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Crosley Jukebox, the iJuke

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If you’re a music lover and grew up before the internet was a thing, chances are you plugged quite a few quarters into a jukebox.  Like pinball, arcades, and roller skates though, jukeboxes have slowly disappeared from bars and other places like Pizza Hut.  I always wanted to have a jukebox in my home when I got older, and now I have with the Crosley Jukebox, the iJuke.  The picture of the one I have is below:

Crosley jukebox ijuke

The iJuke I have is an older version the CR12-2.  It has the radio, CD player, iPod input, and aux input.  The newer versions have Bluetooth instead of placing the iPod on the jukebox itself, which is probably more convenient overall.  Most of the time it’s either used for the radio or the iPod input, the CD player and aux are rarely used.  One of the things I’d definitely recommend is the extra stand that you can buy for underneath, that makes the thing a lot taller and more natural looking.  Without it, it’s too short in my opinion.  The jukebox and stand are available from amazon affiliate links below:

Crosley CR12-2 iJukebox AM/FM Radio Digital Tuner, CD Player & iPod/MP3 Connection

Crosley Jukebox Stand for Full Size Jukebox – Walnut (Matching Crosley Model for the Crosley Bluetooth iJuke Full Size Jukebox)

Of course, the most important question is, “how does it sound?”.  To my ears, it sounds fantastic.  It has enough power to be loud in basement without breaking up.  If it isn’t loud enough for you, it has outputs on the back that you can use to add additional speakers or wire it to another amp.  I’ve been happy enough with the sound though that I haven’t felt the need to do that.

When people come over, it’s one of the first things that gets turned on.  Kids especially like to turn on the light and radio and start dancing (I’ve also got a rotating light).  The combo makes a pretty good dance floor area.

I’ve added a video below showing how to use it.  It goes over the controls and to other parts of the Crosley iJuke.

Hopefully this review helped out.  We’ve really enjoyed the Crosley iJuke while we’ve owned it.  The newer version with Bluetooth is even better.

Building an Airstone Fireplace

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Airstone Fireplace bottom picture
Airstone Fireplace bottom half

One of the things that’s often desirable in a game room, bar, or basement area is a faux stone wall.  I’m going to talk about one of the easiest methods to making this wall, which is a product that most people get from Lowe’s called Airstone.  I happened to build an Airstone Fireplace in my basement a few years ago.  You can find the product online here:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/AirStone-8-sq-ft-Autumn-Mountain-Faux-Stone-Veneer/50247201

Airstone is a product that looks like real stone but is really a very light stone like material (hence the name Airstone).  Instead of using stone tools to cut and shape it, you use a standard hacksaw or power saw (with appropriate blade) to cut it.  I did my Airstone fireplace wall with a hacksaw, if I had to do it again though I’d probably invest in a power saw.  I had to do a lot of running up and down the stairs to the garage to cut it, then run back downstairs to see if it fit (not fun).  On top of that, my arm got really tired after a while of cutting, if you’re going to do a big project using an electric tool would be totally worth it.

Installation

I used the Autumn Mountain veneer (pictured below).  It has a brownish hue to it that goes well with most things.  Airstone also comes in the colors Birch Bluff and Spring Creek.  Birch Bluff is kind of a light off white stone and Spring Creek is a grey ensemble.  When buying it, there are two different kinds of boxes, one with only straight pieces and one with only corners.  Depending on your project, you may or may not need the corner pieces but you’ll for sure need the straight pieces unless you’re just doing a square column.  I had two major corners with my Airstone fireplace that required quite a few corner boxes.

Autumn Mountain Airstone Fireplace

When assembling it, it’s fairly easy to start constructing your wall.  The hardest part is keeping your wall level.  You may want to draw some lines to provide a good starting point.  In my case, I put up a 2×4 horizontally across to build my first row, then built upon it after that.  That may or may not work for you depending on what you’re doing, if your wall has a lot of spaces the board thing may not work.  Letting your first couple rows dry will help with later assembly, the stone isn’t too hard to take off later if you make a mistake.  I linked to a video below that shows installation:

I used the adhesive recommended by the manufacturer, Airstone Interior Adhesive.  You can buy it here:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/AirStone-Interior-Adhesive-128-fl-oz-Stone-Veneer-Adhesive/3594596

The good thing is that it’s very easy to work with and if you make a mistake it’s pretty easy to correct.  The negative to that is that some smaller pieces may fall off eventually, some of the really small (1″) pieces I cut to fill in spaces fell off and had to be reattached.  Luckily they usually fell off in the first week, so if it makes it that long you’re probably doing pretty good.  The small pieces are almost always used close to edges, I had quite a few instances where the piece I was using was just a little too short and needed a small piece thrown in to make it work.

Additional Fireplace Items

At the front of my fireplace you can see I have a stone ledge.  You can get that from a local stone place, I believe it was called a flagstone.  It was VERY heavy and hard to move, I ended up needing a dolly to get it down my stairs.  I would guess that it weighed a couple hundred pounds or more.  The base I made was constructed from 2 x 4’s and then covered with Airstone.  It matched the Airstone really well, made it look pretty professional.

The mantel actually came off Amazon.  It looks amazing and 100% real but it’s actually hollow and fairly light.  It attached via a plate on the back and just sits on the front of the fireplace.  Putting the stone around my mantel was fairly challenging because of the lower wood pieces sticking out at the bottom, you have to do a lot of cutting in order to get all the pieces to look right.  The bottom pieces are optional though, you don’t have to install them if you don’t want.  It’s available from through my Amazon affiliate link here:

Pearl Mantels 412-72-50 Shenandoah Pine 72-Inch Fireplace Mantel Shelf, Rustic Medium from Amazon

It can actually support a decent amount of weight, you can see that I have a sound bar and a clock on it currently.  You can also see the side shelves, if desired you can easily add the 36″ side shelves on the wall to match the mantel.  I have little mini helmets on mine which were great until the Big 10 added two more teams and exceeded my shelf space.

The fireplace is an electric from Dimplex and it’s worked really well while I’ve had it.  I don’t turn it on very often, but when I do it provides some nice heat in the basement.  It has multiple settings, like high, low, and visual only.  The visual only setting is nice when you want the fireplace look but not the heat associated with it.  It comes with a remote which is nice to have so you can turn it on from you couch.  It’s available from Amazon here:

Dimplex DF3003 30-Inch Plug-In Electric Fireplace from Amazon

I’ve now had my fireplace up for a few years now, would I do it again?  Absolutely.  In fact I’m considering adding Airstone to my bar area now.  It’s easy to install, cost effective, and looks fantastic when done.  The only hard part is that there isn’t a good way to go around curved surfaces which I would need to do for the bar area.

Lord of the Rings Pinball Machine

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Lord of the Rings pinball machine with LED's
Lord of the Rings pinball with LED's
If you’ve ever thought about owning a pinball machine, one of the ones that will be at the top of a lot of people’s lists will be the Lord of the Rings pinball machine.  Based upon the classic movie trilogy, the game features all the music, sounds, art, etc that everyone loved about the movies.  I first owned one about 10 years ago and recently bought one again because I’ve missed it for a long time.

Lord of the Rings Modes

What makes Lord of the Rings pinball one of the best?  The thing that usually catches everyone’s eye at first is the flying ramp shot up the middle.  This shot flies off the ramp at high speed into a magnetic ‘ring’ in the back center of the playfield.  There it sits suspended while the first of 6 modes starts.  The ‘modes’ are basically 6 different scenes from the movie, everything from Gandalf to the Witch King.  All of them feature speech from the movies along with great music.  The modes are:
  • Escape the Ringwraiths:  In this mode, you shoot a series of flashing shots to escape the wraiths like in Fellowship of the Ring.
  • Gandalf vs Saruman:  This is the battle in the Fellowship in the Ring at the beginning of the movie.  You hit shots to battle back and forth until you make your escape.
  • Warg Battle:  You have to hit the left ramp first, then hit 6 other main shots. This kills all the Wargs like in The Two Towers.
  • War of the Ents:  You have to attack Saruman’s Tower and then release the river to complete this Two Towers mode.  Shots to the left tower are what are needed.
  • Attack of Shelob:  You have to hit alternating left and right shots to escape the spider like in Return of the King.
  • Kill the Witch King:  You have to combo either left ramp/right ramp or right loop/right ramp 4 times to win this Return of the King mode.  It is extremely difficult, you’ll almost never complete this mode.

If you can start all of the modes, you’re rewarded with the mini wizard mode There and Back Again, which is pretty awesome.  I won’t spoil anything for those that haven’t been there.

