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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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#1026 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:22 PM

 

 

Can someone post a pic of what a disassembled RCA cart looks like, I'm assuming you end up with two pieces and the board? We just ordered a hi res 3d Scanner at work to go with our two 3d printers, it might be worth trying to scan/cleanup and print. We've been experimenting with Acetone bath cleanup to remove the visible layering effect and are getting some great results

 

Here's pictures of the opened cartridge.

 

FliP

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#1027 stupus OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 21, 2017 9:15 PM

20170121_211316.jpg

#1028 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 22, 2017 6:57 AM

Hi all,

 

Thanks for the efforts of someone who wishes to remain anonymous and stupus, we now have a dump of the RCA Studio II Demonstration Cartridge!

 

The updated image for the multicart can be found here. The demo cart is in slot 0-F (so the left dial on 0 and the right dial on F)

 

The .st2 file for the emma02 emulator is attached... One thing i've noticed is that the cart doesn't seem to work correctly with the emulated clones (MPT-02, Victory, ...). I need to try this on a real machine, but haven't gotten around to that.

 

Since most people won't be able to re-flash the chip on their multicart, several people have offered to help out with that. ekeefe and KylJoy are both in North America, which should speed things up a bit... If there's more, then feel free to let people know.

 

Rather than sending the entire cart around, people should be able to gently pry the square chip (marked 39sf040) out of the socket and post only that... We could also set up a sort of carousel: if I send a few people new chips, they could send the old one in so they can be updated and sent to others?

 

Enjoy,

 

FliP

Attached Files


Edited by flip, Sun Jan 22, 2017 6:58 AM.


#1029 decle ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:51 AM

The .st2 file for the emma02 emulator is attached... One thing i've noticed is that the cart doesn't seem to work correctly with the emulated clones (MPT-02, Victory, ...). I need to try this on a real machine, but haven't gotten around to that.

 

 

Thanks for making this happen guys, and distributing the results so quickly. :thumbsup:

 

Looking at the content of the ROM, am I seeing things or is the motion rather smoother, with less flicker than the reality of the games (I'm looking at the ball in Bowling and the cars in Freeway)?  Cheeky.  Should this be the first instance of a "Not in-game footage" rider? ;)

 

 

decle



#1030 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:16 PM

Hi all,

 


The .st2 file for the emma02 emulator is attached... One thing i've noticed is that the cart doesn't seem to work correctly with the emulated clones (MPT-02, Victory, ...). I need to try this on a real machine, but haven't gotten around to that.

 

 

 

I tried the rom in Emma02 and it worked perfectly in both the StudioII emulation and Victory MPT-02 emulation.


Edited by TLD1985, Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:51 PM.


#1031 KylJoy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:56 AM

Finally got around to programming my multi-cart EPROM with the new code.  Works great.  Thank you very much!  I'm lovin' me some RCA Studio II Demo Cart!



#1032 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:28 AM

 

 

I tried the rom in Emma02 and it worked perfectly in both the StudioII emulation and Victory MPT-02 emulation.

 

Yeah - my bad. I had loaded the victory rom in the Studio II emulator, so that doesn't work properly... Nothing to do with the Demo Cart (duh!)

 

FliP



#1033 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:50 AM

I do wonder if they decided against adding any beeps/whines to not deter sales (or even stop shops going insane from hearing it 1000s of times a day in its short loop)



#1034 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:29 PM

I do wonder if they decided against adding any beeps/whines to not deter sales (or even stop shops going insane from hearing it 1000s of times a day in its short loop)


No joke- that's bound to be why they did. Is it known who actually programmed the Demonstration? Before now the programmers for all of the US games were known.

#1035 ianoid OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:00 AM

Did you guys see the work of SlyDC?

 

http://rcastudio2.bl...-studio-ii.html



#1036 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:01 AM

I do wonder if they decided against adding any beeps/whines to not deter sales (or even stop shops going insane from hearing it 1000s of times a day in its short loop)

 

While the sounds wasn't going to impress anyone, I doubt they were concerned about the sanity of store clerks. The sound can be switched off via one of the switches on the bottom, in case it would drive someone in the shop nuts... More likely they had to economise space on the cart: the title screen alone takes 1/4 of the available space. And there's 6 text lines, which would be at least another 1/4. Looking at the dump, they had about 320 bytes to code the rest... The rest seems to be graphical data.

