An I/O controller for virtual pinball machines: accelerometer nudge sensing, analog plunger input, button input encoding, LedWiz compatible output controls, and more.

Dependencies:   mbed FastIO FastPWM USBDevice

Fork of Pinscape_Controller by Mike R

/media/uploads/mjr/pinscape_no_background_small_L7Miwr6.jpg

This is Version 2 of the Pinscape Controller, an I/O controller for virtual pinball machines. (You can find the old version 1 software here.) Pinscape is software for the KL25Z that turns the board into a full-featured I/O controller for virtual pinball, with support for accelerometer-based nudging, a real plunger, button inputs, and feedback device control.

In case you haven't heard of the concept before, a "virtual pinball machine" is basically a video pinball simulator that's built into a real pinball machine body. A TV monitor goes in place of the pinball playfield, and a second TV goes in the backbox to serve as the "backglass" display. A third smaller monitor can serve as the "DMD" (the Dot Matrix Display used for scoring on newer machines), or you can even install a real pinball plasma DMD. A computer is hidden inside the cabinet, running pinball emulation software that displays a life-sized playfield on the main TV. The cabinet has all of the usual buttons, too, so it not only looks like the real thing, but plays like it too. That's a picture of my own machine to the right. On the outside, it's built exactly like a real arcade pinball machine, with the same overall dimensions and all of the standard pinball cabinet hardware.

A few small companies build and sell complete, finished virtual pinball machines, but I think it's more fun as a DIY project. If you have some basic wood-working skills and know your way around PCs, you can build one from scratch. The computer part is just an ordinary Windows PC, and all of the pinball emulation can be built out of free, open-source software. In that spirit, the Pinscape Controller is an open-source software/hardware project that offers a no-compromises, all-in-one control center for all of the unique input/output needs of a virtual pinball cabinet. If you've been thinking about building one of these, but you're not sure how to connect a plunger, flipper buttons, lights, nudge sensor, and whatever else you can think of, this project might be just what you're looking for.

You can find much more information about DIY Pin Cab building in general in the Virtual Cabinet Forum on vpforums.org. Also visit my Pinscape Resources page for more about this project and other virtual pinball projects I'm working on.

Downloads

  • Pinscape Release Builds: This page has download links for all of the Pinscape software. To get started, install and run the Pinscape Config Tool on your Windows computer. It will lead you through the steps for installing the Pinscape firmware on the KL25Z.
  • Config Tool Source Code. The complete C# source code for the config tool. You don't need this to run the tool, but it's available if you want to customize anything or see how it works inside.

Documentation

The new Version 2 Build Guide is now complete! This new version aims to be a complete guide to building a virtual pinball machine, including not only the Pinscape elements but all of the basics, from sourcing parts to building all of the hardware.

You can also refer to the original Hardware Build Guide (PDF), but that's out of date now, since it refers to the old version 1 software, which was rather different (especially when it comes to configuration).

System Requirements

The new config tool requires a fairly up-to-date Microsoft .NET installation. If you use Windows Update to keep your system current, you should be fine. A modern version of Internet Explorer (IE) is required, even if you don't use it as your main browser, because the config tool uses some system components that Microsoft packages into the IE install set. I test with IE11, so that's known to work. IE8 doesn't work. IE9 and 10 are unknown at this point.

The Windows requirements are only for the config tool. The firmware doesn't care about anything on the Windows side, so if you can make do without the config tool, you can use almost any Windows setup.

Main Features

Plunger: The Pinscape Controller started out as a "mechanical plunger" controller: a device for attaching a real pinball plunger to the video game software so that you could launch the ball the natural way. This is still, of course, a central feature of the project. The software supports several types of sensors: a high-resolution optical sensor (which works by essentially taking pictures of the plunger as it moves); a slide potentionmeter (which determines the position via the changing electrical resistance in the pot); a quadrature sensor (which counts bars printed on a special guide rail that it moves along); and an IR distance sensor (which determines the position by sending pulses of light at the plunger and measuring the round-trip travel time). The Build Guide explains how to set up each type of sensor.

Nudging: The KL25Z (the little microcontroller that the software runs on) has a built-in accelerometer. The Pinscape software uses it to sense when you nudge the cabinet, and feeds the acceleration data to the pinball software on the PC. This turns physical nudges into virtual English on the ball. The accelerometer is quite sensitive and accurate, so we can measure the difference between little bumps and hard shoves, and everything in between. The result is natural and immersive.

Buttons: You can wire real pinball buttons to the KL25Z, and the software will translate the buttons into PC input. You have the option to map each button to a keyboard key or joystick button. You can wire up your flipper buttons, Magna Save buttons, Start button, coin slots, operator buttons, and whatever else you need.

