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

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I was looking at the Microvision library as a potential source of lo-res inspiration:

 

 

That's a bit pessimistic :)

 

I had a look at Rear Guard and I think that's possible, though the parallax floor bit might have to go. Like a lot of older systems, you have to code for its strengths which are (.... thinks) well it can vertically scroll fast. Vertical movements can be fast because you don't have any bitshifting. Problems tend to occur when you have lots of sprites being drawn. I can make Rear Guard work, I think because the sprites are all the same and the player only moves vertically. I can cache the enemy sprite shifts.

 

Something like Robotron where there are lots of different sprites all going at once would be almost impossible, notwithstanding the graphics problems. I reckon an S2 could do a cave type game, but having sprites moving at any sort of speed in that would be difficult.

 

But that's the fun of homebrew on the S2 (and things like the VCS, Channel F), scamming the hardware into doing things previously thought impossible.

 

This does have an impact on multicarts. I don't think this will fit in 1k of ROM. My multicart design allocates a whole 4k block for each cart image allowing ROM to be mapped in at $A00-$FFF giving 2.5k ROM space to play with. (400-7FF and A00-FFF). You could design it so that it just mapped out the standard 1k ROM between 400 and 7FF. Looking at Farnell a DIP 4Mbit Flash ROM is about £5. (Arranged as 512k x 8 bits, this would give 128 2.5k games in the cartridge).

 

You'd also have to have some way of mapping out the upper 7 address bits. If you anded TPA and A7 this would give a positive going pulse whenever you accessed memory in the range $8000-$FFFF - one could use a parallel latch to latch A0-A6 (conveniently, 128 options !) to drive the upper bits - so attempting to read $A300 which no S2 cart would do, would select bank $23 (e.g. 010 0011)

 

One problem is that the S2 has no reset line on its connector, so if you press reset on the console you will reboot the current ROM, not go back to the menu. Maybe the cart would have to have a reset button.

 

I'll have a go at kaboom I think :) Nice fun game to warm up with.

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I'm taking up the Studio 2 again for a bit, what sort of things would people like ?

 

Warming up with Kaboom sounds good to me. :) You did an amazing job with your Space Invaders clone, it would be nice to see other arcade ports. Perhaps a simplified Pac-Man clone? Some type of space shooter like a simplified Defender would be nice. Maybe a watered down Asteroids or Missile Command?

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I hope I don't derail this thread with my post, I had created a separate one but since all of the RCA S2 experts are here, it was recommended that I post in this thread. :) If you'd like you can respond to me directly in a private message. Thank you in advance for your help!

 

I recently received an RCA Studio II from eBay, that was untested. It came with the original PSU and switch box. I bought this adapter from Radio Shack to connect to my flat screen:

 

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062054&locale=en_US

 

I connected everything, switched the switch box to RCA Studio II and nothing happened. The red LED light on the console didn't light up at all. The console didn't make any noise, the TV didn't react in any way. I was wondering if it was the RCA PSU. I read that an Atari 2600 PSU works with the RCA Studio II. I tried that, and again nothing.

 

Is there anything I can do to troubleshoot the system? Also please keep in mind that I'm a newbie when it comes to retro-electronics. :) Thank you!

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I think it's the power to the system. The first thing an RCAS2 does when it powers up is squawk, this is through a speaker in the system console (i.e. not through the TV) so there's probably no power.

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I think it's the power to the system. The first thing an RCAS2 does when it powers up is squawk, this is through a speaker in the system console (i.e. not through the TV) so there's probably no power.

 

Thank you Paul! I also tested it with a working Atari 2600 PSU and the system still didn't power up. Could the likely culprit be the switch box?

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I think it's the power to the system. The first thing an RCAS2 does when it powers up is squawk, this is through a speaker in the system console (i.e. not through the TV) so there's probably no power.

Even when you do get it to power up, the sound it makes will cause you to think "Eew, that can't be right. This thing must be broken."

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kaboom.png

Had a bit of tinkering time and wrote the basic display stuff for Kaboom/Studio 2. It looks messy here but actually it works quite well when its in motion, obviously the (err....) bombs are permanently on the move and with a bit of fiddling they're going pretty fast. Had to lose the man at the top for space issues.

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I hope I don't derail this thread with my post, I had created a separate one but since all of the RCA S2 experts are here, it was recommended that I post in this thread. :) If you'd like you can respond to me directly in a private message. Thank you in advance for your help!

 

I recently received an RCA Studio II from eBay, that was untested. It came with the original PSU and switch box. I bought this adapter from Radio Shack to connect to my flat screen:

 

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062054&locale=en_US

 

I connected everything, switched the switch box to RCA Studio II and nothing happened. The red LED light on the console didn't light up at all. The console didn't make any noise, the TV didn't react in any way. I was wondering if it was the RCA PSU. I read that an Atari 2600 PSU works with the RCA Studio II. I tried that, and again nothing.

 

Is there anything I can do to troubleshoot the system? Also please keep in mind that I'm a newbie when it comes to retro-electronics. :) Thank you!

 

I hope you find a simple solution but you may have become another victim of receving a non-working S2 on ebay. I've bought 3 in the last 3 months, non of which worked. Thankfully, by the sounds of it, fauxscot has been able to repair one of mine.

