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HomeElectronicsExperiment with '80s graphics utilizing this breadboard setup

Experiment with ’80s graphics utilizing this breadboard setup

Experiment with ’80s graphics utilizing this breadboard setup

Arduino WorkforceApril nineteenth, 2022

Earlier than standardized video playing cards got here alongside, pc and online game console designers utilized video chips. These simplified the design course of and offloaded a lot of the work from the processor. These video chips had hardcoded graphical constructing blocks and dealt with video era. One of the well-liked was the Texas Devices TMS9918 used within the ColecoVision, TI-99/4, and MSX computer systems. This write-up from Physician Volt will stroll you thru the right way to use an Arduino Nano to output graphics from the TMS9918.

You may comply with this tutorial with only a breadboard, a TMS9918 VDP (video show processor), and a handful of appropriate DRAM (or SRAM with D-flops) chips. The Arduino board acts as the remainder of the pc on this setup. In case you wished to create a online game console, for instance, the Nano would deal with all the sport’s logic. It might then inform the TMS9918 what graphics to show on the display screen. The Nano controls the TMS9918 video the RAM chips, the place it writes bytes that describe the onscreen content material.

The best way the TMS9918 handles graphics is what makes this experiment enjoyable, because it gives a number of perception into how online game and software program builders of the late ’70s and early ’80s labored with restricted sources. As an illustration, the most effective efficiency is achievable by displaying textual content as a substitute of sprites or controlling particular person pixels. So some video video games would use textual content characters for his or her graphics, like an ampersand to symbolize an enemy.

Every textual content character is a hardcoded 8×8 pixel block. The TMS9918 allowed for customized foreground and background colours for characters, however solely on a per-row foundation. Builders of the period used these {hardware} limitations in inventive ways in which resulted in graphics that aren’t even identifiable as being textual content characters. Sprites are additionally potential in different modes and you’ll strive all of it for your self by following the tutorial.

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