Full-Size K'NEX Pinball Machine

About: I'm a full-time safety engineer for a big oil company. I have my bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and a wide variety of knowledge about music and computers.

This is a project I have been working on in my spare time for the last 2 months. I've always been a very big pinball enthusiast and decided to put my K'NEX and engineering background to use. I started out with a simple rectangular shape piece the size of my "ideal" pinball machine size and then changed pieces out as I saw fit. First I added flippers, then a launch ramp, then some action items, raised it and put a tilt to the shape, and the rest was just development and experimenting.

Everything works fantastically! The ball is more sluggish than I had anticipated but is still able to activate the targets upon impact. Most of the machine is continuous play, but the rocket launchers and catapults are all manual reset. With constant velocity motors it will be very difficult to come up with an auto-reset mechanism that doesn't interfere with the firing mechanisms.

I had ideally imagined putting acrylic as the play field base material, but it was going to be more expensive and difficult than I was ready to justify. The cardboard pieces were fairly easy and quick to put in, and when I figure out the design I want I can print something out at office depot and screen graphic the entire top.

Thank you for taking a look!

Demonstration of functionality:


For the pictures of start-to-finish progress:


I took it apart and counted pieces.

Chain Links - 75
Green Connectors - 122
Grey Connectors - 112
Small Grey Connectors - 16
Small orange Track Pieces - 9
Small Cam Shaped Connectors - 42
Medium Gears - 14
Orange Track Connectors - 64
Red Connectors - 156
Orange Connectors - 132
White Connectors - 204
yellow Connectors - 292
Purple Connectors - 522
Red Rods - 1330
White Rod - 415
Yellow Rod - 513
Flexible Rods - 36
Grey Rod - 200
Rod Spacers - 122
Motors - 3
Rubber bands - 9
Track strips - 4
Green rods - 483
Blue Rods - 976
Rocket Launchers - 2
Rockets - 6
Blue connector - 676

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    36 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    WOW! it looks like an actual pinball machine like the one you see at an arcade how long did it take you to make that?

    Awsome project man. With a background in Mechanical engeneering I can really appreciate the hard work and countless hours of thought and tinkering you invested into this beast. However, although I focus a bit more into practical engeneering such as internal combustion engine desing, and machine work, I like to fool around with my old college buddies and modify toys and the like. If you check out my page you can check out some simple things i've done with LEGOS and K'nex. keep up the good work bro!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    probably the best Knex machine I have ever seen (with the exception of a working Knex computer thingy) but it looks extremely solid and everything looks and works so well!! The only thing that I could want for on this would either be:
    -A scoring system (very hard to do though)
    -More paths (or make the current ones more exciting)
    -A delay on the ball catch mechanisms so it holds the ball for a bit not just shoots it straight out...
    Fantastic job man! What an awesome project!!!

    My day job is a design engineer, but I still like to exercise my creativity. I appreciate your intuition into my knowledge. I have plans of building another one after I get settled into my new house.


    Nice timing on posting this instructible... i had just resurected my friend's 20yr old pinball machine. works like new... almost. Not even a hired electrician could fix it. Brilliant Pinball machine.

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    That is really cool.
    It also looks very complicated.
    How could anyone ever build that thing?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is what you can do with a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. lol