The GATARI “2600” Musical Instrument


So do you have an Atari 2600 laying around collecting dust? Perhaps you’d like to have a musical instrument to take up the time that you would spend playing video games if you had a modern console. Well, look no further than the GATARI 2600!

[cTrix] made this device with a custom EPROM chip plugged in as a cartridge. Although details of the build are somewhat vague, this custom chip allows music to be written for the device. Everything is controlled with a joystick that tells the GATARI to generate the desired track. From this basic track, the sound is modified using three pedals including an equalizer, a flange pedal, and a hold pedal.

Check out the video after the break for a brief explanation of how it was built. Skip to 1:05 if you’d rather just see it in action at [Blipfest] in Japan!

If you’d rather listen to music rather than playing it, why not build your own snap together boombox instead!

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We’re on an Atari Jaguar kick, apparently

We don’t know why, but the Atari Jaguar is getting a lot of attention this week. [10P6] just came up with this Jaguar/CD combo that reminds us what Atari could have come up with in 1993.

The build itself is relatively simple once you get past [kevincal]’s ‘April Fools’ type joke he played on the Atari Age forum. [10P6] took a regular Jaguar CD drive and cut a hole into a Jaguar case. The whole case mod took less than a three hours, but [10P6] gives us a lot of commentary into what Atari could and/or should have built in 1993.

[10P6] suggests this type of Jaguar would have saved Atari money if the CD drive was stock on the base unit and released at a slightly increased price. This would cut out the cost of the cart slots and reduced the amount of plastic in manufacturing. [10P6] also talks about how Atari engineers could have dropped the 68000 coprocessor with an increase in the system clock. We’re not quite fond of that idea (ask us about our tattoo), but the logic does make sense.

Of course, this build comes on the heels of the Jaguar Portable we saw a few days ago. Honestly, we have no idea what’s going on with the Jaguar build.

Handheld Jaguar makes 32 or 64 bits portable

There’s nothing wrong with portable NESs, Super Nintendos, N64, or even a portable Sega CD. What about a portable version the oft-maligned Atari Jaguar, though? [Evil Nod] pulled it off, and it looks great.

The build is fairly standard for a portable console. A PS1 screen is used for the display, and a cut up and re-wired controller provides the input. From what we see on the build log, moving the 104-pin cartridge slot onto ribbon cables was an exercise in patience. The case is absolutely phenomenal with a textured finish we would expect to see on an early 90s console. Of course, [Nod] kept the numeric keypad; there was space left over anyway.

We can’t rag on the Jaguar or [Nod]’s build. It’s a great execution and there’s an impressive library of games that include Worms, Rayman, Doom, and Myst. Still, we wonder what the build would look like with the Jaguar CD-ROM attached.

Building the second tiniest Tetris

A few years ago, [Richard] pulled a crushed camcorder out of a junk box at a hamfest. After pulling the half-inch CRT out of the viewfinder, he needed to find a project. [Richard] ended up building the second tiniest game of Tetris we’ve ever seen.

After futzing around with the CRT, [Richard] discovered that one of the pins would accept an NTSC input. He also found a similar project that used a dime-sized CRT to play Tetris. With ready to go code, [Richard] started assembling his project into a handsome wooden box.

There are two PCBs for the build – a CRT driver circuit, and a small custom board that handles the game and controller code. The circuit for the game board was found on this site, but the featured boards there were too large for the project. A stripped-down board was fabricated by BatchPCB and put into the box.

There aren’t any controls on the console itself, for that a standard DB-9 connector was installed so a vintage Atari joystick could be used. For a more ergonomic Tetris experience, a Sega Genesis controller could be used. For something that looks like it comes out a steampunk laboratory, playing Tetris is a bit unexpected. Check out the demo video of the screen at 20x magnification after the break.

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Cypherbot uses older uC and retro-controller

[PJ Allen] has been working on a little robot which he calls Cypherbot. The control circuitry is quite familiar; a Board of Education which features the Basic Stamp 2 microcontroller. This is an older and slower microprocessor, but it works quite well for this application since there’s no need for speed or heavy number crunching. The wheels of the bot are made out of plastic lids (we’re thinking peanut butter jars) with rubber bands for traction that are each driven by a servo motor. The third wheel is tiny and swivels as needed.

The front of the bot has a PING ultrasonic sensor mounted on a servo motor which lets the bot scan back and forth for a wider obstacle avoidance angle. In addition to the autonomous mode there’s an Xbee remote control. [PJ] picked up an Atari keyboard and is using that as the user input. Check out the little guy driving around the house in the video after the break.

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Tiny Atari 810 Disk Drive upgrade

Everything gets smaller as technology improves. [Rossum] reduced the space needed for an Atari 810 disk drive by building this tiny replacement. Of course it doesn’t use floppy disks, but takes a microSD card instead. And it doesn’t stand in the place of one floppy drive, but can emulate up to eight different drives. The best part is that [Rossum] went to the trouble of designing an enclosure and having it fabricated via 3D printing in order to look just like a doll house version of the original hardware. It uses an LPC1114 ARM Cortex-M0 microprocessor to translate data transmissions to and from the Atari hardware, storing it on the 8 GB card.

As usual, you’ll soon find the schematic, board artwork, and code up on his git repository soon.

Retrode gets an upgrade

We’ve been following the Retrode since it was an obscure video on YouTube that we swore was an elaborate hoax. Now, [Matthias] tell us it’s getting its third major upgrade, and it is really starting to resemble a commercial project. The video features the new prototype case for the Retrode II, which has been 3d printed. The fact that such advanced protyping facilities are availavble to the common hacker is just incredible.  The new Retrode II will have ports built in so SEGA and SNES controllers can be plugged in. Since its launch the community has been collaborating to build plug-in boards allowing people to play Virtual Boy, Atari 2600, GBx, Turbografix-16, Neo Geo Pocket, and even N-64 cartridges directly from the cartridge on their computers. Very Cool.

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