Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rain, Rain, Go Away! I want to work on my Star Wars Trilogy. Fine, I'll work on a 1983 Star Wars instead.

St. Louis weather took a change to the normal for a mid-Spring day and went from a comfortable night that allowed me to work outside to cold and raining with a chance of flurries. So, I spent the time in my indoors workshop.

This is my actual "grail" project. I have wanted a 1983 Star Wars since I was 10. I have been chasing getting one of these, but keep getting blocked by the price tag of one. Every once in a while, someone finds a good working one in some warehouse or person's garage at a steal of a deal. I doubt that I will ever have that chance.

So, I decided to create my own. I had to ditch the notion of getting the real components as the Vector monitor for it doesn't get cheaper than $500. My plan is to just use MAME and have a case cut as close to the original as possible. I have a spare 19" monitor (which is the size of the original), but since I will be creating a new bezel from scratch, I plan on sticking in a 21" CRT. It won't give the same blinding white light when the Death Star explodes, but will be way brighter than an LCD flat-panel.

I bought a broken control panel on auction as that was something critical to the game. After a few repairs and replacements of micro-switches and  potentiometers, I created a custom Star Wars Yoke to USB converter and released the source code and schematics.


Last night, I set up a Raspberry Pi with the PiMAME and a copy of the Star Wars rom. After some tweaking and overclocking, the game is playable. However, the PCM audio isn't. All I get is a glitchy distortion. That is something to work on.

My budget for the entire build should be less than $1000. So far, for the yoke controller, Raspberry Pi, the Teensy 2.0 (for the USB converter), cables, connectors, and monitor. I have spent less than $300 of that.

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