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Project Help and Ideas » Game Console Idea

February 24, 2013
by Pew446
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My friend and I have been thinking about things we could create, and I suggested we create an 8 bit ATARI style game console that you could make games for using a WYSIWYG editor on a raspberry pi, and upload them to the console to play. With the 8 bit sounds and everything.

I'm not sure the ATMEGA328's are nearly powerful enough for this, though. In fact, I have no idea where to begin. Does anyone know anything about displaying graphics with ATMEGA's? Or is there another microcontroller I should look into?

I know this is a huge project that will probably take us years, but it sounds fun. I would be doing the electronics part of it, he is skilled in python and such and would do the programming part on the raspi. We just came up with this so I haven't put much thought into it. Thoughts, ideas, etc? Thanks :)

February 25, 2013
by Rick_S
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Look into the Uzebox project, it is a video game system built around an ATMEGA644.

Rick

February 25, 2013
by Pew446
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I saw that last night, too. I looked at the datasheet for the ATMEGA644. It looks extremely similar to the ATMEGA168/328's I've been working with, which is nice. Currently I'm researching how to design the board, why things go the place they do, etc. My friend is working on building a program that resembles Scratch that we would use for making games, and also some ideas for controllers and cases.

My idea is that you will have a little pcb game cartridge with a programmable chip on it. One end of the pcb would plug into a port on the console, and the other end would plug into a usb-uart programmer. This way people would be able to design the game, write it to the cartridge, then play it. :)

February 25, 2013
by pcbolt
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Pew -

There are some great links on THIS PAGE that explain video and sound generation with the ATmega 644's. (The links are near the middle and bottom of the page). The video generation link leads to some other interesting pages.

February 25, 2013
by Pew446
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Awesome, pcbolt! Thanks!

I've done more research into how the Uzebox works, and found this awesome documentation. The way of producing colors is quite neat. He outputs a 3:3:2 ratio of bits for the colors, and uses a R-2R ladder DAC to convert them to analog for use with another chip that turns it into signals for NTSC. I'm learning so much from this. It always amazes me how much can be accomplished with such a small chip, too.

February 26, 2013
by pcbolt
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Pew -

Yeah that is a really good write-up. I saw somewhere in the link Rick posted that he was overclocking the ATmega644's and that some of the newer chip's UART ports didn't respond well to it (just something to look out for). He's also right about accounting for every CPU cycle, meaning you'll have to wade into the assembly instruction set. I'm sure there is code available you can follow along with.

Sounds like a great project.

February 27, 2013
by Rick_S
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Another project you could look at would be for B/W NTSC composite video generation. Wayne and Layne have a board designed for an arduino (but could easily be adapted to a basic mcu as the NerdKit. This could give you some Ideas of basic video generation w/o extra IC's.

Rick

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