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review of the Madtronix 3D Imager for Vectrex


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#1 ComputerSpaceFan OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:02 PM

Just got my Vectrex 3D Imager reproduction from Madtronix and figured I'd post some thoughts.

 

First of all, GET THIS THING .... secondly, wow I didn't realize what I was missing .... thirdly GET THIS THING!

 

Okay, I have been interested in getting a 3D imager for a while. But the value of them combined with the idea of getting the 3D-enabled games always seemed beyond my grasp. Then, this past summer, I picked up the Sean Kelly Multicart v2 which comes with 3D Minestorm, 3D Crazy Coaster, 3D Narrow Escape and even 3D Pole Position [fake] on it (more on Pole Position in a bit). So suddenly the idea seemed a lot more interesting.

 

Now that Madtronix is making reproductions along with lightpens and some of the old Vectorzoa games (as detailed by Vectex Roli) I decided to buy one.

 

John from Madtronix was super fast to reply to any questions I had and kept me appraised of the delivery every step of the way. Today my unit arrived and right away, I goofed.

 

In noodling around with the parts, I figured that the color wheels must just sit on the CD spindle but hey, what's this metal ring that says "Top" on it for? Maybe that goes over the spindle afterward? Like this? Yup it sure does, only since there's no color wheel, now that metal ring is stuck. And only then do I read "never use without a color wheel" written on the edge of the Imager.

 

Ackk!!!

 

So I emailed John hoping he was still up in Sweden and tried jimmying it with a screw driver. No dice. Fortunately John was still awake and emailed me back right away. Just use a razor blade (carefully) to life the ring back up. WHEW! Crisis averted and I made darn sure I only put that ring on after I have placed a color wheel in the unit.

 

Okay, so how does it look? Excellent I have to say. Due to my huge schnozz I am finding my nose is brushing against the color wheel a bit but some tweaks of the quite adjustable headstraps should fix that. I am also really surprised how small and quiet this is. I was expecting something more Oculus Rift-sized but no, the repro-Imager is much more compact. And you only hear a slight whispering of the motor when it runs, gameplay is just as audible as without the Imager.turned on.

 

And the games?

 

I wasn't sure how Minestorm could be 3D-ified and basically it's like playing in an aquarium. The enemies float around mainly in the background but when they float to your "plane" you can shoot them. Pretty fun though.

 

Crazy Coaster is a lot like Mad Panic Coaster for the PS1. You're looking ahead as the tracks shift left and right, sometimes there are tunnels so you want to keep your hands in for those portions, sometimes you want to raise your hands for ... extra points?

 

Narrow Escape is so far my favorite. The shooting sections use the 3D really well, though it's hard to tell how big your ship is so crashing into the side walls is a little easy to do. Then you must fly though openings in a wall and this part absolutely requires the Imager to succeed in. Could not be played without one (as Steve Benway once proved).

 

I'm about to load up the Lord of the Robots as well as check Fury's demo of Star Fury 3D from his Vector21 ROM, I'll fill in that info once I have it. And I'm hoping Fury makes more 3D Sector X carts soon.

 

Oh, and 3D Pole Position [fake] is exactly as described, it's not really 3D Pole Position. It's just Pole Position. Even with the 3D Imager plugged in, it does not engage when playing that ROM so there is nothing 3D about it at all. Too bad, that's the kind of game that would benefit.

 

Anyway, I was supposed to make this brief for my first impressions but I ended up writing quite a review here so I better stop now.

 

Anyone with any questions, let me know. But suffice it to say I am impressed and you should totally GET THIS THING!



#2 JEFF31 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:54 PM

Got my Madtronix imager oh - 4-5 years ago?  It works great AND I don't used the original one that cost me a bundle.  If you own a Vectrex and haven't tried the 3d games and have a 'few' extra dollars - try this out.



#3 Greg2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:29 PM

I should be getting mine in a week or so!



#4 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:55 AM

Does he just sell the color wheels? I need the one for Crazy Coaster and Narrow Escape.  If he does, would it work in a real imager?



#5 Hyperboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:59 AM

3D imager and light pen on the way to me, Damn I'm psyched!

