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cubanismo

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About cubanismo

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  1. Oh, and Pulsars, the yellow things that electrocute you ("Fried you!")? I hate them. I hate them a lot.
  2. Just wanted to note this inspired me to try harder at T2k over the past few weeks, and I've still only managed to make it to level 29 after 3 or 4 furious nights of d-pad mashing. You're a wizard @Austin
  3. I haven't spent much time working on things relevant to this thread, so I've been updating the general interest thread instead, but now that all the boring logistics and art stuff are done, I've returned my focus to to the manual labor of manufacturing these things. Thankfully, I've gotten much better at soldering them overall. I haven't had to scrap any boards since the above note on shorting out the CPLDs on the last round of prototype boards. Even though I repaired one of those as noted above, I accidentally lifted a bunch of traces trying to smooth out the solder residue for repair using some solder wick on the other affected board, so it was off to the trash bin for that one. I like to think the soldering looks much smoother and consistent at this point as well. The remaining obstacle I face is getting the components down that I use solder paste + hot air reflow for, namely U4, the power regulator chip, and U7, the tiny AND gate used to select between the EEPROMs. When I ordered the final boards, it was super cheap to add on a solder paste stencil, so had one made. The only issue here was generating the solder paste gerber file correct. The gold finger component in FreePCB neglected to opt its pads (The cartridge edge connector gold surfaces) out of the solder paste layer, so by default they would have shown up as solder paste areas in the stencil. Upon correcting this and re-placing the component, pretty much every trace connected to the finger became invalid and had to be rerouted, and after attempting to fix a few, they mysteriously failed design-rule checks afterwards, wouldn't show up as routed for unclear reasons, etc. Basically threw the whole board layout into disarray, and I just wasn't willing to deal with that this late in the process, so I went with a work-around: I opened the solder paste gerber file and deleted the lines corresponding to the edge connector part. Luckily FreePCB, while it's obviously a bit finicky in the UI, generates clearly commented gerber files. You can find the hand-edited gerber file in the PCB git repo: https://github.com/cubanismo/skunk_pcb/blob/master/releases/top_paste_mask_v5-J0_removed.gbr And while I'm linking things, very detailed notes on the work I did to get to get from Rev.3 (the last public PCB layout) to Rev.5: https://github.com/cubanismo/skunk_pcb/blob/master/skunk_v5.txt Back to the matter at hand, I have a solder paste stencil now: Though since I opted not to panelize my boards to ensure they had very clean routed edges that would fit nicely in cartridge cases if desired, the stencil is rather large and cumbersome to work with compared to the size of the tiny boards. In particular, it doesn't fit on my usual workspace on my desk/workbench unless I remove a bunch of other stuff that's hard to move. I also don't have a jig or anything to align the boards with it, but I rigged up a sort-of solution for that at least: My plan was to try doing a board with reflow just to compare the difficulty and resulting quality, and worst case, just dab some paste on the stencil holes corresponding to the U4 and U7 pads I use reflow for already to make that part of the process faster than my current "Use the tiniest solder paste syringe tip I can get paste to flow through, still gob way too much of the stuff over the pads, reflow it, then touch it up with some flux and regular soldering iron." Neither effort went well. Like most things, solder paste stencils seem to be harder to work with than any of the youtube videos discussing the subject let on, and I've yet to get a nice, clean application using the stencil after 4 or 5 attempts. Part of the problem is the thing isn't rigid, so when it sits over the board, it warps and creates a bit of a dome over the board rather than sitting completely flat against the PCB all the way across. I can alleviate this a bit by putting some scrap chunks of FR4 under it, but it's still not great. I also may not have the optimum paste for the job (I have some MG Chemicals stuff that is supposed to be pretty good in general, but with specs I don't recall at the moment), and I have no idea if the thickness of the stencil is ideal. I just picked the default and hoped for the best I think. I apply the paste by dabbing some out of the syringe onto an expired credit card and wiping it across the stencil, then wiping away excess with a clean edge. The result is always either way too much paste on the pads, or the paste sticking to the stencil instead of the pads when I lift it away. It's also *very* hard to lift that massive stencil away without jiggling it just enough such that the paste gets pushed off the tiny pads and ends up looking like a mess. 0.5mm pitch pads,while not the tiniest things to work with these days, are none the less small enough it doesn't take more then a momentary tiny tremor of the hand to throw everything off. So once again, any advice from any resident pros/old-hands here? Cheap home-made solutions to securing the stencil? Guidelines to pick the thickness in case I want to re-order, or recommendations on solder pastes and/or how to pick one for a given project's parameters? I'm nearly out of my current paste anyway. In the meantime, after needing to heavily rework all the components I managed to get down using the stencil anyway, I've gone back to the tried-and-true line of paste from the syringe tip + reflow + touch up. I'm getting a little better at it, and the results look and work fine, but I can't help thinking I could be doing this all much faster.
