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Thread: Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Pinball

  1. #11
    Tonight was a good night. I figured out the toolchain to take the ball lane and kickout hole from Sketchup into the CAD software.

    I used Sketchup 8 to create the files (easiest 3D software I can barely use). Once I had the file created in Sketchup; I exported the model to a 3D model in DAE format. Then I used Meshlab 1.3.0 to convert the .dae into an .stl which could be read by Cut3D. Here’s the models as the look in MeshLab:


    Once I had the tool paths figured out; I imported the .v3d file into Cut2D and aligned it in the file. The simulation shows me this:


    This should allow me to cut, drill, and carve the PF in one "session" on the shopbot. Simulation told me 1hr 7minutes... but I'm skeptical.

    I couldn’t figure out why the Ball lane path is “etching” the non-lane wood. I tried a couple of things but they didn’t seem to make it better – only worse. So; I plan on leaving the 1/4” ball mill a little higher when it’s cut to try and avoid the etches.

    Collets are on order via Fleabay since Monday... I’m going to order the 1/4” ball mill before I got to bed (I hope).

  2. #12
    A while back; I put the breaks on further work on the Plastics. The reason I stated was that I was working on a plan to knock your socks off. Tonight is the moment I reveal the plan and work that has been done.

    When I realized my art skils were not up to the task... I decided to consult a professional. I approched a well known Star Trek graphic novel artist with the project; and he agreed to do the work on commission. It wasn’t cheap; but I decide to do it because I was spending so much effort to make this a one-of-a-kind original; that it would just stupid (in my mind) to leave the plastics art to an armature artist like me.

    The schedule we settled on was for him to deliver me Pen and Ink drawings electronically by this past weekend to enable me some time to create the plastics prior to TPF'2013. Monday he delivered the drawings.

    Oh; and BTW: I'm retaining all rights to the art for now... as I have worked out final rights with the artist. No one is allowed to reproduce these for any reason.





    Now that I had the ink files; It was time to do some photoshop work on it ... I decided I wanted to color the drawings rather than hire another professional; thereby spending more bank.


    TBH; I'm very pleased with the results.
    Gordon did an EXCELLENT job giving me the baseline for the art don't you think?

    I may do some more work on Sulu as he looks off with the teeth.

    Comments / Suggestions?

    Now I need to send him the plans/Ideas for the BackGlass. First; I have to scan the existing backglass and measure the critical parameters. So; now is your chance to provide ideas for said backglass; I want to get him something by Friday.

    On other fronts, the Nixie tube boards and digikey parts came in today... I’m only missing the backlight leds ... once I have them; I’ll be ready to start assembly.

  3. #13
    The Main Man Dewayne's Avatar
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    The plastics look killer!!
    Cut it, Paint it, Mod it. Void Your Warranty #moddersinc @moddersinc
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  4. #14
    Holy freaking coolness!!!!

    I too dont think the real pictures match the theme of the 'cartoonized" ones ... could you cartoon the real Scotty ? .. I know that the App for my phone's camera does a real good job at affects (in real time) "Paper Camera" .. wonder if you could do something similar ?

    EDIT: oh, did not see this page .. Awesome!! great call on hiring a professional!!!

    Good luck, cant wait for the next update
    Last edited by DB; 03-03-2013 at 06:22 AM.

  5. #15
    The Mirror project was put on hold for the last three weeks... First due to the SxSw Intel LANfest I was hosting... and then Texas Pinball Festival this past weekend. Now that I had the Pins back in the Garage'cade; I've refocused my effort on the Nixie Pinball Display.

    I hand assembled the base and display boards and soldered them together.

    I didn't want to commit the untested display to my Bally Star Trek... so I needed to figure out how to facilitate debug.

    First problem was how to supply 190VDC to the HV section. Some googling found me some 555 timer circuits which would run off of a 9V.
    Had most of the parts except a 250V 4.7uf cap and a pot. A trip to Frys solved that problem.
    A bread board and an ATX power supply and I had a 190V psu. The ATX supply provides +5v to the display and +12V to the 190V psu's input.

    Here’s a picture of the prototype 555 190V Nixie supply:


    Initial debug turned up a dumb assembly mistake..– I swapped U1 & U2 despite the clear labels on the silkscreen.

    I hardwired the display inputs to only lite digit 1 and display an 8 (1000b). 8 because it's the digit which uses the most current given the largest area. This will allow me to verify the anode current before committing to a final anode resistor. To "latch" the 8 digit; I used my RatShack Logic pulser to toggle the LE pin.

    I was able to empirically calculate the Anode resistor using the built-in test point and pot. 21.4k... now I just need to find some 22k 603 resistors to make it work. 21.4k gives me 2.5mA of anode current which is typical for the NH-12A tubes I’m using.

