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Vectrex Monitor Modification
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Video Synthesis Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8  Next [all]
Author Vectrex Monitor Modification
lizlarsen
Hi guys,
I've had a fun project this week. I got a Vectrex console in the mail, disconnected its XYZ driver board from its CPU, and wired those XYZ inputs to external BNCs on the back (really it was that simple.) I'm driving it with the LZX system, using a typical vector rescan setup.

It's a really beautiful monitor, a very different aesthetic quality from the scopes and XY displays I've used before. It's based on a modified B&W television tube, rather than an ESD tube.

It's not fast enough for image rescanning (the horizontal sawtooth folds over.)

It may be able to be optimized further (I have schematics) but I may just leave it like it is.

This is a fun project if y'all wanna try it!



samn
Whoa thats beautiful! I might have to order one up smile if its all that simple!
lizlarsen
Here's a great guide to getting in and identifying the connectors. Just wire the XYZ inputs to BNC or 1/8" jacks instead of to the ZVG connector:
http://www.zektor.com/zvg/downloads/vectrex.pdf

Also, you'll need to do some voltage scaling -- same as driving any vector display. I'm using my XY Display Driver prototype to do that right now.
radiodread87
This looks very pretty! might see if I can do this too.
swiv
beautiful!

Must read up on vector rescanning..
thebrotherspus
Hi,
I just thought I'd revive this thread. I just got my vectrex modified and it is absolutely amazing!... beautiful geometric shapes and patterns.
I'm wondering if anyone knows what level of voltage would be too high to input into the vectrex. Right now, I'm using euro oscillators and running them through attenuators just to be safe, but perhaps this is unnecessary? I just don't wanna fry this thing. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Also, if anyone has any patching techniques to achieve interesting results on the vectrex, I'd love to hear/see it. thumbs up

Thanks!

..... By the way, great vectrex visuals Liz!!
Arturo00
Out of curiosity, does modifying the unit to bring the X,Y and Z inputs to the back make it so that you can't use the Vectrex for playing games? If so, would adding a switch so that one can easily go between regular use and Vector Rescanning mode work?

[edit: never mind. I just saw the directions and the process is reversible]
wednesdayayay
I would also love to know about the scaling required for voltages going into the vectrex
ersatzplanet
Arturo00 wrote:
Out of curiosity, does modifying the unit to bring the X,Y and Z inputs to the back make it so that you can't use the Vectrex for playing games? If so, would adding a switch so that one can easily go between regular use and Vector Rescanning mode work?

[edit: never mind. I just saw the directions and the process is reversible]


I would think just wiring a set out output and input jacks would do the trick. Just patch them up when you want to play games. I doubt that the voltages are too big for a simple switch to handle though.

I used to have one of those beast "back in the day" - I bought mine new! Loved playing the classic tank games on it. They had these funny color transparencies that you put over the screen to give them color. very funny.

I used to do oscilloscope graphics back when I had a couple of Synthi AKSs and there was a guy I knew with a Paik Abe video synthesizer and he would aim 4-5 sony monochrome cameras at it (with different angles and zooms) and colorize and key them. The Vectrex is PERFECT for this. I wish I had the guts to hack it back then.
bentoncbainbridge
ersatzplanet wrote:

there was a guy I knew with a Paik Abe video synthesizer and he would aim 4-5 sony monochrome cameras at it (with different angles and zooms) and colorize and key them.


did your friend make his own Paik Abe Wobbulator?
i.m.klif
i made few wobbulators... (actually i had them made to my specifications)

http://vimeo.com/23984628
http://vimeo.com/31839075

http://www.flickr.com/photos/13766531@N05/6443401915/in/set-7215762808 7162387

http://www.flickr.com/photos/13766531@N05/6405070647/in/set-7215762808 7162387
ersatzplanet
bentoncbainbridge wrote:
ersatzplanet wrote:

there was a guy I knew with a Paik Abe video synthesizer and he would aim 4-5 sony monochrome cameras at it (with different angles and zooms) and colorize and key them.


did your friend make his own Paik Abe Wobbulator?


He actually took a class in CA with Nam June Paik and built the video synth as part of the class. I met him in the early 70's and the rig he had was a 12U panel with a bunch of channels on it. Each channel had BNC connectors for the cameras, knobs for color shifting and solarization and level controls for keying and chopping and other things. The sync seemed to be shared or run from a main clock. I wish I knew more about it but I was just a synthesizer guy and the video stuff was new to me. I just made oscillograms with my two AKS's on a large HP scope we had, and they aimed the cameras (B&W Sonys) at it. All the color was generated in the machine. They could send feeds of different cameras into monitors and those monitors had cameras aimed at them and generated keyed feedback which was mixed back to the main rig. At the time I thought of it as a mixer with lots of onboard effects and aux sends but with video instead of audio. many of the controls were not labeled and really had the DIY look to it. Everything was recorded on small Sony reel to reel tape decks. They would do a Frippertronics sort of thing with the tape strung between decks to get video echoes too. It was a fun thing for sure. I wish I had some of the videos today but I don't even remember the guys name 40 years later...
sync24
this is great, definitely got a Vectrex on my shopping list now!!!