#6 Darrin9999 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:16 AM

Got mine last week!! All I can say is GET ONE!!!



#7 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:44 AM

Got my Madtronix imager oh - 4-5 years ago?  It works great AND I don't used the original one that cost me a bundle.  If you own a Vectrex and haven't tried the 3d games and have a 'few' extra dollars - try this out.


He mentioned to me that he's working on a replacement color wheel for his original imager that will help with some of the ghosting. I guess he might have it ready in a few months. I'll definitely be "upgrading" mine then.

#8 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:07 AM

He mentioned to me that he's working on a replacement color wheel for his original imager that will help with some of the ghosting. I guess he might have it ready in a few months. I'll definitely be "upgrading" mine then.

That would be great.  I'll have to watch for that.



#9 boxpressed OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:26 AM

Mine arrived today and works great.  Much more comfortable than the original Imager.  One question: what's that triangular piece of plastic with the hole in it?  It was attached like a washer between the "bolt" on one of the sides of the head mount.



#10 iesposta OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:39 AM

Mine arrived today and works great.  Much more comfortable than the original Imager.  One question: what's that triangular piece of plastic with the hole in it?  It was attached like a washer between the "bolt" on one of the sides of the head mount.


I think if you put that piece on correctly, it keeps the motor part from falling down to your neck.

#11 boxpressed OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:44 AM

I see. Thanks!

#12 vectrexroli OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:31 AM

Does he just sell the color wheels? I need the one for Crazy Coaster and Narrow Escape.  If he does, would it work in a real imager?

 

I don´t think so. In my review video I put both color wheels beside each other and as you can see, they are completely different.

At 02:54 you can see them:

 



#13 vectrexroli OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:40 AM

He mentioned to me that he's working on a replacement color wheel for his original imager that will help with some of the ghosting. I guess he might have it ready in a few months. I'll definitely be "upgrading" mine then.

 

I am not really sure if there can be done much about the ghosting as such, You always will have some of that and it was also visible on the old original imager. What can be done is some adjusting by moving the white sticker slightly left or right, but it will not make much difference in my opinion.

But we will see..

BTW: I also have some ghosting on my Nvidia 3D Vision 2 shutter glasses.

:-D



#14 vectrexroli OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:47 AM

3D imager and light pen on the way to me, Damn I'm psyched!

 

The light pen is a neat toy, I like it. Just in case you didn´t know, even the super rare prototype for the light pen game "Mail plane" showed up recently.

Chris Romero, another hero from the Vectrex community bought that and you can download it for free from his web page: http://www.vectrex.com/

If you want to see mailplane in action, I made a video some time ago:

 



#15 vectrexroli OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:33 AM


Narrow Escape is so far my favorite. The shooting sections use the 3D really well, though it's hard to tell how big your ship is so crashing into the side walls is a little easy to do. Then you must fly though openings in a wall and this part absolutely requires the Imager to succeed in. Could not be played without one (as Steve Benway once proved).

Narrow Escape is also my favorite. I remember I even put a comment to Steve Benway´s video back then telling him, he should not judge the game by just seeing the 2D hack he was playing. :)

When I was shooting the video review of my old original 3D imager I showed all the 3D games and as the "eye distance" of my Sony 3D camera is not big enough for the 3D imager I had to play everything in 2D through the viewfinder of my camera and for Narrow Escape it is really impossible to do that.



#16 ARCZero OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:49 AM

How much is the 3D imager reproduction in US dollars?



#17 Hyperboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:59 AM

How much is the 3D imager reproduction in US dollars?

Mine shipped with 3d Imager and lightpen to US was about $170 total +/- a few dollars.



#18 boxpressed OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:39 AM

I ordered the Imager only, and it cost $143 shipped.



#19 vectrexroli OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:54 AM

How much is the 3D imager reproduction in US dollars?

 

If I understood it correctly John from Madtronix wanted to increase the price in February to 99 EUR + shipping as production was more expensive than he thought.

But I don´t know if this is still the plan when it will happen.



#20 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:06 PM

Still waiting on mine to arrive...

