PIC micro Tetris game

By August 18, 2010

tetris PIC micro Tetris game

Introduction

I have made the game Tetris using a PIC16F84 running @ 12MHz. Tetris is an old Russian computer game where you should try to fit in block into a play-field, quite simple but really fun. In my version, the video signal is generated in softw1are. The only hardware used for the video generation is tw1o resistors forming a 2-bit DA converter. Usually the video signal is generated in video games is created with a dedicated video chips, reading the image data from a graphics memory. In this project the video signal is calculated in real-time by the microprocessor as the electron beam sweeps over the screen.

How to play the game

The first screen is where you select how you want to play by moving the joystick: DOWN: Human vs. Human (H-H), LEFT: Human vs. Computer (H-C) or RIGHT: Computer vs. Computer (C-C). Start with FIRE. Unfortunately it is impossible to beat the computer, since there was not enough room to make the computer beatable. That makes the computer vs. computer game to play forever until someone reset the game using the reset switch. You start serving by pressing fire, it is also possible to change direction and speed of the ball using fire. The player who has the serve will get points. If the player with the serve miss the ball, then the serve goes over to the other player. When someone wins a game over picture will show and tell who won.

The softw1are

With a processor performing 3MIPS, it is not easy to make a video signal in softw1are. Each instruction performed takes 1/3 us. Each scan-line on the screen takes 64us, where 52us are visible, so it gives 52*3=156 visible clock cycles per line. Maximum resolution that can be obtained is 156 pixels in x-axis if the softw1are is setting one pixel per clock (using for example only bcf and bsf), but more is needed to make a game, like loops and such. A loop quantifies the time to 3-clock pieces, giving a resolution of 52 pixels. (One could obtain a kind of 156pixels resolution with one or tw1o offset nops, but the code to select this would eat to many clock cycles to do any good). However Tetris is quite simple, the resoluton is quite low, and there is no motion, the blocks of pixels are just turned on and off. The most demanding part of the game is to show the score at the bottom of the screen, it is shown in the bottom of the screen. It obtains higher resolution by loading the PORTB with the bitmap for the number and shift it out one pixel per clock cycle.

So far I`ve only talked about the graphic generation. But there is more to it to get a video signal. All scan-lines first have a 4us-sync pulse, then black for 8us, then the 52us graphic comes. These horizontal sync-pulses makes the TV understand when a scan-line starts, but there is needed to send information about when a new picture starts too, it is called vertical sync, and is a special pattern that tells the TV that a new image is coming. There are tw1o kinds of vertical sync, because the image is divided into tw1o part images, showing even and odd lines, to get less flickering. In Tetris, the tw1o images are identical, so the game is not using the full y-resolution possible, but it doesn`t matter because it is way better than the x-resolution anyway, making the x-resolution the biggest problem.

The game-field is kept in memory as a 32byte array, 16×16 bits, where one bit is one pixel-block on the screen. The area to the upper left is for showing the next block, and by making it a part of the game field it is possible to use the same block-drawing routines as for the game, and thereby saving memory. Each frame, the falling block is first removed from the game-field, and then tests are performed if the block can move, as the player wants it to. Then the block is drawn back to the screen at the new position. When a block is to be tested, put or removed, it first must be generated. To generate a block means compressing it from the compressed data, rotating it and then store the relative coordinates of the block in the block array. The block data is compressed in relative coordinates. In compressed format, each coordinate is stored in tw1o bits for both x and y, where the tw1o bits can represent the numbers –1,0,1,2. These values need to be uncompressed to 4*2 byte sized values representing the coordinates in tw1o’s complement format. Depending of the angle the block should have, the coordinates might need to be mirrored or/and swapped. When the block have been created it can easily be put, removed or tested. The test routine checks if there is any pixels set on the block positions where the block should be put. If pixels are set, then the block can’t be put there. New blocks are selected at random, where the random number is a counter that increases for every frame, making the random number dependent of how long it takes for the player to place the block, making a quite good random number.

The game stuff, like checking joystick and move stuff around, is taken care of in the first scan-lines, when no graphics is drawn. During the time before the play-field is shown, there is a little bit of free time to play the music, but there is not time to play it on all lines, and that make the music sound distorted. The music is stored in the data eeprom, and stored in a compressed one byte format, where one byte contains length and note. The note`s frequency is looked up in a table, and so is the length too. (The frequencies are based on the line frequency so they are not exactly the correct frequencies) The speed of the game is increasing constantly and music-speed increases as the game speed increases.

Making this kind of softw1are is mostly a clock-cycle-counting project, all timings are quite critical, so whatever paths the execution-flow of the program takes, it must take the same number of clock cycles. This is quite hard, and I`ve not managed to do this on all lines, so the image is a little bit bent in some places. (Most analog TV-sets fix this, but on some digital projectors it is more visible)

The hardware

The hardware is quite simple because everything is made in softw1are. tw1o resistors, forming a DA converter together with the input impedance of the TV, generate the video signal. This can generate the levels 0v (sync), 0.3v (black), 0.7v (gray), and 1.0v (white). To be able to handle the variation of input resistance of different audio equipment, tw1o resistors are used to make a 1-bit DA to generate the audio. When generating the video, the PORTB is used as a shift register to get one pixel per instruction when high-resolution text is shown on the screen. Shifting a port requires the port to be set as output if a whole byte is to be shifted out. First, this seems like a problem, the whole port can`t be used for anything else than video generation, but that is not quite correct. A port can be used as an input when not used as a shift register, so in Tetris PORTB it is used for joystick input when not used as a shift register. The digital joystick is a switch to ground, so all needed to connect it to the PIC is a couple of pull up resistors, and that is available inside the PIC. Unfortunately it is not that simple, if a pin on a port is grounded when used as an output, the output buffer of the pic would burn up, so this is solved by adding one extra 1k resistor on each pin to limit the current. What about those pull up resistors? There are 10k pull up resistors built into the PIC that can be switched on and off. However, using them would be a too strong pull up, so the 1k current limiting resistor (plus bad switches in the joystick) can`t pull the input low enough. Therefor an external 100k resistor pull up netw1ork is added. The power supply part of the circuit is quite simple, it uses a standard 7805 to get a 5v supply. The input can be 8-18 volt, DC or AC (Thanks to the diode at the power input)

videogame schem PIC micro Tetris game

Tetris Game Schematic

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