am a British chap living in China. Watch this space for half-baked ideas and dubious innovation. Often aided and abetted by my power-tool wielding daughter.

Have fun and save your keyboard with this electronic pinball controller!

Pinball games are notoriously tough on your keyboard, but you can hammer this one has hard as you like - it's made of cardboard!

The brains of the device is Makey Makey.

First make a board on which to mount the Makey Makey along with the pinball controls.

We are using the same one that we first built for 'Tangible Frogger'

This time we covered it in some (non-conductive) gold paper for added bling.

The 'buttons' are made from conductive silver tape that we got from a builders' merchants.

Step 1: Work Out the Controls

Different pinball games tend to use slightly different controls.

We experimented with Pinball Arcade by Farsight Studios, Zen Pinball by Zen Studios and Pinball editor by Bakno. These vary in price, processing power and graphics card requirements - Pinball Arcade being the most demanding on all levels.

Each has a left and right flipper control, a plunger ball launch control and some form of nudge.

We decided where we wanted these to be on our controller and attached our conductive tape accordingly.

This tape is a kind of construction tape - I think for patching or securing lagging.

We first put a long strip of tape along the bottom of the board. This is where the heel of your palm rests when playing and makes the ground contact necessary for makey makey to work.

The flipper buttons were place above this and the nudge buttons above these. At the top we put the plunger ball launch control.

The conductive tape is folded round the back of the controller and stuck onto itself to make a tab. This makes it very easy to connect the crocodile clips.

Step 2: Map the Controls to the Makey Makey Board

The next task is to map the Makey Makey inputs to the correct keyboard buttons.

We wrote the keyboard controls for each on the back of our board and showed the physical location of the tape.

The Makey Makey inputs should then be re-mapped.

Plug the Makey Makey into the USB port and point your browser to:
This will detect the device in your USB and walk you through the steps to re-map the keys.

It sends the information directly to the device.

Once you get the 'success' screen (above), you can unplug and you are ready to go!

Step 3: Connect Up the Makey Makey

Using the notes made on the back of the board, connect up the Makey Makey inputs to the silver tape tabs using crocodile clips.

Turn the board over, plug into your USB and fire up your pinball game.

If you find the controls are mapped incorrectly or not working, flip the board over and adjust.

Have fun making your own pinball controller!

Microcontroller Contest 2017

Participated in the
Microcontroller Contest 2017