BJC 2017 (Nottingham) Review


This was my fourth BJC, my first being the BJC 2014 at Darton College and I haven’t experienced much of the convention scene. What’s new to me has probably been seen a thousand times by the regulars.


I arrived at about 5:30pm having walked from Nottingham Station. At the halfway point I stopped at Lidl to top up the supplies so I was ready to get rid of my bags. Registration was quick and there was no queue for the pre-registered line. I was handed the tshirt I bought in advance and a recycling bag and a standard rubbish bag (which I promptly forgot which was which). Other people from Glasgow Juggling Club were already practicing in the main hall so I hurried off to get my tent set up and join them.


The huge camping space was great, the lack of appropriately placed gates was a bit annoying but nothing the organisers could do anything about and some extra exercise is no bad thing! The lack of any kind of scullery is a bit awkward for people like me who prepare almost all their own food but don’t have a huge tent with everything including the kitchen sink. I can’t see an easy solution to this and I think when you have a venue like Darton College with a proper place to wash dishes you just need to be extra thankful.


I usually attend quite a lot of workshops because a lot of it is still new to me and it’s nice to try something you’d never get the opportunity to do elsewhere. In no particular order here are the ones I can remember attending:

  • “How to run a workshop, workshop” – Jon Peat. He had prepared a few notes but the workshop took the form of a discussion and was definitely full of useful hints. Much of it was common sense, but workshop organisers (including myself in previous years) fail to do the basics well. My personal bugbear is when the difficulty level is not clear. For instance, I can do some basic passing stuff and enjoy learning more but I don’t want to go to a passing workshop were I let down my partner(s), nor do I want to miss one that I could do.
  • “Low Numbers Ball Passing; The Chipmunk Series” – Katie Struthers & Ieuan Evans. Four balls between two people should be an easy way to start the first full day? Well, the warm-up patterns were, the later stuff not so much. A brilliant workshop though, well prepared and demonstrated. If I saw a workshop by Katie and Ieuan on the timetable I’d attend almost regardless of what is was after that one.
  • “Tips on how to make a good juggling video” – Rosie Kelly. This wasn’t quite what I was expecting, I thought it might be a more technical discussion about what angles work, crazy techniques etc but it was more about the general ideas of cinematography. A good workshop though and I’ll refer to my notes from it in the future. Perhaps in future years have a creator talk about one of their videos? I believe Lewis Kennedy was the principal editor of “Corrections” which is the latest major video I can think of that was uploaded, it would have been nice to have him at that workshop.
  • “How to be a stage manager” – (???) Run by the stage manager for most of the past four years of shows. It was an interesting insight and gave me an appreciation to the difficulty of hosting a show. I just turn up and expect to be entertained!
  • “Prechac passing” – Pan. I first attended this workshop in 2015 and the crowd was much more interested and already into the mathematics behind siteswap than those of this year so it was quite different. However, he did a great job of introducing Prechac and his knowledge and enthusiasm to share his passion is excellent. I hope he runs this one every year!
  • “Lasso” – Peter Lister, he runs this every year I think. I really enjoy it and as mentioned below, I now own my own!
  • “Cushion spinning” – Thomas Bounce. He’s just lovely and one of the most approachable people I have met. Not enough people attended his workshop (there were maybe 6 of us) but it was a lovely atmosphere and there is talk of a world record attempt next year (he currently holds the record for longest spin). I saw him with Matthew Tiffany and Will (Scottish juggler based in Edinburgh) practicing in the main hall so maybe he has some competition!
  • “Improving Juggling Technique Through Functional Neurology” – Jame McCambridge. Wow, this was a strange one. It introduced me to the arthrokinetic effect (I am not even going to try and explain that here) and started with him demonstrating how you can compress someone’s ankle and reduce their strength. OK, there is no way I can begin to describe it all here but I don’t think it’s pseudoscience and Jame approaches the subject with a good, sceptical mind. If he runs this again or you meet him then it’s definitely worth taking the opportunity to speak to him. It was at this workshop I joked to Jon Peat that I was stalking him because we seem to share a similar taste in workshops.
  • “4 to 5 ball juggling” – Paul Donegan. Some interesting tricks and I put a name to a face that I have seen at every convention I’ve been to so far.
  • “Aerial Silks” – CJ Carnell. I have no grace whatsoever when I am upside down. During one of the drops I somehow managed to grab hold halfway round and stop my progress. It’s on video somewhere. I am not linking to it here.


Held on the first evening and organised by Allen Goldie this was a great start to the convention. He maintained good humour throughout, despite the PA system conspiring against him. We also found out who put the rama lama in the ding a dong. I am terrible at pub quizzes but Jim from our club is a local quiz master so we managed second almost entirely thanks to his efforts.


I bought two lassos from Oddballs, it’s about time a juggling supplier started selling them in the UK! I also got some saddle advice from Roger a, although I didn’t actually buy anything I will probably make use of the 10% discount.


I am a total cheapskate and only ate out twice,  once at the local chip shop (excellent, huge portions) and Wok ‘n Go in Nottingham (just OK).  I highly recommend bringing a sandwich toastie/panini maker suitable for a gas stove ( Seriously, buy some bread and fillings and keep them in a cool bag. You’ll be eating like a king for the rest of the convention!

Gala Show

I’m not going to through all the acts, other reviews have done this already. Overall I really enjoyed it but it wasn’t my favourite Gala show that I have seen. Rosie’s humour didn’t crossover mine for a lot of her gags, the duck/children just wasn’t funny to me (but others loved it, so each to their own!), however her sarcastic pre-show announcements were excellent and primed the audience well before she even stepped on the stage. Iain from GJC injured his hand trying to catch a long range club as we returned to the hall. There was some impressive swelling. The convention organisers and Harvey Hadden staff managed the situation well.


I thought the technical level wasn’t quite as high as previous years but I enjoyed every act. I’m not sure about aerial acts being included because they are so hard to compare to the props traditionally permitted and I think that will have some behind the scenes discussion. I particularly admire those who haven’t performed before, the first act wasn’t a high level of technical ability and he was quite droppy but he still got up there and gave it a go when I wouldn’t dream of stepping on the stage! I just wish he didn’t have his mouth full for most of the act, I don’t like watching people eat!

British Show

One of the best I have seen. It was lovely to see a member of GJC on the stage. Louis Duncan did an excellent 3 ball act and I can’t believe that’s the first time I have seen him perform after watching him practice for the past few years. Matthew Tiffany is possibly one of my favourite characters on stage (and off of course) so it was a joy to have him compere. The British Show really was excellent and the perfect way to kick of the convention.

Le Lido

I hated the introduction, it was a rambling disjointed spoken word thing made from quotes which for me epitomised pretentious artistic stuff. It just doesn’t do anything for me. I get that other people enjoy it so I’ll live with it. However, once the show got going it was generally pretty good. Highlights included the 3 clubs with 3 guys and the cyr wheel vs eggs. I didn’t appreciate the loud volume of the “Oh my God” song. I covered my ears for the entire thing because my I care about my hearing and music that loud just hurts. The ending with the dancing Jesus man was… different. Probably not my cup of tea but better than the introduction.

The Games

I spent most of them juggling with Pan but managed to watch Kev win the balloon gladiators. I was relieved he did because his foe at the end evaded all contact and didn’t look seem to pop anyone else’s balloon throughout which I thought was contrary to the spirit of the game.

I did get a timelapse of the entire games which can be seen here:

Balloon Tent

The huge spinning balloon chain rotating above the blower was cool. It was even cooler when two people passed through it. Perfect convention antics. I also thought the octopus that was made for the birthday which had props in his hands was adorable.

Pool Party

It ended too soon. So much fun.


I had chatted to Duncan about Kururins before the convention and gave him two of the tools I have made to assist in the making of them ( I didn’t get to play with the ones I have made as much as I’d like but I think Duncan did a better job introducing the wider juggling community to them. Oh, and thanks to the Secret Postbox people for finding Duncan from my description of him!

Scottish Juggling Convention

I missed the Glow Show to attend a get-together to discuss reviving the Scottish Juggling Convention. Ron did a brilliant job with the 2016 BJC and I think the time is right to bring back the SJC. Watc


  • I only heard a whip being cracked once in the main hall, apparently there was a space dedicated to them at the school and they must have only been used there.
  • Organisation. I didn’t notice any issues at all so that’s testament to the great work being done by the organisers. Well done!!
  • Weather. The first convention I’ve been to which had proper shorts and tshirt weather.
  • Everything. I just love the BJC. There really is too much to list here.


  • It’s anecdotal but I think there were more thefts this year than usual. Some of it is probably carelessly taking stuff such as the missing Ugly after the big toss up but Callum’s phone was almost certainly deliberately stolen. Just not cool.
  • Rubbish. I wish people would just tidy up after themselves.
  • I slept very well and the campsite was well away from the sound systems but occasionally I was awoken at ungodly hours by people with the most inane chat. Seriously, it’s 3:30am, unless it’s important or actually interesting it can wait till the (proper) morning when you’re in a camping area.

back from BJC 2017!

I came back from BJC 2017 yesterday… wow… what a week! This was the fourth year I attended and I am already looking forward to BJC 2018 in Canterbury. This was the first year I didn’t take my proper camera because I never end up taking many photos. Instead, I took my little action camera and used to make a timelapse of The Games held at Nottingham Caste.

Kururin Gauge – Design Files

This post is now a little bit out of date – check out for up to date information.

Yesterday I uploaded and released the Kururin Gauge PDF file. In this post I will include all the files that were used to create it for those interested in how it was done or want to modify it.

