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Quakescope – Quake on an oscilloscope

Quake on an oscilloscope  in real-time? Could it be done? Should it be done? Yes and Yes. Lets take a look back.

Old analog oscilloscope displays are monochromatic CRTs designed to display waveforms when testing electrical signals, rendering 3D first person shooters isn’t really their “thing”.

How does it work? Firstly, Using the scope in X-Y mode the headphone cable was spliced. To get convert the audio into images was the next challenge. “Youscope” examples had shown this in the past as pre-rendered recordings however this is not real-time gameplay. The QuakeScope designer faced some problems.

Problems. After benchmarking the maximum number of lines possible onscreen at one time (~1000) bandwidth limitations were confirmed. The low-pass filters on the audio cards presented a problem which required a work-around – so adjustments were made.

The designer used ASIO and PortAudio to create the audio on the fly from a queue of XY lines given. Almost there.

In order to instruct the audio engine what lines to draw, the builder had to enlist the use of the open source Quake rendering engine Darkplaces  to reduce the polygons down to the bare minimum. A philosophy repeated throughout QuakeScope’s design in order deliver the most information possible through the spliced headphone cables. The outcome can be seen in the video above.

This example has set the bar high for oscilloscope gaming.

Want to try it yourself? For the full technical details and source files please read the original article at

Watch other scope-as-display hacks: Pong & Tetris.

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