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Is there a feasible way to make "new" pre-crash systems?

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The homebrew community enjoys robust support, with new PCBs being produced for new games and repros. But eventually, the hardware will fail and disappear. Is there a cost-effective way to produce new, but technologically authentic pre-crash consoles?

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Won't be easy. No one makes new TIA chip for 2600 or the custom variant of the CPU, the GI chips used by Intellivision has been obsolete and out of production for a couple decades, and Vectrex also had a few chips that can't be found new anymore such as dual op amp chip used to drive X and Y drawing on the CRT. Colecovision could be done but it'd have to be with newer SRAM chips since the older ones with weird voltage requirement aren't produced anymore afaik.

 

A new PCB optimized to reduce interference, some new components such as video amp and audio amp, RF modulator that outputs proper ATSC signal for newer TV (maybe a switch to toggle to NTSC for older TV if you still prefer CRT) but reuses the original chips are probably the closest you can get to a new and authentic rebuild.

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The most likely scenario would be a hardware emulation clone cobbled together from available components. This is what a lot of the FamiClones do to mixed results.

 

Or be a wealthy billionaire that can afford to personally finance the manufacturing that would be necessary to produce new hardware components that matched the original specifications. Which obviously isn't cost effective but hey, what can you do?

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I suppose, a more cost effective solution might be some type of cart reader that you build that attaches to a Raspberry Pi.

You could probably code a small bit that, when powered on, it checks it's cart reader for the type of cart plugged in, rips it to a BIN in a temp location, then launches the appropriate emulator pointing at that BIN.

 

Not sure you could get a cart reader that would allow saving for the carts that support that..

 

Yeah, it's just emulation; but if properly packaged, it might feel real to most people....

 

desiv

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Not sure about the authentic part. Sometimes too much is not too much fun.

 

Some consoles can be made better and cheaper with off the shelf parts. For instance, the RCA II already has a emulator written for Arduino UNO. This shiz is about $15 bucks. You add a couple of keypads and a homemade TV out cable and Bobs your Uncle.

 

Alas, I'm not sure if my suggestion got any traction in the one topic hot on RCA Studio II.

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I figure as long as the emulation is 100% accurate, nothing lost, nothing gained either, it shouldn't need to be the original chips and whatnot, however can emulation ever truly be 100% accurate? And it of course would have to read cartridges, only. No hard drive, so SD slot, The Harmony can do that for you.

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I think the one big problem with hardware emulation would be that you might not necessarily encounter some of the glitches and oddities that the original hardware produced so in that sense it wouldn't be "authentic"

 

One thing I've never been able to figure out though is why do all of these emulation-based consoles have such problems with sound, special chips, etc. when ZSNES or whatever can run them just fine. I know the SNES emulation scene had its share of problems IN THE LATE 90s but aren't some of these kinks worked out yet?

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not unless you spent a lot of time examining the actual metal and repoducing the bugs and quirks in software (no matter if its a fpga like a noac, or something running on pc such as mess)

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Check out the ColecoVision II thread in the ColecoVision & ADAM Forum in Opcode Games section. Now as far as feasible, that's still to be decided.

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That's exactly what the Flashback 2 and the C64 DTV are. It's definitely feasible, because it's been done. It's been done for later machines too, e.g. the minimig. FPGAs keep getting bigger, I expect eventually most of these systems will be reimplemented. The real obstacle is the R&D, and there are lots of interested and talented people in this hobby.

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That's exactly what the Flashback 2 and the C64 DTV are. It's definitely feasible, because it's been done. It's been done for later machines too, e.g. the minimig. FPGAs keep getting bigger, I expect eventually most of these systems will be reimplemented. The real obstacle is the R&D, and there are lots of interested and talented people in this hobby.

 

Here's the thing though, it takes a lot of dough to get a production run going. I see that as being the biggest obsticle.

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Truth is that unless some Chinese chip manufacturer can reproduce many of the old processor and RAM chips, we are all bound for emulation. I realize it really is about economies of scale when it comes to making computer chips, but would there not be a demand for at least a couple hundred of each system's chips among the collector crowd?

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The presence of demand doesn't necessarily mean a venture will be profitable unfortunately. With a target audience of only a few hundred, the price per unit would be so high that most of that few hundred wouldn't be able to (or wouldn't wish to) pay for the product. And this is the case of the organization funding the R&D/manufacturing was breaking even (or heck operating at a loss!). When you factor in that most companies (and even individuals) are interested in turning a profit, you run into a little problem called cost effectiveness.

 

I don't know what sales numbers for the Atari Flashbacks were like (or for some of these other clones) but it seems to me there is enough demand for this kind of thing that we could get some sort of hardware. I think the future is likely going to be flash memory/loading ROMs from card slots though. Something akin to ATGames recent Firecore handhelds which accept an SD card and can be loaded with additional Genesis ROMs. This is a feature that I hope appears soon on hardware clones like the RetroDuo and Retron lines. I am somewhat surprised that there hasn't been an Atari clone with a cartridge slot though, given the 2600's level of interest among collectors.

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I am somewhat surprised that there hasn't been an Atari clone with a cartridge slot though, given the 2600's level of interest among collectors.

 

Well, Flashback 2 can support one but they shipped it without the slot. You just need to open it up, solder in wires to a connector, mount it securely, add a switch to toggle between built in ROM and cart slot (or get creative with auto-switching) and it's done.

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Seeing the Colecovision SGM & 7800 add-ons, and of course the FB2 (as was mentioned by others), it's apparent new systems can be produced. Heck, even some old arcade machine boards are being reproduced. That said, most home consoles seem to be fairly robust- and ultimately, I'd have a hard time spending much on a new board when I could buy a replacement system for (presumably) less.

 

...On the other hand, I would love to have a drop-in replacement board for the Astrocade. Somehow I doubt that there is enough demand to break even on such a venture, but perhaps the presence of a replacement board would bring people to the system.

 

-Rob

Edited by theredlineboss

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