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FPGA Based Videogame System

FPGA

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Poll: Interest in an FPGA Videogame System (443 member(s) have cast votes)

I would pay....

  1. > $100 (37 votes [8.35%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 8.35%

  2. $100-149 (58 votes [13.09%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 13.09%

  3. $150-199 (134 votes [30.25%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 30.25%

  4. $200-299 (124 votes [27.99%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 27.99%

  5. Sky's the Limit (90 votes [20.32%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 20.32%

I Would Like Support for...

  1. 8 bit era games (376 votes [46.25%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 46.25%

  2. 16 bit era games (369 votes [45.39%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 45.39%

  3. Blip (68 votes [8.36%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 8.36%

Games Should Run From...

  1. SD Card / USB Memory Sticks (384 votes [55.01%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 55.01%

  2. Original Cartridges (279 votes [39.97%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 39.97%

  3. Hopes and Dreams (35 votes [5.01%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 5.01%

The Video Inteface Should be...

  1. RGB (168 votes [18.75%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 18.75%

  2. Composite (148 votes [16.52%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 16.52%

  3. S-video (80 votes [8.93%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 8.93%

  4. Component (116 votes [12.95%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 12.95%

  5. HDMI (384 votes [42.86%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 42.86%

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#1026 Kosmic Stardust ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 21, 2017 7:54 AM

 

My flat panel has RF, composite, S-Video, component, and HDMI(can't remember if it has VGA or if that was my last flat panel). Out of my CRT collection the one with the most inputs has RF, composite, S-Video, and component. Anyway, the reason I would prefer the Zimba 3000 to have all the outputs to future and past proof it is because, one, I can check out the outputs for each core and see which I prefer on which TV and, two, because later in life my CRT collection could change. As examples for two, some may break, I may get different results with a new CRT with different hook-ups, I may eventually get a PVM, etc. In other words, since CRT's are endangered species and I don't know the specific models I will have in the future I want to have all of the genitalia the Zimba 3000 could possibly have so that it is good at sexy times with all CRT's. :D

Nothing wrong with having options. It's just that having an old tube set for analog retro consoles and a flat panel for modern HD onsoles covers all the bases. Now that they've upgraded HDMI 2.0 to work with 4k video, I don't see it going anywhere or being replaced any time soon. I was afraid the new UHD gear would require display port or some other junk to work. And now it looks like everything will be replaced with USB-C, with adapters for everything else so we're good for a while yet. I think with future digital interfaces, it will be possible to "downgrade" to older standards with new and old equipment as long as it's digital. 4k HDTVs and beyond will likely always display 480i/p and up seamlessly.

 

Or you can connect a 4k player to a 1080p HDTV and then upgrade your HDTV when you get ready and already have stuff to watch on it. Neat going to a theater and seeing old movies in 4k, it really preserves the film grain and everything. I still think it's a placebo unless you get a "wall-sized" display or a projector. :P



#1027 Schizophretard OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:53 AM

Nothing wrong with having options.


Which is why I would prefer all of them.
 

It's just that having an old tube set for analog retro consoles and a flat panel for modern HD onsoles covers all the bases.


I agree but I don't know exactly which CRT's I will have in the future. Maybe the best I will have is one with composite and use that, or S-Video, or component, etc. So, if the Zimba 3000 had them all then I could use the best options or whichever options I prefer for whatever CRT's I may have access to in the future. In other words, I want to be able to hook up a Zimba 3000 to every CRT with ever output option.
 

Now that they've upgraded HDMI 2.0 to work with 4k video, I don't see it going anywhere or being replaced any time soon. I was afraid the new UHD gear would require display port or some other junk to work. And now it looks like everything will be replaced with USB-C, with adapters for everything else so we're good for a while yet. I think with future digital interfaces, it will be possible to "downgrade" to older standards with new and old equipment as long as it's digital. 4k HDTVs and beyond will likely always display 480i/p and up seamlessly.

 
HDMI I'm not concerned with because that is one hookup we can know for sure the Zimba 3000 will have. I'm concerned with the analog side of things like if it only got composite and nothing else.
 

