Do you enjoy Atari's old vector arcade games, with the unique glow of a real vector monitor? Maybe even appreciate the discrete vector drawing engine implemented on a baking-tray size circuit board? But don't want to install a refrigerator-sized arcade cabinet in your living room?
I built a half-size Asteroids cabinet, using a vintage game circuit board and a real vector monitor – a small one from a broken Vectrex, a home gaming console that came out just a few years after Asteroids hit the arcades. It took an additional homebrew circuit board to drive the Vectrex monitor fast enough for the Asteroids drawing speed.
Front view, featuring the vector monitor, illuminated marquee and full-size control panel.
The back shows off the Asteroids circuit board, behind a Perspex pane. Note the integrated carrying handle on top – try that with a full-size cabinet! ;-)
As you can see from the images, I did not aim for an exact replica of Atari's cabinet shape. Rather, my goal was to build a cabinet that is comfortably playable when sitting on a table or a shelf – and, of course, which has room for the vintage components and the infrastructure they need to feel comfortable. The Asteroids circuit board determines the cabinet height, which is a bit taller than a typical bartop cab.
This small web site shows some pictures of my cabinet, explains some of the non-obvious aspects of putting it together, and provides details on the homebrew XY deflection board for the monitor. Please use the buttons on top or the menu on the left to get around.
Here's what you need to build something like this:
No good Vectrex was harmed in the making of this game. ;-) I found a broken Vectrex, with missing controller and non-working game PCB – just the XY display turned out to be working. Perfect for this project!
You will be working with mains power when building this, and with even higher voltages (up to 6kV) when dealing with the CRT display. This implies risks of fire and electric shock. Be sure to keep yourself safe during the build process, and to build a system that is safe to use! I will not provide any specific safety instructions here – if you are not absolutely confident that you have the adequate technical background, don't build this, or seek assistance from somebody with the required expertise!