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I hope you find a simple solution but you may have become another victim of receving a non-working S2 on ebay. I've bought 3 in the last 3 months, non of which worked. Thankfully, by the sounds of it, fauxscot has been able to repair one of mine.

 

I'm glad fauxscot was able to repair one of yours. Wow, I had no ideas that many of the RCA S2's out there are not working. I knew the one I bought was a gamble as it was untested, but I was hoping since it was such a simple unit, that it would work. Sadly no signs of life. I'd get another unit except that this one was relatively expensive so I don't have any money for another unit right now. Also, I've never fixed anything electronic, so I don't know how much I can do at my end. Too bad, seems like an interesting system, I was looking forward to playing it, even if the games sucked.

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Wow, I had no ideas that many of the RCA S2's out there are not working.

 

I didn't either. Looks like I lucked out on mine!

 

Now Astrocades and Fairchild VESs (not so much System IIs in my experience, but the original version)...THOSE are crapshoots. I've had about three of each, and the ones that actually DID work at one point, died on me shortly thereafter. I've only owned one Studio II (I threw the dice on a local untested unit), and it runs like a champ.

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Had a bit of tinkering time and wrote the basic display stuff for Kaboom/Studio 2. It looks messy here but actually it works quite well when its in motion, obviously the (err....) bombs are permanently on the move and with a bit of fiddling they're going pretty fast. Had to lose the man at the top for space issues.

Yeah, without motion it takes a second to tune in, but I can clearly see what you're doing. I'm impressed by how you interpreted it to a low resolution so readily. Nice work. Looking forward to trying it out at some point.

 

As I imagine how your game would play I'm missing the original Kaboom sounds. I'm left wondering if there are enough free resources in this system to support putting sound hardware in a cartridge. An address or two used to feed info to a uController doing PWM or somesuch. It would add significant expense to a cartridge, but that might be tolerable if it were built into a multi-cart. Yeah, I know, stupid idea but I didn't ask it to pop into my head, it just did.

Edited by BigO

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Yeah, without motion it takes a second to tune in, but I can clearly see what you're doing. I'm impressed by how you interpreted it to a low resolution so readily. Nice work. Looking forward to trying it out at some point.

 

As I imagine how your game would play I'm missing the original Kaboom sounds. I'm left wondering if there are enough free resources in this system to support putting sound hardware in a cartridge. An address or two used to feed info to a uController doing PWM or somesuch. It would add significant expense to a cartridge, but that might be tolerable if it were built into a multi-cart. Yeah, I know, stupid idea but I didn't ask it to pop into my head, it just did.

 

The S2 cartridges are unique AFAIK in that they are not mapped anywhere at all. It is purely convention that cartridges are 1k between 0400-07FF. You have to have ROM at $0400 because the BIOS does the "Chip 8" command $1400 - jump to $0400 but otherwise you can put anything anywhere except for $000-$3FF which is permanent. Studio 2 ROMS - CDP1831 chips - are masked to 'appear' at the correct address.

 

Because only homebrew games use 1802 assembler (I think) , the rest are in the Chip-8 variant which can only access memory in the bottom 4k of the address space. So the address space from $1000-$FFFF can have anything you like - ROM, RAM, Video Hardware, Audio Hardware.

 

The problem with your idea it you'd chuck out the whole thing really. The S2 sound is awful, but so is the graphics and the controllers and the processor.

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Odd, the only one is mine and it definitely works. Dumping RCAS2 carts is not difficult, you have an address bus to write to (8 bits) one to read from (8 bits) and some lines to tweak (TPA to set the upper address, MRD to read the cartridge). I suspect the problem was the PC interface :(

 

The wierd thing about it is that S2 ROM carts have the address decoders built in, unlike almost everything else which has a chip select line which is decoded in the console/computer, if you send it the wrong address values it doesn't respond. If you want to try again put me in touch with Guru and we can almost certainly figure it out between us - dumping the BIOS ROMs is much harder than dumping the carts.

 

I think I tried to get in touch with you a few years back. I guess I should have looked here.

 

I'll probably try to get these shipped back to me, since that's something I've been meaning to do anyway, especially some other items that have already been dumped that I want to sell.

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9 carts for Soundic MPT-02 Victory (another Studio II clone): Bingo, Biorhythm, Concentration Match, Grand Pack, Gunfighter/Moonship Battle, Math Fun, Pinball, Speedway/Tag, and Star Wars

 

 

To clarify, I have the 9 carts with me. Guru has a Victory system which I purchased separately and had shipped directly to him.

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The problem with your idea it you'd chuck out the whole thing really. The S2 sound is awful, but so is the graphics and the controllers and the processor.

 

I see. So, you're afraid I'll disturb the exquisite balance of awfulness. Got it. :)

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Wow. That sounds more interesting than I recall! (I am the former production line supervisor at the RCA plant that made these devices.)

 

Just joined this forum at the suggestion of Blazing Lazers to answer any questions anyone has. (I'm relying 100% on memory and it was 1976-77, so be prepared for an occasional error.)

 

Nice to know someone's interested in these things...

wow, its great to see you on atariage! if i owned an rca studio i would probably be asking a ton of questions, sadly i dont. well anyways, welcome :)
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Speaking of which... are there any owners of the foreign clones on here? As there are still unknown questions about them which need help with answering.

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