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GrizzLee

Cuttle Cart 3 an Intellivision Must Have

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I've had the honor to, once again, test once another wonder gadget from Schell's Electronics.

 

The 3rd installment of the CUttle is a must have for all fans of the Intellivision. Developers take HEED! This is the perfect device to test out your code on real hardware. No funky @$$ breadboards. No excuse for creating new games now! PLEASE!

 

I am more than 2/3 through my test cycle and I am happy to report that this thing works like a champ. Users of the CC2 will instantly recognize the menu as shown here. It also uses a micro SD card. A bit smaller than the CC2, but better IMHO as it allows the cart to be placed inside a normal Intellvision cart. Chad has also made the installation of ROMS or development code a snap. No more bankswitch codes!!! It is almost as easy as a drag and drop operation. So far, my only complaint about this little beauty is not of the CC3 itself, but the damn Inttellivision 2. Why couldn't they put an on/off switch on this bastard? It has made testing on this beast a pain. The original Intellivison, however is a dream. The Intellivoice works and the quirky games that don't work on the Intelly II don't work here either (perfect emulation) :ponder: Other than that, I was able to play Billards and Meteors off my Intellivsion Lives/Rocks cdz for the first time on Real Hardware. My last bit of testing will be using this on the Computer Module. If all goes well, like it has, I am confident there will be no problems.

 

I've already requested 2 of these babies if they ever see the light of day. If not, I am going to cry. Either that, or I secretly outsource this baby to Taiwan. :D

 

I hope there is interest for this wonderful piece of engineering. I'd hate to see it die.

 

-Lee

 

Note: The moire (fresnel lense??) effect (or whatever it is called) is a result of my camera, not the picture quality.

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Edited by Lee Krueger

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How many games are there for the INTV? How many homebrews? While no doubt an awesome piece of hardware, I just don't think it can be as spectacular as the CC2 because it allows for playing over 680 games with new ones popping up every day.

 

Not dissing the obvious greatness of the product, but I wonder if a 128-in-one cart with some flash RAM built into it for new games wouldn't have been better suited for a system that has so few games available. (Now, if the INTV has 400+ games, call me a big CC3 supporter and I'll go buy an INTV just for it!)

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How many games are there for the INTV? How many homebrews? While no doubt an awesome piece of hardware, I just don't think it can be as spectacular as the CC2 because it allows for playing over 680 games with new ones popping up every day.

 

Not dissing the obvious greatness of the product, but I wonder if a 128-in-one cart with some flash RAM built into it for new games wouldn't have been better suited for a system that has so few games available. (Now, if the INTV has 400+ games, call me a big CC3 supporter and I'll go buy an INTV just for it!)

 

Can you build such a device for a much cheaper price? If so, please do. However, having the option over one or the other, I take the CC3. (Lexus vs Chevy argument here) ;)

 

There are things I have noticed about Chad's products in quality over other homebrew efforts that are outstanding. I attribute this to the fact that, for one, he is extremely intelligent and two; he is very (Chad forgive me here) "anal" about making a quality product. I can sympathize with him to some degree, as I am an "anal" engineer type myself. I appeciate the engineering art that goes into his products.

 

I think you are more upset about the price of quality than capability here. And yes, it allows for the playing of more than 680 games, just like the CC2. What's your point on this? It has almost infinit expansion capabilities (limited by memory card size, same as the CC2). From your note, it sounds like you don't own an Intellivison (Knowing who you are you, I find this hard to believe), so why do you bother posting? I was posting for the benefit of those who like and play the Intellvision.

 

If you want to give Chad feedback about the CC3 he has requested it for many months on his site you should email him there. I'm just reporting the status of my testing on a wonderful product to those who are curious in supporting the Intellivison community.

 

Schell's Electronics

 

Regards,

-Lee

Edited by Lee Krueger

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I'm not doubting it'll be great, it's my opinion that since the Intellivision doesn't have very many games it won't be AS GREAT as the CC2.

