VISITS THE JERSEY
JACK PINBALL FACTORY
Date: 1st November, 2012
The visit had been arranged for some time, but we had no idea what we'd find when we turned up at the Jersey Jack Pinball offices in Lakewood, New Jersey. Would the factory still be empty awaiting delivery of all the components? Or would numerous The Wizard of Oz machines be merrily rolling along the production line?
As it turned out, it was something in-between.
Games were being put together on the line, but the quantities were relatively small and designed to establish the processes to be undertaken at each workstation on the line. This weekend though, the pace picks up as fifty more games begin their journey down the line for shipping to certain distributors after the IAAPA show later this month.
There's been plenty of activity already in the factory with production of assemblies and mini-playfields well under way, as we shall see shortly. There's also a serious amount of hardware ready and waiting to be bolted, wired and screwed together into full games.
The building has been greatly expanded for the Jersey Jack Pinball operation, providing several new offices for the additional members of staff, a number of workshops for product development and extra dining facilities.
But the largest new space, by far, is the factory.
There are currently four main areas of production. The first is the long, snaking playfield production line you see most prominently in the picture above.
Behind the playfield line is the assembly construction area, where mini-playfields and other large assemblies are put together so they are ready to be added to the playfield as it reaches the appropriate point on the line.
On the right of the picture above is the cabinet and backbox assembly area. This is where the pre-printed cabinets have all their hardware and electrical parts installed, such as the transformer, cabinet speaker, ground braid, flipper buttons and shooter rod.
The final area is even further to the right and out of shot. This is the main parts storage area where dozens upon dozens of boxes of every pinball part you could think of arrive to be checked. There is a smaller parts store next to the assembly construction area so the components needed are on hand, but the bulk of the parts live at the far end of the factory, for now at least.
We'll look at all these areas in detail, but before we do so we should stress how nothing you see in these pictures necessarily shows how the game will appear when it goes into production and buyers receive their machines.
There are several areas we know will be different - and we'll point those out as we go along - and others which may be changed depending on the outcome of certain tests or suggested improvements.
So with that proviso, let's begin our look around the Jersey Jack Pinball factory starting with the playfield line.
The games on the line will be heading south to Orlando for the IAAPA show in November where Jersey Jack Pinball will have their own stand to market The Wizard of Oz to operators and distributors.
Because of the small number involved, these games are being built in a different way from the eventual process which will be used, with team members moving between playfields to install the various components, rather than the playfields doing the moving on their specially-built playfield rotisseries.
Each workstation has a number of bins containing the parts to be installed, and the tools used to install them. All powered tools are electrical rather than pneumatic.
Each playfield sits on a rotisserie which clamps down on the front playfield latches and allows the playfield to be flipped over or held at a number of angles. There are rotisseries all over the factory with some new ones still in their wrapping, ready to be deployed.
The line consists of four long sections split into pairs, with a shorter section connecting them.
The second area we mentioned area is for the construction of assemblies and the preparation and testing of components before they go onto the main playfield.
Here are two of the assemblies used in the game.
Another shipment of playfields was due to arrive a couple of days after our visit. The all arrive beautifully packed in hand-made wooden shipping crates, complete with closing, lockable double doors.
The parts store behind the playfield rack contained only a small selection of the parts in the factory.
The third area is the place where the cabinets and backboxes arrive to be fitted with their necessary hardware. And there's no shortage of cabinets in the JJP factory.
The cabinets arrive from the cabinet maker with almost no metal parts fitted except the leg bolt plates. Everything else is installed here at the factory.
The two fans at the rear of the cabinet may not be needed, and either or both or them may be removed if the game is happy without them.
Then we come to the backboxes.
The final area is where the parts come into the building and are checked for quality.
That concludes our look at the factory but we can now take a detailed look at the The Wizard of Oz game itself, starting with the playfield.
The 'lamps' are all RGB LEDs of course, mounted either on the nine large circuit boards, or on smaller individual boards such as these...
When the playfield is fully wired, it looks more like this:
The Wizard of Oz uses a whole new system of general illumination. These frosted clear posts pass through the playfield and protrude above the surface.
An RGB LED sits under the base of the post and illuminates it, with the frosted finish radiating the light like a lamp. The rubber ring on the post prevents it falling out when the playfield is inverted.
The final area to examine is found at the bottom of the main cabinet where all the electronics live.
Most of the electronics live in a metal box which is tied to the base of the cabinet with removable rubber bungs.
The design of the metal boxes is likely to change to optimise the airflow created by the fans at the back.
Inside the metal box we find the PC board, the driver board, the amplifier board and a power supply.
Again, this arrangement is liable to change, as there are two separate power supplies here (one in the box and one behind the speaker) and these may be combined into a single unit inside the box.
The motherboard used here is a passively-cooled Intel mini-ITX one, with an Atom D2700 CPU. Because the game runs on Linux, it is not tied to this particular type or brand of motherboard or CPU, making it much more future-proof than Pinball 2000 was.
The motherboard connects to a solid-state drive which contains the operating system, the game code and all the assets.
Here's the driver board in this game. It too is going to change. This is a revision 4 board, and is likely to be revision 6 or higher in production games.
There are plenty of driver transistors and the board has its own microprocessor. it connects to the motherboard by USB.
And here's the audio board created by Pinnovators for JJP.
This drives the two sets of 3 backbox speakers and the Pyramid bass speaker at the back of the cabinet.
And that look inside the game brings us to the end of this tour of the Jersey Jack Pinball factory.
Huge thanks to Jack Guarnieri and his staff at Jersey Jack Pinball for letting us visit and bring you this report.
Everything in the factory looks so clean and solidly-built. The same goes for the game. Everything you touch to see how much it wobbles is rock solid, with no flex or play.
Everyone is obviously champing at the bit to fire up the production line and get those completed machines into the loading bay, into the trucks and into customers' hands.
It surely won't be too much longer now.
© Pinball News 2012