Described by its Swiss creator as an “affordable, stable, mutable, pure, and simple pinball machine,” the Makerball kit lets you add pretty much anything you want to the layout, and with a few tweaks even lets you perform a digital upgrade.
The starter kit includes the base, mechanical flippers, a number of basic obstacles, and a set of wires and conductive copper foil to make sensors. With the aid of a microcontroller (not supplied) and the free “Make & Play” app, you can link those sensors to your smartphone and start playing for points.
“On our website, we’ll provide you with all instructions required to set up the electronics,” creator Alain Schibli said. “It’s no biggie, even if you have no prior experience. Makerball is also an easy way of entering the maker universe and starting to experiment with microcontrollers.”
For super-simple gameplay, you can discard the techie bits and just have fun with the flippers and whatever creation you build for the board. Check out the video above for some inspiration.
While Makerball clearly features few bells and whistles (in every sense of the term), fun can be had as much from designing and building your pinball machine as actually playing it. Parents with a bit of tech know-how can have a blast setting it up with their kids, or perhaps some of the more switched-on littl’uns can teach mom and dad a thing or two about tech.
Zurich-based Schibli said it’s been a long-held ambition to design his own machine.
“I’ve always liked playing pinball and wanted to own my own pinball machine, but I never had the means to buy one,” he explains on Makerball’s Kickstarter page. “Used models weren’t an option either because I wouldn’t know how to repair them. And I couldn’t decide which kind of machine I wanted anyway. So I came up with the idea of Makerball, an affordable, simple, and versatile DIY pinball machine.”
Makerball was born out of a Master’s design project at Zurich University of the Arts and morphed into the launch version via six prototypes created over the last two years.
The Makerball kit is available for pre-order for $245, though this particular early bird option doesn’t include the legs. To have those as part of the package costs about another $100. If the project gets funded and everything goes to plan, shipping will begin in November, 2017.