HVGLIB.H, Ver. 3.02

On December 31, 2018, Richard Degler sent me an updated version of the Home Video Game Library equates file called HGVLIB.H. It is now at version 3.02. The previous version, from 2010, was 3.01. This is an equate file for Bally / Astrocade assembly language programming. If you’re going to be creating machine language programs with the Nutting Manual, then you need this Astrocade equate file.

Richard comments:

“Also included is an updated “HVGLIB.H” where I finally corrected the FIRSTC and NORMEM comments … surprised no one called me on that!! Updated the “FonT BASE character” comment again, also the URINAL memory cell since we now have empirical data on that in TERSE/Addin_Mar1979.pdf (which is not TERSE but may have come from TERSE source originally ??). They were probably right to change the COUNTER UPDATE & NUMBER TRACKING equate – I was shocked to see that abbreviation written down!!1! Break that out and replace the old HVGLIB.H on Bally Alley for me.”

The file can be downloaded from BallyAlley.com, here:


Thanks for the update, Richard!

Past February 5 Updates

Here are some past February 5 updates to BallyAlley.com:

February 5, 2016

“Programmables: Show Business Is In Cartridges”
“Consumer Electronics,” May 1979: 23.

Programmables - Show Business Is In Cartridges (Consumer Electronics)(May 1979)_tn

“In a year when the industry is expecting limited growth in programmable video games, major firms in the field will strive to maintain momentum by focusing on new cartridges at Summer CES.”

“Bally will also be at CES with new cartridges for its programmable, recently upgraded to perform computer functions. The company will introduce two or three new cartridges, including a pinball program, says Jack Nieman, national sales manager.”


February 5, 2010

Added four tape covers or miscellaneous tape-cover related items to the WaveMakers Box section.

  1. Backgammon / Obstacle Course Tournament (Tape Cover)
  2. Collision Course / Sound Effects (Spine)
  3. Slot Machine / Perversion (Tape Cover)
  4. WaveMakers Label (Close-Up)


Added a red L&M Software sticker that was originally on tape “boxes.”

LM Software (Sticker)(Red)

Reorganized and added two tape covers to the Miscellaneous Box Section.

  1. Nam-Cap (Tape Case – Cover Only)
  2. Video Wizards (Tape case)


Added screenshots of three tapes:

  1. Allemande, Part I & II – George Moses
  2. Buggin’ BC – Dave Ibach and George Moses
  3. Crazy Face – Steve Walters

These blog posts are a great way to revisit older updates.

“Hidden” Astrocade Links

Every once in a while I’ll just type in the word “Astrocade” in Google and see what I find in the deep links. You know, the ones that no one ever clicks because they’re dozens of pages from the top of the searches. I posted a few of these not-at-the-top links to the Bally Alley Yahoo group back in August 2018. I figured that it would be fun to share them here again. It’s fun to find “hidden” Astrocade links!


Bally Astrocade RGB Schematic

I came across this Bally Astrocade RGB schematic by someone named “hotdog6394.” I’ve attached the original file.


Can anyone vouch for this hardware? Does anyone know if this is an original design?

The Bally Astrocade, A True Hidden Gem

Here is a blog post about the Astrocade called “A closer look at the Bally Astrocade, a true hidden gem among game consoles.” This was posted by zadoc on April 11, 2018. The “article” is quite general, but I like the pictures:


Not too bad, right?

Revived Astrocade by drunknretro!

On June 24, 2016, a blog post was written by “drunknretro.” He fixed his Astrocade that had bad video and he shows pictures of the steps that he followed to do it.


It’s always nice to see an Astrocade live again!

Twitter has Astrocade Hashtag?!?

I’m not a Twitter user, but maybe I should join the “fun.” There are several people that use #astrocade. I didn’t expect it to be about the Bally Arcade/Astrocade, but the “tweets” (I hate that word) all seem to belong to the little console that could(n’t).


Does anyone here use this tag on Twitter?

“Meet me in the Astrocade” Lecture (June 2018)

Rachel Weil gave a lecture at the Joy of Coding 2018 conference on June 8, 2018 called “Meet me in the Astrocade: peace, love, and 8-bit hardware hacking.” You can read about it here:


I met Rachel in July of 2018 when she was passing through town. We had a three player game of the homebew game “War” together. Great fun!

3D Moveable Model of Astrocade

Here is a link to a 3D moveable model of an Astrocade:


This is kind of cool. You can move the Astrocade console around in 3D!

Astrocade Emulation Video Tutorial

Yesterday I created a video called “Setting up Astrocade Emulation Using MAME.”  I uploaded it to various places today.






This tutorial explains how to setup the Bally Arcade/Astrocade console, a game system released in January of 1978. Although the tutorial focuses on how to install MAME on a Windows system, the information in this video can be transferred for use by Linux and Macintosh users too.

