Multi-Bingo


#1

I have been working since about March of this year on a custom-built pinball machine.

I particularly love restoring and playing the bingo pinball machines (games with 20 or 25 holes in the playfield and a 5x5 bingo card on the backglass), and I have realized that it is unlikely that I would ever experience all of the bingo pinball machines ever created by four different companies in the US alone, across 30 years - 1951 - 1981.

With some words of encouragement and a generous donation of a scrap cabinet and parts to complete the exterior, I set to work.

I hand-drafted a schematic in the style of the games produced in the 1960s, lovingly hand-wired the entire game (with period-appropriate wire ties), programmed the whole thing, and now it is playable, wonderful, challenging and exactly what I envisioned before I began.

Utilizing the P3-ROC hardware, I was able to use the standard 25 hole playfield layout, and I have programmed 40 games, selectable through a menu, which can be individually loaded and played. I have worked very hard to try to simulate the mechanical randomization efforts of each machine, by studying schematic drawings, manuals, and in some cases, playfield or backglass photos. I have had help with the backglass artwork for some games, and others I have had to touch up from postage-stamp sized photos, taken when digital cameras were just coming into fashion.

Once I started the machine for the first time, and was able to play (and win!) on a game, I was thrilled. I added more and more games, games that are only rumored to exist, games of which only a one or only a handful remain today in the world, and full production games.

I will continue to add games to the machine, until all 130-odd games are simulated. Playfields will be swappable, between 18, 20, 25, 28, 24 hole and other oddball sizes. The software will automatically restrict your playing choices to the available games for that playfield. I am also working on the exterior artwork for the game, which is an ambitious project in and of itself.

The game will fire off the free game knocker, the free game bell or just the sounds of the replay register ticking up with each credit earned or played, based on how the actual game is documented. Each manufacturer and era of production was slightly different.

The last part of this project is that I am going to design my own unique bingo pinball machines - utilizing similar portioning and controls as the EM bingos made for those three decades in the United States. However, I can greatly expand on the already incredibly complex rulesets as I am not bound by the space inside of the cabinet to hold all of the mechanical units.

I am incredibly excited to share this creation with the world, and I am doing so next week at the White Rose Gameroom Show in York, PA. September 30th and October 1st at the York Fairgrounds. If you are coming to the show, please stop by and see the monstrosity I have wrought.

There is great satisfaction to me in restoring a game, using the skills learned from friends and my own mechanical and electrical aptitude to bring a dead amusement device back to life; but there is an entirely different thrill to the art of creation.

I would encourage you to check out the below video, where you can see the menu and hear me talk a bit about the games available: https://youtu.be/HCYIQdP-aic

If you plan on attending the York show, please stop by and say ‘hello’. I’d love to show you the game! We are also doing another Bingo Row this year. It should be even bigger and better than last year. Last year, I gave away an autographed copy of Bally Bingo Pinball Machines or The Bingo Pinball War: Bally Vs. United by Jeffrey Lawton. This year, I commissioned Ryan Claytor to design a t-shirt for the Bingo Row, and you can win one of those beauties for free if you make a four or five in a line on any of the Bingo Row machines.

I’m always happy to answer any questions that anyone may have.

Thanks for reading,
-Nick


#2

Looks like a ton of love and care went into this project, and it was fascinating hearing you talk about some of these games on various podcasts. Look forward to playing it!


#3

Thank you - it did! Much appreciated feedback on the podcasts, since it’s a bit of an echo chamber (it’s just me, after all). :slight_smile: See you at York!


#4

Hopefully, we’ll get to see some pictures of it once your machine is finished, or at least in a complete enough stage to have a picture taken of it. Any plans on what the artwork will be like?


#5

Ooh, good question! I am leaving each playfield’s artwork alone, but the machine itself will be stenciled.

The bingos typically had one or two more colors in their cabinetry than the flipper counterparts. This makes life a bit difficult for me. Also, some of the stencils are incredibly intricate. Look up the sides of Golden Gate, for example.

Ideally, I’d like for each of the games to be represented in some way in my stencil. I’m making a large vector file for each side right now and drawing the art.

The problem is going to come in that I will have to change the coloration a bit… To keep the number of colors down.

One other thing to note, which I can’t believe I didn’t mention: the score and instruction cards are dynamically displayed on small screens on the apron of the game. When you change games in the menu, the cards change, giving you an idea of that games’ goals. Pretty neat!


#6

This sounds amazing, and like you’ve put a lot of hard work into this! Please post pictures!

Also- are bingo playfields pretty light? I’ve had to lift a couple pinball playfields out to clean the cabinets and such and they’re heavy!


#7

Thank you! It has been, and will continue to be a lot of hard work. :slight_smile:

Pics - ask and you shall receive! I’ve got lots of pics, I’ll attach some here.

Playfields - yes, they are lighter than say, a System 11 or WPC playfield. Mostly that has to do with the lack of stuff on top of them. Underneath, however, there are many switches, a motor, & etc. And the apron and arch are wooden, which adds to the weight. Weight is similar to an EM playfield. They’re absolutely light enough to swap for one person.

Back door before restoration.

My youngest daughter helps by taking off the door hardware (hinge plates) and I removed staples. Her older sister restored a machine by herself at the beginning of the year, and she’s been ready to help with the next one.

Wood filler! You can kind of see the secret note that my daughters wrote in this one. :slight_smile:

Painted and mounted (I fixed the crooked boards, haha!)

Test fit of TV in head, with 2x4 shims/supports.

