Several features have been hidden behind an expert wall using safe defaults to simplify the option pages.
Enabling Expert Mode
The mode can be enabled temporarily – for as long as the vf is powered on – by holding button 3: for 3 seconds on the ‘Info’ options page. This enables access to several more options:
- Game Patches
- Main Page/Extra Calibration
- Main Page/Fast Exit
- Options Access
The ‘Buffer’ option displays information about the currently stored data and allows the manual deletion of specific files. For example deleting all files and powering down on the buffer page (so that the menu does not store its options again) will result in the initial state and the next time it is powered on the setup assistant will start (this assistant already will start if just the ‘Menu’ file is missing).
As of v2.33 a new buffer structure was implemented using additional meta-data to be able to restore most data even if the buffer gets corrupted (by shutting down power to the Vectrex whilst storing). A ‘BUFFER V1’ header shows that the initial buffer version is still in use – it will be automatically updated the next time a garbage collection is run. If the buffer management checks do indeed find an inconsistency this is flagged and a new option – ‘repair buffer’ – will appear.
Options for the high score patches of vintage games and older home-brews:
- Entry Mechanism: Table, 3 lines / Box / Classic, 3 digits / Ellipse
- Fast Exit: On/Off (1: during highscore display exits back to menu)
- Highscore Image On/Off
- Patches On/Off
- Startup Animation: On/Off (the VecFever animation after power-up)
- VecMulti Emulation: On/Off (if ‘on’ the cart. space is only writeable if the year text is ‘SRAM’)
- Watchdog: On/Off
- YM Channel Bars: ABC / BC CA / CB BA (ym player volume display for the normal mono. (ABC) output and for stereo modded Vectrex)
for ARM dev. VF also:
- ARM CPU Frequency: 100/125/135/150%
and for the Micro SD VF several features can be enabled/disabled:
- Autostart: On/Off
- Real Time Clock: On/Off
- Micro SD Hot-Plug: On/Off
- Serial Port: On/Off
Specifies the input mechanism used by the menu, apps are also aware of this option but only a subset are affected by it.
- Vectrex controller (analog)
- 5-button controller
- digital joystick, 4 buttons
Main Page / Extra Calibration
If enabled a few emulators will show an ‘extra calibration’ entry in their options for a specific game drawing function:
- Armor Attack – larger maze parts
- Barrier – grid
- Starhawk – death star
- Zektor – boundary lines
- Rocks ‘n’ Saucers / DX – zref + geometry
This is a result of inherited, older code pre-vf library which was easy to keep. Also in principle possible for Eliminator (grid), Sundance (grid) and Space Duel (game selection boundary) but not implemented (yet ?).
Main Page / Fast Exit
The Main Page apps. during attract can exit back to the menu immediately by pressing ‘1:’. This is disabled by default since normal 6809 Vectrex cart. started by the file browser can not. This is to keep the overall use identical for beginners.
Note: the apps. when started from the file browser always support the 1: fast exit button; they are aware when being started via the main page and only then respect this option.
Selects how to switch between Main Page and the Options:
- Pressing 1: on Main Page
- Holding 1: on Main Page for 5 seconds
- Pressing 3:+4: Port 2 on Main Page
- Holding 3:+4: Port 2 on Main Page for 5 seconds
- Dedicated Button (only available for a subset of VF)
Note: The dedicated button has to be pressed 5 times to enable it in order to not lock yourself out of the options accidentally. As of v2.28 it also immediately exits all native apps on the Main Page, if used for options access.
The boost mode feature is by default disabled – it enables a second set of drawing functionality for the native applications which is a bit faster, up to 15%, but a minority of Vectrex show sporadic but reproducible visual problems using this. The visual failure case is usually very rare and looks either like a vertical position is suddenly wrong or a vertical line much too large.
There are actually two different, technical failure cases: in some circumstances on these Vectrexes the y capacitor just needs longer to charge to large, negative values. The other is weirder: if the update of the y value switches very fast initially from large positive to large negative values it sometimes seems to get stuck at an incorrect, way too large neg. value – irrespective of the time charged afterwards.
I have never seen this happen yet on an original no-buzz Vectrex – so the latest and quite rare Vectrex pcb rev. mostly sold in Europe, I believe. And not a buzzing Vectrex with a ‘no-buzz’ mod. applied, which is something quite different.