Or you can connect a 4k player to a 1080p HDTV and then upgrade your HDTV when you get ready and already have stuff to watch on it. Neat going to a theater and seeing old movies in 4k, it really preserves the film grain and everything. I still think it's a placebo unless you get a "wall-sized" display or a projector. icon_razz.gif


That reminds me of when my old boss was telling me that he doesn't see a difference between SD and HD or between DVD and Blu-ray. I don't see how 4 times the resolution of HD entering your eyes could cause a placebo where you are just thinking you are seeing 4 times the resolution of HD.

#1028 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 22, 2017 2:35 PM

One thing I'd like to know is whether Kevin was able to get the Super-NES core working. If memory serves me (I'm too lazy to check back earlier in this thread) he mentioned finding this core to be quite challenging to develop. I would also like to know if the Sega Genesis core is easier to create, by comparison. Does he need a faster FPGA to get those 16-bit cores to work? Using a more recent FPGA would likely drive up the price of the Zimba...

 

You need "higher-end" power to do full and accurate SNES emulation in x86. Ref - http://arstechnica.c...-snes-emulator/

 

Granted that FPGA can be very power efficient, questions remain.. Will Z3K have enough Logic Elements in its circuitry to handle SNES with high accuracy? Will patches and concessions need to be made specifically for each game? Can a low-end FPGA handle what normally needs a 3+GHz x86? That's one helluva efficiency increase!

 

Genesis shouldn't be a problem though. I recall playing Genecyst on a Pentium II back in the day and it was reasonably good. Today's low-cost fabric shouldn't have trouble.



#1029 roland p OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:37 PM

I bet there are enough logic elements and that the problem lies more in synchronizing stuff.

#1030 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:47 PM

I don't know about there being enough LE. I would think a lot of high-level simulation and approximation would need to be done.

 

What fpga is going into z3k? Cyclone V?



#1031 Pixelboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 22, 2017 6:56 PM

Scooby-Doo!! Kevtris!! Where are you???

#1032 Kosmic Stardust ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 22, 2017 8:52 PM


That reminds me of when my old boss was telling me that he doesn't see a difference between SD and HD or between DVD and Blu-ray. I don't see how 4 times the resolution of HD entering your eyes could cause a placebo where you are just thinking you are seeing 4 times the resolution of HD.

When you're viewing a 32" screen in the living room from 10-15 feet away, 4k resolution is not gonna be noticeable. Perhaps better display tech in newer sets (improved black level, etc) or HDR will improve the perceived quality of the image, even at 1080p resolution. 

 

Sitting in a theater with a screen that occupies an entire wall is a lot different from a small to medium sized HDTV from across the room. If your screen size is less than 40" and you're not sitting two feet from the screen, 4k resolution doesn't matter. Some people might invest in a wall sized television set, but not everyone wants or needs an elephant sized screen in the living room.

 

One potential think I think retro gamers could one day emulate on an 4k HDR set would be the phosphor glow of a real CRT tube TV. I think 4k resolution is enough to emulate a phosphor mask, and HDR color depth a high enough brightness to make the "glow" of the phosphor mask believable. You would need to set the brightness and contrast on the set way up on the set to give it an arcade like glow, and those extreme adjustments would make live TV or movies look painfully bright or garish. But you could save the preset for use with MAME/Arcade/retro games which would take advantage of the phosphor mask emulation.



#1033 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:25 AM

Already can be done on yesterday's standard HD sets. Look at a youtube vid of a CRT doing the bloom and glow. The LCD shows it just fine.

 

Have you ever seen a well-adjusted MAME setup?



#1034 Schizophretard OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 23, 2017 7:36 AM

When you're viewing a 32" screen in the living room from 10-15 feet away, 4k resolution is not gonna be noticeable. Perhaps better display tech in newer sets (improved black level, etc) or HDR will improve the perceived quality of the image, even at 1080p resolution.

 
I think I could agree with you somewhere in the middle if by not noticeable you mean not being able to tell that one looks more pixelated than the other. But if you mean that you aren't really seeing 4 times the resolution with more detail then I would disagree. If anything I would think that if we had two 32" screens 15' away with the exact same movie playing with the only difference being that one is 4K and the other is 1080p and you said,"I see no noticeable difference. They look identical." then the placebo effect would not be with the 4K but the 1080p because with the 4K you actually are seeing more detail but with the 1080p what is making it look identical to you is your mind filling in the blanks of the 3/4ths of the detail that is missing.
 