i.m.klif wrote:
i made few wobbulators... (actually i had them made to my specifications)

http://vimeo.com/23984628
http://vimeo.com/31839075

http://www.flickr.com/photos/13766531@N05/6443401915/in/set-7215762808 7162387

http://www.flickr.com/photos/13766531@N05/6405070647/in/set-7215762808 7162387


these videos are great, do you have any pointers or links for how to modify a TV for this? the closest I have come is stuff like: http://blairneal.com/blog/the-wobbulator/

Thanks SlayerBadger!
i.m.klif
i was using the same ETC links to get the basic info. the guy who did the modifications said that it really depends on a tv used - meaning that you have to try different things to get it working. i don't have a schematics, but i know he used ordinary audio amp chips with huge heat sinks - i had difficulty finding appropriate power supplies. it draws up to 7 amps @ 12V!

i have 3 coils (x,y and s) + brightness + contrast + vertical size + X and Y (direct "oscilloscope" mode) connections - all together 8 audio chanels. brightness, vertical size and contrast are vactorol based (i don't really use contrast - probably because the tv i use isn't really professional monitor). X and Y oscilloscope channels use 2 relays and dummy loads.

i find oscilloscope mode really interesting when combined with wobbulator coils - because TV isn't really an oscilloscope, you can get really strange shapes, that basically show how it looks when the device can't cope with the controls you feed it. i was comparing the output on the wobbulator (i.e. vectrex type of dispaly) in xy mode with the ordinary oscilloscope, and it starts falling apart very quickly.


you can check my latest installation - it uses only wobbulators and feedback as sources.
http://vimeo.com/100092849
i.m.klif
he used
http://www.audiosound.info/katlisty/TDA7375.pdf
sync24
oh wow, thanks for the information - i thought things would depend on the type of monitor used, i'll have a chat with with a couple of people who know more about building things and see how we get on.
in the meantime, i'm chasing Vectrex' on ebay...
thanks again!!!
bentoncbainbridge
[video]
http://vimeo.com/100092849[/video]

lovely installation!
sync24
it is a fantastic installation!!!
the flickr pics of the whole process and modified monitors are great too.
thumbs up
bentoncbainbridge
lizlarsen wrote:
Just wire the XYZ inputs to BNC or 1/8" jacks instead of to the ZVG connector


Liz, curious - why did you go with BNC jacks instead of mini jacks?

Also, are you selling the XY Display Driver prototype?

thanks, benton
bentoncbainbridge
Radio Shack no longer carries jacks, right? Any other brick 'n' mortar options, or do I have to order BNC or mini-phono jacks online?
i.m.klif
Liz, Dave, could you comment on differences between vectrex monitor and modified TV set (XY modification).

Both seem to be way less capable than proper vector monitor / oscilloscope, but are there any differences between them?

klif
CJ Miller
i.m.klif wrote:
Liz, Dave, could you comment on differences between vectrex monitor and ordinary TV set.


If you don't mind me saying, the main difference would probably be that a television is made to scan in sequential lines. Whereas an oscilloscope or Vectrex are vector XY displays - all points and lines instead of pixels. This is what was notable about Vectrex compared to other video games in the first place. For example, compare the Vectrex version of Asteroids with the Atari 2600 version for a television.

I know that people have converted televisions into vector displays, but it takes more work.

i.m.klif wrote:
Both seem to be way less capable than proper vector monitor / oscilloscope, but are there any differences between them?


Mainly that an oscilloscope or other video analyzer is a precision instrument. They tend to be smaller, tighter-spec, more expensive piece of gear. I was just using my oscilloscope (for VCO calibration) a few minutes ago and thinking about how I wished the CRTs were available in different sizes. I can get a huge thing to watch movies on for cheap, but can't buy a bigger scope for any price.

My take on the Vectrex is just that it's a somewhat cheaper way to get a nice vector display which is a little bigger than finding a scope. The size and lack of graticule lines make it convenient. And when not in use as a monitor, one can play games on it!
i.m.klif
thank you miller, but i was refering to difference between modified TV in "X-Y mode" and vectrex display wink

i made a mistake and forgot to add "modified TV set" in my question smile
CJ Miller
i.m.klif wrote:
thank you miller, but i was refering to difference between modified TV in "X-Y mode" and vectrex display wink

i made a mistake and forgot to add "modified TV set" in my question smile


Ok, sorry about that. A vectrex is monochrome, and the phosphor might be selected for better persistence. And the X Y drive circuitry is already right there.
smrl
the vectrex is distinct from a 'proper' XY display in that it uses magnetic rather than electrostatic deflection. This just means it's going to be a lot slower, and make any pattern which has hard edges/quick changes into a smoother or simpler shape. Performance-wise, the vectrex is going to be closer to a modified TV than to an XY display. Beyond that, I don't know what's going to differentiate a vectrex from a TV. Phosphor selection could be a distinct difference.
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