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DIY Your Retro-gaming Console ---- uChip Simple VGA Console (uSVC)

by: Oct 29,2020 1093 Views 2 Comments Posted in Activities

Retro-gaming Console uChip VGA Console uSVC DIY USB

What is uSVC?

uSVC is a simple, do-it-yourself game console that allows you to create and play retro-style 8-bit games with standard USB controllers and keyboards. In another word, it is an educational platform with a comprehensive Application Programming Interface (API) and a series of guides that will have you designing your own games in no time, all you really need is a soldering iron and some solder wire. 

uSVC handles multiple video modes, including 8x8-pixel tiled modes with 16 or 256 colors and a 2 bits-per-pixel (bpp) bitmapped mode that supports up to 256 on-screen colors by changing the palette every 8 horizontal pixels. Other Graphics-related Features are also available, like Smooth, full-screen, arbitrary-x/y scrolling in tiled modes. It has four 8-bit PCM channels mixed to a 10-bit mono channel and samples at 30 KSPS.

Ready to design & play game?

Build it

uSVC is made up of a single uChip and a handful of standard, through-hole components, you just have to slot it into its socket when you’re done putting everything else together. It’s perfect for beginning solderers. 

Program it

A comprehensive set of APIs and an editor have been developed, so that you can focus on the art and the C code without having to worry about fiddly USB stuff, VGA signal generation, and other complications. And, like uChip, uSVC is fully open source!

Here’s how it works and what you’ ll need.

Control it

we went ahead and implemented a USB stack instead of just supporting serial and parallel I/O. USB provides a unified interface that supports a huge number of standard controllers and keyboards. And uSVC's USB stack also allows it to work with dongle-based wireless keyboards and controllers, which are readily available. So getting the controller or keyboard state is as simple as calling a C function.

Have fun

In addition to the obligatory Tetris clone, Fair Play Race and Redballs have also been produced.

Fair Play Race

Redballs

Tetris

Do something different with it

Not interested in playing retro-style games? The maker still think you will find value in the uSVC development platform. uSVC is a gaming console, but it also has an expansion port—one that’s optionally configurable as an SPI interface—so it’s highly customizable. In terms of software-only project possibilities, the USB stack is modular, so you can easily add drivers to support other (low- and full-speed) USB devices. And if that’s not enough, remember that the whole uSVC software stack is open source, so there’s really very little you can’t do.

Technical Specifications

  • uChip

ATSAMD21E18 @ 48 MHz

256 kB of flash (232 kB available for the game)

32 kB of RAM

  • MicroSD: Can store games and game data
  • VGA output: 57 Hz vertical frequency, 30 kHz horizontal frequency
  • Audio: 3.5 mm, 10 bit output jack
  • Controllers: Uses standard USB controllers and keyboards
  • Power Input: 5 V via USB cable, 100 mA (up to 80 mA observed)
  • Dimensions (W x L x H): 48 x 86 x 17 mm (without 1 cm hex standoffs or solder joints)


uSVC is designed by ITACA Innovation, and it is currently in the crowdfunding stage in CrowdSupply. Go to support it if you are interested in it!


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