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jeremiahjt

RetroN 77

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I did notice some jitter when objects in games move horizontally - not at first, but this happens after a few minutes of game-play.

 

What I would like to see in a next release is support for the TV effects, like Composite, S-Video and Bad Adjust.

 

The former is vsync not enabled in software rendering mode (which this console is using). That would be fixed by using a newer version of Stella, where hardware acceleration and vsync is used.

 

The latter is a feature that came with newer versions of Stella; 4.x first had it, but 5.x is where it really shines.

 

So basically, you need Stella 5.x for all these things.

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Very minimalist in terms of part count. It looks like they had space for a second flash chip, but ultimately did not end up using it. The complex routing for the flash suggests that this is a two-layer board. I think their auto-router went a bit nuts there! In the unboxing video linked above I did see the heatsink on the bottom of the board but did not know whether it was for the main chip or something else.

 

Are Activision cartridge pins notably different from Atari cartridge pins? Different pitch, height? I know that Activision never protected their carts with the plastic shroud, so they may not work because their pins are more likely to suffer from corrosion and dirt.

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The former is vsync not enabled in software rendering mode (which this console is using). That would be fixed by using a newer version of Stella, where hardware acceleration and vsync is used.

 

The latter is a feature that came with newer versions of Stella; 4.x first had it, but 5.x is where it really shines.

 

So basically, you need Stella 5.x for all these things.

 

Ok, I guess the TV effects aren't the "Blargg TV effects" for OpenGL that were added in release 3.7 of Stella?

 

Reading this topic, it seems the CPU and GPU in the Retron 77 should be powerful enough to support Stella 5. But it's probably a lot of work getting SDL2 working on the machine...

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Are Activision cartridge pins notably different from Atari cartridge pins? Different pitch, height? I know that Activision never protected their carts with the plastic shroud, so they may not work because their pins are more likely to suffer from corrosion and dirt.

 

 

I believe the substrate in Activision carts tends to be thinner than in Atari manufactured games.

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Blargg effects are the ones, but as you state they require OpenGL, which this machine won't do until SDL2/Stella 5.x is ported to it.

The hardware is powerful enough; this is a strictly a software issue at this point. But it's really outside the domain of Stella, so someone else may need to help with getting it done.

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What I would like to see in a next release is support for the TV effects, like Composite, S-Video and Bad Adjust. Because when I play a game in Stella on my laptop, I always play games in Composite TV mode, as to me it feels much more like the real thing.

 

TV Effects were present in 3.7 and later versions of Stella-for-PC. Why are they not in the existing 3.7.5 Stella-for-Retron77?

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I just stated that above; they only worked in OpenGL mode (aka, hardware acceleration). And the R77 only supports software rendering. One of the main advantages of moving to SDL2 was that this split functionality in Stella (some features only work in certain renderers) was eliminated. In Stella 4.x and above using SDL2, all renderers required hardware support, and everything just works.

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Joystick design:

 

More praise that the form and design of the RetroN 77 joystick is spectacular!

Very comfortable, very useful long length cord, button on both top sides.

I would buy more than just one if the fixed one truly lives up to the "premium retro gaming" as printed on the box.

 

atGames sells their Flashback wired joysticks and wired paddles, and they are very decent.

Many buy Paddle Controllers from them just due to the fact they have new potentiometer parts that aren't old and dirty.

I haven't needed to buy any additional Joystick Controllers from them because the pairs I got from those systems still work.

 

I appreciate the rubber bottom pads, and I have a use for them, but just not for this style joystick that I used by holding it.

Atari themselves stopped putting rubber on the bottom. The XEGS Atari stick with the gray bottom never came with rubber feet.

You could drop rubber feet to save money in the fixed version.

 

I need and use rubber feet on controllers I use on a table. I look for ones to buy that have all 4 rubber feet.

For example, the 5 button Starplex controller with the 79 Atari Asteroids button layout is best used on a surface and needs to not slide around. Same with the Vectrex console's controller.

