Making vector arcade games with an FPGA

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While we’re sure most Hackaday readers were raised by arcade games featuring sprites, pixels, and other shiny brightly colored squares, this was not always so. Many classic arcade games – Lunar Lander, Gravitar, and Asteroids in particular – used vector displays. Instead of drawing individual pixels, these games functioned more like an oscilloscope, drawing lines. When [Todd] and [Andrew] got their hands on a monitor from an old Asteroids cabinet, they knew what they had to do: build their own vector arcade game.

The guys made their own DAC and Amplifier board that plugs right in to a Nexys2 FPGA dev board. This was after they tested out some 3D drawing code with a gnarly handmade R2R DAC they used to draw and rotate a cube on an oscilloscope screen.

Not only did the guys build a vector video card, they also connected the FPGA’s VGA out to a monochrome monitor for an in-game HUD. Awesome work that blows away anything available in the golden days of vector arcade games. It’s a beautiful piece of engineering that certainly deserves its own cabinet.

Video of the game available below.

[Read more...]

The tiniest arcade cabinets you’ve ever seen

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After perusing Amazon one day, [Dave] found a very interesting piece of kit: a small, 1.5″ digital picture frame. They’re not very complex, just an LCD, a few buttons to cycle the picture, and a battery to keep everything portable. He decided the best use of this tech would be a tiny arcade cabinet, featuring screen shots of the best games a darkly neon lit arcade of the late 80s had to offer.

After sourcing a few of these digital picture frames on eBay, [Dave] set to work disassembling the frames and designing a custom enclosure. He wanted a few specific features: controls in the right place, replaceable sides, and the glowing red eyes of a coin acceptor slot. [Dave] whipped a model up in OpenSCAD and sent the parts over to his printer.

The controls for the digital picture frame were connected to a quartet of tact switches on the control panel, and a red LED provides the glow from the coin acceptor. With a USB plug and the frame’s memory loaded up with screen shots, [Dave] has a fabulous desk toy.

All the relevant files are up on Thingiverse if you’d like to build your own.

NES Zapper modified to work with an old Nintendo VS. cabinet

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The company which [Eric Wright] works for recently bought a Nintendo VS. It had Ice Climber installed as one of the titles but they asked the vendor if it was possible to swap it out for the Duck Hunt ROM. They had the ROM but not a light gun that would work with the system. [Eric] suggested they buy it with Duck Hunt and hack an NES Zapper to work with the VS cabinet.

Let’s take a step back for a moment. The Nintendo VS was a coin-operated gaming cabinet you would find in an Arcade. Luckily there’s quite a bit of information about the original hardware on the web. Some research helped him discover that electronically the only difference between the arcade and home versions of the Zapper is that the sensor capture is inverted. This was fixed by replacing a transistor in the gun with a jumper wire. The next challenge was figuring out how to wire the gun up to the second controller port. And finally he patched the ROM to work with the incorrect PPU as the right chip was not easily sourced.

[Read more...]

One game controller connects to many consoles

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[Dave Nunez] wanted arcade quality controls when gaming at home. The problem was he couldn’t decide on just one console to target with his build, so he targeted them all. What you see above is a single controller that connects to many different gaming rigs.

He took a simple-is-best approach, keeping the main goal of high-quality inputs at the forefront. To start, he built the face plate out of thick MDF to ensure it wouldn’t flex or bounce as he mashed the buttons. To keep the electronics as simple as possible he soldered connections to actual controller PCBs (well, reproductions of controllers), breaking each out to a separate DB9 connector on the back of the case. These connectors interface with one of the three adapter cables seen to the right. This lets the controller work with NES, SNES, and an Atari 2600 system.

To pull the enclosure together [Dave] designed the rounded corner pieces and cut them out with a CNC mill. These connect with flat MDF to make up the sides. To give it that professional look he filled the joints with Bondo and sanded them smooth before painting.

Coffee table arcade hides its controls

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[Hoogen] did a fantastic job of building arcade hardware into this Ikea coffee table. Sound familiar? We just looked at another Ikea coffee table arcade, but this one goes quite a different route. It uses a Ramvik table which has a very deep drawer in the end where the controls are located. The image to the left shows that you’re going to have a problem with the joystick when you try to close it. [Hoogen] came up with a clever mechanism to overcome this issue.

This is not an emulated system. It uses a JAMMA board called the iCade 60-in-1 to bring sixty classic arcade games to the build. To interface with this hardware [Hoogen] included a JAMMA full cabinet wiring harness. The inset image on the right is pretty small, but it shows the speaker mounted in the back of the drawer, as well as the control surface angled down. This tilting surface is what allows the controls to move out of the way when closing the drawer. This happens automatically as described by [Hoogen] in his write-up.

Fabricating hardware from the original arcade Pong schematics

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This heavily populated PCB is a recreation of the original arcade version of Pong. That is an important distinction because the home version of Pong used a specialized chip to do much of the work. This is basically all stock logic, which explains the high component count. We wonder how many quarters it took just to pay for all 66 chips at the time?

[Pong74ls] was the person who took on this project. There is an original schematic available, but it’s incredibly crowded and rather difficult to figure out. Fortunately [Dan Boris] has already done a lot of the heavy work. He took the one-page nightmare and turned it into a sixteen page plan for building the original board (look for the schematic link under technical details).

Before the board could be laid out some redesign work was necessary. It sounds like some of the original chips are out of production and suitable replacements needed to be found. The board was then laid out in Eagle before sending the design off to a fab house. There was just one error which didn’t allow the ball to bounce when hitting a paddle while travelling downward. A couple of jumper wires fixed that right up!

[via Reddit]

[Original Reddit Post]

Coin-op Sega Rally used to race RC cars

Head to head video game action can’t even compare to this use of a coin-op Sega Rally game to race actual RC vehicles. Take a close look at those screens and you’ll see there are no computer graphics, just a feed for a camera on each of the toy cars.

The project was conceived for the Sapo Codebits VI conference in Portugal. The arcade cabinets had their controls connected to an Arduino, but getting video up and running wasn’t nearly as easy. After fruitless attempts to get the original CRTs to work the team ended up replacing them with functioning CRT units of the same size. The cars themselves have two camera, one on top of the vehicle’s cab and one mounted on a boom for a perspective that was above and behind the vehicle. The drivers can switch between either view. The cars were set loose in the room serving as the event’s retro gaming area and players were free to race each other wherever they pleased. Don’t miss the video clip after the break which shows off all of the fun. [Read more...]

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