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Rolo

Multi-cartridge for Dragon/CoCo 2 available

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Hi Roland,

Just wanted to mention that I received the multicart for my Dragon Tano some weeks ago and it works great. Been enjoying lots of games.

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project update:

I just uploaded and ordered five different types of new/modified pcbs from China.

Hopefully the new pcbs are going to work. :ponder:

Soldering and heavy testing required, as soon as I have those.

:)

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project update:

 

I want to show you something: This weekend I had the opportunity to build some prototypes.

This is NEW: The Dragon Multi-cartridge is playing EPOCH Super Cassette Vision!

 

post-32856-0-33583600-1557099184_thumb.jpg post-32856-0-56130500-1557099205_thumb.jpg

post-32856-0-80868700-1557099217_thumb.jpg post-32856-0-40950500-1557099228_thumb.jpg

post-32856-0-55907700-1557099247_thumb.jpg post-32856-0-25435800-1557099945.jpg

 

It's working, still some unsolved problems with some 32k-roms. And not really tested, but promising.

In addition a new type of Dragon Multi-cart, which I will introduce, when it is tested and when I have the time for that.

I must interrupt work now for some time. :(

 

More to come ...

Roland

:)

 

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I'm still checking out, trying to find problems with the ram circuit and the new multi-cart. All regular 8/16/32k-games seem to be working, but I'm not satisfied to deliver in this state. It still need's some polishing! And time ... I keep on working ...

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I'm still alive... :waving:

Last weekend I finally had the chance to pull my stuff out of the boxes and do some testing. Well, the 8-16 prototype is working in principle, but somehow fragile and unstable. The consoles are crashing randomly. I don't know the reason(s) yet. Could be a bad contact, a faulty eprom a bad switch, a bad trace ... I have to figure this out before I really can go into reproduction. I'm considering to do another batch of the last Multi-Cart v1.6x, which has proved its functionality many, many times to gain some time to really finish the new type that way. Maybe I wanted to force it too quickly this time. I have lots of orders on my waiting list to serve and I can't at the moment. I'd really like to release some pressure.

:ponder:

 

 

 

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project update:

 

:party: Really slow, but still alive! I almost haven't got any time for retro-work. My situation hasn't changed much, but nevertheless I built new cartridges (type 8-16)! I'd really like to serve at least a few guys on the waiting list, if there should be any interest left. They've been on that list for quite a long time. Sorry!

 

NewMCs8-16.jpg.45f56e2dcb0c787175e4e8700a8c60c8.jpg

 

What's a 8-16 type?

The cartridge design is based on 8k memory blocks. As with the predecessor you can join two adjacent 8k-blocks to make a 16k-block for larger roms. And now, you can also split an 8k-block into an upper 4k-block and a lower 4k-block. This saves a lot of memory, if you are using the cartridge with older consoles, which mostly tend to use 2k and 4k-roms. A little bit more complicated to assemble the binary burn file for the eprom and a little more complicated to keep track of all of the rom-files "onboard", but a nice table of content helps in this regard.

 

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Hi cdoty,

 

Thanks for your interest! I'll put your name on my waiting list if you want and if you got time. It's a first come, first serve list and there are a few people on the list, who have been almost waiting forever. :)

As long as there are people interested, my plans are to just go on making cartridges. Hopefully there will be times, when I can throttle up the hobby again, like I used to do.

There is another cartridge waiting to be put out, based on 16k blocks for "newer" consoles using larger roms.

 

Best regards,

Roland

 

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Project update:

  • 10 Multi-Cart 8-16 built: ready
  • 10 Multi-Cart 16-32 still waiting to be built
  • 10 Super Cassette Vision Extensions still waiting to be built

Suddenly there are two types of Multi-Carts?

Yes, there’s the 8k based „8-16“, offering 64 8k memory blocks (512k eprom) and the 16k based „16-32“ offering 64 16k memory blocks (double size 1MB eprom chip).

Both cartridges are able to join two adjacent blocks to a single double-size block (8-16: 16k and 16-32: 32k) and both now are able to evenly split a block into a lower and an upper half  (8-16: 4k and 16-32: 8k).

 

What’s that good for?

Two different cartridge types better adapt to different console generations. Very old consoles (like INTERTON VC-4000, etc.) used small roms, maybe 2k/4k/8k whereas the next generation (VECTREX, SCV) needed larger ones like 8k/16k/32k. 

Storing two small roms into two 4k sub-blocks saves a lot of memory, instead of padding each of them to 8k and using full blocks. In theory, you could store 128  x 2k /4k roms in a 64 block 8-16 multi-cartridge. 

The illustrations show the concept for both types of cartridges:

SplitMCIllu8-16.thumb.jpg.a2dead292fbf097fd53ec92fe6767dff.jpg

SplitMCIllu16-32.thumb.jpg.8fc6cdb3afbab4f5d38a74a47206c367.jpg

How do I keep track of the rom-files? Isn’t that confusing?

