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News • Jan 19, 2021 20:50 • KR155E

Virtual Boys around the globe finally get to boot the new generation of VB flash carts with Kevin Mellott’s newest creation, HyperFlash32, the first batch of which has recently started shipping to buyers. HyperFlash32 is the first ever flash cart to come with a built-in eInk screen to show a digital label based on what ROM is loaded.

To get a bit into detail, HyperFlash32 is a single ROM Virtual Boy flash cart with 32 Mbit of built in flash memory along with an 8k x 8 nvSRAM that doesn’t require a backup battery. It can be reflashed from ROMs available on the SD card without a computer connected. As such, it crosses the boundary somewhat between a single ROM cart and a multi-ROM cart. Although only one game is loaded at a time, it takes anywhere from 15 seconds to 90 seconds to load a new one. The digital labels and loading bar icons are user customizable. SRAM contents with save data are saved off to the SD card and reloaded as ROMs are swapped out. You can even access your SRAM files to transfer to another HF32, or even to original VB game cartridges. HF32 has built-in capacitive touch buttons on the back to provide a fully self-contained user interface that doesn’t require a computer or GUI. It even has a haptic module to improve feedback on the haptic touch buttons.

Features overview:

  • 32 Mbit Flash memory
  • 8k x 8 nvSRAM
  • SD Card slot
  • e-Ink Digital label that is user customizable
  • Customizable icons for programming bar
  • Capacitive touch buttons on the back for on-screen control
  • USB dev port
  • Haptics

The first batch has long been sold out, but a second one is said to begin to ship in April 2021. If you’re interested in a unit, you can place your order on the HyperFlash32 Order Page. Having in my possesion a prototype unit, I can assure you that it is an awesome and highly recommendable piece of tech!

News • Jan 19, 2021 20:30 • KR155E 4 Replies

Banda Virtual has released another pseudo homebrew minigame for Virtual Boy. That is, a Game Boy homebrew game that was made specifically to be wrapped in M.K.’s Game Boy Emulator to create a VB ROM of it.

“ZXN”, presumably a play on arcade classic Zaxxon, is a simple sidescrolling space shoot’em up game that restarts from the beginning once you get hit, similar to their previous game, Super Jump.

As usual, it has been released on Youtube. You can also find the ROM attached to this post.

I am still looking for a better term for this type of homebrew, by the way, so let me know your ideas. 🙂

Featured Topic • Jan 11, 2021 00:15 • mellott124 22 Replies

I’d like to do a prototype HF32 cart that uses a black/white/red eInk screen like I showed way back at the beginning of the development. The idea behind this is to show what’s the best label that can be produced for these screens and what it may look like on HF32. I also have some other ideas in the background where I’m debating using these tri color eInk screens.

I’m not the best artist so I’m proposing a contest where I’ll give away a free HF32 flash cart ($200 value currently) to the best black/white/red eInk label. I may even throw in a free box set.

The label should be VB themed. It would be great if it was related to a VB game, or possible future game, but that’s not a strict requirement. I’ll pick based on best overall image quality on the eInk screen. Obviously this is based on my personal interpretation. For the b/w/r screen, it is only black, white, or red, no grayscales are allowed. So labels with dithering are likely going to look better. Also, if you review the original HF32 contest, many of the winners had dithering in some shape or form.

The eInk screen is 264 x 176 but I only use a portion of that on the HF32. Basically 236×176 shifted to the far left. There is some vertical clipped as well but its minimal. I’d recommend not putting too much near the top and bottom extreme edges. You can also bleed your background over into the right edge but just be aware it will be masked by the HF32 cover. Please make black –>0, white–>255, and red –>255 in your RGB 24bit bmps. This will keep conversion consistent.

I’ll run this contest 2 weeks and pick a winner on Jan. 24th 2021. I can give you either a normal production HF32 cart, or possibly send a prototype of the b/w/r version. We can discuss when you win. Just be aware that the on-screen interface popular on HF32 now won’t work well for a b/w/r screen. Also like before, I may give away more than 1 prize if there are multiple that really blow my mind. There were too many good ones last time. By entering the contest you also give PlanetVB people permission to use your label on a tri color eInk screen, should one ever become available. If you already paid for a HF32 unit, then I’ll refund your purchase if you’re the winner.

Cannot wait to see what people come up with! Post your 24bit bmps images here for documentation purposes and I’ll download and convert and repost on the screen like before. I’ll attempt to do at least nightly uploads, but may upload more often.

I’m posting some images of my original b/w/r image (although not a very good one) just as an example. As well as some others online that look good despite the screen limitations. Thanks!

Featured Topic • Jan 04, 2021 17:52 • thunderstruck 1 Reply

Hey Everyone,

attached to this post you will find a command line tool I wrote for developers. It connects to the HF32 through the USB port and allows you to send files and flash them directly. The application needs firmware 1.6 (which I will release later today). This tool bypasses many features of the HF32 and leaves it in a dirty state. It is only intended to be used by developers who are looking for a comfortable way to update the rom flashed to the HF32.

Here are some example commands to get you started (Check the help for details):
Display help: hfcli -h
Execute a single command (in this case <PM>): hfcli -p COM1 -c PM
Start terminal mode. Try sending <PM> after successful connection: hfcli -p COM1 -t
Format SD card: hfcli -p COM1 -f
Formatting the SD card this way drastically increases communication speed
Alternatively you can send <FSD> in terminal mode.
Send a file: hfcli -p COM1 -s space.vb -n invaders -m 2 -u

The HF32 is communication on a rather high baudrate which might lead to faulty communication. I did put allot of checks into place but there is still a chance of it happening. Also, there seems to be a problem Mac where only slower communication is possible. Therefore, I added an option to put the HF32 into “slow mode” (again, this will only work with firmware 1.6 or newer).

To activate slow mode put a file called “slow.txt” into the root of your SD card. When using the cli add the option –slow to your command. For example:
hfcli -p COM1 -s space.vb -n invaders -m 2 -u –slow

This thing took forever to write so I hope someone besides me is going to use it. Attached is Windows, Mac and Linux version.

thunderstruck

If you are looking to support me you can do so here: https://www.patreon.com/thunderstruckProjects

News • Dec 19, 2020 00:24 • KR155E 1 Reply

Banda Virtual has released a new pseudo Virtual Boy homebrew mini game. That is, a Game Boy game made in GB Studio that has then been wrapped in Game Boy Emulator to create a VB ROM of it; this time using the whitelabel patch to make it look closer to a native homebrew. “Super Jump” is a simple game with a certain Flappy Bird vibe to it. You play as Mario and jump over a series of increasingly difficult obstacles.

As usual, it has been released on Youtube.

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