Sitting in a theater with a screen that occupies an entire wall is a lot different from a small to medium sized HDTV from across the room. If your screen size is less than 40" and you're not sitting two feet from the screen, 4k resolution doesn't matter. Some people might invest in a wall sized television set, but not everyone wants or needs an elephant sized screen in the living room.


I agree that not everyone would want a wall sized TV but a lot would. TV's keep getting bigger. A 27" CRT used to be considered huge but today you are talking about 32" as an average size. It used to be expensive to get a 32" HDTV or even a flat panel at all when things were transitioning over from CRT to flat panel. But now they are cheap in comparison. Later the average may go from 32" 1080p to 50" 4K and the argument may change to 8K not being noticeable unless you have a TV over 50". The trend is bigger TV's which requires more resolution. 
 

One potential think I think retro gamers could one day emulate on an 4k HDR set would be the phosphor glow of a real CRT tube TV. I think 4k resolution is enough to emulate a phosphor mask, and HDR color depth a high enough brightness to make the "glow" of the phosphor mask believable. You would need to set the brightness and contrast on the set way up on the set to give it an arcade like glow, and those extreme adjustments would make live TV or movies look painfully bright or garish. But you could save the preset for use with MAME/Arcade/retro games which would take advantage of the phosphor mask emulation.


Would this glow looking better on 4K instead of 1080p be a placebo effect? icon_wink.gif



#1035 Laner OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:29 AM

 

Would this glow looking better on 4K instead of 1080p be a placebo effect? icon_wink.gif

 

It's not the 4K, it's the HDR.

 

I have my fingers crossed that HDR will allow someone to do proper vector monitor emulation; I played a couple of vector arcade games last month and was astonished at how bright the brightest elements were (your shots in Asteroids for example) - it's something that I simply didn't remember after decades of only playing MAME versions. That effect cannot be properly emulated on non-HDR screens. I don't know if HDR is up to the task either, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.


Edited by Laner, Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:31 AM.


#1036 Newsdee OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:48 PM

Can a low-end FPGA handle what normally needs a 3+GHz x86? That's one helluva efficiency increase!
Genesis shouldn't be a problem

Yes it can because of the difference in technologies. The reason you need a beefy CPU for an emulator is to make it fast enough to match original timings of all the components. In an FPGA the components just run in parallel... so you need much less power. Also the LEs are only are concern with a single chip; in theory one could have different parts made in another FPGA but that's less flexible for other cores, I think.

Btw, the MiST now has a Genesis core. Sound is still in progress, but it's looking promising!

Edited by Newsdee, Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:00 PM.


#1037 kevtris OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 3, 2017 5:14 PM

As many of you know from reading the announcements, I have been working on the Analogue nt mini.   This is an FPGA based NES/Famicom system that takes cartridges. 

It seemed like a waste to only have one system on it, so I have decided unofficially to release all of my existing FPGA videogame cores on the system for free via "Jailbroken" firmware.   The Core Store™ is officially open for business!

What this means:  All of my existing cores (probably, as time permits) will be released, 1 per week for the system.  While the mini doesn't have all the hardware that a Zimba 3000 is going to have, and while I have not cancelled my plans for the Z3K, I couldn't let the hardware sit idle and only play 1 system.  The FPGA inside it yearns to be free!

The cores "live" on the SD card, so adding them is as simple as unzipping some files onto the SD card and plugging it in.  As each core is released you can simply place the new files on the SD card, plug it in and it will update the firmware and add them.   After that, a "core" menu will appear on the main menu, along with a "CopyNES Mini" menu.  Yes, I added a CopyNES right inside too!

As of today, the NES core is available for use, and supports over 200 mappers.   Please read the release notes on each core that lives in each directory for more information about common problems, solutions, and what is supported.

 

Yes, this means that it runs ROMs now!

Please note that using the jailbroken firmware will NOT affect your product warranty, but it IS totally unsupported by Analogue!   So don't contact them with questions about the jailbroken firmware.  I will however take comments/suggestions/questions in pm's here or in this thread.

I have some future plans beyond just offering cores for this system, I want to offer controller and cartridge adapters too!   I have big plans for this if people are interested.  Specifically, Atari 2600/7800, Coleco, Gameboy and possibly others.   Let me know what cartridge adapters you think would be useful.   

