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#1 Video OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:27 PM

This may be a blatantly stupid question, due to lack of money, I haven't kept up with the homebrew scene for the 2600 in...I don't know, five years or so. Now I was looking at some games in the AAstore, and they all have some kind of Melony upgrade you can get with it.

What is that? Some kind of expandable cart or somethihng? As near as I can tell, it's just an idea so you can trade the game back for half credit or something towards an upgrade if one comes out (like Skeleton to Skeleton +, the only real thing I can think of at the moment, or maybe Thrust to thrust+)

Anyhow, what is that, how does it work, and do I need it? I'm not really for trading games in, even sucky ones, not that I've come across any of those in the homebrew scene, but still :P

#2 nonner242 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:33 PM

It all herePosted Image
http://atariage.com/...atariage_melody

#3 Video OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:47 PM

I read taht (I mean, didn't look at your link, but looked at what AA redirected me to when I clicked on it) just a flash memory special built new cart....but I still don't know. I'm a little leary of getting "new tech" to run in my 2600, yeah, all those old prom chips are....well....old. But then again, so is my Atari.

That's why I want to know, the scariest part for me is the "being able to flash it while in a shell" part, which sounds like, you could ruin it, or delete it, just by powering the system up, and that's kind of a scary thought.

That's why I wanted to know, is it something necessairy? Do I really have to worry about the old eproms dying? Does anybody know the reliability of the thing?

[edit] just to say that yeah, that's the same link AA directed me to....

Edited by Video, Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:49 PM.


#4 batari OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:50 PM

the scariest part for me is the "being able to flash it while in a shell" part, which sounds like, you could ruin it, or delete it, just by powering the system up, and that's kind of a scary thought.

Melody is hard-wired to start up in the game and not the programming mode. Even if the hard-wired part were to fail for whatever reason and it started in programming mode, erasing and reprogramming requires a specific sequence of commands at just the right time that aren't going to appear by chance by just turning on the console.

#5 nonner242 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:53 PM

I read taht (I mean, didn't look at your link, but looked at what AA redirected me to when I clicked on it) just a flash memory special built new cart....but I still don't know. I'm a little leary of getting "new tech" to run in my 2600, yeah, all those old prom chips are....well....old. But then again, so is my Atari.

That's why I want to know, the scariest part for me is the "being able to flash it while in a shell" part, which sounds like, you could ruin it, or delete it, just by powering the system up, and that's kind of a scary thought.

That's why I wanted to know, is it something necessairy? Do I really have to worry about the old eproms dying? Does anybody know the reliability of the thing?

[edit] just to say that yeah, that's the same link AA directed me to....


I thinks its a great idea, altho if I ever get a game Id keep it.
Yes old eproms will diePosted Image
I wouldnt worry about the harmony cart too much, Im pretty sure AL will fix any problem you might have. But I'd doubt you will have any ever.Posted Image

#6 shadow460 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:36 PM

Out of sheer curiosity, how does one flash Melody while in a shell? DevOS? That would be awesome for building carts. I wonder how it would work if one tried to modify a third party shell to take a Melody board.

#7 Shawn OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:23 PM

Out of sheer curiosity, how does one flash Melody while in a shell? DevOS? That would be awesome for building carts. I wonder how it would work if one tried to modify a third party shell to take a Melody board.


No it's done with a proprietary programmer.

#8 yuppicide OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:22 AM

I'd be interested to know it's size compared to the size of boards I'd buy here.

I already have plans to make my game on 16K PCB's from the store here, so unless Melody is the same size I wouldn't be able to use it. I'm using a specially designed case.

#9 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:37 AM

As near as I can tell, it's just an idea so you can trade the game back for half credit or something towards an upgrade if one comes out (like Skeleton to Skeleton +, the only real thing I can think of at the moment, or maybe Thrust to thrust+)

AFAIK the upgrade is meant to give you bugfixes and minor updates but not major updates.

#10 juanitogan OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:36 AM

I had similar questions as the OP and I don't think anyone really answered them so I went digging myself.

The first thing that I think needs to be made clear is that "original" Atari carts were manufactured with mask ROMs. Today's unlicensed carts are manufactured with erasable EPROMs, EEPROMs, or Flash EEPROMs.

ROMs are cheap when mass produced and the programs are permanently printed in them. The data retention of a ROM is indefinite and they will last as long as the environment allows -- that is, they will last until the circuits corrode as a result of heat, oxygen, use, or other factors.

The various types of EPROMs are not permanently programmed and the data retention is much more finite and depends on the various technologies in use as well as the quality of the chip and the quality of the programming device. One rule of thumb regarding data retention of EPROMs suggests that EPROMs can guarantee retaining data for 10 years, EEPROMs for 40 years, and Flash EEPROMs for 100 years. (That source can be found here: http://www.cl.cam.ac...em_CHES2005.pdf) A quick check of catalogs, however, shows that both EEPROM and Flash are typically guaranteed for 20 years at best (this includes the Flash used in the Melody board).

Based on the assumption that new Flash may retain their programming longer than reused EEPROM, I opted for the Flash upgrade on all 8 carts of my last purchase. This seemed like a reasonable idea but, alas, has proven to be a mistake. Of the eight carts I purchased, five do not work on my 2600A and one does not work on my minty 2600 light sixer (the Synthcart title simply will not work no matter what). All Melody carts give more trouble booting up than my old carts. And, yes, I keep all my contacts very clean.

I complained about this in an email to sales over a month ago just after my purchase but never heard back. I will try again when I find time to address this trouble.

My suspicion is that the circuits in modern Flash chips are simply too fine for the 2600 circuits to get a discernible signal out of. It's kind of like trying to pump a fire hose through a drinking fountain. Sure, you'll get some water through, but it might not be enough for the fire to notice. The Melody board may need some sort of onboard amplifier.

So, in summary, I would be very wary of paying extra for the Melody boards. Even in spite of my troubles, I will likely place future orders with AtariAge... but with some hesitation and certainly not for any Melody boards unless this issue is somehow proven to be fixed.

Edited by juanitogan, Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:37 AM.


#11 batari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:45 AM

Melody boards have proven far more reliable than standard boards with EPROMs and PLDs. Your issues are not normal at all, and your post seems to imply that I don't know what I'm doing. And the analogy about pipes makes zero sense. The signals to the cart are well with spec and that's definitely not the issue.

If you are having trouble, I really would like to get to the bottom of your issues and if any are actually broken, I will personally replace each and every cart.

Edited by batari, Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:46 AM.


#12 Gemintronic OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:48 AM

batari. You don't know a SINGLE thing about the Atari 2600.

It's made from a series of fire hoses making sweet love to a drinking fountain: It is NOT a truck!

#13 juanitogan OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:56 AM

Actually, batari, I have no doubt you know a ton more about the Atari than I know. I have only a basic knowledge of electronics. I have no intent to be rude. I tell it like it is and that should be fair to do. I don't believe blind praise is ever helpful. I am offering my best guesses based on what I have observed. If you don't believe signal discernment or SNR is a factor when mixing today's electronics with those from 30 years ago, then so be it. I can't say I know enough to dispute that -- I just find it suspicious given what I know about physics (this suspicion is what we call "code smell" in my world). If you do not find my criticisms to be constructive, then you have my apologies. I would have thought it to be an easy assumption that I support classic gaming and only wish to improve it.

Keep in mind, however, my point of view as a customer with a product that has failed in two somewhat different consoles -- both of which otherwise have no issue with the rest of my cartridge collection. Yes, it is possible that both of my systems have something freaky in common about them that no others have (such as the owner) which somehow makes them prejudiced against the Melody cart, but this is highly unlikely. Perhaps it is the electrical service in my house, or solar flares, still doubtful. I happen to be very good at troubleshooting code and systems and I find that troubleshooting electronics is not that much different than troubleshooting logic. Occam's razor usually holds true.

I find it obvious that the simplest explanation here is that the Melody cart is not as compatible as hoped. The only question I see is: What about it exactly is the issue? Dunno. After making sure all the carts had clean contacts, the next likely suspect, I figured, was the age gap in component design. This is because I have no knowledge of the specific components on board and cannot suspect one versus another except that the most complex component is the most likely to contain the fault. Still, it could be something more basic.

