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gar0u

Hacking Together a Raspberry PIntellivision

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I'm finding myself stuck indoors more and more; COVID-19, hazardous air from massive wildfires, and even just cooler weather.  My Intellivision Flashback died last week, so I set out to build my own version of the Ultimate Intellivision Flashback using a Raspberry Pi.  (Note: even if you're handy and think it will be fun, I'm only a couple hours into the project and already questioning why I didn't just buy the Ultimate!  Proceed at your own risk.)

 

The notes below are simply to document my own research.  This is not a step-by-step how to guide.

 

A. Parts List

1. Dead Intellivision Flashback (when everything works on the tabletop, I'll fit it back into the case.  Also need two Intellivision controllers and possibly the AC converter.

2. Raspberry Pi B

3. MicroSD card

4. Ultimate PC Interface

5. HDMI cable

6. USB cables (one for the Ultimate PC Interface, one for bench power to the Pi)

 

B. Configure Pi

1. Download "Raspberry Pi 2/3" image (https://retropie.org.uk/download/#Pre-made_images_for_the_Raspberry_Pi)

2. Confirm md5

3. Download "ApplePiBaker" to image MicroSD card ("dd" seemed to work, but Pi wouldn't boot and image was replaced with an empty "GLASSDOG" volume)

4. ifconfig eth0 10.10.10.1 up (so you can transfer files from laptop to Pi)

5. sudo raspi-config (Note: there are options to force audio out HDMI here; may need that later...)

i. Change 'pi' user password

ii. Set locale to 'en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8'

iii. Enable SSH (under Interfacing Options)

 

C. Configure Ultimate PC Interface

1. Both DIP switches should be up for Intellivision

 

D. Configure jzintv

1. scp Raspberry Pi binary to /home/pi (TODO: complains about libdirectfb-1.2.so.9.  Maybe try Linux version as Raspberry Pi binary is "untested".)

2. move it to /opt/retropie/emulators

3. unzip and sym link to 'jzintv'

4. scp 'exec.bin' and 'grom.bin' and move to /opt/retropie/emulators/jzintv/rom

 

 

 

TODO:

 

1. Add jzintv emulator.  Looks like RetroPi has scripts to do this, but need to put Pi on the network to do that.  (Need to change default passwords, etc. first!)

2. Add Intellivision roms.

3. Test jzintv with keyboard

4. Configure Flashback controllers

5. Test jzintv with controller

6. EmulationStation menus to launch roms

7. Hack power

8. Fit everything into the Flashback console

 

 

Edited by gar0u
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Yes, rebuilding a Flashback can be fun if you are a tinkerer, and can be seemingly tedious if you don't like to tinker.

 

If you are interested in utilizing the Inty FB's reset button to be usable in jzintv, please send me a PM and I help you out.  

 

It is also possible to isolate the power button and the barrel power port and use it with a Mausberry Circuit (or one of its competitors) to properly use this switch as a power on/off switch for the PI

 

The UPCI is a good adapter, but it takes a little bit of manual work to get the DB9 ports mounted.

 

To help with the rebuild of Flashback units, Byte Knight sells these drop in replacement boards:

 

 

They are essentially the same as the UPCI (physically made by the same guy, but each are sold by different people) - the only advantage to the UFBI board is the drop-in-ness of it.  If your build will be dedicated to Intellivision, then you don't need to make an access hole for the dip switch and button.  But I tend to make holes for them because I add Stella (Atari 2600) and a few other retro-emulators, so having access to these is beneficial to me.

 

 

For my build, I simply have short HDMI extension cable coming out for the video connection going thru the existing hole for the old RCA cable (after enlarging it a bit).  But I have built some for friends and I used a panel mount HDMI port.

 

I also used some panel mount USB ports, so it is easy to connect a keyboard or other USB controller.  You can even use a usb memory stick to transfer new ROMs, but I do it over wifi.

 

You can look through the thread for The Ultimate Intellivision Flashback for people's build pictures for some inspiration.

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The UPCI supports flashback controllers.  You can test it on any PC.  Retrofitting it all into a flashback case might be where most of your time goes, and is completely optional.

 

If you're updating the jzintv that comes with retropie with one from the jzintv website, use the one for Raspbian Linux.  The jzintv for x86 Linux is not compatible.

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FYI - we have a Raspberry Pi version of Argon in development. It will be provided as a downloadable SD card image (it is our Android version bundled with an open source version of Android).

 

We're satisfied with the Pi4 performance. We may or may not do a Pi3 version, as we're not currently satisfied with the performance on Pi3.

 

As a demo earlier this year, we had put it inside an Arcade1Up cabinet with a custom 4 fire + 2 meta button control deck (for the demo, we did a Pi version of the firmware, as well as 3 other commercial SOMs/boards, including the one Arcade1Up uses).

 

The pictures below are showing the Vectrex support, but the current version also supports Intellivision (with stereo ECS), Coleco, Lynx and 2600.

 

You can see pictures of Intellivision support on our instagram feed.

 

It is not available for download yet, but you can sign up to get notified when the public beta opens via our web site.

 

For games that use keypad, you can either use a controller that has a keypad (bluetooth or USB keypad for example), or we have an on-screen meta-pad that you activate with the select key, make selection with game controller (or touch if playing on a phone or tablet), and then it goes away.

 

 

 

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Seem to have lost the ability to edit my original post.

 

Been experimenting with the RetroPie software and after some playing around with it over the weekend I have almost everything working the way I want.  Next step will be to put it back into my empty Flashback console, but I may end up just throwing it in a Pi project box.

 

1. When booting, be sure to hold down a side button on the Intellivision controller!  This was the primary source of stuff not working (auto sense on the Ultimate PC Interface needs the button press to learn what is connected!)

2. I had a hard time getting the 'jzintv' emulator to work on the Pi.  Eventually I downloaded "retro-intv-42.zip" then used scp to transfer a few files like the 'jzintv' binary onto the Pi.  That worked.  Will try and find a link or reference and update this post.

3. Byte Knight kindly shared his SD card image for the Ultimate Flashback.  I got his beautiful Emulation Station theme and box art for the games, but the games weren't loading.  So I used scp to move everything off that image back to my laptop.  Using 'grep' I found references to all the config files.  Then I put my old SD card back in, scp'ed the theme and images to my new card then manually edited everything.

4. The RetroPie splash screen was hardest to get to work.  Running /home/pi/RetroPie-Setup/retropie_setup.sh and using the ncurses menu to enable and pick the INTV splash screen fixed that!

 

After getting this far, I'm really happy.  I also think Byte Knight's upgrade service sounds like a very fair price.  He's probably not charging enough.  ;)

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If you set the DIP switches on the Ultimate PC Interface for the type of controller you’re using (standard or Flashback) instead of Autosense, you won’t have to hold down a controller side button at startup. 

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Did the jzintv that comes standard with retropie not work?

 

Did the current jzintv downloaded from the official web site not work?  You may have to assign the file executable permissions.  If it doesn't work, you should let the jzintv developer know.

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The jzintv that comes with RetroPie should be working.

 

It is the 20181225 version and works great.

 

Go to:

RetroPie Setup > Manage Packages > Manage Optional Packages > jzintv 

and select install from binary.

 

BIOS files goes here:
opt/retropie/emulators/jzintv/rom

 

ROMs goes here: 

/home/pi/RetroPie/roms/intellivision

 

hackfile goes here:
opt/retropie/emulators/jzintv

 

Go to the /opt/retropie/configs/intellivision folder and double-click the emulators.cfg file and it will open in the Editor.

 

Add in the needed command for using the hackfile --kbdhackfile=/opt/retropie/emulators/jzintv/hackfile.cfg  

 

You can get the hackfile from http://www.intellivision.us/interface.php and scroll down to the bottom of the page.  You can copy/paste into an text editor.

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I'm certain its my unfamiliarity w/ the Pi or RetroPie.  I don't want to bother Joe with it.  As far as I could tell, the RetroPie 2/3 version from the UK site doesn't ship w/ 'jzintv'.  Even tried "sudo find . -name "jzintv" ." from /.

 

I've got everything working now except a few missing box art files for the Emulation Station menu.

