An update to “List of Homebrew Video Games Consoles”

January 31, 2011

I’ve neglected my list of homebrew video game consoles, so here’s a update:

  • www.xcores.orgMy friend Yvo’s site related to the awesome Xmos chip.
  • mikronauts.comPropCade is a self-contained and affordable Propeller platform for emulating old computers (Z80, 6809, etc) and old game consoles.
  • www.retrode.orgNot a console as such but a handy way feeding games to your SNES or Mega Drive / Genesis emulator from your original cartridges.
  • www.4dsystems.com.auPoGa, a Portable Game Development console looking a lot like a SNES controller.
  • www.chameleon-dev.comChameleon PIC 16-Bit and the Chameleon AVR 8-Bit are yet another Propeller based systems this time with the addition of a standard Microchip PIC or Atmel AVR microcontroller.
  • www.fpgaarcade.comA site dedicate to recreating gaming hardware from the past in modern programmable FPGA devices.
  • www.lucidscience.comA beautifully documented insight to designing and building your own classic console
  • www.microvga.coma design offering a low-cost Microcontroller to VGA interface
  • www.ladyada.netA new system from LadyAda offering a 320×240 TFT color display with resistive touch screen.
  • rossum.posterous.comRBox: A diy 32 bit game console for the price of a latte
  • www.linusakesson.net linusakesson “craft”

the original list is still here:

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X-DTV – Preliminary schematic and PCB v0.42

January 7, 2010

X-DTV is a project I’ve been working on with Yvo of xcores.org. The idea is to make a XS1-L1 64 based retro-minimalist homebrew game console similar in concept to the Uzebox and Zuzebox.

Like the X-One before it, X-DTV will use Yvo’s VDP video engine but instead of driving a VGA output it will drive a NTSC TV output. We hope to get PAL TV as well but the 35.46895MHz oscillators have proven difficult to get a hold off (If anyone know where we can get them off the shelve without a large MOQ then drop me a comment).

The X-DTV’s specification is:

  • XS1-L1 64 internally clocked to 400MHz with 64K RAM.
  • 5-bit R-2R Video DAC for driving NTSC
  • 2x NES or SNES D-PAD connectors
  • SD Card interface
  • Stereo PWM audio
  • XTAG-2 Interface
  • 2x 5-way XLINK for expansion

The latest (not quite complete) PCB is below:

A PDF of the schematic is here.


X-One – Preliminary schematic v0.10

November 24, 2009

I’ve talked a few times about the X-One Xmos based console so I thought better put up a schematic to show how it all goes together. A Xmos XC-2 is found at the heart of the console with the rest of the circuit providing a R-2R video DAC, PWM audio and SD Card interface. Ethernet is provided by the XC-2 card its self. The software kernel is Yvo’s VDP video engine.

The pdf is here: XC-2 VGA 0v10


Sparkfun XS1-L164 Development Board

November 7, 2009

Sparkfun have a new Xmos based development board. It features the powerful Xmos XS1-L1, multi-threaded processor. The processor is the XS1-L1-64 processor and is housed in a 64LQFP package and has the following features:

  • Event driven processing at 400MIPS
  • 64 kBytes of SRAM
  • 8 threads
  • 36 user I/O pins
  • 8 kBytes of OTP
  • power consumption typically 450µW/MHz

sparkfun XS1-L1-64 2

As well as the Xmos processor the SparkFun development board also features a USB interface based on FTDI FT232, external Flash EEPROM and a JTAG header. I/O is provided by 32 I/O pins brought out to pin headers next to a small prototyping area. Checking out its schematic, it looks like it can be powered form both a wall adapter and its USB port. The USB interface is to support a UART over USB and can’t be used to directly program the processor. Instead a 20-pin JTAG interface is provided. This looks to be compatible with Xmos’s own XK-1 JTAG interface and therefore Xmos new XTAG2. I’m hoping my XC-2 JTAG adapter will work with it as well.

Its competitively price at $50 or ~£30 but you still need to provide a JTAG adapter but these are available for $50. The only criticism I would make is I would liked to see the on board USB used to provide a programming (JTAG) interface as Xmos did with their XC-5 board but that said I’m hoping to get one soon and use it in my X-One console with Yvo’s VDP VGA video driver.


Manic Miner on X-One Console

November 3, 2009

As promised in my post of 15th October, here’s some screen shots of Manic Miner on my Xmos XC-2 based X-One console. So far I’ve only coded level 1 and I need to add code for the SNES controllers and game play and off course the rest of the 20 levels to finish it off.

Manic Miner Lvl 1

The graphics were hand coded by extracting the pixel data and colour attributes for the first level from a Manic Miner ZX spectrum binary. A very mandraulic process involving switching between two editors and a couple of editor macros but it got the job done. I used Andrew Broads and Icemans (Chris Wild) excellent web sites for the screen layout information. The video engine is Yvo’s VDP for the XC-2 which provides up to 2 backgrounds and up to 32 sprites (8×8, 16×16, 32×32, 64×64 etc)

Manic Miner on X-One
Watch this space more to come.


X-One

October 15, 2009

Its a year to the day that I first heard about Xmos and their cool multi-core multi-threaded processors and joined the Xlinkers community. So I want to share some pictures of a XC-2 project I’ve been working on.

X-One from Front

X-One from Front

X-One from above

X-One from above

I’ve used Yvo’s great VDP video driver to get VGA graphics working on the prototype with R-2R resistor DAC for the video and a couple of spare SNES controllers for the gaming inputs.

I’m porting a classic 80’s video game, so watch this space 😉