Building a Pinball Cabinet


Quick Nav: Intro - Research - Cutting Wood - Assembling - Wiring - Done


Here is my finished machine:


After I play a few games of pinball, I'll install the PinballX front end (menuing system) and a few more tables.

Shopping List

Item**My Cost*Cost
Wood & Screws$60$60
NUC 6i3SYK*-$550
275G SSD for NUC$90$90
4G Memory for NUC$42$42
2.1 Speakers$25$25
27" Backglass monitor*-$182
42" Playfield monitor*-$200
Power Strip$13$13
Audio Splitter$6$6
Official Pinball Items
Legs, feet, leg braces, leg bolts, buttons, plunger/controller
3/16" Tempered Glass$47$47
Side Rails$10$10
Access Door$19$19
Wire* & Connectors$5$30
Power Supply 1x5v*, 1x12v$6$12
Fan Covers (small x5, large x3)$12$12
Case Fan$8$8

*Items marked with a * I already owned or someone gave to me free.
Prices are approximate.

**Links may be to similar items, not exact items I used.


Lessons Learned

While the VP9 tables are fine, I really wanted to play the VPX tables. So... I replaced my NUC 6i3SYK (a 2.3GHz i3-Intel HD 520 graphics) with a NUC 7i7BNH (a 3.5-4GHz i7-Intel Iris Plus 650 graphics). Good news: After the upgrade all of my VPX tables are now playable with no flipper delay!

I've installed the PinballY front end and got it setup for my cabinet the way I like.

I've been running this setup for a while now and everything's been running smooth except for one thing: the i7 NUC has overheated several times after long, intense sessions. I figured there were 3 issues at play here: (1) The NUC case is just too small to get rid of all that heat. (2) The NUC internal fan and heat sink are too small. and (3) My pinball cabinet is not getting enough clean air flow to the PC.

So, today, I tackled those problems one-by-one:

Step 1: move the PC to a better location within the pinball cabinet.

I moved the NUC from near the front of the cabinet (by the access door) to the middle of the cabinet directly over the air intake fan.


Step 2: add an external heat sink to the NUC.

I popped the plastic top off the NUC to expose the internal heat sink.


I purchased a Cooler Master heat sink with a large copper base, copper heat pipes and aluminum fins ($32). It has thermal paste on the copper plate to facilitate thermal transfer from the internal heat sink to the external Cooler Master heat sink.


I mounted the new heat sink to the NUC using 2 large zip ties. I drilled 2 small holes in the mounting board below the NUC so the zip ties could go through the wood.

With the thermal paste and zip ties cranked tight, that thing isn't moving anywhere!


Step 3: testing. It was over a 100°F here today and I played a long, intense session with no lockups.

So, I think that's solved. I'll keep an eye on it. If I still have trouble, I will mount two 120mm exhaust fans in the back of the case.







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