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Controlling Pinball Machines with MPF

There are three options when it comes to using MPF with a pinball machine:

  • Build your own new machine completely from scratch.
  • Rewrite the rules for an existing machine, which means you don't change the physical hardware at all, rather, you just update the software.
  • "Retheme" an existing machine, which means you reuse all of the mechanical and electrical components of an existing machine, but you strip down and replace all the artwork to transform it into something else. (And you rewrite all the rules for your new theme.)

Here are more details on each option. The "rewrite the rules" and "retheme" options above are combined below into the "controlling an existing machine" section:

MPF supports all kinds of pinball machines. In this section, we highlight how to connect and configure existing machines with MPF.

If you want to use MPF to write your own custom game code for an existing pinball machine, some pinball controller allow you to replace the original CPU board in the machine with a modern pinball controller board (called a hardware controller). That hardware controller interfaces with the existing machine's driver boards to control the coils, lights, and DMD, and it provides a "bridge" (via USB) to a host computer running Python and the Mission Pinball Framework.

Machine Type FAST P-ROC LISY Direct
Williams / Bally / Midway WPC ✅ ✅
Williams / Bally System 11 ✅
Data East
Stern S.A.M.
Stern Whitestar
Pinball 2000
Stern SPIKE / SPIKE 2 ✅
Gottlieb System 1 ✅
Gottlieb System 80 ✅
Bally/Stern w/ AS-2518-17 or AS-2518-35 MPU ✅


  • "WPC" includes WPC-S and WPC-95, and machines made under the brands of Williams, Bally, and Midway. (A complete WPC game list is here.)
  • Since Stern SPIKE systems have a linux-based computer inside them already, so can directly connect to and control them via USB. No additional hardware is needed.
  • Gottlieb System 1 and 80 can be controlled using the LISY platform
  • Bally and Stern Games manufactured from 1977 to 1985 with MPU AS-2518-17 or AS-2518-35 can be controlled using LISY35

If you want to use MPF with an existing machine type that's not on the list above, that's still possible, but you'd have to rewire the entire machine and use modern control hardware. In other words, you strip the guts and keep all the hardware, and the machine essentially becomes a homebrew machine on the inside and a retheme or update on the outside.

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