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Atari Flashback 2 - Mod or Clone


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#1 Dastari Creel OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:36 PM

Does anyone know the answer to the question above. Its kind of key to a project I may want to undertake. Basically "under the hood" is the Atari Flashback 2 the exact same as a 2600 except with the cartridge slot removed and something added to store the ROMs for the games included in the system? Or it basically a clone (or a chip based emulator) in a 2600-looking housing.

I'm guessing its the latter but would like some confirmation.

#2 DeadlyDiskKun OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:38 PM

Its a real Atari 2600 inside, without the pin connector.
Just like a C64 DTV is a real Commodore 64 without the ability to plug in a disk drive.

#3 onmode-ky OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 11, 2010 3:36 PM

It is not the "exact same." What is under the hood is a newly designed PCB which uses the same instruction set as the 2600; it is not the same actual chips and circuitry as any of the VCS/2600 models. To use an analogy where the instruction set is English, the Flashback 2/2+ is a guy (let's call him "Flashman") who speaks English just like the 2600 (let's call him "Real McCoy") spoke English 30 years ago, but Flashman is not a clone of Real McCoy with the same height, weight, build, facial hair, etc. Continuing with this analogy, Flashman speaks English natively, not like a guy (let's call him "Bookworm") whose first language was German and carries a suite of German-English translation tools with him; Bookworm represents an emulation-based system, like AtGames' Sega Genesis plug-n-play systems.

I hope that made some sense. . . .

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Edit: replaced "German-to-English" with "German-English" to eliminate the single-direction connotation.

Edited by onmode-ky, Sun Apr 11, 2010 3:43 PM.


#4 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 11, 2010 4:30 PM

It is a re-implementation of the 2600 (CPU + TIA + RIOT) using an FPGA. It is not 100% compatible but is quite close (games that use extra RAM are not compatible). The cart port pins are present on the FB2 PCB and can be wired to real 2600 carts, including the Harmony cart.

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#5 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:09 AM

It is a re-implementation of the 2600 (CPU + TIA + RIOT) using an FPGA.


No, there's no FPGA under the hood, not sure where you got that idea. It's a ASIC implementation of the CPU+TIA+RIOT. Secondary on the board is the custom GIZMO (MMU/Menu chip).

Does anyone know the answer to the question above. Its kind of key to a project I may want to undertake.


Interesting someone in my backyard doing a project with the FB2. What are you looking at doing?

Basically "under the hood" is the Atari Flashback 2 the exact same as a 2600 except with the cartridge slot removed and something added to store the ROMs for the games included in the system?


In concept, yes. Physically, it is not a literal reproduction of the original 2600 pcb and separate chips, as noted above, if that's what you're asking. It has all the same "under the hood" in a single chip ASIC format.

Edited by wgungfu, Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:15 AM.


#6 Dastari Creel OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:31 PM

Interesting someone in my backyard doing a project with the FB2. What are you looking at doing?


You make me wish I had gotten onto Atariage sooner. I had no idea there was a midwest classic gaming convention in Brookfield two weeks ago. I would have been all over that if I knew. Currently I'm teaching my three-year-old daughter how to play Pacman on that Namco joystick thing that came out several years ago. I'd love to take her to see a bunch of old games.

Anyhow, my project really doesn't involve the FB per se. I was actually hoping it was an Atari-on-a-chip which might help me with some reverse engineering I'm doing. Basically I want to create a hand-held 2600, but I deplore the methods of hardware hackers like Ben Heck. That's not to say that I don't respect his technical acumen and I'm going to use some of his methods from his book for some things but I'm a gaming naturalist. I don't see the point in destroying something to make something. Every time you destroy an Atari, that's a piece of history going away. I feel the same way about carts, which is why I'm glad that the homebrewers are going to this new cart type based on the harmony technology.

