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Please help with the ColecoVision Opgrade Module


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Poll: Help decide what the Opgrade Module should be (122 member(s) have cast votes)

Please choose the statement(s) which best describe your view about what the OM should be:

  1. OM is a pluggable module for the CV with minimum functionality, lowest possible price (26 votes [18.84%])

    Percentage of vote: 18.84%

  2. OM is a pluggable module with advanced functionality, like A/V outputs (44 votes [31.88%])

    Percentage of vote: 31.88%

  3. OM is a standalone device that can plays all the CV games, and also have the OM functionality (61 votes [44.20%])

    Percentage of vote: 44.20%

  4. Who cares about expansion modules? (4 votes [2.90%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.90%

  5. I have a better idea... (3 votes [2.17%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.17%

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#1 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 9:01 AM

Dear fellow ColecoVision users,
I created this thread so we can discuss the Opgrade Module and decide once for all which direction we should take with the project. I have been getting many different reactions to the module and right now I am just confused about which way I should go. Even if it sometimes looks like I don't care about what others think, I actually do. So lets try to decide what to do next, so the Opgrade Module can finally become more than vaporware.
Here are the options I can see right now:

1) We release the OM as a pluggable expansion module for the ColecoVision but with only a minimum set of features, at the lowest possible price. Such features would be limited to more RAM memory basically. Less than $100 I suppose
2) We release the OM as a pluggable module for the CV, but with advanced features like new A/V outputs, Compact Flash slot and perhaps others. Price of course will be a little higher, on the order of $100~$150
3) We release the OM not as module but as a standalone CV on a chip using FPGA. The system would play all CV games, have new A/V outputs, and include the functionally planed for the OM. Being FPGA, the device could be further upgraded anytime in the future. Price would be in the $150 range I think
4) We release both a pluggable module and a standalone version (perhaps not at the time, though)
5) We forget about this whole OM idea and get back to making games for the plain vanilla CV

So please let me know what you guys think. Last week I ordered an Altera DE1 development system, and I also own a 1chipMSX, so I am ready to go any way you guys think is the best.
If you think you have a better idea, please let us know. I really appreciate any help here. I have been working on the OM for years now, it is just one of those things I just cannot wait to leave behind me. Please help me, Obi-wan, you are my only hope..

Edited by opcode, Mon Aug 3, 2009 9:04 AM.


#2 S1500 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 9:04 AM

I would shoot for the CV standalone device, it seems CV units are hard to come by(at least for me).

#3 cimerians OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 9:10 AM

I also have to go with the stand alone device. My CV has taken a beating over the years and a new device with AV would be fantastic. I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

#4 youki OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 9:20 AM

Yes, also Stand Alone CV would be wonderfull. :)

#5 doubledown OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 9:23 AM

If it was made as a CV on a chip FPGA console, would it still maintain compatability with all CV controllers, including a power port for the Roller Controller?

#6 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 9:47 AM

If it was made as a CV on a chip FPGA console, would it still maintain compatability with all CV controllers, including a power port for the Roller Controller?


Good question, lets think:

- Standard controller - check
- Driving Controller - check (spinner, plugs to the joystick port, needs batteries)
- Super Action Controller - check (spinner, plugs to the joystick port)
- Roller Controller, needs the CV power supply.... Well, I don't see a good reason to use the regular CV power supply with the OCCV (1chipCV). The CV power supply is prone to malfunctioning etc. So regular 5V PS are the way to go, and they are a lot more compact. However, I perhaps I could be wrong here, I believe you can simply plug the Roller controller to a CV power supply if you want to use it. Please correct me if I am wrong...

About the expansion modules:

We have EM#1 (Atari) and EM#3 (ADAM). The question is how important those modules are. I believe it is possible to include the expansion port with the OCCV however that would increase the price a bit, as in additon to the edge connector itself we would need a 12V power regulator, a video selector, etc. But those are things we can decide in some point later on (if the port should be included or not). For those who thinks it would be a big loss if the port isn't included, you need to realise that some of the functionality provided by the EM#1 and EM#3 can be implemented right into the FPGA. Of course if the port isn't included, any future expansion module made for the regular CV wouldn't work with the OCCV, though the functionality would always be implemented into the FPGA.

#7 youki OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 10:11 AM

I don't think the support of extension module is really necessery.

What i would like to see, is a "compact" colecovision where i can use my cartridge, my controllers (including driving wheel and if possible roller controller and super action controller) and may be some other controler. A Cv that use standard power supply that i can plug on modern tv easly.

Something very great would be if you could have also a kind of AtariMax 128in1 cartridge built'in!. Imagine you could upload all your game in your cv by connecting the console to your PC via USB once. Then take your console where you want without having to carry cartrigdge or change it.

The ideal would be , to have a dual console that could in the same box play MSX cartridge and a Coleco. :) (even if you can not plug directly MSX cartridge, it would be go to be able to upload game as i suggest for coleco ones).

I know, i dream , but i'm sure you can do that ! :)

#8 retroillucid OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 10:20 AM

The 1Chip ColecoVison must be a little bigger than the 1Chip MSX cause I think it look cheap (it may not)

About the prices, All I can say is the 1Chip MSX is now being sold (on ebay) for about 450$-650$ us
wich is a shame! ....
All I want to say is even if we've to pay 150$ for a 1Chip ColecoVision it is pretty good price with the fact that there's the Opcode Module inside plus A/V out

How much is worth a A/V Modded Colecovision system ? ... let's say about 100$-150$
So what about to pay 150$-200$ for a 1Chip Colecovision + Opcode Module inside
I think it worth every penny!

Eduardo, I think there will be more people interested to buy a 1Chip Colecovision, cause even if they don't care about the OP Module, they'll buy it anyway just to play the games on it because the 1Chip Colecovision will be more reliable than the original system ;)


Anyway, just my two cents :)

#9 doubledown OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 10:22 AM

I personally wouldn't be too concerned with the expansion modules 1 (Atari) and 3 (Adam). And I believe the Roller Controller only requires the +5V and ground lines from the power connector it connects to on the CV. But some way to accomodate it's power requirements would be nicer built into the console rather than having to have a seperate power supply, especially if it is the Coleco brick.

#10 Pixelboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 10:24 AM

I voted for option #1, simply because I think it's the most cost-effective solution relative to the upcoming Opcode titles currently in the pipeline.

In the end, it's all about the games, and the pricetag attached to them. If you ask people if they're willing to pay over 100$ for an expansion module to play Donkey Kong Arcade on their CV, they will likely say "okay", but if you tell them that there is a possible alternative where they would only need to pay around 30$ for a simple RAM cartridge that lets them play the exact same game on their CV, most of them will likely say "Gosh, I just want to play this great new version of DK on my CV, I'd prefer going with the cheaper solution."

Donkey Kong Arcade, Arkanoid, Knightmare, Goonies, King's Valley, etc. only need more RAM to work properly, and beyond that, one should ask himself if there's any point in adding interesting new hardware features that may not be used later, or will only be used for a single game. It's already a given that Eduardo will be the only homebrewer who will develop new CV games with the Opgrade Module in mind. Even if he releases the full tech docs of the OM to other homebrewers, chances are they won't be interested in making games that require the OM.

All this is strictly my opinion, of course, and I know Eduardo and I don't quite see eye to eye on this subject, but we need to look at certain plain facts: Opcode Games usually releases only one ColecoVision game per year on average, and it's certainly not because we're lazy, but because it takes a long time to port/develop/debug a game, create the box art for it, write and prepare the manual, beta-test the software, and have the printed and electronic material manufactured in enough quantities to meet the immediate demand. And there's also a hefty pricetag attached to this manufacturing process which we need to pay out of our own pockets, so it's hard to drive two projects at once from a strictly monetary point of view. These time and financial contraints will not change no matter what shape the OM takes, or what extra features it may offer.

