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mos6507

Chimera Hybrid Game System

Chimera Hybrid Game System  

106 members have voted

  1. 1. Would you be interested in an all-in-one Chimera 2600+ Console?

    • Yes
      84
    • No
      23


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I don't even know whether it will be possible to do this, but before any effort is spent towards it, I wanted to run a little market research.

 

The Chimera cartridge is hard to classify (well, right now most would classify it as vaporware ;) ). Depending on your perspective, it could be seen as a SuperFX chip, or a 32X. So I was thinking of running with the idea of building an integrated board that was a complete Atari 2600 chipset (like the 8-bitdomain one) and a Chimera. For me, this device would not need a functional cart port as all the games could just load via microSD or serial. However, I would expect people to want to preserve the cart slot for games they don't have dumps of (like homebrews where the BINs are not in circulation).

 

So imagine something that has sockets for the 6507, the TIA, and RIOT, but is otherwise a complete system in its own special wooden case.

 

I've been brainstorming ideas for how far to go with the integration of Chimera-specific features. Chimera has two expansion slots and a few preexisting "dongles" specced out for it. These dongles have to be swapped according to the requirements of the games. In theory it should be possible to have an intelligent router and internally mount all of the dongles. You'd still have a raw expansion pass-through but it would rarely be used. The existing dongles would include 4 RS232 ports, 2 joystick ports, 2 AtariVox ports, and 1 PC joystick port. What I thought would be cool would be to mount the 2 controller ports lined up with the 2 extra controller ports in the front so that it looked like the Atari 800. I could also mount an AtariVox internally and mix its sound back through the A/V mod's sound. I was also looking into ways to make the console switches nicer, like using LEDs and touch-switches like the 2700 prototype.

 

So what we're talking about is giving the illusion of a "new" console which is like a superset of the 2600. You would transfer your chips over to it (maybe in addition to the cart slot itself) and then retire the old PCB and case. It's still a 2600 but it has the multicart, the ARM accelerator, and the peripherals. It's all the same as if you plugged in a Chimera cart, but since it's all bundled together in one it will be a much cleaner system. You'll get the A/V mod and a nicer real wooden case in the process.

 

Because of the casing and the low-volume nature of this, the pricepoint would be high. Probably something similar to a VCSp. I would roll any profit into subsidizing the standard Chimera boards to keep their prices low.

 

So please give me your feedback. If there is a strong enough response I'll continue investigating this. Otherwise I'll just focus on the cart version.

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It's certainly an interesting proposition.

 

And did you have to remind me that this is still eyeing me from the growing 'to do ' pile? :D

 

post-5887-1192658542_thumb.jpg

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It's certainly an interesting proposition.

 

And did you have to remind me that this is still eyeing me from the growing 'to do ' pile? :D

 

post-5887-1192658542_thumb.jpg

 

Yes, I was actually thinking of using thes 8-bit-domain boards as a base. But I think it would be nicer to have a single board with everything on it instead of bridging the Chimera to this.

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What is a VCSp?

need to know the price before voting

 

I'm thinking about $200-250, where you are mostly paying for the case and the labor to assemble everything. It's really more of a fundraiser project than anything else. Without something like this I may very well take a loss to produce finished Chimera carts at $30 retail.

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where you are mostly paying for the case

Custom casing is expensive, when I tried to buy a Vectrex cart case mould I was quoted in £1K's :-o

 

I know you'd never get it to fit a Flashback case without going to COB (again, expensive), but why don't you make the PCB fit the old case. You'd then have all the functionality of a 2600 with the added extra's that the Chimera board provides. They'd be loads of space in the case to plug in the optional peripherals etc.

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where you are mostly paying for the case

Custom casing is expensive, when I tried to buy a Vectrex cart case mould I was quoted in £1K's :-o

 

I know you'd never get it to fit a Flashback case without going to COB (again, expensive), but why don't you make the PCB fit the old case. You'd then have all the functionality of a 2600 with the added extra's that the Chimera board provides. They'd be loads of space in the case to plug in the optional peripherals etc.

 

Remember that this is for a limited edition item with wooden cases. Pretty much a handbuilt affair. Probably less than a dozen units. Beyond that, your idea has a lot of merit.

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Lets find that guy who claims to have the JAg case molds and use those... :P

 

I know silly but it would look cool anyway. :D

 

Dudes...I pay for it in a Radio Shack project case as long as it was done neatly.

 

I love this idea...I think it have a lot of merit.

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where you are mostly paying for the case

Custom casing is expensive, when I tried to buy a Vectrex cart case mould I was quoted in £1K's :-o

 

I know you'd never get it to fit a Flashback case without going to COB (again, expensive), but why don't you make the PCB fit the old case. You'd then have all the functionality of a 2600 with the added extra's that the Chimera board provides. They'd be loads of space in the case to plug in the optional peripherals etc.

