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Topics - Muzer

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1
General Discussion / Minor blue site bug
« on: 04/Nov/2012 03:41:07 PM »
Once you have placed an order at Retrode.com, you receive the following message:

"Thank you for your payment. Again, please check your e-mail for a transcript of your order.

While you’re waiting for your Retrode to arrive, why don’t you check out our sister site, the community portal retrode.org. Looking forward to meeting you there!"


...even if you didn't order a Retrode.

2
General Discussion / An interesting conundrum.
« on: 29/Oct/2012 01:33:00 AM »
Hello again!

Thanks to Matthias's genius, I now have most Atari 2600 games working flawlessly once more. However, they are a little slow now - it seems to be about one second per kilobyte (varying slightly depending on which bankswitching method is used), with most Atari games being from 2kB to 16kB. This isn't too much of an issue though, in my opinion. Basically the problem was that for some electronics reasons I don't understand, changing every bit at once on the address buses of Atari games was causing a power drain causing the processor to freeze. This affected some people's units worse than others due to natural differences in the tolerances of the components. The fix is to only write to the port bit-by-bit.

However, I've run across another interesting issue that isn't any fault of the Retrode hardware or software that is interesting.

Atari 2600 game ROMs have no headers, and there is also no header in the file. However, Atari 2600 games sometimes have RAM on the cartridge and sometimes don't.

So, emulators decide whether or not to emulate RAM based on the checksum of the game (among a few other things as far as I can tell).

However, the checksum of the game includes the RAM. RAM is not always going to be the same.

You can see where this is going.

Games dumped by the Retrode, through no fault of the Retrode or its firmware, have a different RAM each time. So, the emulators don't always detect it as having RAM and you must specify manually that it does. This only works normally because the emulators have checksums of most/all of the ROMs on the internet; even for those there doesn't seem to be a convention for what to fill the RAM with (some have it as 0s but others have again random bytes). But obviously stuff from a Retrode isn't going to be the same as stuff from the internet, so the checksums won't match.


I suppose the only real way around this would be to moan at emulator authors to not include the RAM in the checksums. However, this would still have problems for previously undumped games (which are more common than you think; most games where the PAL versions are different have no PAL dumps online).

Thoughts?

3
General Discussion / Hello again!
« on: 27/Oct/2012 10:54:39 PM »
Sorry I've been absent for a while, I've been sorting out moving into uni and admittedly lost a bit of my motivation after the frustration that was the freezing for Atari 2600 games, for which I apologise. However, I'm back now, and Matthias has given me a helpful pointer as to where the problem might lie with the 2600. I'll hopefully get this support working properly again... perhaps a few more surprises too ;)

4
I've just got around to testing my Atari 2600 adaptor. I tried my first game - Adventure - and no matter how many times I wiped the contacts, the data coming out was different to the real Adventure ROM I found, and the game wouldn't run. I then moved onto my next game, air-sea battle - same issue. I then took a look at the compatibility list - I found the games I had on that list were Frogger, Pitfall and missile command. Frogger and Pitfall worked first time without a hitch. I then moved onto missile command - I was getting the same issue as with Adventure and air-sea battle :/. These are all simple, 4k games with no mappers, and as I previously stated, missile command is in the very-old compatibility list.

I also noticed that the cartridge didn't look like it was sitting very happily, so I took the lid off the Retrode 2 (I assume it was better-suited to the original physically) - the same issue.

I have the latest firmware version.

I would hazard a guess at this early stage that it's something to do with the way the Atari circuit boards are made that this particular adaptor doesn't like for whatever reason - perhaps the connector is dodgy or something.

I'll give some more software a try that I know doesn't use any mappers, etc., and I'll try to do even more cleaning (but missile command is looking brand new!)


Attached is my many attempts at getting Missle Command to dump.

5
General Discussion / I HATE Facebook
« on: 20/Apr/2012 01:40:52 PM »
Will this upcoming giveaway require a Facebook account? If so, :(.

6
General Discussion / Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2/+3 joysticks
« on: 17/Feb/2012 07:16:55 PM »
Very simple-looking, but incompatible with Atari (and therefore Mega Drive) from what I've read. Note that the original Spectrum's Kempston and Sinclair Interface 2 interfaces *do* use standard Atari joysticks. Pinout here: http://www.worldofspectrum.org/ZXSpectrum128+3Manual/chapter10.html

7
General Discussion / Colecovision controllers
« on: 17/Feb/2012 07:09:01 PM »
I bought a ColecoVision yesterday (just because one was there; I didn't buy it for any particular purpose). I've been researching a little on the controllers, and found a few things about them. Firstly, they obviously have far more buttons than pins (telephone keypad, joystick and two different fire buttons) so it needs to use some sort of encoding method.