With all this in mind, releasing a simple 16K RAM cartridge makes more sense to me, since we'd only be asking people to pay an extra 30$ for extra RAM, which we know all future Opcode Games will use, so they will likely pay for it without giving it a second thought. I'm not so sure the same logic can apply to a 100+$ expansion module.

Adding persistent RAM (for high-score tables and other save-data stuff) to this cheaper RAM cartridge shouldn't be too much of a problem, and shouldn't impact too much on the final price tag, so it's not a real issue as far I can can see.

The bigger issue is the often-requested modern TV output solutions. The answer to that should be the one-chip CV clone. There are plenty of non-functional CV consoles out there, and placing a brand new PCB inside a CV console casing, and drilling a few holes in the back for the new TV output connectors would be far more cost-effective than trying to shoehorn every desired hardware feature into an expensive external module that will take up a lot of space in front of the console.

So in terms of new hardware solutions, the one-chip CV clone would be my second choice, although for me, the CV clone and the release of future Opcode titles are two completely different things, and a lot of people on these boards tend to confuse the two, or obscure one in favor of the other, which is counter-productive in terms of making good design decisions.

#11 doubledown OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 10:44 AM

I think you'll get more people to "vote" for a new console, because they've had flakey consoles over the years, and they would just prefer a new one that works. However getting all those who "vote" for a CV on a chip to "buy" said console is possibly a different story. If you already have several games in the works that only need a minimal RAM upgrade then I'd say make the module as minimalistic as necessary. That way those games can be finished and sold, which would then potentially afford you some capital dollars to progress on with a CV on a chip.

#12 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 10:51 AM

A stand-alone "new" ColecoVision that also plays upgraded games for just $150? How can anyone say no to that? With that said, if the stand-alone system is not an option, then I'd be happy with the add-on module with the A/V functionality. I think A/V functionality would be incredibly useful even without any upgraded games and make the thing a top seller regardless. A bare bones upgrade module, no matter how cheap, would obviously be more dependent on what games are consistently made for it for the thing to have legs outside the hardcore fans. With the "simple" addition of the A/V upgrade, I think you have the best combination of features to have the device be a must have even without games behind it. I'll of course buy anything you put out, but that's my two cents.

I voted accordingly.

#13 Pixelboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 11:05 AM

I think you'll get more people to "vote" for a new console, because they've had flakey consoles over the years, and they would just prefer a new one that works. However getting all those who "vote" for a CV on a chip to "buy" said console is possibly a different story. If you already have several games in the works that only need a minimal RAM upgrade then I'd say make the module as minimalistic as necessary. That way those games can be finished and sold, which would then potentially afford you some capital dollars to progress on with a CV on a chip.

A legal question just popped into my mind regarding the CV-on-a-chip option: In order to sell such a piece of hardware to the general public, doesn't the hardware need to pass certain government inspections? I know the risks are low, but I would hate to discover that a house burned down somewhere because the hardware had a design flaw that caused it to catch fire after prolonged use. The whole point of those government inspections is to try to prevent such things from occuring, so I'm just wondering if it would be a mandatory step for something like the CV-on-a-chip. Can anyone here enlighten me? :)

We have EM#1 (Atari) and EM#3 (ADAM). The question is how important those modules are. I believe it is possible to include the expansion port with the OCCV however that would increase the price a bit, as in additon to the edge connector itself we would need a 12V power regulator, a video selector, etc. But those are things we can decide in some point later on (if the port should be included or not). For those who thinks it would be a big loss if the port isn't included, you need to realise that some of the functionality provided by the EM#1 and EM#3 can be implemented right into the FPGA. Of course if the port isn't included, any future expansion module made for the regular CV wouldn't work with the OCCV, though the functionality would always be implemented into the FPGA.

Honestly, I think the edge connector would be mostly useless, so why not use the CV's expansion port for the OM's parallel port instead? So assuming the CV console casing would be reused for the CV-on-a-chip, instead of an edge connector behind the little black door, you'd have a standard parallel port to plug stuff into, perhaps even a cable that could link the CV-on-a-chip to a PC! :)

Edited by Pixelboy, Mon Aug 3, 2009 11:16 AM.


#14 retroclouds OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 11:15 AM

I voted for #1. Eduardo is a master in what he does, but for me it's about getting the most out of the current platform.
Adding RAM for sure is an acceptable solution (other system have that on cartridge).
But beyond that I do not see the necessity.

The OM as a standalone device is not an option for me, as it wouldn't be a colecovision anymore, sorry.
If you rebuild a colecovision using FPGA you might as well run the colecovision as software/emulator alltogether.

I've seen this happening to a computer system where they enhanced/rebuilt it as a clone.
Even though the quality was very good, it ended up in splitting the community in 2 parts:
the ones that stick to the original design and the ones that go with the enhanced one.
No need to say, that in the end the quality of the software did not increase (e.g. compatibility issues)

Well, that's the way I see it.

Whatever gets decided, we do know that Eduardo will build a masterpiece though :-)


retroclouds

#15 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 11:36 AM

Something very great would be if you could have also a kind of AtariMax 128in1 cartridge built'in!. Imagine you could upload all your game in your cv by connecting the console to your PC via USB once. Then take your console where you want without having to carry cartrigdge or change it.


For that I was planning using CFs. That is in my schematics already and can be done both as an add-on or a standalone OCCV.

The ideal would be , to have a dual console that could in the same box play MSX cartridge and a Coleco. :) (even if you can not plug directly MSX cartridge, it would be go to be able to upload game as i suggest for coleco ones).

I know, i dream , but i'm sure you can do that ! :)


I suppose that can be done, as the source VHDL code for the MSX2+ is already available. Even a SG-1000 would be possible for the matter. My only concern is about diluting the OCCV into a multi-system box...

Eduardo, I think there will be more people interested to buy a 1Chip Colecovision, cause even if they don't care about the OP Module, they'll buy it anyway just to play the games on it because the 1Chip Colecovision will be more reliable than the original system


Not just A/V output, but also the CF slot. CF means that any game can be downloaded from the internet and played from the CF via a GUI in the BIOS. But again, that can be done both with a pluggable module or a standalone console.
I believe that, provided that the an OCCV can play all CV games correctly and accurately, the added advantages of A/V + CF would be a good incentive even for people that just want to play classic CV games and don't care a bit about homebrewing.

Geez, Luc wrote an essay about the OM. I will answer that in separate post...

#16 doubledown OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 11:36 AM

A legal question just popped into my mind regarding the CV-on-a-chip option: In order to sell such a piece of hardware to the general public, doesn't the hardware need to pass certain government inspections? I know the risks are low, but I would hate to discover that a house burned down somewhere because the hardware had a design flaw that caused it to catch fire after prolonged use. The whole point of those government inspections is to try to prevent such things from occuring, so I'm just wondering if it would be a mandatory step for something like the CV-on-a-chip. Can anyone here enlighten me? :)


I think the biggest problem as far as a fire goes would be from the power supply. As long as you were to use a UL listed, off the shelf power supply already tested and sold commercially, I think you're all right.

#17 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 12:03 PM

I think you'll get more people to "vote" for a new console, because they've had flakey consoles over the years, and they would just prefer a new one that works. However getting all those who "vote" for a CV on a chip to "buy" said console is possibly a different story. If you already have several games in the works that only need a minimal RAM upgrade then I'd say make the module as minimalistic as necessary. That way those games can be finished and sold, which would then potentially afford you some capital dollars to progress on with a CV on a chip.


Ok, I read both your post and Luc's post and I must say that both of you raised many good and valid points. BTW, please notice that the poll above is multiple choice, so you can vote for more than an option.
Anyway, indeed good points, something to think about. Just as a side note, a subset of the OM would be easy to build from the current schematics if it is the case...

