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What is a melody board?

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What I'd like is both your 2600A and the five carts so I can determine the true source of the issue. Just the carts will likely do me no good as all carts are tested by me on a 2600A before going out the door. There is something with that 2600A for sure and I hope to find out what that is. Such as a failing part that's out of spec enough to not like Melody but be OK with the other carts.

 

I will treat your console with the utmost care and determine the source of any and all problems.

 

I'll follow up with a PM shortly.

 

 

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Do you have access to volt meter, and are you willing to open your atari? I'm not sure how much power the melody cart uses however, I suspect that the new boards use more power than the old school eproms did. If some of the components in both your atari's are a little flaky, you will get weird problems. Simple games will work while more complex games won't. Not because of new versus old. But becuase the new stuff has more stringent power requirements. Capacitors die slowly with years of use, and both consoles may have this problem. The 7805 is well known to cause problems as it ages as well.

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Al (et al),

 

Sorry to have dropped off the planet again but I did mention before that I have little time to spare for this. Family and service at church will always come first, and I also managed to execute a career change to dump my old programming skills in favor of new ones from one part of Brown University to another since I last posted here. So, yeah, life is busy.

 

Anyhow, it is clear that I have exhausted all the time I can spare for this so I finally got around to packaging up those five games to sent back to you. You should receive them shortly. What you do with them is no longer of great concern to me. Given how late they are I don't expect replacements or a refund. I only return them in case you or batari can get some meaning out of them. Consider this my small donation to the cause.

 

I hope the situation will be friendlier in the future should I find time to return to it again. Perhaps after my kids move out. This adventure has been far less than fun and it burned me out.

 

I suppose all I really accomplished here is to establish that if this Melody compatibility issue ever pops up again somewhere, then it will be known that it is not a singular anomaly.

 

I wish all the classic game programmers good times and great fortune (of some sort, if not monetarily).

 

juanitogan

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Anyhow, it is clear that I have exhausted all the time I can spare for this so I finally got around to packaging up those five games to sent back to you. You should receive them shortly. What you do with them is no longer of great concern to me. Given how late they are I don't expect replacements or a refund. I only return them in case you or batari can get some meaning out of them. Consider this my small donation to the cause.

 

I would be glad to replace the games with non-Melody equivalents or send you a refund for the games you're sending back.

 

..Al

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Hmmm i was hoping there was a resolution here. The reason i'm bumping this older thread is because I dug out my copy of ladybug and noticed quite a bit of, what looks like, rf interference on my atari systems (vader, light sixer, junior) compared to my other non-homebrew games which look fine. I don't think my lady bug is a melody board either. Space Rocks, which is, plays fine. Its a strange thing.

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Hmmm i was hoping there was a resolution here. The reason i'm bumping this older thread is because I dug out my copy of ladybug and noticed quite a bit of, what looks like, rf interference on my atari systems (vader, light sixer, junior) compared to my other non-homebrew games which look fine. I don't think my lady bug is a melody board either. Space Rocks, which is, plays fine. Its a strange thing.

Homebrew games do not have the metal RF shielding that Atari's original releases did, so some of them do produce more "noise". This can vary depending on the actual EPROMs and other parts used on the boards--some are noisier than others, but it's not something I've ever tried to measure between different types of parts. Lady Bug, unless you specially ordered it as a Melody game, uses a regular board and is a 16K game. Space Rocks is a Melody-based game.

 

The best way to eliminate interference is to modify a 2600 (and/or 7800 with composite and/or s-video output. This results in a much better looking picture overall, and completely removes any interference.

 

..Al

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ok thanks Al. I also heard that putting a ferrite bead on the rf cable helps too. Gotta find one of those

 

I would also use a Coax to RCA adapter if you're not already using one, as that can make a big difference compared to a regular switchbox.

 

..Al

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I have a modded 2600 and toyshop trouble and falldown still have background images I guess I would call it . I think they do the same on my modded 7800 and also through rf . But they are crystal clear on my expansion #1 with my modded colecovision . All other homebrew carts look fine on my modded 2600 and 7800s .

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Strange that I ignored atariage all year and then checked this thread at random late last night only to find brand new posts as of that day.

