|Owner:||P. Ian Nicholson|
|Known for:||Modern Vectrex hardware |
Various Vectrex tinkerings
|Current Product:||AutoFire Dongle|
Vectrex enthusiasts usually seem to fall into two camps, the first of which who got into the system when it first came out, and those who entered the scene years later.
P. Ian Nicholson falls into the latter category, only just entering the scene in late 2007 when he acquired his first system, but quickly built on his late coming by tinkering around with his Vectrex soon afterwards and creating new hardware applications for it and all.
Contributions to the Vectrex sceneEdit
Nicholson started his Vectrex site in January, 2008. Although Nicholson would later pass along the occasional Vectrex-related news tidbit, the site also concentrated on rare Vectrex documentation that few (or no) other sites had, such as Vectrex patents and all.
The original VecVoice (then later the VecVox, as the VecVoice would become obsolete) was a modern day homebrew hardware device that enabled the Vectrex to handle speech. Although not made by Nicholson, in April, 2009, he would create the VecVox Deluxe, which he made by wiring up a speaker to the VecVox that he acquired on e-bay, giving it a better tone, which also led to the unit being housed into a speaker cabinet as well.(Note: this was a one-time only project that was not intended for mass production or sale.) Then in May, he also helped the Vectrex News Group with a survey of the most wanted game overlays in order for some new reproductions could be created. The votes were totaled and announced in June on Nicholson’s site in order to proceed with the next step of creating the overlays, which the most popular ones of Pole Position and Mine Storm were made and put up for sale on April 14, 2011.
In July, an announcement was made about his AutoFire Dongle, which connected in between a Vectrex and the controller, allowing rapid fire to occur by holding down button four (rather than repeatedly pressing it, saving on the wear and tear of the controller), and then in August they were ready for sale (at 12 pounds U. K.), along with a YouTube video being released of it as well, showing the unit in action. The first batch immediately sold out, which, as of late 2010, VectrexMad! is only making them on a as requested basis.
In 2010, the AutoFire Dongle was reviewed in issue 41 of Revival magazine. Although not an application created by VectrexMad!, Nicholson also showed a Vectrex cover created by Nanny’s Sewing Treats on his site, who had already been producing covers for several gaming consoles. The idea for the Vectrex cover originated on the forums of Atari Age, although the original batch did not fare well, since no one at Nanny’s Sewing Treats had a Vectrex in their possession in order for the covers to fit properly. Chris Romeo of the vectrex.com site lent them his Vectrex and Nicholson was involved in giving them feedback (which resulted in a video being made on his YouTube channel in regards to it).
In August of that year, Nicholson’s site showed how he ran one of his Vectrexes through a tv, also complete with a YouTube video of it, and in December he started keeping a high score record for Vectrex games for anyone who wanted to participate by sending in a photo of a high score, the first of which was a Protector high score that was sent in on the 13th, which others soon followed.
Nicholson has also had 10 articles printed for Video Game Trader magazine as of 2010, all in regards to the Vectrex. And in 2011, his site also posted photos of what could have been an early design version of the Vectrex, looking radically different than the later, released version. In 2011 Nicholson quit writing for Video Game Trader magazine and now has Vectrex-related articles printed in the quarterly published magazine called Retrocade Magazine, which first launched in early 2012.
Things remained quiet until a blog was started up on his site, the first entry being dated June 7, 2012, when Nicholson told of how Rudy the Rud (creator of the VecArcade Construction Kit) made a reconstruction of the Mini-Cade, a Vectrex tabletop arcade machine that was distributed to U. S. locations in the 1980s, which played a timed version of Mine Storm. Nicholson had expressed for a while of wanting to create a similar product, only in a full-sized standup arcade machine this time around, along with having extra lives, rather than time being granted when coins are inserted into the machine. Finding an ideal sized model would be a bit of a problem, due to the Vectrex's screen being smaller than arcade units, but a unit close to what he was looking for was found and purchased on June 10, which it was delivered on June 27.
Unfortunately problems still remained in getting the Vectrex to properly fit in the cabinet, but as Nicholson stated in the July 8 blog entry, after speaking with a carpenter, he said he would reduce to the sides of the cab, along with cutting a single control panel as well (although there would not be enough space for a second controller for any two player games).
VectrexMad! Productions had made a mention or two in regards to a future homebrew game at some point, although it is now only at 60% complete (which Nicholson would prefer not to announce it until it is ready). He is also looking to continue to create future homebrew and/or hardware applications for the Vectrex as he thinks them up (time allowing), along with probably making a third batch of the AutoFire Dongle as well. Although work has finally started on Nicholson's Vec-Cab, there is still not a set completion date for the project as of yet.
In late 2011, Nicholson entered the Retrocade Magazine Vector War tournament, involving several Vectrex games. He ended up placing second in the contest, which his and all other players' results can be seen here.
- VectrexMad! Productions YouTube channel
- VectrexMad! Productions web site
- VectrexMad!'s story of becoming involved with the Vectrex
AutoFire Dongle image was used with permission.