Yes, it is more complicated than a fixed, equally spaced configuration. Compiling binary burn-files is more work, but it is not THIS COMPLICATED after all. A table of content is recommended, like the one in the following example. There is a compilation of 4k/8K/16k roms for 7 different systems on a single 8-16 cartridge:

1847906631_MultiCart8-16TOCExample.thumb.jpg.1eda775b0bfeef2a210cad0421ecc150.jpg

 

Is it complicated to operate the cartridge?

There are three switches on the cartridge. 

1. AUTO-START:  This one ONLY works for the DRAGON computer. Plugged into a different system it’s doing nothing.

2. BLOCK-SIZE 8k <-> 16k or 16k <-> 32k: That is doing the joining.

3. SPLIT lower <-> upper: This is doing the splitting and it is selecting which rom to start, the lower one or the upper one. 

 

What if I set some switch into the wrong position?

Nothing, You may launch the wrong rom or the processor might crash.

 

What about the SUPER CASSETTE VISION Extension?

All of the 21 8k/16k/32k roms I know of seem to be working flawlessly. Three 32k cartridges are using external cartridge RAM, which still is not working properly. “Pops & Chips” is working nevertheless, but without permanent storing capability, (which would require a battery anyway). I did not invest more time into this not relevant problem and I'll simply will not put a RAM-IC onto the pcbs. Real collectors who absolutely need to have those games, will buy original cartridges anyway. Multi-carts are just for checking out or occasionally play some games. They are no replacement for original hardware, boxes, manuals, artwork etc.

 

What about the waiting list?

It is still there. JAll the people, who have been contacting me during the last 12 months or so, still are registered and not forgotten. New people will be added. When all cartridges will be soldered, assembled and ready, I’m going to slowly process the list and address the people. I’ll ask if they still want to order or simply skip, which Extensions they want, the destination country for shipment to estimate DHL-shipping and a few things more.

:waving:

 

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Definitely looking forward to this for the SCV. I just picked up a system, and started looking into developing a game for it.

Edited by cdoty
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That system definitely could use some cool game titles! It's quite a powerful machine and can do a lot! Only sound seems to be a bit simplistic, as far as I remember. Unfortunately I think the game library is kind of childish, more kind of like Nintendo-Style. Yes, great idea, finally a new game for SCV! 👍👍👍

I wonder how many consoles might be out there?

 

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I located AS781.com, but it is a nightmare to use. I was able to modify the AS assembler to work with the SCV CPU. So far, I've only modified the EI and DI instructions. I think there may be a few others that will need modification.

But, the assembler does handle Enril's example code without any issues. And it creates a working rom, when combined with p2bin and a tool to pad the file. All testing is currently being done with Mame and occasionally eSCV. Getting it working on real hardware may take a bit of work.

 

I'm now working on a tool to convert a PNG to sprite and background sprite data. So far everything seems easy enough, based on a Google translation of Enril and Takeda Toshiya's document.

 

I'm thinking the game I will start with is a simple port and possible upgrade of Battle Vader, from the original Cassette Vision.

Edited by cdoty

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Good news. Maybe you found http://www.yaronet.com/topics/120607-yeno-super-cassette-vision-infos, too.

A french site, not surprising, regarding the fact that the console was mainly sold in France. Did they sell it in any other European country at all?

They are talking about using the "Macro Assembler AS V1.42" and they are referring to some HelloWorld example code on github.

Keep on working! 👍

 

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project update:

 

I've just finished making new hardware: 

  • Multi-carts 16-32
  • Super Cassette Vision Extensions 

newMC16-32.thumb.jpg.684d53390c8ea7bfd5977411188a2dbc.jpg

 

I'll do some testing and then start to process the waiting list, one after on ...

 

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On 11/15/2019 at 2:13 PM, Rolo said:

Good news. Maybe you found http://www.yaronet.com/topics/120607-yeno-super-cassette-vision-infos, too.

A french site, not surprising, regarding the fact that the console was mainly sold in France. Did they sell it in any other European country at all?

They are talking about using the "Macro Assembler AS V1.42" and they are referring to some HelloWorld example code on github.

Keep on working! 👍

 

No.. it never showed up on Google when I was searching. Thank you.

 

The BlockoS repo ended up answering a few of the questions I had, and I now have a very early version of the game. Currently only the player can be moved left and right.

image.png.81a038e394bb4dcd715dae7b473d7bb1.png

 

I haven't done any research on getting it working on real hardware. Given that most of the locations are memory mapped, it may not be an issue.

Cart.bin

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Impressive! You've done a big step to understand the system and you got something on the screen. Having a working development environment and a procedure is a great progress.

As soon as I get home and find the time, I'll burn the code into an eprom and check it on real hardware.

 

Best regards,

Roland

:)

 

Edited by Rolo

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project update:

 

Working through the waiting list.

Almost done!

 

Best regards,

Roland

:)

 

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project update:

Waiting list completed: some ordered, some cancelled and some did not respond anymore.

- Roland

:)

 

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Hi Technical-Chap,

All right. I switch to PM ok?

Best regards,

Rolo

:)

 

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