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A new evolution in TI programs, so it's time...

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It appears we are entering another phase in programming on the TI, one where the games will be getting so sophisticated and large that they'll require a cartridge to run. Programs getting better is a good thing, but this will leave many people reliant on a the few with the appropriate hardware to 'burn' the chip, which could limit a programs dissemination.

 

I'm thinking it may be time to get out ahead of the curve and get a few standards set, so the majority of people entering the realm of burning cartridges can "be on the same page", so to speak, at least in the hardware department. This will ensure ease of use and more help for others as more newbies come online.

 

Some of the questions a newbie might ask:

 

1) Which programmer should I buy? (Recommendations here folks)

2) Which software is best to use with the programmer? (Buy or does it come with?)

 

To keep things somewhat EASY & STANDARDIZED:

 

3) What cartridge should be recommended as the STANDARD CARTRIDGE to use? (Uber Cart?)

4) Where is the best place to purchase chips for burning this cartridge?

 

Then getting into the meat of the the things:

 

5) Are there any universal settings in the software that must be set properly?

(Photos or a video would be great for this.)

6) Where will the the repository for 'ready to burn' programs reside?

 

I'm sure there are other questions I've overlooked, please fill in the obvious blanks I've left.

 

A lot of things have happened over the past couple of years in the TI community, and I see the next couple of years being just as exciting. As the game programs improve, and people get the ability to set them up themselves, other things may morph out of the added capabilities, who knows, we may even someday get a true "OS in a cart" and be able to add modules as they are released. The sky's the limit!

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I have the GQ-4X Universal EPROM Programmer and I have never had an issue with it programming the chips I need. It works great on all the chips for our cartridges. I even have some of the adapters to program other chips.

 

HERE

 

 

post-35187-0-13770200-1440116751.jpg

post-35187-0-61645900-1440116762_thumb.jpg

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Wow Chris, that GQ-4X is $100.00 more expensive than the MiniPro that comes with all the adapters. Does the GQ-4X do something else that the MiniPro one will not? At first look appears that the MiniPro will do all the types required for cartridges. I doubt I'll ever need to burn chips for a FDC or anything, so the $50.00 for the MiniPro would pay for itself after only 3 or 4 uses.

 

I'm also thinking more people could justify the MIniPro...

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I want a good modern programmer that will be useful for a lot of good years and has good support, so paying more for one isn't a problem for me if I know I'm I can expand it if necessary.

I have an old Mechatronics programmer, an old gangpro-8 (need software if someone has it) and an old Octagon Sys-11 computer with eprom burning capabilities, But I would like to know which modern programmer has the most "bang for the buck". What are the recommendations? The above are a good start. Thanks for any of the groups input.

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I have a TOP 2049. It supports a huge number of devices but I haven't been able to get a version of the software from the manufacturer that has worked on any of my machines since I had Windows XP. Since loosing all my old machines in a fire it's basically useless. I believe the software is only 32 bit and the USB driver has issues.

The company has failed to re-register the top2048 domain listed on the bottom of my programmer and it's been hijacked so most people won't even know where to download a new version of the software. The new location is http://www.topwin6.com/but I'm still having issues with the new software.

There is an open source replacement written in Python but I haven't tried it. http://bues.ch/cms/hacking/toprammer.html

I would suggest avoiding any Top programmer at this point

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A have a very cheap Chinese programmer that works fine, the only issue being that it only works with Windows XP, so I'm keeping a virtual XP machine inside my windows 7 machine.

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A have a very cheap Chinese programmers that works fine, the only issue being that it only works with Windows XP, so I'm keeping a virtual XP machine inside my windows 7 machine.

Probably the same manufacturer as mine. The original software would probably work like that.

The new software is supposed to work with Windows 7.

I'm having issues with the USB driver but that doesn't mean you will.

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Well, it looks like the MiniPro just may be the ticket. It has good reviews from the 'Heavy Hitter's' like Lee & Gazoo, the price seems reasonable and I've heard nothing negative against it.

 

What's the next step? A thread or blog focusing on the topic as well as finding someplace to stick

'READY TO DOWNLOAD AND BURN IMAGES"?

 

For starters's I'd love to see a step-by-step walk-thru of burning a specific single image into a cart.

Later there could be tutorials on how to make cartridges with multiple images and including menu's.

 

So what UNIVERSAL CARTRIDGE do you burning guru's recommend as the best all-around cartridge to cover 'most applications'?

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Well, it looks like the MiniPro just may be the ticket. It has good reviews from the 'Heavy Hitter's' like Lee & Gazoo, the price seems reasonable and I've heard nothing negative against it.

 

What's the next step? A thread or blog focusing on the topic as well as finding someplace to stick

'READY TO DOWNLOAD AND BURN IMAGES"?

 

For starters's I'd love to see a step-by-step walk-thru of burning a specific single image into a cart.

Later there could be tutorials on how to make cartridges with multiple images and including menu's.

 

So what UNIVERSAL CARTRIDGE do you burning guru's recommend as the best all-around cartridge to cover 'most applications'?

 

There is no Universal Cartridge, It all depends on what you create to put in the cartridge you want.Sometimes you only need Ram, Sometimes you need Grom/Gram,

your programming skills determine the cartridge you require. So far there's no cartridge available that I can't fill with shit. Fetz keeps trying, but I keep filling 'em up. ;)

 

Gazoo

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So far there's no cartridge available that I can't fill with shit. Fetz keeps trying, but I keep filling 'em up. ;)

 

Gazoo

 

FuNNY, but obviously SO TRUE!

 

I'm thinking the Uber Cart might be the good choice as an all-around multi-purpose starter cartridge. If I remember correctly there is no inverting to trip up a newbie. Having ready to download & burn stuff is good at first to get people interested, but sooner or later they'll want to start experimenting for themselves...

