Reprogramming pinball machines

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MAKE Projects Editor, Paul Spinrad, sent me a link to this project and the following message:

Some CS / Game Development students hacked a Lord Of The Rings pinball machine, taking full control of its sensors, actuators, and display, and reprogrammed it to play Pinhorse — like the basketball game, but you try to match your opponent’s pinball shots in a certain amount of time, guided by the playfield lights and display. Control comes from a Linux PC and a Parallax microcontroller. Here’s the project page with a video and academic paper. Naturally, they had to do some heavy-duty reverse-engineering.

The video narrative is a little hard to follow, but it does look like an interesting, challenging project.

Project “Programming Pinball Machines” [Thanks, Paul!]

2 thoughts on “Reprogramming pinball machines

  1. Nick: The Pinball Blog says:

    Interesting stuff.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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