Anyhow I wanted to create a handheld system completely from scratch. I have all the 2600 tech specs and I just downloaded the schematics. It'd be pretty easy to build except for that T.I.A. chip. That is going to be my major problem but I'll look around some and see what I can find. I've got some crazy ideas for some of the features of this system if I can make it and I'm pretty confident about all of it except for the chip.

Should be a fun project though even if it takes me a long while to realize it.

#7 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 13, 2010 3:14 AM

No, there's no FPGA under the hood, not sure where you got that idea. It's a ASIC implementation of the CPU+TIA+RIOT. Secondary on the board is the custom GIZMO (MMU/Menu chip).


My mistake - there were various 2600-on-a-FPGA projects floating around a few years back, and I thought the FB2 was based on one of these.

Chris

#8 batari OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:16 AM


No, there's no FPGA under the hood, not sure where you got that idea. It's a ASIC implementation of the CPU+TIA+RIOT. Secondary on the board is the custom GIZMO (MMU/Menu chip).


My mistake - there were various 2600-on-a-FPGA projects floating around a few years back, and I thought the FB2 was based on one of these.

Chris

It's very likely that the FB2 was prototyped on an FPGA before going to custom silicon.

#9 Dastari Creel OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:50 PM

No, there's no FPGA under the hood, not sure where you got that idea. It's a ASIC implementation of the CPU+TIA+RIOT. Secondary on the board is the custom GIZMO (MMU/Menu chip).


Ok I just read up on some more and it turns out that the FB2 is just an Atari on a chip. I just didn't understand some of the terminology that you used. The question is, is that chip easier to come by than the TIA? Seeing as how the flashback isn't compatible with 32k Atari games for the purpose of my project I'll probably want to come up with something different since I'm aiming for a high degree of compatability.

Can anyone recommend any good resources to read up on for anyone trying to delve into the chips themselves?

I'm pretty confident that I can handle the rest of the system (I'm an electrical engineer by trade) but I've never really done anything with creating my own chip.

By the way, wgungfu, I'm from out of state and only just moved here a couple of years ago. Do you know of any kind of Atari scene here? Everywhere else I've lived there's been at least one store that dealt in retro games. Here the closest thing is Mega Media Xchange and they don't go any earlier than the NES (and they've got a crappy selection to boot). Any thoughts?

#10 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:16 AM

Anyhow I wanted to create a handheld system completely from scratch. I have all the 2600 tech specs and I just downloaded the schematics. It'd be pretty easy to build except for that T.I.A. chip. That is going to be my major problem but I'll look around some and see what I can find. I've got some crazy ideas for some of the features of this system if I can make it and I'm pretty confident about all of it except for the chip.

Should be a fun project though even if it takes me a long while to realize it.


If all you're looking to do is a custom PCB (vs. Ben's method of hacking them), and no hacking up of an original 2600 for a TIA, you can always get brand new TIAs here:

http://www.myatari.com/atari26.txt

#11 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:23 AM

It's very likely that the FB2 was prototyped on an FPGA before going to custom silicon.


There were several stages, and certainly FPGA was used for the initial proof of concept. The actual sample was Winbond ASIC for instance. Don't forget, we had access to full layouts and such for everything, so the process was a little more streamlined in those regards. But regardless, using FPGA for proof of concept is a far cry from actually having a FPGA under the hood - which it does not.

#12 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:26 AM


No, there's no FPGA under the hood, not sure where you got that idea. It's a ASIC implementation of the CPU+TIA+RIOT. Secondary on the board is the custom GIZMO (MMU/Menu chip).


My mistake - there were various 2600-on-a-FPGA projects floating around a few years back, and I thought the FB2 was based on one of these.

Chris



No, it's a complete custom design by Curt. Was never based on anyone else's work, regardless of what a few people tried to claim. We released a completely original project.

