And this is how everything ended up looking:
As you can see, my woodworking skills aren't as good as my soldering skills... but the construction at least doesn't fall apart easily and will protect the electronics nicely.

So, does it actually work? Mostly. The joystick I chose isn't ideal (luckily, I can still connect the Playstation controller and use that to play) and the image still has some interference from the CRTs high voltage generator, but all in all I don't think the result is too bad for something I began just to get into VHDL a bit more.

As usual, you can download the VHDL source code of my implementation of the Black Widow hardware. Everything I made is licensed under the GPLv3, the Pokey- and 6502 implementation have their own license clausules. The code is written for the Xilinx Virtex-2 but should compile for other Xilinx FPGAs too. Apart from the PLL and RAM/ROM (which use Xilinx-specific primitives), the code should be easily portable to Altera or other brands of FPGA too. Ofcourse, I can't distribute the ROMs; you should obtain these yourself and then convert them to VHDL using the tools in the source package.

A final word of thanks goes out to Claude Schwarz. If he hadn't helped me with the analog part, I'd probably still wondering why my vectors are all crooked.

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Last 10 comments Show all

werwiewas wrote at 10 Jun 2014, 23.52:

+++ I like it a lot! +++

James wrote at 29 Mar 2013, 0.24:

No need to worry about producing x-rays with the CRT, it's actually extremely difficult. CRTs are made out of lead glass that absorbs radiation, and the typical anode voltages for small CRTs in the range of 8-12kV is far too low to generate x-rays with enough energy to penetrate even ordinary glass. X-ray tubes typically don't start emitting any useful amount of radiation until beyond about 40kV and even if you greatly overdrive the CRT, you will burn the shadow mask and crack the glass before it puts out much. On another topic, indeed Gravitar is a simple ROM swap to Black Widow hardware. Black Widow exists because Gravitar was widely hated so Atari released a field conversion kit. BW is a much better game BTW.

keoni29 wrote at 4 Feb 2013, 16.58:

Very cool. I'm building a small B&W vectrex like console using a crt and an arduino. I'm going to use your amplifier design.

MarbleMad wrote at 30 May 2012, 13.22:

Upon reflection I suppose that's kind of a dumb question as you've done most of that out side of the FPGA

MarbleMad wrote at 30 May 2012, 12.47:

How practical would it be to construct a device that took the digital output from a real cinematronics or sega vector game PCB and converted it to an analogue signal a g05 or similar analogue vector monitor could handle?

Sprite_tm wrote at 21 May 2012, 16.01:

I've actually been wanting to take a shot at the Cinematronics machines. They all use a variation of the same hardware (the CCPU) so by building that I should be able to run a whole bunch of games with relative ease. It's quite a lot of work, though: in contrast to the 6502, I don't know of a VHDL implmenentation of the CCPU I could start with so I'd have to start from scratch.

MarbleMad wrote at 21 May 2012, 15.35:

Very impressive. Have you considered taking a look at the sega and cinematronics vector games? There are a few people (me for example) who'd love to play these in their Atari game cabs with analogue vector monitors but the original boards had the digital to analogue conversion circuitry built into the monitor making it impossible to swap and rewire the boards. But one of these boards with the DAC built in would be very sweet.

_ferry_ wrote at 24 Apr 2012, 8.53:

Awesome! It's more then i can understand. But that makes it more interesting to read ;) Very cool arcade console this way.

Mark McDougall wrote at 14 Apr 2012, 16.48:

Nice work! Might try to wrap a rasteriser around it when I get the chance... :)

Ed wrote at 23 Mar 2012, 0.57:

Excellent design! You should be able to play Gravitar with a ROM swap if I am not mistaken!!! :-)

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