Making a slot machine for my casino parties (1 Viewer)

dennis63

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Project: MAKING A (REALISTIC) SLOT MACHINE FOR MY HOME "FUN NIGHT" PARTIES

Summary: A Virginia company is offering some impressive software to put a slot machine on your home computer, and contacts for all the hardware you need to build your own real one-armed bandit – one that takes coins or bills and uses IGT buttons and lights -- at home. I wanted to share this here for those interested in adding it to their poker rooms.

My goal is to create a nice, portable working slot machine running on a large touch screen monitor for my casino “fun night” parties.

The story:

In December, I hosted a casino night party at our home for my wife’s coworkers and friends. We had a roulette wheel and table, a blackjack table and two dealers. The one thing I thought we were missing? A slot machine – maybe two slot machines – would have made the setup complete.

The problem?

Well, four problems, really.

  • Cost: Real slot machines, as they say, “ain’t cheap.” Enough said about that. The good antique ones are like gold, and the internet is filled with shady sellers who don't take returns.
  • Weight: A real slot machine can weigh in at 400 pounds or more. Unless you’ve got friends at the local gym and an awesome man cave with the space for some big, heavy machines the size and weight of a machine can be an issue.
  • Maintenance: Real slots are notorious for breaking down. And unless you work as a slot technician for your local casino, getting the parts and know-how to keep your finicky machine running can be a pain. Visit a casino in the off hours and you’ll always spot a tech crawling around in the bottom of an open machine.
  • The law: New machines are illegal in many states. In mine, the machine must be 20 years old or older, which translates to “high maintenance.” Some states ban slots at home altogether. And putting any real money in one outside of a licensed casino would be illegal just about everywhere.

My goal with this project:

For some time, I’ve been wishing for a slot machine setup that looks, feels and plays like a real machine. It would need to be easy to store and reasonably portable so that one person could carry it to a fun night game or the local senior center where we did casino nights before the pandemic. Since we do “fun nights” with no real wagering, I don’t need it to accept real money. (But that would be awesome, too.)

Finding the answer:

It's wintertime in the East during a global pandemic -- the perfect time to be at home tinkering with this. So I started digging.

Recently, I found a Virginia company called AllJ Software. Their “niche market” is trade show presentations, where companies are trying to attract visitors to their tables by giving away prizes. Slot machines were the perfect flashy, fun, attention-getting gimmick for them.

Their “AllJ Slots 2.2” software runs on Windows and puts the reels of a traditional slot machine on your home desktop computer, laptop or tablet.

I know that doesn’t sound all that impressive, and the software itself, at $399 right now, is not cheap. So I hesitated in contacting them for some time. But once I got a free trial version and saw what else the software does, I was blown away. Here's what I found:

Options: You can put working "virtual buttons" on your touch screen, add a wireless USB button that does the "max bet and spin" option, or even add real IGT buttons and keystroke controller for buttons that are identical to the real ones in the casino.

Customization: The software is ready to play using some example backgrounds and some traditional symbols on the reels. But the software allows you to customize the background – everything on your screen behind the three-reel windows. And you can also customize the images on the reels. Making your own images is pretty easy with some basic knowledge. I used “Word” to make my backgrounds and images. You can use stock slot machine sounds, or assign sound effects to certain symbols or wins. (If you want custom sounds, you need to buy or make them in WAV files.)

Control: You can set your “machine” to “random” and it will play like the real thing. The software uses a random number generator to determine which image appears in each window, then compares those images to your pay table to see if and how much the player wins.

You can determine how “tight” or “loose” it is by setting the payout amounts for different results, adjusting the numbers of each image on the reels, or add “blanks,” those stops between images that mean you didn’t win.

Reporting: The program tells you all the stats a real casino would need – spins, payout percentage, amounts bet, amounts won or lost, etc. When you make any changes to the reels, the program tells you the probability of hitting each pay line. If you change the payouts or pay lines, you can tell the program to run a high-speed simulation and it will do 3,000 spins in about eight minutes and show you the results for the new reels and payouts.

Hardware: The company has information on vendors and costs for all the hardware you’d need to actually build your own real, working machine. Lights, IGT buttons and controllers, “TITO” receipt printers, bill acceptors, coin hoppers, and even slot machine arms.

Since I do “fun night” parties with no real wagering, I won’t need all the peripherals to assemble a slot machine that takes real cash. My goal: Do a custom slot machine (custom background and reels) that will run on a laptop and play in "landscape" mode on a big touch screen.

Here's an early test version on my laptop screen in "landscape" mode. Based on this, I decided to go forward.

Key West landscape screenshot.png



Assembling the pieces:

The software was easy. You get a trial version, mess with it for a few days, and pay if you want the full version.

