Prototype Preview: Alan-1 Regulator/Audio II++
Here’s a first look at the prototype of our next Alan-1 product: a dramatically improved drop-in replacement for all versions of the Atari Regulator/Audio II board.
(This is the first prototype, not the final version, and these initial demos don’t cover all the features. But we’re excited about this project and want to show it off. Skip to the end to see it in action, powering Missile Command and Crystal Castles.)
Of course, our Regulator/Audio II++ is the same size as the original, mounts to the same mounting holes, and keeps the same connectors in the same place and the same orientation. No modification to your classic game is necessary. And all the parts in the power and audio path are through-hole, so it’ll be easy to repair if anything ever fails.
Our first and most obvious improvement over the original: built-in voltmeters.
Now you can adjust the +5V supply, so that your game PCB is receiving exactly 5V, with just a #1 Phillips, and without crawling inside your game to attach a voltmeter and alligator clips. You can see, at one glance, if your edge connectors need cleaning and reseating. If a game goes down, you’ll immediately know whether the power is good without spending ten minutes on the floor with your voltmeter. Even better, we show you ripple voltage on the unregulated +DC IN from the transformer block, so you no longer need an oscilloscope to tell you whether Big Blue needs replacing.
Another improvement: unlike the original, the voltage will never run away and burn up your edge connectors, PCB fingers, or parts on your game PCBs. We’ve made it so easy to check the +5V, and adjust it if necessary, that there’s no need for the sense feedback circuit.
Did we mention that, unlike the original, there’s only one version of the Alan-1 Regulator/Audio II++…and it works in every Atari game, including Missile Command? No more staring at the components on the far side trying to puzzle out which version you have, going through the Elektron Forge chart to puzzle out which versions you can use, or trawling KLOV and eBay for months to find one of the rare variants like -03. Ours will work no matter which game you have.
There’s even more…but we’ll wait for the production version to tell you about the rest. Meanwhile, the prototype is on long-term test, powering the Missile Command at Flynn’s Retrocade.
(Why Missile Command? MC uses all the secondary voltages on the RA2, including -5V and+12V, at the highest current. This is why MC requires the rare -03 version, and it’s why we’re using it for our long-term testing. We will, of course, continue to verify it in other games as testing continues.)
First, we powered up Crystal Castles, which uses only the +5V and the audio amplifier. We’re working live here, without a net: this is the first time our RA2++ prototype has been tested in an actual arcade game.
Now comes the real test: Missile Command, which uses all the voltages from every version of the Reg/Audio II. Live again, without a net…
…and it’s good!
“When will it be available?”
As usual, we don’t take preorders. We’ll sell the Alan-1 Regulator/Audio II++ once it’s been tested long enough for us to feel confident installing them in all our own games, once it’s been built by our manufacturer (we leave PCB assembly to the professionals), and once we’ve received and tested the first production run.