Pinball Machines

Pinball Machines

A pinball machine is a sensory experience complete with flashing lights, characters from movies and shows and a whole lot of action. Pinball games require a high level of skill to reach the highest scores possible.

Solenoids, also called coils, are found in every modern pinball machine. They work by using electromagnetism to trigger mechanical devices attached to the playfield.

Game mechanics

The pinball machine is a complex mechanical, electrical and electronic device that guides metal balls across a wooden board using flippers. The game is played by scoring points on ramps, targets and other accessories in order to advance the ball into a plunger at the bottom of the cabinet. The cabinet is a large vertical box, called the ‘head’ or ‘lightbox’ that contains most of the game’s mechanical, electrical and electronics parts. It is also home to a backglass and a cabinet door that can be opened for servicing the machine.

The ‘head’ of a pinball machine has two major items: the dot-matrix display air hockey game machine and a speaker. The dot-matrix display relays scoring and other important information to the player, while the speaker emits game sounds and music. A modern pinball machine has a dot-matrix display that is often 128×32 or 192×64 pixels in size. Most backglasses have stylized graphics that relate to the game’s theme and sometimes approach fine illustration or fine art quality.

Solenoids are another crucial element of a pinball machine. These coils are usually hidden underneath the playfield, but when activated by electrical impulses they can control a variety of features on the machine. These include pop-bumpers, kickbacks and drop target resets. Each solenoids is made from a single coil winding, with the plunger size and wire gage & length matched to its function.


Pinball machines are renowned for their vibrant lights and colorful graphics. The display on the backglass is often a stylized version of the game’s theme that is highly detailed and often approaches fine illustration or even fine art quality.

Modern cabinets usually consist of a ‘backbox’ and the ‘head’ (the large vertical box that sits atop the cabinet and contains most of the mechanical, electrical and electronic parts). The backglass is illustrated with images that are based on the game’s theme and is designed to catch the eye of passers-by and entice them to play. The head also contains a number of displays that light up to indicate scores, the ball in play, who’s turn it is on multi-player games and so forth.

In older games, contact with scoring elements (like targets and ramps) triggers a series of relays that ratchet up the player’s score by increments. These electromechanical systems are replaced by semiconductor chips and the results are displayed on electronic segmented or dot-matrix displays (DMD).

In the early 1980s, a pinball manufacturer introduced a new innovation that was to become a major trend in pinball: a video monitor in the backbox that shows animation and scoring in synchronization with the game’s music. This is now common in almost all modern games. During the 1990s, virtual pinball video games were developed for home video game consoles that grew to be high enough in quality to attract serious players and spurred a resurgence in physical pinball production.


A pinball machine is a game of skill VR game machine that involves rolling an electrified ball into metal targets. The machine also has a number of lights, displays, and sound effects. Some of these features are used to attract players and reward them for achieving certain goals. Others are used to tell a story about the game’s characters or setting.

During the 1930s, the first electric pinball games were introduced. Pacific Amusements’ Contact was one of the first, using an electrical solenoid to shoot the ball out of a bonus hole and an electric bell to reward the player.

After the 1950s, the industry switched to solid-state technology, allowing for more complex rules and digital displays. It was at this time that speech, ramps, and multiple balls became commonplace in pinball machines. The 1980s brought about the rise of arcade video games, which drew away customers from pinball machines.

As a result, pinball production declined. However, Stern Pinball continued making machines in the 1990s and 2000s. These included popular licensed themes such as Metallica, The Simpsons, and Indiana Jones. Its success in these areas helped keep pinball alive for a while, but the industry ultimately went under as newer technologies were introduced and old-school arcades were replaced by modern casinos. Today, virtual pinball games are being used to preserve historic games and bring them to a new audience.


The electromechanical relays and scoring reels of the classic electromechanical pinball machines were replaced with circuit boards and digital displays in the 1970s. In addition to replacing the electromechanical parts, the new systems were able to introduce novel features like backbox animations and light shows that could not be produced on earlier machines.

A key component in every pinball machine is the power board. This converts AC wall voltage into the lower DC voltages needed by the other circuits in the machine (e.g., lamp driver circuits, solenoid driver boards and the display high voltage). This board also includes fuses, line filters and power surge protection to prevent damaging the game’s electronic components and potentially tripping house breakers.

A pinball machine’s electronic system also contains the cpu board which controls the game and provides information for the display panel. The cpu board is usually mounted in the backbox. The cpu board connects to the power board via a series of wires, which are used to control individual lamps on the playfield. The cpu board typically contains 64 to 96 TTL-level inputs that are connected to a wide variety of sensors including mechanical leaf switches, optical sensors and electromagnetic sensors. Often extra signal conditioning is required to adapt custom sensors to the system’s TTL-level inputs. Some manufacturers make customized circuit boards and sensors for specific games or for the needs of particular customers (e.g., eddy sensor boards for the movie Richie Rich).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *