Plungers & Ball Launch Devices

Related Config File Sections
ball_devices:

A Plunger is a type of ball device. MPF supports mechanical (traditional “spring” plungers), coil-fired plungers, and combo auto/manual plungers.

Here are the options:

Since there are so many different options, you need to first identify which type of plunger or ball launch system your machine has. So look at the following pictures to match up what you have, and then follow the specific links to see how to configure MPF to use it in your machine.

Option 1: Spring plunger with ball switch

The most “traditional” style plunger is a spring-powered mechanical plunger lane. In modern machines, there’s a switch at the bottom of the plunger lane which is activated by a ball sitting in the plunger lane waiting to be plunged.

Here’s an example of this from a Pin*Bot machine:

../../_images/plunger_with_switch.jpg

If you have this type of spring-powered plunger with a switch that’s active when a ball is sitting in it ready to be plunged, follow the Mechanical (spring) plungers guide to configure it in MPF.

Option 2: Spring plunger with no ball switch

Older pinball machines (typically those that only have one ball) have what appear to be traditional plungers like in Option 1, but if you look closely, you’ll notice that there is no switch which is active when the ball is sitting in the plunger lane.

Here’s an example of this from Gottlieb Big Shot:

../../_images/plunger_no_switch.jpg

If you have this type of spring-powered plunger with no switch that’s active when a ball is sitting in it ready to be plunged, follow the Plunger lanes with no ball switch guide to configure it in MPF.

Option 3: Combo spring plunger with coil-fired autolauncher

Many modern machines have a combination-style plunger which combines a mechanical spring-powered plunger with an autolauncher coil. These types of plungers allow game to decide whether the player should manually pull back on the plunger handle to launch the ball with spring power or whether the game should pulse a coil to eject the ball into play.

Here are two examples of slightly different versions of these, the left from a Gottlieb Brooks ‘n Dunn machine, and the right from a Stern Star Trek Premium:

../../_images/auto_manual_plunger.jpg

If you have this type of auto/manual combo plunger, follow the Combo (mechanical + coil-fired) plungers guide to configure it in MPF.

Option 4: Coil-fired plunger (no mechanical spring option)

The final plunger option is the fully automatic coil-fired option that has no mechanical spring-based option.

There are a few different physical forms of this. Here’s a typical example from Judge Dredd where a coil shaft with a plastic tip is pulsed to launch the ball directly:

../../_images/coil_fired_plunger.jpg

And here’s an example from Williams Star Trek: The Next Generation which uses a catapult-style mechanism in order to launch the ball into play.

../../_images/catapult_plunger.jpg

Note that both of these options are “identical” as far as MPF is concerned. They both have switches which are active when a ball is able to be launched, they both pulse coils to launch the ball, and neither one has a manual plunge option.

If you have this type of coil-powered plunger, follow the Coil-fired plungers / ball launchers guide to configure it in MPF.

Related How To Guides
Tutorial step 8: Add your plunger lane
Related Events
balldevice_ball_missing
balldevice_balls_available
balldevice_(balls)_ball_missing.
balldevice_captured_from_(device)
balldevice_(name)_ball_eject_attempt
balldevice_(name)_ball_eject_failed
balldevice_(name)_ball_eject_success
balldevice_(name)_ejecting_ball