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RCA Studio II GOLD MINE! An interview with the Studio 2 Production Manager!

RCA Studio II Interview

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#726 ekeefe OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 24, 2016 7:06 AM

Hello,
 
I'm not sure where I got these, but here are a couple of open RCA Studio II cartridge pictures:
 
STUDIO_II_CART_1.jpgSTUDIO_II_CART_2.jpg
 
 
 
I hope this was helpful.
 
ED
 
I hope this was helpful.
 
ED


#727 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 24, 2016 4:02 PM

I'd like to open 1 of the clone carts BUT I think they have 2 screws underneath the label.. so no way of opening them without damaging the label.



#728 stupus OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 24, 2016 4:33 PM

Yeah all the clone carts have 2 screws hidden under the labels sadly.

I opened a soundic victory mpt02 system today and the board is just marked mpt02.
Almost all the chips though say rca.
I didn't fully remove the board so there could be more on the underside I suppose.

#729 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 24, 2016 4:44 PM

All the chips seem to be RCA, Motorola or Mitsubushi

 

Apollo80

 

CHIPS.png



#730 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 24, 2016 5:15 PM

I was about to ask what were the chips labeled, if they weere generic ROM or glob-top. But you answered it. I guess that RCA saw more money to be made by selling ROM to Taiwainese companies than trying to keep sellign the RCA studio II in the US, and I assume that they were worried about piracy and decided to keep manufacturing the ROM chips.



#731 ekeefe OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 24, 2016 5:24 PM

Hello,
 
The CDP1864 is a PAL video and audio chip.
 
Here is a link to its datasheet:
 
 
ED


#732 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 25, 2016 2:20 AM

All the chips seem to be RCA, Motorola or Mitsubushi

 

Apollo80

 

CHIPS.png

 

Incredible that they opted for a single sided board, with an insane number of jumpers. Can't imagine that having been cheaper than making it double sided?

 

Question: does anyone know where to find spare CDP1864 chips? There are a few sites that list them, but when you inquire, they come back saying they're unavailable...

 

flip



#733 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 25, 2016 6:30 AM

Those boards were made by hand (maybe not totally, but close inspection show lots of hand-soldered job) in Asia. Having one side and adding jumpers was cheaper in context.


Edited by CatPix, Sat Jun 25, 2016 6:31 AM.


#734 Newsdee OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 25, 2016 3:48 PM

Hey paulrobson, I'm the author of Flip8 Redux. I always wondered why you mention it's not very compatible because it runs almost every game I put in it :) (but no worries - I haven't touched the code in years)

I thought I'd mention that there is now an FPGA version of Chip8/SuperChip8 written by Caraten Sorensen:


https://bitbucket.or...oren/fpga-chip8

It's open source so can be tweaked if somebody knows how (I can probably only manage to change colors... verilog is a whole new world to me)

#735 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 1, 2016 7:55 PM

I googled their old Address.

 

 

didn't bring up anything apart from some address finder site that said the building number was "250 Thornton Road"

 

Google mapping shows this building/company at that location:

 

https://www.google.c...12!8i6656?hl=en

 

 

Googling again that company brings up this detail:

 


 

 

Now of course it could be a co-incidence but the Academy Apollo 80 seems to have been released in 1978.  It wouldn't surprised me if this was another one of those stories of a electical/engineering company trying to make pong machines...

 

so I guess I should e-mail them to see if they were "Academy"
 

 

Awesome detective work there! Please do share whatever knowledge springs forth from contacting them- I'm really looking forward to seeing what they might know, or if they might even still have records from back then that might shed some light on these mysteries.

 

So I just opened my spare mpt02 cart of pinball. It already had the screws accessed.
This is the soundic victory style cart.

What is very interesting is the cart board is labeled conic...strange.

Now someone could have put a conic board in it, but it's very unlikely.

It's funny because I have opened ormatu carts (the arcadia clone) and they are labeled sheen. And I have opened palladium carts (another arcadia clone) and they are labeled polybrain.
So obviously these different clone families shared common distributors and just were rebranding.

Here is a pic of the cart board:

attachicon.gif20160623_164018.jpg

Has anyone opened a rca cart to see what they say? I am very curious now about that.

I've got a full spare set (minus Speedway/Tag), the one which fauxcot's old boss who ran the Swannanoa plant was generous enough to have sent to me. He got them right from the factory, and It's as close to factory direct as anything, and I'll open them all up and take some pictures. More to follow...



#736 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 1, 2016 8:30 PM

Okay, I tried to open up a spare, loose US cartridge, and my efforts met with ignominious failure. Does anybody know how to go about removing the types of screws/connectors used on the Studio II cartridges???

 

Oh btw, the US Studio II carts ALSO have two screws underneath the label in the upper corners on both sides. I'm still going to open up the whole spare set, I'd just like to know how to deal with those damn screws,  if anyone knows.



#737 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 1, 2016 8:36 PM

 

Incredible that they opted for a single sided board, with an insane number of jumpers. Can't imagine that having been cheaper than making it double sided?

