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2018
Tuesday 20th November - Vectrex Prototype is real!
Back in January and June 2011, I reported on an alternate shaped Vectrex prototype that was thought to once be in existance. There was a vivid story published in Edge magazine (issue 122) which gaves an account by Robert Van den Heuvel who claims to have actually visited the Vectrex factory when he was a child. He gives an account of a Vectrex shaped like a shoebox on the presidentís desk.

Then there was photographic proof of an alternate Vectrex from the Forsell family. Edward Forsell was manager of the modeling shop and worked in Research & Design at Milton Bradley for almost 20 years.
In September 2010, Justin, son of Edward Forsell, added some scanned images, originally photographed by his father in the early 80ís, to his flickr page.

Well, that special Vectrex has since been found and adopted for display at the National Videogame Museum (NVM), Texas, USA. It is not clear how NVM obtained this Vectrex, but when they received it, it was non working. John Hardie one of the partners behind the muesuem (Sean Kelly already known to the Vectrex world for his multicart is the other) was able to fix the machine and Sean has just added a video of the prototype working on the Facebook Vectrex Fans United page. The prototype has been verified to contain the same innards as a conventional Vectrex but with some components repositioned to fit the smaller space. Some people have previously speculated whether this Vectrex was the mini arcade optioned for the Kenner company - the one that used the smaller CRT. This Vectrex definitely came after the Vectrex that we all know as the logo on the bottom right of the front says "GCE a Milton Bradley Company". This dates the prototype as the post MB's purchase of GCE, so after Spring 1983.

Saturday 13th October - Vector War VIII (VW8) - Add to your calendar!


Eight years ago, Rob Maerz, well known in the Retro scene, initiated the Vector War. The Vector War is a yearly Vectrex game tournament and celebration; Vectrex players all over the world participate. This year's Vector War VIII (VW8) lasts one week and will take place from 10th November till 17th November 2018. Please note that the Vector War is for both beginner and expert players. In the Vector War you can compete with other players. It's also a good opportunity to play the Vectrex games more extensively and get to know new games. And there are prizes!!! If you have no time, at least do something with your Vectrex in that week and get a mention.

Read more at the Vectorgaming forum on Proboards.

Friday 12th October - Light-gun stickers
In my previous post I mentioned about the excellent posters Laurance had produced. I think those are near selling out now, but I do hope he considers to make another batch with the MB logo rather than the GCE logo.

Laurance also makes stickers. Currently, he is producing stickers for the Sega Light-gun to make it look more of an appropriate peripheral for the Vectex (Light-gun games coming soon from Binarystar software). He kindly provided me with a selection of stickers to choose from. Thank you Laurance.

Monday 24th September - Vectrex posters forsale
Vectrex fan, Laurance, has had some cool posters made in homage to the Vectrex. The posters are A1 (84.1 x 59.4cm) in size and printed on 180 gsm gloss paper).

The image is Laurance's own design and it captures very well the era of the Vectrex and is almost Tron inspired. I could almost step into that world to battle the Mine Storm ships in my imagination. One could imagine the GCE/MB marketing machine producing such an image at the time. This would look great in any man-cave and/or arcade room.

The price is £20/$25 which includes shipping worldwide. If you want to get in contact with Laurance to make an order please contact him at lb@dagfields.co.uk

Thursday 2nd August - New VectrexMad! hardware coming soon
This is the first prototype. The electronics have already been finalised, software updated and the functioanlity tested. Now just the casing to sort out.

This prototype has been printed on a cheap 3d printer normally for hobby use and to prove a principle. I'm currently talking with a professional 3D printing company who can print at much finer resolution. From the generic example samples they already sent me, it looks like the finalised product will be hard to distinguish from plastic moulded parts. Following in Henry Ford's footsteps, the final product will be in all black.

Expect to launch in Q4 2018 but watch this space for more info.

Thursday 25th July - Vector Blade new game from Malban
Quick!, go to Malbanís website and download the Vector Blade alpha release whilst you still can. There isnít likely to be another public version after this since the next release will likely require special hardware to run. Malban wantís feedback on any bugs found before he eventually makes a physical hardware release.

What is Vectorblade? Is a shoot-em-up type of game with similarities to the arcade classic Galaga. However, Malbanís game though still in alpha state is so much more.