Look at what I know. Some carts load easily. Most load with difficulty. Some do not load on one system versus the other. One does not load at all on either system. It is likely a fair assumption that the sixer has better quality components in it than the 2600A. Thus, it should not be surprising that the sixer could discern a weaker SNR that the 2600A. This may just be a fluke but it is still a fair enough assumption that I find it valuable until proven otherwise. Regardless, even if the two systems were the same model, the differences in loading behavior between the two still indicates something about signal quality versus the rest of my cart collection. If not pipes and SNR, then what?

Perhaps I got a bad batch of Melody carts but, given their flaky behavior, I don't find this as the likely issue. We can try new carts but I suspect this would just be a waste of postage and time. I know how difficult it is to troubleshoot something you can't reliably reproduce. Ugh. I am hoping someone will find these comments and see a better solution. (But nobody really reads this much text.)

Believe me, I want Melody to be the awesome solution that you want it to be. I am writing this because I want to help. Same as with my original email (notice I left my dust flap comments out of this thread because they don't belong here). I have hopes to someday publish the best 4-player 2600 game ever. Why you haven't heard more complaints is a real stumper and that bothers me. I don't know how many Melody carts you have sold, and to who, so I cannot really guess as to why I am the anomaly. In my business, user complacency is rampant and should always be suspected. I, for one, appreciate quality user feedback so that I can build a better product.

I will help as much as I can to resolve this, I just can't say I have much spare time between familly and work (with family always coming first). The hours spent writing these comments already hurts.

Some may call me cruel for only giving my kids access to old-school systems in the very little screen time that they get but, well, they don't really get enough screen time for anything more complex. Besides, they can play modern systems at their friend's houses.

I hope my motives and implications are clear now.

#14 batari OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:55 PM

Actually, batari, I have no doubt you know a ton more about the Atari than I know. I have only a basic knowledge of electronics. I have no intent to be rude. I tell it like it is and that should be fair to do. I don't believe blind praise is ever helpful. I am offering my best guesses based on what I have observed. If you don't believe signal discernment or SNR is a factor when mixing today's electronics with those from 30 years ago, then so be it. I can't say I know enough to dispute that -- I just find it suspicious given what I know about physics (this suspicion is what we call "code smell" in my world). If you do not find my criticisms to be constructive, then you have my apologies. I would have thought it to be an easy assumption that I support classic gaming and only wish to improve it.

Keep in mind, however, my point of view as a customer with a product that has failed in two somewhat different consoles -- both of which otherwise have no issue with the rest of my cartridge collection. Yes, it is possible that both of my systems have something freaky in common about them that no others have (such as the owner) which somehow makes them prejudiced against the Melody cart, but this is highly unlikely. Perhaps it is the electrical service in my house, or solar flares, still doubtful. I happen to be very good at troubleshooting code and systems and I find that troubleshooting electronics is not that much different than troubleshooting logic. Occam's razor usually holds true.

I find it obvious that the simplest explanation here is that the Melody cart is not as compatible as hoped. The only question I see is: What about it exactly is the issue? Dunno. After making sure all the carts had clean contacts, the next likely suspect, I figured, was the age gap in component design. This is because I have no knowledge of the specific components on board and cannot suspect one versus another except that the most complex component is the most likely to contain the fault. Still, it could be something more basic.

Look at what I know. Some carts load easily. Most load with difficulty. Some do not load on one system versus the other. One does not load at all on either system. It is likely a fair assumption that the sixer has better quality components in it than the 2600A. Thus, it should not be surprising that the sixer could discern a weaker SNR that the 2600A. This may just be a fluke but it is still a fair enough assumption that I find it valuable until proven otherwise. Regardless, even if the two systems were the same model, the differences in loading behavior between the two still indicates something about signal quality versus the rest of my cart collection. If not pipes and SNR, then what?

Perhaps I got a bad batch of Melody carts but, given their flaky behavior, I don't find this as the likely issue. We can try new carts but I suspect this would just be a waste of postage and time. I know how difficult it is to troubleshoot something you can't reliably reproduce. Ugh. I am hoping someone will find these comments and see a better solution. (But nobody really reads this much text.)

Believe me, I want Melody to be the awesome solution that you want it to be. I am writing this because I want to help. Same as with my original email (notice I left my dust flap comments out of this thread because they don't belong here). I have hopes to someday publish the best 4-player 2600 game ever. Why you haven't heard more complaints is a real stumper and that bothers me. I don't know how many Melody carts you have sold, and to who, so I cannot really guess as to why I am the anomaly. In my business, user complacency is rampant and should always be suspected. I, for one, appreciate quality user feedback so that I can build a better product.

I will help as much as I can to resolve this, I just can't say I have much spare time between familly and work (with family always coming first). The hours spent writing these comments already hurts.

Some may call me cruel for only giving my kids access to old-school systems in the very little screen time that they get but, well, they don't really get enough screen time for anything more complex. Besides, they can play modern systems at their friend's houses.

I hope my motives and implications are clear now.

I have sold thousands of Melody boards and you are the first to complain. While this does not mean that there are others with problems, it's a pretty good record.

Melody spent a full year in development and tens of thousands of dollars for prototyping, with professional fabrication and assembly. It's a serious project, not a half-baked idea.

I feel you still do not believe me regarding your pipe theory. It is simply wrong, and let me explain why. The board traces and chip pins are smaller than old chips, but they can carry roughly 3000 and 500 times the maximum current that the console can sink or source. The voltage is 1.3 volts above the minimum spec which is a very comfortable margin. There is absolutely no signal integrity issue to speak of.

What I don't understand is that you don't seem to want me to investigate your claims of unreliability. Send them to me and I will pay you your full purchase price. If you won't do this, I have to suspect your claims are specious.

I take this matter very seriously. I am about to make another 5-figure investment on a new run of Melody boards. If there is ANY concern or even a HINT of an issue, I NEED to fully investigate this before I spend my own, personal, hard-earned money on this! I'd appreciate you working with me to figure this out. I am certain we can come to a resolution.

#15 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:20 PM

A probably stupid question from a software guy:

Could it be a power supply problem? So that a Melody board reacts sensitive to a weak or defective (working outside specifications) power supply but carts still continue to work for a while?

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch, Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:21 PM.


#16 Mr SQL OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:16 PM

Juan,
I was thinking the same thing as Tom; check that the volts and amps are to spec on the power supplies and on the cartridge bus.
If that fails consider some of the 30 year old components can attenuate, particularly in different storage climates (caps can leak dielectric faster, etc). One other thing to check is using an isolating transformer or testing via a DC Inverter; a cross current, groundloop or microwave signal bleeding into the power supply could all be causes of varying sensitivity like you've described, check and see. :)

#17 juanitogan OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:13 PM

I get the feeling that some find me hostile here. I may be critical and blunt but, I assure you all, I am not hostile. I see an anomaly and am reporting it as fairly and accurately as I can (if not a little frustrated due to lack of response on what I felt was a rather large purchase).

Batari. Actually, I am completely willing to return the carts if that is what you want. You haven't asked for them yet. Just because I suspect that it will be a waste of time and postage does not mean that I see no value in it. I would ask for them back if I were your place. It is the only way for you to double check my observations and check for other issues. Keep in mind that my original email, which had some good details in it, was ignored (perhaps adding to my frustrations) and so I broadened my search for help. Actually, I was really just answering the OP's question as best I could because I believed I had something useful to contribute. The conversation just grew from there.

Regarding the power supply theories, yes, I suspected the similar things up front. While there is no doubt more I could investigate here, keep in mind that I have two consoles and three power supplies (one of which is a newer universal adapter). The 2600A has been in my possession my whole life and the sixer was acquired about two months ago with its box and really does appear barely used. Changing the power supply to a console does not change that console's behavior with the Melody carts. This is not an absolute test but if it is a power problem then it would be in my house current or deeper in the consoles (both of the consoles). I can try searching for a cleaner power source. I used to have a fully isolated power supply but no longer (too big and heavy to keep around). I could perhaps try my hobby regulated supply. Regardless, something still appears to be more sensitive about the Melody cart. This all could be a red herring but the evidence is pretty concerning.

Please remember that I am only stating my observations and suspicions and don't pretend to actually know what is up. If I thought I knew what was up I would say so. If my suspicions are not wanted then just tell me to shut up instead of berating me. Sheesh. All I wanted were some new games. Who knew it would be this difficult? So much for trying to do the right thing.

#18 batari OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:10 PM

I'm sorry the email was missed. I don't think it was ignored but simply not noticed as whoever got it would have certainly replied. I will send you a PM with some info on how to get the carts to me.