Lord of the Rings center playfield

Multiballs

To go along with the modes, there are 3 main multiballs, one for each movie.  The Fellowship multiball is based up on getting them across the bridge before the Balrog catches them.  You start the multiball by collecting the 9 people involved in the Fellowship of the ring ( Pippin, Merry, Sam, Frodo, Aragorn, Gandalf, Gimli, Boromir, Legolas) by shooting their associated shot.  Boromir is typically the hardest to obtain due to needing 20 pops to qualify him.  Once you’ve collect the 9, you can shoot the left loop to Barad Dur to start the multiball.  Once in the multiball you have to shoot Balrog follow by a left or right ramp shot. This gets a member across the bridge.
The Two Towers multiball is about defending Helm’s deep while the orcs attack until Gandalf arrives.  To qualify it, you must lock three balls on Aragorn’s sword by spelling lock via the lanes.  It’s basically an “all shots are lit” multiball where every shot you hit continuously progresses you towards Gandalf arriving.  It’s the easiest of the three multiballs, once you get good at the game you will regularly be completing this multiball.
The Return of the King multiball is about climbing the 7 tiers of the city to the top to save everyone.  To qualify it, you have to collect 5000 souls from the path of the dead, which isn’t always easy.  You basically have to hit 4 core shots 7 times (28 shots total) in order to scale Minas Tirith to the top to save everyone.  This multiball is extremely difficult to complete, I’ve only done it a couple times.

Rest of the Rules

Anytime you complete a multiball or mode you are reward with a gift from the elves.  The gift is one of 6 different prizes on the left hand side in the shape of a 6 sliced pie.  There are a lot of good rewards so it pays to win them.
Here is the complete in depth ruleset:

Drawbacks

What are the drawbacks of the Lord of the Rings pinball machine?  The main drawback is that compared to other games, the games can become rather long as you get better and better at the game.  It’s not uncommon to have 30 to 40 minute games on it after you win a bunch of extra balls.  At the end of this time, sometimes the flippers become overheated and weak.  If that’s the case for you, consider installing these:
That’s really it though, if you like the theme it’s really a hard game to beat.

I’ve installed a Color LED display in my Lord of the Rings pinball machine.  Honestly though, I think I’m going to switch it out for a Color DMD, I don’t really care for the triangle dots, they’re too bright and spaced apart too far.  I wouldn’t recommend Color LED for this particular game, I don’t think the color scheme goes well with it.
There are a bunch of other mods available for the game.  These are things like a shaker motor, path of the dead ghosts, a Palantir that looks like the eye, etc.  I personally don’t like too many mods on my games other than shakers and subwoofers.  This particular Lord of the Rings pinball machine I bought just happened to have a bunch of mods already installed when I got it.  I actually don’t mind the speaker rings, they do kind of go with the game pretty well.
Lord of the Rings pinball also appears in my list, Best Pinball Machines for home use article.

Pinball Machine Dimensions

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Besides pinball weight, the other thing that a lot of people have questions on is pinball machine dimensions, i.e. how wide, long, and deep a pinball machine is.  The main problem is usually the doorways, some heads don’t fit through smaller doorways.  Here’s a summary of standard head widths for DMD games:

Stern: 27 5/8″

Williams:  28 3/4″

Both should fit through your standard 32″ doorway, but when going through smaller doorways you may have to remove the door in order get them through.

The length usually isn’t an issue as the game can be tipped up on it’s back (without legs on) for moving.  Most games are around 56″ long and 76″ to 80″ high (depending on how high the leg levelers are set at and how long the legs are).

One thing to note is that Gottlieb system 3 DMD games are slightly taller when the head is folded down than Stern or Williams games.  This is sometimes important when hauling the game in a smaller SUV (it may be too tall to fit).

 

Corvette Neon Sign

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Corvette Neon Sign all lit up picture
Corvette Neon Sign all lit up

Being a Corvette owner myself (1972 C3 Blue Corvette) I’ve always wanted to have a Corvette neon sign in my basement.  This Christmas I finally acquired one and it’s pretty awesome:

Corvette Neon Sign all lit up

Around the same time, I was also able to finally reaquire my old Corvette pinball machine that I owned for a couple years before lack of space forced me to sell it.  If you’re looking for an underrated game from the 90’s, Corvette is one of the best ones you’ll find. Good flow and shots, good rules, lots of combos, etc.  Here’s a picture of the neon turned on above the pinball machine.

Corvette neon sign Corvette pinball machine

So where can you acquire this neon sign?  I got mine off ebay for around $300.  The one thing you have to be careful of is that some of the signs are slightly different even though they look the same.  Some might be slightly smaller or missing a little neon that others have.  Mine is 24″ is 24″ for reference.