 

How big is the Chimera going to be? I assumed it would be roughly the size of a 2600 cartridge, but I'm not sure why I thought that. There's a whole lot of space in the FB2 case. Not sure how much space you could hold available with a cart slot added, but in later revisions, the entire base part of that case is empty.

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Go to PacTec and use their off the shelf plastic project cases.

 

 

 

Curt

 

where you are mostly paying for the case

Custom casing is expensive, when I tried to buy a Vectrex cart case mould I was quoted in £1K's :-o

 

I know you'd never get it to fit a Flashback case without going to COB (again, expensive), but why don't you make the PCB fit the old case. You'd then have all the functionality of a 2600 with the added extra's that the Chimera board provides. They'd be loads of space in the case to plug in the optional peripherals etc.

 

Remember that this is for a limited edition item with wooden cases. Pretty much a handbuilt affair. Probably less than a dozen units. Beyond that, your idea has a lot of merit.

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Do you have the plan for the wooden case? Or at least a sketch?

What type of wood do you want them made from?

I have woodworking equipment to make it.

I also can do high reliability soldering. :)

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I have woodworking equipment to make it.

Forget that! We want the Amish to do it:

 

http://www.heatsurge.com/craftsmanship.cfm

Because the Amish are sticklers for quality they only use the finest materials. Therefore, each mantle contains hand cut precision pieces, complete with fluted trim side panels and a cove trim top, all rubbed to bring out the character of the wood.

 

:D

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Is it possible to just retrofit some existing cases?

 

Yeah, I know it's essentially killing off some VCS machines, but hey... they would live on as something better.

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It's certainly an interesting proposition.

 

And did you have to remind me that this is still eyeing me from the growing 'to do ' pile? :D

 

post-5887-1192658542_thumb.jpg

 

Yes, I was actually thinking of using thes 8-bit-domain boards as a base. But I think it would be nicer to have a single board with everything on it instead of bridging the Chimera to this.

when are you puting out the Chimera cartridge? Can i be put on the list?

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If this was a one shot Artari, maybe I would be intrested.

 

How about pricing? What would you sell this for to make for somebody here who wants to obtain this right now?

Edited by Red_Queen

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How about pricing?

Check out this post:

 

http://www.atariage.com/forums/index.php?s...p;#entry1526488

I can't yet promise Chimera will be released but I'd say the odds have never been higher. And the pricepoint looks to be somewhere between $40-50, which is a lot more affordable than a Krok or Cuttle.

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mos6507, from what I'm reading elsewhere this project is more or less stalled. Is it possible that another hardware genius could help you guys complete this project? I've seen evidence that certain members of AtariAge might have the skill set to help. (My hardware skills are many orders of magnitude short of the mark, so I'm not the aforementioned genius.)

 

For both you and Delicon it'd be a sad thing to see this project come so far and never be completed.

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How about revisiting the idea of making it fit into a standard 2600? I'm seeing more and more 2600's that are just plain broken these days, and outside the hands of someone who can repair them they are headed for the waste bin. IMO, it's easier to swap all the guts (or at least one of the boards) out in their entirety than it is to repair the faulty boards.

Such a non working VCS would be the excellent candidate for a Chimera board. Perhaps the same top board with the switches could be used in the heavy and light sixers, and the lower board could be replaced entirely. The Woody and the Vader would need an entire board made specifically for them, though.

 

If it's something that an average Joe can swap into his VCS by following the instructions, I'm all for it. I'm not sure about a standalone box, though.

Edited by shadow460

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Why not just stick to getting a development tool out for creating games for stock 2600's? I guess I don't understand all the excitement for adding limited additional features to some 30 year old hardware? The folks that still have and use the 2600 do it out of a love for the past (IMHO), and the idea of squeezing something special that could have been done before, but wasn't.

 

The trick is to get some better tools and hardware for creating these games. Right now, for me at least, Stella is a great development environment. Though it is not hardware. It might not be exactly the same on a real Atari. That's the cartridge I would like to see, something to bridge that gap.

 

The Atari 2600 is what it is, why try and make it into something different? I believe one poster said this before, 'if you want a Super 2600, why not just get an Atari 8-bit computer or 5200?'

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It may be academic at this point. The odds of this project coming to fruition are pretty low.

 

Well that is sad, as it seems you guys put a great deal of work into it, and it does look like you have the foundation for what I was talking to. Maybe a smaller, for focused scope would help here?

 

While I'm not in the same league as my old Catapult folks in creating video game hardware, I could most likely design and implement a flash-card with a USB connection to allow downloading to a real 2600.

