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#1 rdagger OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:11 PM

I’m restoring an Astrocade and would like to build a Balcheck.  I’ve reviewed the plans and photos on Bally Alley (awesome website!).  I’d like to create a PCB with parts that are currently in production.  Can anyone recommend a modern alternative to the 2716 EPROM used on the Balcheck device?  I’d prefer an EEPROM or Flash with very similar functionality.  A quick search on Mouser returned the Microchip AT28C64B.  It’s larger than need but I can ground the unused addresses A11 and A12.  Also I have a TL866 so I can easily program it.  Btw: could the AT28C64B work for a homebrew cartridge too?

 

I figure all the other IC’s can be replaced by a single inexpensive MCU.  I’ll post the Eagle files when I’m done.

 

Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated.



#2 128Kgames ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:18 PM

I’m restoring an Astrocade and would like to build a Balcheck.  I’ve reviewed the plans and photos on Bally Alley (awesome website!).  I’d like to create a PCB with parts that are currently in production.  Can anyone recommend a modern alternative to the 2716 EPROM used on the Balcheck device?  I’d prefer an EEPROM or Flash with very similar functionality.  A quick search on Mouser returned the Microchip AT28C64B.  It’s larger than need but I can ground the unused addresses A11 and A12.  Also I have a TL866 so I can easily program it.  Btw: could the AT28C64B work for a homebrew cartridge too?

 

I figure all the other IC’s can be replaced by a single inexpensive MCU.  I’ll post the Eagle files when I’m done.

 

Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated.

 

Those pics are of the 3rd party BallyCheck devices, not sure how easy they might be able to build but you might find an easier time with building a BalCheck which was the in-house Nutting Associates device, as seen in this pic:

 

bally_motherload.jpg

 

Its the grey box on the left, FYI.  It might look like something that was thrown together with parts from Radio Shack, but inside is a board stamped with the Nutting Associates trademark etc. (at least from what I remember).  My guess is that was some type of metal kit box they used and cut up accordingly for the BalCheck.

 

I picked this up from a former Bally employee back in 2004 and it still powers on, but I've never tested it on a real system.  I think it needs a different ROM image for the newer consoles, or something to that effect. 

 

I know there is more information on the BalCheck in one of the Arcadians (?) on the Bally Alley site but I can't remember which issue it was in.  I think it had schematics more in line with the in-house Nutting unit.  

 

You could reach out to user ballyalley (who also runs the Bally Alley site and Yahoo group) he might have more insight on it.  



#3 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:33 PM

I’m restoring an Astrocade and would like to build a Balcheck.


Good luck with that project. We gotta save all of the Astrocades that we can, right?
 

I’ve reviewed the plans and photos on Bally Alley (awesome websi


I'm glad you like the website. There's plenty of information there, if you're willing to dig around (as you've discovered).
 

te!). I’d like to create a PCB with parts that are currently in production. Can anyone recommend a modern alternative to the 2716 EPROM used on the Balcheck device? I’d prefer an EEPROM or Flash with very similar functionality. A quick search on Mouser returned the Microchip AT28C64B. It’s larger than need but I can ground the unused addresses A11 and A12. Also I have a TL866 so I can easily program it.

 

I don't have experience with the AT28C64B, but I just recently tried out, for the first time, the 128KB SST39SF010A with the AstroCart (a not-readily-available EEPROM cart for the Astrocade) and it works good.  You might also try the 256K or 512K EEPROM s in the same series.  They're all readily available and still in production.

If you're trying to trouble-shoot your Astrocade, then you may find these documents helpful too:

1) Troubleshooting the Power Supply in the Bally/Astrocade Home Computer System, by Michael Matte (MCM Design) - This article is for the individual desiring to learn how to troubleshoot the power supply in the Bally/Astrocade home computer. Included is info and troubleshooting tips that may help locate a failure within the power supply. I hope that this information proves helpful to those with failing Astrocades. Remember, working with power supplies can be dangerous; be careful!

http://www.ballyalle...cadePowerSupply

2) Astrocade Videocade Cartridge PC Board Modification for 28 Pin Chip Example - How to Modify an Astrocade Cartridge PC Board for a 28-Pin Chip.  By Michael Matte.  2017.  - Videocade PC Board Modification for 28 Pin Chip: Example.  Attached schematic shows an example of utilizing a 28-pin EPROM/EEPROM in a standard videocade cartridge. Drawing shows traces cut with a sharp utility knife and rewired. Basic instructions are also included.

