llemarie’s weblog

Programming, tinkering – Lionel Lemarié

Project: The Black Art of Video Game Console Design

Posted by llemarie on April 11, 2010

XGS PEFor Christmas I got a game console: an XGameStation Pico Edition. It’s a small kit with all the components needed to build an 8-bit console. It comes with a breadboard and an optional swish PCB. The accompanying book The Black Art of Video Game Console Design, by André LaMothe, is a thousand page brick that takes you from what an electron is, through how to read resistors, how to read and draw schematics, how to use and interface logic gates, what’s in the power supply, what different 8-bit microprocessors and microcontrollers are offering (Z80, 6502, SX52), how to generate the video and sound signals in hardware with and without dedicated chips, to the final complete design of a working video game console. The final chapter takes you through the steps of building the XGS PE on a breadboard.
That was a very good read (although the first few chapters really are quite basic), and gave me a lot of ideas for a design of my own.

The XGS uses a SX52 microcontroller at 80MHz, which is quite powerful. I’m eying a 6502 and possibly 6581 for sound for my next project. I’ve got everything I need, all I need to do now is design it on paper to use a NES joystick and output mono sound and a PAL signal, lay it out in Eagle CAD, etch and drill the PCB, solder the chips and components, write a game in assembly, burn the machine code to the EEPROM, power the thing with a 9V battery and switch it on. Should work first time, I don’t see what could possibly cause trouble.

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