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The FinalGROM 99


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#176 Asmusr OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:07 PM

This looks like the ultimate cartridge for assembly developers and will open up a lot of doors - for development as well as for distribution. I definitely also want one. 



#177 retroclouds OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:52 AM

One for me too please! :-)

#178 ralphb OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:53 AM

I appreciate all your interest, but there's no need to stake a claim here.  Just send me an email when I'm ready; I hope there won't be a long wait after that.



#179 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:53 PM

It's kind of nice to put all of the Rasmus games in one spot for easy access and play...

msg-35324-0-47247900-1493155716.jpg



#180 ralphb OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 1, 2017 11:25 AM

This weekend, I received the professionally assembled FinalGROM sample, and they work beautifully!

 

Attached File  fg99-sample.jpg   136.8KB   11 downloads

 

And yes, you can see the professional work.  No flux gunk, like on my boards.  But I already knew from my plain PCBs that I mixed up two signals, so I had to add two wires on the backside.  While I fixed the design, I also added one more feature.  What could possibly go wrong?

 

Using this updated design, I already contacted two PCBA houses for a quote.  The production will take up to 28 working days, though, so if everything goes according to plan, I'll have carts in early June.  (The SRAM is apparently super weird -- they're either not there, or outrageously expensive.  I resorted to supplying them with the ICs.)

 

I was less lucky posting the documentation today.  GitHub mangled their Pages editor, so I'll need to get an extra tool before I can publish it.



#181 jedimatt42 ONLINE  

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Posted Mon May 1, 2017 12:36 PM

That is pretty! Seriously pretty. 

 

-M@



#182 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 1, 2017 1:36 PM

I really like the new designs SD card connection point at the back of the cartridge! 

 

sml_gallery_35324_1027_235203.png



#183 brain OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 1, 2017 6:25 PM

Ralph, you sure you don't want to skip the daughtercard and just do the SD card on the main board?



#184 eightbit OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 1, 2017 9:16 PM

I will take one of these the second they are available!



#185 tuf OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 1, 2017 10:39 PM

I hate to do this b/c I realize this is not yet a purchase thread, but here goes just in case it does turn into one:

 

Put me down for 1 when they're available :)



#186 ralphb OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 2, 2017 12:06 AM

Ralph, you sure you don't want to skip the daughtercard and just do the SD card on the main board?

 

Yes, I thought about that.  An SD card adapter costs between €3 and €6 on my supplier sites, which is just outrageous.  Of course I can get cheap Chinese ones, but then I usually don't get a datasheet, and most certainly not an official part number.  Different adapters are mechanically incompatible, so I'd have to go with the expensive ones.  Plus, I need to prolong the board so that the slot protrudes a little.

 

There is one relatively cheap Digikey adapter for €2,29 plus tax, but still, this would need additional development time.



#187 brain OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 2, 2017 12:20 AM



 

Yes, I thought about that.  An SD card adapter costs between €3 and €6 on my supplier sites, which is just outrageous.  Of course I can get cheap Chinese ones, but then I usually don't get a datasheet, and most certainly not an official part number.  Different adapters are mechanically incompatible, so I'd have to go with the expensive ones.  Plus, I need to prolong the board so that the slot protrudes a little.

 

There is one relatively cheap Digikey adapter for €2,29 plus tax, but still, this would need additional development time.

Well, I have this part, which looks to be an order of magnitude cheaper:

 

sd2.png

image.png

 

Would it be of help?



#188 ralphb OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 2, 2017 9:38 AM

I finally uploaded the preliminary documentation for the FinalGROM 99: https://endlos99.git...io/finalgrom99/.

 

You'll notice that I didn't implement System GROM mode and Cheat mode.

 

System GROM mode seems impractical for now, as the FinalGROM doesn't initialize fast enough to catch the first GROM address write.  One could probably get around this if the system GROMs are still present in the console, but this seemed like missing the point.  I decided to postpone this topic for later.

 

Cheat modes could not be implemented with the current architecture, as the bytes read from the SD card bypass the main program for efficiency.  And after-load patching was also not possible, as the load is a sequential, one-shot process.  I think the result wouldn't justify the necessary work.  My recommendation is to patch images directly and simply use patched images as cheats.

