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The Ultimate Intellivision Flashback


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#1 Byte Knight OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 2, 2014 4:17 PM

Hey guys,

 

After listening to this month's excellent Intellivisionaries podcast and playing with my Intellivision Flashbacks, I want to make the Ultimate Intellivision Flashback.  I plan on using a Raspberry Pi with Retropie software, the Ultimate PC Interface, and the shell from an Intellivision Flashback.  The advantage of this would be HDMI output and the ability to play every game.  The Ultimate PC Interface even allows you to use the new Flashback controllers!

 

I've got some things up and running on my Pi, including being able to select a game using the Intellivision controller.  I really like the EmulationStation front-end with the box art and game descriptions.  I'll post a few screenshots soon.

 

The biggest holdup for the project is that jzintv for Linux has a bug where it can't read hackfiles, so the Ultimate PC Interface will not work with it.  I emailed the creator, Joe Zbiciak, and he updated the source code, but I am unable to get it to compile.  The file is here if someone else can get it to compile with the Pi:

 

http://spatula-city....vn-20141028.zip

 

Other problems that need to be solved:

 

• There's no way to get back to the ROM list from jzintv without rebooting - F1 just makes the screen go black.

• May need a USB keyboard encoder like the iPac for the F12 key to reset.  Or is there an easier way?

 

UPDATE 12/5/14

 

All of the above issues have been solved!  Here are the advantages of this project over the original Flashback:

 

• HDMI output for beautiful full-screen blocky graphics.

• Perfect sound emulation including Intellivoice games.

• The ability to play all the games.

 

Software

 

Joe Zbiciak fixed the Linux version of jzintv, so hackfiles and the UPCI now work!  You can download the new version of jzintv here.

 

David Harley updated the UPCI firmware to allow for pausing, resetting, and quitting a game all from the controller.  No need for a keyboard encoder!

 

He also created step-by-step instructions on how to set up the emulation software on the Pi.

 

Many thanks to Joe and David - I couldn't have done this project without them!  Here's a video of the software in action:

 

 

Hardware

 

Here's how I crammed everything into the Flashback.  I used the Flashback's existing power supply and spliced a micro USB power cable into it so I could still use the Flashback's on / off switch.  I used my Dremel to get the UPCI player2 cable to fit.

 

IMG_1263.JPG

 

I shortened up the UPCI USB cable and fit everything in like this.

 

IMG_1363.JPG

 

Ran the power to the GPIO instead of the micro-USB and added a wifi USB device and Logitech K400 Bluetooth keyboard.  No extra wires hanging out the back now, and I don't have to crack the case open to add new games!

 

IMG_1355.JPG  IMG_1358.JPG

 

Access to the micro-SD card.  Your hole doesn't need to be this big!

 

IMG_1319.JPG

 

Still looks like a Flashback!

 

IMG_1359.JPG

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • final.JPG
  • UIFB back.jpg
  • UIFB front.jpg

Attached Files


Edited by Byte Knight, Tue May 26, 2015 1:38 PM.


#2 Byte Knight OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 2, 2014 4:22 PM

Here are some screen shots of the front-end.  Sorry for the crappy quality, I'm not sure how to take snapshots from the Pi.

 

IMG_1244.JPG  IMG_1247.JPG



#3 pimpmaul69 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 2, 2014 4:50 PM

Damn you beat me to it. I was gonna do this too. :P since u already did the frontend can i get a copy when i start mine? Looks good

#4 Rick Reynolds OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 2, 2014 4:58 PM

Ha!  I'm thinking of trying the same thing!



#5 nanochess OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 2, 2014 5:38 PM

Cool, now three people can work on this at same time and get an even better option :)

 

I'll be watching gladly :D



#6 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 2, 2014 7:48 PM

now this would be a great flashback



#7 intvnut OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 2, 2014 11:24 PM

Hey guys,

 

After listening to this month's excellent Intellivisionaries podcast and playing with my Intellivision Flashbacks, I want to make the Ultimate Intellivision Flashback.  I plan on using a Raspberry Pi with Retropie software, the Ultimate PC Interface, and the shell from an Intellivision Flashback.  The advantage of this would be HDMI output and the ability to play every game.  The Ultimate PC Interface even allows you to use the new Flashback controllers!

 

I've got some things up and running on my Pi, including being able to select a game using the Intellivision controller.  I really like the EmulationStation front-end with the box art and game descriptions.  I'll post a few screenshots soon.

 

The biggest holdup for the project is that jzintv for Linux has a bug where it can't read hackfiles, so the Ultimate PC Interface will not work with it.  I emailed the creator, Joe Zbiciak, and he updated the source code, but I am unable to get it to compile.  The file is here if someone else can get it to compile with the Pi:

 

http://spatula-city....vn-20141028.zip

 

Other problems that need to be solved:

 

• There's no way to get back to the ROM list from jzintv without rebooting - F1 just makes the screen go black.

• May need a USB keyboard encoder like the iPac for the F12 key to reset.  Or is there an easier way?

 

 

 

 

I don't know about F1.  But in general, once we figure out how to get that compiled for you, it's easy enough to add an #ifdef and provide a different set of default key mappings for the R-Pi build.  I've done that for other builds, such as GP2X.

 

All the mapping information is in src/cfg/mapping.c



#8 JDog514 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 3, 2014 2:15 PM

Joe,

 

have you thought about offering JZIntv to Keith for use in an upcoming flashback if it's made? It seems like that would solve the sound and other issues ATGames seems to be having.



#9 intvnut OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 3, 2014 2:22 PM

have you thought about offering JZIntv to Keith for use in an upcoming flashback if it's made? It seems like that would solve the sound and other issues ATGames seems to be having.

 

There are both technical and legal reasons why it won't work.  On the technical side, I'm not sure that jzIntv will run on the chip they're using.  Right now I can only guess what they're using, but I suspect it may not support jzIntv.  On the legal side, jzIntv is covered by the GNU GPLv2.  The GPL requires distributing the source code with the work. 

 

I could relicense the portions I've written to a license more suitable to the FB model.  However, I have taken in outside contributions, so I'm no longer the sole copyright owner of jzIntv.  I would only be able to change the license on jzIntv if I got all previous contributors' approval, or I rewrote / removed those contributions.

 

A more realistic possibility would be to offer to write an emulator for the chip they're using, using my knowledge of the Intellivision to provide them with a high fidelity emulation.  By now, I have 90% of the machine memorized.



#10 JDog514 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 3, 2014 2:31 PM

I see. Just a thought. I heard they are using a modified Intellivision Lives for Mac as the basebut I'm not 100% on this. I think it was Bill who posted that in another thread but again I'm not 100% on this.



#11 freewheel OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 3, 2014 4:41 PM

Technically the GPL just requires them to make the source *available*. A URL buried in the product manual, pointing to the source on your website, would be sufficient. Unless of course they modified the code, which is almost certain. Then they'd have to have a URL pointing to *their* website.

 

Doesn't seem insurmountable unless they hate the GPL or something.



#12 intvnut OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 3, 2014 9:05 PM

Technically the GPL just requires them to make the source *available*. A URL buried in the product manual, pointing to the source on your website, would be sufficient. Unless of course they modified the code, which is almost certain. Then they'd have to have a URL pointing to *their* website.

 

Doesn't seem insurmountable unless they hate the GPL or something.

 

Well, given that most of their licenses, etc. revolve around NDAs an the like, I think the GPL is a reflexive non-starter.  In any case, it's perhaps a can of worms best left unopened.  I have my reasons.


Edited by intvnut, Mon Nov 3, 2014 9:05 PM.


#13 freewheel OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 3, 2014 10:23 PM

Fair enough. Reminds me of some of the early legal discussions the MAME guys had. Now, they've gone one step further and created their own license to explicitly stop commercial exploitation, but the early years had this sort of issue coming up from time to time.

 

Which really is why we've ended up with so many sub-par emulated products over the years. Nintendo is one of the few companies to have gotten this right. Not without irony.



#14 Byte Knight OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 4, 2014 11:13 AM

Damn you beat me to it. I was gonna do this too. :P since u already did the frontend can i get a copy when i start mine? Looks good

 

Yes, I'll make an image of my Pi SD card available to people who want it (minus roms, exec.bin, grom.bin, etc.).



#15 Byte Knight OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 4, 2014 11:36 AM

Good news - Joe was able to get the newer version of jzintv to compile on my Raspberry Pi!  The Ultimate PC Interface now works with a hackfile.  So, both controllers now work both in-game and in the front-end.

 

Still need to solve:

 

• Keypad 1 and 9 together do not pause the game from either controller.  Not sure if this is a hardware or software issue yet.

• Need a way to get back to the front-end besides rebooting.

• Need a solution to reset a game via USB or GPIO port.



#16 pimpmaul69 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 4, 2014 1:54 PM

Yes, I'll make an image of my Pi SD card available to people who want it (minus roms, exec.bin, grom.bin, etc.).

thank you. I was going to have to get a software dude do that part for me anyways. Do you know if jzintv allows for 2 controller adapters. I was thinking of adding the 2 vga ports on the back for keyboard and piano

#17 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 4, 2014 2:10 PM

I see. Just a thought. I heard they are using a modified Intellivision Lives for Mac as the basebut I'm not 100% on this. I think it was Bill who posted that in another thread but again I'm not 100% on this.

