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Vectrex Complete Screen Calibration and More (Definitive Guide)


MattPilz
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In my effort of Vectrex discovery and restoration these past several months, I noticed a distinct lack of modern, definitive adjustment guides to get the system back to spec. I also found some alarmingly erroneous explanations online, including those who attempt centering the display using internal pots or DAC offset (don't do this). As such, I thought it'd be helpful to make a capstone video of more than a dozen major baseline adjustments and troubleshooting walkthroughs. I cover each topic in a minute or less for the sake of being concise, and have an accompanying blog post that mirrors the video for those that prefer to read.

 

Topics covered include:

 

  • Normal Vectrex Imperfections
  • Servicing Prerequisites
  • Disassembly and Inspection
  • Fuse Inspection and Testing
  • Baseline Voltage Checks
  • DAC Offset (Scope and Multimeter)
  • High Voltage CRT Calibration
  • Flyback Timer Fine-Tuning
  • Width and Height Adjustments
  • Centering using Neck Rings
  • Integrator X/Y Rate Offsets
  • Brightness (Intensity) Optimization
  • Crackling Volume and Pot Cleaning
  • Controller Repair (Drift/Response)
  • De-Buzzing Considerations
  • What's Next? Ideas for Fun!


VIDEO:


BLOG: https://mattpilz.com/vectrex-console-complete-screen-calibration-guide/


Enjoy!

 
Edited by MattPilz
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  • The title was changed to Vectrex Complete Screen Calibration and More (Definitive Guide)
I found your blog very interesting and informative. I have an original that still works last time I checked, and another that recently faded to unseeable. Because of the reported fragility and the dangers of working with high voltage (and because my soldering skills are rudimentary), I've been hesitant to attempt any repairs, and may never, but really appreciate the detailed summary of your work in case I ever decide to work on it.

I know it's only a dream, but It sure would be nice if someone built and sold a new replacement.
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56 minutes ago, fiddlepaddle said:

I found your blog very interesting and informative. I have an original that still works last time I checked, and another that recently faded to unseeable. Because of the reported fragility and the dangers of working with high voltage (and because my soldering skills are rudimentary), I've been hesitant to attempt any repairs, and may never, but really appreciate the detailed summary of your work in case I ever decide to work on it.

I know it's only a dream, but It sure would be nice if someone built and sold a new replacement.

Thanks! Vectrex is really one of the most unique consoles and definitely worth experiencing on the original hardware.

I compare it to the same experience as a person first playing Asteroids on the original arcade cabinet, where you don't know how much you are missing if you've only ever seen it on an emulator, with the organic brightness intensities (bullet flares, teleport fields, etc.) being really memorable on both Asteroids and Vectrex games.

 

It is too bad vector systems didn't really catch on, they certainly offered more potential in the early-80s compared to the low resolution pixel/sprite based systems as far as what they could pack in the same amount of memory.

 

For modern alternatives there are two potential solutions that stay relatively faithful. The PiTrex is a Raspberry Pi on a Vectrex cart that bypasses the original logic/hardware to run both Vectrex and arcade games on the actual Vectrex display. There are also PCBs for constructing one using an oscilloscope display or any other X/Y CRT. Either way the long-since discontinuation of CRTs in general makes it a challenge to continue finding faithful solutions, even if CRTs will always be more suited for this type of an analog 'non-pixel' system.

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