  4. And for the record, Skunkboards do no exactly bypass the BIOS. It's still the BIOS that kicks off the process. The universal verification header it uses just exploits the cartridge checksum security mechanism as it is being "decrypted" by the BIOS, making the boot process go a lot faster because it doesn't have to load the entire contents of the cartridge. Regardless, money on @Zerosquare hypothesis.
  5. I don't recall any, but it's possible that was included too but just less memorable to my American brain.
  6. At long last, these are now shipping. The first three US orders went out today, and a few more (including the first international order, though sorry to those in the U.K., still working on that.) should go out Monday. I'm working on building the next batch now. If you're on the list, hang tight. I'll contact you with more information when your board is about ready to ship. If you're not on the list and want to be, respond to the ordering thread:
  7. I can't begin to comprehend the Ireland+Brexit situation, but I can note there were many, many questions about whether I was based in Ireland, Northern Ireland, had agents in Ireland, etc. during the VAT application process.
  8. I may be a special case: My wife is British, so when we applied for our kids' British passports, they got all this stuff from me anyway. I'm the only one in my family without dual citizenship. I have some idea, but I'll wait until I actually go through the process once before posting to avoid misinformation.
  9. Quick follow-up on going through the process: The online form was not the end of it. HMRC contacted me for follow-up information. Much of what they wanted to know (E.g., how many distributors I'm working with in the U.K. and Europe to manage my inventory, details of my shipping agents, etc.) was entirely irrelevant given my prior answers (I had already indicated I won't be using any of that), but I obliged them and filled it all out. Additionally, they wanted me to provide evidence I intend to trade or am currently trading with the U.K. This seems bizarre. Wasn't applying to trade with the U.K. enough evidence of that? Are they being overwhelmed by people going through this process for the fun of it? At any rate, if you're following along, you can add another 2 hours of paperwork to the above 2-3 hours.
  10. I've now gone through the process of registering as an organization (Sole Proprietor) for VAT collection with HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs), all for what will probably amount to no more than 1000 pounds sterling a year in revenue, so I thought I'd share my experience here in case it helps others. I am not a financial or tax adviser, nor a lawyer, so don't blindly follow anything I've done. It may well be that I've done something wrong. In fact, I've noted below that I almost certainly did. First of all, it is indeed a lot of paperwork, and I haven't even had to file a return or go through the actual shipping paperwork yet, but it's not too bad. It took me about 3 hours on and off while watching a movie, trying to get my kids to stay in bed, and fiddling with it on the side. Probably could have done it in an hour or two if I was focusing on it. It's roughly the same as the amount of online paperwork I went through to register to collect sales tax in California. You'll need the following as an individual/Sole Proprietor from the USA without an organization name: PDF scan of a photo ID (Passport or driver's license) PDF scan of a mortgage statement or lease agreement PDF scan of your birth certificate All the above need to come in below 5MB combined, and for me these came to like 4.95MB, so watch your resolutions and file sizes. Your social security number An estimate of how much your UK revenue will be on a yearly basis. No indication this has to be terribly accurate, I think it just drives some of the options available (E.g., if you're under 1.3 million in revenue, you're a small business or something and get some alternate filing options) The hardest part: The SIC code for your area of business. I think I got this part wrong, and will need to figure out how to change it once my VAT certificate is issued, because the search tools provided as part of the application process are not the best, and the brief one-liner category descriptions aren't elaborated on anywhere on the official site AFAICT. I went with some options under the category for specialty retail gaming stores, but looking at some guides I found later, I believe this specifically excludes video games. Instead, I think I wanted "Code 47410: Retail sale of computers, peripheral units and software in specialised stores", specifically these sub-code categories: Computer peripheral equipment (retail) Computers and non-customised software (retail) Non-customised software (Note all the U.K. spellings here) is said to include video games in several guides. However, there are also specific categories for video game consoles, and a bunch of related wholesale and manufacturing video game categories that don't sound right for offering things to end users, so it's not totally clear. If you're doing this with any real amount of revenue, you'd probably want to hire an advisor just to make sure you got this part right. The rest is honestly very straightforward. What I can say in their favor is that the gov.uk group off websites work quite well in general compared to say, the IRS or California tax websites I've had to struggle through in the past. No UI problems or "Please don't refresh this page" messages hanging forever, and everything besides the SIC codes stuff had reasonably clear instructions and help text such that I didn't have to open a giant PDF of instructions in a separate window like I do when filing my US taxes. Hope that helps others decide what to do about this mess at least. You might need other stuff if you register a business with an actual name instead (E.g., AtariAge rather than Albert).