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Cool news Lee, it looks great! I will be picking one up immediately when/if it is released. Chad rocks! :cool:

Edited by remowilliams

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Why is the name of this device Cuttle Cart 3? Shouldn't it be Intellicart 2?

 

 

Read Chad's website, or better yet, email him ;)

 

I told him about this thread, so I expect him to chime in sometime.

 

-Lee

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This is the latest project I've been tinkering with. It's a menu driven multicart for the Intellivision similar to the Atari 7800 Cuttle Cart 2. (Yes, I could have called with the Intellicart 2. But as an Intellivision fan it should be obvious why I would want to avoid that name. (Think beige.) Besides, I just like my little cuttle fish logos.)

 

I get the name now.

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Lee,

 

I understand Gregory's concerns, and they're mine too. The $200 investment for the CC2 makes sense when it opens virtually the *entire* 2600 and 7800 library, as well as whatever future homebrew releases for both platforms are released as ROMs, to you.

 

The INTV just doesn't have, and never did have, this kind of momentum or support. Additionally, I think the dud-to-hit ratio of the INTV isn't as good as the Atari consoles. It just becomes a more pricey proposition for the INTV, which is a console that doesn't have the same kind of value as the Atari consoles, overall.

 

As far as engineering, I suppose from a *design* state the CC2 may be very elegent, but the CC2 was certainly more of a nuts-and-bolts approach as far as set up and configuration is concerned. The CC2 has a much steeper learning curve and less elegent PC side software applications than Steve's/Classic's products, for example. The CC2 seems like an electronic engineer's project. Something that you might find as a DIY kit at Fry's or HSC electronics. The Atarimax USB products are more "consumer polished" (generally speaking. The MyIDE device is pretty nuts and bolts).

 

The multicart things are always kind of a challenge. I absolutely *want* one... of ALL of them. :) The fact that they have limited runs and inevitably become a rare and sought after item makes a person feel compelled to get one when they're released. But, they're expensive and most of us just can't buy every one that is available at a given time.

 

So, I'm totally interested in the CC3 and expect that I will eventually buy one... but, priority-wise, for example, it is behind the AtariMax Colecovision 128-in-1 USB cart (which seems a better "value" in both that it will likely be less expensive, and will support what *I* see as a more interesting and diverse library).

 

Open discussion about the product shouldn't be a negative. It is just dialog.

 

It might be worth also noting that my hestitation with buying the Coleco multicart is based largely on the suspect reliability of Coleco consoles themselves. They're less reliable and tend to be a little expensive to pick up, as far as retro consoles go. So, there are factors *outside* of the cart itself that people consider when buying one of these items.

Edited by Paranoid

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I hope that Chad builds a 5200 CC cart. Classics 128 Flash cart is great but is to small for the 5200 library. I like the unlimited expandability of the Cuttle Carts. If I'm going to invest over $100 on a multi-game cart, I'd rather spend the extra money and have a cart that I know will never get full.

 

Allan

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I am also interested in a CC3 but only if the price is reasonable.

 

And why use Micro SD?? That memory card is much smaller than an USA dime. Drop it on any kind of rug and you might as well write it off as goner.

 

A mini SD would be a bit safer or better yet use regular SD card.

 

If anything good, Walmart has micro SD cards in 64 to 512MB last I checked. When CC2 was released with MMC only support, MMC were hard to find locally and often some had to buy them online.

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The thing with the 128 in 1 is that it is *so* easy to change your library around, and honestly, there aren't THAT many more than 128 unique rom images for the 5200, especially if you discount the titles that just simply aren't worth every loading (like GORF). I do agree, I prefer the CC2 having an external user upgradable memory source to the 128-in-1 usb... *but* the 128-in-1 makes up for this disadvantage with how painless it is to add a new image compared to the CC2. I've talked about this before, and they both have unique advantages and disadvantges as multicarts, to me.

 

I imagine that a 5200 CC is low on Chad's priority list, just because he knows it would have a more limited market as competition against Steve's cart. (And isn't there at least 1 other USB multicart for the 5200 out there, too?) Seems smarter to cater to the other consoles that don't have a current solution available commercially.

