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,

Leave a Reply to Markus Gritsch Cancel reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.