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Why does Penguin Adventure not work on some CV systems?

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I know OpCode has plans to fix the incompatibility issue in the next run of Penguin Adventure. Has anyone isolated the cause of why Penguin Adventure does not work on some ColecoVisions, such as specific board or mods?

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So there is a fix? If so, then the reason must be known. I would like to get mine fixed.

 

plans to fix (once he finds it) is what I meant. I don't know if they found a fix or not.

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While you're waiting for Opcode to reply, I can at least give you an update on what I know. Sorry this is a very long post but I want to provide all of the details that I know in the hope that this may allow others to suggest solutions / help troubleshoot the problem.

When the problem was first highlighted by NIAD way back on Christmas Eve 2016, I subsequently tested my Penguin Adventure cart with my first run SGM on three of my consoles with the following results:

  • Modded NTSC (F18A, Pause, Intro Skip BIOS) - game keeps resetting
  • Modded NTSC (Component Video, Pause, Intro Skip BIOS) - game works
  • Stock UK PAL - game works

In the meantime, NIAD reported that he had found that the game worked for him when he pressed down on the cartridge but would immediately reset if he took his hand off the cart. I tried this technique on my problem console with no success. I then tried inserting the cart at many slight angles off of vertical, at varying depths of insertion as well as holding it gently forward and back, all of which with no success. It was suggested by Bmack36 that the cart shell may be preventing the cart PCB from going all the way down into the CV cart connector. This led to me agreeing with Opcode to cut the label on my cart (which he would replace), dismantle it, and try inserting the bare PCB into the cart slot. I did this, again with no success, even trying loads of different slight angles off of the norm. So, I really find it hard to believe that the problem is down to loose CV cart connections or the cart PCB dimensions not being quite right as some suggested (although my tests were hardly scientific so I could easily still be proven wrong).

I discussed this further with Opcode and agreed to send him the motherboard from my problem CV as well as my Penguin Adventure cart to have its label replaced. These were sent to Opcode at the beginning of May 2017. Over the following year I had occasional contact with Opcode who noted that my board had been "heavily" modded and that my F18A was still on the original v1.3 firmware. He replicated the problem of the game resetting regardless of whether it had my F18A (v1.3 firmware) or Opcode's F18A (firmeware v1.7) installed and so at least Opcode now had a problem board to test and track-down the cause. I don't know what tests Opcode conducted over the past year but he never did find the source of the problem.

In February this year, Opcode suggested that he could send my board to some guys in Brazil as they would say for sure what is happening, but that would take a long time and involve some risks. His second best option was to take the board to a guy he knows in Boston. But, at this stage I just wanted my board back as it was my main gaming CV and I was missing my weekly gaming sessions. Opcode proposed sending me his F18A modded board as Penguin Adventure worked on that and he would keep mine for further testing. I agreed to this and received his board, with my F18A, back last week.

The board I received was a little dirty so I gave it a good clean with isopropyl alchohol, including the cart slot and expansion connections, and let it dry thoroughly. I hooked it all up, inserted my newly labelled Penguin Adventure cart and first run SGM and turned it on. Then, my heart sank, as soon as the demo got to the cave gameplay section it immediately reset and went into the same demo/reset loop that it was doing with the board I sent to Opcode. This is just totally bizarre and has confused Opcode and myself as Opcode reported that Penguin Adventure was working with this board before he sent it to me.

 

So what changed? Goodness knows. The only differences between my setup and Opcodes were as follows:

  • Power supply
  • Controller
  • SGM
  • F18A (firmware version)

So, I did tests to try and see if one of these, or other issues, were causing the problem.

 

Power Supply

 

I tried two different power supplies, one from my original UK PAL CV and the other from a Canadian NTSC CV. The problem occurred regardless of which power supply I used. To eliminate the power switch, I soldered jumper wires across the switch but this didn't solve the problem. I also double-checked that Penguin Adventure still worked on my other two CVs using both of these power supplies and it does indeed still work. I also measured the no-load and under-load voltages from my Canadian power supply connected to my problem NTSC board with the following results:

 

post-5757-0-97084500-1532894055_thumb.png

 

Opcode and I agree that the power supply does not seem to be the issue.

 

Controller

 

This was an easy test, I simply removed my controller and tried the game without any controllers plugged in. The problem still occurs.

