PiTrex Developer Release

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Computer Nerd Kev

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Oct 9, 2020, 6:31:39 AM10/9/20
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This is as posted by Graham Toal on other Vectrex groups. I did the
hardware design and am selling the cartridges.


The PiTrex cartridge which adds an Raspberry Pi to the Vectrex is now
ready to release to developers!

PiTrex is a cartridge for the Vectrex aimed at being a host system for
vector arcade emulation as well as hosting new games in high-level
languages.

The idea for this project first surfaced in mid 2018 and we had our
hardware by early 2019. At that point it was still an R&D project, and we
were not yet sure if we could even draw vectors successfully... but after a
while we did... and found that the real-time interrupts that go on all the
time on linux were interfering with drawing and that the display was always
glitchy. At that point we thought we had to drop the idea of running under
Linux, and we spent most of 2019 and much of early 2020 working on a
bare-metal standalone environment for running vector programs on the Pi. It
wasn't until mid 2020 that we finally found a way to draw from Linux
without glitches! Since then we have been full speed ahead getting this
initial release ready to share with developers.

We will be supporting both bare-metal and linux-hosted environments. Bare
metal does boot straight into a game quickly and is unlikely to suffer SD
corruption if just switched off without a clean shutdown - it's a good
environment for someone selling a game for example. But we expect the
majority of development to be done under linux initially - much better
library support and features like audio and networking.

If you haven't heard of the PiTrex over those last couple of years - it is
primarily for new games written in C (for now) and emulation. The emulated
games that we have so far are basically at proof-of-concept stage - they
mostly all need some tweaking to integrate the Vectrex joystick and buttons
to drive them - one of the tasks we're hoping will be sped up by the
addition of more developers. (at our best so far we've been a 3-man team,
but it has all been unpaid spare-time work by people with day jobs)

So that's where we are now. It's not a ready-to-play system, but the
basics that a software author may need to develop games or languages like
Logo or Forth are in place. We have a mailing list which is how we'll
communicate with you, and would like you to sign up for it when you place
the order for the PiTrex PCB at:
https://www.ombertech.com/pitrexdev.php

For now the PiTrex will only be supplied as an uncased cartridge board, We
do supply a custom case you can 3D print, and we'll discuss future case
options on the mailing list once you're all signed up. You'll need to get
a Pi Zero from one of several suppliers. We strongly recommend getting a
Pi Zero WH for simplicity - saving $10 by getting the most basic Pi Zero
could be a mistake that will cost much more than $10 to rectify later
unless you're already an electronics enthisiast with soldering skills and
various headers to hand!

We're committed to making as many boards as are wanted in the long term, so
if you are only interested in playing games on the PiTrex or feel you need
to grab one now in case they sell out - please don't! Leave the initial
batch for developers so we can start getting some serious new content on
the machines. We have about 40 tested boards and that should be enough for
developers to get started. If we have some spare after the devs have had a
chance to get one, and you're willing to live with the restrictions of
alpha-level software, we could let some of any remaining boards go in a few
weeks time.

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Computer Nerd Kev

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Nov 13, 2020, 7:43:50 AM11/13/20
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Computer Nerd Kev <n...@telling.you.invalid> wrote:
>
> The PiTrex cartridge which adds an Raspberry Pi to the Vectrex is now
> ready to release to developers!
>
> PiTrex is a cartridge for the Vectrex aimed at being a host system for
> vector arcade emulation as well as hosting new games in high-level
> languages.
>
> https://www.ombertech.com/pitrexdev.php

The first batch sold out fast. Now another 50 are available and users
as well as developers are welcome now too. Though it's still in a
developer pre-release state, with much of the current software not
quite finished and requiring an installation process. See the PiTrex
Wiki for details:
http://computernerdkev.heliohost.org/pitrex/wiki/index.php?wiki=Developer_Release
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