Said adapters will be a PCB + plexiglass "cartridge shaped" devices that plug into the cartridge port on top and has the requisite connector for the game in question.  They are simply pin converters and won't have any active hardware.  The FPGA will run the cartridge itself, so it should be able to run just about anything that can be plugged in and that runs on a real system. I am debating making the PCB designs for these open so anyone can whip it up on their own via i.e. OSHpark.

The controller adapters will be designed such that you can plug in say, DB9 style controllers (2600, intv, coleco, etc) to the expansion port on the back.   I will attempt to make 1 adapter that will work for all types of controllers that take DB-9.  This will take care of the bulk I think.

That's about it for now, I will post updates on cores as they are released here.   I hope this sates everyone's FPGA videogame fix for awhile!

http://blog.kevtris....re_verJB0.9.zip

To use the firmware, follow these steps:

* format your SD card FAT32
* unzip the firmware file onto the card, keeping the directories contained within
* load your desired ROMs into the proper directories (i.e. NES games go in /NES/)
* plug the SD card into the mini.
* power on the mini and wait 3 minutes while the update occurs.
* you will know this worked because the menu now sports skulls and crossbones.
* enjoy!
 


Edited by TPR, Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:25 AM.


#1038 kevtris OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 3, 2017 6:28 PM

Well I screwed up the link.  I edited it and it shows the right thing but it's still pointing to the wrong file.  and I can't edit my post any more.  drat.  Anyways the link is:

 

http://blog.kevtris....re_verJB0.9.zip



#1039 Pixelboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 3, 2017 9:50 PM

As many of you know from reading the announcements, I have been working on the Analogue nt mini.   This is an FPGA based NES/Famicom system that takes cartridges. 

It seemed like a waste to only have one system on it, so I have decided unofficially to release all of my existing FPGA videogame cores on the system for free via "Jailbroken" firmware.   The Core Store™ is officially open for business!

What this means:  All of my existing cores (probably, as time permits) will be released, 1 per week for the system.  While the mini doesn't have all the hardware that a Zimba 3000 is going to have, and while I have not cancelled my plans for the Z3K, I couldn't let the hardware sit idle and only play 1 system.  The FPGA inside it yearns to be free!

The cores "live" on the SD card, so adding them is as simple as unzipping some files onto the SD card and plugging it in.  As each core is released you can simply place the new files on the SD card, plug it in and it will update the firmware and add them.   After that, a "core" menu will appear on the main menu, along with a "CopyNES Mini" menu.  Yes, I added a CopyNES right inside too!

As of today, the NES core is available for use, and supports over 200 mappers.   Please read the release notes on each core that lives in each directory for more information about common problems, solutions, and what is supported.


Wow! This is awesome news!! :D

 

Yes, this means that it runs ROMs now!


Just to be clear, you mean it runs ROMs directly from the SD card, with no cartridge plugged into the cartridge port? So there's a menu system that lets the player select the game he wants? For games with "save-game" chips (like NES Zelda) can I save my game on the SD card?

 

I have some future plans beyond just offering cores for this system, I want to offer controller and cartridge adapters too!   I have big plans for this if people are interested.  Specifically, Atari 2600/7800, Coleco, Gameboy and possibly others.   Let me know what cartridge adapters you think would be useful.


Well, if ROMs from any supported console/handheld can be played directly from the SD card, then cartridge adaptors are not terribly important, except perhaps for one: The Game Boy adaptor. I figure this single adaptor could be used to play Game Boy and Game Boy Color carts (which are pretty much all still functional today) and perhaps this same adaptor could also be used to play Game Boy Advance cartridges, if you could manage to develop a GBA core (note the shoulder buttons on the NES30 controller!). All this would make the GB adaptor worth owning.

Beyond this, I'd like to see a ColecoVision cartridge adaptor, and an Atari 2600 adaptor. Others will probably want the Intellivision cart adaptor, or SMS/Game Gear, but those are less interesting to me if I can play the ROMs via an SD card.

 

The controller adapters will be designed such that you can plug in say, DB9 style controllers (2600, intv, coleco, etc) to the expansion port on the back.   I will attempt to make 1 adapter that will work for all types of controllers that take DB-9.  This will take care of the bulk I think.