#21 Greg2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:14 PM

Mine shipped with 3d Imager and lightpen to US was about $170 total +/- a few dollars.

 

Me too.



#22 iesposta OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:49 PM

Mine was $175.95 with Spike's Circus.
I love how minimal the imager is. Just what is needed and no more, adjustable head strap, motor, wheel - even the cord has just the required wires!

#23 ComputerSpaceFan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:51 PM

Anyone have a recommendation for extending the hood forward a little? The color wheels just barely rub against my nose. I might tie a string around the arms of the headpiece. I think if the plastic was slightly pressured with a string "belt" it might extend just far enough to stop rubbing my nose.



#24 vectrexroli OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:57 AM

Anyone have a recommendation for extending the hood forward a little? The color wheels just barely rub against my nose. I might tie a string around the arms of the headpiece. I think if the plastic was slightly pressured with a string "belt" it might extend just far enough to stop rubbing my nose.

 

I would try some kind of small pad between the imager and the forehead.

It is much cheaper and not so painful than a nose surgery.

:-D


Edited by vectrexroli, Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:57 AM.


#25 madtronix OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:12 PM

He mentioned to me that he's working on a replacement color wheel for his original imager that will help with some of the ghosting. I guess he might have it ready in a few months. I'll definitely be "upgrading" mine then.

 

I think that was a misunderstanding, I saw the color transitions on your wheels had some bleeding (green and red kind of mixing) and suggested new wheels that don't have that issue. Like this here:

bleeding.jpg

This can happen If I didn't dry them sufficiently before assembly or when stored in very humid conditions. Nowadays I manufacture everything dried.

This is how it is supposed to look:

bleeding%20not.jpg

In gameplay it is not really a big difference though.

However to combat the ghosting that the original imager has aswell I figured stronger saturated colours help. Thats why I use stronger saturated colours on the current wheels that the original imager has(+ it looks better). Play around a bit with dark/bright environment lighting, screen brightness and distance from screen to the imager.

 

I think if you put that piece on correctly, it keeps the motor part from falling down to your neck.

Exactly. I never saw a deeper purpose in this thing, since the screws hold it in place tight enough on their own, but this time I thought to include them just because. It can be helpful if you flip the visor up and then down again in the exactly same position. Looking at this video from armchairarcade.com with one of my first imagerd from from 7 years ago you will see the triangular thing would have prevented the motor part from falling down. Or just tightening the screws.

 

 

If I understood it correctly John from Madtronix wanted to increase the price in February to 99 EUR + shipping as production was more expensive than he thought.

But I don´t know if this is still the plan when it will happen.

I'll start with 89 EUR, because with the current price 79 EUR ends just don't meet. But everyone who inquired in the last 7 years will get the old price. It would feel unfair otherwise. I still have to fix the website, so as soon as I made that I will readjust the prices. I hope to have the website done in a week but all the emails I get at the moment could delay that a bit further.

 

Anyone have a recommendation for extending the hood forward a little? The color wheels just barely rub against my nose. I might tie a string around the arms of the headpiece. I think if the plastic was slightly pressured with a string "belt" it might extend just far enough to stop rubbing my nose.

 

My nose is quite big and I have ~9mm clearance between nose and wheel. I suspect the difference is how we sit? My vectrex is always on one level with my eyes or higher. But I'm not a particulary tall person, so that could be a reason aswell.

Another thing I just realized watching VectrexRoli's video above @ 8:38 is that if the headband is on my forehead, the wheel is closer to my nose, while if the headband is on my eyebrows, the nose-wheel-clearance is biggest. Does it make a difference for you?

You could also drill two holes behind the two existing ones where the head mount is attached to the black visor, that should give you ~1cm more space:

x%20marks%20the%20spot.jpg

Maybe I should do that in general with every Imager? On the other hand the colours look best the closer the eyes are to the wheels I think.

Thanks for the review btw. it really motivates me tostay and do more retro gaming projects.

 

Btw If anyone wants to trade a broken (the more the better (=cheaper) original imager, I'm keen on finally getting one. I never even played one because everyone is so protective about their imagers:-)


Edited by madtronix, Sun Feb 2, 2014 11:02 AM.





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