Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year Robot Bash

New Year Robot Bash pinball meet & competition
Tuesday 30th December 2014
At Broadstone, nr Poole, Dorset

This was a great competition hosted by Gregg Mott at his house in Dorset. With 16 pinball machines on the day, it's no surprise that Gregg's house is well kitted out for pinball, with a dedicated (converted) garage space which holds 10 machines, and a cabin in the garden with the other 6. Also in the cabin is a pretty spectacular selection of classic arcade games.
I was thankful for previously meeting Bristolians, Helmut & Emma who were also going to this competition, so managed to tag along in their car instead of tackling with a bit more of a complex public transport route to Broadstone.



The competition
The competition rules were slightly different and in depth than the previous competitions. Gregg had setup a website for the competition, also emailed and communicated the rules on the day before we all started playing.

After working out the format it was pretty clear, well thought out and worked well. For some people the downside is waiting around for all the games to finish before moving to the next round - but I used this opportunity to play some more practice games.

The group sheets were handed out before each game and you had to find the other players and your machine!
For qualifiers there was eight rounds of 4-player games with all players competing in each round. Before each round begins all players were ranked. For the first round, rankings were based on players' current WPPR ranking (I'm at 0 by they way!) After each round, players' points were added together and all players were re-ranked according to their total points. The groups are then changed according to their new ranking as per the first round.

Roadshow
Me being a low scorer I stayed around the bottom groups and played competition games on AC/DC (4th place), Road Show (3rd place), Spiderman (3rd place), X Men (played twice - 3rd & 2nd place) and Indiana Jones (3rd place).


Indiana Jones playfield
I really liked the thinking of this setup as it allowed the lower ranking players to work their way up through the groups, and also as all the higher ranking players were in one group it would split them up and there would be some work required from them to get back to the top groups then commence through the knockout stages into the final.

Monster Bash Playfield
The structure of the machines also meant that in the most part, nobody would be playing the same machine twice. I played the X Men machine twice because we were drawn another which had already had a game playing - but this system was great for me to get a good variety of different machines played and meet a range of different players and see how they play.

 Results
Congratulations to the top three players who won trophies on the day:
  1. Ivan Miles
  2. Craig Pullen
  3. Tim Thornton
see all the results... 

Unfortunately my professional Pinball career has not taken off yet - it's back to work as normal after the holidays for me along with the shame of coming in last place again! Hopefully they will make a trophy for last place - but I'll probably have to make my own.

What's this all about?
This post is from my journal on MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking.
I am currently proposing a project based around arcade games, specifically Pinball (see the assignment brief).
Part of my research and understanding is to play see the seperate post about the machines I have played recently

Monday, 29 December 2014

Festive Pinball Gathering 2014

Festive Pinball Gathering Tournament
Sunday 7th December 2014
At Special When Lit, Salisbury


The gathering lasted the whole weekend with the Festive Classics competition on the Saturday and The Festive Pinball Gathering Tournament on the Sunday - due to running the I Am Making Art workshop on the Saturday I could only attend the Sunday.

Sunday was sold out so I put my name down as a reserve, thinking I'd at least get along to play some of the games and meet some players.

Checking the website I was happy to see my name had moved up so I was in the league! Eeek! Early start for a Sunday morning and a nice 90 minute train trip to Salisbury, leaving enough time to grab a quick breakfast before heading down to find Special When Lit where the league was taking place.

Special When Lit is a brilliant little place with loads of pinball machines hidden out of the way in an industrial estate - only 5 minutes from the train station. Location here.

Special When Lit is open to the public every Friday evening, and they have around fifteen pinball machines at any one time. After paying the entrance fee, all machines are free to play. As well as this they host the Special When Lit League which was also played on the Saturday of the Festive Gathering. This place is great for improving skills on a good selection of different machines and players.


Arriving it was already busy with around 20 people there. Everyone is friendly and welcomed me to join in on some practice games. I was surprised to see all the machines picked to play in the tournament were switched off - players were not allowed to practice before hand, seems this rule is fairly common - to make it fairer meaning no one can practice and learn the machines and therefore have an advantage over other players. Personally for me this made the day quite difficult - being a beginner I need all the practice I can get and with most of the machines being new to me - quite hard when it came to qualifying time... That's my excuse for being rubbish!

My main gripe with this setup is that the players who are really good actually do benefit from this. Now I'm not going there to try to win I just want to play and have fun, so my argument is a bit weak. But the players that are good - are going to be good/brilliant/amazing and the inexperienced players are going to be just that - a bit of practice time would have loosened everything up. Also the chances are the players that are good have played these machines before - and most likely these exact machines. Anyway it's a game! It made a pretty serious beginning to what I guess was a pretty serious day.

I took a while to pluck up the courage to play my first of six qualifying games - sticking to the practice machines for a while. I do find it quite hard to get into the right frame of mind of concentration and looking back, all the games I played after the tournament were better. Maybe the pressure!!?

My first game was Terminator 2. I got what turned out to be a pretty poor score of 7 million - so another player Mike Addis, who also came down from Bristol, told me anyway - on his go he got 57 million. Wow! Not a good start for me - great start for Mike.


Next for me more practice, followed by Black Night with a score of around 120,000. Kev, who I had previously met in Newport and via Pinball Info, was guiding me through the day a bit and playing quite a few practice games with me - he said I bet his score on Black Knight, but I think he was just being nice!

Attack From Mars scoring 90,00,000, White Water 32,000,00, Genesis (think I did OK here - but forgot to take a note), Twilight Zone 24,000,000. All-in-all low scores.

It was interesting to see the players crowd around the score screen to see their scores. The score system itself was great - you can see the stats overall and per machine too. What most people were doing was a bit of tactics, checking scores by machines to see what their next choice of machine would be to play and the scores they had to beat. I wasn't this clever only sticking to machines I wanted to play!


The games I played on some of the older machines I seemed to do (slightly) better - if I had that practice time I may have learned that and could have played that tactic throughout.

I was clearly not in it to win it but I did pretty poor coming in 43rd overall - missing out on a qualifying place by miles!
 
After the qualifiers the knockouts went on freeing up some of the machines meaning I could just play for a bit. In hindsight I probably could have just gone to one of their weekly meets to do this but it was worthwhile and a good experience overall to see how a league works.


 

As I left to catch my train back to Bristol the final game was still in play - it was quite tense and the final scoring was very close. Andy Foster was first place followed by Martin Ayub, Matt Vince and Ad Jonker. Well done to all who played!

What's this all about?
This post is from my journal on MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking.
I am currently proposing a project based around arcade games, specifically Pinball (see the assignment brief).
Part of my research and understanding is to play see the seperate post about the machines I have played recently

Monday, 22 December 2014

Pinball


This is an ongoing list of a series of posts as part of my journal on MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking.

I am currently proposing a project based around arcade games, specifically Pinball. This post will be kept up to date will all posts about the project.

The dates are when the posts were published on the blog - although may have been written prior to that date and/or edited after.

List last updated 22/1/15

Assignment Brief.
Assignment Brief (developing practice module) 3/12/14

Play.
Pinball: Play 18/12/14 
Festive Pinball Gathering 2014 29/12/14
Newport Mini Comp 14/12/14
New Year Robot Bash 31/12/14 
Full Throttle Launch 16/1/15 
The 12 Hour High Score Shootout 19/1/15

Culture.
Pinball: Documentaries 1/12/14 
Pinball: Community 3/1/15 

Build & Design.
Interaction design (workshop - first test with flipper) 10/11/14
Movement and Mechanisms (workshop - test mechanical flippers) 20/11/14 
Floating Flippers  18/12/14
Flippin' Prototypes 7/1/15
Pinbox 7/1/15 
Designing Laser-Cut for Flat Pack: Resources & Tools  14/1/15
Improved Flippers 22/1/15

Professional Practice.
Heighway Pinball Factory Visit 9/12/14
Professional Practice Module  14/1/15
myPinballs - Work Experience 5/2/2015


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Pinball: Play


A running list of games played since 31 October 2014

For what I've learned from playing these machines.... Jump to What's this all about?

Each machine's flyer recorded on this Pintrest board.



The list of machines & when are where first played:  

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean (2006 Stern) Played 31/10/14 at Mad Harry's Arcade, Bristol, UK
  2. Avatar (2010 Stern) (tutorial)- Played 12/11/14 at Molloy's Bar, Bristol, UK
  3. The Shadow (1994 Bally) (tutorial) - Played 26/11/14 in Newport, UK  
  4. The Getaway: High Speed II (1992 Williams) - Played 26/11/14 in Newport, UK 
  5. Spider-Man (2007 Stern) (tutorial) - Played 26/11/14  in Newport, UK  
  6. Ripley's Believe It or Not!® (2003 Stern) (tutorial) - Played 26/11/14 in Newport, UK 
  7. The Simpsons Pinball Party (2003 Stern) (tutorial) - Played 26/11/14 in Newport, UK  
  8. Revenge From Mars (1999 Bally/Midway) - Played 26/11/14 in Newport, UK 
  9. The Machine: Bride of Pin·bot (1991 Williams) - Played 26/11/14 in Newport, UK  
  10. Black Knight 2000 (1989, Williams) - Played 26/11/14 in Newport, UK 
  11. Medusa (1981 Bally) - Played 26/11/14 in Newport, UK  
  12. Black Rose (1992 Bally/Midway) - Played 26/11/14 in Newport, UK 
  13. Star Trek (2013 Stern) (tutorial) - Played 5/12/14 in Bristol, UK  
  14. Transformers™ LE (2011 Stern) (tutorial) - Played 5/12/14 in Bristol, UK 
  15. Attack from Mars (1995 Bally/Midway) (tutorial) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK  
  16. Iron Man (2010 Stern) (tutorial) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK 
  17. X-Men (2012 Stern) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK  
  18. Cirqus Voltaire (1997 Bally/Midway) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK 
  19. White Water (1993 Williams) (tutorial) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK  
  20. Cactus Canyon (1998 Bally/Williams) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK 
  21. Fire Mountain (1980 Zaccaria) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK  
  22. Theatre of Magic (1995 Bally/Midway) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK 
  23. The Lord of the Rings (2003 Stern) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK  
  24. Twilight Zone (1993 Bally/Midway) (tutorial) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK 
  25. Medieval Madness (1997 Williams) (tutorial) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK  
  26. World Challenge Soccer (1994 Gottlieb) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK 
  27. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991 Williams) (tutorial) Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK  
  28. Hi-Deal (1975 Bally) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK 
  29. Genesis (1986 Gottlieb) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK  
  30. Spirit (1982 Gottlieb) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK 
  31. Black Knight (1980 Williams) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK  
  32. Pink Panther (1981 Gottlieb) - Played 7/12/14 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK 
  33. Full Throttle (2014 prototype Heighway Pinball) - Played 9/12/14 at Heighway Pinball, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  34. AC/DC Premium (2012 Stern) (tutorial) Played 30/12/14 at New Year Robot Bash, Broadstone, UK 
  35. Indiana Jones (1993 Williams) Played 30/12/14 at New Year Robot Bash, Broadstone, UK
  36. Johnny Mnemonic (1995 Williams) Played 30/12/14 at New Year Robot Bash, Broadstone, UK 
  37. Monster Bash (1998 Williams) (tutorial) Played 30/12/14 at New Year Robot Bash, Broadstone, UK 
  38. Road Show (1994 Williams) Played 30/12/14 at New Year Robot Bash, Broadstone, UK 
  39. Baywatch (1995 Sega) Played 30/12/14 at New Year Robot Bash, Broadstone, UK 
  40. Big Buck Hunter (2009 Stern) Played 30/12/14 at New Year Robot Bash, Broadstone, UK 
  41. Batman Dark Knight  (2008 Stern) (tutorial) Played 30/12/14 at New Year Robot Bash, Broadstone, UK  
  42. World Cup Soccer (1994 Bally/Midway) Played 16/1/15 at Pipeline Bar, London, UK 
  43. Indianapolis 500 (1995 Bally/Midway) Played 16/1/15 at Pipeline Bar, London, UK 
  44. Fish Tales (1992 Williams) Played 16/1/15 at Pipeline Bar, London, UK  
  45. 24 (2009 Stern) Played 18/1/15 at Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK  
  46. Indiana Jones (2008 Stern) Played 18/1/15 at Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK  
  47. Jack·Bot (1995 Williams) Played 18/1/15 at Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK 
  48. Whirlwind (1990 Williams) Played 27/1/15 at Pudsey, Leeds, UK
  49. NBA Fastbreak (1997 Willaims) Played 28/1/15 at Pudsey, Leeds, UK
  50. Disney TRON Legacy (2011 Stern) Played 21/2/15 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK  
