I have been following the thread on Pinside regarding Meteor 2021 and how it uses an Arduino Nano to create new code with Bally/Stern games. These classic games have been given new life with this inexpensive way to update their code. This sounded like a great project to try as I have a Stern Meteor. I started the process by going to the ballysternos.github.io link.

Building the Hardware

I read through the document and decided to order the kit from RoyGBev. It’s not too difficult of a circuit to create, but decided to go with the easier (and more professional looking) route.

The circuit took about 20 minutes to solder together. The kit is designed for the no-pin version of Arduino Nano. However, the Arduino that I ordered had pins, and probably made it easier to install. One thing I would do differently is to add the 34-pin female, housing as the last step. I installed it close to the start of the build and it was in the way on a couple of the components.

Get the Library

This is pretty easy to do and the steps are clearly spelled out. I created a folder called Meteor2021 and put all of the files in this folder.

Getting the Software

This is pretty identical to the step above. I just put all of the files in the Meteor2021 folder. The next section will go over setting up the Arduino.

Compile the Software and Install It on an Arduino Nano

If you don’t have the Adruino IDE installed, go ahead and do that. Next, go to the device manger tab, you can see what port the Arduino is using. I had to install a driver for my Nano, because I was getting an explanation point when I looked at the port. With the Arduino open, I had to select the board Arduino Nano and ATMega328P (Old Bootloader) along with the correct Port. After doing these steps, my computer then could compile and upload the blink test to my Arduino Nano.

Installing the Card on J5 of a Working Machine

This was pretty easy to do, and just make sure all the pins and connectors are lined up correctly. The game booted up and could play the game without sounds. Consequently, I ordered a WAV Trigger board (affiliate link) from Amazon, 2GB microSD card (affiliate link), and a FTDI to USB adapter (affiliate link). These three items will allow me to upgrade the sounds on the machine.

Installation of Arduino for Bally or Stern games

Updating the WAV Trigger

The first thing I did was update the firmware on the WAV trigger board. It helps if it is version 1.30 or higher. I connected the three items listed above and applied power to the Wav Trigger board.

Firmware version that I used
Update Utility Program

You can jumper the 5V pad, but I used an external source. I will come back to this and jumper this connection. This will bring power from the Arduino to the Wav Trigger.

Wav Trigger, FTDI to USB adapter, and other parts used to update and play sounds

I needed to download the Meteor 2021 sound clips onto the MicroSD card. Once the files finish downloading, I installed it into the Wav Trigger. I connected a set of headphones to the audio port, and pressed the button. I could hear the first sound, which tells me everything worked fine.

Game Play

I installed the Arduino and the Wav Trigger, and I am in awe of it! It’s so cool that a Bally or Stern pinball machine can be controlled by an Arduino. Therefore, if I don’t like the rules or sounds, I can simply change it AND this project cost right around $100 to create. I will definitely be spending a lot more time on this, and will probably come back and update this post.

Kits for Purchase

I am considering making kits that that are pre-assembled along with game specific game code installed. If you are interested in buying these kits, please contact me. I would like to see if there is any interest in these before I order parts.

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