 

SGM

 

I own a first run SGM and now also a fourth run SGM. The problem occurs irrespective of which SGM I use. I also tested the game with both SGMs on my other two CVs and the game works in all cases. Phattyboombatty reported that the game worked with his first gen SGM, imstarryeyed reported that the game worked with his second gen SGM and Oldschool80skid reported that the game worked with his third gen SGM. Impressions are that the problem is independent of which run of SGM that you use. However, the waters are muddied by the fact that evg2000 reported that using, and I really hate to say it, a Juicebox instead of an SGM worked for him. Also, Lucky Man reported that using his third run SGM instead of his second run SGM mostly solved the problem.

 

So, the SGM could well be a contributing factor.

 

F18A

 

There have already been quite a few reports from people who have F18A modded CVs and have no issues with playing Penguin Adventure (e.g. here and here). Nevertheless, I put in an original VDP into my F18A modded CV and tested the game on my TV using RF. Got exactly the same resetting issue as I did when the F18A was installed and I was using its VGA output. So, the F18A is not the problem.

 

Electrolytic Caps

 

One train of thought seems to be that the combo of the SGM and the Penguin Adventure cart is pushing the CV system hardware to its limits. If this is the case then I have wondered if the old electrolytic caps on the problem CV boards are somehow dropping out of factory spec when placed under these heavy load conditions. To this end I have ordered replacement caps for my problem CV and will replace them to see if this makes any difference. I'll report back here with the results, hopefully later next week.

 

Cart Connector

 

I have inspected the cart connector on my problem CV under strong magnification and spotted that one of the connections is a little bent and skewed off to one side (by a fraction of a millimetre). Although the connection is only a tint bit bent and skewed it looks glaring obvious under strong magnification. Could this be the problem? I'm doubtful as this is the board the Opcode sent to me and was working for him. That said, I believe I have some spare new cart connectors stored away and will consider changing the cart connector if it seems to be really necessary (not happy about having to drill out the rivets).

 

Dirty Connections

 

I have thoroughly cleaned both the cart connector and the expansion port connector with isopropyl alchohol and this made no difference. I subsequently also used deOxit and this also made no difference.

 

Code

Opcode did also mention to me that "another option is to try to figure out what point exactly the code is crashing. It might be bank switch related, because it always happens during stage setup. If he could figure out what Penguin does that Gradius doesn’t, he could change the code to try to avoid overloading the CV power supply (assuming it is indeed an electrical issue)."

AA Members Reporting The Problem

 

The following are the AA members that I have found who reported the problem in the main Penguin Adventure thread:

NIAD

Ikrananka
Lucky Man *

Oldschool80skid

Electric Adventures

evg2000

 

* Of great interest is that Lucky Man reported that Yurkie completed a console refurbishment for him and this solved his Penguin Adventure problem.

 

Possibly The Problem

  • Cart PCB length/thickness
  • Loose/worn/dirty cart connector or misaligned with cart
  • Expansion port connectors worn/dirty or misaligned with SGM
  • SGM
  • Failing electrolytic caps
  • Penguin Adventure code

Not The Problem

 

I'm convinced that the following are NOT the source of the problem.

  • BIOS version
  • Power Supply
  • F18A (or other video mods)
  • Most other common mods (the problem has occurred on stock CVs)
  • Connected controller(s)

Way Forward

 

For me personally, I'm going to do the following:

  • Replace the electrolytic caps with new ones
  • Replace the cart connector (if absolutely necessary)
  • Discuss further with Opcode and hope he comes up with the solution
Edited by Ikrananka
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My money's on bankswitching timing - either program fix or board fix

 

What sort of board fix do you think would work in this case?

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I remember some cartridge PCBs (from another homebrew game) use dual traces on single pin for initial cart programming reasons. Does Opcode PCBs do that? Can you post a high resolution picture of both sides of Opcode's cart PCB?

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I remember some cartridge PCBs (from another homebrew game) use dual traces on single pin for initial cart programming reasons. Does Opcode PCBs do that? Can you post a high resolution picture of both sides of Opcode's cart PCB?

 

Some of my boards use a dual trace. After that issue, though, I made sure the two halves are shorted so they act as one.

