Pinball Wizard Builds Massive Machine

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Pinball Wizard Builds Massive Machine
Photo by Katharina Iskam / Phæno

A self-proclaimed inventor of useless things, Niklas Roy has built the largest pinball machine I’ve ever seen. The Galactic Dimension pinball machine is indeed of galactic dimensions, towering at almost 20 feet tall, with a wide berth of almost 10 feet (3m×6m).

The colossal game was constructed for the 2015 pinball exhibition at Phæno, a science center in Wolfsburg, Germany, which is also currently housing about 30 classic pinball machines from the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, California.


The steep 30° incline alone proved to be a hurdle for Roy, who had to put careful consideration into both the balls and the flippers. He overcame the issue of gravity by using extremely light and hollow silver plastic balls.

Roy went through three flipper prototypes before he fine-tuned his design. Instead of solenoid powered models commonly seen on regular-sized pinball machines, he opted for a pneumatic cylinder design controlled by electromagnetic valves. This was facilitated by the convenient fact that the museum has compressed air outlets throughout. After two iterations that weren’t quite right, Roy found his third prototype to have the perfect levels of weight, spring, and sound.

Courtesy of Niklas Roy

Roy was motivated by the desire to inspire others to build things at home, so he upcycled everyday items like hair dryers and office fans in order to populate the playfield. He says:

I wanted to (mis-)use as many household items as possible. I thought it would be fun if the exhibition visitors could recognize the objects, and how I gave them a different purpose in the mega pinball machine. The plunger, for instance, was a combination of a sewer pipe and a hair dryer, blowing the ball up the playfield.


The playfield and its components are composed of modular elements for ease of assembly and maintenance. Each module is powered with its own 220V power supply and has a ball-detecting sensor, an Arduino microcontroller, and sound effects.

Roy says he was honored to learn after the installation that the mega game had been played and thoroughly enjoyed by German pinball champion Andreas Harre. Roy was ecstatic that his build could “provoke such a galactic reaction of a true pinball wizard!”

The exhibition runs until September 2015, so check out Galactic Dimension while you have the chance!


[via Niklas Roy]

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Sophia is the managing editor of the Make: blog. When she’s not greasing editorial gears, she likes to run, ride, climb, and lift things, and make lo-tech goods like zines, desserts, and altered clothing. @sophiuhcamille

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