The steps required to get the MAME emulator up and running with the system ROMs are explained. Setting up and changing the keyboard mapping for use with joysticks is covered. Use of alternate inputs, such the Knob (paddle) and 24-key keypad are gone over in a cursory manner (these details may be explained in future videos).

The main idea of this video is to get a user playing games as quickly as possible. Anyone who has only a limited knowledge and prior-use of emulation, or has some knowledge of how to use emulation, but has never used a Bally Arcade/Astrocade console before today will benefit from this short video. After the instructions in the tutorial have been followed, any user of a Windows system should be able to use the MAME emulator to run Astrocade software. The main focus here is on how to use video game cartridges, the primary method that most users loaded games onto their real hardware.
The four built-in programs are covered:

  1. Gunfight
  2. Checkmate
  3. Calculator
  4. Scribbling

Some short gameplay examples from the following cartridges are provided here:

  1. Astro Battle (aka Space Invaders)
  2. Cosmic Raiders (a rare game from Astrovision)
  3. Crazy Climber (a homebrew game)
  4. Galaxian (aka Galactic Invasion)
  5. Incredible Wizard, The (a clone of Wizard of Wor)
  6. Ms. Candyman (a third-party game)
  7. Treasure Cove (a third-party game)

In a future installment, I’ll show how to set-up keyboard mapping so that the Bally BASIC cartridge can be easily used during emulation. I’ll also show how to setup MAME so that ICBM Attack, a game that uses a rare analog joystick called the Spectre controller, can be played using a mouse or trackball.

If this video helps you get started in the Astrocade world, then please share it with others who might enjoy taking a peek into the library of games for this underdog console that was only ever released in America and Canada.


BalCheckHR Scan Preview

I scanned the 23 handwritten pages of the BalCheckHR documentation that MCM Design sent to me this past week.  These pages are in addition to the 85 typed pages of documentation.  I’ll be working with Michael Matte to get all of the documentation into order over the next few weeks.  Here is a preview of what I scanned.

This is a great hardware project, and I can’t wait to dig into it further.


BalCheckHR – New Prototype Hardware for the Astrocade!

Here is the new BalCheckHR hardware for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade that was sent to me by MCM Design a couple of days ago:


This following information is from the preliminary version of the introduction of the BalCheck manual:

“What is it? A factory tester called ‘Balcheck’ (Bally Check), used by the manufacturer around 1980, was utilized to check Bally/Astrocade motherboards. BalcheckHR, providing an upgraded version of Balcheck, will do the same and more.

BalcheckHR is an 8KB package which includes:

  1. Standard and optional Balcheck test routines.
  2. An easier to read Balcheck error report sequence.
  3. A checksum test routine to compute and compare the checksums of 3 on-board
    ROM versions.
  4. Two custom write/read loops for use with a logic analyzer.
  5. Two “crash test” demos that can be used to determine if a motherboard
    will run perfectly for a long period of time.
  6. SetScreen3, a new diagnostic tool, which can help diagnose a failed motherboard
    producing a black (blank) TV screen at power on.
  7. Three user RAM test routines (user must provide a 50 pin ribbon cable adapter).
  8. Three high resolution demos for use on a “modified for hi-res” Bally/Astrocade.
  9. A hi-res screen RAM test routine similar to Balcheck’s low-res screen RAM test
  10. SetScreenHR, similar to SetScreen3, can help diagnose a failed “modified for
    hi-res” Bally/Astrocade.


This wire wrap board, built by MCM Design, utilizes standard TTL chips and two standard 7-segment displays. Two 74LS374 chips act like output ports, latching in output data and turning on or off the display segments.

This scheme allows custom characters to be displayed typically not possible with specialty LED display drivers or specialty 7-segment displays. This advantage is utilized in the BalcheckHR programming allowing hexadecimal numbers to be displayed. In most cases, the display is easier to read, ie, the user does not have to consult the user manual to look up some display interpretation table.

The board also uses a multi-carted 32KB EEPROM. Any one of four 8KB programmed banks can be selected and executed using a 2 position dip switch and mini-toggle switch. Two banks are programmed with BalcheckHR. The other two banks are programmed with a revised copy of the on-board ROM and a Z80 Check routine, both of which may be used to help diagnose a Zone B motherboard failure, relating to the operation of the Z80 address A0-A15 and data D0-D7 buses.

Here are some more pictures of the hardware sent to me by MCM Designs:



Here are some additional pictures that I took of the unit sent to me:

I’ll be using the BalCheckHR unit and software over the next couple of weeks and reporting about it here.  The manual for this hardware/software combination is about 85 pages long, so testing it out will take some time.  I’ll be posting more information from the manual and perhaps some schematics and other drawing.  Keep an eye out for updates over the next few weeks.