Atari Tetris Arcade Build

Thread in 'Hardware' started by Metallian, 16 May 2014.

  1. Hey Guys!

    I wanted to share my new project with everyone. It doesn't seem like there are too many Atari Tetris players here - I really enjoy the game, despite being not too great at it.

    I bought the PCB to practice, which is in great condition. But I also bought a control panel, JAMMA harness/cables, power supply, coin door, etc. Basically all the guts except the monitor. And boy, all the guts are in sad shape. Gonna have fun cleaning them! :)

    I live in a small apartment in NYC, so I can't build a full cabinet. So any suggestions for the build are appreciated! As well as any Atari Tetris talk! Especially from anyone with any JAMMA wiring experience. :)

    Check it out!

    Attached Files:

  2. Interesting that the control panel has multiple rotation buttons. I've only ever heard of Atari supporting one, but I was in e-mail correspondence with someone that said they used to have one with left/right directions. I was always running under the assumption that rotate and start buttons mapped to the same input (and hence could both be used to rotate, albeit of course the same direction) -- that's how it is set up in MAME, anyhow.

    I kind of feel like I need to get my hands on a board so I can independently verify the rotation stuff, haha. I think Atari was only ever sold as an upgrade kit, so it's not hard to imagine the MAME devs setting things up with the most commonly encountered setup in mind where the hardware might actually support more. I know that Sega Tetris was similar, as it used to only have one button in MAME while the hardware supports three. (Granted, all buttons map to a counterclockwise rotation, but they can be pianoed.)

    A lot of that stuff looks crazy messy! :p It might not be a bad idea to buy or make a clean JAMMA loom, but maybe you were aiming for a fix-up project and don't mind that bit so much. :) It'd be cool to see the control panel cleaned up, but I'm not sure if I'd necessarily feel like going through the trouble on the wiring, haha.

    Anyway, I haven't ever built one from the ground up (yet) so I don't have a specific guide to recommend, but there is plenty of info online about building a supergun.

    If you want to hook up to a TV you'll need to include an RGB -> NTSC video encoder. If you want to use a standard VGA monitor, I think you just need a scan doubler -- I've heard the Gonbes GBS-8220 is the cheap but effective solution in that department. If you happen to have a CGA monitor or Sony PVM or something that can take in straight-up 15khz RGB, then that's one less thing to worry about in the build.
  3. Yeah - I mainly use two Atari Tetris Machines at barcades close to me. Both of them have two rotation buttons for each player, but they both rotate the same direction. And yep, Atari sold this as a kit, so it really depends on what the machine was previously. Funny thing is, I took off the plexi, and that "rotate" and 1 and 2 player boxes are actually stickers. So they took into account the different control panel scenarios by allowing arcades to stick the labels wherever they needed to.

    And totally, I think I'm just going to get a new JAMMA harness.

    Have you heard of any sync or lag issues with feeding into anything other than a 15khz RGB monitor? It would be great to use one of those methods that you said. Currently I'm eBaying for an arcade monitor, but they can get a little pricy.
  4. There's a couple routes you can go down:

    - Bar top cabinet... I have one that I built, and the issue with these is that they either have to be REALLY bulky to accommodate a CRT, or you have to do what I did and install an LCD, and just deal with the lag. Plus, you have to actually put it on top of something to be able to use it. I use mine mostly for arcade classics, and the lag isn't too bad unless you're playing turbo pacman or something. Wouldn't recommend for hardcore gaming.

    - Mini upright or cabaret cabinet. These have always interested me, but the monitors are usually small (mostly 13", some up to 19").

    - Mini candy cabinet. These things are just adorable.

    - Supergun. This is what I use for TGM1/TAP/Blockout. They're fairly easy to build (just a box with fuses, a power supply, video converter, and a line leveler if you want to connect sound output directly to your TV). Mine is a basic homebrew one, which I rewired a HRAP to connect to.
  5. Zaphod77

    Zaphod77 Resident Misinformer

    Atari tetris uses a strange rotation system, and an annoying speed up system that's designed to get you to pump quarters. Don't think that just because the rainbow meter is maxed that it can't get faster... die and continue and the speed drops again and you keep your score. SO you can buy your way onto the leaderboard. :(
  6. Thanks for all the advice, guys.

    I think for now I'm going to ghetto-rig it together. I'm pretty much going to scrap the old guts. The wires are too abused and the old power supply just scares me, to be honest.

    So my plan is to get a new power supply and a super Jamma harness. I'm going to modify the control panel, maybe build my own, so I can keep the Tetris art. My plan is to play it on my CRT TV (which only has a coaxial IN).

    I think I would be able to get away with this then. I guess I can just get an RCA-to-coaxial barrel for the video signal once it comes out of the encoder.

    This seems like the most cost effective solution for now, albeit a bit scattered. But it should work until I get the means to build something better.
  7. Just wanted to update everyone. My Home Atari Tetris Machine is pretty much complete - definitely working!

    JAMMA PCB wired to switching power supply with external power cord and on/off switch. Internal 8ohm speaker with a potentiometer to adjust volume (because it's from an arcade cab, it's extremely loud). External test switch to engage test mode. RGB to NTSC video encoder outputting an RCA and S-Video signal. Original control panel overlay (cut for size) - topped with plexi. Full two player control capabilities. Full access to the inside by removing the top. All housed in a re-configured garden planter! :)

    Time to practice!

    Check it out:

    Attached Files:

  8. Cool, nice build! :) Glad to see it worked out.
  9. This is looking pretty dang rad!

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