The Vectrex is pushed to it limits with up to 20 (non flickering) enemies on screen, each level with different enemy attack patterns and additional boss levels giving a total of 32 levels. Its not just about quick reactions. There is some strategy involved too as you can accumulate money when shooting at the enemies to shop for different weapons inbetween boss levels.
Under the hood , the game complexity and the provided 32 levels mean that the game alpha release requires a 64kB ROM. The binary will work on a VecFever, Mateos device or a Clockwork PB6 64kB bankswitch (using a 64kB eprom). It definitely doesn't work with VecFlash or VecMulti however. For the final physical release, Malban is working on a 96 kB ROM cartridge so he can fit in more levels and boss routines. Canít wait!!! Got to level seven so far on the alpha release.

Saturday 23rd June - Revival Studios releases new game and new packaging format for existing games lineup
After a lengthy hiatus from making new games for the Vectrex Arcade system, (they were busy making games for other consoles and home computers) Revival Studios is back for the Vectrex! They have released a new game for the Vectrex, Called Rush hour.

This game is described as an entertaining logic puzzle game that provides an interesting distraction for sharp minds. The storyline is as follows.

When returning from a retro gaming event, you try to collect your car from the parking lot. Only to discover that you are not the only one there! In order to get your vehicle out, you need to undertake 16 levels of interesting puzzles, moving all the cars in the right order to get to yours.

The usual Revival Studios internet high score uploading feature is provided including an online rewards system as well as support for Vecvox. For more information about the game visit Revival Studios.
In addition, Revival Studios has relaunched their existing game lineup. The new line of Vectrex games feature redesigned and a more unified packaging look (now in universal game cases rather than the previous VHS cases) with artwork to better resemble the classic Vectrex game covers. Some of Revival Studiosí previous demos are also now available free for download.


Saturday 16th June - Vectrex name post note
I had some feedback from Chris Romero via Facebook about my previous post. He mentioned that for the record there was also some luggage named Vectrex in the 70ís and conjectured that this could have fed into Tom Sloperís thoughts when he was trying to come up with a name.

But more interestingly he informed that in the 70ís there was a Los Angeles prop house with the name Vectrex and this was probably the reason why the label Vectrex was on that scope. Chris guessed that the film editors probably didn't think it was out of place to have the unusual name Vectrex on something so technical. With regards to the name Vectrex coined by Tom Sloper for our beloved console, Chris surmised that being near to the music industry in the Los Angeles area it wouldn't have been unusual for anyone in Smith Engineering or General Consumer Electronics to have previously heard of the name Vectrex.

Wednesday 13th June - Vectrex name origin?
Now the following is of interest to the Vectrex geek! It is known that the Vectrex was originally named the "Mini Arcade". However, the marketing people at the time wanted something a bit catchier. It has been reported by Tom Sloper (80's game designer for Spike and Bedlam) that in a brainstorming session he came up with the name Vector-X, which after a few more brainstorms contracted to the name "Vectrex".

In 1979 the film "Escape from Alcatraz" was showing in the cinemas. Thereís a scene in the film featuring Clint Eastwood showing him walking through a metal detector. A Tektronix T932 oscilloscope positioned on a table to the side of the walk through metal detector showed a graphic signal on its display representing if metal had been detected.



The Tektronix T932 is no stranger to public shows having already appeared in several films and TV programmes. The website vintagetek (A museum of vintageTektronix equipment) for which I have "borrowed" selected film stills for this post, gives many examples of the various appearances made by the Tektronix T932 oscilloscope.



However, what is interesting here (if not a little spooky) is that in the film the oscilloscope logo had been replaced with a sticker that appears to show the text "Vectrex". This was in 1979! All the history for the Vectrex indicates its birth was from late 1980. So could the film have (subconsciously) inspired the name Vectrex in Tom Slopersí brainstorming session for our beloved vector games machine? Was the 1979 film the first time the name "Vectrex" had been used and what are the odds that both the oscilloscope and Vectrex have much in common in terms of using an XY monitor to display vectors.


Saturday 2nd June - Battlezone clone ready!!!
The word Stramash is used to describe a noisy commotion or an uproar. And that's exactly what will happen once James G Watt of Clockworkrobot starts shipping his Battlezone clone for the Vectrex.

The Stramash Zone package includes a labelled game cartridge with a full 64k worth of game play, a full colour screen overlay and protective sleeve, a colour manual, sturdy foam box insert, a box and a clear box protector. This game has been more than four years in the making but certainly looks worth the wait. The overlay looks beautiful and I would love to know where James got those done.

Go to the Clockworkrobot online shop and get yourself a copy before they are all sold out.