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I can't attest to the MiniPro (yet - but I plan on snagging one because the reviews are so good). I can state that my GQ-4X even works with Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and even the new Windows 10! (just verified on W10).

Edited by Cschneider

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On the best starter board for burning things--if you are using older images (and there are quite a few of them out there designed for the Guidry boards with Inverted banking) or images designed for new programs (every one we've gotten from the cadre of programmers here), you want to use a 128K Black board.

 

If you are planning to do nice things with the various non-inverted images Gazoo has made us, you want to use the 512K Red boards. Some new development may also target these in the future, once people start running out of space in the 128K cartridges. . .

 

The Blue UberGROM is pretty much a specialized board for major projects. It works beautifully with files for the Red boards, with the bonus that you can add an Atmel 1284 and simulate GROM too. Designing stuff for it is a bit harder than the other types, because you really need an understanding of GPL for the GROM side. Definitely a great board for advanced users though.

 

I'm leaving out the 2048K Yellow boards so far, mainly because you need a programmer that will work with 42-pin DIP chips (most won't). The 27C160 chips it uses are difficult to source as well. You'll find them everywhere from lots of Chinese sellers, but the chips will usually be off-spec. I have a really good supply of them I got from Bulgaria, but that was after getting three different bum lots from China. . .the Chinese chips worked great as 16-bit chips, but wouldn't downshift to 8-bit (contrary to the specification, as that should have worked).

 

I use an Advin Pilot U84 for a lot of my programming (it uses the parallel port on a WIN2000 box, but it will work on newer operating systems if the machine has a true parallel port on it). I recently got a Top3000 so that I could burn TMS2564s, as that is one of the small number of current hobby programmers that will burn these. It will also burn the 27C160 chips. Neither of these will burn the Atmel 1284s though.

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I use the MiniPro for programming various EPROMs, and so far it works great. I also own a Wilhelm programmer, that frankly doesn't work for squat with the newer OSes. The only problem I see with the MiniPro, is there isn't a built in socket for TFQP chips. I'm sure a adapter board could be made. But I haven't seen any off hand, I also haven't looked. But provided that you have a adapter, it seems as though it is a very versatile programmer. I have only used it with EPROMs, but it can also program PICs and Atmel chips, EEPROMs and a couple other goodies. Seems to be a good overall design.

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It looks like the Mini Pro is the one to go with.... now about that cartridge...

 

I have a question for you Mole, do you plan to make a ready-to-download image for the Uber Cart?

 

252063042.jpg

 

Since your game looks to be part of the new class of programs, I think you'll be setting some standards here.

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Note that an image designed for the 512K Red Boards is what he was looking at, Omega--but you can burn an image designed for the Red Boards into the Flash PLCC chip on the UberGROM board and you'll be good to go. One note on the board you have--it doesn't have a green sticker in the open space below the PLCC socket, which means that the AM25LS07 on your board may not start up in the first or last bank (problematic if you plan to use it as a substitute for the Red Board, but perfectly fine if it has one of Gazoo's UberGROM images loaded on it, as the XB suites set the startup bank as part of the GROM power-up routine). I say may not start in first or last because that board was one I built before I started specially marking the boards that started that way (based on the type of jumpers on the board).

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Note that an image designed for the 512K Red Boards is what he was looking at, Omega--but you can burn an image designed for the Red Boards into the Flash PLCC chip on the UberGROM board and you'll be good to go.

 

Thanks for that valuable bit of knowledge. I wrote it down because my memory is not what it used to be. Actually the pictured board is NOT mine... I ripped that graphic off of Arcade Shopper's site. :grin:

 

I'm waiting to see "which way the wind blows" on standards. I've already determined that the Mini Pro will be my burner, but figured I'd go with one type of cartridge for simplicity and ease of use. The Uber Cart at this point appears to have the most "growing room" and seems readily available (at least at the moment). We'll see...

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Wouldn't a ROM-only image have to be able to start up in any bank, otherwise it wouldn't work after a reset?

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A hard (or soft) reset causes the 378 to revert to its default startup bank (most of the time, as I have seen a few resets that fail). I make sure that all chips on the 512K Red boards I build default to first or last bank--and I identify which of the UberGROMs do the same with a quarter-circle green sticker. I started it with them as a reminder to myself when doing testing, and decided it would be good to do it to all of them I built from then on to assist folks wanting to use them for standard ROM-only cartridges.

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And in answer to your question, Rasmus--it would be very good if the software was able to launch from any bank, as that would eliminate any potential problems due to minor differences in the hardware.

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I have a question for you Mole, do you plan to make a ready-to-download image for the Uber Cart?

 

Well... I don't want to put the cart before the horse (HAH! :D), but I'm toying with the idea of doing a real cartridge release in professional/commercial packaging if I can garner enough interest in it to offset the cost of doing a run of manuals, stickers, boxes, ... currently I think somewhere north of 50 preorders should be enough.

 

I'll definitely also release a ready-to-burn image, but I might wait until I've given preorders a chance. And as Ksarul pointed out, I'm looking to target the red 512k boards (which will be the minimum requirement), but it will work with the Ubergrom as well.

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If you don't want to go through all the nonsense and hassle of putting a header in every ROM bank use an ubergrom cart. Burn a 1284P chip for the Grom side using the files in this message. The little bit of GPL code will autostart, set the first ROM bank, and reset to the title screen - you won't even notice that it happened. Your ROM chip now only needs to have a header in the first bank to work, the way things should be. :)

 

Gazoo

 

Set ROM bank 1 - 128k Flash.bin

Set ROM bank 1 - EEprom.bin

 

 

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