#13 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:32 AM

Ok I just read up on some more and it turns out that the FB2 is just an Atari on a chip. I just didn't understand some of the terminology that you used. The question is, is that chip easier to come by than the TIA? Seeing as how the flashback isn't compatible with 32k Atari games for the purpose of my project I'll probably want to come up with something different since I'm aiming for a high degree of compatability.


Actual TIAs can be had for $12 a piece at the link I gave in the other post. You'd have to track down and hack up a FB2 to get the single chip version.

By the way, wgungfu, I'm from out of state and only just moved here a couple of years ago. Do you know of any kind of Atari scene here? Everywhere else I've lived there's been at least one store that dealt in retro games. Here the closest thing is Mega Media Xchange and they don't go any earlier than the NES (and they've got a crappy selection to boot). Any thoughts?


The only major store around here for Pre-NES was a ripoff and no longer deals with it thank god - Record Head. Otherwise, there's just stuff like Mega Media, etc. Probably the closest thing to a place like that would be Universal Collectibles in Germantown. Plus, there's plenty of us types about the area that do deals with each other, get together, etc.

#14 Dastari Creel OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:48 PM


Anyhow I wanted to create a handheld system completely from scratch. I have all the 2600 tech specs and I just downloaded the schematics. It'd be pretty easy to build except for that T.I.A. chip. That is going to be my major problem but I'll look around some and see what I can find. I've got some crazy ideas for some of the features of this system if I can make it and I'm pretty confident about all of it except for the chip.

Should be a fun project though even if it takes me a long while to realize it.


If all you're looking to do is a custom PCB (vs. Ben's method of hacking them), and no hacking up of an original 2600 for a TIA, you can always get brand new TIAs here:

http://www.myatari.com/atari26.txt


You...are...awesome. I had thought that since the TIA was a custom chip made for Atari that I wouldn't be able to find it without reverse engineering. I guess my question now is, "how legal is it to buy this?" I realize that Atari Inc is unlikely to prosecute me for buying this thing but I never like doing something illegal even if I probably won't be caught. Is this something where I put it in my own creation they could sue for me stealing their patented (one presumes) technology?

I have no knowledge of the legalities of such things?

#15 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:14 PM

You...are...awesome. I had thought that since the TIA was a custom chip made for Atari that I wouldn't be able to find it without reverse engineering. I guess my question now is, "how legal is it to buy this?" I realize that Atari Inc is unlikely to prosecute me for buying this thing but I never like doing something illegal even if I probably won't be caught. Is this something where I put it in my own creation they could sue for me stealing their patented (one presumes) technology?

I have no knowledge of the legalities of such things?


These are all parts originally sold through Atari authorized service centers (which this place was) for the purpose of repairing, upgrading, etc. They're not ripped out of machines or anything else like that. I.E. that's what they were put out there for - for you to buy. It's an actual business, not a clandestine hacking site. ;)

As far as Atari Inc., the current Atari Inc. is not the original one - has nothing to do with it, just a more recent company that had it's name changed to that.

Edited by wgungfu, Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:21 PM.


#16 Dastari Creel OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:36 AM


You...are...awesome. I had thought that since the TIA was a custom chip made for Atari that I wouldn't be able to find it without reverse engineering. I guess my question now is, "how legal is it to buy this?" I realize that Atari Inc is unlikely to prosecute me for buying this thing but I never like doing something illegal even if I probably won't be caught. Is this something where I put it in my own creation they could sue for me stealing their patented (one presumes) technology?

I have no knowledge of the legalities of such things?


These are all parts originally sold through Atari authorized service centers (which this place was) for the purpose of repairing, upgrading, etc. They're not ripped out of machines or anything else like that. I.E. that's what they were put out there for - for you to buy. It's an actual business, not a clandestine hacking site. ;)

As far as Atari Inc., the current Atari Inc. is not the original one - has nothing to do with it, just a more recent company that had it's name changed to that.


Yes, but doesn't Atari Inc. own all rights? Wikipedia seemed a little unclear on this. At one point it says that Atari Inc has licensed the Atari name and elsewhere it says that it owns it. I would assume that includes all patents and technology.