 

For small children I could picture them being shown how to use the RetroN 77 Controller on a coffee table, which is only possible if it doesn't slide around. They will soon try holding it as they will see everyone else using it that way.

 

Again, you could drop the rubber feet to save money.

 

Michael

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To me the whole point of this thing is to play your real carts (yes it's emulation and it's all smoke and mirrors) and as I've probably already mentioned in this thread - if I have to put half my collection on it as rom files on an SD card I don't see the point of the existence of this thing that differentiates it from a flashback. So I hope Hyperkin is watching this thread, and others like it, and taking notes and are actually working on fixing this dumper code. If it can't play some of the most popular and common carts it's a no go for me and I'll wait for a flashback 9. I can't imagine they didn't already know so many carts wouldn't work.

I second this. Minus the bit about the flashback 9. I'll hope and wait that the Polymega gets an Atari module instead and if their propaganda is to be believed, there shouldn't be any issue playing any Atari carts on that.

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Blargg effects are the ones, but as you state they require OpenGL, which this machine won't do until SDL2/Stella 5.x is ported to it.

 

The hardware is powerful enough; this is a strictly a software issue at this point. But it's really outside the domain of Stella, so someone else may need to help with getting it done.

 

I would rather have you work on the next version of Stella and continue to refine what many consider to be the gold standard for VCS emulation - instead of farting around with a commercial console.. The gents at Hyperkin are big boys with big boy pants. They can read the threads and make changes to the software as necessary all by themselves.

 

After all, they are familiar with that AllWinner stuff. And they already modified Stella - so they know how it works. AND they made cartridge dumping software on microcontroller! They are more than capable of releasing updates.

Edited by Keatah
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I'm glad I built my own out of real wood and arcade parts! No pics this time, sorry to disappoint all my fans out there... :grin:

I just want the plans and parts list. (No I havent tried looking yet) ;-)

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I would rather have you work on the next version of Stella and continue to refine what many consider to be the gold standard for VCS emulation - instead of farting around with a commercial console.

 

Yep, this is basically my plan. I wanted to get the latest 3.x version installed, and fix the joystick fire button bug. These are low-hanging fruit for me, and improve the end-user experience quite a bit.

 

After that is done, we will be creating a page containing pictures, tear-down information, hints on development, etc. There, I will explain the requirements for potentially getting Stella 5.x on this device, all the research I've done so far, etc. But then I will be leaving it to interested individuals, and getting back to Stella mainline development.

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Very minimalist in terms of part count. It looks like they had space for a second flash chip, but ultimately did not end up using it. The complex routing for the flash suggests that this is a two-layer board. I think their auto-router went a bit nuts there! In the unboxing video linked above I did see the heatsink on the bottom of the board but did not know whether it was for the main chip or something else.

 

Are Activision cartridge pins notably different from Atari cartridge pins? Different pitch, height? I know that Activision never protected their carts with the plastic shroud, so they may not work because their pins are more likely to suffer from corrosion and dirt.

They did put that green conductive grease on the contacts which was supposed to prevent oxidation, but over time it dried out and the resistance increased to the point where the cart pins do not make proper contact. This is especially true on freshly opened games. It takes some effort to get it all off. Avoid abrasives as you don't want to remove the gold layer. Also the congealed grease from the Activision carts can get in the cartrdige port and impede electrical function there too. Perhaps the original 2600 was more immune to this effect compared to the Retron?

 

Also does the Retron77 use proper voltage translators, or is it sending 3.3v high logic to the cart bus?

 

Kind of the reverse effect of this (as much as I hate linking that article):

https://db-electronics.ca/2017/07/05/the-dangers-of-3-3v-flash-in-retro-consoles/

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I just want the plans and parts list. (No I havent tried looking yet) ;-)

Basically you cut the wood panels, glue or screw it together, hole saws for the joystick and button, bits for the screw pilot holes (#8 screws and nuts should work for most sticks. Then hookup wire, solder, a 9-pin extension cable with optional male 9-pin Dsub (I use detachable extension cables on my builds), crimp connectors are optional for the microswitch lugs (you can also just solder to them), and obviously wire strippers, cutters, crimpers, soldering iron, and multimeter.

