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An adapter for controlling the Vectrex outlink video game console using a Raspberry Pi Zero outlink or Raspberry Pi Zero W outlink.


PiTrex PCB used for development

The Idea

The Vectrex CPU, a Motorola 68A09 running at 1.5MHz, controls all of the I/O including display, sound, and controls, via a 6522A VIA chip. These are both connected to the cartridge port, and with the CPU disabled using the HALT signal also at the cartridge port, all of the Vectrex's functions can be controled by an external device. In this case we're using a Raspberry Pi Zero with a 1GHz ARM CPU and 512MB of RAM, powerful enough to emulate arcade machines with vector displays, emulate the Vectrex CPU to load ROM images akin to a multicart, and run custom games written to take advantage of the greater processing power.

The PiTrex hardware synchronises the data read and written to the VIA by the Raspberry Pi, with the 1.5MHz clock signal that the VIA runs at. At the same time it converts the voltage levels between the 5V signals used by the Vectrex and the 3.3V signals used by the Raspberry Pi.

The PiTrex software runs on the Raspberry Pi in order to control the PiTrex hardware, and to replace the functions of the Vectrex BIOS to allow for displaying Vectors and reading the controller inputs.

Together the Vectrex receives a modern CPU connected to its cartridge port.

The Project



Latest developments may, or may not, find their way to the Blog.