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First Spear

How about a ROM Light?

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We all remember some DOS-era computers that had a light that flickered with levels of CPU activity, disk activity, etc. I wonder what the technical possibility would be to have a kind of "LED shell" that could do something similar for the Intellivision? I'm thinking of a kind of cartridge shell with maybe an Arduino trinket and a watch battery inside, some kind of attachment (wire?) that would attach on one of cartridge address lines, with a LED or two mounted on top. Then open up an existing cart, place it in the "LED shell" and during play it would light up in certain conditions.

 

This isn't about commercial feasibility, just the tech and development angle... Would it be possible? I would love to have extra Christmas Lights on my Christmas Carol game! :)

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I remember discussing something similar with Joe Z. during the production of Christmas Carol. I also believe he was seriously talking about doing it back in CGE 2012 in a conversation with Seth from 8-Bit Weapon.

 

As I remember, it was technically feasible, though I am not a hardware guy, so I really don't know what's involved. It would be cool, though.

 

Perhaps intvnut would like to chime in on this?

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So far I haven't added this to any of my boards, simply because of cost constraints.

 

That said, the JLP04 boards (and future JLP05 boards) do export some GPIOs, and it wouldn't be hard to map those so that software can manipulate them. The current firmware actually exposes the high speed serial port. I don't have the design files handy right now (I'm at 35,000 feet over the desert), but I'm pretty sure I have a half dozen or so GPIOs exposed that could be interfaced to LEDs.

 

To actually drive an LED, you'd need an inverter/driver, I believe, since most LEDs draw around 20mA current, and the GPIOs on the MCU I use are good for 4mA. (They can go to 8mA when driving an LED directly.) Since that eats into the current budget for the LDO that feeds the MCU, it would be better to build a small daughtercard for the LEDs, and wire it to the GPIO points on the JLP04 boards.

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I'm not terribly interested in fancy output of anything, but I definitely would be up for a case/board that had a simple power LED on the cart.

 

Some early Famicom games had this, to make up for the lack of power indicator on the console itself. Sound familiar? :)

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