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Niklas Roy has built an addictive-looking 70′s-style videogame system that is “controlerless” like an Xbox Kinect, yet charmingly low-rez like Pong.

What I found interesting when I developed this game, is, that it could have been made already in the seventies. The technology that I used for it is (in a way) similar to what Atari used for the first Pong. It becomes even more awkward, if you think that the electronic components for capturing and evaluating a video signal are cheaper than the rotary game controllers that Atari used.

The game is programed with AVR-GCC on an ATmega8 microcontroller that runs with 16MHz. The controller gets basic videosignal synchronisation information from an LM1881 sync separator that triggers two hardware interrupts. One for a new image, the other one for a new line. The controller evaluates the brightness around the pixel (/ball) via its comparator input. Drawing the white image overlay is realized with a simple pull-up resistor in the signal line.

Niklas has shared the source code here. Now, please give us a schematic, because I want to build one!

PING! Augmented Pixel


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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    “It becomes even more awkward, if you think that the electronic
    components for capturing and evaluating a video signal are cheaper than
    the rotary game controllers that Atari used.”

    Now they are, but was that true back in the seventies? Besides, I don’t suppose this cost analysis includes the camera…

    Still, great project. Ditto on the schematic.

    1. Yes, good point, and actually, Niklas said as much on his blog post, I just didn’t quote the entire paragraph: “But still, from an economic point of view it makes sense that Eyetoys
      weren’t the ultimate controllers of thirty-something years ago, as a
      video camera was probably very hard to afford back in the days.”

  2. Tim Kemp says:

    I was developing video tracking products that were pretty similar to this in the early 80s.  You’d be surprised how much a “cheap” black and white video camera cost back then.  Also an AVR has a lot more processing power than the 8 or 16 bit microprocessors of that period.  I really doubt that Atari could have come up with anything even close to this for a price that anyone would have paid.

    This is a cool project though and makes me a bit nostalgic.