 

http://www.ballyalle...dfora28-PinChip

3) Troubleshooting the Bally/Astrocade Motherboard Power-Up with SetScreen, A New Tool. - By Michael Matte - This document is for anyone with experience in troubleshooting the Bally/Astrocade motherboard. It explains one method on how to fix an Astrocade using step-by-step methods. It was written by Michael Matte, the person who designed and built a modified Astrocade that runs with low or high resolution graphics. Specifically, this document addresses the scenario in which a blank TV screen appears when powering on a motherboard and describes a new, very useful tool to help isolate the problem area.  Note that Setscreen has been updated. The new version of the software sourcecode is available in the document SetScreen 2 - An Upgraded Bally Arcade/Astrocade Troubleshooting Utility available in number 4, below.

http://www.ballyalle...ingtheAstrocade

4) SetScreen 2 - An Upgraded Bally Arcade/Astrocade Troubleshooting Utility by Michael Matte. - SetScreen 2 is an improved version of the original SetScreen, a machine language routine. Setscreen 2 is a visual troubleshooting tool that can be used to help diagnose a failed Astrocade motherboard producing a blank TV screen at power-up. Details are provided in Troubleshooting the Bally/Astrocade Motherboard Power-Up with SetScreen, A New Tool. SetScreen 2 now has added routines to help a troubleshooter further investigate what is or is not going on with a motherboard graphics-wise and to provide more information to diagnose and isolate a problem area. A read routine is also included for a user who can connect a homemade dual 7-segment display.

http://www.ballyalle...shootingUtility

As an aside, Michael Matte is currently working on a hi-res version of the Bal-Check software.  Of course, you need to have a high-resolution Astrocade in order to use it... so that eliminates everyone except for his personal unit.

 

I figure all the other IC’s can be replaced by a single inexpensive MCU.  I’ll post the Eagle files when I’m done.


I've always wanted to try getting some PCBs created with Eagle files. Perhaps this is my chance?  Then again, my experince with MPUs is limited.  I'm interested to see what you come up with when you're done.

Adam



#4 rdagger OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:07 PM

Thanks the power supply article will help a lot.  I've got a black screen.  I've only taken a cursory look.  I noticed some of the rectifier diodes are getting very hot.

Hopefully, it's just a bad diode, cap or regulator.  The Astrocade has been sitting in an attic for over 30 years.



#5 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:57 PM

The Astrocade has been sitting in an attic for over 30 years.


You're an old-school Astrocade user. Welcome back!

 

If you're able to track down a multicart, then you can use some of the rarer cartridges.  The last few made by Astrocade, Inc. were Cosmic Raiders and Solar Conqueror.  They're really quite fun and worth playing.  It's too bad that they're Bally-console exclusives, as they deserve to be played by all classic game players.

 

If you have success getting your Astrocade up and running again, then let us know here.  It always is great to see someone rejuvenate an ailing system that others would toss into the trash.

 

Adam



#6 128Kgames ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 17, 2018 6:13 PM

Thanks the power supply article will help a lot.  I've got a black screen.  I've only taken a cursory look.  I noticed some of the rectifier diodes are getting very hot.
Hopefully, it's just a bad diode, cap or regulator.  The Astrocade has been sitting in an attic for over 30 years.

Note sure if this would help you or not:

https://console5.com...de-cap-kit.html

#7 rdagger OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:05 PM

Note sure if this would help you or not:

https://console5.com...de-cap-kit.html

 

Thanks, but the kit is already on my desk.  I figured the electrolytics didn't appreciate spending 35 years in a very hot attic. 

 

The Console5 kit looks good.  The small caps are Japanese (Nichicon and Matsushita).  I don't see any manufacturer markings on the 1500 μF and 10k μF.  Unfortunately, the 2 big ones are radial instead of axial.  All appear to be rated for 105° C.

 

After reading Michael Matte's troubleshooting article, I think the 10K μF cap is probably underrated at 10V.  I'll probably swap it out with a 16V axial.

 

I can't wait until I get some free time to work on it.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Console 5 Bally Caps.JPG

Edited by rdagger, Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:05 PM.


#8 Allen Schweitzer OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:25 PM

You can relocate the big caps.  I do that on most of the ones I recap.  The pics are horrible, but I'm going to start using a 2200 uf 25V axial instead of the 1500 uf radial in the pics (after I run out).  I use them on both the Bally and Atari 2600's I recap.  If you can't see what's up here let me know.  I know for sure, Michael told me to use a 16V on the 100 uf lytic.  But I'm tired, and so I might not be putting my thoughts down here very clearly.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 100_2242.JPG
  • 100_2243.JPG


#9 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 26, 2018 11:54 AM

On August 18, 2018, Michael Matte sent me a person email stating:

"There seems to be some confusion regarding my BalcheckHR project. This project does NOT just test a hi-res Astrocade.  This 8K byte software package will test a low-res OR modified for high-res motherboard. The EEPROM, Jameco part#74878, is set up to check the low-res Bally/Astrocade motherboard using the same standard commercial Balchek tests. Changes (upgrades) have only been made related to the dual 7-segment display. However, with this package, you can OPTIONALLY test a modified for hi-res motherboard. When you power on the BalcheckHR board, it runs in low-res executing the standard commercial Balchek tests. Then, you have the option to execute 20 additional test routines/demos, that will run in low or hi-res depending on which keypad key you press. A specific key must be held down at "reset" to execute a four 2K ROM checksum check, SetScreen3 or SetScreenHR. I hope this clears up the confusion. Note also that the interface to the dual 7-segment display has been changed to support the software display upgrades and to remove the 2 "specialty chips" that were used in the commercial Balchek board to drive the dual 7-segment display."

Adam







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