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Thread: VFX-1 VR Gaming Helmet Reverse Engineering Project

  1. #1
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    Default VFX-1 VR Gaming Helmet Reverse Engineering Project

    I have fallen in love with this VR helmet, and I hope that I am able to produce schematics of a cost-reduced hobby version of it. (i.e. through-hole components instead of more-complex SMD components) Some components are not even made anymore, or have been succeeded by smaller and more efficient components, which I hope can be used here. Much of the connection components are proprietary, and in that case, I could probably use connections which are not proprietary (for example, the connector which allows the "CyberPuck", a game-interaction peripheral, to connect to the helmet, uses a connector similar to a 4-pin RJ-11 or RJ-45 connector, but could use an actual telephone or Ethernet connector as a replacement.)

    I am one of the rare people who collects stuff like this, and I just could not find it in my heart to keep it all to myself, because VR and retrocomputing is now bigger than ever, and I think it would be ill-advised to allow this system to pass into complete obscurity. I am in the middle of repairing mine (Which has actually gone well despite the amateurish mistakes I have made. All I need to do now is replace one of the video generator chips, as I blew out the blue color channel on it by accidentally reversing a capacitor on the helmet board.)

    So far, this is what I have collected as far as components go:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/i70har6tzv...LIST.docx?dl=0 (THIS WILL CHANGE AS I FIGURE OUT AND ADD MORE OF THE COMPONENTS.)

    Much of these components are not in demand, and so are cheaper to buy. Furthermore, there are several components that can be replaced with other brands' ICs.

    While I have nearly found all of the IC components, I have unfortunately not been able to find any information on a pair of the same components on the VIP ISA board:
    a SOP-chip marked "ƆCLink CL62064F-70 9412 E", with 28 pins.


    The head-mounted LCDs are probably not going to require an addition to the list, because I believe the video is only channeled through the displays as an analogue video signal (like an old camcorder's viewfinder does, since the video is controlled by the aformentioned video generator, a RAMDAC.), so one could provide their own driver board and properly-sized LCD displays.

    Schematics (which I hope I can put together properly) will follow soon.

    I understand that there might be intellectual property rights being infringed, but Forte Technologies, Inc, the original manufacturer, folded a LONG time ago, and much of the technology in this project is obsolete. (If anything, one can make a clone of an Adlib sound card in this day and age.)
    Last edited by T-Squared; April 6th, 2017 at 11:18 AM.

  2. #2
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    Will be watching this thread with interest! I've always been fascinated by the VFX-1. I remember reading about it in gaming mags in the '90s and being utterly dumbfounded that you could get real VR for a *home PC*, and it even supported a ton of my favorite games back then! Sadly I passed on a complete one (including the ISA card) a few years back for $650 and am still kinda kicking myself - that was a lot of money, but I've never even seen another come up for sale.

    I eventually built some DIY shutter glasses and got myself an Oculus DK1 for my home VR fix. I've entertained the idea of writing a VFX-1 -> DK1 wrapper, but I don't even know if that's possible and am afraid my coding chops will never be up to the task. I also saved two identical 2000s-era flip phones with a pair of nice bright 320x240 LCDs intending to do ... something VR-y with them if I ever get around to it. Another back-burner project.

    Huge thanks for sharing your work on this!

  3. #3
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    All of the IC components have been identified except that stubborn "CCLINK" chip. I can't find any datasheets on it as of yet, which is somewhat distressing, as it's the only IC that's standing in my way.

  4. #4
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    Strangely, the one thing that comes up when searching for a "62064" IC is a "Darlington Transistor Array". From what I know about transistors, that means it's a super-amplifier, in a way. I've seen it twice looking for the "CL62064F-70" chip.

  5. #5
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    After looking and looking, the "CL62064F-70" seems to be a variant of a Crosslink "CL62C064F-70" chip, as the "62064" doesn't seem to exist in datasheet form.

    They appear to be memory chips. and in this case, they would seem to be a memory buffer for digital picture data. (Since the image isn't processed into an analog image until it passes through the RAMDAC.)

    With some help from a datasheet website, I found an upgraded model that while it isn't the exact same chip, it is in the same family: http://www.datasheetarchive.com/pdf/...=P&query=CL62C

    The chip configuration is branded "CL62C256", a 32-kilobyte chip by itself, meant to be grouped in multiples of 8, i.e. 256KB. This matches the end of the branding "CL62C256"

    However, the end of the chip's marking on the VIP board is branded "CL62064" This leads me to believe that the chips on the card are actually 8KB instead. Going on this, I was able to find a replacement model from Alliance Memory. If I had to guess, and I'm still a bit hesitant, I think I've found all of the IC components on the board!
    Last edited by T-Squared; April 8th, 2017 at 07:56 PM.

  6. #6
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    Hey, just wondering if you got any further with this project! I've got a VFX-1 myself now, and to be honest, it's pretty great. I built a 400MHz PII to run it, but would love to be able to use it with a laptop too somehow. Was thinking it should be possible to downconvert a DVI signal to 256 colours and mimic the VESA feature output, but that doesn't solve the problem that the VIP card needs to be plugged into something.

    In the meantime I wrote what I believe is one of the first new games to support the VFX-1 since the '90s.
    Last edited by xjas; December 15th, 2017 at 11:18 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by xjas View Post
    In the meantime I wrote what I believe is one of the first new games to support the VFX-1 since the '90s.
    Dear lord that is adorable. I sent you a bit of beer money for your efforts.
    = Excellent space heater

  8. #8
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    ^^ Thanks dude, much appreciated! I'm actually gonna push a new version out in the next couple weeks with some REALLY strong optimizations, it has about a 120% speedup and plays well on a 486DX now. I had some invaluable help from members here in the Programming subforum. Be sure to grab the update when it's out, or shoot me a PM if you can't wait.

  9. #9
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    Sorry about the wait. I can't seem to find an easy program that allows me to make a schematic of the components and their connections.

  10. #10
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    Ok, good news. I found an easy schematic program for Mac, KiCad, which allows me to also make custom schematic chip diagrams for the chips that are not included with the software.

    I have gotten quite a few chips already onto the ISA Card logic schematic (Not connected yet, though), but there are two that still elude me, because I can't seem to find the proper datasheets for them, so I can find modern equivalents.

    One is a EPF8452AQC160-6 ALTERA FLEX FPGA, but it's considered obselete. I can find other FPGA datasheets in the ...160-2 through ...160-4 range, but I don't know if that will help me.

    The other one is a TMS320C26BFN Texas Instruments Floating Point Digital Signal Processor. This one, so far, I can only find advertisements for, not actual datasheets.

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