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FPGA Based Videogame System

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Poll: Interest in an FPGA Videogame System (409 member(s) have cast votes)

I would pay....

  1. > $100 (31 votes [7.58%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 7.58%

  2. $100-149 (54 votes [13.20%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 13.20%

  3. $150-199 (130 votes [31.78%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 31.78%

  4. $200-299 (119 votes [29.10%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 29.10%

  5. Sky's the Limit (75 votes [18.34%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 18.34%

I Would Like Support for...

  1. 8 bit era games (346 votes [46.44%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 46.44%

  2. 16 bit era games (339 votes [45.50%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 45.50%

  3. Blip (60 votes [8.05%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 8.05%

Games Should Run From...

  1. SD Card / USB Memory Sticks (352 votes [55.61%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 55.61%

  2. Original Cartridges (252 votes [39.81%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 39.81%

  3. Hopes and Dreams (29 votes [4.58%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 4.58%

The Video Inteface Should be...

  1. RGB (148 votes [18.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 18.00%

  2. Composite (137 votes [16.67%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 16.67%

  3. S-video (75 votes [9.12%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 9.12%

  4. Component (108 votes [13.14%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 13.14%

  5. HDMI (354 votes [43.07%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 43.07%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#1 kevtris OFFLINE  

kevtris

    Moonsweeper

  • 380 posts
  • FPGA Whisperer
  • Location:Flyover, USA

Posted Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:28 PM

*
POPULAR

To make life easy for everyone, I have edited this first post to include all the important things about my FPGA videogame system (the Zimba 3000, called the Z3K from here on) and the Analogue Nt mini since it is using my cores that will also appear on the Z3K.

 

What is the Zimba 3000?

 

The Zimba 3000 is the name of my FPGA videogame system. It will support various 8 bit and 16 bit videogame and computer systems. Right now, I am in the design and development stage on it. I am going to be slammed with contract work in a month or two (as of March 2017) so it will be a little while before I can complete development of it, but work is not going to totally stop. See below for my original post to this thread that explains it more in-depth.

 

Analogue Nt mini

 

As most of you know by now, I designed the PCB and wrote the software in the Analogue Nt mini.  This is an FPGA NES/Famicom with HDMI and RGB/composite/s-video/component out.  I have since released "jailbroken" firmware that allows you to run ALL of my FPGA cores to date.  These are mostly 8-bit cores right now but it is possible I can do some light 16 bit cores in the future.

 

It currently supports the following:

 

  • NES/Famicom
  • Sega Master System
  • Game Gear
  • Colecovision
  • Gameboy
  • Gameboy Color
  • Atari 2600
  • Atari 7800
  • Supervision
  • Gamate
  • Game King
  • Channel F
  • Arcadia 2001
  • Creativision

 

The following are in the process of being ported:

 

  • Adventure Vision
  • Videobrain
  • Intellivision
  • Odyssey^2
  • RCA Studio 2
  • SPC Player

 

Unfortunately the mandelbrot zoomer cannot be ported due to a lack of multipliers.

 

 

Download the Latest Jailbroken Firmware Here:

 

http://blog.kevtris....re_verJB1.9.zip

 

Related links for the Nt

 

DF Retro Hardware did a good overview of how to perform the jailbreak:

 

https://youtu.be/BR5MZh-AYVs?t=1025

 

Analogue Support Page:

 

https://support.analogue.co/hc/en-us

 

Overview of FPGA Video Game System Cores

 

 

I have a text file here that describes the current systems implemented:

 

http://blog.kevtris....ystems_V110.txt

 

 

How to Jailbreak the Nt mini

 

1. Format your SD card FAT32

2. Unzip the firmware file onto the card, keeping the directories contained within

3. Load your desired ROMs into the proper directories (i.e. NES games go in /NES/)

4. Plug the SD card into the Nt mini

5. Power on the Nt mini and wait 3 minutes while the update occurs (led will flash red)

6. You will know this worked because the menu (default DOWN+SELECT) now sports skulls and crossbones

 

Upgrading the already Jailbroken Nt mini Firmware

 

1. Replace the entire /SYSTEM/ directory and its contents (the cores live here)

2. Add the new directories

3. Replace the firmware .bin in the root directory with the new one

4. You need to add the BIOS files for the various systems as indicated by the text file in the /BIOS/ directory

5. Plug the SD card into the Nt mini

6. Power on the Nt mini and wait 3 minutes while the update occurs (led will flash red)

 

Core File Menu Controls

  • Up/Down: Selects a file.
  • Left/Right: Page through files, 16 at a time.
  • B: Can be set to take you to the top/bottom of a file list, do nothing, or go back 1 level in the directory structure.
  • Y: Run the game.
  • Start: Enter the settings menu.  This is slightly different from the main menu.  There is now as "core" settings menu. Everything core specific will be found here.
  • Select: Exit the menu. You will be asked to confirm.  If you confirm, it returns to the core select menu. If you do not wish to exit, it returns to the currently running game.

