Japan to Blast Asteroids

Posted on October 24, 2013


Japan, the nation that brought us giant battle robots, has announced that it’s getting into the asteroid blasting game.

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is going to launch a space cannon aboard the Hayabusa-2 space probe next year. In 2018, the cannon will arrive at asteroid 1999JU3, which orbits between Earth and Mars, and will shoot it with a metal bullet.

This mission will just punch a crater and collect dust for research: both on the what’s-in-the-asteroid front, as well as the save-the-planet end.

Kudos, Japan.

Popcade Cabinet

Posted on September 29, 2013


Joshua Axelrod unveiled his miniature MAME arcade cabinet at the New York MakerFaire, and it’s a beauty. He was inspired by the size of Jürgen Müller’s Asteroids Mini, and decided to expand its roster by making it a MAME machine modeled on the classic Williams Joust cabinet, capable of playing nearly any classic arcade game. Popcade is about three feet tall and thirteen inches wide, perfect to fit in a house or apartment without eating up an entire room.

Aside from spot-on design, the thing that makes Popcade stand out is the marquee and bezel art. Axelrod created files for a number of classic games; selecting a game from the main menu changes the marquee screen up top, and loads the bezel art around the game on the main screen. Each game feels like you’re playing a dedicated cabinet (aside from the Joust bird on the side, and the “Flap” label on the button).

Of course, Asteroids is one of the games, which caught our eye at MakerFaire. The Popcade is the perfect size for a small child, so Axelrod’s own children are learning about the classics.


You can buy your own Popcade at the Popcade website. It comes without game ROMs, but will run like a charm when you install them separately.

Space Rocks on Antique Oscillograph

Posted on September 26, 2013


The folks at Brooklyn hackerspace NYC Resistor rescued a 1940s DuMont Labs 208B cathode ray oscillograph from the side of the road, and Trammell Hudson is driving it to do fun things with a microcontroller.

First up, he used this vector-based Asteroids font library to create a authentic 1940s-era Twitter client displayed on the classic scope.

But the pièce de résistance is Space Rocks, a version of you-know-what that runs on this hypnotic vector display. It’s presented as a “serious astronomical simulations and training system…”

While the Delta-V of the simulator space craft was optimistic for its era, the basic acceleration, velocity and position model is reasonably accurate. If the ship passes too closely to one of the space rocks, it is destroyed and the simulation restarts. Once the ship runs out of fuel (measured in hexadecimal in the upper left corner since the CPU can’t perform a DIV/MOD operation fast enough to display decimal numbers), it is stranded and unable to continue its mission.

Space Rocks runs off a Teesny board with code that’s available here. It has made public appearances at the NYC Resistor show in June, and at NYC MakerFaire in August. Check out the writeup on the NYCR blog for video and more.

Asteroids: The Movie

Posted on August 19, 2013

Extremely Decent beats Hollywood to the punch.

New Game For Asteroids Vector Monitor

Posted on August 10, 2013

Some engineering wizards in Brookyln have been working on a wonderful thing. They’ve written a vector generator in VHDL, designed a DAC/amplifier to run an old Asteroids G05 vector monitor, and hashed out the basics for a game in C.

The whole thing is run off a Linux box, with a second VGA screen acting as an HUD. The full game has yet to be written, but what they’ve got running now looks great.

Read all about it on Todd Bailey’s blog, and see some earlier tests of the system (code name VEC9) written up by Andrew Reitano.


Human Asteroids

Posted on May 30, 2013

Just when we thought there couldn’t be anything cooler in the world of Asteroids, there’s this:

It’s Human Asteroids, a project by Two Bit Circus for their proposed STEAM Carnival, designed to turn kids on to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.

Human Asteroids uses a Microsoft Kinect to track the player in a rolling chair, who becomes the spaceship. Asteroids are projected on the ground with lasers, and the player fires with a smartphone.

The player in the video is Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari.

The STEAM Carnival has a Kickstarter campaign going until midnight on June 2, 2013. If successful (and at the time of writing, they’re close), they plan to take the Carnival on the road at several major west coast American cities.

[UPDATE] This story has been making the rounds today, and Two Bit Circus has just passed its fundraising goal of $100,000, with two days still to go.

Asteroid Belt

Posted on May 16, 2013


Makers, behold: the Asteroid Belt.

An Australian known as cunning_fellow has made an LCD belt buckle that plays “Rock Blaster” (wink, wink). The whole project is extremely well-documented on instructables.com.

In the FAQs, he writes:

Q: It costs more to build than a RasPi and only runs at 16Mhz. Why did you bother?
A: If you don’t understand already there is little I can do to help you.

Read all about it at http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Asteroid-Belt/

Thanks to our friends at Adafruit for tipping us off.

See more Asteroids fashion in the archives.


Asteroids LP

Posted on May 15, 2013

Asteroids Record

James Eldred at Mostly Retro has written up a review of what is, in our eyes, the crowning glory of vintage Atari Asteroids spin-off merch: Asteroids, the record album. (The AtariAsteroids.net copy is pictured above).

It’s a full-length vinyl LP, produced by John Braden at Kid Stuff Records in 1982, during the height of the first home video game console boom. The label also put out LPs for Missile Command and Yars’ Revenge, along with non-Atari hits like Pac-Man.

Read Eldred’s review here:  http://mostly-retro.com/2013/05/01/ataris-asteroids-now-on-vinyl/

In addition to a time travel story, the album’s contents include:

1. Atari Theme (John Braden)
2. Asteroids (John Braden/J. Waxman)

1. Time Walk (John Braden/J. Waxman)
2. Atari Theme (Reprise) (John Braden)

Asteroids Videos

Posted on April 10, 2013

People have been posting technical videos about Atari Asteroids on YouTube lately.

Here are (1) an arcade Asteroids Y-vector test point hooked up to an oscilloscope, (2) a short clip of an Asteroids machine with a vector glitch, and (3) a page-turn review of an Atari Asteroids operations manual and schematic.

Asteroids Wants YOU

Posted on March 24, 2013

Please help AtariAsteroids.net with arcade recon!

We’ve only reviewed a handful of locations where you can play Asteroids, so if you’ve got first-hand information about arcades, barcades, nighclubcades, museums, arcade speakeasies, amusement parks, or anywhere with a public Asteroids or Asteroids Deluxe arcade machine, please let us know!

Check out other reviews in the Arcade Recon category of this site. We’re looking for general information about the venue and its atmosphere, a specific review of the Asteroids machine, and pictures.

Take a look at our Asteroids Location Map to find an Asteroids location near you. And if you have any corrections to the map, please let us know.

Email tim@atariasteroids.net