A legal question just popped into my mind regarding the CV-on-a-chip option: In order to sell such a piece of hardware to the general public, doesn't the hardware need to pass certain government inspections? I know the risks are low, but I would hate to discover that a house burned down somewhere because the hardware had a design flaw that caused it to catch fire after prolonged use. The whole point of those government inspections is to try to prevent such things from occuring, so I'm just wondering if it would be a mandatory step for something like the CV-on-a-chip. Can anyone here enlighten me?


Does anyone have any info on that?

Honestly, I think the edge connector would be mostly useless, so why not use the CV's expansion port for the OM's parallel port instead? So assuming the CV console casing would be reused for the CV-on-a-chip, instead of an edge connector behind the little black door, you'd have a standard parallel port to plug stuff into, perhaps even a cable that could link the CV-on-a-chip to a PC!


Casing is another issue I prefer to discuss later. A pain a time, as they say. Anyways right now I see two options, reusing the CV case, or creating a custom case. The first is cheaper (unless you don't have a CV), but on the other hand that would require you to destroy (well, perhaps not excatly) an original CV.

The OM as a standalone device is not an option for me, as it wouldn't be a colecovision anymore, sorry.
If you rebuild a colecovision using FPGA you might as well run the colecovision as software/emulator alltogether.


I would say that it isn't exactly true for a series of reasons, but I understand your point...

#18 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 12:04 PM

A legal question just popped into my mind regarding the CV-on-a-chip option: In order to sell such a piece of hardware to the general public, doesn't the hardware need to pass certain government inspections? I know the risks are low, but I would hate to discover that a house burned down somewhere because the hardware had a design flaw that caused it to catch fire after prolonged use. The whole point of those government inspections is to try to prevent such things from occuring, so I'm just wondering if it would be a mandatory step for something like the CV-on-a-chip. Can anyone here enlighten me? :)


I think the biggest problem as far as a fire goes would be from the power supply. As long as you were to use a UL listed, off the shelf power supply already tested and sold commercially, I think you're all right.


Good, thanks.

#19 ten-four OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 12:46 PM

I vote for a new CV2, and that's because we all know our CV1 is dying slowly.
A complete new CV2 that includes everything, a modern console should contain.
Extra RAM new VDP, AV Out, better Sound and so on.
All "packed" with new chips, new modern connectors and maybe in a new smaller box.
New games, will in the future be produced without compromise.

Can you see it in your mind, a new CV2... :D
CV1 had several errors (RF, VDP, RAM), and in those 25 years i has CV1, then are 3 of them broken down.
Now i have a French one, that include AV Out via Scart Connection, and i must say that it is like having
a whole new console, there is a world of difference.
Therefore a new CV2 console.

But i can well follow Pixelboy in what he say.
There should be produced a little OM for connection in CV1's front as cheap as possible.
Some would buy this unit, for what they need.
And the rest of us can buy the new CV2, it's should be peoples choice.

I could maybe use version #2, which could fit within the left side of our CV1.
That would solve the problem of the box and would still be a stand-alone solution.
But if the main unit CV1 dies, we do not have to use #1 and #2 for something anyway.

Pixelboy: It's small electronics parts, and low power, just be aware for it in the beginning.
There are rules against that, but it can be investigated via internet first. :)

#20 Pixelboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 12:48 PM

Casing is another issue I prefer to discuss later. A pain a time, as they say. Anyways right now I see two options, reusing the CV case, or creating a custom case. The first is cheaper (unless you don't have a CV), but on the other hand that would require you to destroy (well, perhaps not excatly) an original CV.

I think the ideal situation would be a two-step project. The first would be the basic 16K RAM cart, and then the one-chip-CV would come later. For DKA, those who purchase the 16K cart could play the game on their regular CV but the high-score table would be erased when the power is turned off (no big deal, really). Some time later, the one-chip-CV could be released and those who buy it will see their DKA high-score table remain even after the power is turned off, because the cart will detect the presence of the new hardware and save the high score data in a savegame slot inside the console. Following that plan, all you need to do is create a quick-and-dirty OM prototype and make sure the high score table saving works for DKA. :)

#21 AJ_Maine_Man OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 1:11 PM

I voted for

3) We release the OM not as module but as a standalone CV on a chip using FPGA. The system would play all CV games, have new A/V outputs, and include the functionally planed for the OM. Being FPGA, the device could be further upgraded anytime in the future. Price would be in the $150 range I think


AV/outs and a new updated colecovision sounds great as long as the price doesn't end up climbing to high.