 

 

Backing up your NES & Famicom Cartridges with copyNES Mini

 

1. Insert the game in question into the cartridge slot.

2. Select 'Run Cartridge' to make sure it works and is making good contact.

3. Re-enter the menu and select "Copynes mini".

4. Select the mapper that your game uses.  See here for a decent list of game vs. mapper: http://tuxnes.sourceforge.net/nesmapper.txt.

5. Hit Y (or A if using the original NES controller) to start the backup. Note that it might take awhile (30 seconds) to determine the size of the ROMs on the cartridge.After the game is backed up, you can enter a filename using up/down./left/right.  If no name is entered, it will save it with a filename determined by the sumcheck of the ROM.

6. Press Y (or A if using the original NES controller) to save the backup ROM.

 

Jailbreak Firmware Releases & Notes as of 3/19/2017

 

JB v1.9

http://atariage.com/...stem/?p=3726104

Download: http://blog.kevtris....re_verJB1.9.zip

 

  • Added the Osyssey^2 core.

 

 

JB v1.8

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/242970-fpga-based-videogame-system/?p=3721674

Download: http://blog.kevtris.org/blogfiles/ntm_firmware_verJB1.8.zip

 

  • Fixed DC offset on the audio, causing certain monitors to produce no sound ever, or until a game was started and certain SFX played, etc

  • Fixed the crackling/static issue that appears on games such as solstice

  • Minor fix to audio scaler that probably wasn't audible, but was wrong anyways

  • Fixed the "wigglin' scalers" issue.  This was a debug I left in. oops

  • Moved mapper 124 on the NES core to the second NES core due to running out of room

  • Added ability to change highlight text colour in the menus. I cannot add it to NES composite s/vid due to space (but it works on other cores)

  • Added "low lag" controller reading to all cores. (the controller is polled right before vblank to minimize lag)

  • Rebuilt all cores to implement that above fixes/changes

  • Added Famicom Network HVC-051 controller to Coleco core

  • Added Famicom Network HVC-051 controller to Arcadia 2001 core

 

JB v1.7

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/242970-fpga-based-videogame-system/?p=3720849

Download:http://blog.kevtris.org/blogfiles/ntm_firmware_verJB1.7.zip

  • Arcadia 2001 core added

  • Channel F core added

  • Added the Creativision core added

  • Fixed the 7800 composite/s-vid outputs to produce proper carrier


JB v1.6

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/242970-fpga-based-videogame-system/?p=3716454

Download: http://blog.kevtris.org/blogfiles/ntm_firmware_verJB1.6.zip

  • Fixed saving video width setting


JB v1.5

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/242970-fpga-based-videogame-system/?p=3715370

Download: http://blog.kevtris.org/blogfiles/ntm_firmware_verJB1.5.zip

  • Atari 7800 core added

  • Each core will now save 1080p height selection (4x, 4.5x, 5x)

  • Each core will now save its X width and offset

  • Added a new scaler for 7800 since it is 320 pixels wide

  • Retooled scaling calculations to accommodate systems wider than 256 pixels


JB v1.4

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/242970-fpga-based-videogame-system/?p=3710033

Download: http://blog.kevtris.org/blogfiles/ntm_firmware_verJB1.4.zip

  • Game King core added

  • Gamate core added

  • Supervision core added


JB v1.3

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/242970-fpga-based-videogame-system/page-59#entry3704550

Download: http://blog.kevtris.org/blogfiles/ntm_firmware_verJB1.3.zip

  • Atari 2600 core added

  • Fixed NES Mapper 163 so pokemon yellow now works

  • Fixed NES audio pitch sweep


JB v1.2

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/242970-fpga-based-videogame-system/page-52#entry3698659

Download: http://blog.kevtris.org/blogfiles/ntm_firmware_verJB1.2.zip

  • Gameboy core added

  • Gameboy Color core added


JB v1.1

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/242970-fpga-based-videogame-system/page-46#entry3693821

Download: http://blog.kevtris.org/blogfiles/ntm_firmware_verJB1.1.zip

  • Added SMS and GG save RAM saving functionality

  • Fixed SMS/GG save RAM functionality

  • File browser will not display .SAV files in the sms/gg/coleco cores

  • Retooled the button options and made a new unified "Menu Button Mapping" entry

  • Fixed the B button setting so it works now

  • Fixed LED issue on core swap

  • Made LED default to white and changed menus to reflect this.  If you want it fixed you select a pattern speed of 0 now

  • Removed GG bezel graphics


JB v1.0

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/242970-fpga-based-videogame-system/page-45#entry3693098

Download: http://blog.kevtris.org/blogfiles/ntm_firmware_verJB1.0.zip

  • SG-1000 core added (place your games under /SMS for this)

  • Sega Master System core added (with FM support)

  • Game Gear core added

  • Colecovision core added

  • Fixed MMC5 square channels 2x too high in pitch

  • Fixed Holy Diver mapper mirroring (be sure to set NES2.0 submapper to 3)

  • Fixed Crime Busters mapper

  • Fixed "Hang on boot" for v0.9

 

JB v0.9

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/242970-fpga-based-videogame-system/page-42#entry3687219

Download: http://blog.kevtris.org/blogfiles/ntm_firmware_verJB0.9.zip

  • NES core added (support for over 200 NES mappers)

 

Original post

 

Welll, some people seemed interested in my FPGA Videogame doodad that I presented in the RVGS thread and it was suggested I make a post about it, how it works, and what it does.   I still don't have immediate plans for selling it, but if there's enough interest, that could change.   I will attempt to explain what it is, how it works, and what a sellable version of it would entail, so let's go!

 

First off, nearly ANYTHING is possible.   The main problem is going to be how much money people will be willing to pay, and how long they will want to wait for it to be finished.   A target price of around $250 is probably going to be a reasonable value, but ideally I'd love to be able to do it for $200ish. 

 

What I have right now:

 

At this point in time, I have 17 system cores complete, and pretty much ready to go.  This means that the core is done and runs all the games I can throw at it flawlessly.  I have spent a lot of time debugging and testing these cores to make sure they are the highest possible quality and completeness.  Yes, I spent the time to run every single game available to me on them- many many many times to make sure any changes I made didn't break something.

 

To obtain the absolute highest level of quality and compatibility, I have made special test fixtures, hardware, and test ROMs for every system, and used my 200 channel logic analyzer to inspect exactly what goes on to get exact cycle accuracy on everything.  Developing a new 8 bit level core takes around 1-3 months of work depending on how complicated it is.  Sometimes it was even faster than this, and sometimes longer.  I figure I could get SNES or Genesis going in a 4-6 month time frame and maybe a few more months to debug it to a decent level of operation.

 

There have been several hardware prototypes created up to this point to develop and test my cores and other related things, and I now have full command of the HDMI interface at 1080p/60fps.  I have moved onto HDMI now as my interface of choice due to the high quality of today's flat panel monitors and TVs.   Analog is still possible, and I can support this too.   I still think that some kind of add-on for analog will be the best way to go instead of integrated it into the system due to the cost of the video DACs ($4-5 each) and the connectors ($1 or more each in some cases).   By leaving off analog, I can save probably $40-50 by eliminating all the chips and hardware for them.   The other option is simply to get rid of analog all together and not support it at all.   Would many people be sad to see analog go?  Personally I wouldn't, but this is not really my decision-  I want to make something the USERS would like.

 

Right now, I am playing games by loading ROMs in through a computer interface for debug, but ideally they would be loaded off of SD cards.   I like the idea of cartridge adapters, but the problem with them is making the plastic enclosure for it.  Making the adapters themselves is fairly straight forward and easy, and the games would literally be running off the cartridge itself- it would NOT be just another Retron 5 that just dumps the game and plays it- it would actually RUN the actual cart so Powerpaks/Everdrives/etc would still work.  Ideally if you can stuff it into an existing system and have it work, I want it to work for sure on my adapters too.

 

I don't know how much these adapters would cost.  They would each consist of a cartridge connector,  a system connector, and probably level translation logic and maybe a few other minor things.  Figure a $20-30 parts cost.  So maybe a $40-50 retailish range.   Adding more than 1 cartridge port to the adapter would save money, and maybe be a $5-10 cost adder vs. singles.

 

I have been using PCIe connectors because they are cheap, durable, and extremely commodity, which means there's 10 or 20 companies making them.  This will stop it going obsolete any time soon, and keeps the price in the basement.  All good things for this. 

 

The current "high end" board I have designed and manufactured looks like this:

 

(3D render)

system3 3drender
 
(main board + analog board, front view)
analogboard2
 
(main board + analog board, back view)
analogboard1

 

There's no less than TWO FPGAs on this board- one was meant to do all the system simulation/emulation, and the other was meant to handle video scaling, SD card access, etc.  I ended up not stuffing the boards because I learned a lot about HDMI during the HDMI NES adapter project, and wanted to apply what I learned.  This will basically lead to lower costs and more functionality vs. what I have already created on this existing board.   All the parts are bought and sitting here in a box, along with solder stencils, etc.  but I think holding off and redesigning the board is the best option.  I may still stuff parts of the board for testing, however.

 

Right now, my idea to package this thing was to use the laser cutter I have at work and make acrylic laser cut packaging instead of a professional injection mold, but if 1000ish people were on board, I could most likely go for a proper job injection mold to house it.

 

System specs that a proposed system would have:

 

* SD card for storing ROMs/save games/FPGA configurations

* Quad RAM busses to allow up to neogeo level systems

* Enhanced video scaling (see my HDMI NES project for a taste of my HDMI capabilities)

* 49K logic element FPGA

* Quad USB ports for controllers/mice/etc   Most likely HID only

* HDMI video/audio,   1080p and 48KHz audio standard

* Port to allow plugging in cartridge adapters

* Maybe one or two built in ports for i.e. NES or SNES or similar

* 256Mbytes of RAM

 

The existing board has all of the above except cart ports, and a few more things like ethernet which I would strip off.

 

Here's a youtube playlist showing off most of my FPGA videogame cores to date:

 

https://www.youtube....2JxhbFNLXMYLKdH

 

And a list:

 

* Sega Master System

* Game Gear

* Colecovision

* NES/Famicom

* Atari 2600

* Atari 7800

* Intellivision

* Odyssey^2

* Adventure Vision

* Supervision

* RCA Studio 2

* Fairchild Channel F

* Videobrain

* Arcadia 2001

* Creativision

* Gameboy

* Gameboy Color (not 100% yet, still debugging. runs 99% of games so far)

 

nonvideogame things:

 

* SPC player (SNES music)

* Mandelbrot realtime zoom/pan/julia

 

None of the cores are bare bones, either.  The 2600 core for example supports Pitfall 2, Atarivox, Supercharger demo unit, Supercharger proper, and all mappers.   The Intv and Odyssey^2 ones have the speech add-ons, and the NES core supports all expansion audio chips and all mappers.

 

And that's about it.  If there's any questions lemme know and I will try to answer 'em.



#2 phoenixdownita OFFLINE  

phoenixdownita

    River Patroller

  • 2,437 posts

Posted Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:35 PM

You got my vote, +100 if you can pull NeoGeo off, that would be so huge (SNK/Playmore couldn't pull it off, likely they'd hire you, a little bit like mith has it what happen to the guy that emulated the Sega model 2 that ended up selling it to port the Sega titles to PS3/XBOX360).

A Genny core may be needed upfront to spice up the interest and it should be within your reach, I'd steer clear of Nintendo, now they are asking to YouTube to take down speedruns because according to them the only way to pull that one off is to use a non legal device of sorts.

I prefer 16bits to the 8bits (but NES/SMS are quite enjoyable and I wouldn't mind a Coleco or a 7800 core, even if I have to pay for each via some sort of "adapter")

 

So steer clear from the N, at least officially, don't make it so it is impossible to run rogue cores ;-)

 

 

Also, if you can interface this thing efficiently via RPi2 they already have a way to display HDMI (and composite) for 35US$ [the cost of the whole RPi2] and it also already has quad USB and a quad core ARM3 if hybrid approach is better, some emulation on the ARM, some other on the FPGA ;-) but I would understand if you want full control on the HDMI out especially if you want even simulate artifacting correctly (the Atari 7800 Tower Toppler looks so different composite vs even SVideo)


Edited by phoenixdownita, Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:54 PM.


