How Would You Model a Pinball Flipper?

  • slearwig

    slearwig - 2011-12-23

    I've been looking at this for some time. The length, the start radius, the end radius, and the two or three types of pinball flippers
    (1) round-tip short flippers such as the early Gottlieb/Williams/Bally flippers,
    (2) round tip long flippers such as the Bally flippers used on pinball machines in the 1970's, and
    (3) blade-tip long flippers such as the classic Williams pinball flipper.

    I've tried modelling a rectangle with taper and smoothing methods and adjusting tension on either end.
    I've tried skinning two curves.
    And I'm stumped. My efforts are very irregular.

    This is the best that I've been able to do, based on the Import .svg  plugin using a binary image of the 2D shape and then using the Extrude tool, but I am wondering if there is a direct method for modelling flippers?.

    Also, is there a way to pin the axis at the hub of the flipper so that it swings only "on its mounting post"?

  • Luke S

    Luke S - 2011-12-24

    Hey, that image does not look too bad. You could go into the trimesh editor, and bevel some edges if you want more curved surfaces. (Or get the PolyMesh plugin - It is easier to use in some ways)

    For the axis of rotation, put a bone at the hub, and apply a rotation track to it. (see section 6.2.1 of the current manual - If you haven't discovered it yet, I'd highly recommend getting it. HERE Just updated for version 2.9)

  • Harald G

    Harald G - 2011-12-27

    I hope you can see this pic:

    Uploaded with

    It`s a step by step tut for your flipper.
    Starting with a PME (PolyMeshExtension - Plugin) cylinder of 24 sides (choose whatever you want)
    Delete the vertices on one side - leaves you with a plane (polygon) that has 24 vertices.
    Select, move and than scale the vertices like in the picture.
    After that (not shown anymore) you can extrude or thicken your polygon, adding details that are going to be walls or radii.

    Hope that helps

  • pencilart

    pencilart - 2011-12-27

    Hey Harald,
    Thanks for posting that.
    I am working on a motorcycle and there is a part that is shaped like that.

  • Harald G

    Harald G - 2011-12-27

    The cover for the driving belt I assume?
    Yes - very versatile this part ;)

    We do need an Youtube account for video tutorials!
    Would make (3D-)life a lot easier…

  • pencilart

    pencilart - 2011-12-28

    vidiot: Yeah, that's it! I couldn't remember the name of the part, lol.

  • slearwig

    slearwig - 2012-01-16

    I am late in returning!

    I am having trouble seeing the pictorial. I wish I could.
    To vidiot: PME (PolyMeshExtension - Plugin). Do you mean the Create Polygon tool with the RGB Pentagon, Triangle, and Square on the menu button? The Polymesh tool with the pink cube on the button appears to only allows pre-defined shapes. Or is there a script download for a different PolyMeshExtension?

    Something else. For some reason when using the Create Polygon tool and then when I Extrude the polygon, my copy of AOI v. 2.9 Tools > Extrude is skewing the polygon extrusion to the right along its height from bottom to top.
    Is it the Extrude settings?

  • slearwig

    slearwig - 2012-01-16

    The last several times I've started AOI 2.9, I've seen the skewing occur in the Extrude tool, but just now I started AOI and the Extrude worked without the skewing, so there is something intermittent causing the skew.

  • slearwig

    slearwig - 2012-01-17

    Looks like the Vector Dialog is not always being ignored when it is unchecked/not ticked.
    The 1.0 value in the Extrude > Vector Dialog is there by default, but no problem.
    I can reset the z axis to zero for linear extrusion.

    If I may ask, what is the tool that you used to elongate the polygon (cross-hairs and circle) without drawing the ends to a pointy oval, and what tool do you use to delete vertices? I looked at the Manual2.9 and I missed any entries for deleting points or vertices. I can see the cross-hairs in the pictorial, but again, I'm having trouble seeing the controls.

  • pencilart

    pencilart - 2012-01-17

    Well now I have a question: in the last picture, did you have your flipper mesh smoothed, as in approximating? When I try to smooth my mesh, the center is all crooked looking, not nice like yours.
    This is how the edges are set up (unsmoothed) 

    and this is how the edges look when smoothing is set to approximating:

  • Luke S

    Luke S - 2012-01-17

    @slearwig: I know I'm not vidiot, but just in case he is busy today;

    #1 PME is the tool with a little pink cube, but if you already have a mesh to play with: Select it then go to the menu bar >object >convert to polymesh… you might get a dialog asking about converting the mesh to quads, just leave it on the default setting - that usually works fine. You will now have a new object with the same name as your mesh - double click it, and you are in the polymesh editor.

    You can get more information about PME There is a PDF manual, or an html version. I recomend you read it, becase there is a LOT to this tool.

    #2 It looks (I managed to do this on my computer) like your original polygon was not drawn in on of the basic plane views (top, front, etc.) Did you by chance draw it in a view that was set to one of the cameras? This makes a difference because the extrude direction is in WORLD coordinates, eg. z axis extrudes straight out toward you if you are looking at the front view.

    Hope this helps

  • Harald G

    Harald G - 2012-01-18

    Artist, you're quite close.
    Simply select the face with the fuzzy edge, switch to edge mode then and then turn the smoothness to zero (the slider down to the left in PME).
    Than you're done - maybe delete one face and choose the thicken command in PME.
    And so on…

  • pencilart

    pencilart - 2012-01-19

    Thanks! That worked nicely. Now I can put it on my motorcycle. :D


Log in to post a comment.

Get latest updates about Open Source Projects, Conferences and News.

Sign up for the SourceForge newsletter:

JavaScript is required for this form.

No, thanks