 

Question: does anyone know where to find spare CDP1864 chips? There are a few sites that list them, but when you inquire, they come back saying they're unavailable...

 

flip

 

 

Those boards were made by hand (maybe not totally, but close inspection show lots of hand-soldered job) in Asia. Having one side and adding jumpers was cheaper in context.

 

By hand was also how the boards were all made for the Studio II at the North Carolina plant, according to fauxscot. I wonder if whatever company/companies/distributor/manufacturer/etc that made the Academy (and possibly other clones) might have had the ability to make them differently, but instead opted to do so by hand simply because that was how the original Studio II models had been made.



#738 stupus OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 1, 2016 8:45 PM

The usa carts are riveted shut. I would highly recommend not opening them up, at least not any of value.
The rivets would need to be drilled out with a bi-metal drill bit.
Then they would be permanently changed and you would not be able to rerivet them.
1 guy already posted a pic of 1 and it's not to exciting anyway.
So unless you have ones that you plan on turning into homebrews doners, I wouldn't do it.

1 thing about the academy. The only color used on the system label is a deep dark blue color. I noticed the website for the business in the current address location of academy also uses a very similar deep blue color on there website design. Could be a coincidence, but I thought it could likely be something that ties them together....

#739 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 1, 2016 8:50 PM

Yes, they certainly point to the possibility of another clone. Would be interesting if someone like gig could have distributed an italian version...?

I agree that schoolhouse 2 does suggest a 1. I could easily believe 1 does exist and just not found. But I could still see it not existing. It probably at least suggests they planned to release 1.
Maybe they planned to do a non usa centric version but it never came to fruition?

The carts do fit in all the clones, well not visicom of course. They will work in a studio 2 as well if the top is removed. I would be extremely surprised if they varied from the soundic and hanimex games. As I believe soundic made all the mpt02 games and is why they did not brand them at all.

Thanks for the congrats, well they are safely in my collection anyway for preservation. I am fairly certain I have the largest rca s2 and clone collection now. Nice to have all this stuff together, hopefully I can do something special with it someday. As well as my Arcadia clone collection. :)

I do have a spare mpt02 soundic victory system cib (well no foams but everything else is there and in nice shape) and I have been planning to put it and my last couple spare victory games up for offer here but have not found the time. I am happy to take any pm's from people if they might have interest in the meantime.

Hmm... I could definitely see it being that simply nobody has found a foreign Schoolhouse 1 for any of the clones yet, but upon further reflection it seems more likely that it was just too US-centric to be released overseas. I would've thought that it might have something to do with the extra materials that were bundled with it and their oversized box being too difficult or expensive to manufacture, but that doesn't seem to hold up when it is considered that Bingo did get released abroad. Then again, Schoolhouse 1 might be even less usable than Bingo is without the supplementary materials. The "Schoolhouse II" (in English!) on the label might then just be a vestige of it having been the second game in the series here in the US, rather than any sign of an overseas release for Schoolhouse I.

 

Congrats on having the most comprehensive set, too! :) As far as is known, nobody has the every game for every clone system, but you've got to be the closest. You're in a unique position to do comparisons between the clones and their games.



#740 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 1, 2016 9:21 PM

The usa carts are riveted shut. I would highly recommend not opening them up, at least not any of value.
The rivets would need to be drilled out with a bi-metal drill bit.
Then they would be permanently changed and you would not be able to rerivet them.
1 guy already posted a pic of 1 and it's not to exciting anyway.
So unless you have ones that you plan on turning into homebrews doners, I wouldn't do it.

1 thing about the academy. The only color used on the system label is a deep dark blue color. I noticed the website for the business in the current address location of academy also uses a very similar deep blue color on there website design. Could be a coincidence, but I thought it could likely be something that ties them together....

 

Yeah, I figured I'd have to resort to drilling. It's almost as if somebody back when didn't want the innards of the cartridges to be scrutinized. Still willing to do that though, as I've got loose and complete spares for every US game. And yes, so much the better if the shells can be re-purposed as homebrew and/or multicart donors.



#741 stupus OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 1, 2016 9:24 PM

I would say that they at the very least planned to release schoolhouse I for the clone systems as some of the boxes and manuals list it.
So either it's just exceedingly rare or they never followed thru.
It could very well exist and just next to nobody bought it.
I mean I just found the only known copy of tennis clone, and that had to be infinitely more popular the sh1. ;)

#742 stupus OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 1, 2016 9:28 PM

I am certain they did not want consumers messing with the cart inarrds.
No other reason they would go to that trouble with rivets.

#743 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 1, 2016 10:03 PM

I would say that they at the very least planned to release schoolhouse I for the clone systems as some of the boxes and manuals list it.
So either it's just exceedingly rare or they never followed thru.
It could very well exist and just next to nobody bought it.
I mean I just found the only known copy of tennis clone, and that had to be infinitely more popular the sh1. ;)

Do they now? Well, now that I did not know, or had simply forgotten. In that case, yes, I definitely agree that it must have at least been planned for release, and that the "Schoolhouse II" label is another indication of those plans. Yeah, you're right about it being a really poor seller if it did get released- there can't possibly have been many people buying it, especially if it was still US-centric.

