Scopetrex Is A Game Console… For Your Oscilloscope!

You’ve always wanted a game console at your bench, but maybe you haven’t had space for a monitor or TV set? Wouldn’t it be useful if the screen you do have on your bench could also play games? [Tube Time] has fixed this problem, with Scopetrex, a vector graphic console for your oscilloscope. In fact, it’s better than just a console, because it’s a clone of the legendary Vectrex, the vector-based console with built-in CRT screen from the 1980s.

The board itself is a slightly enhanced version of the original, offering not extra functionality but the ability to substitute some of the parts for more easily found equivalents. It gives full control over display size and brightness, can use the cheaper 6809E processor and AY-3-9810 sound chip if necessary, and only needs a single 5 volt supply. There’s also a custom controller board, which is handly Vectrex-compatible. All you will need to play Vectrex games on your ‘scope once you’ve built this board, are a copy of the Vectrex ROM, and some games.

The Vectrex holds an enduring fascination for our community, and has appeared here many times. Particularly memorable is a CRT replacement, and then of course there’s the never-released mini Vectrex prototype.

Thanks [Justin List] for the tip.

34 thoughts on “Scopetrex Is A Game Console… For Your Oscilloscope!

        1. Go to PCBShopper.com. It’s an independent price comparison site for PCB manufacturing (full disclosure: I run it). OSH Park is included in the list as are other well known American and Chinese manufacturers. You’ll find several options that are cheaper than OSH Park.

        1. Hmmm, I’d say middle aged. Early semiconductor era ones would be packed with boards. Getting into the larger scale integration era, that came down to everything on one board sitting in the bottom, while front panel and case was the same size so 3″ headroom over the works.

          1. I was thinking he meant _old_ scopes: all vacuum tube. Mine do have a fair bit of room in them, mostly because you need a lot of air space to dissipate the heat.

          2. Right, I was trying to steer away from the tube ones because while space is unoccupied by hardware, it’s not unused, as smellsofbikes points out, you need it for keeping them cool. I guess there’s “stick a nano up the corner” space, but you wanna leave them as open as possible still.

  1. Great work. I wonder if it is possible to give it more RAM since 1K is pretty limiting. I’d perhaps be fun for homebrew devs to make more complicated games.

  2. Did a fast check on 6809 and I am happy to report that it has a 16-bit adress bus, I feared that it only had a reduced address bus like the 6507 but that was not the case.

  3. Minor correction – the sound chip in Scopetrex is GI 8910 as used in many arcade games. A closeup of the PCB photo confirms this.

    Also on Facebook Fred Konopaska created a Vectrex PCB that fits in an Asteroids arcade cabinet. IIRC he made a batch or two then handed off the manufacturing/sales to somebody else so Fred could create more amazing stuff.

  4. Did a similar Project in 2018. Used the same soundchip. I should document it some day :D

    You need a Tube Oscilloscope with a continous Z-Input. I use a Iwatsu SS-5702.
    I considered to hooking it up to a Laser Projector like https://www.thomann.de/de/laserworld_cs_1000rgb_mkii.htm but the price put me off. The ILDA Interface has analog inputs.
    And for the joystick i can recommend replacement gimbals for hobby grade RC transmitters.

    Its a perfect retro computing project when BASIC over serial will not satisfy you

  5. From the link…
    “This board is not just an exact clone of a Vectrex; it makes a number of improvements over the original.”
    “not just an exact clone”?
    If it has improvements, it is not an “exact clone”.

    (sorry for the pedantry).

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