Tight Handheld CRT Asteroids Game Curses In Tuscan

How many Arduini does it take to make a tiny CRT Asteroids game? [Marco Vallegi] of MVV Blog’s answer: two. One for the game mechanics and one for the sound effects. And the result is a sweet little retro arcade machine packed tightly into a very nicely 3D printed case.

If you want to learn to curse like a Tuscan sailor, you can watch the two-part video series, embedded below, in its entirety. Otherwise, we have excerpted the good stuff out of the second video for you.

For instance, we love the old-school voice synthesis sound of the Speak and Spell. Here, playback is implemented using the Talkie library for Arduino, and [Marco] is using the BlueWizard software on a dated Macbook for recording and encoding. (We’d use the more portable Python Wizard ourselves.) Check out [Marco] tweaking the noise parameters here to get a good recording.

And since the Talkie Arduino library uses PWM on a digital output pin to create the audio, the high-frequency noise was freaking out his simple transistor amplifier. Here, [Marco] adds a feedback capacitor to cancel that high-frequency hash out.

The build needs to be quite compact, and the stacked-Arduino-with-PCB-case design is tight. And the 3D-printed case has a number of nice refinements that you might like. We especially like the use of thin veneers that cover the case all around with the build-plate’s surface texture, and the contrasting “Asteroids” logos are very nice.

All in all, this is a really fun build that’s also full of little details that might help you with your own projects. Heck, even if it just encourages you to play around with the Talkie library, it’s worth your time in our opinion. And while you’re at it, you can turn on the subtitles and pick up some vocab that’ll make your nonna roll over in her grave.

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Make Your ESP32 Talk Like It’s The 80s Again

80s-era electronic speech certainly has a certain retro appeal to it, but it can sometimes be a useful data output method since it can be implemented on very little hardware. [luc] demonstrates this with a talking thermometer project that requires no display and no special hardware to communicate temperatures to a user.

Back in the day, there were chips like the Votrax SC-01A that could play phonemes (distinct sounds that make up a language) on demand. These would be mixed and matched to create identifiable words, in that distinctly synthesized Speak & Spell manner that is so charming-slash-uncanny.

Software-only speech synthesis isn’t new, but it’s better now than it was in Atari’s day.

Nowadays, even hobbyist microcontrollers have more than enough processing power and memory to do a similar job entirely in software, which is exactly what [luc]’s talking thermometer project does. All this is done with the Talkie library, originally written for the Arduino and updated for the ESP32 and other microcontrollers. With it, one only needs headphones or a simple audio amplifier and speaker to output canned voice data from a project.

[luc] uses it to demonstrate how to communicate to a user in a hands-free manner without needing a display, and we also saw this output method in an electric unicycle which had a talking speedometer (judged to better allow the user to keep their eyes on the road, as well as minimizing the parts count.)

Would you like to listen to an authentic, somewhat-understandable 80s-era text-to-speech synthesizer? You’re in luck, because we can show you an authentic vintage MicroVox unit in action. Give it a listen, and compare it to a demo of the Talkie library in the video below.

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