 

FliP



#1037 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:33 AM

Did you guys see the work of SlyDC?

 

http://rcastudio2.bl...-studio-ii.html

 

Interesting... inserting the multicart (or any other cart) disables 2 of the 4 roms in the console. The lower ROM with the interpreter and interrupt routines remains active between $000 and $3FF. It can easily be disabled however by connecting the ROMDIS signal to all four ROMS. The multicart has a jumper, which maps the range between $000-$7FF and $C00-$FFF to the multicart. You could put your own code in one of the slots and run a custom version of CHIP-8 I think, as long as you correctly map to the 512 bytes of RAM (between $800 and $9FF, which is hard coded).

 

At a push, a cart could be developed that has up to 64k available, though you'd still be stuck with a limited amount of RAM: the /MWR signal is not available on the cartridge slot, so you're stuck with read only memory on the cartridge... Some of the bigger games use video page caching to speed things up - that would probably be impossible to do on the RCA Studio II.

 

FliP



#1038 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:21 PM

Sorry for the double post but I was quickly looking at that "RCA Studio II teardown" on ifixit and noticed that the serial # on the unit he opens is #131. Then I looked at the board where it shows which revision it is and it -is- a C (unless I am mistaken). So this unit is very likely to be a revision C board.

 

Here's some photos of the #155 console. The serial number on the outside matches the one written on the board. More importantly, it IS a revision C board as suspected by TLD1985!

 

The warranty sticker (still sealed until this afternoon!) mentions the year 1976, as do some date codes on some of the chips: the CPU suggest week 45 in 1976... The CPU, ROMs and video chip are white ceramics, which looks really quite fragile.

 

The ROMs result in the same checksum and part numbers as the other boards, meaning that the on board firmware wasn't changed or updated along the way, unlike the hardware design.

 

FliP

Attached Thumbnails

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#1039 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:13 PM

All interesting. What are the actual changes tho from Rev C to Rev D?



#1040 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:56 PM

All interesting. What are the actual changes tho from Rev C to Rev D?

 

Can't see any obvious changes in the main logic: all the chips are the same (unlike the change from D->E) - haven't looked at the RF circuit yet...

 

FliP



#1041 etxmato OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:39 PM

Did you guys see the work of SlyDC?

 

http://rcastudio2.bl...-studio-ii.html

 

 

Interesting idea! I just replied on his blog that I will give it a try. No promises that I'll manage...

 

Btw, did you guys see this one: https://archive.org/...IISep77_2500846

It is a copy of the Studio III programming manual, I had never seen it until yesterday. As far as I can see this confirms that the Studio III was indeed planned to be the same as the Victory MPT-02 and similar clones.

 

Cheers, Marcel.



#1042 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 4:23 PM

Would be interesting to have on the diagnostics program to do some colour test for any colour clones. 

 

Only Bowling and Blackjack used one other background colour (green) none of the official games ever used the other 2 colours for backgrounds so would be interesting to see the output of them on real hardware.


Edited by TLD1985, Fri Jan 27, 2017 4:37 PM.


#1043 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:45 AM

Hi,

 

The memory diagnostics write to the color ram - on a B/W, this doesn't do anything, but on a color one, it produces a nice test pattern. It only shows towards the end of the test, but running it again has all the pretty colors!

 

Attached is the st2 of my diagnostics - press 2 to run the memory test in a Victory machine and after a while you'll see colors. Background doesn't change, but I guess that could be added...

 

FliP

Attached Thumbnails

  • screendump.png

Attached Files


Edited by flip, Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:48 AM.


#1044 etxmato OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 29, 2017 3:46 PM

Hi,

 

I took SlyDCs challenge and made a (first) Studio II chip 8 version. As I also posted on his blog, all chip 8 SW runs from RAM on a VIP or Elf so running from ROM in the Studio II doesn't really work automatically. I did some changes in a few games some will be simple others just too much work.

You can find the Studio II chip 8 version including 3 games here: https://dl.dropboxus...tudio-chip8.zip

If you want to run it in Emma 02 I suggest to use this beta:
win 64 bit: https://dl.dropboxus...up_v1.24.23.exe
win 32 bit: https://dl.dropboxus...up_v1.24.23.exe

I can make builds for XP or OS X, drop me an email if needed.

To run the chip 8 make sure to select the chip8.bin file as main ROM (or load the chip8 configuration).

