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cubanismo

Skunkboard: Special Edition (v5) Interest?

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I wanted to feel out interest from others in the Skunkboard: Special Edition (Revision 5):

 

skunk_se.thumb.jpg.25a9625e7092fdf83f5c214cc07bcba8.jpg

 

I am fully aware game drives are becoming available (Unless there's some new obstacle, they'll be available very widely before these are) and have more features than skunks do. Before jumping in and responding that you want one of these, please familiarize yourself with the game drive. No matter how much software I stuff in the updated skunk BIOS, it isn't going to rival @SainT's sweet hardware. I'm counting on it in fact, because I can't build *that* many of these. However, I have designed and built a few, adding a few features here and there (See below), but largely for the fun of it. I'm sure at least one other person is going to want one, and I'm only going to order one more batch of PCBs at most, so I want to find out how many I need.

 

Features:

  • Everything Skunkboard v3 had
    • 8MB flash, 2x4MB banks or 1x6MB
    • Mini-USB port to upload ROMs/homebrew/code/raw data/etc. from a computer to the flash or Jaguar RAM, do printf debugging, etc.
  • Two Serial EEPROM (save game/high score) chips
    • One 128 byte for original production run Jag game ROMs
    • One 2048 byte for newer ROMs and probably most new development
    • Selectable using the controller from the boot screen or using JCP.  Can also be disabled entirely via JCP.
  • New version 4 and 5 BIOSes to support the Serial EEPROM functionality.
  • Upload/download Serial EEPROM/save game content from your computer using JCP just like you can with ROMs on older skunks.
  • Added back in the other two USB connectors1
  • Beautiful purple PCBs with updated silkscreens:
    • Special Edition logo
    • Link to the github repo where I'll release the PCB design files
    • Acknowledgements
    • Cartridge edge connector pin numbering on both sides and JTAG header pin labels
  • High-quality PCBs with 30u" thick hard/electrolytic-gold plated 30o beveled cartridge edge connectors2
  • Individually assembled and tested by me.

 

Price: $100 + shipping, probably tax/VAT/etc. too.

 

Depending on interest, I'm looking into a special edition box & updated hard-copy manual as well. Small runs of boxes are expensive, so there'd be an additional charge for those that wanted a box. I need to find out how many people (if any) are interested before I can quote a price there.

 

For more details on the development of the revision 5 skunkboards, see the Smelly Adventures thread, but don't get too scared by the first few posts: My soldering is much improved. I'm not going to pawn off any mangled boards ;-)

 

Footnotes:

  1. I may or may not add some stuff to finally make use of the other USB connectors. No guarantees.
  2. As far as I know, Rev.1-Rev.3 Skunkboards had hard-gold edge connectors as well, as do the Zaxon ones. The somewhat rare Rev4 PCBs appear to use ENIG. The prototypes pictured here use ENIG, but if I order a production run of these, they'll use hard gold. See here for the benefits of hard gold connectors. Basically, they last much longer.
Edited by cubanismo
If your name's on the board, you get a 50% discount on your first production board 🙂 ​
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Hi,

Thank you for sharing this, and I have a couple of questions about your new version.
1) Do you use your own firmware?
2) What do you think possible for the other two USB connectors?
- Support for a Mouse? Keyboard?

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Currently the skunkboard can step-through and debug 68k code but not so much the GPU. Any possibility of future jcp revisions supporting more features along those lines? 

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On 10/26/2020 at 12:45 PM, dilinger said:

1) Do you use your own firmware?

Yes and no.  There are two bits of "firmware" on the skunk: The CPLD/FPGA (Codename "Butcher" in the source files) processor configuration, which handles routing data from the cartridge connector to the flash and USB controller, and some bootstrapping stuff, and the BIOS (Codename "Bootcher", get it?), which is some 68k code used to initialize the board when you power on the Jaguar and then listen for input from the joystick on the Jaguar and the PC via USB.  As mentioned, I've made modifications to the BIOS to support the Serial EEPROM selection hardware.  I have not had any reason to modify the CPLD yet, and don't currently plan to.  I'm not clear whether the CPLD is field-programmable (As in, upgradable using JCP while running in the Jaguar, without dedicated programming software and hardware plugged into the JTAG header) with the current PCB layout.  It looks like there was at least some effort to route the necessary signals for this, but I haven't tried to really dig in and verify it could be done.

On 10/26/2020 at 12:45 PM, dilinger said:

2) What do you think possible for the other two USB connectors?

They're standard USB host ports like those on the back of any computer, and the skunkboard HW and existing CPLD code are powerful and flexible enough to implement support for arbitrary types of USB devices. I'm mostly interested in the mass storage device class personally, but I don't want to be too specific, as I may or may not have time to complete that project. USB is a very noble and (from what I can tell) well thought-out standard at the specification level, but is a pain in reality, and only works as well as it does on Windows/Linux on the sweat of many, many hard working SW engineers patching up support for all the terrible devices out there in the field (Take a look at the related Linux kernel code to appreciate this). Beyond that, you'll have to use your imagination, and as I say, no guarantees here. If you're ordering, probably safest to assume they'll do nothing. If I do use them for something, I'll definitely be releasing all the code so others could re-use/improve it if desired, just like I'm doing here.

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2 minutes ago, JagChris said:

Currently the skunkboard can step-through and debug 68k code but not so much the GPU. Any possibility of future jcp revisions supporting more features along those lines? 

That's not a limit of JCP (I assume you mean the jserve.exe gdb server + gdb stub?) so much as GDB (the open-source debugger).  There's an existing 68k build of gdb, but there isn't a version that knows anything about the Jaguar RISC processors AFAIK. If you built that, you'd probably only need minor updates to the jaguar-side debugger stub. All the info you need to add GPU/RISC support is out there.  I had written up a rather long explanation of how to build such a debugger, noting @swapd0 already did write one for BeOS, but I'll save that for another thread.

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Your work is welcome in all cases.

 

My experiences with USB and Skunkboard is limited to jcp2 and libusb 1.x at the moment.
I have also updated jserve and his GDB coff file, I should add it in my github account in the future.
To complete @cubansismo answer, it is possible to add RISC information in the GDB module but it will require a specific tool/debugger to handle it anyway.
I didn't know @swapd0 did a such debugger on BeOS. You are welcome to open a thread about this.

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4 hours ago, cubanismo said:

USB is a very noble and (from what I can tell) well thought-out standard at the specification level

...and Checkered Flag may look like a decent racing game based on the box art.

 

But in both cases, I strongly recommend against actually diving deeper. By experience, let's just say that both designs tend to cause the same reaction.

 

Edited by Zerosquare
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16 minutes ago, CyranoJ said:

Is the edge connector bevelled ?

Yes.  The prototypes were beveled by me since Osh doesn't do beveling, and if the manufacturer messes up the real ones, I'll just bevel them myself as well since they'll all be hand built, but I'm requesting a 30-degree edge bevel, same as the original skunk runs.

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I am interested.

Why are those two USB ports needed/added?  If they are not needed, why not leave them off?

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57 minutes ago, Machine said:

Why are those two USB ports needed/added?  If they are not needed, why not leave them off?

See the footnotes and posts above. However, since they're all hand assembled, I'm happy to make you one without the extra USB ports if you don't want them for some reason (E.g., if you want to put it in a standard Jaguar cartridge case).

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I will take 1.

If it can help you, I do not need the extra USB ports. Never used them when I had a Skunkboard in the past, and don't see any potential use for my needs in the future.

Edited by Fadest

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I am definitely interested in one for developing games. Nice that this version will support save to EEPROM, so this function can be tested too, before having to make a real cartridge.

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On 10/26/2020 at 2:59 PM, cubanismo said:

I wanted to feel out interest from others in the Skunkboard: Special Edition (Revision 5):

I will purchase one.

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