Introduction: Minecraft Pinball

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.

OK, so this is not a pinball game in the strictest sense.

It is more of a hybrid bagatelle/table football game, but the play is similar to pinball.

I wanted to build a game that would be as fun as bagatelle, but with a little more skill involved.

I wasn't very confident about building a satisfactory flipper or scoring mechanism, so I went with this hybrid. The game play is surprisingly good, and of course there is lots of potential for improvements and adjustments.

Before starting this project I did a lot of research about different DIY pinball games. Relevant ones I found on Instructables are listed here:

The ball launcher and table football elements are standard parts bought online.

The balls are 15mm ball bearings.

The 3D Minecraft elements came in a very cheap pack of models, again bought online.

The graphics were found online, edited in photoshop and printed onto a self-adhesive vinyl.

Step 1: Create the Game Housing

The rough sketch shows the overall dimensions of the finished game, but much of the structure was made up as we went along.

The board is made of two layers. The gameplay takes place on the top layer. There is a gap of around 18mm below this, which allows the balls to drop through and roll into their respective scoring channels.

The main board material is 9mm MDF. This is very flat, has a great surface for the ball, and is easy to cut.

The straight and curved boundaries are made from two pieces of engineered bamboo taken from an old venetian blind. Any thin, flexible piece of plywood or veneer would also do, as would a strip of aluminium.

The supports for the table football rod are made from a thicker piece of the bamboo venetian blind. This is very hard and makes a good bearing surface, but I think any timber would probably work.

All the other parts of the board were made from bits of softwood that we had lying around.

Step 2: Laying Out the Playing Surface

Once we had the main structure completed, it was time to layout the playing surface.

The idea was to use some cheap Minecraft toys to enhance the theme, so we had to decide how to implement them.

We used the blocks to cover some of the holes, so that the ball disappears into the block during play.

On the second layer, we used chopsticks to build the channels that would direct the balls into the scoring 'pens.'

Step 3: Test the Game

Then we assembled and tested the game to see where improvements could be made.

We found that the ball tended to land in the same spots a lot of the time, so we were able to add more pins to interrupt this tendency and create more random movement.

We also found that the ball moved faster down the table than we wanted, so we planed a bit off the support to lower the playing angle.

'Steve' kicks the ball back up the playing field during play. We found that he didn't stay upright so we added some weight in the form of a large (M10) bolt to solve the problem.

Step 4: Add Bumpers, Traps and Bells

Our bumpers were made with a 5mm dowel shrouded in two layers of silicon rubber tube (from an automotive parts supplier). This gives a good amount of bounce.

The toys being incorporated into the game were cheaply made in styrene. They were very brittle and difficult to shape, but using a dremel and hand tools, we were able to adapt them to our needs. They were attached to the playing surface using a hot glue gun.

The green bumpers were made out of some foam edge strips used for protecting toddlers from walking into table edges. We had this lying around. I was planning to use some more of the silicon tubing to create the same effect, though.

There are two bells on the playing surface. These are cheap bicycle bells which have had their mounts cut away with a hacksaw. Like everything else, they are attached to the board with a hot glue gun.

Step 5: Add Graphics

We found some Minecraft wallpaper online and adapted this to our playing surface graphic. We also created some special graphics for the other parts of the machine. These were printed out on adhesive vinyl and stuck onto the game.

Step 6: Play!

This is the finished game.

The first picture shows the top and bottom parts separated. On the left you can see the ball return channels and scoring traps; on the right is the playing surface. Other pictures show the model assembled.

Please see the video to see how the game plays.

Have fun creating your own version!

Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016