 

The help text system and the dump I'm going to look at now.  I also wondered if I should support MBX games natively, but there are already conversions that use 32K instead, so I probably won't.



#189 InfiniteTape OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 2, 2017 9:06 PM

I finally uploaded the preliminary documentation for the FinalGROM 99: https://endlos99.git...io/finalgrom99/.

 

That documentation is very well done. Great work!



#190 dphirschler OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 7, 2017 8:29 PM

Oh boy!  I can't wait for these to go on sale.

 

Darryl



#191 arcadeshopper ONLINE  

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Posted Sun May 7, 2017 9:22 PM

Awesome!

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#192 x24b OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 9, 2017 1:22 PM

I'll have to dust-off my machine for this.



#193 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 10, 2017 4:02 AM

.... it looks like the man is going to be very, VERY busy assembling carts when this project is ready.

 

I don't know about that.  If he goes with a SMT microSD socket, possibility exists that the board can be made in small quantities at prices people will be happy to pay.  For the Apple II, we have the Uthernet II cards.  Glenn gets these things manufactured with the SMD components pre-applied.  He solders the Ethernet connectors himself because the cost is prohibitive to have through-hole components installed on the board as well as SMD by the company he uses.  Then it's just a matter of testing the things.

 

He went through 500 of them pretty quick.  I dunno if there's call for that many FinalGROMs out there, but as these systems are gaining in popularity and still have _wide_ availability pretty cheaply, it's not hard to imagine.  Especially since people around here are likely to want more than one.

 

If it can be done in some way that's compatible, I'd like to suggest some method of paging larger programs in.  Mostly because Tursi's Dragon's Lair needs 128MB of ROM, and that's insane for any cartridge out there, but a drop in the bucket for a modern SD card.

 

Also, is there a possibility to perhaps have a file provide a name for carts that don't have one?  Or maybe for carts that do but are big?



#194 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 10, 2017 4:54 AM

Also, +1.  :D



#195 weirdocollector OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 10, 2017 4:56 AM

As I already said, please book me for one

 


Edited by weirdocollector, Wed May 10, 2017 5:00 AM.


#196 weirdocollector OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 10, 2017 4:56 AM

 


Edited by weirdocollector, Wed May 10, 2017 5:01 AM.


#197 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 10, 2017 11:33 AM

I'll have to dust-off my machine for this.

 

You... and I dunno how many others!

 

About 2 weeks after this thing hits the world market, I'm planning on another poll.  I'm thinking we'll get some new and returning people, but I bet even some of the lurkers will come out of hiding for a while as well.



#198 Tursi OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 10, 2017 12:25 PM

Mostly because Tursi's Dragon's Lair needs 128MB of ROM

 

I won't be able to distribute DL as a freebie anyway, I need to report and pay royalties on each copy distributed. So to have a flash cart support it isn't high on the priority list. :)



#199 Asmusr OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 10, 2017 12:37 PM

If it can be done in some way that's compatible, I'd like to suggest some method of paging larger programs in.  Mostly because Tursi's Dragon's Lair needs 128MB of ROM, and that's insane for any cartridge out there, but a drop in the bucket for a modern SD card.

 

From the documentation:

 

Reloading

Although 1024 KB is plenty of space for a TI 99 program, the FinalGROM 99 enables programs to reload and start other programs from the SD card. Any program type may load any program type.

To initiate the reload of a new program, the sequence >99, "RELOAD", >99 must be sent, followed by the program file data. To detect when the new image has been loaded, the program must watch addresses >6000->6200 for a non-zero word to appear. (For a reloaded ROM program, watching >6000suffices.)

Since the new image will overwrite the running image, the reload code must be relocated to RAM before it can be run.



#200 ralphb OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 10, 2017 12:47 PM

From the documentation:

 

Although 1024 KB is plenty of space for a TI 99 program, the FinalGROM 99 enables programs to reload and start other programs from the SD card. Any program type may load any program type.

 

Thanks, Rasmus.  It should be added, though, that reloading 1 MB from the SD card is like loading a program from floppy, i.e., it takes a while.  :)   14 seconds, to be precise.






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