I didn’t “touch” the vectrex (and for that – Vectorblade) – for a week now. I had to cool down a little bit – so I started the long postponed “Fallout IV” – I am about 1/3 thru with the main quest now (and did much stuff besides the main plot).
Anyways – for that reason – no Vectorblade update this time!
Yesterday Thomas Sontowsky came by and we talked and played around “retro” stuff (Books, C64, Vectrex, SX64, TeleMatch, Pizza, Amiga, etc).
He left about half past two in the morning, we were both weary eyed – and I was glad that this time he had to drive home and not I :-).
Anyway – this blog entry will be mainly about what Thomas occupied himself with the last couple of weeks (when the wheather was bad anyway…).
To give James W. a little faster heartbeat – look at the following image and you might guess what this is all about (although you probably guess wrong).
To give another clue – look at the following image:
This the image of a “special” VecFever – only very (very) few of these were made – since the custom chip for the additional connection seems to be very delicate – and via email Thomas thru a couple of curses about the thing in the air.
Anyway the additional USB port you see at the bottom can be used as a (additional) serial connection to your computer.
And you can transport data to and from your VecFever while the vectrex is connected (in pretty high speed).
Now – to keep playing with images… further look at the next image below.
This is a slightly modified MAME. Slightly modified in the sense – that it is able to connect to the VecFever and transport vector data via serial (USB) to the VecFever.
Since the VecFever “emulates” (so my non technical undestanding) the complete address space of the Vectrex anyway – the VecFever actually generates 6809 executable (highly optimized) vector drawing routines, which is all the Vectrex does “all day long” just draw lines (and moves) (ok – brightness is also set, okok – sometimes the joystick is polled, yes the buttons also – but that is about all).
Using high performance “only drawing” routines – which at times are further optimized for the occasion (dot drawing/text drawing) – the vectrex is able to draw very many vectors without reaching its (50Hz) limit.
Granted, modern vector games (or ones with a large amount of text) start to flicker – but in general this is working GREAT!
The actual bottleneck to the drawing is not the 6809 processor – it is rather the way y, x coordinates are addressed (using the VIA and MUX) – and the actual drawing speed of the vectrex monitor.
I personally doubt, that the Zektor ZVG card can do a (much) better job.
(But I still didn’t take the time to actually do a ZVG setup – I should have all the components in some boxes…)
Thomas actually finished the first working prototype (of the direct MAME -> VecFever connection) yesterday afternoon – and came right along to my place to “show off” – which he really did and I was honestly suitably impressed 🙂 (and somehow got hold of the prototypical VecFever serial with a MAME driver).
I know I/we are show offs – and there will be an outcry now even more for VecFevers. I don’t know how Thomas will handle further distribution and how many he will actually build.
Don’t be mad if it takes a long time – or you do not get one at all. But Nonetheless this is an awesome achievement IMHO which I must share!
You came up to the end of the text – now watch it in action: