Vectrex Mini Pays Homage to the Coolest Console Ever

Vectrex consoles today are very collectible and hard to come by, which is why Brendan built this fully functional Vectrex Mini.

The PlayStations and Xboxes of today are little more than gaming computers crammed into custom cases, but the video game consoles had real character. They weren't always good, but they had personality. Of those, few stood out quite like the Vectrex. It hit the market in 1982 and was discontinued less than a year and a half later, with only 28 official game releases. Now the Vectrex is very collectible, which puts it out of reach of many retrogamers. To get the experience on a smaller scale, Retro Game On's Brendan built this fully functional Vectrex Mini.

The Vectrex was unique in that it used a vector monitor instead of the standard raster setup. Every other console of the era output video in a standard format, like composite or RF, which means the TV or monitor drew graphics by drawing one horizontal line after another in sequence. But the Vectrex used a proprietary monitor and drew by directing the cathode-ray to follow the actual lines of the objects onscreen. The resulting graphics looked like line drawings and were smoother than those produced by other consoles. Modern LCDs perform well enough to emulate the effect and Brendan took advantage of that fact.

The screen is a simple 2.5" LCD from Waveshare and it connects to a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B running a Vectrex emulator. The controller is also custom, built around an Arduino Pro Micro board and a KY-023 joystick module. Both the main enclosure and controller case were 3D-printed on a Creality Ender 3 V2. The original Vectrex could only output white graphics on a black background, but games would ship with translucent overlays to add some color. Because the Vectrex Mini uses a full-color LCD, the emulator can simulate those color overlays in order to faithfully reproduce the original experience.

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Maker, retrocomputing and 3D printing enthusiast, author of books, dog dad, motorcyclist, and nature lover.
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