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RCA Studio II GOLD MINE! An interview with the Studio 2 Production Manager!

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I have enough info to attempt a multi-card, but am not sure that there's enough of a demand to do one. It would take a few weeks of serious work and unlike these two units, would require the expense of board procurement and fab. So unless there's a substantial demand for these and I can make the economics work, I may have to stop at a schematic. It IS feasible, though.

 

Just thought I'd report, and see where interest is. Any thoughts, folks?

 

I'm definitely interested in a Studio II multicart. My concern is cost; I'm guessing that in order to have boards produced that will "retail" at about $100 or less, you'll probably have to have more made than you would ever possibly know what to do with, or would ever possibly be able sell. But, I don't know what kinds of numbers you're working with.

 

On the other hand, the proposed features of a Studio II multicart (all U.S. games, Euro games, some CHIP-8 ports, etc) might generate interest from collectors who have had no real interest in the Studio II before.

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I've been sketching out a circuit.

 

I think the cheapest thing to do is to make a piggyback board for a cannibalized cartridge, tapping into the ROM sockets. A few latches and gates an a big (relatively) EPROM might make the thing do-able for $30 in material and if 50-100 could be sold at $75-$100, would make the effort worthwhile.

 

I'm thinking that it would default to the Studio 2 computer mod and it would allow either jumping to the normal games on the console, or selecting via number a game or mode. A 27C256 would provide 32K by 8 of storage. No provisions for USB or serial would keep it cheap.

 

I'm going to be away from my lab for a few weeks, but will sketch out a circuit and come up with a bill of materials and costs to see what's possible with this approach. I think the trick will be to make a much larger address space map to the expectations of the console and to use memory reads at high addresses to set the mapping circuitry up. (I'm suggesting this as an approach for any other engineers here who might want to chime in. ) I mentally toyed with the idea of a high-MIPs micro to emulate the old ROMs. It's more expensive, but it's a wiring job with software. Those S2 ROMs are slow by today's standards and some pretty cheap micros do 50 MIPs. 5 MIPs would probably be more than enough.

 

Does this need a new topic thread?

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It sounds like the CHIP-8 programs aren't compatible with the Studio ii. Are there any other programs available that can run on the Studio ii besides those listed in the 2 posts above?

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And perhaps permission from Paul Robson to include his 3 games (http://www.robsons.o...ng.com/studio2/)

 

Agreed!!! His Space Invaders clone is one of the best games for the system, and it would be great to be able to play it on original hardware.

 

If the Chip-8 games can't be ported, is anyone here willing to program some homebrews for the S2? Perhaps simplified version of arcade classics like the Space Invaders homebrew?

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It sounds like the CHIP-8 programs aren't compatible with the Studio ii. Are there any other programs available that can run on the Studio ii besides those listed in the 2 posts above?

 

It doesn't look like it. My link here might have been confusing. The author posits that RCA II assembly is like Chip-8. My point is that those with Arduino knowledge could make an RCA II assembly interpreter. Instead of re-engineering an original RCA II we could just use off-the-shelf parts.

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It is. I've coded some lines in Chip-8. The language works for same processor and video chip used in Studio 2. The problem Chip-8 games uses 512 bytes to 1kb of RAM, while S2 is only 256 bytes of RAM, for the game logic (another 256 bytes for the screen) IIRC.

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Well we need some mini-campaign to track down donor carts for the missing games...

 

Here is a quick table I made:

 

rcaromdumping.png

I have the USA "Fun with Numbers" cart.

 

Also, another AA member is the proud owner of "Star Wars".

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It is. I've coded some lines in Chip-8. The language works for same processor and video chip used in Studio 2. The problem Chip-8 games uses 512 bytes to 1kb of RAM, while S2 is only 256 bytes of RAM, for the game logic (another 256 bytes for the screen) IIRC.

 

Could CHIP-8 work on the Studio II in the form of a "Supercharger" cartridge? The idea being, the CHIP-8 language and sufficient extra memory are stuffed into a cartridge that had audio in/out jacks (like the Astrocade's Bally BASIC cartridge) or SD capabilities (probably a better idea, ha), to allow CHIP-8 games and programs to be loaded/saved with the Studio II? It would essentially turn the Studio II into a COSMAC computer (between the S2's two keypads, perhaps they could be combined to map the COSMAC's full hex keyboard?)

 

That's an entirely separate idea from the Studio II multicart, of course (unless someone were able to create a CHIP-8 interpreter for Studio II to put on a multicart?), but it could open up some possibilities for previously inaccessible games (CHIP 8 and homebrew development, since by providing the programming language and a means of storage/retrieval, it would be like its own open development system.

Edited by BassGuitari
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Excellent on the list, gents. I was going to do that, but once I get the design done, if it accommodates 50 slots, it's immaterial to me what goes in them. I've got tons of 27c256 chips, but 27c512's are out there, too, and use the whole 64K address space (which for obvious reasons, makes it easier to allocate 1K 'pages' for each game. I'm trying mentally to shoehorn something useful into something simple.

