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

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

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 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:

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 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.



Asteroids Mini

Posted on March 10, 2013

Here’s the goal: having an Asteroids arcade machine at home, with authentic electronics and true vector display, but which isn’t the size of a refrigerator. Jürgen Müller in Hamburg, Germany, has built just that.

His half-scale Asteroids cabinet uses an original Asteroids game PCB and 9″ vector monitor from a broken Vectrex, housed in a custom-built cabinet. He also built a custom XY driver circuit to bring the Vectrex display up to the drawing speed required by Asteroids.

The project is well-documented on Müller’s website:

Bruce Glick 48-Hour Marathon Recap

Posted on March 07, 2013

Last month, Bruce Glick staged a public Atari Asteroids marathon at Mama’s on 39 in Huntington Beach, CA, also streaming live on Twitch. His original goal was to play for 48 hours on one quarter, as he trains for an eventual world record attempt (it would take longer than that for the record). But somewhere in the wee hours of Sunday morning, after playing for 34.5 hours straight, Bruce lost his last ship.

His score was 18,656,380, which is 12th on the all-time high score list (pending Twin Galaxies approval).

While that score is nothing to sneer at, Glick attributes his early demise to “1.Lack of sleep before I started (I worked on the 9th) 2. Right button stated to stick. 3. Hands cramped/mental block.” Still, he doesn’t consider it a complete failure: his whole team learned a lot from the weekend, and he increased his PTTR (point to time ratio) by 12%.

In addition, Glick received words of encouragement from a number of classic gaming greats via Skype and phone, including Australian Donkey Kong champion Allen Staal, Spy Hunter world champion Paul Dean, and the current Asteroids champion, John McAllister.

Glick is already planning his next 48-hour attempt for later this spring.

Watch video of Glick’s game here:

And our interview with Glick as he prepared for the session: