3D Imager

Sep 16/2005:

Back in 1983 when Vectrex was still sold there was some really cool accessory called 3D-Imager. The idea was to mount a spinning disk with one half black and the other red-green-blue in front of your eyes. If you now control the spinning speed of the disk and sync it to the vectrex screen you’d be able to show different pictures to each eye => 3D on vectrex was born. Btw. I think it was the first console using 3D Display technology in their games!

Since those 3D Imagers are very, very rare today they reach prices starting at 200 EUR for a broken one to 2000 EUR for a mint condition one.

Since the circuit is available for free I spend some thoughts of building one 3D Imager by myself. The basic part would be some portable CD player which was easy since my wife’s CD player just broke on our last vacation.

This Friday I spared about 8 hours just to find out the concept works.

First thing was to rebuild the circuit on a breadboard and modify the CD player with some sensor for the positioning system of the imager (The disc is a transparent CD actually, the other half will be painted red-green-blue for color display):

Another picture of the imager spinning and the circuit:


As you can see some holes were “drilled” through the CD player to allow your eyes to watch through:

What you can see is a compromise between beauty and functionality:

The System works “perfectly” meaning the concept is proven to work:

Btw. the reason you see the picture twice in the picture above was explained above: the Vectrex draws two pictures alternating in the disc spinning frequency. If you watch the Vectrex through one hole only with the camera you will only see one picture (the one for the corresponding eye ):


I was more than delighted to see the result: If I had one of those in the 80’s I would have been King! At least I would have felt like I was king. This is awesome. This is simply incredible. I love those low-tech toys that you can build and understand with your own hands and brain! The last 2 hours ! spend playing Minestorms 3D and crazy coaster which was really enjoyable

So what’s next?

I’ve got to find some nice visor donor to make the 3D Imager look cool, at least somewhat acceptable. At the moment I have to mount my “3D-CD-Imager” on my head via some nasty headband (some safety goggles would do aswell). But I have already ordered some stuff, hope you’d be surprised with next update :-)

Feb 11/2006:

I found a visor last year but was unhappy with the overall aesthetic:


So I made a few adjustments resulting in a pretty charming look:


compared to the original imager I extended the viewing range a little:

This was possible using bigger color wheels (picture shows original CrazyCoaster wheel and my Minestorms wheel):

I’m now very satisfied with my new imager. Overall I would say it is much more comfortablöe top wear than the original one. I’m really looking forward to new 3D games to come (like Star Fury 3D).

Oh and www.vectrexnews.com even wrote a review on my Imager :-) - Thanks dudes!


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