  11. Oh yeah, good point. Are you gonna put a serial EEPROM on there, or would we just have to reserve a sector of flash for that kind of stuff?
  12. All the source code/materials are public now, and I've started a technical support/FAQ thread here:
  13. Please use this thread if you have general questions about how to use your Skunkboard, what it is capable of, or need help troubleshooting issues. First, required reading: The manual: skunk_manual-1.0.pdf Latest JCP installers and source: skunk_jcp on github.com FAQ: How and Where can I order one? Just reply to the ordering thread How much does it cost? $120 + shipping/taxes. See the ordering thread for details. OK, I replied saying I want one. What happens now? How do I pay? When will I get it? I am building each board by hand, so it will take some time to fulfill the orders. When your board is nearly ready, I will send you a personal message on the forums asking for your shipping information and paypal email, and use this information to generate a paypal invoice for you. Once paid, I will ship the board. Do not leave your personal information in public posts on the forum! If you want to know your place in line, send me a PM. Does it include a USB cable? No! You must supply your own USB cable to connect the board to a computer before you can use your Skunkboard. Specifically, you need a USB-A <-> USB mini-B cable. Here are a few very reasonably priced ones from Amazon: 6ft/2m Amazon Basics cable or 10ft/3.3m Monoprice cable. See the manual for more details on choosing the right type of cable and connecting your computer to your Skunkboard. How do I use it? Install JCP using the link above and read the manual. It describes how to set up and use the Skunkboard in great detail. However, note you'll need to be relatively familiar with the command line in your operating system. If you're unfamiliar with command line usage on your OS, this wiki page has some tutorials for the operating systems supported by JCP (Windows, macOS, and Linux). Can I use it to play commercial games? Yes, all the original run games, with the exception of the first version of Raiden, should run fine when flashed to the Skunkboard, so if you have legally acquired ROM dumps of these games, you can play them using the board. The Skunkboard detects and refuses to run a very few later releases, and some later releases will not be compatible, either due to their own DRM mechanisms or other issues. See the manual for instructions on how to flash ROMs to the board. That being said, running commercial games on the Skunkboard is not officially supported. Can I use it to play homebrew games? Now we're talking! Yes, this is a great use of the board. Depending on the type of release (ROM, .cof, .abs, etc.), homebrew games can be uploaded to the board's flash memory and run from there even after disconnecting the host computer, or uploaded directly to the Jaguar's RAM for one-time runs. See the manual for instructions on how to flash ROMs to the Skunkboard or upload other files to the Jaguar's RAM. Are save games/game saves/high-scores supported? Yes! Rev.5 of the Skunkboard includes both a 128B serial EEPROM, like those used on all the original Jaguar releases, and a 2048B serial EEPROM, like those used on some newer releases that are used to save high scores and game progress by some games. You can swap the contents of the serial EEPROMs in/out using JCP just like you can for the main flash memory, and select between the two ROMs from the Skunkboard boot screen or using JCP. See the manual for more details. Can I plug it in to my Jaguar CD? Yes, the Skunkboard supports running from the cartridge slot of a Jaguar CD unit. A select few ROMs have been found to not work in this configuration, but in general things should work fine. Does it run CD games? No, there is currently no Jaguar CD unit emulation capability. Does it work with the JagLink/JagLink 2/Catbox/Scatbox/Jaguar networking in general? Yes. Does it work with the Team Tap Multiplayer Adapter? Yes. What is the difference between the various versions of the Skunkboard? Rev.1: 4MB flash (No 6MB ROM support, only one bank), susceptible to getting fried by crappy Jaguar power adapters. Rev.2: 8MB flash (6MB ROM support, or two 4MB banks), susceptible to getting fried by crappy Jaguar power adapters. Rev.3: 8MB flash, not susceptible to getting fried by crappy Jaguar power adapters. Rev.4: 8MB