Gameduino: a VGA adapter for microcontrollers

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Price (CAD)
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$53.00 ea.

Tiny microcontrollers like the Atmel AVR used in the Arduino are now much more powerful than the 8-bit computers from the 1980s. So why not use them to play video games?


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Gameduino is a game adapter for Arduino - or anything else with an SPI interface - built as a single shield that stacks up on top of the Arduino and has plugs for a VGA monitor and stereo speakers.

The sound and graphics are definitely old-school, but thanks to the latest FPGA technology, the sprite capabilities are a step above those in machines from the past.

  • video output is 400x300 pixels in 512 colors
  • all color processed internally at 15-bit precision
  • compatible with any standard VGA monitor (800x600 @ 72Hz)
  • background graphics
    • 512x512 pixel character background
    • 256 characters, each with independent 4 color palette
    • pixel-smooth X-Y wraparound scroll
  • foreground graphics
    • each sprite is 16x16 pixels with per-pixel transparency
    • each sprite can use 256, 16 or 4 colors
    • four-way rotate and flip
    • 96 sprites per scan-line, 1536 texels per line
    • pixel-perfect sprite collision detection
  • audio output is a stereo 12-bit frequency synthesizer
  • 64 independent voices 10-8000 Hz
  • per-voice sine wave or white noise
  • sample playback channel
The adapter is controlled via SPI read/write operations, and looks to the CPU like a 32Kbyte RAM. (Unlike many 8-bit machines, there are no restrictions on when you can access this RAM). There is a handy reference poster showing how the whole system works, and a set of sample programs and library. Just move the GD Library into your Arduino Libraries folder, open the example code and you are on your way. Gameduino is open-source hardware (BSD license) and all its code is GPL licensed. Find more info at excamera.com
Note: Does not include an Arduino or any controllers, the onboard Xilinx XC3S200 is merely a coprocessor. Also please keep in mind that the program files are usually large and may not fit on the Arduino 168 chip.

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