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Arduino Pinball Machine That Plays Itself (instructables.com)
106 points by bwidlar 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments





Very nice, I love pinballs. There's room for improvement on the ball detection and flippers movement, probably requiring a faster processor and complex code; I mean having really good control of the flippers (and ball detection accuracy) so that a flipper can be used to stop and direct the ball by firing it before the ball enters in its area then using the flipper returning to place to damp the ball speed, then before the ball falls into the hole, wait the right amount of time before firing again the flipper to give the ball the desired trajectory. This is not too hard to learn for a human but probably quite a challenge both for hardware and software.

> in animum apparatus iacet victoria

My Latin is pretty bad. Victory lies in the spirit of the machine, maybe? Or perhaps the spirit of victory lies in the machine?

It sounds like the flippers just fire when the camera identifies that a ball is somewhere in a zone that will cause the ball to be hit. I'm curious about doing more than that. I wonder how accurately such a system could aim for a particular target.


An animated apparatus would be an automaton, so I would translate as "robots for the win."

Victory lies etc...

In that case, wouldn't it correctly be conjugated as 'In animō apparati iacet victoria'? I haven't touched Latin since boyhood so I'm likely completely wrong, but I am eager to understand this.

Apparatus is forth declension, the genitive form is still apparatus. I agree that animus should take the ablative.

Seems like the perfect problem to apply reinforcement learning to. Just let it play and learn at the same time.

I think they could even skip the explicit implementation of ball position/velocity tracking.


I think it would be painfully slow to have it learn in real time, especially if a grad student had to put the ball in between every game like what is demoed.

You could definitely pipe (literally) the ball to the input like in real pinball machines and trigger a new iteration.

As one of the good pinball players in the world, I think my ranking is safe for now.

They built a drunk pinballer flailing simulator...


That is exactly how it starts.

Eventually they're doing speed runs and finding odd magnetic anomalies with the ball and plungers

https://aussieazuredevs.github.io/blog/pinball/genesis Is another group's attempt at using machine learning to play existing real games.

This would be a good "attract mode" feature to have on a commercial pinball machine in a bar, etc.

Heh, reminds me of the "Phantom Flip" on the old Monster Bash table: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_Bash_(pinball)

"Thing flips" on Addams Family ~6 years earlier. A few machines had things like that.

“Well played, Thing; you’re really on the ball!” - Raul Julia, as Gomez.

I really wish I'd bought one of those back when they were merely hard-to-justify-on-my-high-school-job-wages expensive rather than hard-to-justify-on-my-developer-salary-with-a-family expensive. Never imagined they'd appreciate faster than my disposable income did.

"Congratulations, You played yourself." -DJ Khaled

Very cool! My daughter is getting interested in robotics, and we recently got an Arduino starter set. This won't be our next project, but it will get us building more!

Few. Why would I want to play pinball myself.

Why did they build the entire pinball machine themselves? The portion that "plays itself" is a camera attached to some very basic computer vision techniques that boil down to:

When ball detected in flipper area, flip.

You could attach this to any commercial machine by connecting a relay where the flipper buttons would be.


Because it's a university senior design project - they often pair students with related majors together to work on a project over the course of a semester or two. It's about the interesting engineering of the entire project. They never claimed any one part of it was "novel" but the project as a whole clearly is.



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