I found a simple pinout that can probably be used if you don't want keypad support: http://www.atarimuseum.com/articles/phillyclassic/kiosks/coleco/cv14.html

I also found a circuit diagram of what the controllers look like inside:
http://www.chromesphere.com/coleco/Documents/ColecoController.jpg - however, I'm not sure if this is quite right, as I can't figure out how this would work with the previous document with the second fire button for instance.

I have gleaned from somewhere else that the console cycles one of the pins between a positive voltage and negative voltage, so the diodes then let through or don't let through the current in each case and so more keys can be detected at once. I doubt sending out negative voltages is electrically possible in the Retrode - since it's probably not, it would be best just to use that pinout on the first site and hope it works, and forget about keypad support.

8
General Discussion / Feature suggestions
« on: 13/Feb/2012 08:26:27 PM »
As Matthias_H requested in another thread, I'll create this wishlist of feature suggestions. Please post in this thread if you have a feature you want to be added, and I'll add it to this first post. I'll also guess how hard it would be for Matthias_H to implement, but not having seen how exactly the code works, bear in mind that these are my estimations and the real difficulty levels might be very different.

Current feature requests, in my estimated difficulty order:
* Flash LED to indicate changes in overdump mode (easy)
* PS3 home button support (medium)
* Mega Drive EEPROM support (hard)
* Convert Game Boy Camera pictures to image files on-the-fly and have them openable (hard)
* Power Base Converter support (hard, maybe impossible)
* Satellaview support ((very?) hard, not definitely possible)
* Mega CD RAM cartridge support (hard)
* Super Street Fighter 2 for Mega Drive bankswitching (hard)
* Tales of Phantasia oversize (48Mbit) ROM support (medium)

Features that are definitely impossible without hardware modification/adaptors:
* SA-1 support (for Super Mario RPG etc. - very hard, and therefore unlikely - extra hardware would be required)
* ColecoVision controller support (lack of hw support)
* Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2/+3 Joystick support (lack of hw support)
* J-cart support (lack of hw support)
* Xbox 360 controller support (impossible due to it using undocumented encryption, which won't be supported even if it were documented for legal/moral reasons)

Features previously on this list that have been implemented:
* Some way to prevent filenames in games with a blank title field (Micro Machines '96) from starting with a dot, as this makes them hidden in UNIX-like OSes
* Ability to access Sonic 3's FRAM (SRAM) when playing Sonic 3 & Knuckles
* Hold button on controller at startup to change HID mode

Plug-in Suggestions

If anyone has a request for a specific plug-in adaptor, perhaps post that here and the difficulty could be assessed. Ones that already exist/are planned can be found in my other thread here.

Edit, Matthias_H: Stickied.

9
General Discussion / Making Atari 2600 adapter
« on: 03/Feb/2012 06:14:20 PM »
Because (as far as has been announced) there's no planned production run of the Atari 2600 connectors, and I'd still want one, I'll make one myself.

I've decided that, despite it being easier to order a PCB, I'd like to make a PCB myself, as a) it should be fun, and b) it's a good thing to learn how to do, considering I am interested in learning more about electronics. I've bought all the kit for actually making the PCB (apart from the board itself, as I couldn't find a thin one in Maplin), as well as the necessary protective clothing, so I'll just need to get the connector, then I'll be able to do it. Obviously it'll be slightly tough to start out on what with it being double-sided, but I'm up for a challenge :)

So, I'd like to know:

* Is there a recommended place from which I should get the A2600 connector and thinner board?
* Are there any extra pieces of info about this connector specifically, aside from what is explained in all the generic PCB-making tutorials?



And, did anyone make PCB layouts for any of the other connectors? Apart from the N64/GB and SMS/GG ones, because those have planned production runs so I'll just buy them.

10
General Discussion / NES controllers
« on: 26/Jan/2012 05:26:21 PM »
Just noticed in the config file that there's an option to use NES instead of SNES controllers... what's the pinout for this/is anyone selling connectors? I've had a quick look on the site and can't find it on the site or in the readme.