 

(I think the 2nd controller is goofy, too--but I'm *really* close to having it all work thanks to all the hard work of everyone else.  ;)

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53 minutes ago, gar0u said:

I'm certain its my unfamiliarity w/ the Pi or RetroPie.  I don't want to bother Joe with it.  As far as I could tell, the RetroPie 2/3 version from the UK site doesn't ship w/ 'jzintv'.  Even tried "sudo find . -name "jzintv" ." from /.

 

I've got everything working now except a few missing box art files for the Emulation Station menu.

 

(I think the 2nd controller is goofy, too--but I'm *really* close to having it all work thanks to all the hard work of everyone else.  ;)

It does, but it isn't pre-installed. 

 

Your Pi needs an internet connection and follow the installation instructions in my previous post for installing it 

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Like fdr4prez said... The first thing you need to do and learn about Retropie is it is MASSIVE and can do a lot.  But you need it to be on the I-net.

 

Go to the Retropie menu once you are ready, you need to go to the RASPI-SETUP and set the country location of your WiFi.  Then you can connect WiFi. That setting is under Network Settings.  This is part of the newest build  Retropie4.6.  I never used to have to do this until this build.  

 

After that, set the SSH.   Go back to the menu fdr4prez mentions, and pull down the jzintv emulator and set it up like he said 

 

If it doesn't work... In winSCP, go to \dev\shv\runcommand.log and read what it says.  Most likely, you're exec and grom bios are in the wrong place.  

 

Thats all there is to loading jzintv.  It will never fail after that.  

 

When I get to work later, I will post pics and my color palette for you.  The stock one is rough on the eyes as it's set to look like a CRT... Which is hard to look at on an LCD.

 

I'm actually in the middle of a new build as they once again changed the base architecture of Retropie for future expansion and modification.  So to stay current..  now and then you have to start with a new build.

 

Also..  make sure before you pull down any new emulators, update your setup script. It's in the Retropie setup menu.  You should be on version... 4.6.7... and update Retroarch to 1.8.8.  there are a lot of small issues in Retroarch that this latest update fixed 

Edited by IMBerzerk
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10 minutes ago, IMBerzerk said:

Also..  make sure before you pull down any new emulators, update your setup script. It's in the Retropie setup menu.  You should be on version... 4.6.7... and update Retroarch to 1.8.8.  there are a lot of small issues in Retroarch that this latest update fixed 

I consider this an optional step for my personal builds. 

 

If you are building this to be dedicated to Intellivision, and maybe add in Atari 2600 (stella) and Colecovision (CoolCV), then these are not lr-emulators, so no need to update retroarch. 

 

But doing this is nothing but a good thing, so it won't hurt to do it. Especially if you may expand your build to any newer console. 

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3 minutes ago, fdr4prez said:

I consider this an optional step for my personal builds. 

 

If you are building this to be dedicated to Intellivision, and maybe add in Atari 2600 (stella) and Colecovision (CoolCV), then these are not lr-emulators, so no need to update retroarch. 

 

But doing this is nothing but a good thing, so it won't hurt to do it. Especially if you may expand your build to any newer console. 

Reason for moving to libretro based emulators is the shaders and overlays.  Have you seen what they look like?  

 

I will post later...  It's amazing.  All my systems now look like they should and use retroTVs as backgrounds.  With the high quality, they look real 

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I got jzintv dialed in and I'm really happy with it. 

 

Already thinking about mame, dosbox, and maybe Commodore 64.  😛

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13 minutes ago, gar0u said:

I got jzintv dialed in and I'm really happy with it. 

 

Already thinking about mame, dosbox, and maybe Commodore 64.  😛

I can help you with all of those... and I can give you an insane C64 background for lr-vice I just altered from somone else's set that has some fun 80's reference that were all in the movie Ready Player One..and our lives... hahaha.

 

I have a total of 35 systems all running on mine... I'm just tweaking video and background settings at this point.... I even have a5200 and a800 running side-by-side which was a bitch to do.

Edited by IMBerzerk
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Here's a shot of my system in action... MAME...  And Lr-vice.  The C64 emulator background is modified from another artists that I added all the stuff around.  I loved the wood paneling and made it look like my room did back in '84.  Lol... There's a lot of nods to RPO in there ... From the book and movie.  Also games that I played the most.  Computer Ambush and Flight Sim II.