    Here’s the top view of the display boards:


    And the money shot for the backlite display:


    I decided early on that I wanted the backlite to be purple rather than some other color because I thought it’d contrast nicely against the orange digits.
    You can see the testpoint and Anode pot right below the Nixie tube. Obviously; these will be de-poped for “production” boards.

    Here’s a picture I just thought was cool. A result of playing with camera shutter times:


    With the resistor calculated; I need to focus on creating a Display tester so I can run the display thru all the digits and functions.

  6. #16
    While I try to figure out what is wrong with the jumper selectable native 7 or 7 digit emulation for the nixie tube display; I've been working on the two of the plastics I had forgotten about.

    I forgot about the orbit/arch plastics which are at the top of the PF. Might as well bang them out before I try to make the plastics. I scanned them into my computer a while ago; and took this time to clean them up and vectorize them. I tried to color match them against the new plastics shown previously - reusing colors and the like.

    Additionally; I put some extras on the plastics - namely an Klingon D7 Cruiser, the ISS Enterprise, and a star field. I got the Enterprise from the promo plastic which I scanned in and cleaned up.

    The result:


    Any other suggestions?

  7. #17

  8. #18
    More debug this wkend seems to point to the 4555 1to4 decoder circuit.
    I pulled the tristate buffer (u4) and solder bridged the outputs of the 1to4 decode straight to the transistors thru a 9.1k resistor.
    The display does the same thing without U4.

    This points to U3 (cd4555) being the culprit.
    Now; given I’ve already verified 7 digit emulation with the arduino which doesn’t work in the machine; seems to be a clue.

    I’m leaning toward the output of the MPU being TTL compatible; but not CMOS compatible. I don’t think the signal to the displays is meeting CMOS high requirements for digits 5&6. According to my mpu schematics; the digit enables are driven directly by the output of a 6821 PIA.

    So; next step is going to be to wire in an oscope to see what D5’s levels are.
    Then figure out how to solve if hypothesis proven.

    This pretty much sums it up:


    PeakToPeak; my displays (digit enables) are only getting 1.6V for a high. Well below the cmos “good” for a 1. This is measured at R44 and R43 closest to the connector on stock displays.

    This is the reason why my Nixie design isn’t working. I can design around this with either a transistor or some other translation logic; just not sure why the value is so low.
    I see why it works on stock displays as all we need is for the high to be > ~0.7V to turn on the digit enable transistors in the original design.

    Just need to confirm with other pins / people that they see similar results. I only have the one Bally Star Trek; no other era pins.
    By confirming other pins; we can determine if this is a design change is warranted.

  9. #19
    I did some "dead bug" rework to the existing display; basically epoxing two SMT 2N3904s to the top side of U3. I cut some traces and soldered a 20K ohm pull up between VCC and the collector of the transistors. Emitters were tied to ground. Bases were connected to the series resistors currently present in the schematic.



    The goal here is to work out the kinks in the design so they can be incorporated into a FAB B board and be relatively confident the design will work out of the box.

    Because the BJTs are single transistor inverters; I needed to rewire the input to U3. I wanted to reuse the existing CD4555B chip already present to keep the design simular. Turns out that by swaping A & B inputs vs the schematic; the following boolean logic become obvious:
    U3A Q1 = !B*A = D5
    U3A Q2 = B*!A = D6
    U3A Q0 = !B*!A = D7

    Remember that when the MPU is driving A5 or A6 high; the BJTs invert that to be an active low. So the boolean math makes it logical.

    The result (finally):
    Click here for YouTube movie

    Here are some pictures of the display installed in my Bally Star Trek machine:




    Known issues:

    Digits are too light when running in multiplexed mode (in a real machine); plan to drop the anode resistor to ~2.7k from 22k to brighten the digits. Not a good idea for non-pinball machines which aren't multiplexing the digit enables; but should be fine for more machines.

    Need to "fix" the native 7 vs emulated 7 digit jumper selector given the need to invert D7 in native mode.

  10. #20
    This weekend; between income tax sessions; I worked on the PF Apron... I scanned the original into the computer:


    As you can see; some TX tax labels, scratches, and some minor rusting makes the apron less than ideal for a project like this.

    I've decided I want to replace the logos and text... along with proably changing the base coat to black. Here's my inital revision:


    I'm just not sure what I want to do with the two triangular pieces. I've kinda already done the Enterprise on the arches. The imperal sword is already present in the center graphic on the apron... and I also have a plan for something else later in the project.

    I thought about doing a mirror Kirk in one of the peices; but that would cost more for the artist to do.

    Anyone got any suggestions?

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