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Virtual Pinball Machine Restoration


UltraMega

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So I had a customer recently who called me about a virtual pinball machine from the company VPcabs, which was actually a Shark Tank product. I had never heard of these before, so at first I told the customer I probably couldn't help him, but after I looked it up I decided to go check it out and see what I could do. Very oddly designed machine, it uses car speakers and a car amp for the sound and it has 2 GPUs when I really don't think there is any need for that since both screens should have no issue running off one GPU. Would have made more sense to use one GPU and some 2.1 PC speakers when they designed this... I assume the company that made this didn't know a lot about gaming PCs at the time. Anyway, here it is all working:

 

 

 

 

The issues were that the storage was failing, and I think the battery on the mobo was dying. Fixed/replaced both. Cleaned up the rest, replaced the stock intel heatsink with a better one since the PC is inside the pinball cabinet, and even left a separate unconnected back up drive for the future since this is such a unique machine. It's running windows 7. 

 

Here are some pics of some of the different pinball games. We had just replaced the main display and hadn't adjusted the brightness yet when I took these so the main display is a bit dark, but that got sorted out before I was done:

 

 

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The customer was soooooo excited to get this working. He bought it recently in an unknown/not working condition and so once I got it working it was the first time he had ever seen it work. He is an older guy who is clearly a pinball aficionado. He was very familiar with all the different pinball games this thing has on it from playing the real pinball machines when he was younger. It was nice to see him light up so much when trying it out for the first time. He gave me a fat tip too 😄

 

All and all this was a pretty cool thing to work on. I'm sure I'll never encounter something like this again, so it was a fun unique thing to do. 

Edited by UltraMega
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I still say you should've put original hardware back in it.  It's just not the same charm IMO.  Those pinball machines really don't require a bunch of power.  It's awesome you've got it back up and running though.  Nothing "wrong" with giving it upgrades, I just like seeing stuff like this original if its possible.  Retains value better for collectors.  But hey, if the owner's happy with it that's what matters. 🙂  

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44 minutes ago, pioneerisloud said:

I still say you should've put original hardware back in it.  It's just not the same charm IMO.  Those pinball machines really don't require a bunch of power.  It's awesome you've got it back up and running though.  Nothing "wrong" with giving it upgrades, I just like seeing stuff like this original if its possible.  Retains value better for collectors.  But hey, if the owner's happy with it that's what matters. 🙂  

I did put the original hardware in it actually. If you watch the second video in the OP, you will see the inside in the second half of the video.

 

I wanted to upgrade it, but since we didn't know if it would work at all at yet when we made a plan to restore it, the customer didn't want to spend too much. The only hardware that got changed wad the original early 2013 SSD got swapped for a new one, and I put a bigger CPU Heatsink on since it was using the stock Intel fan. Everything else is as it was. Still running the same exact software with no changes, same Intel 4th gen i5 with a GeForce 760 and a GeForce 610. 

 

 

I am gonna go back and install a USB adapter so there will be room to hook up a wireless mouse and keyboard since all the USB is being used as is, but other than those few things it's all original. We only replaced the display because it wasn't working, but it's just a standard 1080p 60hz TV, swapped with a similar one. 

 

I used that little blower thing to clean it all out too. 

Edited by UltraMega
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5 minutes ago, UltraMega said:

I did put the original hardware in it actually. If you wanted the second video in the OP, you will see the inside in the second half of the video.

 

I wanted to upgrade it, but since we didn't know if it would work at all at yet when we made a plan to restore it, the customer didn't want to spend too much. The only hardware that got changed wad the original early 2013 SSD got swapped for a new one, and I put a bigger CPU Heatsink on since it was using the stock Intel fan. Everything else is as it was. Still running the same exact software with no changes, same Intel 4th gen i5 with a GeForce 760 and a GeForce 610. 

 

 

I am gonna go back and install a USB adapter so there will be room to hook up a wireless mouse and keyboard since all the USB is being used as is, but other than those few things it's all original. We only replaced the display because it wasn't working, but it's just a standard 1080p 60hz TV, swapped with a similar one. 

 

I used that little blower thing to clean it all out too. 

Oh heck man I didn't know that.  That's great!  I thought you shoved upgrades in there lol.

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Just now, pioneerisloud said:

Oh heck man I didn't know that.  That's great!  I thought you shoved upgrades in there lol.

I mean, it would make sense to replace the older PC parts just to prevent future failures. The hardware is already old, and I wanted to replace it purely to keep it working longer. 

 

I thought about trying to upgrade it to a 4K TV and windows 10 but the TV is a 40 inch and it's actually impossible to find a 40 inch 4K TV now. I used to have one that I sold a few years back so they do exist, but these days you can only buy 43 inches and up. Anything smaller and they're all 1080p. 

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  • UltraMega changed the title to Virtual Pinball Machine Restoration

Thanks for sharing that with us @UltraMega. I had completely forgotten these machines even existed, though to be fair the last time I have been to an arcade was....well a long time ago. Love the fact you were able to maintain the original components but I think ultimately so long as the machine works it does not matter too much. Most people want their loved items to function, and will not mind too much how that is achieved. 