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While you're waiting for Opcode to reply, I can at least give you an update on what I know. Sorry this is a very long post but I want to provide all of the details that I know in the hope that this may allow others to suggest solutions / help troubleshoot the problem.

 

 

 

Thanks for the thorough update.

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it may sound silly , but did you try to plug your console in another place? or At a Friend location for instance?

 

I don't know if you use "multi-plug" (not sure how you call that in U.S ) , but also try to plug directly the console in that case not thru the "multi-plug".

 

Could be simply an issue directly with your electric installation.

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I remember some cartridge PCBs (from another homebrew game) use dual traces on single pin for initial cart programming reasons. Does Opcode PCBs do that? Can you post a high resolution picture of both sides of Opcode's cart PCB?

 

There are no dual traces on the Opcode PCBs.

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it may sound silly , but did you try to plug your console in another place? or At a Friend location for instance?

 

I don't know if you use "multi-plug" (not sure how you call that in U.S ) , but also try to plug directly the console in that case not thru the "multi-plug".

 

Could be simply an issue directly with your electric installation.

 

Well, I'll try anything so I did. I moved my monitor and problem board down to my basement and tried it with the monitor and board plugged directly into different wall sockets (no "multi-plugs" although the wall sockets I used are on the same power circuit). No difference - the game still resets. I also then tried my UK power supply, via a 110V to 220V power converter, tried that but still with no luck - the game still resets. This basement room is also where I tested my UK PAL stock console with the same UK power supply/converter setup and the game works with that - so using this power circuit and source the game works with my UK console but not with problem NTSC console/board.

 

I believe this should eliminate the power source, and where it's plugged in, as a possible cause.

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UPDATE:

 

So, I replaced four electrolytic capacitors (C3, C16, C34 and C36), that are accessible on the board without removing the RF daughterboard, with new ones. Unfortunately, this made no difference to the Penguin Adventure resetting issue. Not surprising really as C3 had already been replaced by a previous owner and the other three, I believe, are associated with the video sub-system which in this case has been bypassed by the F18A.

 

The remaining electrolytic caps on the board are under the RF daughterboard and are associated with that system so I'm going to leave them as-is as I'm not using RF for video out.

 

It was a long shot, but doesn't look like the electrolytic caps are the problem.

 

This leaves the following as the way forward:

  • Replace the cart connector. As this involves removing rivets I'd rather not do this unless this is clearly the issue. Seeing as ALL other carts I have tested work okay I'm not convinced the actual cart connector is the problem.
  • Follow up with 5-11under regarding his suggestion that this is down to bankswitch timing.
  • Update Opcode and request he investigate further.
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UPDATE:

 

So, I replaced four electrolytic capacitors (C3, C16, C34 and C36), that are accessible on the board without removing the RF daughterboard, with new ones. Unfortunately, this made no difference to the Penguin Adventure resetting issue. Not surprising really as C3 had already been replaced by a previous owner and the other three, I believe, are associated with the video sub-system which in this case has been bypassed by the F18A.

 

The remaining electrolytic caps on the board are under the RF daughterboard and are associated with that system so I'm going to leave them as-is as I'm not using RF for video out.

 

It was a long shot, but doesn't look like the electrolytic caps are the problem.

 

This leaves the following as the way forward:

  • Replace the cart connector. As this involves removing rivets I'd rather not do this unless this is clearly the issue. Seeing as ALL other carts I have tested work okay I'm not convinced the actual cart connector is the problem.
  • Follow up with 5-11under regarding his suggestion that this is down to bankswitch timing.
  • Update Opcode and request he investigate further.

 

Apparently, as you said, a non-working console that was sent to Yurkie for refurbishing came back working, even though he replaced nothing in the console. What was the refurbishing? Something like polishing contacts and some kind of full-board detox-it soak, follow by de-ionized water rinse, followed by 91% alcohol rinse, followed by continuity checks and possible contact/ trace repair?

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Sorry, I hadn't seen this topic until today. What I am going to do is, I am going to do some testing with the Penguin code, to see if I can fix the issues by just changing some bank switching. If it still doesn't work, I will send everything to the guys in Brazil, since I will have to send them a bunch of stuff soon. They will figure that out for sure.

