Indy 500 (Sears Race) is one of the best of the first 7 carts for the
Atari VCS (Sears Video Arcade) in 1977. It brought home the Atari arcade hit home .. Plus let us play steering games that reminded me of Exidy's Death Race.
Dad and I gleefully paid $40 for Sears Race in 1977 .. double what was paid for the other introductory carts then .. because of the pack-in pair of driving controllers. I remember experimenting with them .. trying to see how they worked with the Combat (Tank Plus) cart.
Of course the driving controllers were probably a result of the arcade design. And Atari had the lead there .. Other home console designers used the joystick to steer in their driving games (UGH!). So it is unfortunate that Atari would never design another 2600 game to use the controllers. Sprintmaster was designed after the Atari Indy arcade .. but everyone knows that a joystick is not the way to steer a driving game. Even though Thomas hacked the control of Sprintmaster to use the DCs, it doesn't have the 16 angles of steering that Indy 500 has .. so it doesn't feel right (like Indy 500 does).
Continuing my curiosity about the DC .. I took one apart .. more complicated than I could figure out .. the circuit board consists of spirals of contacts .. where one stops, another begins at a different radius. I looked at Atari sites .. and none described what was going on here .. Kevin Horton and others mentioned Quadratrue signals .. and I learned that the DC is a low resolution Quadrature encoder .. and the Indy 500 program does Quadrature decoding. Other sites described what Quadrature encoding is .. and I looked for circuits that could decode and put out a left or right signal in response. I learned that A leads B in transition means turning one direction and B leads A in transition when turning the other direction. I finally got to see what was happening when I plugged the DC into the Vectrex running the Test Cart program!! As a result of this discovery, Chris Tumber is releasing new Vectrex games that use the DC. Independently Thomas is hacking old games to use the DC. And Glenn Saunders and I are planning home ports of Death Race for the 2600 and Vectrex respectively.
Q: Just who figured out that the DC works with the Jaguar Tempest?
Some time in the mid 1980s I went with a family to ChuckeCheeze .. and checked out the games .. and fun! One of the kid videogames was a kid console of Indy 500! Built-in seat, big steering wheel, foot pedal, and game one set for one player. I wish I had played it then and there!
whew! that's all I can write about a 25 year obsession with Indy 500 and the driving controllers.
Rob Mitchell, Atlanta, GA