We have a very cool Twilight Zone pinball machine in our garage. I bought it nearly twenty years ago while I was a student, and with a bit of attention, it’s provided lots of fun since then.
My son, Zach, now 9, has been getting steadily better at it, and is keen for me to watch his games. So he and I wanted a way for me to keep an eye on how his game is going, while I do other jobs elsewhere. We decided to make a system to transmit the pinball machine’s dot-matrix display to a desktop or laptop.
One way to do this would be to set up a webcam. But where’s the fun in that? Instead, I suggested we work out how to eavesdrop on the communication between the pinball machine’s display driver board and the actual display, and reconstruct the images.