 

You didn't hear that from me because I didn't say that. However, I do seem to recall some speculation about that from someone (don't recall who either), but honestly, I don't see how that's possible since the chipset is completely different.

To put things in perspective, I know others have offered to write/do work on emulators for AtGames, and every time that offer has been rejected. As far as I know, the only interest they ever show from outsiders is getting more games. Otherwise, all of the engineering is done through their in-house company/engineer.

 

Keep in mind too that AtGames has their own low cost platform, which is the base of the Atari, Intellivision, and ColecoVision Flashbacks, and for products with these price points, they're not going to deviate. These are very cost constrained products and have very real limits on what can and can't be done. If AtGames deviated from that price point, they'd no longer be carried in the stores that they need these things carried in. That's why I often say these products are not really for the "us" who frequents these boards, particularly if we're not accepting of the obvious limitations these devices will have.

 

AtGames is doing a lot of work on digital products right now and I think that's where you'll see quite a leap in emulation quality. They're entertaining ideas about doing physical products at higher price points (likely Android-based), but I think they'll be sticking with their current business model for quite a while longer.

 

The good thing is is there's nothing stopping projects like the one in this thread from proceeding apace.



#18 intvsteve OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 4, 2014 2:16 PM

Good news - Joe was able to get the newer version of jzintv to compile on my Raspberry Pi!  The Ultimate PC Interface now works with a hackfile.  So, both controllers now work both in-game and in the front-end.

 

Still need to solve:

 

• Keypad 1 and 9 together do not pause the game from either controller.  Not sure if this is a hardware or software issue yet.

• Need a way to get back to the front-end besides rebooting.

• Need a solution to reset a game via USB or GPIO port.

The UltimatePC interface doesn't support multiple keypresses, IIRC. I was experimenting some with this awhile back and learned that.



#19 JDog514 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 4, 2014 2:22 PM

Thanks for the info bill and sorry I misspoke.

#20 freewheel OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 4, 2014 2:50 PM

I think Atgames would be surprised at how portable a lot of emulator code is. Seeing as we were running emulators in the late 90s that were arguably more accurate than what they've provided so far, their custom chipset would have to be some seriously shitty hardware to not be able to run a ported version of one of those. I mean sure, you CAN go out and buy Z80s (random example) off the shelf today, but people aren't generally building consumer electronics out of them anymore. Not when you can buy something orders of magnitude more powerful for the same price.

 

I think it's more a case of NIH than anything else. Which is fine, it's their right. I sure would love to be a fly on the wall during some of the tech discussions though.



#21 Tarzilla OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 4, 2014 3:03 PM

 

You didn't hear that from me because I didn't say that. However, I do seem to recall some speculation about that from someone (don't recall who either), but honestly, I don't see how that's possible since the chipset is completely different.

 

I know Keith Robinson has said several times that he gave ATGames the Mac version of the Intellivision Lives emulator for reference. I believe he also said on an episode of Intellivisionaires that he gave ATGames an Intellivision console for comparison.



#22 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 4, 2014 3:17 PM

I know Keith Robinson has said several times that he gave ATGames the Mac version of the Intellivision Lives emulator for reference. I believe he also said on an episode of Intellivisionaires that he gave ATGames an Intellivision console for comparison.

 

Right, almost certainly just for reference, not for code re-use or anything. I supplied AtGames with a ColecoVision for their ColecoVision Flashback, but unfortunately that was not as closely modeled. It helped that Keith and company were able to be more hands on with AtGames, which is why the Intellivision Flashback has a better implementation than the ColecoVision Flashback. If there are future revisions of both, I would expect improvements as well along with the fix for controller cross compatibility.



#23 JDog514 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 4, 2014 5:28 PM

I hope so

#24 Byte Knight OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 4, 2014 9:30 PM

Fortunately, we get to use the best emulator out there - jzintv!  The sound output is near perfect as far as I can tell.  To not have the famous Intellivision buzz with the Flashback is very disappointing.  Don't get me wrong, I'll still buy every version of the Flashback that comes out...

 

I've got it so the emulator can now exit to the front-end with hitting F1.  Just had to increase the resolution of the emulator.  The front-end had a hard time switching back from 640 by 480 for some reason...

 

The next step will be to get a USB keyboard encoder (for the two function keys) and try and cram it all in a Flashback shell.



#25 Byte Knight OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 4, 2014 9:33 PM

The UltimatePC interface doesn't support multiple keypresses, IIRC. I was experimenting some with this awhile back and learned that.

 

I'm pretty sure the UPCI 1-9 pause combination worked in emulation on my Mac.  I'll test it out again.






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