The problem I had with your post was not that I didn't want to address your problems but that you went on a long diatribe about cartridge technology and your mistaken belief that the cartridge is fundamentally flawed. This served no legitimate constructive purpose.

Now I will pm you so I can get to the bottom of the issue.

#19 Albert OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:09 PM

First, I'm the one who created the carts when you purchased them from the AtariAge Store. I always test carts before sending them out in order to avoid problems such as what you've described. We've shipped many hundreds of games using Melody boards (the entire run of Boulder Dash uses them, for instance, and that's 250 carts right there) and I don't think I've ever had anyone tell me that a Melody-based game has not worked in their system. And I've used them on a wide variety of 2600 and 7800 systems myself--half the 2600 systems I brought to the Portland Retro Gaming Expo last month were displaying games running on Melody boards (Chetiry, Boulder Dash, Space Rocks, Star Castle, Epic Adventure, Evil Magician Returns II, and others), where they ran for the entire weekend without issues.

That's not to say your experiences are not genuine--I sincerely believe you are having issues with the two systems you tested the games on. I just want to make it clear (as Fred has also done) that this is a pretty unusual circumstance and is far from the norm. If the Melody boards were less reliable than regular, legacy boards, we would not be using them, as we certainly don't want to create more headaches for ourselves! I've had fewer compatibility problems with Melody boards than I have with regular bankswitch boards that use PLDs and EPROMs.

Second, I want to apologize for not responding to the email you sent on September 18th. This was the week before I left for the Portland Retro Gaming Expo and I was in a mad fury trying to get a million things done before I had to depart. I did read your email when you first sent it, made a mental note to respond to it, and then never did.

The best situation would be if Fred had access to your 2600A and the games that do not work on that system, as he would be able to troubleshoot the problem and determine if it's an issue with the Melody he can improve upon, or something unique about that particular 2600A that we haven't seen before. I suspect sending you another batch of Melody-based games would result in similar problems in this situation. I'll let you and Fred see if you can discern what the issue is, but if there is no resolution I will of course either refund the money for the carts or replace them with non-Melody versions for you.

..Al

#20 juanitogan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 7, 2012 3:28 PM

I'm sorry the email was missed. I don't think it was ignored but simply not noticed as whoever got it would have certainly replied. I will send you a PM with some info on how to get the carts to me.

The problem I had with your post was not that I didn't want to address your problems but that you went on a long diatribe about cartridge technology and your mistaken belief that the cartridge is fundamentally flawed. This served no legitimate constructive purpose.

Now I will pm you so I can get to the bottom of the issue.


So now I'm one who wrote a "long diatribe" that "served no legitimate constructive purpose." Really? Someday I hope to work with engineers who do not get defensive like this when possible problems manifest in their products?

The evidence:

1. I have four carts that boot on one system but not the other.
2. I have dozens of carts that boot on both systems.
3. The four carts that do not boot on one system are all Melody carts.
4. I have no non-Melody carts that exhibit this behavior.
5. Three other Melody carts boot on both systems.
6. One other Melody cart is exhibiting questionable behavior on both systems and is still being investigated.

Indisputable conclusions:

1. The two systems used in this test are not identical.
2. The four carts in question are less compatible with one system versus the other.

Circumstantial or inferred conclusions:

1. Some Melody carts are more sensitive to one system versus the other.
2. Some Melody carts are not more sensitive to one system versus the other.
3. Non-Melody carts are not more sensitive to one system versus the other.
4. Therefore, there is likely a subtle fault in the Melody cart somewhere.

How does this not fairly lead to the comments in my first post?

Now add in the behavior that most of the Melody carts exhibited unusual difficulty booting up in both systems during the first several attempts. I have no hard evidence here but such things add to the circumstantial conclusions. It is a curiosity that the working carts are booting up easier lately. I have always been skeptical of the “burn in” benefit postured by audiophiles... but this makes me wonder if there is something to that. Again, no hard evidence, it could have been cabling or other issues that day. Regardless, getting back to basics, the same four carts always fail in the same system.

If my 2600A is the only system in the world that is more sensitive to the Melody carts, then so be it. It still shows that these four carts, at least, are not as compatible as the rest of my carts. How do I not have a right to express that? Seriously. How could I possibly not have that right?