 

The potential refurbished EPROM issues are why I had such great hopes for Melody and its Flash memory. As a retro game fan I am interested in heirloom quality products -- and EPROMs (as well as EEPROMs and lower-quality Flash) cannot be expected to last nearly as long as our original Mask ROM (MROM) carts have already. This is why I am so reluctant to ask for EPROM replacements to the Melody carts I returned last January. For me, the answer to the "refurbished EPROM or nothing" question is "nothing." I simply don't want the impending dissappointment of owning failing EPROM carts. Flash isn't the ultimate solution either but it seemed good enough.

 

One would have hoped that with all the advances in manufacturing tech that someone would have solved the high up-front cost of mask fabrication for MROMs. In other words, skip the mask and manufacture a basic ROM substrate and then "print" or laser cut the circuits between the cells. Realistically, though, I expect such manufacturing costs would still be too high in small runs and size and cost of metals may not be good. It would be hard to find a profitable use case for such things versus fuse or antifuse PROMs (which seem to be approaching the reliability of MROMs).

 

Speaking of which, I would find fuse or antifuse PROMs to be an acceptable alternative to MROMs. Has anybody priced out using fuse/antifuse PROMs in Atari carts? I would pay extra for PROMs. I wonder what Super Fighter Team puts in their carts? (Maybe flash, or perhaps some OTP-to-ROM variant of flash -- which does not actually improve data retention beyond the baset OTP technology as far as I can tell.)

 

Anyhow, I really just wanted to put out a reminder that I never received a test report in return for the 5 Medody carts I returned (or anything else in return for that matter). The problems with Synthcart, in particular, should have been apparent on many or all 2600 systems.

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I'm sure they just got forgotten in the shuffle as you wrote at the time the Melody was being redesigned and it was unavailable for a few months. They are available now and are improved in terms of fitment and electrical contact and RF.

I suspected the problem with your boards was electrical contact (we were using tin but have switched to gold) but I was wrong. One of your boards had a cold solder joint during manufacture and the rest were accidentally loaded with an old prototype firmware from 2009 that was actually for a prior version of the board and "shouldn't" have worked at all with the new board but barely did due to an unintended body diode effect in a MOSFET on the board. Sorry for the oversight in all cases. We'll get new games to you ASAP.

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I'm sure they just got forgotten in the shuffle as you wrote at the time the Melody was being redesigned and it was unavailable for a few months. They are available now and are improved in terms of fitment and electrical contact and RF.

 

I suspected the problem with your boards was electrical contact (we were using tin but have switched to gold) but I was wrong. One of your boards had a cold solder joint during manufacture and the rest were accidentally loaded with an old prototype firmware from 2009 that was actually for a prior version of the board and "shouldn't" have worked at all with the new board but barely did due to an unintended body diode effect in a MOSFET on the board. Sorry for the oversight in all cases. We'll get new games to you ASAP.

 

Wow, life happens, and suddenly 4 years has passed. This is my first reading this response. I checked my email history and found no notification of the response years ago. Maybe it got spam routed and I didn't notice. I was probably too stressed at the time over this to troll the forum for updates. Anyhow, dare I say it? Vindicated. :|

 

I really didn't like this hanging over me all that time. I really want a good relationship here. I'm a big fan of Atari and a big fan of this site and store. But, I was trying to help weed out an obvious flaw and feeling like I was getting nothing but hate in return. I felt like I had blown $200 on duds and getting absolutely nothing good in return for it. So, after all that, it is good to hear that my $200 went towards something useful after all -- discovery of a QC weakness, a firmware issue, and an unexpected design side effect. I hope the latest products are better from all of this. If it's okay, I think I'll claim that as my small contribution to the world of classic Atari preservation. This is good news. Very good news. If you want, replacing those carts I returned years ago might also be cool, if they are still in stock. Ping me for an updated address. I've moved back to NM.

 

Anyhow, I'm working in game dev again (finally :D) and so it was getting harder to ignore this site. I'm currently working full time on, and deep in the middle of, a fairly large project (for a dev team of 2) that is partly a tribute to a very early Atari product. Hard core Atari fans will hopefully recognize the tribute in this niche party game. I'm also planning on working up a new game prototype this weekend for what will maybe turn into a 2-player 7800 game. Then there's that design spec I've been sitting on for years for the ultimate 4-player 2600 game. Notice a theme here? All simultaneous multiplayer games; all Atari related in some form. So, well, I hope my work is welcome here.

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