If you just wanted to download the PDF then click here. Otherwise, you can download all the design files here. I have included DXF files and Drawplus files so there should be a format that suits your laser cutter.

Send me an email if you have any suggestions, questions, complaints or nice things to say! For more about Kururins, visit my page on them.

shape matters

For the BJC 2017 I want to do a Kururin workshop. So I made lots this weekend. Turns out most of them are no good because I got the shape slightly wrong at the middle. At least I got it consistently wrong! They are too pointy rather than being a smooth curve so when they are pushed over they just make a clattering noise. It’s quite annoying because they look pretty good. I will probably turn them into some kind of skittles game and give it as a gift to a kid!

As pointed out by Zach Ryerson on the facebook Kururin page, they shaped a lot like the toy in Malcolm in the Middle!

Korea Internship & dojang

In the summer of 2011 I did a 3 month summer placement at the Korea Institute of Energy Research, organised by IAESTE. It was an amazing experience and I gained so much from it. My old website had quite a few blog posts written while I was there. I have decided to archive them to enjoy reading in the future but have taken them offline after transferring to a new website design. However, there was one page about dojangs (stone stamps) that was reasonably popular because there is not a huge amount of information about the lovely little shop in Seoul that does them. I have recreated that post here so the information is not lost to the ages!


The Korea IAESTE Students 2011… back when I had lots of hair!

In East Asia there is a strong tradition of having a personal name stamp that is used as a signature on official documents. Nowadays hand written and electronic signatures are very common but many people still have their own stamp.

In Korea name stamps/chops/seals are called dojangs (도장). When I got to know a little bit more about them I knew I wanted one. They are the ideal souvenir: almost practical, small, will last forever and beautiful. Also, they are not tacky.

After searching the internet I knew exactly where I wanted to get mine, Myung Sin Dang. A number of bloggers have been to that shop and all the experiences were positive.

Since I was heading to Seoul for the weekend anyway I decided to drop by on Friday. I’ve been to Insadong before but I missed Myung Sin Dang the first time because It’s a little bit hidden. However, this time I knew what I was looking for and found it soon enough.

I took some photos and videos of the process.

Penny Pusher

This is a page from my old website, I didn’t want to lose it so I have reposted it in its entirety.

I’m no gambler – I don’t like losing money – but if I’m at somewhere with an arcade I’ll get change of 20p to play in Penny Pushers. With such a small amount of money to begin with I rarely get more than a couple of coins dropping before I’m out of money. There is something in the way the coins hover with a whole bunch looking like they’ll fall anytime soon that fascinates me and I really want them to drop. There are quite a few things I’ve spent more time making than using. This won’t be one of them. I’ve sat at it for an hour at a time.

I’ve thought about building one for quite a while. Something I can play with to my heart’s content and not spend money on. I searched the internet about a year before making this one to see if anyone else had built one. To my surprise there was very little information on them. A couple of posts on some web forums and not much else. A few weeks ago I came across a Coin Pusher on instructables. This spurred me into action, I had to have one!



How I made it

I started with a request to friends for lots of 2p’s. My thanks to Daniel and Megan who each gave me £6 worth or 300 2p’s in total!

Much as I should have loved to have a full sized arcade cabinet I wouldn’t have the space to keep it so I settled on a more reasonable desktop sized version. I wanted the size to feel just right and while a CAD model would give a feel for the relative dimensions nothing could replace a physical prototype so I got out the A3 paper. I was pleased with an hour or two’s cutting and folding work. The final model has few differences to the paper model (and the differences there are intentional changes I made to make it feel right). The other advantage of having a model sitting there is that you know how many different pieces of wood you’ll need and roughly what size.

MDF cut-offs from Homebase

I headed off to Homebase for wood (expecting to pay a hefty sum for not much material, it’s not the cheapest place!) but was pleasantly surprised to find a few pieces thick MDF in the cut off bin which were 50p each. I carried these round the shop paranoid would someone took them. I also got a sheet of thin (3mm) MDF. All the wood (and a thick piece spare) came to £5.

I got home and calculated the final dimensions of the pieces I needed to cut taking into account the thickness of the wood. The internal space of the cabinet is the same as the paper model. All the pieces were cut with a hand saw because I don’t have a circular saw… yet! This took some time and care but I enjoyed the work. I am so used to working with small electronic components and fiddly bits that it was a welcome change to handle these large, non-delicate pieces of wood. It’s my first project with wood and I certainly want to try more, Wooden Binary Adder in particular.

Now, this is my first wood project and I had no idea how to cut out a space inside wood for the door. My (wrong, stupid, bad, rough and time consuming) approach was to use a drill with a hole saw to make as large a whole as possible. I then cut out chunks using my large hand saw. When it came to small fiddly bits I used the saw on my Swiss Army Knife. I now know the correct ways of cutting out a piece from another piece. I shall not bother explaining here as a quick search will be far more enlightening than I could ever be.

