Putting An Atari POKEY In Your Pocket

The Atari POKEY served as the main I/O chip on the venerable Atari 400/800 and XL/XE 8-bit computers. While a chip designed to get voltages from game paddles and scanning a matrix of keyboard switches wouldn’t normally be remembered 30 years later, the POKEY had another function: generating very, very distinctive music and sound effects for those old Atari games. [Markus Gritsch] wanted a portable version of the POKEY, so he emulated one on a modern microcontroller. Now he’s able to take those old Atari chiptunes where ever he goes.

The build uses the Another Slight Atari Player by emulating a 6502 and POKEY chip inside [Markus]’ PIC32MX-based microcontroller. There’s not much physical hardware [Markus] had to deal with – the board is built on a QFP proto board [Markus] picked up with a few buttons and a jack added for some simple I/O.

This isn’t [Markus]’s first attempt at portabalizing chiptunes – last year, we saw a truly awesome portable SID player that used the same PIC32 microcontroller and an emulated 6502. Between the Atari SAP Music Archive and the High Voltage SID Collection, [Markus] has more than enough chiptunes for days of listening pleasure.

4 thoughts on “Putting An Atari POKEY In Your Pocket

  1. Yay for more portable chiptune players. From the headline, I was hoping it actually used a pokey chip, but I would imagine that pokey emulation is generally pretty decent on an MCU (unlike SID).

  2. I agree. I listened through a lot of the tunes contained in ASMA, and most of the stuff needs quite some “getting used to it” :)

    You can download the firmware .zip archive which contains all my selected tunes in the ‘modules’ folder.

    Have fun,
    Markus

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