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livingonwheels

Need help identifying a Prototype

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Could someone help me out here? I'd like to test this cartridge but have no idea what system it's for. I have an Atari 800 and an Atari XE and I'm guessing it might be for one of those, but I don't want to destroy it by putting it the wrong system. I have no idea what is on it, by the way.

DSC00525.JPG

DSC00526.JPG

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Yes, I have the EPROM covered, I just removed the covering to snap a picture. I'm unaware if it's been covered before I got it though. It was in a stash of random video game related items I just purchased. The front was covered with a modern business card (taped over the entire front).

Edited by livingonwheels

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Second thing, you need to do, is check the notches on those sockets. At least one of those EPROMs was plugged in backwards; and possibly more. DO NOT plug that into ANYTHING before verifying that. And, personally, I would read the data off those four 2532 EPROMs before plugging it into anything.

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Interesting board, it looks rather homemade. I'm curious as to what it could be.

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I don't have the tools to read what is on these EPROMS, I'm not plugging this cart into anything! What do you want me check on the notches? All I know about this cart is that it belonged to Dale DeSharone. Read more about him here: http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2014/09/feature_meet_the_unsung_pioneer_behind_the_most_reviled_zelda_games_of_all_time

I have quite a bit of his personal video game developing items that I acquired in the past including developer's systems (Gamecube, PS1, Ps2) and some other early builds (a Gamecube early build of Skye and a PS1 early build of M&M Shellshocked ). I believe, but am not 100% sure, that I also have his Atari 800 which is why I think this might be an Atari 800 build. His parents (he died young in 2008) wanted his items to be preserved so a contact of mine got a hold of me because he knew I was a huge collector of anything related to the video game industry.

I looked up the business name on the back of the cart and I came up with this:

https://www.arcade-history.com/index.php?page=database&editeur=5163

This might be related, if it's the same name. The dates seem about right (the cart is dated 1982).

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Interesting articles. I enjoyed reading them. Thank you for posting about it.

 

With regards to the item itself, you could send it out to any one of several members here who have the equipment & are capable of dumping eprom data. (myself included) There may even be someone in your area whereby allowing it to be done in person.

 

There’s really no way of knowing for sure what the data could be. Yes, it could be a prototype of an unreleased game. But it could also be an early beta of a released game. Or even just a pirate personal copy of any game.

 

I agree with the initial assessment that the board looks more like a homemade test cart as opposed to being “production quality”. But even so, thats’s not always indicative of it.

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Yes, sending it to you seems like the wise thing to do. My only other option is plugging it into my Atari 800 or XE and see what happens. But like a previous poster stated, one of the EPROMS seems to be installed backwards (the one on the upper left, unless the other 3 EPROMS are the ones installed incorrectly). Is there any logical reason why one or more of these chips could be installed incorrectly? I spoke to the person I received this from, and he said he never touched it, and received it just like that directly from Dale DeSharone's mother.

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2 hours ago, livingonwheels said:

Yes, sending it to you seems like the wise thing to do.

👍 This really is the best approach.

 

Quote

My only other option is plugging it into my Atari 800 or XE and see what happens.

 

I realise you weren't being totally serious with that comment, but from the way the EPROMs are currently installed, it would probably be a 'release the magic smoke' moment.

 

Quote

But like a previous poster stated, one of the EPROMS seems to be installed backwards (the one on the upper left, unless the other 3 EPROMS are the ones installed incorrectly). Is there any logical reason why one or more of these chips could be installed incorrectly? I spoke to the person I received this from, and he said he never touched it, and received it just like that directly from Dale DeSharone's mother.

 

There's really no good way to know.  Even though your acquaintance received it from DeSharone's mother, there's no telling who may have touched it in the time that it was in storage.  It's also possible that for some reason the EPROM is inserted correctly for that particular board, but even I'm not able to convince myself of that.

Edited by x=usr(1536)

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Update time!

 

Member livingonwheels sent me this item to preserve and safeguard the data.