I soon had it screwed and glued together with some hinges for the back door. In this state it could have been tested, if I’d had a motor. I did not. I had a look around and settled on this servo from Dealextreme.

I went further on with the build. Starting by cutting out perspex for the front cover and the coin slide.

The motor still hadn’t arrived by this point and I was getting very impatient to test it. I remembered I had a K’nex motor and soon had that in place. It took a couple of goes to get it right and in the end some super glue was needed and one orange K’nex piece snipped. I also need to sand down the primer and sliding block.

The servo did eventually arrived and I had it modified for continuous in no time at all. I didn’t take any photos of that but it wasn’t anything fancy. Take the servo apart, remove the potentiometer and other electronics and remove a small mechanical stop on the gear wheel with the output shaft. I just wired the motor straight up to the battery pack with a switch. There are ways to modify a servo for continuous rotation and allow for pulses to control direction and speed but for this purpose it’s not necessary, in fact it would just be more parts (like a microcontroller) to go wrong. I did use standard battery holder clip clip so different holders could be connected. I have found three batteries is ideal.

The servo way mounted by routing out a rectangular hole and then screwing it in with the screws provided. I drilled a hole for the wires and hooked up the switch.

The pushing block is connected to the cam by a piece of 3mm MDF with nails at either end. This is quite a messy solution but so far it has been effective. On the servo end I would like to use a bolt but I have yet to find one thin enough. I used a little bit of super glue to keep the nail in place and stick back foam to stop it riding up (not shown in picture).

Deciding how to decorate it took quite some time. I considered designing some graphics on a computer, printing them out and stick them on but my artistic skill isn’t so good. I also decided even a nice design probably would look very good unless printed out and stuck on. In the end I decided to paint it. After an image search the dominate carnival/fairground colours seemed to be red and white stripes. The red paint I used was a £1 sample pot (75ml) of Riding Hood from Wickes.

The lettering on the sides was done using a stencil. The font for “Penny Pusher” was Big Top and “” was Rockwell Extra Bold (standard font on Windows). I touched up the lettering once the paper stencil was removed using cheap brushes with most of the bristles snipped off so it was a very fine brush. Thanks to my flatmate Douglas for his assistance in the stenciling!

I think that is the build well covered now. I might make CAD plans when I go back to university at the end of the holiday as an exercise in ProEngineer. If I’ve not been clear or you don’t understand something feel free to email me. If you make one following this page then please send me a photo of it! 🙂 They’re cool things and I’m surprised more people aren’t making them.

Notes and things I feel are important

The playing characteristics of the machine vary greatly depending on how far forwards the pushing block goes on a machine this size. The coins need some space before they’ll stack up.

Even more important is something I’ll call “sweep”. Sweep. Is the displacement of the block from one extreme to the other (ie. furthest forward and furthest back) A long sweep will mean the coins don’t stack up on the pushing block and get pushed off a lot quicker. This means the coins don’t stack up much on the lower platform. In the large arcade machines with a large bottom surface the coins stack up despite the relatively long sweep. I believe they are designed so that coins drop off the block at a much faster rate than drop off the main shelf. This tricks the player into thinking a big pay off is coming sooner than it really is (sorry if that didn’t make much sense, I’m finding it hard to explain what I mean!).

In real machines not all the coins that drop are given to the player. The coins that drop off at the side are siphoned off. This is hardly surprising as they need to make money!

Are they games of skill? Not really. You can time the release of the coin from your hand to maximise the chance of it falling flat and consequently more likely to push a coin off the pushing block.

My pushing block has a squint edge on one side (whoops!). This means that one direction of servo rotation (clockwise for me) is much better than the other. I also used plenty of WD-40 to keep it moving. Be careful though – it can (and did) damage the paint.


A comment from mikegreenhalgh on the MAKE blog

I used to work with these machines, at either side of the ‘bed’ with the coins on is a hole which leads down to the machine’s cashbox. At the front of the bed is an adjustable lip, as the coins get pushed forward they encounter this lip and start bunching up, coins from behind meeting this mass get pushed sideways causing some to drop down the holes at the side of the bed.

The machines profit percentage is adjusted by adjusting the size of the side holes (via sliding plates that make the holes bigger or smaller) and by moving the lip up or down.

At the place where I used to work we would empty the machines every few days and would generally take >£100 out from the cashboxes under the machine(but it was very busy).


The original comments


  • Written by Adrie on 17 August, 2010.

    Thanks a lot for this explanation! I always loved this kind of machines, and yours is perfect to make myself, because it is a lot smaller that the huge carnival ones, and the instructions don’t look very complax. I will for sure try to make one myself.

  • Written by JJ on 17 August, 2010.

    Go for it! Link me to some photos of it when you’re done. 🙂

  • Written by GaryG on 17 August, 2010.

    Very nice job.