I am surprised that a service center sold chips though. You'd think that chip modifications would be something beyond most consumer's ability.

I'm going to make a post over on the 2600 board soon regarding my project. Looks like there was a similar thread last year so I'm going to add to that.

#17 batari OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:32 PM

You...are...awesome. I had thought that since the TIA was a custom chip made for Atari that I wouldn't be able to find it without reverse engineering. I guess my question now is, "how legal is it to buy this?" I realize that Atari Inc is unlikely to prosecute me for buying this thing but I never like doing something illegal even if I probably won't be caught. Is this something where I put it in my own creation they could sue for me stealing their patented (one presumes) technology?

I have no knowledge of the legalities of such things?

Patents are only valid for 20 years.

#18 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:57 PM

Yes, but doesn't Atari Inc. own all rights? Wikipedia seemed a little unclear on this.


No, it states Atari Interactive owns the rights. I wrote the entry. ;) Here's a bit more on Atari Interactive (technically the multiple companies/divisions that used that name) as well (which I also wrote):

http://en.wikipedia....ari_Interactive


At one point it says that Atari Inc has licensed the Atari name and elsewhere it says that it owns it. I would assume that includes all patents and technology.


See above.

I am surprised that a service center sold chips though. You'd think that chip modifications would be something beyond most consumer's ability.


Not when you consider that the home computer market grew out of hobbyists, who were used to building, modding, and upgrading their own equipment. And your concern would be more in line with, what if you wanted to *manufacture* your own TIA back then (which is no longer a concern either as batari pointed out). Again, Atari freely manufactured and sold these chips for repairs and upgrades. Likewise, most of these authorized service centers were just normal electronics and computer repair places that simply signed on for the Service Center franchise, it's not like Atari literally went around the country building their own repair centers so the parts remained internal.


I'm going to make a post over on the 2600 board soon regarding my project. Looks like there was a similar thread last year so I'm going to add to that.


Check with longhorn engineer, he's already laid out a portable 2600 pcb and is looking to manufacture some.

Edited by wgungfu, Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:04 PM.


#19 Lendorien OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:47 PM

You make me wish I had gotten onto Atariage sooner. I had no idea there was a midwest classic gaming convention in Brookfield two weeks ago. I would have been all over that if I knew. Currently I'm teaching my three-year-old daughter how to play Pacman on that Namco joystick thing that came out several years ago. I'd love to take her to see a bunch of old games.



I missed it too. I live 15 minutes from where it was held. Had I known I'd have totally gone. I'm kicking myself. A co-worker told me about it (and how she went to it) 3 days after it was over. I could have kicked her for not telling me sooner!

#20 tetrode kink OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:50 AM

...Basically I want to create a hand-held 2600, but I deplore the methods of hardware hackers like Ben Heck ... I'm a gaming naturalist. I don't see the point in destroying something to make something. Every time you destroy an Atari, that's a piece of history going away...

I tend to agree, although I'm not sure I know what you mean by 'gaming naturalist.' But it's not like the original 2600 is going to disappear just because a few boards get cut down to be made into portables. There were so many VCSs made, and there are still so many around that IMHO it's just not worth worrying about a few getting hacked up for mod projects.

In fact, I would argue that if an original board is modded into a portable, that's actually a good thing for the VCS as a whole: It gets to continue life as a new thing; that being an interesting, unique and more versatile version of its former self. Yet it still does what it was made to do: Play Atari 2600 games. Also, since now it's portable, it has a chance to expose more people to the Original VCS Greatness.

Once the venerable VCS starts to become scarce in places it's now common such as eBay, craigslist, second-hand stores and flea markets and the like, then I'll start lobbying for the original board hacking to stop. Until then I'm not worried that the Original Hardware is going to disappear.