  51. Metallica Master of Puppets LE (2012 Stern) Played 21/2/15 at Special When Lit, Salisbury, UK  
  52. Playboy (2002 Stern) Played 6/3/15 at Heighway Pinball, Merthyr Tydfil, UK
  53. Austin Powers (2001 Stern) Played 8/3/15 at Pinball Madness, Weston-super-Mare, UK 
  54. Hurricane (1991 Williams) Played 8/3/15 at Pinball Madness, Weston-super-Mare, UK 
  55. Addams Family (1992 Bally) Played 8/3/15 at Pinball Madness, Weston-super-Mare, UK 
  56. Corvette (1994 Bally) Played 29/3/15 at Broadstone, UK  
  57. Dirty Harry (1995 Williams) Played 29/3/15 at Broadstone, UK   
  58. Wizard! (1974 Bally) Played 26/4/15 at Pinball Madness, Weston-super-Mare, UK 
  59. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1993 Williams) Played 26/4/15 at Pinball Madness, Weston-super-Mare, UK 
  60. Super Mario Bros. (1992 Gottlieb) Played 26/5/15 at The Lanes, Bristol  
  61. Doctor Who (1992 Bally) Played 31/5/15 at Pinball Madness, Weston-super-Mare, UK  
  62. Flintstones (1994 Williams) Played 6/6/15 at South Milton, Devon, UK
  63. Nitro Ground Shaker (1982 Bally) Played 5/7/15 at Cwmbran.South Wales. UK
  64. Mystic (1979 Bally) Played 5/7/15 at Cwmbran.South Wales. UK
  65. Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends (1993 Data-East) Played 5/7/15 at Cwmbran.South Wales. UK
  66. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1993 Williams) Played 5/7/15 at Cwmbran.South Wales. UK
  67. Hot Tip (1977 Williams) Played 5/7/15 at Cwmbran.South Wales. UK
  68. Laser War (1987 Data-East) Played 5/7/15 at Cwmbran.South Wales. UK
  69. Police Force (1989 Williams) Played 5/7/15 at Cwmbran.South Wales. UK
  70. Atlantis (1989 Bally) Played 5/7/15 at Cwmbran.South Wales. UK
  71. Firepower (1980 Williams) Played 5/7/15 at Cwmbran.South Wales. UK
  72. Centaur (1981 Bally) Played 27/7/15 at Newport, UK
  73. The Walking Dead (2014 Stern) Played 27/7/15 at Newport, UK
  74. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1992 Bally) Played 9/8/15 at Pinball Madness, Weston-super-Mare, UK 
  75. Family Guy (2007 Stern) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  76. Fireball II (1981 Bally) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  77. Party Animal (1987 Bally) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  78. Space Invaders (1979 Bally) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  79. Jokerz! (1988 Williams) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  80. Scared Stiff (1996 Bally) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  81. Hit the Deck (1978 Gottlieb) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  82. Time Machine (1988 Data East) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  83. Magic City (1967 Williams) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  84. The Six Million Dollar Man (1978 Bally) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  85. Blackout (1980 Williams) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  86. Banzai Run (1988 Williams) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  87. Caveman (1982 Gottlieb) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  88. Harlem Globetrotters On Tour (1978 Bally) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  89. Mousin' Around! (1989 Bally) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  90. Operation: Thunder (1992 Gottlieb) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  91. Batman Forever (1995 Data East) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  92. The Simpsons (1990 Data East) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  93. Tales of the Arabian Nights (1996 Williams) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  94. Fantasy (1982 Bell Games) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  95. Playboy (1989 Data East) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  96. Dr. Dude And His Excellent Ray (1990 Bally) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  97. The Sopranos (2005 Stern) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  98. Dracula (1979 Stern) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  99. Pool Sharks (1990 Bally) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  100. The Wizard of Oz (2013 Jersey Jack Pinball) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  101. Diner (1990 Williams) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  102. Goldeneye (1996 Data East) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  103. Class of 1812 (1991 Gottlieb) Played 22/8/15 at UK Pinball Party, Merthyr Tydfil, UK 
  104. The Rolling Stones (2011 Stern) Played 8/11/15 at the Plough and Windmill, Bristol, UK

