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ralphb

The FinalGROM 99

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Some quick suggestions (I apologize if any of these are already in the FlashRom, I don't have one - been waiting for something like this! :) ):

 

- Being able to run the games a v2.2 refuses on a v2.2 would be fantastic!

 

- Support for cheat codes of some sort

 

- MESS rom format support

 

- Support for zipped files

 

- Maybe partner up with someone who could 3D print cart shells for them? It'd be extra cool if they looked as close as possible to an original TI cart. Maybe with a choice of black or grey to match the buyer's console?

Edited by CyberTaco

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Absolutely marvelous!
FinalGROM 99 sounds like a perfect name.

Of course I’d like one!

 

:? Do you have any reasonable suggestions for features?

Is it possible to preserve pin 2 PD0(RXD) from the microcontroller, to (optionally) connect it to a USB to UART converter.

 

post-41771-0-53256100-1484149846_thumb.jpg

That way it would become possible to transfer image files from the PC or MAC to the cartridges RAM. It would be a very nice and quick tool for development!

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The next steps will be to design the final board and get new PCBs. That done, I can send out some test boards. Note that updating the CPLD will require a JTAG cable, whereas the ATmega can be updated via SD card (at least that's the plan).

Do you have a spare pin on the 'XX8 uC? If you are interested, you could connect the 4 JTAG lines and offer a way to upgrade the CPLD The programming is dirt simple, (SPI interface, you can use the same lines as the SD card, just use a different slave select line for the CPLD). Even if you don't support it right now, you can lay the board out with it, and then add the support later...

 

If you are worrying about SMT and there is enough demand, drop me a line. I regularly machine assemble 50-100 board runs, and it's much easier to do it that way (and cheap, too). It's tough to justify in the 10-30 board range, but above that, it makes sense to machine assemble.

 

JIm

 

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So you can actually solder the CPLD by hand?

Sure, I do it all the time.

 

search for "drag and wick" on youtube.com tack the CPLD with some flux, let it dry for a few mins, drag the solder across, and then wick it off. Goes pretty fast once you get going and the final look is good.

 

Though it would seem 512kB is plenty (since you can only access it in 8K chunks, if there is a time to lobby for more RAM, now would be the best time. For $2.10 more, you can have 1MB in a format that is a bit easier to solder:

 

http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/alliance-memory-inc/AS6C8008A-45ZIN/1450-1189-5-ND/4499097

 

and that footprint will also support a 2MB SRAM:

 

http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/alliance-memory-inc/AS6C1608-55TIN/1450-1116-ND/4844184

 

If I might make a suggestion. I'd recommend laying out the footprint for the AS6C1608 TSOP2-44. The ISSI SRAM in that footprint is the same price as the 32 pin vTSOP being used now, and that would offer multiple options, or easy upgrade possibilities (or not, as the uses develop):

 

http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/issi-integrated-silicon-solution-inc/IS61WV5128EDBLL-10TLI/706-1147-ND/2799145

 

Jim

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So you can actually solder the CPLD by hand?

 

That would take some amazing talent, not to mention a great set of eyes and a steady hand.

Some people without all the expensive equipment have been known to use a lowly toaster oven. I cannot fathom doing it by hand.

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Can you share a bit the history til this prototype stage? Was there a lot of private communication going on, or did you work on this all on your own?

How is the compatibility with QI (v2.2) consoles?

- possibility to use all 8 groms from the board, when the 3 groms from the mainboard are removed (jumper?)

 

 

 

No, I did this entirely on my own. I guess it might seem aloof or something, but I simply enjoy figuring stuff out and finding solutions for difficult problems. Asking for help would be kind of cheating. But then of course I did rely big time on a lot of previous work by other people. Tursi's comments on GROMs given to somebody else were particularly helpful, and for a lot of other TI internals AtariAge had been a gold mine.

 

The FG will work with QIs just as other carts, i.e., ROMs won't. But then I think you could add a GROM wrapper around those images so that they'll show in the menu. The FG would make that easier.

 

I didn't dare to test GROM 0-2 yet, with or without the console GROMs present. Technically, they're supported, but I haven't tested what would happen.

 

Is it possible to preserve pin 2 PD0(RXD) from the microcontroller, to (optionally) connect it to a USB to UART converter.

That way it would become possible to transfer image files from the PC or MAC to the cartridges RAM. It would be a very nice and quick tool for development!

 

Can't say for now. Personally I find SD cards extremely comfortable and much preferred to cables, but sure, if it's not a big deal, why not? I'll get back to you about this idea.

 

So you can actually solder the CPLD by hand?

 

Yes, it's working quite well with a flat solder tip, although I did trash the first five boards (both by hand and with a small Chinese reflow oven).

 

Do you have a spare pin on the 'XX8 uC? If you are interested, you could connect the 4 JTAG lines and offer a way to upgrade the CPLD

 

If you are worrying about SMT and there is enough demand, drop me a line. I regularly machine assemble 50-100 board runs, and it's much easier to do it that way (and cheap, too).

