How Do Pinball Flippers Work?

Pinball are considered as classic game which you would often find in arcades. They are very interesting and fascinating with their flashing lights and unique sounds. If you find them interesting, you came to the right place as through this article, we shall learn about one of the parts of this game which is its flippers.

Pinball flippers actually work through electromagnet which would pull the iron rod which is connected to a lever called solenoid which when activated will move the flipper up and back to its resting position. With this simple explanation, you might get a general idea on how a pinball flipper works. However, if you wish to learn more, all you have to do is read further.

How Pinball Flippers Work

For the flippers to work, you would have to activate them by pressing its designated buttons. These buttons are made of plastic caps which are on electrical switches which of course power the electricity on and off of your copper wire coil which is wound on the plastic bobbin.

The mentioned coil and plunger are actually called solenoid and when this coil gets powered, it would then work as an electromagnet which would then pull the iron plunger into the bobbin core which would then pull a small lever which is attached to the flipper. When you release the button it would cut off the power which would lead to it letting go of the plunger which would then put the flipper back to its resting position.

How The Flipper Affects the Ball

A pinball comes with a steel ball which is measured more or less with a diameter of twenty seven millimeters. It is about eighty grams which means, the flippers of this machine would need enough power to be able to kick the ball hard to be able for it move over the downward slope of its playing field. The creators of this game ensure that the flippers of this machine have the ability to be able to deliver up to thirteen kilograms of force.

Flippers come with two coils unlike a normal solenoid which has only one coil. Coils are very important in terms of flippers as they are the ones that ensures to provide the punch. As the flipper solenoid gets powered on, it would then pull the plunger which would then trigger the microswitch that would then turn the main coil off and turn the low power coil on. This is done to make sure that the main coil would not burn nor would it overheat.

How Hard Does The Flipper Hit The Ball?

This would depend on the solenoids being used by your pinball machine. As mentioned earlier, it is the solenoid that powers your flippers. Manufacturers use different types of solenoids and the types are often based on its application and voltage which they use to switch the solenoids.

There are pinball machines that use high power solenoids which means it would provide higher power of force for the flipper to hit the ball.

If you wish to replace original solenoids, you will have to ensure that you consider the voltage rating and the mounting hole pattern.

When Were Flippers Added to Pinball Machines?

Flippers were made part of pinball machines in the year 1947. At this time, the machine used six flippers where three of them were placed on one side and the other three on the other side.

Flippers were actually invented by Harry Mabs and Wayne Neyens and the spring launcher was developed in 1869 by Montague Redgrave. This has made a huge impact and became a very integral part of the pinball machine.

It has actually been said that pinball could actually be as Bagatelle updated and evolved version.

Bumpers and Lights

In the 1930s bumpers, lights and solenoids were replaced by steel pins and marbles. Even though the machine has been improved for more players to be able to play it with at ease, player skill was still very limited.

Introduction of Flippers

After bumpers and lights were introduced, flippers were then developed. This has allowed the player to defend and save the ball from going down the center drain which has actually added to the excitement and ability to keep the ball in play for longer period of time. This also allowed the player to double and triple the playing time.

Flippers were introduced in 1947 by two Chicago game designers who we have introduced earlier – Harry Mabs and Wayne Neyens.

How The Flipper Impacted Player Skill

When the flipper of pinball was introduced, higher standards of skills suddenly were required and need. You, as a player will have to catch the ball with your flipper to ensure it would not fall. If you lose momentum, there is a high risk that the ball would fall which would then constitute of you losing the game. Moreover, through the use of the flipper you would need to hit the ball with a maximum force for you to be able to hit more score. This game would need a lot of practice, concentration and patience.

Different Levels of Skill Evolved

There are different types of skilled players. There are players who would be playing in the arcade for hours, just practicing as much as they could. They would try to get a higher score then the previous game. An average player on the other hand would just enjoy hitting the ball every now and then which would extending the playing time.

As mentioned earlier, pinball machines come wth bumpers which has rings around them. These are powered by solenoid wherein when a ball hits it, it would kick or bounce the ball away which tends to bring the ball towards the center drain. This means, the player must be fast enough to hit the ball back towards the playing field.

Flippers Redefined High Scores

When the flippers were not yet introduced, the player does not have control over where the path of the ball will go. They could not save or prevent the ball from falling down the center drain which means it could be based on luck. However, with the introduction of flippers, the player could help in ensuring that the ball would not just fall down the center drain. In short, through the use of flippers, scores tend to be higher compared to when the game still does not have the flippers.

Flippers With Multi-Ball Games

With flippers the game provides the continuity of the game which makes it longer. It allows skilled players to hit balls into different areas of the playfield.

Types of Pinball Flippers

In 1980s, electromechanical became obsolete as microprocessors were introduced. Though that is the case, basic design and construction of flippers remained. They are made of plastic with strip of rubber. Its length is between one and a half to three inches.

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