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Level42

Lynx Turbo Boost

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Wanted to share that I'm currently working on a new little project: Lynx Turbo Boost.

 

I had a Lynx with a mod that I found on the internet back in the 90's. The mod consisted of adding a 24Mhz crystal and a switch.

This way you could switch between normal speed (16Mhz) and turbo speed (24Mhz).

 

I remember that f.i. especially Pinball Jam became a LOT more fluent and fun to play (IMHO).

 

Since I have been drawn back to the Lynx by the SD card and McWill LCD, I have been playing much more games than I ever had and some are great but simply.....would be even better with a bit more speed....

F.i. Joust and Toki are games that IMHO need a bit more speed.

 

Now, adding a fixed crystal and a switch in 2018 would be a weird idea IMHO. The limits are clear:

- only two speed options

- can't switch "on the fly" (99 out of 100 times I tried the Lynx crashed because of switch bounce).

 

So, I was looking for a variable clock frequency. I already fumbled around with a clock generator that was controlled by a pot and that actually worked but had too many issues:

- you can never exactly set the original 16Mhz

- I could set it to speeds that it would crash (too fast) and some so slow that the screen would go black

- with the SD card, I found out that you need to load the game at 16 Mhz and could THEN change the speed, so an exact (default) 16 Mhz was really needed....(also for running games at exactly the original speed if you wanted...)

 

So.....I have dived into the wonderful world of Arduino for the first time and I'm happy to say that progress had come so far (just a few days, man learning C in my school days (while being an intern) surely paid off now ;) that I have a set-up that does the following:

 

- boots up at default 16Mhz

- features just a single button control

- everytime you press the button the frequency increases with 1Mhz

- when the frequency reaches 26Mhz it will wrap back to 14Mhz (yes 14, not 16....maybe someone will like to practice some games at slower speed)

- I'm 99% sure that this setting can be sone "on the fly", so while playing a game.

 

I first thought of using a turning encoder/push controller, but it would make things more complicated without any real need. Also, (right now) I think that 1Mhz steps will suit all wished. I remember the speed difference between 16 and 24 so I can estimate this will work nicely.

 

For now I have set this up with some "off the shelve" breakout board style Arduino stuff, but my aim is to develop a dedicated PCB to reduce parts and thus space.

 

I am still not sure wether to include a display or not. I now have a tiny (size of my thumbnail) OLED display which is really nice, but I'm not too confident if anyone is willing to hack this into his Lynx case. A single (tiny) button should be possible without a lot of hacking of the case.

 

What would be awesome is if we could send the frequency in two digits to the McWIll LCD so it blends in for a second or two when you change the setting.

 

I wonder if other Lynx users maybe interested in a finished product. The PCB will be very small and will replace the original 16Mhz crystal.

 

 

 

 

Now this all sounds very cool but.....and this is a big but......I know from my earlier pot-controlled clock experiments that the McWill LCD will allow only "so much" for going out of the regular clock speeds. However....IIRC this only happened at rather extreme settings, settings that I think are not realistic....but that will require more investigation :)

Edited by Level42
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Despite Sound, Comlynx and Display problems, why do you want to overclock it?

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Well I gave the reason in my initial posting.

 

I feel a number of games are in need of (a bit) more speed.

 

F.I.:

Joust is a very good conversion from the arcade, but it feels laggy compared to it (I used to own a Joust machine, so I know). It would be better with a bit of extra speed.

 

Toki is another game that would become just a bit more fluent with some extra speed.

 

Those are games that I never had before, so I dont know how they play at 24Mhz like I had with the second crystal, but I do clearly remember that Pinball Jam became a LOT more fun with it. Other games simply became too fast thats why it is great that you will be able to increase the speed in small steps.

 

You can learn and adjust what you like...

 

Yes the sound speeds up too, that is something youll have to accept..

 

I have no idea about what happens to Comlynx but (sadly) I cant remember that I have Comlynxed with anyone....even so, I think if you would have two Lynxes at the same overclokced speed it would probably be fine.

 

Display problems should be OK as I mention, it is only when hitting unplayable extreme speeds that McWills screen cant cope anymore. Even so, I may be able to solve that too as the mod Im creating is capable of producing two completely independent clock frequencies. So maybe the McWill can be overclocked a bit too, but that would be a second step.

 

The original screen, by the way it is controlled by the Lynx hardware, can handle 24Mhz easily, as I mentioned I had this hack back in the late 90s....no McWill screens were in existence then....

Edited by Level42

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Breadboard is working.....getting the correct frequencies, can select them with one button. LCD displays frequency, but sadly in a tiny font. Bigger fonts are almost impossible because of memory restrictions....there's only 8K in the tiny controller...

 

Next step is hooking up a real Lynx and see how it runs :)

 

Will make a video of that part :)

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Thanks. I've been trying to get my Lynx running with the generated signal...and apart from a few near-boots it doesn't seem to work. I wonder if it has something to do with the resistors that are configured around the crystal on the Lynx...we keep going ;)

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Sounds an interesting project, but personally I wouldn't bother - too much risk to a shorter life of Mikie and Suzy. Faster = more heat. Is it really worth it for a performance boost? It's a bit different on an ST or Amiga etc where CPUs can be easily replaced if they do fail, and you dont need to overclock the rest of the system.

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This is a project I may play with too, keep us informed on your progress!

 

I love modding. I'm currently playing with a Nintendo Switch. So far I've just had a custom paint job done and hacked it so that I can get some emulators running on it (Handy among others ;) ). Some of the emulators are rather taxing so I'm planning on overclocking it. Of course with over clocking there are heat issues so I'm working on a number of cooling mods to preempt the heat issues before I over-clock. Cooling fan on the dock, 3-d printed duct to get cooler air to the Switch, new thermal paste including some liquid metal in key areas, and maybe some case modding (drill some holes basically) to get better airflow.