I do not care if I am right or not. I only care about finding the right solution -- no matter who it comes from.

It could be that the rarity of my event is not worth investigating. Fine. I can buy that. I myself may not put as much time investigating the 1-in-1000 reports that I get... but I always find them curious and I always take note of them in case another pops up someday. To abuse my report simply because you may find it naive, is its own kind of naivete.

Just because my suspicion (and I clearly stated it as a suspicion at the start) was the pipe theory and SNR, this does not mean that this is the only thing I suspect. It could be a manufacturing defect or a hundred other things. The working behavior of these carts in the other system, however, tends to greatly lessen most of these other suspicions.

Go ahead -- keep throwing mud at me -- obviously I have been around the block a few times before with difficult engineers. Your words may give me a headache, but they do not intimidate me. Although, I must admit, I am pretty well regretting all the time this discussion is taking and I keep asking myself: “Why bother?” All I can come up with is: “Because the writers of these games deserve to have their games played by as many people as possible regardless of whose pride is at stake.”

#21 juanitogan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 7, 2012 3:31 PM

To anybody still reading this,

Putting my conversation with batari aside, I am still pursuing as much testing as I can technically do without taking the carts apart or otherwise putting them at risk. It is apparent that I am likely the only one who will be able to reproduce this issue so I might as well do as much as I can before I send the carts back. My gut still tells me that this a SNR issue but I do not have the skills or equipment to start measuring that. I could take a cart apart and start tinkering with adding shielding to reduce interference but I suspect this would be a silly waste of time without knowing more about electronics design.

So, if anyone has any other ideas that a person with basic electronic skills can check without causing too much risk to the cart, let me know. If I do fry a cart doing something risky, well, I'll eat that and not return it.

I looked at the power supply idea some more and found a mono plug connector to hook up to my hobby power supply for testing. No change in behavior. I took things downstairs to try on an older TV instead of the flatscreen (also to try a different circuit in the house). No change. Well, actually, Synthcart seemed to do a bit better and this, perhaps, caused me to refocus on Synthcart and rethink it.

Synthcart is the one cart I have that does not work properly on both of my systems. Or so I thought. This is actually still true, but let me explain my new confusion... because it works... but it works in strange ways.

At first, Synthcart wouldn't work at all like many of the others. Then it started booting in a strange b/w mode (again like many of the others). Thus, when it starting booting in a mode with a scrolling color background (a very distracting feature I was unaware of) and combed text, I assumed it still wasn't booting correctly even though it was otherwise functional. Because Synthcart was the one holdout for working on the sixer, I began to suspect that perhaps this is how it was meant to look. So, to get to know it better, I downloaded the ROM and tested it on Stella and Javatari. Both of these do not show the text as combed (aside from seeing the alternating frame trick if you use Javatari to move one frame at a time).

This indicates that something is indeed up with Synthcart. I looked at it more and noticed that the combing problem does not always load the same way -- it manifests in one of three or four different ways. For every four sprite lines I may see lines 1&3 (or 2&4, hard to know which is which), 1&4, or 2&3. Never have I seen all four lines. Note: non-sprite lines display as they should.

Color versus b/w. This is still a problem. Sometimes it boots in color, sometimes in vertically-striped b/w. The 2600A appears much more likely to load color than the sixer (not what I expected). The situation got more curious, however, when I tested on another TV. Both systems always loaded color when connected to this other TV (but still with the combed text). This would indicate that the color signal is reduced on Synthcart and some TVs can lock it in better than others. This would make sense with what I observe during boot elsewhere with other carts.

Because sometimes pictures really are worth a thousand words, I took some screenshots of the various ways Synthcart boots up. Take a close look at the differences in the letter shapes and the logo. I also included a shot from Javatari of what the alternate frames look like just to show that frames are not part of this problem (the text would be unreadable if they were).

synthcart1q

synthcart2q

synthcart3q

synthcart4q

synthcart5q

synthcart frames


Moving on to another idea:

This one is very far out there... but perhaps there is something in common about the ROM image of these four games that makes them more susceptible to their environment (i.e. generates more noise and/or more susceptible to noise). I can't imagine what it would be but, well, here's the list (all from one order):