Feedback devices: You can also attach "feedback devices" to the KL25Z. Feedback devices are things that create tactile, sound, and lighting effects in sync with the game action. The most popular PC pinball emulators know how to address a wide variety of these devices, and know how to match them to on-screen action in each virtual table. You just need an I/O controller that translates commands from the PC into electrical signals that turn the devices on and off. The Pinscape Controller can do that for you.

Expansion Boards

There are two main ways to run the Pinscape Controller: standalone, or using the "expansion boards".

In the basic standalone setup, you just need the KL25Z, plus whatever buttons, sensors, and feedback devices you want to attach to it. This mode lets you take advantage of everything the software can do, but for some features, you'll have to build some ad hoc external circuitry to interface external devices with the KL25Z. The Build Guide has detailed plans for exactly what you need to build.

The other option is the Pinscape Expansion Boards. The expansion boards are a companion project, which is also totally free and open-source, that provides Printed Circuit Board (PCB) layouts that are designed specifically to work with the Pinscape software. The PCB designs are in the widely used EAGLE format, which many PCB manufacturers can turn directly into physical boards for you. The expansion boards organize all of the external connections more neatly than on the standalone KL25Z, and they add all of the interface circuitry needed for all of the advanced software functions. The big thing they bring to the table is lots of high-power outputs. The boards provide a modular system that lets you add boards to add more outputs. If you opt for the basic core setup, you'll have enough outputs for all of the toys in a really well-equipped cabinet. If your ambitions go beyond merely well-equipped and run to the ridiculously extravagant, just add an extra board or two. The modular design also means that you can add to the system over time.

Expansion Board project page

Update notes

If you have a Pinscape V1 setup already installed, you should be able to switch to the new version pretty seamlessly. There are just a couple of things to be aware of.

First, the "configuration" procedure is completely different in the new version. Way better and way easier, but it's not what you're used to from V1. In V1, you had to edit the project source code and compile your own custom version of the program. No more! With V2, you simply install the standard, pre-compiled .bin file, and select options using the Pinscape Config Tool on Windows.

Second, if you're using the TSL1410R optical sensor for your plunger, there's a chance you'll need to boost your light source's brightness a little bit. The "shutter speed" is faster in this version, which means that it doesn't spend as much time collecting light per frame as before. The software actually does "auto exposure" adaptation on every frame, so the increased shutter speed really shouldn't bother it, but it does require a certain minimum level of contrast, which requires a certain minimal level of lighting. Check the plunger viewer in the setup tool if you have any problems; if the image looks totally dark, try increasing the light level to see if that helps.

New Features

V2 has numerous new features. Here are some of the highlights...

Dynamic configuration: as explained above, configuration is now handled through the Config Tool on Windows. It's no longer necessary to edit the source code or compile your own modified binary.

Improved plunger sensing: the software now reads the TSL1410R optical sensor about 15x faster than it did before. This allows reading the sensor at full resolution (400dpi), about 400 times per second. The faster frame rate makes a big difference in how accurately we can read the plunger position during the fast motion of a release, which allows for more precise position sensing and faster response. The differences aren't dramatic, since the sensing was already pretty good even with the slower V1 scan rate, but you might notice a little better precision in tricky skill shots.

Keyboard keys: button inputs can now be mapped to keyboard keys. The joystick button option is still available as well, of course. Keyboard keys have the advantage of being closer to universal for PC pinball software: some pinball software can be set up to take joystick input, but nearly all PC pinball emulators can take keyboard input, and nearly all of them use the same key mappings.

Local shift button: one physical button can be designed as the local shift button. This works like a Shift button on a keyboard, but with cabinet buttons. It allows each physical button on the cabinet to have two PC keys assigned, one normal and one shifted. Hold down the local shift button, then press another key, and the other key's shifted key mapping is sent to the PC. The shift button can have a regular key mapping of its own as well, so it can do double duty. The shift feature lets you access more functions without cluttering your cabinet with extra buttons. It's especially nice for less frequently used functions like adjusting the volume or activating night mode.

Night mode: the output controller has a new "night mode" option, which lets you turn off all of your noisy devices with a single button, switch, or PC command. You can designate individual ports as noisy or not. Night mode only disables the noisemakers, so you still get the benefit of your flashers, button lights, and other quiet devices. This lets you play late into the night without disturbing your housemates or neighbors.

Gamma correction: you can designate individual output ports for gamma correction. This adjusts the intensity level of an output to make it match the way the human eye perceives brightness, so that fades and color mixes look more natural in lighting devices. You can apply this to individual ports, so that it only affects ports that actually have lights of some kind attached.

IR Remote Control: the controller software can transmit and/or receive IR remote control commands if you attach appropriate parts (an IR LED to send, an IR sensor chip to receive). This can be used to turn on your TV(s) when the system powers on, if they don't turn on automatically, and for any other functions you can think of requiring IR send/receive capabilities. You can assign IR commands to cabinet buttons, so that pressing a button on your cabinet sends a remote control command from the attached IR LED, and you can have the controller generate virtual key presses on your PC in response to received IR commands. If you have the IR sensor attached, the system can use it to learn commands from your existing remotes.

