Building a virtual pinball machine can become a giant headache if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why we’ve created this resource page for all things virtual pinball. You’ll find useful websites to learn more about the game, and some links to places to pick up parts as well.
This is a great forum for anyone interested in virtual pinball, from newbies to veterans. A lot of questions have been answered and you can easily ask your own after signing up. They have a guide to installing VPX on the top left of the menu which is especially useful for beginners.
The various references on the site will help you create your own games, upload sound effects, and it’ll give you some ready-made images you can use as well.
VPUniverse is essentially the Pinside for everything to do with virtual pinball. They have easy to install graphics and backglass displays, upgrades and VPX tables. They also have a forum where you can ask any questions you have and there are a lot of tips for starting a virtual machine.
VPinball has a bunch of downloadable tables, easy step by step guides and a forum of their own as well. They even have an app you can download for easy access to all of their resources.
This is a site that sells every part you’ll need to make your own virtual pinball machine. This includes kits for cabinets and bundle packs too.
Electrical Components For Your Virtual Pinball Machine
Intel Core i5 Processor
This will ensure a fast processing speed that can handle fast-paced gameplay. There are cheaper ones like the i3 that will work fine as well, but the later generations and the i5-i7 are more powerful. If you can, you should try to buy one with a fan or cooling system already installed.
MSI Motherboard H310 Pro-M2
This motherboard should handle most Intel processors.
Seagate BarraCuda 1TB HDD Hard Drive
This will give you enough space to download lots of games onto your machine.
OCZ 120GB Vertex 3 SSD Drive
This handles 750mb per second transfer speed with a life expectancy of two million hours.
Corsair 8GB Kit 2133 DDR4 RAM Memory
This is compatible with many MSI Motherboards and with 8GB of RAM you’ll be sure to have your machine running smoothly at all times.
600 Watt Thermaltake
This is a smart energy cooling fan for your pc. As these machines will get very hot playing games, it’s good to have one or even two of these to keep the temperatures down as much as possible. Adding a fan or two pushing air out of the cabinet will help as well.
MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Graphics Card
You will most likely be running one or more monitors, so you’ll need a good graphics card.
Parts For The Machine And Cabinet
If you’re building the cabinet yourself you should only need some wood, glue, screws and maybe some metal supports. But if you’re interested in buying a kit, VirtuaPin has some easy DIY kit builds with step-by-step guides.
Buttons And Speakers
VirtuaPin also has button kits for all the flipper buttons, some extra selection buttons and a launch button too. These also include a few extra buttons just in case you need to replace one. They also have a great speaker set designed for the backbox of your machine. These are called Flipper Fidelity with 3 different sizes: 4″, 5.25″ and 8″.
If a launch button doesn’t entertain you as much as the plunger, you can grab a Virtual Plunger kit instead. For added style you can add on a full color dot matrix display. This can be placed under your backglass display.
After the cabinet is constructed you may want some decals or paint to make it look good. If you’re putting on decals yourself, you want to paint the cabinet first so the decals will stick to the cabinet. A bucket of paint is usually quite cheap and if you’re putting decals on it there’s no point in splurging.
When ordering decals, try to get Air Egress Vinyl, preferably the cast product. And make sure it can be or is laminated as this will protect it from UV damage and any dings to the cabinet. VirtuaPin has some premade decals for your machine, or you can make your own custom decals.
Retro Refurbs also have decals, but as they’re based in the UK you may need to factor in shipping costs. Game On Graphix sell graphics for arcade machines and will take custom orders for pinball cabinets. Planetary Pinball has a wide variety of pinball decal artworks to look through as well.
TV monitors will be your main expense as they act as the backglass and playfield areas. Whether you are building your own cabinet or purchasing a kit you must make sure it will fit the TV screens. Popular sizes are 40-46″ for playfields and 20-27″ for display screens.
These TV screens should be LCD or LED flat panel, as this will make sure they are very light, don’t take up a lot of space and result in clear visuals. 40″ TVs are becoming harder to find and a lot of companies have gone for around 32-36″ and 42” and above, but there are some like this TCL 40″ 1080p smart tv.
For the backglass display a 22″ LED Sceptre E225W Ultra Thin is a good idea. Crucially, it supports 1080p quality. For your displays it’s advised to have monitors that can display at least 1080p resolutions. This will give your table a very crisp look and make it easy to really see all the detail.
Some people have gone up to 4K displays which could be seen as overkill, but it depends on your price range and if it’s worth it for you personally. But when you upgrade to 4K TVs, you will also need a more advanced computer to display at that resolution.
If you do not know how to build a pc, buying a prebuilt one is a perfectly fine alternative. This SkyTech Shadow Gaming Computer will run VPX as it has over the minimum requirements without breaking the bank. You get 1TB of hard drive memory, a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB graphics card, 8GB of Ram and a 4-core 3.1 processor by AMD.
You can also try it out with a computer you already have. Just install VPX and test out a game to see if it works. However, it’s not recommended that you use an older computer that already has a lot of files on the hard drive, as this can slow the game down and will make the computer work harder.
Special Effects Controller
This LEDWhiz 32 output controller will help control all your buttons, lights, LED lights and any other special effects you install onto your cabinet. This will allow you to control settings for each input for 5 to 12 volts. This SainSmart relay board can be used for higher voltage parts such as relays and solenoids.
Adding some lights to your machine can make it feel like you’re playing on a real pinball cabinet. There are many different kinds, from flasher lights to LED strips. This LED Strip will give you 16.4 feet of flexible color changing lights.
If you have a lot of wires or are going to add dimmers you might want some LED channel holders. These will help give you easy access to the lights in a holder instead of just sitting against the wood, which helps keep things tidy as well.
Relays And Solenoids
Relays and solenoids by Siemens (model 3RH1140-1BB40) can make your machine very realistic in that they will sound like a real switch when you use any buttons or hit any bumpers. The average number you’ll need is 8, with 2 for each flipper, and then for slingshots too, but you can get up to 16.
These will be used with the SainSmart relay board. You can also find used versions of these on eBay since they can be quite expensive to buy brand new. There are also different models out there for much cheaper prices, so you should shop around before settling on a particular model.
When you configure your game to the buttons you will need some way to connect the keyboard buttons with the buttons on your machine. You can use the I-Pac 2 Arcade Game Controller to do this. Some games can even be configured with an Xbox controller, but that would need to use a different process entirely, and it can be quite complex.