When developing the ‘serial 6809 dma’ capability in 2018 by adapting a MAME version so that it could mirror the graphics output on the Vectrex I started to also add an ‘orientation’ option to the vector terminal cartridge right away so that the output could be either rotated (and aspect ratio corrected) for normal Vectrex portrait/vertical output or to output it like the arcade games when putting it on its side.
Seemed not only reasonable but this original output just held a certain attraction hard to explain even if I did have to tilt my head (or grab a cushion and place the Vectrex on it sideways). When I showed this to my friend KiWi he almost immediately designed a stand for the Vectrex using his (back then) new toy – a 3D printer.
His stand is just excellent. It is sturdy and can be assembled in a way that the cart. port is either up top or below. I myself prefer the cart. port to be under the Vectrex – mostly because then the power pcb inside leans away from the tube. And the controller port 1 cable does not float up there but is near to the table. Quite a few people have told me they prefer the cart. port up top, though.
As sometimes happens this initial, innocuous decision led to a lot of work, which I stubbornly attacked, when I went the next step and developed native Vectrex translations of these arcade vector game emulations. Because in these cases I not only had to make sure that all those interim coord. calculations also work in all the other orientations but the custom, hand-optimized graphics functionality also had to be developed for all those other orientations.
Still, it was worth it: the ability to be able to play the arcade vector games in their original orientation is not only very nice per se – it for some reason makes definitely a small, psychological difference to the player. At least speaking for myself – I am a big Asteroids fan (and refrain here from saying more except: Asteroids is the best vector game, ever!) – it does feel a bit different to me on the Vectrex in portrait compared to landscape mode. Interestingly it does feel exactly the same to me playing on an Atari cabinet compared to a Vectrex on a stand and using a 5-button controller. And I was able to achieve my personal goal – the 99990 points perfect Asteroids game – on an upright Asteroids cabinet after playing my Vectrex translations easily enough.
So I highly recommend trying out to play the arcade games using any kind of stand (or pillow..) to test whether it makes a difference to you. A very few games were harder to ‘vectrex’ize to portrait mode – some Gravitar planets for example – so the experience definitely improves a bit when playing these. But to me the eye-opener was that even the majority that is perfectly suited to vertical mode like Asteroids do feel different when played in the original, horizontal mode. Strange but true. Quite possibly a personal preference but still valid, I think.
Since a few of my Vectrexes are wrapped with Berzerk/Protector/Vector Pilot sideart and I didn’t want to scratch my Vectrexes and esp. the art I’ve put some fluffy felt on the stands (also on the bottom to not scratch tables or whatever I put it on). Never had any problems after two years of using these stands so I also can recommend doing the same. Better safe than sorry.
One last but absolutely not least thing I do have to mention: a Vectrex sitting comfortably on this stand does look and feel a bit alien – some people do not recognize it as a Vectrex right away – and was so far a reliable lure to get people to play vector games on retro meetings for me. Your mileage may vary of course but it was a nice experience for myself. As to color the obvious choice is black – it not only looks like the Vectrex is floating but people even asked me whether this was an original extra back in the days, it just looks so natural.
So here is the data for KiWi’s stand and I really hope you do try it out one fine day: