Ocelot Arcade System Illustrates the Scope of Vector Graphics

Who knows how far the Vectrex system, or vector graphics gaming in general could have gone if not for the crash of ’83? The console wars might have been completely different if not for this market saturation-based reset button.

[Matt Carr] doesn’t own a Vectrex, but he does have a Tektronix 465 oscilloscope. After an intense labor of love and documentation, he also has a shiny new vector graphics arcade system that he built himself. It’s based on a dsPIC33 and uses a dual-channel DAC to produce wire frame 3-D graphics and send X-Y coordinates to the ‘scope via phono outputs. The PIC’s internal DAC is meant for audio and didn’t do so well with graphics, so [Matt] used a TLV5618A piggybacked on the PIC’s DAC pins.

The Ocelot doesn’t take cartridges, though it might someday. For now, changing games means getting out the PICkit. There are currently two to choose from: Star Lynx, an awesome flying shooter where you get to save a feline population, and Mattsteroids, which is exactly what it sounds like. There’s only one Ocelot in existence, and although it isn’t for sale, [Matt] has terrific technical documentation should you care to replicate it. One thing you might not be able to replicate is the awesome vintage advert he made for the Ocelot, which is cued up after the break.

Don’t have a ‘scope? You can do vector graphics on a CRT with an FPGA.

15 thoughts on “Ocelot Arcade System Illustrates the Scope of Vector Graphics

    1. Thanks :)

      The frame rate is an arbitrary choice btw. Depending on how solid you want your lines to be and how complex you want the objects to be, you could have “frame rates” in the hundreds of Hz I believe.

  1. Fake news^H^H^H^H console – that’s really the Margay Arcade System!

    Okay, Mat explained on his website (which I think is excellently written :-)….

    As it turns out, the picture I chose for the Ocelot logo isn’t actually an ocelot after all, it’s a margay. The more you know!

    “The margay is very similar to the larger ocelot in appearance, although the head is a little shorter, the eyes larger, and the tail and legs longer. It weighs from 2.6 to 4 kilograms (5.7 to 8.8 lb), with a body length of 48 to 79 centimetres (19 to 31 in), and a tail length of 33 to 51 centimetres (13 to 20 in).”

    1. Cats -are- adorable and they’d probably get a real kick out of the bright lights (though keep the intensity down for safety’s sake!!!). But if ocelots are like most of the cats I know, then their idea of a good time is sitting on the windowsill and looking outwards… while the curtains are closed.

  2. The video technique was excellent! I seriously have no idea which pieces were real and which were created for this video, and I grew up in that era. Also, great work on this vector console!

    1. Thank you :)

      The adverts are real*, only the Ocelot bit was made up by me. I dodged my footage back and forth onto VHS a few times but even then it still came out looking cleaner than I wanted.

      (*As they’d say on Judge Judy, ‘the cases are reeeeal, the people are reeeeal!’)

  3. So ridiculously retro, that “commercial”! LOL
    Nice little vector box too! It would definitely be nice to see an SD card slot on it though.
    Come on man! Like every retro arcade box totally needs a cartridge, man!

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