The touch screen. This proved to be a challenge right now. New touch screens any bigger than a laptop are expensive -- $500 and above -- way above! I got a used 24" touch screen monitor from Dell for $299.

Orientation: I wanted to make my end product "portrait" orientation, as it looks more realistic than landscape. Changing the orientation was no problem. The problem was finding a monitor and stand that would swivel to be able to change the monitor orientation. I ended up getting a sturdy "VESA-compatible" after-market stand that can turn 90 degrees for $26.95.

Connecting the laptop to the bigger monitor was a challenge. Since none of my tech was brand new, it was tough finding the right cable types and determining where to plug them in to make the system work (You can tell I'm not a tech guy.) If you want to do this, I'd say solve this problem first by making sure you can put your laptop / computer image onto the larger monitor.

Creating the images:

I ordered lots of the hardware from Amazon. While waiting for it to arrive, I created the reel images and plugged them into the slot software. I played around with background images and created a Key West-themed background in Word, then made converted it to a PNG image. I went with reel images related to Key West, of course.

Key West Logo JPG.jpg
Lucky 7 JPG.jpg
Bar JPG.jpg
Coconuts JPG.jpg
Limes JPG.jpg
Lemons JPG.jpg
Flamingo JPG.jpg
Wild Girl JPG.jpg

Creating the images was relatively easy. They just have to be sized right. I went with simple, fun images on the reels. And my "BAR" symbol
has a martini in the background. There's one spot on each reel for a "wild" symbol. (You don't have to use it.) They supply one, but I put this one in.

The result:

Last night at around 10 p.m., I connected everything and did a test run -- the laptop running the software, connected to the monitor mounted to the stand -- and turned it on.

So here it is:

20220111_214854.jpg

The slot software running in a Dell 24-inch laptop in "Landscape" mode creates a virtual slot machine screen
that's 24" high and 18" wide. The aspect ratio is correct, but I have to mess with the screen resolutions to get
the left and right sides back into the screen image.
The screen is really bright, which throws off the photo a bit, making the background look very dark. The initial version has much more behind the reels, and I'll probably move some things around to make a larger "pay table" with more information.

The plan is to use this for some prizes and promotions here, too. "Free spins" on the slot machine for some real money sounds like a good giveaway.

Conclusion:

There's nothing like getting a win from a real slot machine, but if you're outside of the casino and want to play for fun, this is a pretty good alternative. The software was $399, and it runs on an existing laptop, so no extra cost there. The monitor was $299, but I could have opted to run it on a non-touch monitor and add IGT buttons and a keystroke controller for about $150.

I know some of you have slots in your poker rooms. I've even been to a couple of PCF members' houses who have them. (And I'll never say where.)

Anyone here have slots at home? You are welcome to post photos here.
 
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Mongoose

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Wow, I think that this awesome! I wouldn’t have a clue of how to set something like this up. I’m sure that you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of this.
 

dennis63

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The monitor image in the OP is off and oversized. The reels are bumping the edges of the monitor.

The guys from AllJ Software saw it and suggested some fixes. Apparently, when you close the lid of a laptop, Windows 10 messes with the image size and pushes it to 125 percent, and changes to the screen resolution you were using before the one you actually want.

Tweaked a few settings and the image size is correct. Now I just have to redraw / rearrange the layout of the background image to make it look nice. Pictures later.

I can see myself (eventually) adding all the bells and whistles to this to be able to feed it $20 bills.
 

Venturalvn

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This is awesome!! I'll be waiting for your next installment of a bartop video poker machine build...
 

dennis63

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So I was able to draw up and add two new backgrounds that look reasonably good. The "Tropical Island" background looks more "3D" in person and the palm leaves don't look out of place. The "Southernmost" background came out really nice. I'd probably change the reel images if I use that one for a party.

So here are the specs on the finished "bar-top" slot machine:

Monitor size: 23 1/2" diagonal
Height (in "portrait mode") 20.75 inches
Width: 12.5 inches
Total weight of all parts: 17.01 pounds, including the (heavy) monitor mount
Total cost, complete for software, all parts and $25 in sound effects from Pond5: $749.95

20220114_201338.jpg
20220114_203215.jpg

Some early backgrounds added to the system: "Tropical Island Slots" (left) and
"Southernmost Slots." The monitor, laptop, mount and cables weigh in at 17
pounds, so it's an easy carry to an "away game."
 

dennis63

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So I tweaked the background design a little bit to go with a traditional look and arrangement. The windows, buttons and credit displays look really nice against a black background. This design will be perfect for a casino fun night party.

Southernmost Portrait Final.jpg
 
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