jrok’s Williams FPGA… in development!
August 27th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

If you are like me, you acquire arcade games. Let’s just stop with that. You are probably not like me, going forward from here, but we’ll try to keep things interesting and geeky from here.

If you are like me, and acquire arcade games, you do so while praying to a deity that the circuit boards won’t die. In my own case, I have ensured that this IS the case because I only recently learned how to check voltages. (+5 getting to the game’s printed circuit board fixed my issues with Mr. Do!, Arkanoid and Zoo Keeper – that’s a 30% fix in my arcade right there.)

The circuit boards are the real treasure in an arcade game, because almost everything else can be — or is! — getting reproductions. Scratch up the side art on a game? Stencils or giant “stickers” exist. Mess up the monitor? You can put a brand-new one in, most likely. But yeah, if the circuit board develops problems the average collector is at the mercy of others.

So that’s why FPGA boards like what jrok is developing are so cool – he’s putting Defender, Stargate, Joust, Robotron, Bubbles, Splat, Sinistar and Blaster onto a single board. It uses real hardware, so nothing is emulated (more on that in a sec). This is going to give people the chance to avoid circuit board issues and still have a great multi-game kit. It’s also going to have a JAMMA interface, which will be really convienent for, er, people like me who have a JAMMA cab.

I don’t even know if Williams (the manufacturer of all those games) are particularly troublesome to live with – for all I know, they could be rock-solid. But it would definitely cost me a lot more in space and, er, cost a lot in money to get access to those games. And I am completely out of space. jrok also has the things saving high scores, so at $150 for the board, this will be perfect.

(OK, a note about emulation: it’s fine, it’s cool, and I have emulated games on my 48-in-1, which I love. But yeah, emulation through MAME can get you close, but something genuinely running the game is always going to be ideal. That being said, I’d like to get a Robotron cab, and having the controls for Robotron (two joysticks) on the same panel as Stargate (a two-way joystick and like six buttons) always looks like a mess, so I am not sure how I am going to personally work this.)

jrok is sending the board out to testers soon, and I’ll report back when I purchase one.






3 Responses  
  • Gus Bates writes:
    August 28th, 20083:10 pmat

    When I Stopped Reading This Website:

    About the same time I finished reading this article!

  • robohara writes:
    September 9th, 20088:00 amat

    Hey Robb, I’m interested in hearing how the board turns/turned out. I suspect keeping one of these things running would be simpler than limping my Defender (which has three giant PCBs linked together) along.

  • Ice Cream Jonsey writes:
    September 9th, 20086:24 pmat

    Hey, Rob! Yeah, let me post the link where jrok answered some questions about it: (from the KLOV site. Hopefully WordPress lets me include the URL without it triggering a spam alert).

    That thread has some more detail. I think he addresses, in that thread, coming up with a solution for people like yourself, who don’t need a JAMMA connector, because you have real Williams hardware. When I get going with mine I’ll definitely let you know how it goes.

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