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Messages - ssokolow

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General Discussion / Re: SNES Enhanced Cart Support (BETA)
« on: 19/Jul/2017 08:36:07 PM »
No worries.  There's no modifications needed on the Retrode.  I'm using the adapter on a Dragonbox Retrode with only the center 46 pin connector.  I sent a prototype adapter to one of the beta testers and hope to confirm compatibility with the other Retrode hardware versions.


Thanks. That's a huge relief for me.

If these go into production, I'll definitely be getting one. If not, I'll find the cheapest possible way to hack one together that I feel I can trust and then hope they do go into production eventually so I can buy a proper one.

(I'd glady offer to beta-test if I had the means, but all of my childhood SNES stuff except a Spindizzy Worlds manual and Super Mario RPG strategy guide got thrown out after a basement flood and I've been putting off buying any carts which I can't dump and verify before the "not as described" return period is over.)

General Discussion / Re: SNES Enhanced Cart Support (BETA)
« on: 17/Jul/2017 01:13:58 AM »
I just realized a potential problem after looking at those photos.

My Retrode is from a batch manufactured based on the principle of "We've given up on supporting the SA-1, so we'll cut costs and only populate a connector for the central span of pins" and it doesn't have the two wings populated.

I'd been assuming that, given how long it's been since the original batches with the full connector ran out, you'd be ensuring that everything could be done without the wings. However, seeing them passed through on that photo, when I don't remember the adapter being compatible with anything but the Retrode, makes me worried.

Do those pins have to be connected for a successful dump or is passing them through just playing it safe? Can an SA-1 be coaxed into allowing ROM access with those pins left floating as long as there's a successful CIC sync?

If they have to be connected, I don't know what I'll wind up doing. I really don't trust myself to take a soldering iron to something I paid so much money for. (I've only ever soldered one device... a $3 PS2-USB adapter where one of the USB lines broke free of the PCB's solder pads.)

General Discussion / Re: SNES Enhanced Cart Support (BETA)
« on: 26/Jun/2017 01:10:37 AM »
I'm not sure if the adapter will go into production.  If it does go into production, then there might be design changes like replacing the VCXOs.  I built my circuit around the VCXOs after I found a supply of the 3.072MHz part.  I'm not an engineer so the VCXOs made things simpler for me.

I hope it goes into production. I'd certainly buy one.

(I never had time to build soldering skills I'd trust beyond "If I'd otherwise have to throw it out..." and, as mentioned, I'd really like to be able to stick a copy of Super Mario RPG into my retrode.)

General Discussion / Re: SNES Enhanced Cart Support (BETA)
« on: 16/Jun/2017 12:19:00 PM »
This evokes mixed feelings in me.

On the one hand, I'm very happy.

On the other hand, "Dammit! It took me far too long to stop dwelling on my desire to play Super Mario RPG again the first time around! Who knows how long it'll be until this is ready, ready-made adapters are available, I've ordered and received one, and I've re-bought an SMRPG cartridge!"

(I have a very strict policy about neither pirating nor paying for games unless they're available on my terms in order to ensure I can't contribute to companies' delusions that all they need is more DRM or that Steam-like eStores are acceptable... a policy that led me to buy a Retrode and to continue to eBay cartridges because I refuse to financially endorse the Nintendo Virtual Console... and I only play ROMs I personally dumped from my own cartridges in order to flip the bird at Nintendo's policy on emulation.)

Support / Re: My hashes don't match No-Intro. Is that normal?
« on: 19/Dec/2016 01:22:18 AM »
I just load the DAT files from DAT-o-MATIC into a swiss army knife for ROMs named ucon64 and run ucon64 -rdat *.n64 to rename them. Anything left un-renamed didn't match. (Or without the -rdat to get details)

Before I discovered ucon64, I used a little tool named Snarfblam ROM Hasher (which runs perfectly well in Wine on non-Windows systems) which gives MD5, SHA-1, and CRC32 for the file, the ROM, and the ROM after byte-swapping it.

Emulators don't care, so I've never needed to byte-swap my ROMs, but ucon64 can byte- or word-swap N64 ROMs too.

General Discussion / Re: Adaptors
« on: 04/Mar/2016 12:11:02 AM »
I would much rather see a Gamegear plugin personally.

From what I understand, the difficulty with the Game Gear is finding a supply of the cartridge sockets and, if you do, the SMS adapter has solder pads left open to add one.

(I'm lucky in that respect. The only Game Gear games I really care about are the Sonic ones and those are unlockable in my CD-ROM version of Sonic Adventure.)

Also, another tip: The Retrode 2 doesn't like counterfeit GBA carts. I learned that when I got lazy about double-checking an in-province eBay purchase.

Everything still works fine and I got my money back, but that counterfeit cart wouldn't even show a generic BIN file in the Retrode while GBA-dumping homebrew on a Nintendo DS dumps it as a 32MiB ROM. (...which does boot in an emulator but I never tested if it plays without crashing)

I thought that knowledge might be useful as something for others to learn from.

For those unfamiliar with identifying counterfeit carts, here are the tells for a GBA cart:

  • Go to Mobygames and check if the label is correct (this'll save you a lot of time if a picture is available there)
  • Does the AGB-xxxx-xxx part number on the label match what the game claims to be?
  • Are the rating mark, "Licensed by Nintendo" or "Nintendo" mark, and Seal of Quality present, in the right places, and the right size and shape?
  • Is the label straight and well-centered on the cartridge, with a glossy finish and edges cleanly cut from the larger sheet it was printed onto?

  • Are the contacts gold-plated?
  • Counterfeits often have a small vent in the protective plastic barrier just above the middle of the edge-card contacts.

  • Is the part number on the back of the shell AGB-002? (eg. AGB-004 is a Japanese GBA charger)
  • Compare the font for the back of the shell to a known-good cartridge. Some counterfeits do use AGB-002 but then have the Nintendo logo and the rest of the text too thin.
  • Is the cartridge held together by a tri-wing screw?
  • Counterfeits sometimes cover up their use of non-tri-wing screws with a scary warranty sticker. Nintendo trusted tri-wing screws to be enough.

If you've got a tri-wing screwdriver, you can also play it safe by opening the cartridge up and examining the PCB. Remove the tri-wing screw and then the front of the case can slide down and lift out using a mechanism similar to how you'd unmount a power bar you hung on the wall:
  • Genuine cartridges will open easily once the screw is removed. Fakes may have a large chip blocking the sliding mechanism.
  • Genuine cartridges will store the games on mask ROM (basically, each game's ROM is a custom part and changing even a single bit requires a new photolithography mask, so the setup costs are through the roof).
  • A genuine cartridge will have "Nintendo" silk-screened above the edge-card contacts. Fakes generally lack it or use the wrong font.
  • Only fakes will have chips with all labelling erased or with labels stuck onto them.
  • Check the save method on DAT-o-Matic. If it's not SRAM, then a battery is a guaranteed indication of a counterfeit because it means that the game itself is stored on battery-backed RAM to save money.
  • Genuine SRAM cartridges will use many different colours of insulating rings on their batteries (red, blue, etc.) while fakes seem to all use yellow.

...and, if you're really feeling lucky and want to risk sticking it into your Nintendo DS, the fakes are often the wrong regional version (eg. EU version with a US sticker) and, if dumped via DS homebrew, generally dump to something that DAT-o-Matic has never seen, even if you manually trim the dump file to the sizes it expects for the various versions.

(If anyone wants them, I can also point you to guides on how to identify fake original Gameboy carts, Nintendo DS carts and/or fakes of rare SNES carts.)

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