World Pinball Player Rankings
Jono Sandilands [ONO]
Current World Ranking: 4152nd
Current UK Ranking: 122nd
(as of Nov 11 2015)

What's this all about?
This post is from my journal on MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking.
I am currently proposing a project based around arcade games, specifically Pinball (see the assignment brief).
Part of my research and understanding is to play and my outcomes to this as follows:

  • Finding pinball machines to play (limited machines in public places)
  • Traveling to play as many different machines as possible
  • Meeting people who are enthusiastic about pinball
  • The aim is to learn as much as possible about how different games work & make new contacts - and to document this process.

So what have I learned?
1. Themes and machines
I was aware of some different themes but was not aware of the extent that the gameplay is designed specifically to each theme and machine via the features (see next point). In a way I had assumed that each game was very similar in terms of gameplay.

I had no idea that there was such a variety of different themes, and that some of these machines are desirable possessions. For example I have visited a few places where there have the same machines due to their popularity. Some machines have a legendary status due to just how good they are - games like the Twilight Zone, The Addams Family and Medieval Madness for example (these would be arguable due to personal preference - but see list of top rated machines)


2. Features
When I first started this project I did not understand that each pinball machine had it's own simple ruleset based around the different features and objectives in order to score more points and extend gameplay.

Each machine is different - mainly because there are different targets, 'toys', magnets and ramps which are based around the theme of that table - however there are similarities in objectives which I break down into the following:

I'm linking these to The Internet Pinball Machine Database Glossary
Some machines are incredibly deep and have many different modes (which can also be stacked) whereas some are very simple and straightforward.

3. Skill
"...it’s not random. You can make the game do what you want!"
Naively I did not appreciate the skill required - I thought you need to quickly flip the ball away and hope to hit a target to score points. It is more than just flipping (yeah ok, I knew there was more - but I've only just noticed how much). Being able to control the ball and aim for specific targets with different skills & timing is key to being able to play longer and score more points. This video by PAPA demonstrates some basic flipper skills nice and concisely.

Nudging the machine is something I am still getting to grips with - it's a huge part of the game. You can stop the ball from draining and help ease the ball towards the desired target. For anyone interested in this technique here is a bit of a longer video about nudging.

Thinking of this I played a machine in a record shop a few years back, during play the ball got stuck, but because I didn't realise you were allowed to nudge the machine - I was scared I'd get trouble! I just gave up and walked away. (ps Another option would be to wait for the ball finder mode) (pps Nudging too much or lifting activates the tilt - which immediately ends the current ball).

4. Community
Around most games there is likely to be a community surrounding it, pinball is no different. What I had not expected is how open and friendly it is and that new players are always welcome. Opposite from how difficult it is to find machines to play in public it is extremely easy to find machines in the homes of members of the pinball community. I had been a member of the UK's online pinball community, Pinball Info, for no longer than 10 minutes before I had an invitation to visit one of the other members to play their private collection of pinball machines.

From this has come discussions about different events, meet ups and competitions, and you are encouraged to go along to them because everyone wants to see more people playing. It seems once you have been to a few of these meets people get to know your face and will start talking like you've known each other for years, of course with the common interest of pinball. There is also invites from different people to visit their collections too so these types of connections continue to grow.

5. Maintenance
Some machines become quite rare due to how old they now are and mainly due to lack of maintenance especially for machines in public. They simply don't pull in enough money for some of the bars and old fashioned arcades to warrant the cost of repair. The machines I've played in Bristol are no exception to this, and anyone playing pinball for the first time on these machines would likely not spend their time and money on pinball again.

In private collections machines are immaculate, kept well, restored because the owner knows or has learned basic maintenance. Sometime parts are not readily available but some parts companies are starting to manufacture parts for older machines based on demand - owners are prepared to buy these from anywhere in the world.


Possible ideas for future documentation
Create a better system for recording the games I play - possibly a website with notes, links, photos, flyer etc. When playing someone's private machine they are usually quite forthcoming about sharing how to play - tips and tricks. I've tried to document these in my notes but there may be a better way to do this possibly via video or audio (if I want to go down that route)

Pinball: Floating Flippers


The concept
Create a portable pinball flipper and slingshot unit that can be placed on any surface to instantly transform into a play surface for pinball.

Other uses: Once built could be designed to be used for testing other ideas for playfields and components etc too.

Early imaginations & trying to think in 3D - can be placed over digital display, or how about an etching plate to track the ball?

The first set of plans

The Protoype


The prototype is lasercut MDF. It has its problems and these include the stability of the unit (needs to be clamped to something possibly), also the strength of the flippers and the time it took to put together due to how I designed and cut it. I'd like to either lasercut or cnc into thicker material so there is not so much glueing together of parts and I can use a full size pinball. So if I decide to continue this route there is more work to be done basically.