 

Both sound great! I'll definitely get in touch with you!

 

- Being able to run the games a v2.2 refuses on a v2.2 would be fantastic!

- Support for cheat codes of some sort

- MESS rom format support

- Support for zipped files

- Maybe partner up with someone who could 3D print cart shells for them? It'd be extra cool if they looked as close as possible to an original TI cart. Maybe with a choice of black or grey to match the buyer's console?

 

Cheat codes would be a matter of modifying the images, as are ROM images for QI consoles. It's not a FinalCartridge (or whatever they were called) ... :)

 

MESS carts are just cart dumps, so they work. n fact, what you see in the video are unzipped MESS rpk's. Zipped files, however, cannot be supported, as there's simply not enough RAM to uncompress them. Maybe one could use uncompressed ZIPs, but I don't think it's really worth the effort.

 

Printed carts are kind of difficult, as could be seen with the FlashROM. But some people are very good at finding empty standard shells, and maybe they'll provide some for us.

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Though it would seem 512kB is plenty (since you can only access it in 8K chunks, if there is a time to lobby for more RAM, now would be the best time. For $2.10 more, you can have 1MB in a format that is a bit easier to solder:

 

Oh, now you're spoiling it! ;) I did indeed consider an upgrade to 1 MB for the final version, as my local supplier suddenly has a 1M x 8 IC in stock.

 

I only go the Digikey if I have to, as shipping is expensive, and I have to add an additional 19% sales tax onto the quoted prices.

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Oh, now you're spoiling it! ;) I did indeed consider an upgrade to 1 MB for the final version, as my local supplier suddenly has a 1M x 8 IC in stock.

 

I only go the Digikey if I have to, as shipping is expensive, and I have to add an additional 19% sales tax onto the quoted prices.

Hehe

 

Well, true, Farnell or some other supplier would be best for non-US sales. But, I would assume Alliance SRAM is available all over at competitive prices. The TSOP44-2 footprint offers many options. Your use case precludes this (you need CPLD access to the SRAM), but some folks may be interested that the AS6C8008 1MB SRAM is 5V, and the AS6C4008 is available in DIP format (DIP32), so lots of mega RAM options.

 

Sadly, beyond that, things get much more expensive and difficult (4MB is over $20.00USD, and most ICs are x16, not x8)

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But I'd like to stress that there's not that much space left in the CPLD, so I cannot realize every good suggestion here,

You’ve used the XC95144XL, but there’s also the XC95288XL. Pin compatible, but double macrocells.

 

If you need a beta tester, I have a Xilinx cable and IMPACT installed.

Setup:

Silver TI-99/4A with F18A and NanoPEB / speech combo.

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Ralph,

So there is a possibility of groms 0,1 & 2 being able to be replaced? If so, my Gram Kracker may finally be pulled out of the cart slot for some much needed rest. I have lots of gram files to try on your new cart.

Kudos to you on both of your carts.

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OMG, put me on the list when it is ready! I am always amazed by people with the talent to make something like this. The TI was my 1st computer and it is so much fun to be using it all these years later. I love my Flashrom 99!

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This work will definitely open a lot of opportunities to GPL developers. Sharing GPL applications will be more convenient and Ralph seems to mention that he opened the door for new apps to start using GRAM, I see endless possibilities. TI may revive in a big way with this single device.

 

Thanks Ralph B.

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Ralph is your menu a rom image or a grom? If the former it won't even load on a 2.2 console right?

 

Greg

 

 

No, I did this entirely on my own. I guess it might seem aloof or something, but I simply enjoy figuring stuff out and finding solutions for difficult problems. Asking for help would be kind of cheating. But then of course I did rely big time on a lot of previous work by other people. Tursi's comments on GROMs given to somebody else were particularly helpful, and for a lot of other TI internals AtariAge had been a gold mine.

 

The FG will work with QIs just as other carts, i.e., ROMs won't. But then I think you could add a GROM wrapper around those images so that they'll show in the menu. The FG would make that easier.

 

I didn't dare to test GROM 0-2 yet, with or without the console GROMs present. Technically, they're supported, but I haven't tested what would happen.

 

 

Can't say for now. Personally I find SD cards extremely comfortable and much preferred to cables, but sure, if it's not a big deal, why not? I'll get back to you about this idea.

 

 

Yes, it's working quite well with a flat solder tip, although I did trash the first five boards (both by hand and with a small Chinese reflow oven).

 

 

Both sound great! I'll definitely get in touch with you!

 

 

Cheat codes would be a matter of modifying the images, as are ROM images for QI consoles. It's not a FinalCartridge (or whatever they were called) ... :)

 

MESS carts are just cart dumps, so they work. n fact, what you see in the video are unzipped MESS rpk's. Zipped files, however, cannot be supported, as there's simply not enough RAM to uncompress them. Maybe one could use uncompressed ZIPs, but I don't think it's really worth the effort.

 

Printed carts are kind of difficult, as could be seen with the FlashROM. But some people are very good at finding empty standard shells, and maybe they'll provide some for us.

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