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Exotic carts: id please?

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If you have a multimeter available, at least you could check for 0 Ohm between pins, which I believe would be an indication of which pins are ground pins.

 

I could try that. Specifically what would I do with it?

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My understanding - and this could be entirely wrong, mind you - is that if you set the multimeter to measuring resistance, you will get infinite resistance as long as the probes are not shorted. You will get a few Ohm resistance if electricity is going through a number of components - e.g. integrated circuit - inside the cartridge. You should likely get 0 Ohm if you have two ground pins that simply connect inside. I'm thinking that if there is one signal that appears multiple time on a cartridge bus, it tends to be the ground. Thus, if my line of thinking is correct, if you put the probes on pins 1+2 and move one probe one pin away until you get 0 Ohm, you may have found two ground pins. If you find nothing on first iteration, start from pins 2+3 etc.

 

For instance the MSX would have ground on pins 41 and 43 (two adjacent pins on the upper side) while the SMS would have ground on pins 19, 21 (upper side) and 32 (lower side).

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My understanding - and this could be entirely wrong, mind you - is that if you set the multimeter to measuring resistance, you will get infinite resistance as long as the probes are not shorted. You will get a few Ohm resistance if electricity is going through a number of components - e.g. integrated circuit - inside the cartridge. You should likely get 0 Ohm if you have two ground pins that simply connect inside. I'm thinking that if there is one signal that appears multiple time on a cartridge bus, it tends to be the ground. Thus, if my line of thinking is correct, if you put the probes on pins 1+2 and move one probe one pin away until you get 0 Ohm, you may have found two ground pins. If you find nothing on first iteration, start from pins 2+3 etc.

 

For instance the MSX would have ground on pins 41 and 43 (two adjacent pins on the upper side) while the SMS would have ground on pins 19, 21 (upper side) and 32 (lower side).

Some carts also tie various pins together. NES does this for mirroring for instance. Just because two pins read zero ohms between them does not necessarily mean it is a ground. That said, Ground and VCC are generally (but not always) found near the outer edges of cart connectors.

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It is worth a try at least. Of course careful lifting of the label and unscrewing one may provide far more details, when we see what is inside. If it is a pirate of some kind, I don't expect much writing on the PCB anyway but unless it is an epoxy blob, we might get a part number on the IC(s).

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While it doesn't answer the original question, I just learned that the Korean computer Tommycom from Koryo Systems, which to most part appears to be a Sord/CGL M5 clone, uses cartridges that are 2x22 pins and thus much narrow and incompatible with actual M5 cartridges. That is more close to C64 & Intellivision sized cartridges. I post it in this thread in case someone is documenting all different cartridge sizes ever made.

 

http://zecca.tistory.com/185

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I would still spend a few minutes with a multimeter as I suggested in post #52 above, if nothing else but to rule out the MSX and SMS possibilities. Trying to open them up might result in more damage to the cartridges than we'd gain by seeing the PCB inside.

 

The other year I read about some obscure Chinese system from the same era, possibly a clone but with its own cartridges physically incompatible with anything else known outside of China. I don't remember the exact details, but likely there exists more oddball and clone systems than the combined community have documented. Though it would raise the question why they put titles in English if it would be games for a domestic Chinese console. Then again perhaps if it existed in Taiwan or Hong Kong, it would make sense to have labels in English.

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Super necro bump, but sometimes the thought of these three cartridges come back haunting me from the subconscious. Since we went through pretty much every console and computer known to mankind without finding an obvious match, it is somewhat of an unsolved mystery still. Visually they resemble Taiwanese bootlegs but pin count and titles are no good matches. I wonder if it ever will be solved.

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I never figured these out. I think of them occasionally. Obviously they are from a clone system of some kind, but it remains unclear. Something General Instruments chipset.

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Hm, how did you conclude that it would be based on GI? I don't know the entire catalog but apart from those Pong-on-a-chip, the PC-50x series, the Intellivision and of course the AY sound chip seen in many systems, I don't know what else GI supplied chips to. Also it if would be a clone, it would mean there is an original system that mostly matches the spec. However there are examples of clones that have different cartridge pinouts than the original (e.g. today I revisited the Koryo TommyCom which is a Korean clone of the Sord M5/GoldStar FC-150 but with cartridges that rather resemble C64/Intellivision/CreatiVision than being real M5 cartridges).

 

If you still have them, I still think probing for ground pins (post #52) might work, though I haven't tested it myself to verify that is a working method.

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General Instruments had the SD-0X0 and the SD-200 console lines based on their chipsets. Responsible for a dozen or more generic looking branded consoles around the world, and much fewer with SD-200.

 

Or it could be 1292 like Acetronic, based on the Signetics 2650 and chipset. I think I compared the contact spacing and it didn't match up with anything, but I should revisit at some point. 

 

It would be really weird to be a clone of anything more sophisticated. 

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I had another another look. Your carts have 2x25 pins.

 

Arcadia family:

Arcadia 2001: 2x15
MPT-03, Palladium, Ormatu: 2x22 (all different pinouts)

 

1292 APVS family:

Acetronic: 2x16
VC-4000, Voltmace/Videomaster 1292 APVS: 1x31
Teleng TCS (1292 APVS): near infinite number of pins 🙂

 

SD families:

PC-50x (Soundic SD-050/070/090): 2x18
Soundicvision SD-200, Hanimex HMG-7900 (also Rollet Video-Color, ITMC SD-290): 2x22

PC-501 Superstar (AY-3-8610): 22 pins (seen on Wikipedia)

 

The graphic style on the SD-200 carts are similar to yours but three pins too few.

 

Other systems:

Tomy Tutor: 18 pins
Bally Astrocade: 26 pins

 

TI-99/4A: 18 pins

TRS-80 CoCo: 20 pins

VIC-20, C64: 2x22 (but different pin spacing)

SG-1000: 2x22 (close but no cigar)

MSX, SMS: 2x25 (right number of pins, but odd cartridge shape)

Philips VG-5000: 2x25 (not sure if this one ever used cartridges for games, though it has a slot)

 

Previously we speculated it would be a Taiwanese SMS clone, but why bother with a different form factor when everyone else just cloned Sega as it was?

 

I mean by this point we have dug rather deep. Even if some of the outer pins on your cartridges are not connected, most systems have a connector with stops in the end so a wider cartridge can't fit.

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While it would be unlikely i just checked and the orbit/grandstand videomaster is also 22x2 pinout.

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Nice. This info (preferably with pinouts) should have a central place somewhere. However in the case of Ianoid's cartridges, those have 25 pins so all the 22 pin variants we find (it seems to be a very common number of pins, perhaps due to some industry standard connectors?) would not fit the bill in any case. It the opposite of Cinderella's glass slipper, or maybe in this case it would be "Bigfoot Cinderella" who was found on the stairs and now we're looking for a shoe big enough for her feet.

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Ah, thats right. For some reason i was thinking the original ones were 22.

These are just so odd. The cooper art, the atari shell the weird ponout that sticks out far.

Truly a mystery these are.

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For that matter, I double checked the Sord M5 where I count to 2x28 pins, and looking at the Koryo Tommycom clone, it appears to have 2x22 pins. We still have MSX and SMS in the middle at 2x25 though as I mentioned, every pirate seemed to be able to source proper shells (at least on the MSX side, I'm unsure how SMS pirates look like) so unless the unnamed Taiwanese manufacturer had a huge surplus of Atari 2600 style cartridge shells once they shifted to making games for other systems, it makes little sense to cram those PCBs into the shells.

 

Also, SMS seems like a later era (Oct 1985 in Japan, June 1986 in the US) for that kind of artwork and nondescript names?

Edited by carlsson

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