I received it today and here is what I have determined so far:

 

1) Upon receiving the board, I took an initial picture of exactly how it was.

01dale.jpeg.878f3c54a11214c1c5367bf6776f4da9.jpeg

2) I then labeled each of the chips using the etched text on the board itself as the identifiers.

02dale.jpeg.83fbfd8740522cb9040001342953a300.jpeg

3) I then removed the chips so that I could read & preserve their data as well as see the circuit board's traces beneath them. All 4 eproms contained data, and the data was unique on all of them. (different check sums on all 4 chips)

(notice the interesting hexagonal "mirrored" style to the traces on the board)

03dale.jpeg.2765e3869f69a1024736b8343a367013.jpeg

4) I then used my multi-meter and ran some very basic continuity tests on the board. I ran comparisons with a couple of other proto boards I have primarily to confirm the proper orientation of the board as well as to determine which chips (if any) may have been removed and reinserted improperly into the board in the past.

04dale.jpeg.d9391cb495bb6ad652e392689ddc7a84.jpeg

5) After careful checking and probing and rechecking, I determined that pins 13 & 14, (which have continuity to one another on the other Atari 400/800 boards), also have the same continuity to one another on the BACK of this unique board) In addition, these pins (13 & 14), connect to the top right pins (Vcc) of all the chips on the board (as they were) with but ONE exception, (A3)

05dale.jpeg.f5f1634fe633c97d8604ed8bc49d458f.jpeg

And so finally, THIS is how I believe the chips should be oriented on the board in order to safely test the board on real hardware. However, before I plug this thing in, I just wanted to get any other opinions here. My primary area of concern being all of the jumper wires that are crisscrossing all over the back of the board. Is it necessary to do any further testing? Should I check every trace, every solder point, and every wire jumper?

 

In the meantime, I have hundreds of extra 2532 eproms so I'm going to go ahead and burn an alternate set of 4 so that I can use them on the board if/when testing begins, rather then using the originals, just in case anything does happen, so that the originals are safe & unaffected.

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Since the name has no been mentioned, that's a "Hypercartridge". If you google for "hypercartridge aardvark" you find quite some results. E.g. the attached ad in Micro magazine.

Hypercartridge.jpg

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3 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Since the name has no been mentioned, that's a "Hypercartridge". If you google for "hypercartridge aardvark" you find quite some results. E.g. the attached ad in Micro magazine.

Hypercartridge.jpg

Well heck, this pretty much solves the mystery of what this was and answers almost every question we had so far. Thanks for posting this.

 

So now the new questions.

 

Did these boards actually come with all those white wire jumpers in place? Personally, I would find that hard to believe. If so, it wasn’t a very clean & professional looking hobby cart to be selling to the public! Not to mention the fact that the orientation of the socket notches wasn’t consistent either. Meaning whoever soldered them onto the board, didn’t observe this basic guideline.

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3 hours ago, CPUWIZ said:

Why don't you just glue them and try to run it in an emulator?

Yes, of course, that’s out last step, if I’m unable to get this cartridge to work on real hardware. The key thing that you need to remember is that since an eprom was found seated incorrectly, it must be assumed that it is absolutely possible that any of the other EPROMs may have also been removed & reseated into incorrect positions. (Hi & Lo) They were all unlabeled! And so in either scenario (real hardware or emulator) you still have a mathematical 24 possible combinations of how the data needs to be stacked/joined in order for it to function correctly.

 

I was very tired last night after having squeezed in a long week of work before the upcoming holiday. But I did burn a fresh set of 2532 EPROMs to begin testing. I will post more about this later, but I have a prior commitment this morning so I will continue with that later today.

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Well, we have an anti-climactic update and ending for this one. Many thanks to Dutchman for joining & identifying the rom files. Turns out the game on the mystery board is Adventure Creator from Spinnaker.  This ROM is identical to the released version. 

 

http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-400-800-xl-xe-adventure-creator_113.html

 

(a computer game that he did indeed program, however)

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