This is a must for many retro consoles, but it needs to be configurable. For example, the ColecoVision core should be able to interface with a real ColecoVision controller via a DB9 connector, but the Atari 2600 core should also be able to use the keypad on a ColecoVision controller as an "easy" interface for all the switches on an Atari 2600 console (TV black-&-white, difficulty switches for both players, game select and game reset). Also, one should be able to map some ColecoVision keypad keys to some of the buttons on the NES30 controller...

 

That's about it for now, I will post updates on cores as they are released here.   I hope this sates everyone's FPGA videogame fix for awhile!


Well, personally, I'm in no hurry to see the 16-bit cores become reality (although it's still a very-much-wanted feature for the Zimba 3000) so this is really great news indeed. My only real question: Now that I'm actually excited about this little console (screw the NES Mini!!!) where can I buy one? :D

#1040 kevtris OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 3, 2017 10:12 PM

Wow! This is awesome news!! :D

 

Just to be clear, you mean it runs ROMs directly from the SD card, with no cartridge plugged into the cartridge port? So there's a menu system that lets the player select the game he wants? For games with "save-game" chips (like NES Zelda) can I save my game on the SD card?

 

This is a must for many retro consoles, but it needs to be configurable. For example, the ColecoVision core should be able to interface with a real ColecoVision controller via a DB9 connector, but the Atari 2600 core should also be able to use the keypad on a ColecoVision controller as an "easy" interface for all the switches on an Atari 2600 console (TV black-&-white, difficulty switches for both players, game select and game reset). Also, one should be able to map some ColecoVision keypad keys to some of the buttons on the NES30 controller...

 

That's correct.  for the NES core, it supports over 200 mappers.   You can run the games directly off the SD card with no cartridge required.  And yes it saves the save ram data to the SD card for games like Zelda and Kirby's Adventure.  It's basically like having a built in flash cart, without having to buy one... and with better mapper support.

 

The other cores are similar, all of them run ROMs off the SD card.

 

I agree too that being able to use stock controllers like the Coleco/Intv controllers is important.  That's why I wanted to make the controller adapters.  Right now for Coleco I am using one of those SNES controllers for the modem system that was sold in japan. It has a number pad and the controller all in one.



#1041 Great Hierophant ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 3, 2017 11:05 PM

Essentially the Analogue Nt Mini will become something like a Lite Version of the Zimba 3000.  I was originally going to say that it will become something like a Zimba 3000 Mini, but the Analogue Nt Mini is much more capable than the original Analogue Nt.



#1042 Schizophretard OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 4, 2017 6:02 AM

Called it! Damn, Kevtris is awesome! I was on the fence but buying an Analogue NT mini is starting to feel almost mandatory now. icon_smile.gif
 

It's interesting that their lead electrical engineer is Kevin Horton (yep, good ol' Kevtris). Does this mean Kev would rather do separate devices instead of his unified Zimba 3000 console?

 

It has an SD slot for firmware updates. So, he could probably offer the Core Store for it if he wanted to.


Anyway, are you willing to provide a video of the Analogue NT mini running the "Jailbroken" firmware with maybe a game per core, going through menus, etc. as a demo?

#1043 roaringchicken OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 4, 2017 9:15 AM

Longtime lurker, but created an account just to give you a huge thank you for doing this.  Thanks kevtris!  



#1044 hardcorehubz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 4, 2017 1:31 PM

This is so awesome. Thank you for doing this kevtris!



#1045 Kosmic Stardust ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 4, 2017 2:23 PM

As many of you know from reading the announcements, I have been working on the Analogue nt mini.   This is an FPGA based NES/Famicom system that takes cartridges. 

It seemed like a waste to only have one system on it, so I have decided unofficially to release all of my existing FPGA videogame cores on the system for free via "Jailbroken" firmware.   The Core Store™ is officially open for business!

What this means:  All of my existing cores (probably, as time permits) will be released, 1 per week for the system.  While the mini doesn't have all the hardware that a Zimba 3000 is going to have, and while I have not cancelled my plans for the Z3K, I couldn't let the hardware sit idle and only play 1 system.  The FPGA inside it yearns to be free!