 

The machine looks awesome though, makes me want to play!

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Thanks for sharing! Nice project and glad you brought some joy to your client 🙂

 

4 hours ago, ENTERPRISE said:

Thanks for sharing that with us @UltraMega. I had completely forgotten these machines even existed, though to be fair the last time I have been to an arcade was....well a long time ago. Love the fact you were able to maintain the original components but I think ultimately so long as the machine works it does not matter too much. Most people want their loved items to function, and will not mind too much how that is achieved. 

 

The machine looks awesome though, makes me want to play!

 

Honestly, I’ve seen more and more arcades here (Toronto) pop up for adults where they have vintage machines and newer stuff like sims whilst serving cocktails and such. E.g., https://tilttoronto.com/

 

I’d be surprised there aren’t any in the UK. 

 

I was at an arcade recently for an event and got to play Godzilla with a cocktail in the cupholder. It was great and just getting my hands on the tactile buttons again with all the crazy sound effects was great!

 

 

 

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Folding@Home Staff - Team Lead

@UltraMega ok how much will it cost for you to build these?

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38 minutes ago, damric said:

@UltraMega ok how much will it cost for you to build these?

 

This particular machine has so much going on in it. Apparently, an old school pinball machine would give the player a free game if they beat the previous high score, and when that happens, the machine releases the ball and makes a loud pop or something like that... and this machine has something that emulates that and it's super loud. At first I had no idea what it was but the customer knew. These things go to extremes to simulate all the clicks and clacks from an OG machine. 

 

That said, it wouldn't be hard to setup something very similar without all the extra effects. The software is called PinballX, you can find it online, and I'm pretty sure it would work with a standard controller. 

 

I know you're not seriously asking, but if I was gonna make something like this, it could be done for way less than these things sell for (like 15k) because the core experience is really just the PC, a horizontal TV, and some buttons. 

 

There are hobbyist who build these things themselves, but they tend to go for the full package with all the extra do-dads. 

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2 hours ago, Slaughtahouse said:

Thanks for sharing! Nice project and glad you brought some joy to your client 🙂

 

 

Honestly, I’ve seen more and more arcades here (Toronto) pop up for adults where they have vintage machines and newer stuff like sims whilst serving cocktails and such. E.g., https://tilttoronto.com/

 

I’d be surprised there aren’t any in the UK. 

 

I was at an arcade recently for an event and got to play Godzilla with a cocktail in the cupholder. It was great and just getting my hands on the tactile buttons again with all the crazy sound effects was great!

 

 

 

 

We have those here, one chain business that does it is called Dave and Busters. I've been to one not too long ago. Tried to play some Dance Dance Revolution which I used to be good at as a kid and immediately reehow old and out of shape I am now, haha. Good times. 

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Folding@Home Staff - Team Lead
5 hours ago, UltraMega said:

 

This particular machine has so much going on in it. Apparently, an old school pinball machine would give the player a free game if they beat the previous high score, and when that happens, the machine releases the ball and makes a loud pop or something like that... and this machine has something that emulates that and it's super loud. At first I had no idea what it was but the customer knew. These things go to extremes to simulate all the clicks and clacks from an OG machine. 

 

That said, it wouldn't be hard to setup something very similar without all the extra effects. The software is called PinballX, you can find it online, and I'm pretty sure it would work with a standard controller. 

 

I know you're not seriously asking, but if I was gonna make something like this, it could be done for way less than these things sell for (like 15k) because the core experience is really just the PC, a horizontal TV, and some buttons. 

 

There are hobbyist who build these things themselves, but they tend to go for the full package with all the extra do-dads. 

 

 

Dude Michele loves playing Pinball FX, which from the looks of your machine, some of those are the exact same simulations, but she's playing on a controller.

 

STORE.EPICGAMES.COM

i guess yeah I'm curious if I could build one, what all it would take. Building the computer part is the easy part, but I would want to build hers as nice as the one you worked on. That baby looks awesome. 

 

No rush. I'm on vacation and just got to my hotel after 8 hour drive with her and my two dogs (well one dog one coyote).

 

 

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2 hours ago, damric said:

 

 

Dude Michele loves playing Pinball FX, which from the looks of your machine, some of those are the exact same simulations, but she's playing on a controller.

 

STORE.EPICGAMES.COM

i guess yeah I'm curious if I could build one, what all it would take. Building the computer part is the easy part, but I would want to build hers as nice as the one you worked on. That baby looks awesome. 

 

No rush. I'm on vacation and just got to my hotel after 8 hour drive with her and my two dogs (well one dog one coyote).

 

 

 

You should check this out: https://www.pinballx.com/

 

Go to the forum and look at the user projects section. 

 

I ran into a few pretty detailed guides in various places when I was looking around and I even can across a site selling some of the most custom parts like the big round buttons and the score board display. I don't remember exactly where they were but I'm sure you can find them. 

Edited by UltraMega
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I play pinball fairly regularly (2-4 times a month) at a place here. I'm pretty good at South Park, Lord of the Rings, and Medieval Madness. The rest, not so much.

 

Actually had no idea they had virtual machines like this. Pretty cool.

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