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MAC-42

7800 MCP DevKit - Some thoughts. (Get one!)

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I'm more than a little late in getting this posted; I picked this up some time ago but have had some minor health issues arise recently that have taken valuable time. Just wanted to share my thoughts on CPUWiz's MCP Devkit and let you know how valuable I find it as someone who plays at being a developer for the 7800. For people who really develop on the system, or who know better how to make the console sing than I do, please take this a recommendation that you give this kit serious consideration for a place in your development toolkit.

When CPUWiz first announced this kit, I was extremely enthusiastic. In my free time, I'm slapping together a simple shooter game in 7800basic. (It spends most of its time being held together by chewing gum and bailing twine, but hey.) Circumstances prevented me from jumping at it when it first became available, but I got in touch with CPUWiz as soon as I could. We made the arrangements and by the end of the week, it was in my hot little hands. CPUWiz also gave me some helpful hints about some of its features that are very cool but are hidden under the GUI a little. It has been a fantastic tool, largely supplanting my need to test game revisions in emulation to see how they work. As good as emulation for the 7800 has gotten recently, especially in MESS, it's always nice to know that your code won't shatter into a million pieces as soon as you throw it at real hardware.
Speaking of using real hardware, I've known how to modify my 7800 into a proper dev system for some time now. But it took me forever to get around to upgrading my 600XL to 64k and replacing its (socketed) ANTIC chip, for pity's sake! How was I going to find time to squeeze that in? Well, the beauty of CPUWiz's kit is that it allows little old me not to have to worry about performing surgery on a 7800 to use it as a development system. This kit provides a completely non-intrusive way to get yourself up and running. One very nicely made intermediary board sits between a PC's USB port and my Atari's right joystick port. You just install a little software on the PC, drop the provided cart into your 7800, and you're ready to work. Configuration involved installing a driver, which anyone can handle, and...to be honest, I don't think I had to do anything else. Ease of use is a big plus, no?
You do need a PC environment for the software to work. As a Mac guy, this was a trivial concern for me; as I believe I said when this kit was announced, I'd be willing to crawl on my belly through broken glass to use Win95 if that's what it took to make this work. I do all my work on my Mac, dump the binary over to the PC, then operate the software in Windows using Remote Desktop. I haven't tried it yet, but I'd be a little surprised if this device didn't work using Windows in a VirtualBox session. Either way, I can live with a little Windows in my life if it lets me test my work out on real hardware.
The long and short is this: If you're a developer for the 7800, I think you owe it to yourself to pick up the MCP Devkit. It's worth every penny. And it, along with 7800basic, has let little old me have way more power over the 7800 than I rightfully should. If you're a real life, honest-to-goodness actual developer, or you think you could be, I shudder in awe to think what you could do with a tool like this. I heartily recommend it, and I thank CPUWiz again for his efforts on this and all his projects.
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I'm more than a little late in getting this posted; I picked this up some time ago but have had some minor health issues arise recently that have taken valuable time. Just wanted to share my thoughts on CPUWiz's MCP Devkit and let you know how valuable I find it as someone who plays at being a developer for the 7800. For people who really develop on the system, or who know better how to make the console sing than I do, please take this a recommendation that you give this kit serious consideration for a place in your development toolkit.

 

When CPUWiz first announced this kit, I was extremely enthusiastic. In my free time, I'm slapping together a simple shooter game in 7800basic. (It spends most of its time being held together by chewing gum and bailing twine, but hey.) Circumstances prevented me from jumping at it when it first became available, but I got in touch with CPUWiz as soon as I could. We made the arrangements and by the end of the week, it was in my hot little hands. CPUWiz also gave me some helpful hints about some of its features that are very cool but are hidden under the GUI a little. It has been a fantastic tool, largely supplanting my need to test game revisions in emulation to see how they work. As good as emulation for the 7800 has gotten recently, especially in MESS, it's always nice to know that your code won't shatter into a million pieces as soon as you throw it at real hardware.

