Maker built the legendary Sigma Derby

Sigma Derby is an electro-mechanical horse racing game where four players can place bets on five horses; a quinella of two horses in any order pays out according to the odds. 

This is a household version of the popular Sigma Derby game once found in casinos all over the world. The casino version allows for 10 players at a time, and this DIY-version is scaled down to 4.
The author was with his wife in Vegas a few years back when he first laid eyes on this game. Before he even put a coin in and played, he told her “We have to have one of these for the basement.” A couple of years past, and he started research into buying one. A year prior one sold on eBay for $45,000, and recently one has been on the TV show Pawn Stars where the seller wanted $90,000 and another was on eBay for $75,000. Not only was that much more than he was willing to spend, parts for these machines are near impossible to find if it were to break down. That was the moment when the maker decided to build his own. With no Arduino experience and little programming experience, he watched a series of YouTube videos, and pieced together how to build this.  He worked on and off on it for about a year and a half, and the total cost for him was around $1,000.  

The body of the Derby is made out of wood. It took a lot of diligent wood-working to carve out a track, cut roller chain, drill holes for stepper motors and bearings, etc. 





The game itself is made from three different components:

1)    The horse race – Using 5 Arduino Uno’s, 2 Arduino Mega’s, 5 stepper motors, and 10 lever switches.

2)    The odds board – Using 2 Arduino Mega’s, 1 Arduino Uno, and 11 2x16 LCD displays.

3)    Betting station – Using (per station) 1 Arduino Mega, 10 push buttons, 10 7-segment LED’s, 1 2x16 LCD, 1 solid state relay, 1 break-beam sensor, 1 coin hopper with break-beam sensor. 


1-4 players can play the game. There are two programs, one that uses coins and one that is a fun mode. If coins are used, there is also a break-beam sensor for coin-in, a solid-state relay and coin hopper. You insert your coins and place a bet on which quinella you think will win the race. Odds are given before the race for the 10 different possibilities ranging from 2:1 to 200:1. If the quinella you wager on wins, you win!

Once the horses have reached the finish line the Arduino Mega connected to the finish switches will send a signal to all other boards. This signal is a 5-digit code that contains the information needed for the next race, and previous race winner. Based on this code the horses will run a designed race, the odds board will print out the odds of each quinella winning the race, and the betting station will credit from the previous race winner and store the odds for the next race. 






1)    The first attempt at moving animals around a track

2)    The first time they raced around the track logically

3)    Countdown clock and odds board hooked up

4)    Credit and payout hook up

5)    Derby stained and finished

6)    More infromation

* The video seems to make the Derby louder than what it is. On a decibel meter, it operates around 55db; or around conversation level.



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