The cores "live" on the SD card, so adding them is as simple as unzipping some files onto the SD card and plugging it in.  As each core is released you can simply place the new files on the SD card, plug it in and it will update the firmware and add them.   After that, a "core" menu will appear on the main menu, along with a "CopyNES Mini" menu.  Yes, I added a CopyNES right inside too!

As of today, the NES core is available for use, and supports over 200 mappers.   Please read the release notes on each core that lives in each directory for more information about common problems, solutions, and what is supported.

 

Yes, this means that it runs ROMs now!

Please note that using the jailbroken firmware will NOT affect your product warranty, but it IS totally unsupported by Analogue!   So don't contact them with questions about the jailbroken firmware.  I will however take comments/suggestions/questions in pm's here or in this thread.

I have some future plans beyond just offering cores for this system, I want to offer controller and cartridge adapters too!   I have big plans for this if people are interested.  Specifically, Atari 2600/7800, Coleco, Gameboy and possibly others.   Let me know what cartridge adapters you think would be useful.   

Said adapters will be a PCB + plexiglass "cartridge shaped" devices that plug into the cartridge port on top and has the requisite connector for the game in question.  They are simply pin converters and won't have any active hardware.  The FPGA will run the cartridge itself, so it should be able to run just about anything that can be plugged in and that runs on a real system. I am debating making the PCB designs for these open so anyone can whip it up on their own via i.e. OSHpark.

The controller adapters will be designed such that you can plug in say, DB9 style controllers (2600, intv, coleco, etc) to the expansion port on the back.   I will attempt to make 1 adapter that will work for all types of controllers that take DB-9.  This will take care of the bulk I think.

That's about it for now, I will post updates on cores as they are released here.   I hope this sates everyone's FPGA videogame fix for awhile!

http://blog.kevtris....re_verJB0.9.zip

To use the firmware, follow these steps:

* format your SD card FAT32
* unzip the firmware file onto the card, keeping the directories contained within
* load your desired ROMs into the proper directories (i.e. NES games go in /NES/)
* plug the SD card into the mini.
* power on the mini and wait 3 minutes while the update occurs.
* you will know this worked because the menu now sports skulls and crossbones.
* enjoy!
 

Holy cow man! So the "jailbroken" NT Mini can still run NES carts, right? Do the cart adapters support carts for other game consoles, or just ROMs and controller ports? You are an amazing hacker sir. Kudos...

 

Any chance you could release a "jailbreak" for the AVS? :grin: :ahoy:



#1046 cacophony OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 4, 2017 2:43 PM

This is awesome! Thanks Kevtris!

 

A few questions:

 

When I use the Nt Mini menu to select a core other than NES I assume it's overwriting the FPGA to that core and the system no longer knows how to play NES?

 

Obviously if I wanted to play NES again I could then select the NES core, but what if I wanted to bring the system back to factory fresh? Would I just need to flash the stock Analogue firmware?

 

If/when you eventually get 16 bit cores working (SNES, Genesis) do you think the Nt mini will be able to support them?


Edited by cacophony, Sat Feb 4, 2017 2:53 PM.


#1047 kevtris OFFLINE  

kevtris

    Moonsweeper

  • Topic Starter
  • 433 posts
  • FPGA Whisperer
  • Location:Flyover, USA

Posted Sat Feb 4, 2017 5:34 PM

Holy cow man! So the "jailbroken" NT Mini can still run NES carts, right? Do the cart adapters support carts for other game consoles, or just ROMs and controller ports? You are an amazing hacker sir. Kudos...

 

Any chance you could release a "jailbreak" for the AVS? :grin: :ahoy:

 

Yes when you boot it up or exit out of the cores menu, it's back to "stock".  Exiting the core menu reloads the NES core automatically.   You do not need the adapters to play the other systems, they are only there if you wish to use cartridges or controllers for the other systems.  For example the Coleco core is kind of hard to use without the number pad.  I am not 100% sure how I will get around it yet, but probably something like L trigger + u/d/l/r for 1,2,3,4 and R trigger + u/d/l/r for 5,6,7,8 or similar.  This isn't very good but when all you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail :-)

 

Right now for testing Coleco I am using this thing which works rather well:

 

ntt-data-super-famicom-controller.jpg

 

 

I have the Coleco (and soon INTV) number pad mapped to those extra buttons.  Since the nt mini has an NES controller port, I made a SNES to NES adapter doodad to use it.  The nt mini will natively read these controllers, detect them, and use the extra buttons.  Of course it wouldn't be TOO tough to make a clone of this using 4021 shift registers and stuff.  But this is why I want the controller adapters.

