Hi, I'm Graham. Welcome to my website.
It introduces the three pinball machines that I have exhibited in the past three years at the Espacio Gallery, East London.
I want to share my passion for pinball machines, in particular machines that are attractive and fun to play.
I have produced an illustrated and animated e-book to help anyone who is interested in building their own machine.
Nowadays it is difficult to find machines in England and very few, it seems, are being made. Recent machines seem to be very complex and confusing to play. This, I believe, is because they are sold for the purposes of serious competition, mainly in the USA. There is only one volume manufacturer left in the world, Stern in Chicago.
So what can be done? One could buy an old machine which has been restored, restore an old machine oneself or design and build one from scratch.
I chose the third option and decided to design and build one myself and to treat it as an artwork. That was three years ago. I exhibited it in The Espacio Gallery in East London and have since made and exhibited a new one each year. Those three pinball machines form the basis this website.
I think that real pinball machines provide a tactile and immediate experience that cannot be had from the virtual version, on an iPad or phone app.
I am keen to share the design and build experience that I have gained in the hope that some of you may be inspired to make your own pinball machine and help to prevent this great 'amusement' from dying out completely.
If you decide to build one you will probably find it a challenge, as I did, but also very interesting and hugely rewarding when you have completed it and you and your friends and family can play it. It’s a great thing to have in your home!
I can remember making things, such as a simple radio, because it was much cheaper than buying one, but that never seems to be the case anymore. Also many things that we now make come in the form of kits of parts with instructions. Pinball Machines are not available at a price affordable to most and neither can they be bought as kits.
Designing & Building the Machines
My machines are designed around pinball mechanisms which have hardly changed in fifty years: Pop Bumpers, Flippers, Slingshots etc.
I have created animations of these to illustrate how they operate. All the animations are included in the e-book - see ‘Animations and photos’ below.
This photograph shows Simon, my son, helping me to test the circuit design. He also wrote all the programs for the machines.
The Pinball Machines
Lost Soul (2017)
This is my latest pinball machine, 'Lost Soul'. It was exhibited at the Espacio Gallery, East London in May 2017.
Its theme is based on the 'Parable of the Lost Sheep' in Luke, Chapter 15.
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?.” The soul, in the case of the pinball machine, is lost to addictions such as drink, drugs, gambling and sex.
At some point in the game a 'Lost Sheep' target is raised and the player receives a bonus score if he hits it.
'Galapagos' was my second pinball machine. Its theme is based on Darwin’s journey, aboard the Beagle sailing ship, to the Galapagos Islands in the 1830’s.
It was exhibited at the Espacio Gallery in May 2016.
'Alice' was my first attempt at making a pinball machine.
It was electro-mechanical, as early pinball machines were. It had no electronics and could not be programmed so although it had lighting, it had no sound and could not keep score. The aim was just to keep the ball in play as long as possible.
It was exhibited at the Espacio Gallery in May 2015.
EBook - How to Make a Pinball Machine
If you are interested in building a pinball machine or in understanding how one works, then please download this eBook. This first edition is completely free!
- Many animations showing how mechanisms such as flippers work (see example below)
- Playfield construction with dimensions
- Circuit diagrams
- Circuit board designs
- Required software
I hope you enjoy the book. I welcome feedback, questions and your ideas.
Printed Circuit Boards
In a bid to get more people building the pinball of their dreams my son, Simon (who wrote the programs for the machines) is thinking of getting a batch of printed circuit boards made up to make it easier to connect your Arduino to to the pinball mechanics. These would incorporate switch sensing, triggering the hardware and driving the scoreboard.
Please let us know if this is something you’d be interested in buying; once we know that enough people are interested it’ll take about four weeks to make the designs and get the boards made up and dispatched.
The price is going to depend on the amount of interest so let us know what you think and we’ll get building!
Just add your details and a comment to the comments section at the very bottom of this page.