Here's a link to Longhorn Engineer's thread, in this very Hardware forum, where he introduced the PCB he designed for a portable VCS using the original chips:

Project Unity

...I feel the same way about carts, which is why I'm glad that the homebrewers are going to this new cart type based on the harmony technology.

So, how do you feel about the original cart PCBs with their original game ROMs? You realize that one of those is getting discarded for every Melody-based homebrew that goes into its old cart shell, right?

I mean, I completely understand wanting to keep the Atari hardware alive, but much further down this road lies madness.

-tet

#21 Dastari Creel OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:58 PM

I tend to agree, although I'm not sure I know what you mean by 'gaming naturalist.' But it's not like the original 2600 is going to disappear just because a few boards get cut down to be made into portables. There were so many VCSs made, and there are still so many around that IMHO it's just not worth worrying about a few getting hacked up for mod projects.


Oh the term "gaming naturalist" is just to say that like a naturalist, I like to see things preserved in their original state. So with this metaphor a VCS would be like a wild animal that you want to leave in the wild and a homebrewed portable system would be something domesticated like a cat or dog.

In fact, I would argue that if an original board is modded into a portable, that's actually a good thing for the VCS as a whole: It gets to continue life as a new thing; that being an interesting, unique and more versatile version of its former self. Yet it still does what it was made to do: Play Atari 2600 games. Also, since now it's portable, it has a chance to expose more people to the Original VCS Greatness.

Once the venerable VCS starts to become scarce in places it's now common such as eBay, craigslist, second-hand stores and flea markets and the like, then I'll start lobbying for the original board hacking to stop. Until then I'm not worried that the Original Hardware is going to disappear.


I'd think if you can conceive of such an eventuality then you'd think that you wouldn't want it to ever get to that point. Refurbishing a game system to keep it going is one thing but to me hacking it up seems like a primitive and inelegant way of preserving its life, especially when the hardware and the technology exists to build them from scratch (see all the kajillion NES clones on the market). Is it a neat thing to do as a novelty, sure. To me though its unsatisfying first for the reason that I hate to see a VCS get hacked up but second because I'm an electrical engineer. The interesting thing to me would be the electrical redesign. Literally hacking the thing apart and just transferring the contents to a new shell seems primitive to me and sort of misses the point of what would make a project like this neat.

Here's a link to Longhorn Engineer's thread, in this very Hardware forum, where he introduced the PCB he designed for a portable VCS using the original chips:

So, how do you feel about the original cart PCBs with their original game ROMs? You realize that one of those is getting discarded for every Melody-based homebrew that goes into its old cart shell, right?


You're kidding? Ugh. I didn't realize that and I'm kind of surprised that they aren't making new shells to go with the new boards. Again, I'm more familiar with the NES fandom and a guy there makes new NES cases: http://www.retrousb....&products_id=40

That seems like a rather pointless waste to throw away the board and while I can see why collectors who already have large collections may like this since it will increase the value of their collection, to me or anyone else just starting on their collection that's pretty annoying. The design of Atari cart shells is so simple as well. Surely someone could easily come up with a design and crank out new ones by the dozens for cheap.

#22 Dastari Creel OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:36 AM

I'd think if you can conceive of such an eventuality then you'd think that you wouldn't want it to ever get to that point. Refurbishing a game system to keep it going is one thing but to me hacking it up seems like a primitive and inelegant way of preserving its life, especially when the hardware and the technology exists to build them from scratch (see all the kajillion NES clones on the market). Is it a neat thing to do as a novelty, sure. To me though its unsatisfying first for the reason that I hate to see a VCS get hacked up but second because I'm an electrical engineer. The interesting thing to me would be the electrical redesign. Literally hacking the thing apart and just transferring the contents to a new shell seems primitive to me and sort of misses the point of what would make a project like this neat.