 

Speaking of using real hardware, I've known how to modify my 7800 into a proper dev system for some time now. But it took me forever to get around to upgrading my 600XL to 64k and replacing its (socketed) ANTIC chip, for pity's sake! How was I going to find time to squeeze that in? Well, the beauty of CPUWiz's kit is that it allows little old me not to have to worry about performing surgery on a 7800 to use it as a development system. This kit provides a completely non-intrusive way to get yourself up and running. One very nicely made intermediary board sits between a PC's USB port and my Atari's right joystick port. You just install a little software on the PC, drop the provided cart into your 7800, and you're ready to work. Configuration involved installing a driver, which anyone can handle, and...to be honest, I don't think I had to do anything else. Ease of use is a big plus, no?

 

You do need a PC environment for the software to work. As a Mac guy, this was a trivial concern for me; as I believe I said when this kit was announced, I'd be willing to crawl on my belly through broken glass to use Win95 if that's what it took to make this work. I do all my work on my Mac, dump the binary over to the PC, then operate the software in Windows using Remote Desktop. I haven't tried it yet, but I'd be a little surprised if this device didn't work using Windows in a VirtualBox session. Either way, I can live with a little Windows in my life if it lets me test my work out on real hardware.

 

The long and short is this: If you're a developer for the 7800, I think you owe it to yourself to pick up the MCP Devkit. It's worth every penny. And it, along with 7800basic, has let little old me have way more power over the 7800 than I rightfully should. If you're a real life, honest-to-goodness actual developer, or you think you could be, I shudder in awe to think what you could do with a tool like this. I heartily recommend it, and I thank CPUWiz again for his efforts on this and all his projects.

Hi MAC

could you show your shooter?

Greetings Walter

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Mac support is coming soon, thank you for the props. :thumbsup:

 

 

Been on the east coast of the state with the family, so I've been a bit out of touch. (I'll have a look at your PM in a minute.) That's good news! It's nice to know that I'll be able to chop a step out of the workflow. Your very welcome and thanks again for the tremendous effort!

 

Hi MAC

could you show your shooter?

Greetings Walter

 

 

I could, Walter, but I'd be really embarrassed to do so. It'd be like me walking into the Louvre and plopping my hastily-scribbled crayon drawings next to the Mona Lisa. It's not entirely ready to be displayed next to the work that Bob or Frankodragon or the other really talented people have done and are doing. :lol: I had planned on really working on it in the earlier days of the year, but as I say, I've had some issues pop up that have been taking time away from this.

 

Besides, I seem to be hitting some serious bugs all of a sudden. It could have been me late at night when I should have been sleeping, or my youngest taking a poke at the keyboard when I wasn't looking. I'll dedicate more work to it and share it when it isn't flaking out...and when it is less horrific. :)

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I have one of these kits built and ready for sale, PM me if you are interested. :)

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I just picked up one of these kits as well, and I have to ditto everything MAC-42 said.

 

The whole kit is very easy to use. I was probably up and running within a few minutes. Previously I had to assemble my program, test it in MESS, go to burn some EPROMS, realize I have no empty EPROMS, wait 10 or so minutes to erase said EPROMS, burn them for real, then finally test on the console to find out my small change fails on real hardware. :P Now I'm just assembling and throwing it into the dev kit software to immediately burn to the cart.

 

Without sounding like an infomercial, in the small time I have had this it is already has proven incredibly useful. That and it has some really cool pokey music on the splash screen. Huge props to CPUWIZ!

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I hack hardware, but hardware design and creation is a whole other art in itself.

Without following a build design I could never come up with new hardware.

 

I bought a Dev Kit, but have too many projects to have actually started any 7800 games.

I like the fact you can go from PC code to Dev Cart on actual hardware faster than swapping SD cards back and forth.

It also makes a nice single-game cart, like how my Krokodile Kart is just one test build of a 64K 2600 game.

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Thank you guys, much appreciated, it makes it worth the time. :) :thumbsup: And also thanks for pointing out the pros, better than I could. WTF is Bob, I wrote the delta programming for him? :mad: J/K, but since I wrote it for him, he should make a tutorial about how to use it best. :P

 

It has been arranged for me to be able to make sure the MCP will work on the XM, it may require PLD code changes, if it does not work. But that is not a huge problem.

 

I also want to mention here, officially, that I completely discontinued the non-POKEY version, it is too much pain to service it. If something is wrong (e.g. you destroyed the NVRAM somehow), I need to build one from scratch and those 512K NVRAM chips are not exactly cheap.

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