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Let me explain my reasons for not buying the CC2.

 

The first obstacle was price. I forget how much the CC2 was initially, but I do recall it being over $100. That alone isn't that big of a deal. The price did seem fair along with the promised utility and relative perceived complexity of the device.

 

The part that got me was the MMC card. I had never seen one of these, and I have yet to see one outside of the pre-loaded ones used for games on my N-Gage. The fact that I would have to buy an additional (and hard to find) memory device before I could use the rather expensive CC2 severely damaged my inclination to purchase one.

 

Also, the CC2 seemed overly complex from descriptions of it. It may not be in practice, but that was the impression I came away with. Quite frankly, I'm a dummy. If it's more complicated than the AtariMax USB carts or the Vidgame Wiz 5200 USB cart, then I'll admit I'm too damn stupid to deal with it.

 

Now, if I may make some suggestions:

 

1) The price should include an initial memory card or other storage.

 

2) Looking around, it seems SD cards are the way to go if removable cards are desired. I've seen 1G versions of these for $20.

 

3) I don't remember how the CC2 connected to computer, but I'm a simpleton and need USB support with a convenient GUI interface.

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How many games are there for the INTV? How many homebrews?

There are on the order of 128 distinct carts for the INTV, counting the demo carts. I don't know about homebrews, but there probably aren't too many since it's so hard to make an actual cartridge. I only know this because I ended up with around 110 of them without making a serious effort to get such a large collection.

 

I imagine that a 5200 CC is low on Chad's priority list, just because he knows it would have a more limited market as competition against Steve's cart. (And isn't there at least 1 other USB multicart for the 5200 out there, too?) Seems smarter to cater to the other consoles that don't have a current solution available commercially.

Yep, that's because the 5200 is so easy to make cartridge hardware for, since it uses a standard EPROM-compatible bus. The Intellivision uses a weird bus, only exceeded by the Channel F in the complexity of the bus interface logic that is necessary, plus it needs at least 10 data bits.

 

If anything good, Walmart has micro SD cards in 64 to 512MB last I checked. When CC2 was released with MMC only support, MMC were hard to find locally and often some had to buy them online.

The reason for MMC was that the SD specs were not readily available at that time, unless you happened to have $10,000 burning a hole in your pocket.

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And MMC wasn't *that* difficult to come by. It was as common as SD cards, at one point (actually, initially it was MORE available than SD cards).

 

Unfortuantely, there just aren't that many devices still out there that *only* support MMC, and SD is far more common.

 

With that said, I do kind of hate to see Chad basing this on another unproven card format when it looks like the market is still bashing out what will become the dominant product. (Mini or Micro). Especially between formats that are minaturized subsets of PC formats mostly intended for Cel Phone use.

 

The CC2 isn't super complex, but it wasn't a drag-and-drop GUI based system, and that is a factor for some people in chosing to buy these kind of items. I suppose Chad may figure that the people who are turned off by the additional complexity are most likely to be the "trouble" customers anyhow (in as much as that they are more liable to run into problems they can't figure out themselves, that may have *nothing* to do with the cart itself).

 

From what Lee was saying in his review, it sounds like the INTV CC3 cart will go a long way to resolving some of the most complex issues that the CC2 faced (mostly setting up your bank-switching files correctly and editing what amounts to a compiled .ini or .config file to make changes).

 

In either case, I am certain that the CC3 will be a quality product that offers incredible functionality for gamers interested in the INTV, and might add an incentive for homebrewers to start exploring INTV games, also. Chad makes excellent products.

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From what Lee was saying in his review, it sounds like the INTV CC3 cart will go a long way to resolving some of the most complex issues that the CC2 faced (mostly setting up your bank-switching files correctly and editing what amounts to a compiled .ini or .config file to make changes).

As Lee mentioned above, Chad has come up with a GUI based interface for loading the CC3. I've tried it on XP, and compiled it as well for OSX - functionally identical and VERY simple point and click operation. ;)

Edited by remowilliams

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From what Lee was saying in his review, it sounds like the INTV CC3 cart will go a long way to resolving some of the most complex issues that the CC2 faced (mostly setting up your bank-switching files correctly and editing what amounts to a compiled .ini or .config file to make changes).