    My 6yo was fascinated with one of these at a funfair a few weeks ago, been mulling over a few ideas myself (maybe for school fetes too? get ‘em gambling good and early 🙂

    Anyway, a few nice pointers in your write up so thanks!

  • Written by JJ on 17 August, 2010.

    Would work for school fetes as long as the kids didn’t cheat! Close supervision maybe? 🙂 you would also need to take some money of them somehow since my machine doesn’t do that.

    My dad made two games for our school fairs. First was bat-the-rat, long tube of cheap plastic pipe at an angle. A rat made from a sock filled with sand with a string tail was dropped and you had to hit it with some kind of soft mallet. My dad also made a little house the rat’s ran into at the bottom.

    Second, which is hard to explain but proved VERY popular was a coin game. Basically there was an upper shelf which had plastic cups filled with sand. In each cup was a coin, most cups contained low value 1p’s but the occasional one had a £1 in it. The kid had to pick there cup (obviously not knowing where the coins were). The was a wire mesh in the middle of the upper platform that the cup was tipped onto. The sand fell through leaving the coin remaining (that the player kept). Cups could be refilled in the lower platform because the box with a side missing design meant only the operator could see it.

    A drawing would be far better than words, if you wish I can upload a sketch for you.

    And thanks for your kind words!

  • Written by Darrell Thompson on 17 August, 2010.

    The design successfully looks pinball-ish and the finished product is superior to the original on Instructables. However, neither presented the dimensions, in either inches or centimeters. And, no mention is apparent regarding the facing maze the penny drops through. Is there any chance for an updated article including these points? Otherwise, a pleasing and fascinating project. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Written by JJ on 17 August, 2010.

    Thanks for the compliments 🙂

    You’re quite right on the bits you say I’ve missed out. There are most of the dimensions on this photo:

    but you would need to use the work to figure it all but it would give you a very good idea. However it is no substitute for plans and I appreciate that. I will try and get some plans done on ProE like I said I would. Couldn’t give you a definite time scale on that, hopefully within 2 months though (though possibly much sooner)

    The little random coin maze chute bit should have got a description but I got a bit lazy (didn’t take any pictures of it). I’ll try and get a short section on it.

    There are one or two other things I think I might have missed so I’ll update this page soon.

  • Written by Maria on 29 August, 2010.

    I have always enjoyed penny pusher games – well done for making such a good game. I really enjoyed reading about how you made it and how you managed to work it all out. I wouldn’t be able to make one but I do admire you for taking on the challenge. Good luck with your studying and I wish you all the best with your future projects!

  • Written by JJ on 29 September, 2010.

    Thanks Maria, if you don’t think you could make one on your own then you need to find an engineering friend to help you!

  • Written by Vincent on 26 October, 2010.

    Hey, im Vincent. I recently took to an admiration of penny pushers ect. im only 14 years old but i have been thinking about making or buying one, i do have a small one from Argos and tried taking it apart today but on the last 2 screws the holes were to deep for my screwdriver! too bad hey? i found your guide interesting and inspiring and i am going to try and make a full-size one, if not a medium one ^^. Thanks 😛

  • Written by JJ on 26 October, 2010.

    Hi Vincent

    I am glad you like it 🙂 I would have been around 14 when I started making projects. It sometimes seems a bit of a struggle when you’re younger to get the tools and materials to make stuff, or at least that’s what I felt but try to make what you have go as far as possible. Collect junk and develop you skills. In 6 years or so I’m really pleased with what I’ve learned but i still have a long way to go.

    As for your penny pusher, try get jewelers because they are thin enough to get into tricky screws.

    Let me know the how the full size one goes, I’ll be quite jealous of it!

  • Written by JJ on 26 October, 2010.

    My apologies to anyone waiting for instructions/plans/drawings but I just haven’t had a chance to finish off my CAD model. I’ll upload the model soon and if by some miracle you have ProE then you can take a look at it.

    I’ll try and get drawings done eventually for it but it might take quite a while now, sorry.

  • Written by Dorotha on 19 November, 2010.

    Want to make the penny pusher but without dementions I am having a hard time. Do you have these? Help! I tried to look it up on you notebook but could not enlarge it enough to read. Thanks

  • Written by JJ on 20 November, 2010.

    Hi Dorotha,

    I’m sorry about not getting plans drawn up for it and I know the dimensions are barely readable from my notebook. If you click on the image it will show you the full size image of it but it’s still not clear. You should be able to get a rough idea of sizing from it.

    I will make proper plans for it eventually. Unfortunately uni work is my priority just now 🙁

    I will email you when they’re eventually done.

  • Written by Ophélie on 13 May, 2011.

    Hello, I’m 14 years old. I am French so I do not speak English well .. sorry. I wanted to ask if you could give me a map of everything you’ve done or give me the steps because I do not know how: (And you can send me all the tools necessary, then you send me any What ^ ^ Thank you. (I hope you could send me all this)

  • Written by JJ on 13 May, 2011.

