Samstag, 22. Juli 2017

Hydroponic Veggies Part 2 -- The water level sensor

The initial idea was to stick a VL53L0X TOF distance sensor to the reservoir lid and get the water level from there.
Didn't work out. Not enough light reflected from the water surface lead to super flaky readings. What did work out in the end is this ...

Donnerstag, 6. Juli 2017

Fan-Tas-Tic Pinball, Part 7, Back to a LED - display!

The original Fan-Tas-Tic machine had a mechanical roulette wheel assembly, visible through a window in the middle of the playing field. For some time now I had it replaced with a 1280x720 LCD panel.


However, I'm not completely happy with this configuration and recently decided, the LCD panel has to go! 

Montag, 3. Juli 2017

Hydroponic Veggies

The goal is to grow tomatoes, chilis, carrots, lettuce and spinach on my balcony. It shall be hydroponic and as much automated as possible. Here's my setup so far ...

Plumbing and Dutch-buckets

No rocket since here. It's all made from 1/2 inch PCV pipe and fittings from the hardware store. The buckets were done according to these excellent instructions by mhpgardener. As I wanted the setup to be removable, I didn't use any glue. To achieve a good seal anyway, I used a bit of silicone grease on all fittings. So far it holds up fine.


Sonntag, 1. Mai 2016

Fan-Tas-Tic Pinball, Part 6, EMI trouble!

This is going to be a little story about electromagnetic interference (EMI). The good thing is: there will be a happy end :)

Having installed all the WS2811 LEDs, I decided to play a quick game to see if everything is still working. It was quite surprising to see the LEDs flicker like a Christmas tree, even though they should have been dark. This happened everytime the flipper coils actuated. Clearly there was some kind of EMI problem, inducing noise on the data line of the LEDs.

A quick scope measurement on the solenoids revealed the issue:

Samstag, 16. April 2016

Fan-Tas-Tic Pinball, Part 5

Adding some LEDs

I did a quick test with the WS2811 LED strand and I'm quite satisfied with the results. They are slightly brighter then the original bulbs, consume far less power and hence don't get hot. Especially under the white playfield inserts, the RGB colors look fantastic. The red inserts filter out all the other colors, so it only makes sense to have these LEDs configured for red only -- but that's not a big problem, considering how cheap those LED strands are.

I started to work on a platform driver for the Mission Pinball Framework v30. There is some basic functionality already -- but still some bugs need to be resolved.

Donnerstag, 3. März 2016

Fan-Tas-Tic Pinball, Part 4

 Rewiring the switches

There are around 40 switches on the playing field which were originally wired in a point to point fashion -- the cable management was quite impressive.

With the new electronics, switches are arranged in a 8 x 8 matrix. The row and column wires are tied together in two strands, which are routed in a serpentine fashion below the playing field. Finding a good way to keep the wires in order and organized took some time.

Some pics of the cabling `making-of` ...


The flipper buttons on the cabinet and the tilt switch (lead blob on a pendulum) was wired to a I2C port extender. The shielded white cable for the I2C is visible in the last picture.


The initial test look promising. The Fan-Tas-Tic controller scans the switch matrix and reports input changes to the PC.

Sonntag, 28. Februar 2016

Fan-Tas-Tic Pinball, Part 3

Some impressions from the cleaning process

State of the playing field Before / After

I used white spirit and spot eraser pads for cleaning and automotive wax for sealing it.

The insides Before / After

The playfield has been stripped and all cables removed. I kept the leaf-switches but will read them in a matrix configuration.
It was possible to take out the relay based control board in one piece. The new ARM based control board is already in place.

In its original configuration, the pinball contains only one single transistor which is part of a delay circuit. All the other functions were done electromechanically.