#3 Austin OFFLINE  

Austin

    Quadrunner

  • 11,402 posts
  • Location:Fairfax, VA

Posted Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:38 PM

If you can make a HDMI system in the $200 - $250 range that allows me to use my flash carts for my 8 and 16-bit systems, then I am sold already. Ditch analog if it saves on costs considerably, my big concern is using this stuff on modern TVs (I can already use it on CRTs via the original hardware).

 

*Edit - Heck, if it costs less to make one without cart slots but will stay play the same files off of a SD card, I am still sold. This is what the Retron5 should be able to do out of the box, but doesn't.


Edited by Austin, Mon Sep 21, 2015 1:29 AM.

  • SSG likes this

#4 StopDrop&Retro OFFLINE  

StopDrop&Retro

    Dragonstomper

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  • The RVGStorian
  • Location:North Coleco

Posted Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:48 PM

You got my vote. I also have a small YouTube channel about retro gaming (320 subs right now) and I would definitely feature your project.

 

Keep the adapters as a separate add-on. Make the core system just run via SD card... if ya know wut I mean...



#5 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

Kosmic Stardust

    Princess Rescuer

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Posted Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:52 PM

Awesome Kevtris. Glad to see you doing this. I personally would like to see...

 

8-bit and 16-bit

Composite and HDMI

Original carts - ROMs are nice, but I have flash carts for nearly everything I own, so...

$150-$200

 

If you need to go a bit over $200 to support 16-bit, that would be understandable. I'd rather pay $50 more and have access to SNES/Genny/TG-16 than not. Neo Geo if you can pull it off (ROM only support for NG is fine - no need to spend $$$$ on carts...)


Edited by stardust4ever, Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:58 PM.


#6 fdurso224 ONLINE  

fdurso224

    Quadrunner

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  • Hello, my name is Anthony!
  • Location:Bronx,NY

Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:19 AM

Hi Guys,

 

Well this looks interesting and would consider investing in one of these. If you can try to get Neo-Geo on it. I would certainly purchase one.

 

 

Anthony...


Edited by fdurso224, Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:38 AM.


#7 dashv OFFLINE  

dashv

    Moonsweeper

  • 413 posts

Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:24 AM

Game Gear, ColecoVision, and 7800 from the original carts would be awesome.

My systems have been restored by me to the point where I hope they got 10 years more life. But time is a fickle fickle mistress.

#8 jaybird3rd ONLINE  

jaybird3rd

    Quadrunner

  • 8,372 posts
  • Location:806.4616.0110

Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:24 AM

I'd be more than happy to support this system!  I voted for composite video because I can see myself using this with a CRT, but that's probably the most disposable feature on my list.  As someone who doesn't like the look of classic systems on HD televisions, native HDMI output would be enough in itself to make me want one.  8-bit systems are all I'm really interested in.  Be sure to keep us posted, and I'd also encourage you to look into whatever crowdfunding opportunities might be opened up in the wake of the almost certain demise of the RVGS.

 

Whatever happens, I'm eager to see what you do with it!



#9 Random Terrain OFFLINE  

Random Terrain

    Visual batari Basic User

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  • Location:North Carolina (USA)

Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:30 AM

. . . my big concern is using this stuff on modern TVs . . .


If I can put Atari 2600 batari Basic games and works in progress in it and see them on my HDTV using an HDMI cable, it would be worth the money. Please make sure that it will run batari Basic games. For example, Seaweed Assault will not work with a modded Flashback 2.

 

On top of that, if I could play classic NES and SNES games on my HDTV using an HDMI cable, it would really, really, really, really be worth the money. I miss playing the two versions of Sim City that I have for the SNES. I also miss playing other NES and SNES games.



#10 StopDrop&Retro OFFLINE  

StopDrop&Retro

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:31 AM

Don't go overboard with the adapters. That's why I think the core system should just have SD card support. Really, who owns RCA Studio 2 carts? And as much as I have a fetish for the Odyssey 2, I can live without an adapter.

 

Group the adapters together so you only have to sell like 3 different types of adapter kits. One for all the handhelds, one for all the 8 bit, one for all the 16 bit.