 

Could you upload a scan or image of those manuals/boxes for us? That would be really great to see, and I know there are some that I haven't gotten to see my self.

 

I am certain they did not want consumers messing with the cart inarrds.
No other reason they would go to that trouble with rivets.

 

Yeah, that has got to be the only reason. Though they must have known that their own techs would also have a difficult time opening them should they ever need to do so, even if only for Quality Control reasons. Or perhaps there were special tools they had for opening the carts...

 

Are the rivets/infernal devil connectors used on the US cartridges the same on the foreign clones? I haven't got any clone cartridges left to compare them to.



#744 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 1, 2016 10:36 PM

Off-topic but related to the Studio II: an ad I came across on eBay from a 1977 Spiegel catalog detailing the Bally Arcade, Studio II, Atari Video Pinball, and some variant of whatever color pong console the Radio Shack Color TV Scoreboard (minus the gun games) was licensed from.

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1977 Spiegel 2.PNG


#745 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 4, 2016 10:29 AM

Fascinating listing here, reminds me of the spare power adapter and RF switch that appeared recently. Spare Studio II parts don't show up often. I asked the seller if there's any more...

http://m.ebay.com/it...4312?nav=SEARCH

#746 stupus OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 4, 2016 11:22 AM

Those are cool, wish I had noticed what they were when I briefly saw the listing earlier.
I thought they were just boards removed from units.
Didn't realize they were nos still with the packing foams! Doh!

#747 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 4, 2016 11:24 AM

Fascinating listing here, reminds me of the spare power adapter and RF switch that appeared recently. Spare Studio II parts don't show up often. I asked the seller if there's any more...

http://m.ebay.com/it...4312?nav=SEARCH

 

Very interesting indeed, especially as one seems to be a relatively low serial number [10,929] and a high one [154,024]. They are two different PCB versions - D and E. The main difference is that they use a different latch circuit to select the high address lines.



#748 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 4, 2016 12:13 PM

Very interesting indeed, especially as one seems to be a relatively low serial number [10,929] and a high one [154,024]. They are two different PCB versions - D and E. The main difference is that they use a different latch circuit to select the high address lines.


Now that, I hadn't noticed. You're right though, they are different. Would this board variation have any effect on a multicart design or function?

Thinking about this further, it seems a safe assumption that at least 154K Studio II boards were manufactured, which aside from the factory recollections might not have been clear before. It also seems as though RCA had set aside an unknown amount to be used as replacements, possibly from each batch.

#749 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 4, 2016 12:39 PM

Now that, I hadn't noticed. You're right though, they are different. Would this board variation have any effect on a multicart design or function?

Thinking about this further, it seems a safe assumption that at least 154K Studio II boards were manufactured, which aside from the factory recollections might not have been clear before. It also seems as though RCA had set aside an unknown amount to be used as replacements, possibly from each batch.

 

Multicart: yes, the multicart works 'out of the box' with the earlier revision. On the newer ones, they chose to mix two signals which messes with the address selection on the expansion port... I developed the multicart on my only Studio II at the time, which was an early machine... The newer version (up to 140,000 machines it seems) need to have this signal restored - either by modifying the board or by generating the signal on the multicart. That's still being looked at: it will need some additional circuitry.

 

My revision D is in the 6000 serial range. So the one on ebay is only the second one I've ever come across! I am guessing that versions A, B and C never went into mass production and that they switched to E after the first 10,000 or so... I assume the other one is a revision E, but the serial number is unreadable on the pictures. I can't rule out it could be a revision F ;o)

 

Also: i've never seen the serial number on the back match the PCB one. It's possible that some board didn't make it through testing/into a production machine and that the actual number of consoles leaving the factory was lower. Lastly, I don't think there's any cosmetic differences outside that distinguish the different PCB versions - but I could be wrong there...



#750 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 4, 2016 12:51 PM

IMO there is no reason why serial numbers should match in this case the S/N of the shells.

S/N serve the purpose of identifying and tracking a piece. The PCB S/N is for the hardware, so that if the system need to be serviced, you have a reference for various models to know the hardware variations.

The shell S/N is for commercial purpose and is to keep track of a finished product.

It would have been tedious at the time to make both S/N match as it would require to note and transmit every S/N from the factory where the boards were finalized to where the boards would be placed in the shells.

This mean that if a batch of PCB was discarded due to a manufacture issue, lot of damaged chip, etc... You'd have to wipe out the corresponding shells (especially if the S/N is engraved in them or printed on the shell rather than affixed on a sticker).

Applying S/N per shell is more streamlined and require no care about the PCB numbers.

I'm sure that high end product receive more care, and computerization today would allow to do this for any product, but I doubt that such meticulous care was given for such a product. Not that I suggest that the RCA Studio II is a cheap product, but matching S/N everywhere is a frivolity that you can do only on very high end products.






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