--Selgus

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If you want something to load games into for testing, pick up a used Supercharger. They are uncommon but not unavailable. If you want something that supports more banking schemes, there is always the Kroko cart as well as used Cuttle 1s and 2s. Making a simple multicart is nowhere near as difficult as the Chimera concept. I have no interest in starting over again with a more modest project. This was originally intended to be a Supercharger replacement and it's the complexity of implementing the Supercharger format (multiloads in particular) that led to the feature-creep. I don't regret it going in that direction. I would not have wanted to ship something with all the hardware it was going to need just to do the multiloads that were not fully exploitable by the 2600. When it comes to this hobby stuff with my time and hard earned money invested--I don't believe on shipping things half-baked just to get it out there. I'd rather it be overkill and people can tinker with its potential for years than for it to be a single-purposed device.

 

I made a lot of money in stock options from the sale of Myspace to Fox. The Chimera (and the failed programming contest) was an outgrowth of deciding to use some of that windfall for the betterment of the homebrew community. But I am no hardware engineer. I just have money to devote to the project, and the willingness to sell this stuff at cost. I'm completely at the mercy of whoever is doing the hardware design to set me up with a finished product.

 

I still hope to produce the new A/V mod and perhaps also Richards' new Atarivox/Vecvox boards, but Chimera is a longshot.

 

The way this economy is headed, and my intention to get a house next summer means I can't be as foolhardy with my money as before. It's time for some of these projects to materialize before I wise up and clamp down on my finances. I'm hardly at the same place in my life as I was 3 years ago and I just want the satisfaction of shipping something for posterity before I have to refocus.

Edited by mos6507

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What we really need is a multicart that is available on a continuous basis. When developing a game, it is necessary to test the game on real hardware to know if it works or not. Bugs do not always show up in an emulator. A supercharger is not the handiest device for doing this. The .bin file would have to somehow be converted into a sound file and then it would have to somehow be transferred to the supercharger. This would require more hardware and expertise than I currently have. My Krokodile cart works great, but what if it dies? There are no more available. I was hoping to pick up a Chimera cart as a backup for my Krok cart. I'm not interested in extra ram, I just want to be able to test .bin files on actual hardware. In my opinion, a standard multicart would be a great benefit to the Atari community for 2600 development.

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If you want something to load games into for testing, pick up a used Supercharger. They are uncommon but not unavailable. If you want something that supports more banking schemes, there is always the Kroko cart as well as used Cuttle 1s and 2s. Making a simple multicart is nowhere near as difficult as the Chimera concept. I have no interest in starting over again with a more modest project. This was originally intended to be a Supercharger replacement and it's the complexity of implementing the Supercharger format (multiloads in particular) that led to the feature-creep. I don't regret it going in that direction. I would not have wanted to ship something with all the hardware it was going to need just to do the multiloads that were not fully exploitable by the 2600. When it comes to this hobby stuff with my time and hard earned money invested--I don't believe on shipping things half-baked just to get it out there. I'd rather it be overkill and people can tinker with its potential for years than for it to be a single-purposed device.

 

I made a lot of money in stock options from the sale of Myspace to Fox. The Chimera (and the failed programming contest) was an outgrowth of deciding to use some of that windfall for the betterment of the homebrew community. But I am no hardware engineer. I just have money to devote to the project, and the willingness to sell this stuff at cost. I'm completely at the mercy of whoever is doing the hardware design to set me up with a finished product.

 

I still hope to produce the new A/V mod and perhaps also Richards' new Atarivox/Vecvox boards, but Chimera is a longshot.

 

The way this economy is headed, and my intention to get a house next summer means I can't be as foolhardy with my money as before. It's time for some of these projects to materialize before I wise up and clamp down on my finances. I'm hardly at the same place in my life as I was 3 years ago and I just want the satisfaction of shipping something for posterity before I have to refocus.

 

Do you have a lot of issues that remain to be resolved on the Chimera product? I had formed the impression that it was very near completion with the major elements already in place. Is that not the case? I can understand not wanting to cut someone out of the loop, but if he has done that of his own accord, he might not mind if somebody else stepped in to complete the project.

 

As I've said before, I don't possess those skills, but I know there are a few people on AtariAge who do.

 

I've got my own little homebrew retro gaming related project going on right now that makes me relate to your comment about posterity. But, I'm limited to having only me as a software/hardware/electronics engineering resource. I've made a relatively significant breakthrough recently, but I sometimes have the same problems with my technical human resources as you do. :)

 

There seems to be plenty of support out here in the community for the Chimera project, maybe there's someone willing/able to provide some support beyond just the moral support that I can offer.

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