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They Call Me Mr. Chips--A Question About IC's


Pete Holland Jr.

Jan 1, 1970
Hey, everybody!

This is going to be a long message, but I'm doing it so you can see the
scope (or lack thereof) of the project I have in mind.

When I was a kid, I wanted my own video arcade game. Naturally, lack of
funds and being underage made that a pipe dream. Lately, I've been looking
at people who make cabinets to house computers running the MAME program and
getting their own arcade games. My Plan B is to simply code the game, load
it onto my old P100, stick it and my old 256 color monitor in a cabinet,
and bingo! My own custom arcade game. But my Plan A has my curiosity, and
I need advice from people who know electronics.

In those old days as a kid, I came up with a solution to building a custom
video game without it being so expensive--I would use LED's like in the
handheld games I played. My autoracing game, for example, used 24 LED's,
in a 3X8 field. Crude, but it got the point across, and it was fun. There
is a genre of games called impulse games that are along the lines of what
I'm thinking of. My local video store has a Simon-type game. Four
flashing lights, repeat so much of the sequence and you get a free rental.
Also, I don't know if you remember "wall games", which used a series of
lamps to indicate what was going on. I remember a baseball one at a
Shakey's Pizza I went to as a kid. Long story short, the game could work
along those lines. No complex displays, which makes the machine more
flexible as far as size goes. Basically, a king size version of the games
you find playing baseball or Tetris in the toy aisle.

The problem is this: I expect I'm going to need custom IC's for the game
logic and controlling sounds, the display, reading the controller, etc.
Admittedly, you can get an Athlon for less than $100, but they made
millions of those and could spread out the expense. I'm looking at only a
few (just in case I fry one or two during construction), and small custom
jobs are usually more expensive. Is this idea cost prohibitive ("Sure, we
can make them, but the minimum order is 1,000")? Also, my own electronics
skills are very basic. Is this idea too ambitious?

The Plan B would be more satisfying, but Plan A is a childhood dream, and
you know how tough those are to let go. What do you think?

Dobre utka,
Pete Holland Jr.

Beware of programmers carrying screwdrivers.

Dan Hollands

Jan 1, 1970
It is not clear why you would need any custom IC's

With the wide variety of microprocessor, microcontroller, and programmable
logic arrays (PLA), I can't imagine what you need that would have to be
custom. Todays programmable chips pretty well eliminate the need for custom
ICs for digital purposes in small volume applications.

Dan Hollands
1120 S Creek Dr
Webster NY 14580
[email protected]

Benjamin Todd

Jan 1, 1970
Like an FPGA, or a CPLD. Have a dodge around the xilinx website
(see older Xilinx devices if you're after 5V compatibility) - you really
don't need a Gigahertz beast to make what you describe. You'd have to learn
a programming language to get them going, but once you have that under your
belt you can forget about ASIC.