It's a lot of fun to play virtual pinball on an iPad! My favorite game is Pinball Arcade which features excellent physics and a huge host of classic table reproductions, from "Aadams Family Pinball" to "Theatre of Magic" and more. But, playing with the virtual, screen-tapping controls isn't as satisfying as hitting real flipper buttons. Let's solve that!

This Mini Pinball Table is pretty straightforward to build, using slotted aluminum extrusion and hardware. And, the circuit to make it all go is really easy to make -- it requires no soldering, just plug wires and clip alligator clips to the buttons and a Gemma M0 microcontroller, which takes care of the rest!

Any game that supports the iCade protocol can be controlled with the Gemma M0, Trinket M0, Circuit Playground Express, or other boards that can output HID USB keyboard strokes. See next page for more on the iCade protocol.

Control Parts

Listed below are the parts you'll need to make the controller

1 x Adafruit Gemma M0
Miniature wearable electronics microcontroller platform
2 x Arcade Button - 30mm
You'll need two buttons for the flippers, get them in any colors you like!
1 x Arcade Button with LED - 30mm
This one's for the plunger
1 x Small Alligator Clip to Male Jumper Wire Bundle - 12 Pieces
To make connections between the button wiring and the Gemma M0 -- no soldering required!
1 x Short Wire Alligator Clip Test Leads (set of 12)
You'll use these to connect buttons to common ground
1 x USB cable - 6" A/MicroB
Micro USB cable to connect the Gemma M0 to the USB-to-Lightning adapter
These controller parts are all you'll need should you decide to build your own table using other materials, such as LEGO, cardboard, rubber bands and pencils, or who knows what!

Table Materials

These are the parts used to build the aluminum table:

8 x L-Plate for 2020 Aluminum Extrusion
L-plates for corner attachments, flipper button holders
1 x Plastic Hinge for 20x20 Aluminum Extrusion
Hinge for mounting the Gemma M0
1 x Aluminum Extrusion Slim T-Nut for 20x20 - M4 Thread - pack of 50
Easy to use T-nuts -- don't need to slide in from the ends!
1 x Hex Key/Allen Wrench 2.5mm
For driving the M4 screws
1 x Aluminum Extrusion End Caps - pack of 10
These act as feet for a non-scratch finish on the legs

Additional Parts

You'll also need:

  • iPad or iPhone and a copy of The Pinball Arcade or other iCade compatible game
  • an adapter for the iOS device to connect USB to the Lightning port, such as the Apple USB to Lightning Camera Adapter.  (If you have an older iPad or iPhone you will need the 30-pin dock connector version of the camera kit)


The only tools you'll need are the 2.5mm hex driver for the screws, and a hack saw and miter box or other tool (band saw, miter saw with metal cutting blade, Dremel, die grinder, etc.) to cut the lengths of aluminum extrusion.

Most cuts are at a 90 degree angle, but the four feet ends on the legs will be cut at an 87 degree angle to give the table it's signature tilt.

Next, let's program the Gemma M0 to turn button presses into keyboard commands!

This guide was first published on Sep 05, 2017. It was last updated on Feb 20, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Sep 01, 2017.

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