This is the terminal block for the cabinet and playfield wiring - all the lamps, coils, and etc terminate here before moving to power or other switches and units in the game. This harness was hacksawed off of a destroyed game by the donor.

Whew! That’s better. True story: my soldering gun got so hot desoldering all these wires in one night that the gun fell apart in my LAP! That woke me up. Luckily did not get burned. Had to pick up the metal bits with a long pair of plastic-coated heavy duty pliers.

And new wiring in process of being installed.

Should probably lace those cables like they did in 1951.

More to follow!


#8

Before you wire, you should make a schematic. Otherwise it is hopeless! I made this one in the style of a bingo schematic, but noted each connector pin and modern power supply. I am no artist, and this was very challenging, but very satisfying.

My youngest learns to clean a playfield (she likes this part!).

Things are getting interesting now…!

Lights! Camera! Action! The game uses a 25 hole playfield (to start with - the most popular layout).

I need a total of 12 playfields, IIRC, and I’ve been lucky enough to find some NOS ones on ebay recently. Here’s a Mystic Gate playfield. It uses a flipper as a diverter (on the left). Player has to earn the feature and it allows you to plunge immediately beyond the first row of holes (the rebound rubber lifts up!). This is a 20 hole playfield.

And here’s a 24 hole playfield… Bally had some interesting experiments.

Edit*** Aww, Google… I need to go back and make these photos public so that you can see them, or actually upload them.

An example of the game lit up and at the menu

One of the Instruction Cards. This will dynamically change as you select a new game on the menu.

…and the score card.

Looking down… with very low ambient light. My arcade is painted an extremely dark color, and the spot it is in has no immediate lights near it. Normally, the reflection is not quite that intense…

Played a round of Frolics and won 3 replays (sigh I’ll spend those just lighting the first three cards on my next round)!

Another funky playfield - 28 holes with playfield plastics.


#9

My initial thought, as far as multiple playfields was concerned, was to keep the playfield wiring as intact as possible, so that you could take these out and drop in another game if needed, or if I was dead and no one was left to work on this. Unfortunately, that won’t work - Bally, in their infinite wisdom, decided to wire the numbered hole outputs completely differently from game to game - even those with similar playfield features!

So, for each of these other playfields (most blanks without a wiring harness), I’ll have to cut my own shutter board, and make my own complete playfield wiring harnesses to match the existing.

I have Jones Plug selector switches for the playfield type, and the menu will automatically contract to show only those games available to play. Some playfield types /can/ play more games than just those supported by their features. For example, Surf Club’s playfield will allow you to return Odd or Even numbered holes, if you have the feature. This playfield can play most of the 25 hole games, and not just Surf Club and Palm Springs - the only games to use that selective return feature in a 25 hole format.

Hope that all makes sense!


#10

Oh wow, that looks amazing! I’d definitely like to play that one if I ever stumble across it. A modern monitor with what looks like something from the mid-20th century is definitely a curious combination, and it would’ve attracted my interest.

I actually thought you were going to replace the electronics and wiring inside with modern ones, but a mix of old and new parts makes it all the more interesting.

The score card says “For amusement only - No prizes or gambling permitted.” Was this phrase in the original machine as it was, or was that added in to avoid getting in trouble with someone who assumes you’re using it for people to gamble with?


#11

That was in the original. Where possible, I am trying to emulate the machines as accurately as possible. This includes using the real score and instruction cards for each game! I’m at York now with four bingos plus the multi in tow. Very excited for the public unveiling tomorrow.


#12

So ready to try and play this crazy thing!


#13

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#14

C’mon over! I’ve been building up playfield blanks for he ancillary playfields since my return from York, but it’s ready any time.


#15

Sadly, no. I would love to take it there, but I started the annual ‘Bingo Row’ at the York show (this was the second year), and I would have to choose.

Family, work, etc. All come before cool hobby projects and shows.

On the plus side, ice got about half of the extra playfields built and will start coding and graphics-ing again in about a week.

Games 41-42 are already done in code, but have to write the graphics routines before they are playable.

Then the moving numbers games start!


#16

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#17

I do plan to take it around and tour the shows. I’m not sure when Expo will fit in as it is at an awkward time. Do you travel to any other shows? I’ve had requests for Allentown (maybe 2017), and plan to bring it to the Denver show at some point (2018?) and hopefully SFGE one day. Perhaps the NW show as well, but that’ll be a haul!

If you see it anywhere (and the cosmetic appearance will improve greatly soon ish), stop by and say ‘hi’. I won’t be far. :slight_smile:


#18

I’ve been working on playfields since my return from York. I’ve put together a Surf Club (25 hole with odd or even ball return feature and rollovers, a Double-Up (20 hole with rollovers), a Shoot a Line (28 hole) and a Galaxy (24 hole). I’m currently working on a Mystic Gate playfield (20 hole with flipper diverter) but having trouble assembling the flipper mech.

Afterwards, I will be working on the following g games:

  1. Keeney Rainbow
  2. Keeney Venus
  3. Bally Miami Beach (magic curtains)
  4. Bally Variety (magic lines)

Then I may switch to magic screen games as I will not have the necessary inputs on my cabinet (yet) for the 4-6 button games.

Magic screens are VERY complex, but once I crack the code of HOW I plan to do it, it is a matter of portioning and artwork for all of them, just like the others. :slight_smile:


#19

Know what this means?


#20

http://bingo.cdyn.com/machines/features.html#magicscreen

The most requested game type and most beloved by Bally bingo players. The basic graphics layers are complete for the first Magic Screen game. Today I will dive into programming the logic on it.