flash, one 93C46/128B serial EEPROM for save games. Rev.5 (the one I'm selling): 8MB flash, one 93C46/128B serial EEPROM and one 93C86/2048B serial EEPROM for save games. I want to make a game! How do I get started? Awesome! This is the primary purpose of the Skunkboard: Enabling the development of new Jaguar games. How you get started depends on your technical abilities, how much time you want to put in, and what type of game you want to make. If you want to really dig in to what the Jaguar is, program it at a low level, and squeeze every ounce of performance out of it, you might want to try my low-level Jaguar SDK for Linux. It includes most of the SDK components provided to the original Jaguar developers by Atari, as well as some updated versions of things that no longer work on modern computers, additional documentation, additional examples, etc. Check out the link for more information. If writing assembly or low-level C code sounds daunting, or if you want to actually finish your project, you may be more interested in JagStudio, an excellent all-in-one Jaguar development suite allowing you to quickly create games using BASIC, C, or assembly. Check out the link for more information. Good luck! What's the biggest game/ROM I can use with the Skunkboard? You can flash ROMs up to 6MB to the Skunkboard. Or, if you want to make a game that works only on the Skunkboard, you could theoretically divide it into two 4MB ROMs and flash them individually, and use bank switching logic in your code to switch back and forth between each of the 4MB flash banks on the board at runtime. I want to build my own Skunkboard. Is this possible? You're crazy. But yes, it is possible. All the source material you'll need is available at the links below. You will also need, at a minimum: A soldering iron, an the ability to solder fine pin-pitch SMT parts. If you're just starting out, get some SMT soldering practice kits from Amazon. A BJL-modified Jaguar. Using a BJL CD in the Jaguar CD won't work unfortunately. See Matthias Domin's BJL modification guide and this forum thread to learn how to perform this modification. A BJL cable or adapter. I don't think anyone sells these anymore, so you'll have to build your own, or, if you ask me really nicely, I might sell you one. A computer with a parallel port. A USB->parallel adapter won't work. It has to be a real parallel port on the motherboard. a 5V or 3.3V bench power supply. I use a mangled USB cable and a USB phone charger and some alligator clips to get a 5V supply. This is used when bringing up the board, specifically to verify USB is functional before flashing the CPLD and when actually flashing the CPLD. Xilinx ISE. This is a pain to install on modern operating systems. Ultimately I found the Linux version a little easier to install. See some of my notes in this forum post. A Xilinx Platform USB Cable II programmer to program the CPLD, or a compatible model. I don't think Xilinx even sells these anymore, and they're quite expensive on eBay, so I use this knock-off one, and it works great. Where do I get ROMs/Games? Lot's of places. You might start here, here, or here. If you mean illegal commercial ROM dumps, not here. Source Code/Materials: PCB: skunk_pcb CPLD: skunk_butcher BIOS: skunk_bios Bringup Scripts and Programs: bjlSkunkFlash (Linux Only Version, Windows binaries available here in the Full release package) JCP: skunk_jcp Packaging/Artwork: skunk_pkg
  14. May be interested if I ever get done building skunks and have time to work on my actual game code project again. What sort of price are you targeting, and how would it be programmed? When I was pricing out the new Skunkboard components, I found the most expensive part was getting decent quality PCBs with real gold fingers 😞
  15. From a quick look at eBay, yes. Not quite as crazy as Jaguar (I consider myself lucky for getting a no-box/no-manual "power kit" for almost exactly original retail price), but it looks like you're gonna drop around $200 for a system and the minimal accessories like a game and a controller. Also, any idea why there are so many Japanese import 3DOs on eBay? Personally, the next console I'm considering is the Lynx. Been doing a little emulation there myself, and it's keeping with the theme of underappreciated Atari hardware I would enjoy coding for. Also, California Games is totally tubular.
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