How a pinball machine is designed and built

The designers have a little fun and play-test the machine
Ever wondered just how all of those custom plastic pieces, mechanical assemblies, and electronic circuits are designed and built to make a fun pinball machine?

Pat Lawlor Design, of which you might recognize the name from classic machines such as Twilight Zone, took the time to document the design process they used to create the relatively new Monopoly pinball machine. A team of just four guys worked independantly to design the machine starting in 2000.

Some interesting tidbits:

  • The first (proto) machine’s playfield was completely hand-wired so that they didn’t have to make boards.
  • The software for the Monopoly machine is over 150,000 lines of 6809 assembly which fits in a 128K EPROM.
  • The first dozen production games are assembled extra carefully to ensure the processes are working. These games go to distributors for demos and must be perfect.

Overall, it’s really neat to see the overall process of a machine coming together all the way up to manufacturing. Pinball machines are one of the more complex things you can design and build — and they are largely built by hand because of the levels of customization and the low production numbers.

This playfield was completely hand-assembled A whitewood playfield that’s not so white The designers have a little fun and play-test the machine The Monopoly pinball cabinets waiting to be stuffed

Great reading and photos – a huge thanks to Pat Lawlor Design for taking the time to share this with us! Be sure to read the whole thing!

One thought on “How a pinball machine is designed and built”

  1. I have a client that is interested in a custom built digital pinball machine. Looking for something fun with lots of features. Please advise

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