Wednesday 30th May - Wrectrex: the Vectrex/IBM hybrid
It never ceases to amaze me what electronics hobbyists can do when hacking analogue electronics particularly when dealing with high voltage electronics and modding cathode ray tubes (CRT). A YouTuber with tag "senilyDeluxe" has recently released a video showing how he has taken a broken Vectrex with its picture tube which had been smashed due to shipping and a broken IBM 5151 monitor and combined the working parts to make a bigger than normal playable Vectrex hybrid and all repackaged into the IBM monitor enclosure.

"senilyDeluxe" has arranged it so that the original picture tube of the IBM computer now outputs the vector display of the Vectrex. This has been achieved by senilyDeluxe taking the Vectrex monitor control board and assembling the Vectrex monitor deflection yoke onto the neck of the IBM tube.
The IBM 5151 monitor was shipped as part of the first IBM personal computers. At 12" in size, the display is only a little bigger than the Vectrex monitor, and it was designed to display raster graphics rather than vector graphics. Interestingly, the monitor has some unique (old school) features.

First off, the monitor displays everything in green because it uses P39 phosphor. But connected to this, is the side effect of using this particular phosphor. That is to say that the phosphor has high persistence. This was intentional because at the time they were trying to reduce display flicker.

Vectrex fans will know that the Vectrex can suffer from flicker when it displays too many vector lines on the screen. So combining the monitor with the Vectrex could have been a good marriage. In fact, although the Vectrex flicker is no longer visible, the persistence of the phosphor is actually too long!

If you watch the video you will see that for some games in particular e.g. Pole Position and Star Trek, the high persistence of the phosphor, leads to smearing where the images are displayed rapidly and actually makes the games unplayable. However, games like Star Castle and Cosmic Chasm, with their moving graphics causing "tails" actually improve the look of the game play.



Tuesday 29th May - Karl Quappe and generic green overlays sold out
Subject says it all - no Karl Quappe or green overlays anymore :) Currently only remaining stock are some YASI overlays. These aren't 100% perfect, more like 90% perfect. As such I am selling these with a 1GBP discount. If interested to purchase please email sales@vectrex.co.uk with your required quantity and your country. When they are gone there are gone. These won't be printed again.

Wednesday 11th April - The Karl Quappe Overlays: The story behind them
Malban, known for his VIDE Vectrex development environment and more recently for his games called Release and Karl Quappe, is one of the long term Vectrex programming wizards supporting the development of new software for the Vectrex. His game Karl Quappe officially released in September last year was an overhaul of his VFrogger game that he had previously made publically available quite a few years ago.

There are too many enhancements to list here about Karl Quappe, but the most noticeable enhancements over the original VFrogger include smoother animated vectors, continuous music, and high scores with permanent saving.

A total of sixteen special edition physical copies were sent to various persons in the Vectrex world who had previously supported Malban in his activities.
Because of the scarcity of screen printers able to produce good quality Vectrex overlays, and the success I had had previously with my local printers I was involved (the go between my printers and Malban) with the production for the first iteration (green) and third iteration (blue) of the Karl Quappe overlays.

At the time I did discuss with Malban about making multi coloured overlays with coloured bands (like YASI) to give the illusion of different colour for land and water. However, this idea was pushed back because of cost (more colours means more layers and adds cost) and the fact that not all Vectrex vector displays are perfectly aligned and that the vector graphics could fall behind the wrong colour band. Malban could have included an onscreen calibration routine in the game, but he feared doing so would add extra CPU cylces during the actual game play resulting in flickering graphics.

So the final Karl Quappe overlay design went for a 3 colour overlay (shades of green and a white background) including one transparent colour.
Unfortunately, the green colour didnít agree with the overlay material and the colours appeared with fine cracking in the first run of overlays. Malban went to another screen printer to repeat the printing but these overlays came out foggy. After discussion with my printer, we concluded that for the transparent part that the yellow ink used to make the green was the culprit. Knowing the excellent quality of the previous Mine Storms overlays which used blue for the transparent part, we agreed blue made sense for a third iteration of blue Karl Quappe overlays - hey, after all water is blue and frogs love water! These new overlays also included some small modifications in the final design and the final overlays can considered one of a kind.

You will never be able to get a new limited edition of the Karl Quappe game and overlay outside the set of sixteen that were released but the game ROM binary is publically available and Packrat will be making a physical release with packaging using different artwork in the coming weeks. However, I do have a batch remaining of the blue Karl Quappe overlays which I am selling until stocks run out. Price includes postage and packaging and depends on your location. UK - £10.25, Europe - £11.60, US/Canada/Australia/Japan - £12.20.

