I am old enough to remember the beginnings of the home video game market. Indeed, I had all sorts of ‘TV Tennis’ or Pong consoles from Unisonic to Coleco and companies that, I’m sure, have not existed since the 1970’s. I even had the original home video game ‘console’: the Magnavox Odyssey. Of course, today I have only programmable consoles that use cartridges or discs (and a few with the games built in.) But, one thing I missed was that dedicated PONG game.
Recently, I was perusing a local Radio Shack for some Arduino/Raspberry PI shields for a project when I spotted something called ‘Classic TV Game’. Naturally, I am intrigued.
Upon closer examination, I realize that it is a kit. A real, honest to goodness video game kit! How cool was that!? Well, at that point, I notice it isn’t any ordinary kit. No, no…this was ‘TV Tennis!’ PONG! At $14.95, how could I go wrong?
I purchase the kit and, when I got home, eagerly tore it open and begun assembling it. It took me about an hour since my skills are REALLY rusty. But, it worked and on the second attempt. My first attempt was wasted because the battery holder had a bloody short. Still, I built a game console based on the first video game I ever played: PONG!
The kit was simple and easy enough for anyone to build. It was a bit disappointing since the controls were two (four total) buttons: up and down. They are soldered to the board, which means both players have to be sitting there to play.
While assembling the kit was easy-the included instructions, a bit cryptic at first until I realized that the parts were actually logically grouped in the package (each resistor in the pack was arranged in the order to be used, the capacitors matched the schematic, etc.) and the resistor code (hey, I’m rusty at this, ok?) was printed clearly. Only problem I had was the battery holder, of all things. One of the leads was loose and was shorting out. Once I fixed that, it fired up and I could play my childhood video game in all its glorious monochromatic vibrancy.
There are few controls: player a and b up and down controls, reset and a potentiometer for controlling the video. Mono audio and video out are the only connectors.
There are several variants of Pong, all selectable by holding down the Reset button and one of the four player buttons. Single and two player games are included and the instructions for selecting them are on the PC board and in the instructions.
If you pine for the video gaming days of yore and you like to build things, this is a good way to do so.
Note: perusing the Radio Shack website indicates the item is no longer available there, however, you can get it here.