As we all know that open source community come long way in past years and here in this post we will be having closer look at Uzebox developed by Mr. Alec Bourque. The Uzebox is a retro-minimalist homebrew game console. It is based on an AVR 8-bit general purpose microcontroller made by Atmel. The particularity of the system is that it’s based on an interrupt driven kernel and has no frame buffer. Functions such as video sync generation, tile rendering and music mixing is done realtime by a background task so games can easily be developed in C.
The design goal was to be as simple as possible yet have good enough sound and graphics while leaving enough resources to implement interesting games. Emphasis was put on making it easy and fun to assemble and program for any hobbyists. The main design goal was to keep it simple so it would be easy to understand and assemble by hobbyists. Its made of only two chips and few discrete parts like resistor, capacitor etc. The console uses an overclocked ATmega644 microcontroller and classic Nintendo controllers, also supports 256 colors and 4 sound channels and has SD card interface from which games can be loaded from.
There are three design aspect which fascinate people about Uzebox are
KERNEL: the engine that generates video on the fly, mixes music, reads the controllers, etc. It’s been written to be extremely customisable and extensible. For instance, since everything is done by the microcontroller, it also means the Uzebox supports unlimited video modes! And there are currently nine video modes, each with their own unique features like tile-based, with sprites, bitmap, high-resolution, etc. Game creators can choose which mode they want by simple specifying a compile-time configuration switch.
GAMELOADER: It’s a small AVR bootloader which displays a video menu, reads games stored on a SD card and programs them on the Atmega644 on the fly. With it, there is no need to be tethered to your PC to play different games; just drag and drop them on a regular SD card and you’re free to go and show it off to your friends. It sort of works just like the regular console we’re you would pop in a cartridge.
COLOR GENERATION: simpler AD725, a chip that does all the hard work of converting the RGB signals made by the microcontroller into standard NTSC composite video. What’s nice is that some Uzebox variants use the RGB signals directly and don’t even need the AD725, cutting down costs. That the case of the EUzebox, made for European TVs that have RGB inputs, and the Uzebox JAMMA, a cool
As Uzebox is an open source hardware you can build your own for yourself. To download design files hit on Download Uzebox Design Files & Source Code