#11 MrMaddog OFFLINE  

MrMaddog

    Moonsweeper

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:31 AM

 

 

I'd steer clear of Nintendo, now they are asking to YouTube to take down speedruns because according to them the only way to pull that one off is to use a non legal device of sorts.

I prefer 16bits to the 8bits (but NES/SMS are quite enjoyable and I wouldn't mind a Coleco or a 7800 core, even if I have to pay for each via some sort of "adapter")

 

So steer clear from the N, at least officially, don't make it so it is impossible to run rogue cores ;-)

 

 

Yeah, if I wanted a Nintendo Flashback I'd get a used Wii and buy games from the Virtual Console (and use a homebrew emulator for ROMS they don't sell).  Plus there's already the Retrons for the popular Nintendo & Sega stuff that used game stores sell.

 

I rather have something that plays pre-Crash games as they really need to be preserved, plus it's hard to find even working 2600 systems for sale anymore.



#12 kevtris OFFLINE  

kevtris

    Moonsweeper

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  • Location:Flyover, USA

Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:42 AM

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention.  I DO have a name for my system that I have been keeping under wraps kinda.  It's the.... dun dun dunnnn

 

 

Zimba 3000

 

My company name is "Zimba Labs" so this only makes sense I guess :-)

 

There's a hilarious (to me) reason behind this name with a lot of history.  I was tired of "retro this" and "retro that" and wanted something that didn't have "vision" "Game" "system" or "retro" in it since IMO it sounds kinda cheesy.  So, I remembered what my friend Merc said on IRC about his "videogame system that plays anything" from Zimbabwae called the "Zimba 2000", and they were going to release their "Zimba 3000" soon.   So I guess I'm the one that might release the Zimba 3000 after all.   I can't do Playstation 3 though.

 

 

Here's part of the log.  This must've been around 2005.   The full thing is here:  http://www.atarihq.c...5/jmtatari1.txt

<jmtatari1> I like the jaguar is that ok?
<Mercster> ok
<jmtatari1> what systems do you like?
<Mercster> only the zimba 2000
<Mercster> totally AWESOME system
<jmtatari1> what is the zimba 2000? 
<Mercster> plays psx, n64, snes, nes, genesis, ALL atari, ps2, xbox, 
   everything
<Mercster> came out in zimbabwae (in africa)
<Mercster> cost about $2k, but well worth it.
<jmtatari1> emulation only?
<Mercster> no, no emulation
<Mercster> thats why it cost so much
<Mercster> huge, too
<Mercster> about the size of a 27" tv
...
<Mercster> I gotta get the Zimba 3000 when it comes out
<Mercster> that fucker is going to be COOOOOOOL
<Mercster> PS3, Xbox II, etc
<Mercster> jm: you should pre-order the Zimba 3000
<Mercster> is there a gamestop or the like near you?


#13 rob_ocelot OFFLINE  

rob_ocelot

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 1:08 AM

HDMI for sure.   Composite I think is necessary as well for those 'quick and dirty' tests.  Analog audio for the people using HDMI to DVI adaptors.  I know they are cumbersome and add expense but you have more than one type of customer here.  One the reasons the RPi is so popular (other than it's cheap) is that you can hook it up to both the best TV in the house and the crappiest CRT you have in the basement in a pinch.

 

16-bit support would be one of the biggest selling points of this system.   There's other things to consider, including licensing the tech to larger companies for more mainstream products.  Shoot for including the largest number of systems whose FPGA cores you can muster within a rigid timeframe and don't get distracted trying to add  "just one more" near the deadline.  I know you're not like this, but I thought it was worth adding -- especially when everyone and their dog is demanding every system imaginable to be packed in there.

 

I'm going to make one large request...

 

Vectrex support. (You knew I was going to ask!)

 

If theres any system that needs the FPGA treatment it's this.  Why?   30+ year old failing systems and current emulation isn't perfect.  A new hardware platform for vector games on HDMI displays with antialiasing would also help the homebrew community.  Some guys have bought the Vectrex IP but they haven't been able to get anything off the ground other than a crappy phone emulator -- this may also help them preserve the Vec/GCE legacy.

 

(Note: this plea is mainly for the bennefit of new readers to this thread.  I've discussed the details of Vectrex FPGA support with Kevin a long time ago and periodically bug him about it.  He usually doesn't tell me to get lost  ;) )



#14 roland p OFFLINE  

roland p

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 2:31 AM

Dilmom: Why don't you call your product the Gruntmaster 6000?
Dilbert: What kind of product do you see when you imagine a Gruntmaster 6000?
Dilmom: Well it's a stripped-down version of the Gruntmaster 9000 of course. But it's software-upgradeable.

