Cabinet Parts Guide

Getting all the parts for this project is half the battle. This guide shows what you'll need.

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Step 4 - Buttons etc

There are so many ways you can go about this. Listed here are the simple requirements that will suit most cabinets running Hyperpin and Visual Pinball. I like the idea of simplicity, as said by a mate - you want to walk up to the cabinet and not be confused on what to do. Some people in the MAME cabinet building hobby go way overboard with useless buttons that become an eyesore!

Where to Buy?

All of these items can be purchased through MAME cabinet hobby sites. I purchased mine from an online store OzStick. There are many sites likes these as the MAME cabinet hobby is very popular.

Pinball spare part companies also deal in the buttons obviously. Google is your friend.

Start and Extra Ball

Every table has a start button, you can use as many additional buttons as you like because the software can handle a few! I like simplicity and find that these two cover most situations and present nicely.

Self illuminated buttons. These buttons allow you to add your own decal inside the plastic so the color can shine through.

Desired Features

  • LED illuminated.

Other Options

  • Variety of colours, blue, yellow, green, red etc (pick a colour to suit your theme).

Flipper Buttons

You can't flip with out flipper buttons.

Pictured are standard acrade cabinet buttons. They do the job fine but use microswitches which isn't the same feel of a real flipper button.

Desired Features

  • Min 2 of these in same colour.

Other Options

  • Variety of colours (pick to match you theme).
  • You need at least 2 buttons but some simulated machines can use 4 buttons. (Buy 4 anyway, they are cheap and you can always add them in later if you change your mind.)
  • Real Flipper buttons. You can opt to get real flipper buttons with leaf switches. The leaf switches do not feature a click noise just like a real machine.


Buttons are one part of the equation, when pressed they activate these switches which close the circuit. They are designed to attach to the button. Order a few extras because on rare occasions they need to be replaced.

These little switches usually come with your buttons. Just make sure that they do and order a couple of spares as they can need to be replaced from time to time.

Desired Features

  • You'll need one microswitch for every button you install.

Other Options

  • Use a switch or leaf switch for hooking up a real pinball plunger.
  • Buy a couple of spares as they can ware out.

Keyboard Encoder Controller

With all these switches (buttons) you need a way for the computer to respond to those clicks and presses. These keyboard encoders are designed exactly for that purpose and are readily available thanks to the MAME cabinet hobby. The software and installation is simple even for the electronically challenged. Just wire up the buttons and plug this into a keyboard or USB port and you're away.

The I-Pac2 controller connects your buttons to the computer via the keyboard plug.


While it's possible to "hack" a keyboard, this has problems when you press multiple keys together. The I-Pac2 device has been specificaly designed to address those issues. It's very easy to wire up also. So while a keyboard hack is possible, you will have much less headaches with a dedicated controller like this.

It has plenty of inputs (32) which you will also hook up to your coin door etc. Other makes and models are out there but the I-Pac2  is regarded as a good reliable choice. You won't be sorry with this device, it's worth every cent, easily programmed and readily available.

Button Wire

Wire is needed to connect things like buttons to the keyboard controller and lights to the powersupply. Some dealers can provide wire with easy connectors designed to fit microswitches.

You need a lot of wire to hook everything up. You can buy kits like pictured in front that have easy connectors for the microswitches.

Other Options

  • Purchased in rolls.
  • Colour coded and crimped wire packs.

Menu Buttons (Optional)

The popular front end software HyperPin allows some cool features such as bringing up an instructional card for the current table, and other options. Four buttons will cover these if you want to include it on your cabinet. Alternatively leave them off to simplify the interface.

The buttons come in all shapes and colours, it's your choice!

Desired Features

  • 4 menu buttons can be utilised in the current version of Hyperpin.
  • LED backlit buttons are preferrable.

Other Options

  • Variety of colours and shapes.
  • Add your own decals to these buttons.

Launch Ball Button (Optional)

You can purchase a large "Launch Ball" button from most pinball part retailers to compliment your plunger. This can also be an alternative to a plunger if you prefer. In some cases people have wired up gun like devices to replace both. I still believe a plunger is the best all round solution, but there is no reason why you can't include a seperate launch button for those tables that use them.

Nudging Device (Optional)

There are several ways to create your own nudging device. It's a topic of much conversation on the forums.

Some suggestions are mercury switches, balancing devices wired to detect a nudge etc.

There is also a commercial option from Nanotech that replaces your plunger, button controller and adds nudge sensing to the system. I offer no comment on it's quality or affordability as I have gone the other route, you can find opinions on the product at forums as some have ventured with this.

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