Build
Like I say above, the build process proved to be slightly problematic; mainly in the time it took to put together due to having to layer up the wood to obtain some depth, but also little things / mistakes which only come up as you work with them, and therefore need to be fixed and altered to make it work as intended.

I photo documented this process of building:

Ok first mistake... lots of parts to glue together... time and clamps...

This being the second image by no way represents time... unless you could the clamps per hour... mmmh actually almost (not really)
Ok the above image represents more mistakes in the artwork which could only come from protoyping. This linkage needs some room for the pin to move as it swings around - the solution was to drill in the space it needs to move - problem solved! Albeit a bit messy and... more time.

Sort of connected to the last problem was the size of some of the holes for pins I had made. I didn't think of finding out what size of dowel I could get before so I had to resize some of the holes.

The dowel now fits OKish and is glued into place before sanding down to make a flat surface again.


Friction! Too much with this wood - the solution was to use wax to lubricate the wood. I found with the dowels that if I put the dowel into a slightly smaller hole than the width of the dowel then spin it around a few time it would make this great smooth and shiny pin - which is perfect on its own for spinning around with very little friction as below:



So that's it... many mistake... lots to learn... lots to do...

What's this all about?
This post is from my journal on MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking.
I am currently proposing a project based around arcade games, specifically Pinball (see list of posts about Pinball). 

Monday, 15 December 2014

#trend

Trending Topics
"A word, phrase or topic that is tagged at a greater rate than other tags is said to be a "trending topic". Trending topics become popular either through a concerted effort by users, or because of an event that prompts people to talk about a specific topic. These topics help Twitter and their users to understand what is happening in the world." (From Wikipedia)



The Trend project is something which I have been playing around with for a little while now. It started as a reaction to how frustrating social media can sometimes be, but has developed into a way that I can harness this to inspire me to create new work.

My outcomes for the #trend project:
  • Short projects that produce outcomes very quickly - for artwork and products
  • Build on different printmaking techniques
  • Developing sketching and note making
  • Improve workflow & project development skills
  • Alternative methods of gathering source imagery & image making
  • Improve ways of display work offline & online / selling work & products


#trend from Jono Sandilands on Vimeo.

The aim was to make a box which contains an Arduino and a thermal printer - this sits on my desk at work or at home. When the button is pushed the Arduino pulls in the latest trending topics and sends them to the printer. Everyday I could print off the trending topics and start exploring some ideas around them. I can choose to restrict further research online to keep a level of separation from the sometimes obscure reality of what these topics are actually about.

The piece in itself could be seen as observational - looking at how we have layered the internet into our lives and how strange it can be. Some of this is covered in my post about The New Aesthetic. The box is a little exploration into the Internet of Things.



Although the internet it is a great resource for so many things, including researching a topic for a project - I have a hard time finding a focus. I'm looking to improve my workflow using the internet and this is a step towards finding ways of doing that.

These trending topics sometime only last for a few minutes, before they become out of date, meaning that I either would need to work quickly and feed into the trending topic by publishing the work immediately - or be following a path of a project which expands outwith the original meaning not dictated by the quickly dated topics.



Depending on what is going on that day, where the trending location is set to and what time it is, the topics can vary greatly. Mostly they are useless or obscure, occasionally something interesting comes out, however it's interesting to explore some of the more obscure ones.

Countries and cities with local trending topics in Twitter.


I have done some experimentation, a proof of concept of the thought process behind all of this. This used one of the very first trending topics I received and I have written about that specific project separately to document the process.

Part of documenting the project and improving my ways of displaying work online I have created a mini site for the project at projects.studio-oh-no.com/trend/ 

Visit the #trend mini site

Where can you get one & how does it work?
In order to print I followed the steps to get up and running with my own open source printer by the good folks at Exciting.io. Find the list of components, the step by step process and all the code on GitHub. I bought my supplies including the Thermal Printer from Cool Components.

To collect the latest trending topics from Twitter I used the Twitter API to GET trends/place. I am running the Trend mini site on Wordpress. Thankfully Wordpress has a built in function for grabbing data from an external URL such as an API then parsing that data (into JSON via php). If in doubt consult the documentation I have linked. This along with lots of tutorials on how to deal with specific types of requests - such as pulling in data from the Twitter API.

My lasercut box is a slightly adapted version of the original Adafruit IoT Printer Enclosure both on Thingiverse.

If you're not into coding and working with Arduino, you could also see Little Printer, which I have written about before in this post about the Internet of Things.

