Something that has been on my “TO DO” list for awhile now is to create an animated LED strip mod for the flail ramp on my Black Knight: Sword of Rage PRO pinball machine. On the Premium and LE models, the lightning bolt cutouts on the metal ramp are lit from below the playfield with 2 strips of addressable LED’s. These are then animated by code in the game, allowing the programmers to play different patterns based on the active rules. The PRO model does not have these LED’s and it’s left black. I purchased a mod from Mezel Mods many months ago that adds 2 LED strips below the ramp BUT they are not animated. Instead all LED’s can only be the same colour and the animation support is limited to fade, solid or blink. You’re also limited to a selection of 15 or so colours. I want to make something much more interesting (and cheaper) so have decided to use an Arduino board to control 2 addressable LED strips so I can animate them. I won’t be able to hook them up to the game code and animate them in the same way as on the Premium and LE games, but I can perhaps use the state of the flail to change the animation. I see this as a good exercise in exploring Arduino and how I may be able to use it in my Pinbot 2.0 project. First up, an Arduino Uno board and case were ordered.
I’ve been having a lot of fun playing my Black Knight since it arrived. Normally I’m doing repairs and servicing posts, but this one will be different as I’m focusing on mods and upgrades I’ve made to my Black Knight Pro. I’ve had some fun adding extra bling that the PRO version was lacking 🙂 It already has a shaker motor, which I had installed when purchasing it. But I wanted to do more. I’ve since continued to add to my PRO with some mods from Mezel Mods, Tilt Graphics, Retro Refurbs and Titan Pinball. First up, I ordered a flail cover and ramp LED kit from Mezel Mods.
Time to dig deeper into the Star Trek overhaul and look at the middle playfield section. This area is home to two banks of drop targets, a VUK and also a swinging target that moves during play. There is a large ramp that covers the sections of playfield I need to get to though, which will need to be removed. Once that’s off, it will remain off until I’ve finished working on the playfield as it’s a pain to get on and off again. There is also a subway ramp below the playfield that links up the top left and middle scoops to the VUK which can be removed in this update too.
With four weeks off over the Christmas break, it is the perfect opportunity to continue with the overhaul of my Bride of Pinbot 2.0. The plan was to try and do the next few phases of the overhaul in smaller chunks, avoiding the downside of having the game off line for long periods. But this update turned out to be much bigger than expected and has been split into two updates. This happened mainly because getting the top layers off the playfield was a pain and having to put them back on only to remove a few days later for the next phase would create a whole heap of extra work. So once I realised I was in up to my elbows, I decided to keep going. Starting off small though, the first assembly on my hit list for this update is the shooter rod.
A good way to continue working on pinball machines (without going broke buying them), is to work on other peoples machines and bestow to them the same love I give mine (the machines that is, not the owners..). I’m always on the look out for a new Pinball project to work on as I love giving them a new lease on life, but pickings have been slim lately. The universe has other ideas though and through a chance message, I was asked if I could work on some machines that needed a bit of TLC, with Whirlwind being first on the list. How could I refuse? 🙂 This isn’t a restore but also not a simple service either. I’ll be doing my usual rebuilding and cleaning of all assemblies, along with fixing any game play issues and giving the machine a bit of a face lift along the way. I don’t have plans to do any board work and the owner has a few requests on specific things he wants addressed, which i’ll be following. Whirlwind is a great game and I’m very excited to be working on it. Once complete, it’s going to be hard to let the owner take it home.