32C3 – A One Chip Retro Console For Assembly Programming

Voja-single-chip-cpuMy 32C3 discovery of the day: I’m not quite at the end of my Nibbler discoveries yet but I’ve just figured out how I want to continue my hardware adventures by climbing up the CPU ladder just a bit to something with interrupts and a real hardware stack: Voja Antonic’s ‘DIY Single-chip 2D Retro Game Console’!

I’ve already discovered the project a couple of days ago on the 32C3 Workshop page and yesterday I met them by chance in one of the hardware assembly and soldering areas of the Congress. After talking to them for a while I was intrigued enough that I had a look at the assembly code provided online over night. After that I was pretty much hooked…

One thing that particularly grabbed my attention was that the PIC doesn’t have a traditional VGA screen output or graphics unit. Instead, the VGA connector is connected to three D/A converters four digital outputs and an assembly program triggered by horizontal and vertical timings required for the VGA output invoke routines to paint the screen. Great, not only will I stay very close to to the real hardware, this way I will also learn a lot of how a bitmap and moving sprites stored somewhere in memory can be converted into a video signal.

Voja the creator of the board and Milos, who’s organized the BalCCon hacking conference in Novi Sad this year and the presentation of the project at 32C3, thanks very much for coming with this great project. I’m sure I’ll not be the only one who will be massively inspired by this!