 

I voted $200-299, but I would like to see support for:
- Amiga
- Genesis
- SNES
- MSX
- Atari 8-bit
- TG-16

I mean, this list has to grow (to make the system appealing to everyone), but is it really necessary that you write all of them? Could other FPGA implementations be ported to your system?

Also, does it support save-states?



#15 GroovyBee OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 3:14 AM

I'd like to see a "native" mode as well:
  • Preferably ARM based, at 100MHz or so.
  • Decent multi-layer tile capability (based on object lists like 7800, Lynx and jag).
  • Multi-colour depth tiles e.g. 1BPP to 8BPP with multiple palettes available.
  • Multi-channel stereo sound to 22kHz.
Doesn't need to support USB memory sticks, USB HID is sufficient for controllers and keyboards.

#16 SCPCD OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 4:34 AM

In the past, I also would like to do a FPGA console board, then I saw all existing dev board with almost all needed to do it and at lower price than making one myself, so I didn't take the time to do the PCB myself and targeting an existing one.

The only thing it will need for those board is a PCB interface for classic controler/cartridge, a box and done :).

 

 

Else, what i'm searching on a FPGA board is :

- "Big" FPGA (around 77kLE)

- HDMI supporting 1080p/60Hz

- Analog audio output

- SD card

- Ethernet interface

- high RAM bandwidth

- extension connection to easily connect other things

 

:)


Edited by SCPCD, Mon Sep 21, 2015 4:34 AM.


#17 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 4:41 AM

What a splendid setup! As it stands you'd have our full support. Either now or in a crowdfunded campaign.

 

Things I'd want to see:

3 major output styles, HDMI, Composite, and Analog Audio. VGA / DVI optional.

The ability to wire in a variety of keyboards and controllers.

Naturally more cores both 8 and 16 bit. how about an Astrocade core?

A larger gate array if feasible.

A rudimentary menu system. Select the core, the options for it, and the rom.

A sub-menu system made for controllers.

 

How about a set of definable filters which can be used in conjunction with HDMI ? Something to simulate video artifacts, bloom, blurring, saturation, scanlines, like blarrg effects - and completely controllable on a per-console basis.

 

ADDED:

I voted Sky's The Limit for pricing. I would only hem'n'haw if it got much past $500. And even then that comes out to be $30 per system if you start out with 17 cores. That a hella-bargain.

 

If this ever goes through crowdfunding I would only want 1 or 2 options. A more finished and polished product in a housing, like a console. Or a hobbyist's pack - board only - ready for mounting in my own case. I don't believe there is much to worry about in not having all sorts of physical doodads and useless paraphernalia that would surround a collector's console. This is not a collector's item. Considering the technical prowess of your customers I think that's all you need.

 

Please don't make 20 different tiers and perks. When that's done, more confusion is created. Too many things are sold with too many versions and levels of completeness these days. Pack-ins.. Special editions.. Limited to the first 500 backers.. That's bullshit I'd rather not entertain or wade through. No stretch goals either. Just gimme the board and call it a day.


Edited by Keatah, Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:05 AM.


#18 TheClassyGamer OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 4:57 AM

For what my opinion is worth, I was willing to drop the cash for that Retro VGS before I found out what was up with that, so I wouldn't have a problem paying in that price range or more as this would do quite a bit more of what I am interested in.

 

May be neat to have a bare bones set up where people could put it into their own cases, or a shell from a non working console.  That way someone could have the appearance of their favorite classic console if they were so inclined.

 

Also, would like to see some 5200 action going on there, and I could finally get rid of all my excess back up hardware.

 

Really though, as it stands now I would be happy to support the project.


Edited by TheClassyGamer, Mon Sep 21, 2015 4:58 AM.


#19 panamajoe OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:04 AM

would`t this thing be very much like Lotharek`s MIST FPGA?

http://lotharek.pl/product.php?pid=96



#20 LS_Dracon OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:25 AM

This is very interesting.

I have some questions:

1 - Will it support keyboard for old computers/ Odyssey 2 systems? (from usb port)

2 - Have you plans for add G7400 (a.k.a. Odyssey 3) support?

