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Creating a Game for the CoCo

Retro is in the air today as [John] has tipped us off about a new game he has written for the Tandy Color Computer (CoCo), The game, inspired by the homebrew game DOWNFALL for the Atari Jaguar, features what looks like snappy game play, lots of bright colorful animation and has just entered the Alpha stages. The blog page above sheds some insight on what it takes to make a game for these old 8 bit wonders, cause no matter how easy it sounds, you do have to do some dancing to get even the simplest of things working correctly on such limited resources.

The game was part of this years Retrochallenge which is typically held in January, which we recommend checking out if you want your fill of random projects for old computers. From building an Apple I replica kit, to making a soccer game for a SGI system, getting a 5160 XT online or just noodling with a KIM, there is plenty of interesting projects to keep you occupied during the afternoon.

Join us after the break for a quick video of Fahrfall, the fun looking CoCo Game.

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Tandy Color Computer (CoCo3) color video playback

[John W. Linville] wrote a digital video player for the Tandy Color Computer (aka TRS-80). The decades-old hardware performs quite well considering the limited resource he had to work with. This is the second iteration of his player, and can be seen after the break playing a promo video for CoCoFEST 2011 where he’ll show it off in person.

In the most recent thread post (at the time of writing) [John] shares the methods used to get this running. FFMPEG is used on a modern computer to process the source video by separating the audio into an 8-bit 11040Hz file, and it generates several PPM files with the proper video frame rate. ImageMagick takes it from there to convert the PPM files to a bitmap format. It also processes each frame for differential changes, reducing the size to fall within the available bandwidth. They are then interleaved with the audio to produce the final format. Video is 128×192 with rectangular pixels. [John's] already used it to watch such classics as War Games on the antiquated hardware.

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Make a knitting machine print pixel art

[Becky Stern] shows how to take an old electronic knitting machine and interface it with a computer. After seeing the Brother KH-930E knitting machine in the video after the break it looks like the controls function quite like a CNC milling machine. Patterns can be programmed in and stored on a floppy disk. Since we don’t want to use those anymore (unless they’re hacked as an SD card carriage) it is nice to see that this is how the machine is connected to a computer. Using an altered FTDI cable and a floppy-drive emulator written in Python a blank design file can be saved on the knitting machine, manipulated in the computer to add your own pixel art, then loaded back onto the machine for production. At the very least, it’s interesting to watch the knitting happen, but fans of knitted apparel and geek paraphernalia must be salivating by now.

We’ve never given up our dream to transition from Hack-A-Day to Craft-A-Day, this just fuels the fire for that cause.

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