11
General Discussion / Crazy SA-1 idea
« on: 05/Jan/2012 01:41:15 AM »
Assuming it's not possible to emulate the SNES lockout chip with some sort of firmware (why would it be?), what about this crazy idea - would it be possible for one to wire up a real SNES lockout chip for the necessary region from a dead SNES to the respective pins on the cartridge slot so that it will talk to the chip on the game? Or is this completely impractical/impossible?

Thinking about it, I'm guessing you'd have to give it a clock, and also come up with a way to reset it with exactly the right timing... that could prove difficult. But would it be possible, in your expert opinion?

12
General Discussion / Adaptors
« on: 31/Dec/2011 05:15:53 PM »
Since I now have confirmation below, I'll make this into a nicely-formatted table. I've also done a bit of research and found answers to a few unanswered questions:

(The voltages are all found from a quick Google. While I have done my best to verify any vague-looking results I found to ensure they are all accurate, I will not be responsible for any damage to your cartridges caused by an incorrect voltage selection. Use at your own risk.)

Console(s)StateDIY provisionsProduction runFirmware supportSlotVoltageLink
Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Mega Drive/Genesis(Built-in support in Retrode 1 and 2)NoneOngoing batches of production of Retrode 2YesN/A5Vhere
Nintendo 64 (with controller ports)WorkingPCB layout and schematic soonOngoing productionYesMega Drive3.3Vhere
Game Boy variantsWorkingPCB layout and schematic soonOngoing productionYesMega Drive3.3V for Game Boy Advance; 5V for Game Boy and Game Boy Colorhere
Nintendo 64 and Game Boy variantsWorkingPCB layout, schematicPrevious sold out; none plannedYesMega Drive5V for Game Boy and Game Boy Color; 3.3V for Game Boy Advance and Nintendo 64here
Sega Master System and Game GearWorkingWiring key, design and build write-up/rough guide (for original prototype); PCB layout and schematic soonOngoing production (without Game Gear slot, but space provided to solder your own on)YesMega Drive5Vinitial design | final testing | testing follow-up | production status | wiring key (for prototype)
Atari 2600WorkingPCB layout and schematicPrevious sold out; none plannedYesSNES5Vhere
TurboGrafx16/PC EngineWorkingWiring keyNone plannedYesSNES5Vhere
Virtual BoyWorkingWiring key; design and build write-up/rough guideNone plannedYesMega Drive5Vfinal pinout | build writeup | part 2 | case - part 1 | case - part 2 | case - part 3 and conclusion
Neo Geo Pocket variantsWorkingWiring key; Japanese design and build write-up/rough guideNone plannedYesSNES3.3VJapanese writeup | Google translated to English
Nintendo Entertainment SystemConsideringWill be PCB layout and schematic if completedProbably if completedNo?5VNone yet (source: a post below)
Atari LynxPlanning??No?5VNone yet (source: a post below)
Sega PicoWorkingWiring key; design and build write-up/rough guideNone plannedYes (ROM format identical to Mega Drive games)Mega Drive5VGerman forum thread | Translated instructions
V.SmileWorkingWiring key; brief build notesNone plannedNo (but generic ROM format works)Mega DriveUnknown (5V?)here




Is all of this accurate?






(Just about to order my Retrode from the new store! Very excited!)







EDIT: Just ordered, but the addresses appeared as blank in the confirmation email (despite being present on the confirmation screen). I assume it processed OK, but you might want to sort that out so as not to worry people.




EDIT2 (2012-01-05): Added NES to the list, and Colecovision rumours I just stumbled upon. Changed to a nice table.
EDIT3 (2012-01-08, Matthias_H): Stickied
EDIT4 (2012-01-15): Added link that I just found to original design/build of the SMS/GG adapter
EDIT5 (2012-02-11): Added "design and build write-up/rough guide (for original prototype)" to SMS/GG adapter's DIY Provisions column, because there is one.
EDIT6 (2012-02-13): Removed Colecovision, added Atari Lynx.
EDIT7 (2012-02-28): Added Sega Pico
EDIT8 (2012-03-04): Added newly-posted wiring key for the prototype of the SMS/GG adaptor. Fixed Pico entry (had a duplicate column for some reason). Added "slot" field.
EDIT9 (2012-04-27): Added the just Game Boy and just Nintendo 64 adaptors, changed estimated dates.
EDIT10 (2012-07-28): Added the SNES/MD entry at the top; added voltages.
EDIT11 (2013-04-07): Changed the statuses of the plugins that are apparently shipping.
EDIT12 (2013-09-27): Changed statuses of plugins, add V.Smile.

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