Works on both 2600 and 2600A:
- Dungeon
- Medieval Mayhem
- Wolfenstein VCS

Do work on 2600 but do NOT work on 2600A:
- Bee-Ball
- Combat Redux
- Gunfight
- Indy 500 XE

Questionable on both 2600 and 2600A:
- Synthcart


My less-compatible Atari:
Model: CX-2600 A
Board: C015519 Rev. 14 © 1980
S.N. 812310187
DSC 0035q


#22 juanitogan OFFLINE  

juanitogan

    Space Invader

  • 15 posts
  • Daring Greatly
  • Location:Earth, most of the time, maybe in NM

Posted Wed Nov 7, 2012 3:33 PM

First,...
..Al


Al,

Thank you for contacting me. I understand how and why my email got buried in all your happenings and I'm good with it. I'm very busy and distracted right now as well so things are moving slow for me too. I didn't mean for this to get crazy like this. Sorry about that.

I will send the carts back for new ones shortly. I have a few dilemmas here but I think I know the answers. Dilemmas like: Which carts, exactly, should I return? The famous four? The famous four plus Synthcart? All of them? None of them? Do I want to try new Melody carts in blind hope they will work like the other three I have? This might not be a bad idea to try once. In spite of my difficulties with Melody, it is not hard to see that they are theoretically and statistically better (on the whole). Do I want to wait and see if problems can be found with my returned Melody carts before I decide what to get in return? And, finally, how much more testing should I do before I return them? Should I keep one of the famous four and just buy another copy of it in case I find time for future testing at a lower level?

I suspect the best answer is this: I will return the famous four plus Synthcart in exchange for whatever the non-Melody option is (although, the non-Melody option makes me nervous as well). I will return them as soon as possible. I will monitor my Melody and (soon to be) non-Melody carts for any changes in behavior and report back when needed.

The fact that the Melody carts don't fit that well within the cartridge shell is unfortunate. After forcing the dust flap open with a screwdriver before insertion, they operate more or less okay because the dust flap usually doesn't fully close after that. I will be interested to see if the non-Melody boards fit in the shell any better. If I am the only one to have complained about the shell then this would support theories such as: most sales go directly into collections untested; the customer here simply doesn't complain much or doesn't pay attention to detail; or, I have carts that are unique in many ways.

Thanks again,

Matt

#23 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

Thomas Jentzsch

    Thrust, Jammed, SWOOPS!, Boulder Dash, THREE·S, Star Castle

  • 23,938 posts
  • Always left from right here!
  • Location:Düsseldorf, Germany, Europe, Earth

Posted Wed Nov 7, 2012 3:49 PM

...or, I have carts that are unique in many ways.

Given the sheer number of carts working for other people, I suppose this one comes closest.

Or maybe something of your hardware is killing those carts.

BTW: Did you get all those carts at once? Maybe something happened to them while sending them.

#24 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

Thomas Jentzsch

    Thrust, Jammed, SWOOPS!, Boulder Dash, THREE·S, Star Castle

  • 23,938 posts
  • Always left from right here!
  • Location:Düsseldorf, Germany, Europe, Earth

Posted Wed Nov 7, 2012 3:56 PM

Works on both 2600 and 2600A:
- Dungeon
- Medieval Mayhem
- Wolfenstein VCS

Do work on 2600 but do NOT work on 2600A:
- Bee-Ball
- Combat Redux
- Gunfight
- Indy 500 XE

If I am not completely wrong, Dungeon, Medieval Mayhem and Wolfenstein VCS are all newer games compared to the other four. Maybe(!) a new, common programming trick was used which leads to problems for you.

#25 Gemintronic OFFLINE  

Gemintronic

    Jason S. - Lead Developer & CEO

  • 9,308 posts

Posted Wed Nov 7, 2012 4:13 PM


Richter: Die Tooth Protector. You don’t belong in this Heavy Sixer!
Dracula: It was not by my hand I was once again given flash. I was bought here by humans who wished to pay me tribute!
Richter: Tribute!? You steal men’s wages, and make them your slaves!
Dracula: Perhaps the same could be said of all collectables…
Richter: Your gameplay is as empty as your soul! Mankind ill needs a replica such as you!
Dracula: What is a Melody board? An erasable little pile of eeproms. But enough talk… Have at you!






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