3 - Will it be "upgradeable" if you finish another fpga system, once the console is out?



#21 Radfoo ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:26 AM

Think $200 to $250 would be okay. For this type of thing many people still be happy to buy a bare board. If it reduces cost you don't need to include shiny case, controllers and wot not like RVGS.

Would keep shipping sensible too, RVGS bunch are talking $70 shipping to Europe?! Have to remember us over here will probably have to pay another $90 on import duty and tax.

#22 5-11under OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:49 AM

This sort of project will always be a difficult sell. We have so many options, from original consoles, emulators, Retropie, and more, I'm sure.

 

So, what makes this different?

- Higher "power" perhaps? Retropie on RPi2 is decent, but still needs more power.

- Support for harder to find 8 bit consoles? That has appeal. I'm never going to get another VideoBrain (but I miss the Othello game!), and I'll probably never buy the more rare old 8 bit systems.

- Old computer and keyboard support would add appeal, perhaps.

- Rotary controller support? Microvision?

 

I'm probably in for a couple hundred bucks. This sounds like a potentially good "living room" system. HDMI is good. Add composite (maybe) if it's $5, but not if it's $20. Just don't be overwhelmed by all of our whims. ;)

 

Great work so far. You've proven yourself very capable over many years of cool projects. The complexity of the controller and other switching matrices boggles my mind. ;) I'm curious what sizes the FPGA's are?



#23 tcdev OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:06 AM

This is a subject that has consumed me for years as I have been dabbling with FPGA emulation of classic arcade and microcomputer systems, plus the odd console, for around a decade now (though not so much in recent times with a young family and business to run). I have also been thinking about producing a 'commercial' product throughout that time but, like you, I have always thought the price point just isn't there yet with current technologies.

 

Most of my HDL cores were developed to 'proof of concept' level only, leveraging off a framework I put together early-on in the piece to expedite development. Once I had the game/system more-or-less running, I moved on to the next core. My aim was to implement many cores in order to ascertain hardware requirements for my eventual PCB. I also ported others' work as it became available. I've also had the good fortune to be involved at work in producing a video product with a rather large (70K LE) FPGA (plus a 2nd 16K LE one) which made for some rather nice prototyping hardware! ;)

 

Lately though, I have had plans for an over-the-top prototype platform to target the NeoGeo specifically, and to that end have developed and laid out a prototype flash cartridge for the same as a means of generating funds for the ultimate development. Years ago I had Joy Joy Kid running on an Altera DE2 (FIX layer only) and you could watch the attract mode running. To be honest, you could probably knock that up in a few days too.

 

As for Vectrex, I actually had it running too, but without a cycle-accurate 6809 core it's actually impossible to get the video right.

 

And you probably know the source for the Genesis running on a DE1 is freely available.

 

I should also bring up the topic of Mike's Replay board, which is oddly obscure. You'd be forgiven for thinking it's a secret...

 

If you're asking what I'd pay for such a system, I'm probably not your normal customer as I was willing to outlay thousands for my own.

 

What I would definitely want to know is if the system would be 'open', at least in the sense that the FPGA pinout was made public and you'd actively encourage and support 3rd party core development? If this did become a reality and render my (hardware) efforts pointless, then I'd at least want to have a crack at a complete, robust implementation of a platform that has yet to be emulated. I'd also probably finish off my 8-bit micro cores as well, as a few of those are pretty much complete. I even have a working WD179X core that can read from SD. Then there's the few dozen arcade games...

 

I understand the benefits to loading from SD etc, but I'd also definitely be interested in cartridge adapters, regardless of cost. Running from SD on a hardware emulation seems 'half baked' to me; either go the whole hog or stick to software emulation IMHO. Not that I don't want SD ability, but not at the cost of cartridge adapters.

 

One really silly stipulation of the RetroVGS was the "no internet (network)" capability. Granted you could add Ethernet via USB or a cartridge but biting off your nose to spite your face is just plain stupid.

 

So yeah, I'm all for this and, unlike RetroVGS, I know you have the track record and the ability to get this done, and done right. And obviously I'd love to contribute some cores.



#24 mckafka99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:07 AM

I'm definitely on board with this. I think the only other cores I would love to see would be Atari 8 Bit (800xl) and Bally Astrocade. This kind of system would clean up my corner of the living room very nicely and make my wife very happy!

#25 mckafka99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:07 AM

(duplicate post)





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