I reread what I wrote last night and noticed that it seems a little stuck up. Let me be clear that I greatly respect the work of Ben Heck and Longhorn Engineer and anything I do will definitely be informed by the work that they've done. Longhorn Engineer's Project Unity greatly interests me. In a way it annoys me a bit but only because he beat me to the idea. However, when I originally had this idea and before I'd ever heard of Ben Heck or Longhorn Engineer the one thing that I was worried about was figuring out how to make a shell for the system. The fact that people have already done this will help me since I won't need to completely reinvent the wheel as it were and I can use what they've done as a starting point.

Just wanted to clarify since I was pretty tired the other evening.

#23 tetrode kink OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:05 AM

Oh the term "gaming naturalist" is just to say that like a naturalist, I like to see things preserved in their original state. So with this metaphor a VCS would be like a wild animal that you want to leave in the wild and a homebrewed portable system would be something domesticated like a cat or dog.

OK, thanks for the explanation. I think I understand what you mean, but:

  • The term 'gaming naturalist' is a bit of an oxymoron; video games are anything but natural. I think a more fitting term would be "gaming originalist."
  • Your metaphor seems a little strained. Wild animals don't "turn into" domesticated ones, and VCS's don't procreate, be they original or hacked.
But I generally agree, with me it's resto-mods. I hate to see classic cars get cut up just to become some gear-head's bizarro-world dreamboat. I'd rather see a classic car get restored to original condition. But I also realize that there are people who restore classics to original specs. It doesn't worry me that some get cut up to be turned into something else.

In fact, I would argue that if an original board is modded into a portable, that's actually a good thing for the VCS as a whole: It gets to continue life as a new thing; that being an interesting, unique and more versatile version of its former self. Yet it still does what it was made to do: Play Atari 2600 games. Also, since now it's portable, it has a chance to expose more people to the Original VCS Greatness.

Once the venerable VCS starts to become scarce in places it's now common such as eBay, craigslist, second-hand stores and flea markets and the like, then I'll start lobbying for the original board hacking to stop. Until then I'm not worried that the Original Hardware is going to disappear.

I'd think if you can conceive of such an eventuality then you'd think that you wouldn't want it to ever get to that point. Refurbishing a game system to keep it going is one thing but to me hacking it up seems like a primitive and inelegant way of preserving its life, especially when the hardware and the technology exists to build them from scratch (see all the kajillion NES clones on the market). Is it a neat thing to do as a novelty, sure. To me though its unsatisfying first for the reason that I hate to see a VCS get hacked up but second because I'm an electrical engineer. The interesting thing to me would be the electrical redesign. Literally hacking the thing apart and just transferring the contents to a new shell seems primitive to me and sort of misses the point of what would make a project like this neat.

OK, you're an electrical engineer so it makes sense that you don't want to see someone's design creation getting hacked up like so much woodwork. But the designer's work will still live on in VCSs that remain in original condition, by the thousands. Hacking a board up may be primitive and inelegant, but until now it was the only game in town, pardon the pun. Few (no?) people who wanted a portable VCS had engineering degrees to enable them to design a smaller board. But carefully cutting an existing VCS board down to a size that better fits a portable platform is kind of ingenious, from a non-engineer's POV. I don't think it misses the point at all. The point is, someone wants a portable VCS, hacks an existing board to fit the bill, presto, a portable VCS. I can see the desire to preserve the original design, but there are plenty of those still around, and thanks to the retro-Atari scene there always will be.

Interestingly, you're kind of the other side of the coin: You want a portable for which you designed the board.

But the most basic point for me is that, like any other device, the VCS was made to serve a purpose. If its owner wants to modify it to serve that or any other purpose, it's a little ridiculous to be so sentimental about it that said modification gets you all bent, especially since there is no danger of the original disappearing.


So, how do you feel about the original cart PCBs with their original game ROMs? You realize that one of those is getting discarded for every Melody-based homebrew that goes into its old cart shell, right?