 

 

 

 

IMG_20200922_164711043.jpg

 

IMG_20200922_165331266.jpg

IMG_20200922_170020359.jpg

Edited by IMBerzerk
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Wow!  That looks great!

 

I'm really liking the idea of a game system that can fit in my hand and play so many classics.  Getting the Intellivision stuff set up was fun.  I have a MAME cabinet, so MAME shouldn't be hard, and I've fooled around with VICE.  Will be fun to just plug in an HDMI cable and play some Maniac Mansion!

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13 minutes ago, gar0u said:

Wow!  That looks great!

 

I'm really liking the idea of a game system that can fit in my hand and play so many classics.  Getting the Intellivision stuff set up was fun.  I have a MAME cabinet, so MAME shouldn't be hard, and I've fooled around with VICE.  Will be fun to just plug in an HDMI cable and play some Maniac Mansion!

You're reason is the reason why I'm doing this.  I take mine everywhere I go.  It's just too much fun to have all this ready at any time 

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Also... if you're interested in a easier looking color palette for JzIntv, here is mine.  I put this together after working with Joe and comparing countless screenshots and actual game screens I took.  It was never "official" but it certainly helps on a an LCD screen, especially the newer and brighter units.  The stock color palette you get with JzIntv is designed to look like our games did on CRT's... which is very different than LCD out put.

 

Here are the colors and the file.

 

All you need to do to make this work is to add the statement "--gfx-palette=/opt/retropie/emulators/jzintv/tv_colors.txt --" to your emulators.config file under /opt/retropie/configs/intellivision/emulators.cfg

Then place the tv_colors.txt in /opt/retropie/emulators/jzintv.  You don't need the actual color palette, I just wanted you to see it before you decided to change it...if you even want to.  I felt it made a big difference in the  look of the games. Up to you.

 

IMB

SSRC_palette.jpg

tv_colors.txt

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43 minutes ago, IMBerzerk said:

Also... if you're interested in a easier looking color palette for JzIntv, here is mine.  I put this together after working with Joe and comparing countless screenshots and actual game screens I took.  It was never "official" but it certainly helps on a an LCD screen, especially the newer and brighter units.  The stock color palette you get with JzIntv is designed to look like our games did on CRT's... which is very different than LCD out put.

 

Here are the colors and the file.

 

All you need to do to make this work is to add the statement "--gfx-palette=/opt/retropie/emulators/jzintv/tv_colors.txt --" to your emulators.config file under /opt/retropie/configs/intellivision/emulators.cfg

Then place the tv_colors.txt in /opt/retropie/emulators/jzintv.  You don't need the actual color palette, I just wanted you to see it before you decided to change it...if you even want to.  I felt it made a big difference in the  look of the games. Up to you.

 

IMB

SSRC_palette.jpg

tv_colors.txt 267 B · 2 downloads

Ooh! Thanks, this is very helpful. I was just adjusting the color settings on the input I had my Flashback on. Didn't even know you could do this :)

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Me, either!

 

BTW, the fact that there is an exposed interface to change the colors really shows the thoughtful, modular design of the emulator.  Very cool!  These could have easily been "magic numbers" hard coded deep inside the program.

Edited by gar0u

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I think the colour palette feature was in response to a user request that wanted to change the colours of the sports teams.  Intvnut is very responsive and accommodating to anyone that asks.  I can tell you he fixed a bug I reported immediately, and on a separate occasion implemented a feature request as well.

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15 hours ago, ColecoJoe said:

Ooh! Thanks, this is very helpful. I was just adjusting the color settings on the input I had my Flashback on. Didn't even know you could do this :)

Yes, thankfully you can. Jzintv is packed with a palette that mimics what the games look like on a CRT.  It's done on purpose for a very nostalgic look.  Nothing wrong with that, it's actually pretty cool... however on an LCD with today's color depth and definition...it's hard to look at.  This new palette I came up with will make the games look as they should if the Intellivision was LCD compatible like modern sets are.  Meaning no conversions, or RCA mods. Red is red, blue is blue as it was meant to be. 

Edited by IMBerzerk
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