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Concerto firmware thread

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6 hours ago, batari said:

I have worked on several ideas (such as checksum/CRC checks, data redundancy, error correction and even just using the Harmony Encore method of loading.) I have partially implemented some of these ideas but before I get too deep in the more complex solutions, I should let people try the simpler ones.

 

This is the simplest I can think of. This version of the firmware blanks the screen during loading, to rule out the possibility that it's MARIA DMA interfering with the loading process.

 

To install, make sure you have 0.95 already, boot your Concerto and load the file from the menu as if it were a game. The automatic reboot after loading firmware doesn't work properly, so manually power cycle to try the changes.

hbios_concerto_0.95test_dmaoff.cbi 333 kB · 4 downloads

Thanks Batari! Just as a heads up, post-update mine is listed as version 0.94a at the top - however I'm seeing much more success!

 

7800 PAL roms I tested all loaded straight away

2600 PAL roms I tested also loaded, including things like PAL 4k PacMan homebrew

NTSC files, whether 2600 or 7800 still crash - but I assume this is more a "working as intended" situation than anything in the concerto itself. It'll always be nice to be able to play NTSC roms, as I think NTSC carts _usually_ work (at least, the ones I own do!) but its not a super priority.

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Batari!
A first success!
I tested some PAL games on the PAL console, they went well !!!
(NTSC games for information: pictures were seen with stripes and got stuck, certainly normal at the moment)

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Is this new BIOS just for the PAL issue or is this for NTSC users as well?

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4 hours ago, Tempest said:

Is this new BIOS just for the PAL issue or is this for NTSC users as well?

If NTSC users are having game loading problems, then they should try it to see if it improves loading.

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I am glad to hear the early success. 

 

I noticed that loading goes considerably faster with the screen blanked. By my measure it takes about half the time. I didn't realize it would make such a difference. Because it's so much faster, I may just leave the screen blanking as it is and not worry about the percentage display. Well, the screen isn't blanked, there are color changes to let you know something is happening.

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2 hours ago, batari said:

If NTSC users are having game loading problems, then they should try it to see if it improves loading.

I'm just having problems with the same ones everyone else is (Alien Brigade for example).  I can give this a try this weekend.

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I’m an NTSC user Not having loading issues. I tried it anyway and cart is still working well but does indeed load faster with Maria off. 

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11 minutes ago, tep392 said:

I’m an NTSC user Not having loading issues. I tried it anyway and cart is still working well but does indeed load faster with Maria off. 

Does Alien Brigade work?

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15 minutes ago, Tempest said:

Does Alien Brigade work?

I just successfully loaded the joystick version.  Played for a few minutes without issue.

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16 hours ago, batari said:

I have worked on several ideas (such as checksum/CRC checks, data redundancy, error correction and even just using the Harmony Encore method of loading.) I have partially implemented some of these ideas but before I get too deep in the more complex solutions, I should let people try the simpler ones.

 

This is the simplest I can think of. This version of the firmware blanks the screen during loading, to rule out the possibility that it's MARIA DMA interfering with the loading process.

 

To install, make sure you have 0.95 already, boot your Concerto and load the file from the menu as if it were a game. The automatic reboot after loading firmware doesn't work properly, so manually power cycle to try the changes.

hbios_concerto_0.95test_dmaoff.cbi 333 kB · 14 downloads

I installed the new version on my daily-driver NTSC machine and the same four titles which don't load properly under 0.95 still don't load properly:

 

  • Alien Brigade
  • Tank Command
  • Tower Toppler 
  • Water Ski

 

Rampage still jumps back to the menu screen after selecting a character and trying to start a game, and then crashes after that

 

Commando still displays stray dots on the score/status line at the top but loads and plays fine otherwise. 

 

This behavior is basically unchanged from 0.95 in all cases. 

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5 minutes ago, MattelAquarius said:

I just successfully loaded the joystick version.  Played for a few minutes without issue.

What rom are you using?

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HUGE phenomenal update, @batari!

 

Granted, the issue with 78S4 types (RealSports Baseball, Tank Command, Water Ski, Tower Toppler) is still present. 

 

However, now the consoles that previously ran nothing, all demonstrate the same great compatibility across the board.

 

Meaning, now this kind of compatibility...

 

image.png

 

image.png

 

...is being experienced across all my systems!  

 

No longer experiencing this kind of compatibility issue...

 

image.png

 

image.png

 

Thank you, batari! 

 

That is a night and day difference for half of the consoles in my collection that were demonstrating zero games running; now, the vast majority of titles work just like the other half of the consoles.

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17 hours ago, Tempest said:

What rom are you using?

The latest BIOS, and the Alien Brigade (joystick) ROM from Trebor's pack.  I should note that I hadn't tested these prior to the upgrade, so perhaps my 7800 didn't have issues before.