You're kidding? Ugh. I didn't realize that and I'm kind of surprised that they aren't making new shells to go with the new boards. Again, I'm more familiar with the NES fandom and a guy there makes new NES cases: http://www.retrousb....&products_id=40

That seems like a rather pointless waste to throw away the board and while I can see why collectors who already have large collections may like this since it will increase the value of their collection, to me or anyone else just starting on their collection that's pretty annoying. The design of Atari cart shells is so simple as well. Surely someone could easily come up with a design and crank out new ones by the dozens for cheap.

Yeah, it's all old cart shells for VCS homebrew games. First of all, it's not all that simple to make one. It's not only the casing, it's the dust-door protection mechanism Atari designed for their cartridges. If one wanted to ape a simpler design, one could copy the Activision cartridge which had no dust door.

AtariAge uses old carts shells for all their homebrew cart production, but I'm not worried about that, either. Al only accepts the most common carts (R1-R2, etc.) to act as shell donors. I'm not worried that we'll ever run out of "Combat" or "Asteroids" carts because of it. If that ever happens, I'm sure a manufacturing alternative will be employed. Such things have happened in other aspects of the retro scene here.

-tet

Edited by tetrode kink, Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:07 AM.


#24 Curt Vendel OFFLINE  

Curt Vendel

    River Patroller

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Posted Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:21 AM

It started out at a Xilinx FPGA and the VHDL code was sent to the factory to be optimized and made into a low cost ASIC. Gizmo is a little hybrid chip I did and it incorporated in for handling 2 functions - it does menu'ing and puts a nice look onto the system instead of a text-only listing and then it channels and passes through joystick controls to the console.

Atari owns the rights to that rev of the chip, but gizmo is solely owned by me. I did a new core 2 years back that now has LCD and SDCARD implementation, its just a big honk'n test board on my desk, I was hoping that it would become the Flashback Portable, maybe it will someday see the light as a final production product.



Curt


It is a re-implementation of the 2600 (CPU + TIA + RIOT) using an FPGA.


No, there's no FPGA under the hood, not sure where you got that idea. It's a ASIC implementation of the CPU+TIA+RIOT. Secondary on the board is the custom GIZMO (MMU/Menu chip).

Does anyone know the answer to the question above. Its kind of key to a project I may want to undertake.


Interesting someone in my backyard doing a project with the FB2. What are you looking at doing?

Basically "under the hood" is the Atari Flashback 2 the exact same as a 2600 except with the cartridge slot removed and something added to store the ROMs for the games included in the system?


In concept, yes. Physically, it is not a literal reproduction of the original 2600 pcb and separate chips, as noted above, if that's what you're asking. It has all the same "under the hood" in a single chip ASIC format.



#25 batari OFFLINE  

batari

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Posted Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:49 AM


So, how do you feel about the original cart PCBs with their original game ROMs? You realize that one of those is getting discarded for every Melody-based homebrew that goes into its old cart shell, right?


You're kidding? Ugh. I didn't realize that and I'm kind of surprised that they aren't making new shells to go with the new boards. Again, I'm more familiar with the NES fandom and a guy there makes new NES cases: http://www.retrousb....&products_id=40

That seems like a rather pointless waste to throw away the board and while I can see why collectors who already have large collections may like this since it will increase the value of their collection, to me or anyone else just starting on their collection that's pretty annoying. The design of Atari cart shells is so simple as well. Surely someone could easily come up with a design and crank out new ones by the dozens for cheap.

Believe me, I would love to have new shells for Harmony and I'm sure Albert would love to have them for homebrews. The problem is that a the custom tooling for new shells is insanely expensive, not to mention the unit cost for actually producing shells, and the cost really doesn't make sense for the quantities we're talking.

Also, anyone who wants the old boards could probably have them for free if they paid shipping. I'd happily send mine anywhere and I'm sure Albert would as well, but let's be honest, few are going to have much use for thousands of old Combat boards.




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