I have created a new cartridge for the Vectrex that effectively upgrades it to 32 bits and allows you to write Vectrex games in interactive interpreted BASIC.The cartridge, which I call the Vectrex32 SmartCart, is based on the Microchip PIC32. It’s a 32 bit microcontroller that runs at 200 MHz, has a floating point unit, 2MB of flash, and 512KB of RAM. By comparison, the Vectrex’s 6809 is an 8/16 bit processor with 8KB of ROM and 1K of RAM.The BASIC interpreter and the game run on the PIC32. There’s a dual-port memory chip readable and writable by both the PIC32 and the 6809. The PIC32 writes 6809 machine code into the dual-port memory and the 6809 runs it. Thirty times per second, the PIC32 writes the instructions needed to draw the screen, play sounds, and read the controller. Since the game logic is running on the PIC32, games can be far more sophisticated than anything the Vectrex could do alone.The SmartCart also has a USB interface. When connected to a PC, it appears as a mass storage drive and a serial port. The drive holds BASIC programs and the serial port can be used with a terminal emulator. You can interactively debug a BASIC program (my version of BASIC supports breakpoints, single-stepping, printing out variables, and more). You can also interactively change things on the screen, e.g. you can experiment to get your shapes looking right and moving right.The SmartCart provides advanced graphics features like sprites, scaling, rotating, and clipping.I’ve written extensive documentation and built a web site, Vectrex32.com, to provide support and create a community of Vectrex32 users. People will be able to discuss programming and swap games that they’ve written.
Definitely a cool device. One was sold on Ebay. Not sure when more will be available.