I Am Making Art @ Spike Island


I ran a drop-in Christmas themed printmaking workshop at Spike Island Cafe on Saturday 6 December 2014, 12–4pm. Was lots of fun and very inky!

I take full responsibility for the inky mess in the Spike Cafe. Photo by Spike Island.
The idea was to let people produce their own relief blocks and print their personal Christmas cards, tags, bags or wrapping paper.

With a bit of preparation before hand I set 3 different methods for relief printing that people could jump into. The idea was to have a few levels from very simple and quick to a more intermediate technique. Also good to have a few different activities people can jump between.

Collagraph
This was the first method I directed participants that came into the workshop as it is the quickest and most fun way to get results with printmaking.

Using sticky back craft foam, the participants could cut shapes and/or inscribe drawings directly into the foam. The great thing is scissors could just be used so no dangerous sharp objects are needed. Also with the sticky back no waiting around for glue to dry.


The backing paper could be removed and the foam was easily stickable to A6 sized cardboard offcuts to create the printing plate.

This is an example of the type of block and print that was made - note this is not my image

Ink was rolled on, just as with lino, or painted on with a brush. Then the card, tag, bag or wrap was placed on top of the block and pressed down just by hand or with a barren.

I found this technique from this tutorial.

One of the youngest participants inking the foam stuck to cardboard with a roller with help from his dad. Photo by Spike Island

Lino
Using easy carve lino and some cheap lino cut tools - the original idea was to have this as an extra activity so after someone has tried out the collagraph technique, could then have a go at lino. If any experienced print-makers came along they could jump right into lino.

What I found was that the experienced printmakers were generally interested in trying out the foam technique as some ran their own workshops and could see the benefit. 

Others who had done lino in the past, but were not experienced print-makers, grabbed some lino, a tool and a cup of coffee and sat at a different table and quietly worked on their lino block.

Some of the parents who came with their children had tried out the foam technique and were interested in moving on and trying lino with some great results.

It ended up being incredibly busy at a few points which made it hard to monitor exactly what everyone was working on - some kids were starting to pickup lino tools and begin starting their own lino block without getting a little demo first - this led to some small cuts and I will write more in the things to learn section below.

Monoprint
This made use of the already inked up rolling blocks - in the quieter times participant could use these to create monoprints using an object to scribe into the back of the paper or gift card to transfer the ink onto the paper, creating a one of a kind print. We didn't do many of these and the inks were sometimes not the best to work with for this method.

Photo by Spike Island

Photo by Spike Island

Things to learn from
I'd love to say everything went superbly well but of course there were issues.

Help!
I was lucky to have Hannah and for some of the time another volunteer from Spike Island to help out on the day. I really could not have managed the workshop on my own - especially in the busy times but also because I have never done a drop in style workshop before.

Inks
The 3 coloured inks (blue, red & green) I provided were very cheap waterbased inks. Each had different qualities but overall quite tacky and good cover, easy washed up but all dried up a bit to quickly both the block and rollers. Some ink retarder on the day would have been a savior - unfortunately a few trips back and forth to the sinks to wash up the built up inks.

The black was a much better quality (Caligo Safe Wash relief ink). No drying at all and washes up fine with water soap and elbow grease - I'd recommend anyone to invest in better quality inks - overall it saves your time, produces better prints and easier to clean.
Lino tools 
During the day we had 3 minor cuts with the lino tools - next time this would need to be monitored better. Thankfully nothing too serious but during the busy times it made it very hard to supervise anyone who decided to jump onto lino. Perhaps a dedicated lino area and tutor would be an option. Or for a drop in workshop like this don't have lino as an option.

Running out of materials
We went through all of the materials I had prepped - there was a budget for materials which was maxed out but it would have been nice to have some more or even alternatives on hand. By around 2.30pm 100 cards had been printed so luckily I had more of these nearby in Spike Design. By 4pm we had printed the rest of these too.
The foam used for collograph was also running low by the end of the day.

Feedback
Overall the workshop went well and there was some good feedback from Spike Island:

"Very popular session with lots of positive feedback. People enjoying making cards etc. they could use for xmas. Lots of comments re enjoying experimenting with printmaking, many for the first time. Quite a lot of the visitors were first time visitors to Spike and/or I Am Making Art and implied they would be returning. "
During the afternoon we saw a total of 50 participants.

 Age Range: Babies – middle aged (28 adults, 8 teens, 19 children).