Yet more USB fixes: I've been gradually finding and fixing USB bugs in the mbed library for months now. This version has all of the fixes of the last couple of releases, of course, plus some new ones. It also has a new "last resort" feature, since there always seems to be "just one more" USB bug. The last resort is that you can tell the device to automatically reboot itself if it loses the USB connection and can't restore it within a given time limit.

More Downloads

  • Custom VP builds: I created modified versions of Visual Pinball 9.9 and Physmod5 that you might want to use in combination with this controller. The modified versions have special handling for plunger calibration specific to the Pinscape Controller, as well as some enhancements to the nudge physics. If you're not using the plunger, you might still want it for the nudge improvements. The modified version also works with any other input controller, so you can get the enhanced nudging effects even if you're using a different plunger/nudge kit. The big change in the modified versions is a "filter" for accelerometer input that's designed to make the response to cabinet nudges more realistic. It also makes the response more subdued than in the standard VP, so it's not to everyone's taste. The downloads include both the updated executables and the source code changes, in case you want to merge the changes into your own custom version(s).

    Note! These features are now standard in the official VP releases, so you don't need my custom builds if you're using 9.9.1 or later and/or VP 10. I don't think there's any reason to use my versions instead of the latest official ones, and in fact I'd encourage you to use the official releases since they're more up to date, but I'm leaving my builds available just in case. In the official versions, look for the checkbox "Enable Nudge Filter" in the Keys preferences dialog. My custom versions don't include that checkbox; they just enable the filter unconditionally.
  • Output circuit shopping list: This is a saved shopping cart at mouser.com with the parts needed to build one copy of the high-power output circuit for the LedWiz emulator feature, for use with the standalone KL25Z (that is, without the expansion boards). The quantities in the cart are for one output channel, so if you want N outputs, simply multiply the quantities by the N, with one exception: you only need one ULN2803 transistor array chip for each eight output circuits. If you're using the expansion boards, you won't need any of this, since the boards provide their own high-power outputs.
  • Cary Owens' optical sensor housing: A 3D-printable design for a housing/mounting bracket for the optical plunger sensor, designed by Cary Owens. This makes it easy to mount the sensor.
  • Lemming77's potentiometer mounting bracket and shooter rod connecter: Sketchup designs for 3D-printable parts for mounting a slide potentiometer as the plunger sensor. These were designed for a particular slide potentiometer that used to be available from an Aliexpress.com seller but is no longer listed. You can probably use this design as a starting point for other similar devices; just check the dimensions before committing the design to plastic.

Copyright and License

The Pinscape firmware is copyright 2014, 2021 by Michael J Roberts. It's released under an MIT open-source license. See License.

Warning to VirtuaPin Kit Owners

This software isn't designed as a replacement for the VirtuaPin plunger kit's firmware. If you bought the VirtuaPin kit, I recommend that you don't install this software. The VirtuaPin kit uses the same KL25Z microcontroller that Pinscape uses, but the rest of its hardware is different and incompatible. In particular, the Pinscape firmware doesn't include support for the IR proximity sensor used in the VirtuaPin plunger kit, so you won't be able to use your plunger device with the Pinscape firmware. In addition, the VirtuaPin setup uses a different set of GPIO pins for the button inputs from the Pinscape defaults, so if you do install the Pinscape firmware, you'll have to go into the Config Tool and reassign all of the buttons to match the VirtuaPin wiring.

Committer:
mjr
Date:
Sat Apr 18 19:08:55 2020 +0000
Revision:
109:310ac82cbbee
Parent:
79:682ae3171a08
TCD1103 DMA setup time padding to fix sporadic missed first pixel in transfer; fix TV ON so that the TV ON IR commands don't have to be grouped in the IR command first slots

Who changed what in which revision?