 

It's OK to just ID where these things are for the moment, since once the circuit is working, what goes in can be added easily. (If it works for 2, it will work for 32, more or less.)

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Could CHIP-8 work on the Studio II in the form of a "Supercharger" cartridge? The idea being, the CHIP-8 language and sufficient extra memory are stuffed into a cartridge that had audio in/out jacks (like the Astrocade's Bally BASIC cartridge) or SD capabilities (probably a better idea, ha), to allow CHIP-8 games and programs to be loaded/saved with the Studio II? It would essentially turn the Studio II into a COSMAC computer (between the S2's two keypads, perhaps they could be combined to map the COSMAC's full hex keyboard?)

 

That's an entirely separate idea from the Studio II multicart, of course (unless someone were able to create a CHIP-8 interpreter for Studio II to put on a multicart?), but it could open up some possibilities for previously inaccessible games (CHIP 8 and homebrew development, since by providing the programming language and a means of storage/retrieval, it would be like its own open development system.

 

Nope, the memory addresses are incompatible, but a Chip-8 game using 256 bytes of RAM or less, can be ported for S2.

 

Talking about new games for S2, I think Tetris is a good candidate. I can't promise to code it, but who knows...

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Nope, the memory addresses are incompatible, but a Chip-8 game using 256 bytes of RAM or less, can be ported for S2.

 

Talking about new games for S2, I think Tetris is a good candidate. I can't promise to code it, but who knows...

 

I agree that Tetris would appear to be a good candidate. I also think Pac-Man, if it's possible. Which Chip-8 games use 256 bytes of RAM or less?

 

Too bad the memory addresses between the RCA S2 and Chip-8 are incompatible, I was digging the idea of a sort of Supercharger to allow it to play Chip-8 games. However, I'm looking forward to what creative geniuses can squeeze out of the system. :)

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Updated info on list:

 

rcaromdumping.png

 

Consider me as being more than willing to loan out my copy of the Star Wars Game cartridge so that the first Star Wars game ever can finally get properly archived, and that one more item can be crossed off the list! :)

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Slightly off-topic, but here is a good starter set on eBay (not mine) for an okay price for what you get.

 

Also, I just won two more common games on eBay and cleaned out the RCA Studio II game inventory at Atari2600.com. Hopefully, there should be no worries about finding enough donor carts. I think I have about 20 or more now.

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Slightly off-topic, but here is a good starter set on eBay (not mine) for an okay price for what you get.

 

Also, I just won two more common games on eBay and cleaned out the RCA Studio II game inventory at Atari2600.com. Hopefully, there should be no worries about finding enough donor carts. I think I have about 20 or more now.

 

Heh, so that was you, eh? I'd noticed that their common carts that had been available for an eternity had suddenly vanished. I had wondered if it might have something to do with the recent interest in the Studio II... But yeah, I'll second that the Ebay set there is a good starter kit, even at the BIN listed.

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interested in a multicart, please add me to the list if there is ever one made

Edited by swlovinist

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I'm trying to track down owners of other missing games.. very difficult... seem to be very sparsely scattered across the net...

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I just signed up for the 'rcacosmac' Yahoo newsgroup (http://dir.groups.ya...roup/rcacosmac/). If when I get approved, I will post a message over there to see if we can get some interest directed back towards this thread here.

 

I found this post from 3 years ago in the group:

 

http://dir.groups.ya...mac/message/208

 

Don't know if it is still possible to contact this person... but he sounds a useful contact for the missing Eur/Aus games!

 

I'm going to try e-mailing him.

Edited by TLD1985

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rcaromdumping.png

 

I've updated the table with something I found out today.

 

Re-reading that old post on that rcacosmac group and looking in a hex editor. The dump of "TV School House II" that is floating around the net isn't actually the US Studio II version.. It actually is the MPT-02 version of the game.

 

So depending on how purist some people are...it might be an idea to re-dump the north American release so that all the USA games are actually the US titles. It would also be interesting to compare the rom files.

 

 

In a hex editor the header of TV Schoolhouse II reads:

 

RCA2 PT MG-204 SCHOOL HOUSE II: MATH FUN

 

 

normally the US games have something like this:

 

RCA2 PT 18V700 TV MYSTIC SERIES : BIORHYTHM

 

mostly just the serial number has been changed.

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I found this post from 3 years ago in the group:

 

http://dir.groups.ya...mac/message/208

 

Don't know if it is still possible to contact this person... but he sounds a useful contact for the missing Eur/Aus games!

 

I'm going to try e-mailing him.

 

I just got approved for the group so I posted a message there about the renewed interest in the S2 here and provided a link back this thread. Maybe someone from there will join us in here with some info.

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Thank you everyone for all your efforts in tracking down all of the RCA S2 ROM files. This is very exciting and also an important part of preserving gaming history.

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