 

I wonder if any kind of cooling mod would make sense with an over-clocked Lynx?

Edited by MrBland

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I rememeber from the 24Mhz mod that I could feel absolutely zero difference in heat on both Suzy and Mikey.

 

However, I knew this would be asked and I already planned on actually measuring the differences...but I doubt iw will be much....if any.

 

But first need to get it working. Somehow the generated clock frequency seems to simply be ignored by Mikey.....even at 16Mhz

....

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This is a project I may play with too, keep us informed on your progress!

 

I love modding. I'm currently playing with a Nintendo Switch. So far I've just had a custom paint job done and hacked it so that I can get some emulators running on it (Handy among others ;) ). Some of the emulators are rather taxing so I'm planning on overclocking it. Of course with over clocking there are heat issues so I'm working on a number of cooling mods to preempt the heat issues before I over-clock. Cooling fan on the dock, 3-d printed duct to get cooler air to the Switch, new thermal paste including some liquid metal in key areas, and maybe some case modding (drill some holes basically) to get better airflow.

 

I wonder if any kind of cooling mod would make sense with an over-clocked Lynx?

 

There will be millions more Nintendo Switches to use as parts donors years from now so definitely feel free to overclock it. That's not the case with the Lynx. You'd be better off figuring out how to get a faster 6502 installed in it. Or...a 65816.

 

Remember, Epyx/Atari went with the 6502 because at the time, the Motorola 6809, the Motorola 68000, and the WDC 65816 didn't have as liberal of licenses available for customized cores as the 6502 did [and always had].

Edited by Lynxpro

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On 6/7/2018 at 12:56 AM, Level42 said:

I rememeber from the 24Mhz mod that I could feel absolutely zero difference in heat on both Suzy and Mikey.

 

However, I knew this would be asked and I already planned on actually measuring the differences...but I doubt iw will be much....if any.

 

But first need to get it working. Somehow the generated clock frequency seems to simply be ignored by Mikey.....even at 16Mhz

....

That is a cool project! Did you ever get it to work? I guess it wouldn't fit inside the Lynx.

 

Was just reading my own comments from eighteen years ago, because I was showing off my Lynxes, including the overclocked one (20Mhz) at an Atari event last weekend. Forgot that mine didn't work at 24Mhz. Maybe I should try to repair my dead Lynx, if possible, as that one apparently did go to 24Mhz. The internet is a handy place to store your memory.

 

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On 5/28/2018 at 12:59 AM, Level42 said:

Well I gave the reason in my initial posting.

 

I feel a number of games are in need of (a bit) more speed.

 

F.I.:

Joust is a very good conversion from the arcade, but it feels laggy compared to it (I used to own a Joust machine, so I know). It would be better with a bit of extra speed.

 

Toki is another game that would become just a bit more fluent with some extra speed.

 

Those are games that I never had before, so I dont know how they play at 24Mhz like I had with the second crystal, but I do clearly remember that Pinball Jam became a LOT more fun with it. Other games simply became too fast thats why it is great that you will be able to increase the speed in small steps.

 

You can learn and adjust what you like...

 

Yes the sound speeds up too, that is something youll have to accept..

 

I have no idea about what happens to Comlynx but (sadly) I cant remember that I have Comlynxed with anyone....even so, I think if you would have two Lynxes at the same overclokced speed it would probably be fine.

 

Display problems should be OK as I mention, it is only when hitting unplayable extreme speeds that McWills screen cant cope anymore. Even so, I may be able to solve that too as the mod Im creating is capable of producing two completely independent clock frequencies. So maybe the McWill can be overclocked a bit too, but that would be a second step.

 

The original screen, by the way it is controlled by the Lynx hardware, can handle 24Mhz easily, as I mentioned I had this hack back in the late 90s....no McWill screens were in existence then....

But won't this just produce the same lack of fluidity but just running too fast?

IOW, aren't these programs designed to run flat out. They are not locked to something else. You don't get more frames, you get the same number of frames, but running too fast (like if you sped it up by 3x, 3 computer seconds would pass for each "real" second out here in the world and that would lead to still having choppy animation, just 3 times as fast as real time).

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8 hours ago, christo930 said:

But won't this just produce the same lack of fluidity but just running too fast?

IOW, aren't these programs designed to run flat out. They are not locked to something else. You don't get more frames, you get the same number of frames, but running too fast (like if you sped it up by 3x, 3 computer seconds would pass for each "real" second out here in the world and that would lead to still having choppy animation, just 3 times as fast as real time).

Yes, that is correct. The interesting thing would be to make game/demos for an overclocked Lynx. Or even just add an option that would improve visuals/audio. On the other had I was wondering how much work it would be to fix existing games for higher clock speeds, like adjusting audio and timer frequencies and framerates (maybe even the Comlynx baudrate, if possible). If you could achieve that, you could get games to run much more smoothly without unwanted side-effects.

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Sadly I never got my set up to work, and now I lack so much time.....

 

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3 minutes ago, Level42 said:

Sadly I never got my set up to work, and now I lack so much time.....

 

Ah, that's a shame. I hope you'll get time to tinker again soon.

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1 minute ago, Lamer Deluxe tm said:

Ah, that's a shame. I hope you'll get time to tinker again soon.

Honestly, if I do find some time I will use it to finally get production of AntiX going...which is an idea I did get to work successfully.... (A8 stuff)

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9 hours ago, Level42 said:

Honestly, if I do find some time I will use it to finally get production of AntiX going...which is an idea I did get to work successfully.... (A8 stuff)

I can totally understand that. Your Antix website is not working BTW.

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