UserRevisionLine numberNew contents of line
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 1 #include "mbed.h"
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 2 #include "NewMalloc.h"
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 3
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 4 extern void diagLED(int, int, int);
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 5
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 6 // Custom memory allocator. We use our own version of malloc() for more
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 7 // efficient memory usage, and to provide diagnostics if we run out of heap.
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 8 //
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 9 // We can implement a more efficient malloc than the library can because we
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 10 // can make an assumption that the library can't: allocations are permanent.
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 11 // The normal malloc has to assume that allocations can be freed, so it has
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 12 // to track blocks individually. For the purposes of this program, though,
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 13 // we don't have to do this because virtually all of our allocations are
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 14 // de facto permanent. We only allocate dyanmic memory during setup, and
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 15 // once we set things up, we never delete anything. This means that we can
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 16 // allocate memory in bare blocks without any bookkeeping overhead.
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 17 //
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 18 // In addition, we can make a larger overall pool of memory available in
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 19 // a custom allocator. The RTL malloc() seems to have a pool of about 3K
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 20 // to work with, even though there really seems to be at least 8K left after
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 21 // reserving a reasonable amount of space for the stack.
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 22
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 23 // halt with a diagnostic display if we run out of memory
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 24 void HaltOutOfMem()
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 25 {
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 26 printf("\r\nOut Of Memory\r\n");
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 27 // halt with the diagnostic display (by looping forever)
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 28 for (;;)
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 29 {
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 30 diagLED(1, 0, 0);
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 31 wait_us(200000);
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 32 diagLED(1, 0, 1);
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 33 wait_us(200000);
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 34 }
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 35 }
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 36
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 37 // For our custom malloc, we take advantage of the known layout of the
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 38 // mbed library memory management. The mbed library puts all of the
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 39 // static read/write data at the low end of RAM; this includes the
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 40 // initialized statics and the "ZI" (zero-initialized) statics. The
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 41 // malloc heap starts just after the last static, growing upwards as
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 42 // memory is allocated. The stack starts at the top of RAM and grows
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 43 // downwards.
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 44 //
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 45 // To figure out where the free memory starts, we simply call the system
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 46 // malloc() to make a dummy allocation the first time we're called, and
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 47 // use the address it returns as the start of our free memory pool. The
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 48 // first malloc() call presumably returns the lowest byte of the pool in
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 49 // the compiler RTL's way of thinking, and from what we know about the
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 50 // mbed heap layout, we know everything above this point should be free,
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 51 // at least until we reach the lowest address used by the stack.
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 52 //
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 53 // The ultimate size of the stack is of course dynamic and unpredictable.
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 54 // In testing, it appears that we currently need a little over 1K. To be
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 55 // conservative, we'll reserve 2K for the stack, by taking it out of the
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 56 // space at top of memory we consider fair game for malloc.
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 57 //
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 58 // Note that we could do this a little more low-level-ly if we wanted.
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 59 // The ARM linker provides a pre-defined extern char[] variable named
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 60 // Image$$RW_IRAM1$$ZI$$Limit, which is always placed just after the
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 61 // last static data variable. In principle, this tells us the start
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 62 // of the available malloc pool. However, in testing, it doesn't seem
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 63 // safe to use this as the start of our malloc pool. I'm not sure why,
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 64 // but probably something in the startup code (either in the C RTL or
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 65 // the mbed library) is allocating from the pool before we get control.
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 66 // So we won't use that approach. Besides, that would tie us even more
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 67 // closely to the ARM compiler. With our malloc() probe approach, we're
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 68 // at least portable to any compiler that uses the same basic memory
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 69 // layout, with the heap above the statics and the stack at top of
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 70 // memory; this isn't universal, but it's very typical.
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 71
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 72 extern "C" {
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 73 void *$Sub$$malloc(size_t);
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 74 void *$Super$$malloc(size_t);
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 75 void $Sub$$free(void *);
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 76 };
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 77
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 78 // override the system malloc
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 79 void *$Sub$$malloc(size_t siz)
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 80 {
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 81 return xmalloc(siz);
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 82 }
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 83
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 84 // custom allocator pool
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 85 static char *xmalloc_nxt = 0;
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 86 size_t xmalloc_rem = 0;
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 87
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 88 // custom allocator
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 89 void *xmalloc(size_t siz)
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 90 {
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 91 // initialize the pool if we haven't already
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 92 if (xmalloc_nxt == 0)
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 93 {
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 94 // do a dummy allocation with the system malloc() to find where
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 95 // the free pool starts
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 96 xmalloc_nxt = (char *)$Super$$malloc(4);
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 97
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 98 // figure the amount of space we can use - we have from the base
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 99 // of the pool to the top of RAM, minus an allowance for the stack
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 100 const uint32_t TopOfRAM = 0x20003000UL;
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 101 const uint32_t StackSize = 2*1024;
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 102 xmalloc_rem = TopOfRAM - StackSize - uint32_t(xmalloc_nxt);
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 103 }
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 104
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 105 // align to a dword boundary
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 106 siz = (siz + 3) & ~3;
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 107
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 108 // make sure we have enough space left for this chunk
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 109 if (siz > xmalloc_rem)
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 110 HaltOutOfMem();
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 111
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 112 // carve the chunk out of the remaining free pool
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 113 char *ret = xmalloc_nxt;
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 114 xmalloc_nxt += siz;
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 115 xmalloc_rem -= siz;
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 116
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 117 // return the allocated space
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 118 return ret;
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 119 }
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 120
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 121 // Remaining free memory
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 122 size_t mallocBytesFree()
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 123 {
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 124 return xmalloc_rem;
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 125 }
mjr 79:682ae3171a08 126