 

You will need the multimeter continuity tester to determine the pinout for the cable if the cable is to be permanently attached. Do not trust any color charts unless you test the pinout of the cable you are going to use yourself.

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You should make a separate thread featuring tools, tips, tutorials, and techniques, and host a Q&A session sort-of. I bet many folks would like tutorials on how to make high-quality sticks. And not just for the VCS.

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They did put that green conductive grease on the contacts which was supposed to prevent oxidation, but over time it dried out and the resistance increased to the point where the cart pins do not make proper contact. This is especially true on freshly opened games. It takes some effort to get it all off. Avoid abrasives as you don't want to remove the gold layer. Also the congealed grease from the Activision carts can get in the cartrdige port and impede electrical function there too. Perhaps the original 2600 was more immune to this effect compared to the Retron?

 

Also does the Retron77 use proper voltage translators, or is it sending 3.3v high logic to the cart bus?

 

Kind of the reverse effect of this (as much as I hate linking that article):

https://db-electronics.ca/2017/07/05/the-dangers-of-3-3v-flash-in-retro-consoles/

 

I think that the little chip where all the cartridge pins seem to go and the chip where the joystick inputs go to is a PIC microcontroller. Those kinds of microcontrollers are designed to operate at a wider range of voltages. I believe the CIC clones for the NES and SNES use similar chips and they are not limited to 5v or 3.3v operation.

 

I thought the Allwinner R77 would have sufficient RAM in its SoC to do what is required and that the firmware would be contained in a separate chip, but it turns out I was mistaken.

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I think that the little chip where all the cartridge pins seem to go and the chip where the joystick inputs go to is a PIC microcontroller. Those kinds of microcontrollers are designed to operate at a wider range of voltages. I believe the CIC clones for the NES and SNES use similar chips and they are not limited to 5v or 3.3v operation.

 

Close :) It is a Weltrend WT51F104S.

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You could drop rubber feet to save money in the fixed version.

 

I need and use rubber feet on controllers I use on a table. I look for ones to buy that have all 4 rubber feet.

For example, the 5 button Starplex controller with the 79 Atari Asteroids button layout is best used on a surface and needs to not slide around. Same with the Vectrex console's controller.

 

For small children I could picture them being shown how to use the RetroN 77 Controller on a coffee table, which is only possible if it doesn't slide around. They will soon try holding it as they will see everyone else using it that way.

 

I don't see rubber feet as a way to aid playing on the table, but rather for protecting the table when you set the controller down on it :)

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Yes, we thought it would be a good thing to release both dumper and controller source codes as well, in order to keep this project transparent and flexible.

 

But be aware that flashing microcontrollers (and doing anything outside the SD card sandbox - there is a good reason why we keep everything on it so that experimenting with your own builds wont damage anything) might potentially damage your system. You can easily and quickly reformat the SD card but restoring bricked MCUs is a different story, so proceed at your own risk.

 

Well be releasing the updated firmware with no limit to the amount of homebrew files as well soon.

 

Thanks for your support and feedback! :-)

Edited by AndrewHyperkin
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Well be releasing the updated firmware with no limit to the amount of homebrew files as well soon.

 

Thanks for your support and feedback! :-)

 

It might be a good idea to get my latest build of Stella 3.9.3 installed in this firmware, so everyone going forward will have the latest 3.x release. I hope to have it all complete by the end of the week. PM me for more details.

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Well be releasing the updated firmware with no limit to the amount of homebrew files as well soon.

 

Thanks for your support and feedback! :-)

Thank you for that! I was wondering where I was going to store all these Micro SD carts. :)

 

Now that I got all those Switch carts, I don't have much room left in my pocket.

Edited by SIO2
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