I can't guarantee this is bug free so drop me a message if you do find anything strange. I will probably try to convert some more chip 8 SW....

Cheers, Marcel.



#1045 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 30, 2017 1:08 PM

Hey everyone,

 

Blown away by Marcel's work, triggered by SlyDC: here's Chip-8 Breakout, running on real hardware. It would currently be possible to put this on the multicart, but a small hardware mod is needed on the console (to disable the on-board ROMs that contain the original 'BIOS'). There might be a way around this, so watch this space!

 

FliP

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_1057.jpg


#1046 slydc OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:40 PM

Hi Flip!

 

Nice work! And because of your succesfull attempt, i've tried myself to see

if i could do it and well...go here, It's worth the detour (wink)



#1047 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:34 PM

Still trying to track down this company Academy.. the company I thought it might be never got back to me.. refused to respond to even give a general contact.

 

 

I did find this tho:

 

academymaybe.png

 

sadly trail is cold. The addresses I can find linked to it seem to have been demolished and no real name of the owner. I don't know if anyone who has better skills/contacts can get any more info.


Edited by TLD1985, Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:41 PM.


#1048 jhd OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 1, 2017 2:17 PM

You could try a search of the corporate registry. Even if the company has been dissolved, you should be able to obtain a list of the corporate officers (which leads you can then pursue further).

 

I do not know if these records are searchable online in the UK; if so, there may be a charge for access.

 

The other issue, as you have discovered, is finding someone willing/able to respond. Given the age of the hardware/software at issue, it is entirely possible that the individuals with any technical knowledge may well be deceased (or incapacitated by dementia, etc.).  



#1049 etxmato OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 6, 2017 4:18 PM

Hi All,

 

With help from Sly DC and FLiP I have finalized a new version of the Studio II Chip 8 Interpreter.

 

Changes:

- Implemented a 'fix' for RAM usage, this is far from full proof but for some simple games it will now work without need for changing the chip 8 code.
  Basically what the interpreter does is to force register I into the 0x800-0x89F range if anything is written to memory. Kind of a dirty fix but it works for some...

- Cleaned-up the code to fit within 0x300 bytes

- Moved chip 8 code to 0x300 and added range 0xC00-0xFFF for chip 8 code, meaning we can fit 0x500 more bytes of chip 8 code in this version

- Added key mapping of keypad 2 to chip 8 A (key 1) to F (key 6)

 

You can download the chip 8 interpreter from:

https://dl.dropboxus...-chip8-revB.zip

 

The zip includes a txt file with some details of the interpreter especially around memory maps.

 

I also made an Emma 02 version supporting this version and also included support for FliPs fantastic Multi-Cart:

64 bit: https://dl.dropboxus...up_v1.24.25.exe

32 bit: https://dl.dropboxus...up_v1.24.25.exe

XP: https://dl.dropboxus...up_v1.24.25.exe

OS X: https://dl.dropboxus...1.24.25-osx.pkg

 

Note that I found a rather major bug in the OS X version, when switching back to the main Emma 02 window the emulated computers freeze. No clue where the issue is but will look into this.

 

I will also add support for the MultiCart for the MPT-02 in a later version.

 

Cheers, Marcel. 



#1050 decle ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 11, 2017 2:19 AM

Has anyone tried the programming cart mentioned in this post?
 
I've typed in the code in the article, but there's either a bug or something else goes wrong, as the screen seems corrupt for the first few digits appearing...
 
 
 
I guess it makes sense to include it in a multicart, since there's enough slots, but it would be nice to know it's working correctly....
 
flip

 
 
Hi flip,
 
In putting together the Programming Cartridge image for StudioVision I noticed that there appears to be an error in the example program on page 9b of the manual.  The comments on the 5th line of the listing:
 
08D7    F8 09 BA AC    RA.1=RC.1=9

suggest that the intended instructions are:
 
LDI $09
PHI RA
PHI RC

However I think the final op code $AC is actually PLO RC, not PHI RC.  I believe the instruction at address $8DA should be $BC, not $AC.  As listed, the program seems overwrites itself with junk after a while, which then causes the CPU to crash.  This behaviour can be seen in both Emma2 and StudioVision.  Correcting this byte not only prevents the crash, but also increases the graphical output of the program (please ignore the StudioVision intro and border):

program.gif
 
 
Hope this helps
 
decle




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