You might say I am biased but I do say these Karl Quappe overlays are beautiful and in their final iteration have turned out really well. If interested to purchase please email sales@vectrex.co.uk with your required quantity and your country

Sunday 1st April - Vect-Rex: Full size Vectrex arcade upright cabinet
The collective known as "Guys, Games and Beer" have developed a Vectrex cabinet ( A Vectrex possibility I have always dreamt about - see my blog on the build of my own Vectrex cabinet - until now taking a sabbatical) and will be showing it off at the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee this April (weekend of 13th-15th).

The system is a full upright cabinet with a 19inch monitor driven by a Vectrex. Jason Kopp aka Arcade Jason provided the inspiration when he published his activities of repurposing a 19 inch vector arcade monitor for use with a Vectrex.
The most ingenious thing about the Vect-Rex cabinet is how the overlays are changed according to the game being played. This is achieved by a scrolling overlay. Basically, a number of enlarged overlays have been printed on a roll of transparent sheet. Through markings on the sheet and use of a light sensing sensor, the roll is advanced in the upward or downward direction on motorised rollers. A button corresponding to up or down needs to be pressed to advance the roll one overlay at a time.

Thanks "Guys, Games and Beer", youíve given me a push to continue with my VecCab developments and blog!

Saurday 31st March - Busy with delivering overlays
Thanks for the emails from those asking if this website is still alive because there were no updates since January. All is well but Iíve just been incredibly busy with life and any time in the Vectrex world has been spent arranging despatch of overlays. Mine Storm is now completely sold out. I still have some YASI and Karl Quappe overlays remaining. If interested to find out more please click on the "Shop" tab above or email sales@vectrex.co.uk stating type, quantity required and your country.

Wednesday 3rd January - Vectrex overlays back in stock
I've got a selection of new overlays back in stock. This includes YASI, Mine Storm and the generic green overlays that have been released previously. If interested to find out more please click on the "Shop" tab above or email sales@vectrex.co.uk stating type, quantity required and your country.

Sunday 1st January - Happy New Year! & the usual reflection of the past year
Who would have thought? This website is now in its 10th year! I donít usually keep hobbies going this long! Relative to many others I came to the Vectex late. I was aware of the Vectrex in the 80ís, but I was a poor school boy who could only drool over the Vectrex when I first happened upon it in the famous Hamleys toyshop. This was on a once only school trip to London and after that I never saw it again. Of course the price tag was way out of reach for a school boy who had spent nearly a year saving up his pocket money in order to purchase a ZX81. Nevertheless, the sight of those glowing Vector graphics stuck in my subconscious mind and a chance encounter seeing a Vectrex on eBay some 10 years ago re-established my fascination with vector graphics and the Vectrex. The Vectrex is unique and the fact that it is still being supported by home brewers means that I will continue to update this website with news of the scene and including my own activities.

However, this year, my time has been going into other "real life" activities so I havenít been as active in the Vectrex world as I would've liked to have been. My VecZogs game is still stuck at 70% complete and I just havenít had time to get back into it to push it towards the finish line. The delays arenít just because of software but also because of hardware. The game requires RAM and I need special cartridge PCBs manufactured that include this memory.

Regular readers will know that I sell overlays and other hardware for the Vectrex too. Last year, new overlay development and progress was very slow. This was due to my screen printers having all sorts of challenges. This ranged from dodgy inks causing cracking in the finished overlays, screen printing equipment breaking down, and priority demands changing due to local political elections putting high pressure on the printers to deliver huge contracts for leaflet producing instead of my small overlay quantities. However, at the end of last year there has been progress on that front. As I look to the left of my keyboard, I can see new overlay batches waiting to be sold. This includes YASI, Mine Storm, Generic Green overlays and a batch of overlays I organized for a fellow home brewer. In January I will honour those first who have contacted me in the past regarding YASI overlays. Once Iím through that list I will start actively advertising on all the usual Vectrex related forums. Also this year I am doing another run of my AutoFire dongles. These are 2nd generation produts containing software and hardware improvements. I anticipate they will be ready in May 2018. If interested in these let me know and I'll put you on the "interested" list.

A big thank you to all who have contacted me in the past year with comments about the website, scores and Vectrex news. With your feedback I at least know my words are being read by like minded Vectrex fans from around the world. I look forward to sharing my Vectrex enthusiasm with you this year.