 

I stil have to read the whole thing, but has anyone tried different Penguin cartridges? Recently I swapped CV PCBs with Ikrananka. My PCB was working with Penguin just fine, and was used during beta testing. Now that PCB also crashes with Penguin. SGM and Penguin were different, although I am pretty sure I tried his Penguin as well before adding a new label to it. Anyways, just wanted to make sure someone has tried different Penguins so we can rule out that option too.

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Albert sent NIAD another Penguin Adventure cart to test and NIAD reported that both had the same problem.

 

Great to hear than you're checking to see if there's a software fix and also that you're going to send the board to the guys in Brazil.

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Apparently, as you said, a non-working console that was sent to Yurkie for refurbishing came back working, even though he replaced nothing in the console. What was the refurbishing? Something like polishing contacts and some kind of full-board detox-it soak, follow by de-ionized water rinse, followed by 91% alcohol rinse, followed by continuity checks and possible contact/ trace repair?

 

Yeah, no idea exactly what Yurkie does. I did PM him and asked if he replaces anything during a normal refurbishment but I haven't heard back from him yet.

Edited by Ikrananka

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Not sure if game works on mutli-cart, but perhaps its worth a try

The MaxFlash Cart Dumper does not support the Cart PCB that is used by Penguin Adventure and Gradius. If a good rom dump is made available, the AtariMax Ultimate SD Cart's firmware would have to be updated in order to support this new Cart PCB.

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Albert sent NIAD another Penguin Adventure cart to test and NIAD reported that both had the same problem.

 

Great to hear than you're checking to see if there's a software fix and also that you're going to send the board to the guys in Brazil.

Opcode... this is correct. Albert sent me a replacement P.A. cart and it did not work on my main CV system that is heavily modded. I had to keep downward pressure on the top of both P.A. carts for them to work properly. All other carts, including Gradius, work flawlessly on this modded CV.

 

Both carts worked perfectly on a stock CV and ADAM Computer.

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Just to chime in here, has anyone been taking note of the Colecovision board revisions?

 

My board is rev H2. Working fine with all Opcode games, oldest and latest SGM production units. F18A modded.

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Just to chime in here, has anyone been taking note of the Colecovision board revisions?

 

My board is rev H2. Working fine with all Opcode games, oldest and latest SGM production units. F18A modded.

 

I'm reasonably confident that the problem is independent of board revision. I have literally just started refurbishing another CV that I have with board revision H2. This CV is totally stock and has never been opened before. I gave the expansion and cart connectors a thorough clean with IPA and ran a suite of tests roms both with and without the SGM and all tests passed fine. Video was through RF to my TV. I tested Penguin Adventure and it exhibited the reset problem. All other games I tested, including Frogger, worked fine.

 

I also have another rev H2 system with a component video mod and the game works perfectly.

 

FYI, I'm also having the reset issue on a rev J board and the board I was having problems with that I sent to Opcode was rev F.

 

So, in summary I have experienced the game resetting problem on Rev F, H2 and J boards so far.

Edited by Ikrananka

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Ok, let me get this behind me too. I have scheduled 3 days during the week to check the code first. First I have to isolate which part of the code is causing the crash in the affected systems. It is easier now since I have one such board. I get back to you ASAP.

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I'm reasonably confident that the problem is independent of board revision. I have literally just started refurbishing another CV that I have with board revision H2. This CV is totally stock and has never been opened before. I gave the expansion and cart connectors a thorough clean with IPA and ran a suite of tests roms both with and without the SGM and all tests passed fine. Video was through RF to my TV. I tested Penguin Adventure and it exhibited the reset problem. All other games I tested, including Frogger, worked fine.

 

I also have another rev H2 system with a component video mod and the game works perfectly.

 

FYI, I'm also having the reset issue on a rev J board and the board I was having problems with that I sent to Opcode was rev F.

 

So, in summary I have experienced the game resetting problem on Rev F, H2 and J boards so far.

 

To bad the console is such a pain to open. It is hard to get a statistically significant look at the boards. There is also a Rev H2-1 board, where something was fixed on the H2. That was a problem with Risky Rick, too: No one is really motivated to open their consoles to get board revisions in fear of making things worse, especially if they work, so the only thing people can report is mods they know of. Hopefully, you are right and it is not board related, as knowing which board you are going to get when buying with a console is usually practically impossible.

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