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Finished up some additional testing under the hbios_concerto_0.95test_dmaoff firmware update respecting the retail line and now my systems are falling into two categories regarding major issues with retail titles for my NTSC consoles:

 

1. 78S4 types do not work.

 

2. 78S4 types do not work and (like @DrVenkman) Alien Brigade does not either.  Interesting with Alien Brigade is the behavior being encountered with the set of consoles that are affected:

 

The title screen starts with the hand moving across the screen about to draw out the letter "A" in the game title, then it resets to the start of the title screen and begins again. It keeps repeating that way, but resets ~0.25 second earlier each time.  The first time the title runs for 5 seconds, resets, then runs for 4.75 seconds, resets, 4.50 seconds, resets...and continues to dwindling down until every ~0.25 second the game keeps resetting back to the beginning.

 

Without question, a huge compatibility improvement, despite this Alien Brigade (for the consoles that do experience it) very interesting issue.

 

Nonetheless, some more good news...across all consoles, the button issues with Fatal Run and Hat Trick are completely resolved.  

 

For One-On-One Basketball, for maybe a half second, the demo plays - not the Larry Bird free throw one, but the 'full demo' with both players; it still immediately jumps to the option screen.  However, selecting options and playing the game works perfectly fine now.

 

Lastly, the relatively minor graphical glitches are still present with Commando, Choplifter, and Jinks.

 

Nevertheless, *THANK YOU* @batari.  A world of difference from nothing running across half my systems to most titles running well across those same units.  Meanwhile, no regressions - only improvements to the other half of my 7800 console collection.

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Thanks Trebor for your compatability checks, this shows this has greatly equalised compatability regarding different regions and models of the 7800 which is great news! 

 

Regarding the loading, yes blanking the screen seemed to help a lot, and because its so instant I think it's better keeping it in the 95test style, it's barely a second or two wait on the larger roms I tested. 

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1 hour ago, Mikebloke said:

Thanks Trebor for your compatability checks, this shows this has greatly equalised compatability regarding different regions and models of the 7800 which is great news! 

My pleasure...the equalization encountered is very exciting.

 

1 hour ago, Mikebloke said:

Regarding the loading, yes blanking the screen seemed to help a lot, and because its so instant I think it's better keeping it in the 95test style, it's barely a second or two wait on the larger roms I tested. 

Indeed!  Although the loading wasn't necessarily slow before, it has improved quite considerably - it is very fast now.  Absolutely, this style is a keeper over the previous loader.

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I have now tested my NTSC console with the test firmware. No improvement.

Starts with a colored screen, which then stops with a red image. So do not get into the menu.
 

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Thanks @batari! Will check this out in the morning on my Pal machine 👍

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19 hours ago, DrVenkman said:

I installed the new version on my daily-driver NTSC machine and the same four titles which don't load properly under 0.95 still don't load properly:

 

  • Alien Brigade
  • Tank Command
  • Tower Toppler 
  • Water Ski

 

Rampage still jumps back to the menu screen after selecting a character and trying to start a game, and then crashes after that

 

Commando still displays stray dots on the score/status line at the top but loads and plays fine otherwise. 

 

This behavior is basically unchanged from 0.95 in all cases. 

Same here

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@batari Well I'd like to confirm that everything I've thrown at it so far (retail) now loads and works on my Pal machine 👏👏👏

 

Thank you Fred! I'll need to put in my Pokey now.

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8 minutes ago, mksmith said:

@batari Well I'd like to confirm that everything I've thrown at it (retail) now loads and works on my Pal machine 👏👏👏

 

Thank you Fred! I'll need to put in my Pokey now.

So all roms now work on PAL 7800's but NTSC 7800's have four or so games that won't load?  Talk about a reversal of fortune!  :)

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53 minutes ago, Tempest said:

So all roms now work on PAL 7800's but NTSC 7800's have four or so games that won't load?  Talk about a reversal of fortune!  :)

Haven't tried all of them as yet but in my case I was on the severe end of things where maybe occasionally something would load - so stoked!  I'll need to help out @Trebor and go through each to test. 

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I have a stock NTSC 7800 that most likely  will never work 100%, however with the new firmware it seemed to be more "consistent".  A number of 7800 games worked first try like Commando and Centipede.  Baby Pac Man and Beef Drop did not - however the issue was the screen lock was the same each time - no variance like on the previous firmware.

 

I am using Trevors 7800 propack that was downloaded today.

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this latest bios update fixed so many of my issues!! unfortunately in my playing around, I tried to load "rider of the night" from Trebor's latest pro pack and am now caught in the rainbow bootloop. Pretty sure I'll have to flash the EEPROM-- I just want to make sure i have the latest version of the eeloader file. @batari the last one i have is 104e.

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4 hours ago, funknflow5200 said:

...I tried to load "rider of the night" from Trebor's latest pro pack and am now caught in the rainbow bootloop...

Rider of the Night is a 512K ROM - not supported by Concerto yet.  Currently, the largest ROM size supported is 144K.

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