It would be nice if it was a black case with the colecovision metalic backround and colors on the label

#22 cybercylon OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 1:13 PM

I voted for the minimalist approach first. Keeping affordable is key as many are holding onto their money tightly. Would the minimalist approach bring something to market sooner? I'm sure many are drooling over DK arcade. As for AV mods, let people handle that themselves.

As you make some money, test the waters for a standalone approach. I'm sure many of us would like something reliable than putting up with the original console's flakiness. This starting with the minimalist approach and working towards a standalone gives plenty of time to make a good product and time for us poor people to save.

#23 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 1:25 PM

Casing is another issue I prefer to discuss later. A pain a time, as they say. Anyways right now I see two options, reusing the CV case, or creating a custom case. The first is cheaper (unless you don't have a CV), but on the other hand that would require you to destroy (well, perhaps not excatly) an original CV.

I think the ideal situation would be a two-step project. The first would be the basic 16K RAM cart, and then the one-chip-CV would come later. For DKA, those who purchase the 16K cart could play the game on their regular CV but the high-score table would be erased when the power is turned off (no big deal, really). Some time later, the one-chip-CV could be released and those who buy it will see their DKA high-score table remain even after the power is turned off, because the cart will detect the presence of the new hardware and save the high score data in a savegame slot inside the console. Following that plan, all you need to do is create a quick-and-dirty OM prototype and make sure the high score table saving works for DKA. :)


Actually I have been checking some PLD options. I believe it is possible to reduce the number of ICS on the OM to ten or so (mostly memory ICs and the PSG). In this case the OM would be released as we have been discussing, with not just more work RAM, but also flash RAM and so. It would be possible to reduce the size even more using SMD ICs, and in this case the board would come even assembled from the manufacturer, but I need to investigate prices for that. Anyway the first step would be to create the whole OM on a protoboard (breadboard) then start to replace the 74 ICs with PLD. Once the circuitry is checked we can build a prototype of the PCB and start beta testing.
My fear with a very stripped down version of the OM is that we create something that is more of a quick fix for a couple of upcoming games. No matter how cheap, the OM isn't going to be free, and I suppose people that buy the OM wouldn't be happy when they find out that they need to buy a OCCV to play those games with all the features.

#24 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 1:35 PM

It would be nice if it was a black case with the colecovision metalic backround and colors on the label


I agree, a black case with the ColecoVision metalic panel could give me goose bumps... :)

About price, I am not 100% sure yet, but I have seen similar projects go for around that, $150, and I know for sure that a 20K LEs FPGA from Altera costs like $50. And 20K LEs offers room for A LOT of stuff...

#25 Pixelboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 1:38 PM

Actually I have been checking some PLD options. I believe it is possible to reduce the number of ICS on the OM to ten or so (mostly memory ICs and the PSG). In this case the OM would be released as we have been discussing, with not just more work RAM, but also flash RAM and so. It would be possible to reduce the size even more using SMD ICs, and in this case the board would come even assembled from the manufacturer, but I need to investigate prices for that.

Interesting. :)

My fear with a very stripped down version of the OM is that we create something that is more of a quick fix for a couple of upcoming games. No matter how cheap, the OM isn't going to be free, and I suppose people that buy the OM wouldn't be happy when they find out that they need to buy a OCCV to play those games with all the features.

All the more reason why the absolute cheapest option (the plain 16K RAM cart) is the way to go. You can keep all the other bells and whistles for the future OCCV, and when the time comes to upgrade, we could buy back the 16K carts from the customers by offering a discount on the OCCV. We can then resell the 16K RAM carts to other customers who are not willing to buy the OCCV (I'm sure there will be several of those, for a variety of reasons) but still want to play with games like DKA. :)




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