    Hi Ophélie

    Sorry, I never finished the plans for this. I started them but unfortunately university has kept me too busy. I’ll finish them one day and they will be posted here.

    You need standard woodworking tools. If you find an adult who has done some joinery work to help you, they will tell you what you need.

    All the best,


  • Written by billy on 28 May, 2011.

    hi jj , well done on your home made pusher , im seriously looking at making these to place around my home town fish and chip shops as this is where i first played one and i was hooked straight away , i beleive that these would be a great investment . im jus not sure on what the regulations are with gambling and all that jazz . i will be making one myself and trialing it at my local chip shop as i know the owner . i will make it 50 cents a go and have scattered one and 2 dollar coins on the tray , im just trying to figure out the holes on the side to send money to the cash box. i bought an original penny falls machine when i was 15 for 50 dollars , im so mad that i let it go . if you could tell me exactly what motor i to use , a durable one that would be much appreciated , and how long did the batteries last in your machine?? thanks again . putting the last tray on a wee tilt would hold the coins on for longer yes???

  • Written by JJ on 28 May, 2011.

    Hi billy,

    I’m from the UK but I know nothing about the laws regarding these machines in any country. They definitely get you hooked and I imagine they make a lot of money if correctly place and configured.

    I can’t believe you got rid of a real one!

    I used this servo (modified for continuous rotation):

    I wouldn’t recommend it for a machine that was going to be used for long periods of time. I don’t think it would hold up to the abuse. I believe people have used windscreen wiper motors but I am not sure. I can’t advise you which motor to get because I don’t know and it would require a fair amount of research to get right. It needs to be geared down to a slow speed.

    I just use AA batteries so they don’t really last that long. A couple of ours or so. If you’re planning to leave the machine running for any length of time you need to connect it to the mains (plug it in at a wall socket).

    You will need some kind of anti-cheating mechanism such as sirens and a door to block off the coin return tray. People WILL try and knock it.

    A slope should hold the coins for longer from what I have heard. My one worked OK without a slope so I never experimented with slope.

    Best wishes and be sure to send me some photos and a video when you’re done,


  • Written by JJ on 22 June, 2011.

    Asking once is enough! 🙂 I am afraid I do not have any measurements. There are some rough dimensions on the sketch in my notebook (click on it to see full resolution photo). I am many (5000+) miles from home so there is no way I’ll be able to get them online in the near future. Sorry about that!

    Best wishes,


  • Written by me on 23 June, 2011.

    thanks anyway

  • Written by i want to build one on 8 July, 2011.

    i am planning on making one of these for a school project, i know i can make the actual coin pusher but the only thing im worried about is the motor….is there any cheap motor that you think would work for this?? besides the servo….thanks alot! i really need an answer! thanks@

  • Written by andrew on 25 July, 2011.

    do no how to win instantly

  • Written by rob on 22 August, 2011.

    could you sent the bleuprints to or could you place it on the website please

  • Written by gabgob1066 on 3 September, 2011.

    don’t the proper ones have a series of dots behind the top screen to randomise the positioning of the coin? Surely if the coin rarely lands in the same place it will lower the number of coins pushed off the top, therefore reduce the number of coins pushed off the edge and won? Also, if you make a curve at the edge and have the side nearest the player boarded off, the coins will go in from behind, but not out. this maximises the money collected at the side because the force from the pushing platform is pushing the coins to the side, causing the coins to fall into your colection hole and minimising the force pushing the coins of the edge right? Thus causing more gaps infront of the curve so the presure spreads out even more. The problem I’m having is making a anti-bump mechanisim. Can any-one help me with this? My penny pusher is 1.5 meters tall and I would like to make it as cheap as possible to build and make maximum proffit . Thanks.

  • Written by luke on 23 October, 2011.

    This is so cool!

    I’ll try to make one! (note: TRY!)

  • Written by kevin on 3 June, 2012.

    where do you buy the electronic on the back of the machine

  • Written by kevin on 3 June, 2012.

    i really need your help

  • Written by JJ on 4 June, 2012.

    Kevin, I’ve linked to the servo I used to drive the pusher so I’m not sure what you wan to know. Remember, I can’t read your mind and I don’t know what country you are living in!


  • Written by Drew on 12 July, 2012.

    How did you connect the servo to the switch, and the switch to the battery pack? also, where did you get the switch and the battery pack?

  • Written by Penny pushers | Worldwidepush on 12 July, 2012.

    […] Penny Pusher (Coin Pusher) – Jonathan JamiesonAug 1, 2010 … I’m no gambler – I don’t like losing money – but if I’m at somewhere with an arcade I’ll get change of 20p to play in Penny Pushers. With such a … […]

  • Written by JJ on 12 July, 2012.

