Intelligent 8-bit style "launch graphics" with ATmega328

by TigerUp (tigeruppp?gmail?com)

I designed these video circuits for "SPACE 3", presented by Pulsar Productions. ATmega328 microcontrollers generate black-and-white NTSC video graphics, in the spirit of mission control on launch day.  Each video scene consists of the show title on top, rotating artist names on bottom, and an assortment of intelligent graphics rendered in the middle. 

Scene listing: 

*  3 jumbo letters (spell PUL - SAR - SPA - CE3)
*  Overlapping Sirpenski triangles, aka Aztec spacecraft
*  Conway's Life, mirrored horizontally (even more lifelike!)
*  Imitation pulsar map, like the Pioneer plaque.
*  Imitation star map, simple grid and dots.
*  Sequence of Numbers. In Two columns. Very serious.
*  Imitation graph. Just 4 rand() drunk walks.
*  And a tasteful transition between each scene.

I built 4 boards, and we split the 4 video streams into 8 monitors. I encourage you to download the source, and modify the text to suit your needs! To build each display board you will need:

*  $4 ... ATmega328 microcontroller 
*  $3 ... ATmegaXX8 target board from Evil Mad Scientist
*  $1 ...16 Mhz ceramic resonator
*  $0.50 ... Filter caps (optional)
*  $0.50 ... One 330K and one 1M resistor for the "Video DAC"
*  $1 ... Dollar store RCA cable for video output
*  Some kind of enclosure is nice. I like plastic boxes from JoAnn.
*  $free? 5 volt power source (USB wall wart)

Project cost = roughly $10 per video board. You will need an ISP programmer to upload the firmware.

The NTSC video kernel is based on code from . It provides interrupt-driven 128 x 100 black-and-white bitmapped display, written in 100% C code. No Arduino or Assembler was used. The built-in USART is used to generate a steady video stream. Although generating these streams ties up around 90% of the CPU power, that still leaves a decent amount of CPU at 16 Mhz to render cool animated scenes. 

AVR-GCC Source code with Makefile:

Demo clip featuring "Project No-Autotune" by Schoolboy