As Lee mentioned above, Chad has come up with a GUI based interface for loading the CC3. I've tried it on XP, and compiled it as well for OSX - functionally identical and VERY simple drag and drop operation. ;)

 

Can you show some screen shots of the xp and OS x versions?

 

Allan

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Can you show some screen shots of the xp and OS x versions?

 

Allan

You can download the Win32 and Linux versions right on Chad's site if you want to check them out. The OSX version (not available yet on the site) functions identically, it just has a nicer Aqua look to it ;)

 

Also, I meant to say point and click, not drag and drop. Not a big difference, but we're known to have some fanatical nitpickers around here. :P :D

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That definetly sounds cool. If I have one nitpick about the CC2, it was that I often don't update it simply because it is kind of a pain. There are a lot of new Roms that I just haven't taken the time to add, even though I should. And of course, with the most active homebrew scene around, the Atari 2600 is the one where you would REALLY want this kind of feature.

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It seems most of the discussion points have been correctly answered by others, but I'll add a few things below.

 

The reason for Micro-SD is for the size. Intellivision cartridges are very small, and there is very little room inside the cases with the two screw posts. So I chose the smallest form factor that was readily available to make things fit.

 

There is a new GUI which is, hopefully, easier to use. Basically stick in your Inty Lives/Rocks CDs, let it scan them for the games - it copies them to the SD card and formats them for the CC3. Then select them and add them to your menu. If you want to get fancier than that you can do the whole submenu thing, arrange games in your desired order etc. The dragging aspects of moving games in the menu is on the weak side, but it was the best I could get out of Qt, which was the most full featured GUI system I could find that worked in Win32/OS X/Linux. Feel free to download it from my site and kick the tires.

 

There are homebrews for the Inty, but not many. Fortunately the Intellicart .ROM format is the standard for releasing Inty games, and that is the format that the CC3 reads as well. (Inty games have non-contiguous memory maps, so a means of describing those maps is required.)

 

I have no plans for making a 5200 or Colecovision cart. Both of those consoles have very simple requirements, basically just a straight eprom/flash, flip the upper address bits to select the games. Almost no special stuff to worry about. (Bounty Bob for 5200. Is there anything special else for either console?) Nothing there to make designing a product interesting to me.

 

As for the status of the CC3, 3 people have been testing it on various hardware. Generally results are good, but it's obvious the Inty hardware is getting old. Flakey controllers and power supplies are causing some problems. Sometimes when you turn on the Inty the screen shows garbage for a second or so before the CC3 menu screen kicks in, most likely due to the CC3 being held in reset waiting for stable power. You're supposed to be able to return to the menu by holding clear on a controller and hitting reset (good for Inty 2's which don't like to turn off), but a lot of Inty 2 controllers haven't help up so well, so the clear button is intermittent, so you have to press reset more than once to get the menu. And very rarely the backup boot system will come on even though the main system is fine, requiring a power cycle to fix the problem.

 

I can't do anything about the faulty controller buttons, and have some ideas on the power on problems but know that I will never be able to entirely eliminate them. So far my testers tell me that the problems are no big deal and wouldn't deter them from purchasing. However, as Lee mentioned in the opening i have a low tolerance for problems in my products. So at this point I'm not feeling all that motivated to bring this to market. I haven't even bothered to price parts or assembly costs.

 

What I may end up doing is posting a feedback form on my website that basically lists the above problems as a disclaimer, and asks how many people would be willing to buy anyway. Then if there is still sufficient interest I could go forward.

 

The other thing is I'm thinking about just selling these as bare boards with no cartridge case, basically a user supplies their own case deal. This saves me from the worst parts of selling these things - acquiring old shells, removing labels and getting them cleaned up. (At least no holes to cut on these ones.) I'm not sure how people would feel about that either. Keeps costs lower at least.

 

And price wise I hope to hit $150.00. But as I said I haven't actually looked into costs much at this point.

 

Chad

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