 

The FPGA in the AVS is smaller and it lacks the RAM I designed into the mini so not much chance unfortunately.

 

This is awesome! Thanks Kevtris!

 

A few questions:

 

When I use the Nt Mini menu to select a core other than NES I assume it's overwriting the FPGA to that core and the system no longer knows how to play NES?

 

Obviously if I wanted to play NES again I could then select the NES core, but what if I wanted to bring the system back to factory fresh? Would I just need to flash the stock Analogue firmware?

 

If/when you eventually get 16 bit cores working (SNES, Genesis) do you think the Nt mini will be able to support them?

 

The nt mini comes with a core file already inside it, which is not overwritten when using say, the Gameboy core.  When you power the system up, this built in "stock" core as I call it is loaded.  That core is the standard NES one and runs carts, etc like normal.   When running say a Gameboy core, it is loaded off the SD card into the FPGA (which is RAM).  The built in "stock" core is not overwritten and in fact is reloaded when you exit the cores menu.   Hope that clears it up.

 

Unfortunately the FPGA and RAM inside the mini isn't large enough to run 16 bit cores so no they most likely won't be ported to it.



#1048 retro_fan OFFLINE  

retro_fan

    Star Raider

  • 56 posts

Posted Sat Feb 4, 2017 5:49 PM

As many of you know from reading the announcements, I have been working on the Analogue nt mini.   This is an FPGA based NES/Famicom system that takes cartridges. 

It seemed like a waste to only have one system on it, so I have decided unofficially to release all of my existing FPGA videogame cores on the system for free via "Jailbroken" firmware.   The Core Store™ is officially open for business!

[...]
 

Wow! Dude, you really need a Patreon account so that we can support your efforts FINANCIALLY. Some people may also want to donate hardware, I guess.



#1049 TheRedEye OFFLINE  

TheRedEye

    Moonsweeper

  • 342 posts
  • Location:Berkeley, CA

Posted Sat Feb 4, 2017 6:20 PM

The CopyNES feature is awesome. I just dumped a prototype straight onto SD card and then immediately tested it ON THE SAME DEVICE, this is by far the easiest method for dumping NES games now.

 

...oh and the core is great too.



#1050 RupanIII OFFLINE  

RupanIII

    Moonsweeper

  • 316 posts

Posted Sat Feb 4, 2017 6:40 PM

I had made that suggestion as a customer/outsider to John Carlsen as a way to run the retrovgs. Let us plug the cart into the system and let it upload and download via the system if it was networked, otherwise, allow the system to plug into USB for something to provide the rom to install. 
This way you could release carts for each company as multi carts or just one huge cart but they could still sell games. 
John, as en engineer, quietly replied that he liked it 'but' and, well, we all know t hat the BUT park was Mike Kennedy. 
I'm pretty sure John knew that multi carts or a mega cart was the way to go. I have a ColecoVision Super Game Module but i'm not buying all of the $50 games... just not possible or justifiable. old games running on new hardware, they should cost a minimum. My big thing was to get any old companies still in possession of their special chip schematics (not alot of them but maybe some had good paper filing systems, lol) to dump scans to the web and let people make FPGA cores for their arcade machines so the cores could go on an FPGA and we could do hardware accurate arcade classics. Buying arcade versions for a home console was a worthy idea, much perverted by SoDumbMike. 
I can still get with a loadable megacart, seems logical. 
Did you see this new RetroBlox system. While it's not fpga, they are planning to directly read and process any carts using special chips directly from the cart using the real chip. 

An interesting idea just came to me: Would it be possible to have dedicated one-size-fits-all Zimba carts? What I mean by that is a cartridge into which you could install the ROM of an Atari game, or ColecoVision, NES, SMS, or whatever console/handheld the Zimba supports. The electronics inside the Zimba cartridge would differ according to the ROM type, but the cartridge casing and edge connector pin-out would always be the same.

In practice, this would require proper licensing to re-issue old games this way on the Zimba, but I'm more interested in the technical aspects of such a cartridge. Would it be technically possible to begin with?







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