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Vectrex cartridge

a PCB with an EPROM for a Vectrex cartridge

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This is my first version of a PCB for building a Vectrex cartridge. I used this for my Kickstarter project for the Bloxorz game. The PCB was manufactured by @oshpark , you can order your board here

It fits in this 3D printed case from Thingiverse (you can order it here in my Shapeways shop), or in one of the nice new injection molded cartridge shells from Sean Kelly, see his webpage, looks like this:

The EPROM is a standard 32 kB type, you can get it for cheap here at Digikey. The capacitor is just any 100 nF ceramic capacitor.

For programming the EPROM I used a TL866 universal programmer. This is a really useful device, you read and view a review about it here at EEVblog.

I tested it with different programs, for example with the original Vectrex game Spike (the copyright owner of the Vectrex games allows to use any original game ROM for non-commercial purposes), for which I added an audio jack to my Vectrex for perfect sound:

And of course, my port of the Bloxorz game:

This is the circuit diagram:

The full Eagle project with schematic and board is in the files section.

PS: the non-buzz European Vetrex version doesn't have the NCART signal, you can instead wire the CE signal.

eagle.zip

schematic and board in Eagle format

Zip Archive - 30.22 kB - 11/21/2017 at 12:52

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  • final revision of the new board

    Frank Buss01/26/2018 at 18:59 0 comments

    After some problems with the hole position, the final PCB is done now, see this Kickstarter update. This is how it looks like:

    It uses a PIC16F18323 microcontroller for bank switching and synthesizing the NCART signal with the CLC module of it in hardware, and later possibly will receive MIDI data. Instead of the old EPROM, now it has a modern flash chip and can be reprogrammed in-circuit with an external programmer, which I will release later. Full source code and circuit diagram, now in KiCad, is at github.

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gary wrote 10/03/2018 at 11:46 point

So if I have vextrex rom files (*.vec), what do I need to do with the tl866 and the 1st revision of the board to get a game to work?  what program and settings should I use with the .vec file?

  I'd like to play some of the old ones, but can't afford to pay ebay prices for them (pole position for example).

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Frank Buss wrote 10/03/2018 at 15:07 point

You select the EPROM type, load the ROM file and then you can burn the EPROM..

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gary wrote 10/03/2018 at 18:45 point

I didn't think it was that easy to burn a .vec file to an eprom. thanks.  I thought it would have to have been massaged into a .bin file somehow.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Frank Buss wrote 10/03/2018 at 22:45 point

I don't know, maybe there is a difference. So far I tried only bin files, e.g. spike.bin from here: https://github.com/cwikla/Vectrex/tree/master/Vectrex/Games

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gary wrote 09/05/2018 at 13:13 point

this is awesome.   What needs to be done so this cart can be used to flash other games to it? I'd like to build one and give it a go.

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Frank Buss wrote 09/06/2018 at 07:58 point

I used a TL866 programmer for flashing the EPROM. My new design uses a flash chip and it will be possible to flash it with a programmer, will post updates soon.

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gary wrote 09/06/2018 at 11:20 point

I have a tl866, and I could use the 1st revision easy enough. But being able to reflash it is more enticing.  For the new design, can you use the tl866 as well (if you have the ISP version)?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Frank Buss wrote 09/06/2018 at 11:25 point

No, you need a special programmer. But I'll release the schematic, board files and PIC microcontroller program  for it as well, and maybe will sell it, too.

  Are you sure? yes | no

gary wrote 09/06/2018 at 11:29 point

excellent.  Would this be able to support more than one image, or is the flash size too small?  I know you'd have to write a menu system etc to get multi-cart functionality of course.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Frank Buss wrote 09/07/2018 at 09:32 point

Yes, it has a 4 Mbit flash chip, so you could e.g. store 16 images of 32 kB. There is always 32 kB visible to the Vectrex, and then you can use bank switching to use the other banks. I tested this already, in C it is just one call:

https://github.com/FrankBuss/bloxorz/blob/master/Vide/source/bloxorz.c#L835

But for the test I duplicated some ROM code in the banks so that it doesn't crash when switching. Might be better to install the bank switching code in the RAM. Linking the whole thing could be tricky, if you want one image larger than 32 kB, but a menu system and then different images each with 32 kB max should be easy to implement.

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oshpark wrote 11/22/2017 at 05:33 point

Nice design!

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Frank Buss wrote 11/22/2017 at 16:13 point

Thanks, but I just used the KiCad autorouter, FreeRouting.jar :-) and the case is not my design.

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