    A “soldering iron” is needed for electrical connections. I can’t remember where I bought them but if you’re in the UK try Maplin and in the US try Radioshack. If you want to save money and buy online try: Rapid, RS, Farnell, Sparkfun, Techsupplies…. there are many!

  • Written by Zeek on 11 August, 2012.

    hey can anyone tell me what kind of servo motor this is and were i can get one

  • Written by Kim on 25 October, 2012.

    Fantastic! We are having a village fate soon and will be fund raising for local charitys this will be perfect i cant wait to get making it! Thanks for the info.

  • Written by JJ on 12 November, 2012.

    I never finished doing engineering drawings for it. I dug out the Pro Engineer CAD files I made. Unfortunately I cannot even remember which was the latest version! I have uploaded a zip file of what I have. I have no idea if the dimensions are correct or not, however, I did pretty much finish off the assembly model so they can’t have been too bad!

  • Written by David Hewett on 4 December, 2012.

    Would you be able to sell or make me a copy of PRO-E? I really cant afford the full version right now. They have changed the name to Creo now. do you know anything about that?

    Let me know what you can do for me.

  • Written by JJ on 4 December, 2012.

    Hello David

    Sorry I can’t give you a copy. I get access to the software as a student (I need to log onto a VPN and jump through various hoops just to get it on my own laptop). It might be possible to convert it to AutoCad, which you might be able to get a trial version for.

    I wouldn’t get too hung up on trying to get my model working. This thing is relatively simple, you can figure it out. The rough dimensions of mine are shown in my photo of the notebook. It will all be in metric units.


  • Written by Belinda Burris on 19 December, 2012.

    I have a question and I already know that the answer will most likely be no, which I would understand, but I have been looking for my mother a coin pusher game for a long time because it is her all time favorite game ever, and I was wondering if there was any possible way you could make her one and I could pay payments on one, because I know I will never afford one right out. I wouldn’t even bother to ask this, but I recently moved back into the house with my mother to take care of her due to her poor health, and since moving back in I have realized how awful she is doing, and would like to get her one of these while I still have the chance. She has always done anything and everything for me when I needed her and I know this sounds like a sob story, and I am sorry to ask, but it the absolute truth and means a lot to me. No matter your answer, will you please respond so that I will know. Thank You.

  • Written by JJ on 19 December, 2012.

    Hello Belinda

    Sorry I am not able to make these for people at this time. I am extremely busy with my final year at uni and I am not around the workshop I used to make this.

    You can buy toy ones (I’ve never tried one so I don’t know how good they are). Also, someone released a virtual coin pusher for android tablets and phones. Nowhere near as good as the real thing but surprisingly addictive!

    I hope you find someone who is able to assist you, best wishes,


  • Written by Ken on 22 January, 2013.

    Why did you use a servo rather than a geared down motor. Was it because of the speed of the servo or the power needed to push the piece of wood backwards and forwards. I thought of making one with a motor slowed down with gears.

  • Written by JJ on 22 January, 2013.

    Hi Ken

    I used a servo instead of a geared motor for one reason only, convenience. It’s what I had lying around! A geared motor at the correct speed with reasonable torque would be ideal.

    I modded my servo so it is effectively a geared motor, it rotates in the same direction (doesn’t matter which) continuously.


  • Written by bob on 25 January, 2013.

    I am using the motor from a screwdriver with a dead battery, and gears from a old meccano set to slow it down

  • Written by Ken on 7 February, 2013.

    I have found the ideal motor for this project. It runs at 5 or 6 RPM and runs from mains voltage. I am in the UK so that’s 230 volts AC but you will find the same type of motor in your own country that runs off your voltage. I got it from a broken microwave oven. The motor is used to turn the turntable. Keep the plastic coupler that fits on top of the motor and under the glass turntable. People are giving these broken microwaves away for free.
    Turn the microwave over and you will see a panel that you can put a strong screw driver into and force the panel off and the motor is just there.
    When I have made my coin pusher I will put the details on a website and let you know the web address. If anyone wants to contact me for info you can contact me at

  • Written by richard on 14 February, 2013.

    i have used a drill to power mine the drill is fitted in the back in the up right position in the chuck i have put the first wheel which i got from using a hole saw 1 inch dia then fitted a bolt and nut to clamp on to this then the second wheel 5 inch hole saw which is fitted directly behind the sliding table then got a belt for a vacuum cleaner which i got from wilkos or any good hardware shop then on that wheel i have bolted the arm to the table will put some pics on a website for you to see soon also so picks for the idea i have for coin mech which stops the kids putting 1p and 5p into the machine 🙂

  • Written by Ali Aldridge on 15 February, 2013.


    Your coin pusher is fantastic, and has really inspired me, I have 3 children who all LOVE these machines and we only play 2 times a year because its expensive !!! Yesterday we spent £8 on winning 5 key rings and 2 plastic teddies with W-S-M Pier logos … such fun ..

    Any way on the journey home we were discussing motors and types of construction to build our own, and amongst all the tutorials we found you … We have loads of MDF already stacked in the garage and we are now going to buy a second hand record player for the motor mechanism and parts for display / decoration ……. JIG saw POWERED UP, and away we go .. we won’t be exactly using your template, but certainly taking forward all your enthusiasm and all useful comments from fellow comentee’s.

    Many Many thanks, Ali

  • Written by JJ on 15 February, 2013.


    The microwave motor sounds good. It sounds like you know what you’re doing but be careful with mains voltage. There are benefits to plugging stuff into the grid, but with great power (excuse the pun) comes great responsibility!

    I’m looking forward to seeing yours when it’s done, do post a link here.


  • Written by JJ on 15 February, 2013.

    Hello bob,

    Screwdriver should give you plenty of torque! Please post a link when you’re done.


  • Written by JJ on 15 February, 2013.

    Hi Richard,

    Your one sounds fancy, do post the links soon. I wasn’t sure how to do my coin input mechanism. I can’t say I’m 100% satisfied with what I ended with so it will be interesting your fancier coin slot.



  • Written by JJ on 15 February, 2013.

    Hi Ali,

    Thanks for your kind words. I love hearing about the coin pushers people are making. The comment page for this project is by far the most popular on my site.

    I’m sure your kids will love it, maybe you’ll make a profit from the coins their friends put in!!

    Definitely just use mine as a rough guide. You’ll have much more fun designing your own. It’s not a complicated thing when it comes to wood working so it makes a good beginner project (it was my first project).


  • Written by alan on 13 May, 2013.

    Hi can i have more details of how you modified the servo
    Many thanks

  • Written by JJ on 15 May, 2013.


    You need a servo with gears that cover the fully 360 degrees of motion (some servos only have ~180 degrees of teeth on the wheel that is connected to the servo arm). Then you need to remove any physical blocks (pieces of plastic) that stop it rotating past the normal angles. Finally, remove the electronics and just hook the motor to a DC power source (eg a battery).

    If this sounds too much, just buy a geared motor. It will work better than a servo anyway!!


  • Written by Robert Dugan on 11 March, 2014.

    Dear Jonathan,
    Last year my grandaughters were on holiday with me at Skegness Uk and they were always playing on the penny drop machines,and one of my grandaughters said,”I bet grandad could make one of these”.
    When I go home, I searched the internet for plans,and I came across your website.
    After seven months I have completed a fantastic penny drop machine,but I still have to find a servo that will fit it.
    Many thanks for your plans.
    Yours sincerely,
    Robert Dugan.Msd

  • Written by JJ on 11 March, 2014.

    Awesome! 🙂 Please send me a photo of your machine, I’d love to see it. Servo motors are not really the perfect thing for this application, I just happened to have one handy.

    Depends on your model’s size but something like this should be OK:



  • Written by craig on 20 July, 2014.

    I’ve tried two different servos from toy electric rd cars…these are a no no …… Reading from above.. motors from the micro sounds quite simple maybe with on/off switch. And the drill sounds good

  • Written by Diane Crompton on 22 February, 2015.

    Hello Jonathan
    It’s nice to see you are such an enthusiast of the penny falls, originally invented by my father Jim Crompton (Crompton Leisure Machines) the original was called the cakewalk. I’m sure he would be thrilled to know there is still such an interest in the machine he invented. It’s nice to know so many children and adults alike including my own grand children still love it.
    Sadly my father passed away 7 years ago but I know he would be flatered to know a TV show has been made on the back of his invention, and you Johnathon would have made his day building your own version not unlike the way he started himself. It’s a shame that tipping point don’t acknowledge him in the show. Best wishes Diane Crompton.

  • Written by JJ on 22 February, 2015.

    Hello Diane,

    Thanks for your message. I have to admit, I have never heard of Tipping Point until now. I don’t watch much TV, especially gameshows!

    If you have more information (old documents or plans) then you should definitely try to make them available. When I was looking for information before making my own I found very little, despite machines being found at almost every arcade. It’s entirely possible the producers of Tipping Point had no knowledge of your father’s inventions, the fountain of knowledge that is Wikipedia makes no mention to Crompton Leisure Machines. Anyway, if you have any photos or documents I would love to see them and if you didn’t mind I would be more than happy to add them to this page!

    Thanks for leaving a message, penny pushers seem to be a favourite of many people. It’s as close to innocent gambling as you can get!


  • Written by David on 15 May, 2015.

    Could you tell me what kind of switch you used. I can’t find one anywhere. Thanks!

  • Written by Wayne on 23 November, 2015.

    Hi, this is brilliant, i wish there was a full kit that you could buy in one and assemble it, had lots of hours of fun on these in the past, and is certainly a retro arcade game! excellent youve done here.

  • Written by JJ on 23 November, 2015.

    Thanks! I might redo this sometime using a laser cutter, in which case I could easily give the plans away.