Anybody who follows this space regularly and/or listens to my podcasts know of my particular fascination with discrete logic projects, especially video games. Well, a very interesting opportunity presented itself recently when a lot of 10 arcade boards came up for auction, most of which were the TTL variety. Some pretty big names of the era were included in the lot, including Flim Flam by Meadows Games (one of the most popular Pong games of the 70’s, if not the most popular) and the infamous Ramtek Baseball. Very little documentation exists about these games online, including capture footage of the games running and high quality photos of the boards. My mind was reeling thinking of the possibilities of having these boards in my possession, being able to fix them up and get them running, documenting the items as best as possible, and then perhaps handing the artifacts off to someplace that would be a good home for them, probably the Strong Musuem of Play in my hometown of Rochester, NY.
Luckily, Dustin Hubbard of Gaming Alexandria’s mind was reeling as well, and decided to provide some of the funds necessary to make the purchase! The games included in the lot are:
- Flim Flam by Meadows Games (1974)
- Wheels by Midway (1975)
- 4-in-1 by Meadows (1976)
- Ramtek Baseball by Ramtek (1974)
- Paddle Battle by Allied Leisure (1973)
- Grand Slam by Digital Design Concepts (uh… 1974? KLOV doesn’t even have this one listed!)
- another unknown Ramtek board, possibly Clean Sweep?
- Super Speed Race by Midway (1979) – this game uses a Z80 microprocessor, but it isn’t on the main logic board?
- Super Breakout by Atari (1978) – this game uses a 6502 microprocessor
Also included were two incomplete boards: one half of Midway’s Sea Wolf (1976) and a Midway 8080 system power supply board.
The boards aren’t in terrific condition, but luckily most of the parts are still readily made today, and the ones that aren’t are pretty easily found as NOS on eBay. I also was the recipient of a wonderful new desk for my birthday, which is much larger and will make for a fantastic new workbench for my electronics work, once my schedule frees up enough to the point that I can rearrange my office and put it together. My current plan is to go over the Allied Leisure Paddle Battle board first, since it’s the simplest of the boards, the schematics are readily available in high quality and will help me to get my feet wet with the project.
Some of these will be easier than others. Games like Paddle Battle and Flim Flam will likely come the easiest, due to their lack of complexity in their design, and the fact that the schematics are easily available in high quality. Some pose a bit more of an intermediate challenge; Ramtek Baseball on account of its two interconnected boards, and Wheels due to having to MacGuyver some sort of driving controls to test with. Luckily, I have the schematics on hand for both titles. More difficult will be the Meadows 4-in-1 mostly due to a lack of documentation, and I’m a bit nervous to tackle Grand Slam, since the jerks at Digital Design scratched out all the IC labels on the board!
I’m hoping to have the office situated in the next couple of weeks, at least, enough to begin work, and you can look forward to having another update on the situation at the end of the month!