Original Post

Is there any known information about making repro cartridges? For example is it possible to use a “Mario Tenis” game and change rom with an eeprom?

I wish to own a copy of “faceball remastered” and/or “bound high!” in the future. I would love a copy of Hyper fighter aswell πŸ˜› but since that rom can not be released -.-” this probably won’t happen.

So… any possoble help in making repro’s? Or buying them?

22 Replies

If you’re looking to make one, I’ve got a couple (sorta) tutorials on my site: http://projectvb.com/tech/carts/eprom.html and http://projectvb.com/tech/carts/flash.html . I wrote them >10 years ago, but for the most part, everything is still the same.

There are basically just two different cartridge types… one with battery backed RAM, the other without.

DogP

Thank you for the info, I’m looking into it right now. Although my goal would be a cart that looks like a retail cartridge. Your findings are very helpfull though.

Are there no bankswitching methods used on VB?

DrWho198 wrote:
Is there any known information about making repro cartridges? For example is it possible to use a “Mario Tenis” game and change rom with an eeprom?

I wish to own a copy of “faceball remastered” and/or “bound high!” in the future. I would love a copy of Hyper fighter aswell πŸ˜› but since that rom can not be released -.-” this probably won’t happen.

So… any possoble help in making repro’s? Or buying them?

If you are just looking to play homebrews, prototypes and the like I suggest you get yourself a Flashboy+. Minestorm is still selling them I think.

If you are looking for the Repos that have been sold in the past you might be out of luck. Some pop up on ebay from time to time but they often sell way over price. It is always a good idea to contact bigmak when it comes to repos.

Well, i’m new to this scene and I actually do not know bigmak.
I’ve been reading about the flashboy, and it’s on my mind. But I’m a DIY kinda guy. And part of this journey is about the experience. I’ve made cartridges before, made my own pcb’s (someone else’s schematics though) but the PCB design was mine and I got them made in china. Now I have my own A2600 cartridges with bankswitching. I feel comfortable that I could pull this one off too. So right now I’m looking at the possibilities.

Sure, I would love the nicely boxed repro’s that have been sold before. But it all depends at what price and what quality. And I’m sure once they hit E-bay prices will be too high and shipping even more. So until I stumble on a bargain, I wanted to try out reproduction myself.

Programming for the VB seems interesting too, but I have little time to spare, so I doubt that I’ll ever succeed in that.

So…
I ask questions to find out more about how the VB cartridges work. This is a really nice supportive forum. But looking up information in here is pretty hard if you just enter this scene. And in the mean time I throw out a question if there are still people actively making Repro’s, because I’m a collector aswell in the end.

I hope this clarifies what direction i wanted to go with this thread. But I have been i this scene for only a few days and already things get me excited more then I imagined it would. So by all means… please continue with your suggestions because they might interest me even if it wasn’t really what I wanted to ask.

There is no bankswitching. There’s PLENTY of address space… 23 address lines x 16 bits, so 128 mbits for each of the 3 memory spaces accessible on the cart connector (0x07xxxxxx – ROM, 0x07xxxxxx – RAM, and 0x04xxxxxx – Expansion).

If you’re looking to do it yourself, I’ve got the pinout on my site: http://projectvb.com/tech/cartpinout.html , and there are some diagrams here: http://www.goliathindustries.com/vb/VBDiagrams.html . It’s basically just a matter of connecting the address, data, and control lines from the connector to the chips.

For reference, here’s a simple cart PCB I made back in 2005 or so: http://projectvb.com/tech/carts/plccpcb.html . I made a few “repro” style cartridges with that board by simply soldering the chip directly to the board (no socket).

DogP

Great info, I don’t know why… but somehow I thought there were only 21 address lines.

Uses M27C160 (16Mbit) or M27C320 (32Mbit) EPROM

The capacitor is 100nF

(red is top layer, blue is bottom)

Attachments:

great help.
But in the end I’m aiming to use smd’s as these fit in the case.

I had a look around today, and I got my eye on these for a programable cartridge:

http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/flash-memory-chips/7238839/

These should provide 1 megabyte of flash memory each. A pair would give me 2 megabyte. They have a PLCC32 package which I have an adaptor for and should be able to program.
But they are not exactly Flash memory and I wonder if it would be possible to use them as such. Does anyone know more about these?

  • This reply was modified 8 years, 5 months ago by DrWho198.
  • This reply was modified 8 years, 5 months ago by DrWho198.

Those are 3.3V parts… the VB is a 5V system. I’d also recommend <= 100ns parts so you can run homebrew with 1 wait state (compared to 2 wait states with <= 150ns). DogP

I knew it was a 3.3v, but I think that wouldn’t be too much of a problem. I don’t know what the wait state is about. Does that mean that it takes another cycle to read these as they are too slow?

If it technically would be possible in PP mode to use it as flash memory then I guess this one should do the trick:
http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/flash-memory-chips/7238849/

If these would not work then I would have to turn to a tsop package which I do not have an adaptor for. In that case it would be best to make a dedicated writer that could rewrite the cards if possible. But I was hoping to not needing to go there yet. Although a tsop would make it possible to make even bigger cartridges with a single memory chip. It would also mean a cartridge would cost moe to produce.

——————————————————————
Funny how this forum keeps stacking up my edits… since I edit my posts often this looks a bit weird πŸ˜›

  • This reply was modified 8 years, 5 months ago by DrWho198.
  • This reply was modified 8 years, 5 months ago by DrWho198.
  • This reply was modified 8 years, 5 months ago by DrWho198.
  • This reply was modified 8 years, 5 months ago by DrWho198.

So… any possoble help in making repro’s? Or buying them?

I can build you some games if you want.

(I’m going back to making single carts without packaging)

Interesting, and what would you charge for a game and shipping?
And also, what games would you recommend getting a cartridge for πŸ˜‰

Just to make things clear, I wouldn’t get a repro for a common game. A game would have to be unpayable rare to get a repro. So I’m more thinking about unreleased or homebrew.

  • This reply was modified 8 years, 5 months ago by DrWho198.

having some of the hacked roms on single carts could be cool. there is always the flashboy but there is something to be said for standalone carts.

DrWho198 wrote:
I knew it was a 3.3v, but I think that wouldn’t be too much of a problem.

A 3.3V part will need level shifters, which wouldn’t be necessary if you use one of the many available 5V ROMs. If you run the 3.3V parts at 5V, or connect their non-5V tolerant inputs to 5V pins, they’ll be damaged.

DrWho198 wrote:
I don’t know what the wait state is about. Does that mean that it takes another cycle to read these as they are too slow?

The VB runs at 20MHz, which is a 50ns cycle. There is a register to select whether you have 1 or 2 ROM wait states, so 1 wait state means a ROM access in 100ns (1 cycle + 1 wait), 2 wait states means 150ns (1 cycle + 2 waits). I believe all commercial games used 2 wait states, but some homebrew takes advantage of the extra performance by using faster ROMs and only having 1 wait state.

DrWho198 wrote:
If it technically would be possible in PP mode to use it as flash memory then I guess this one should do the trick:
http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/flash-memory-chips/7238849/

I didn’t actually look at the other datasheet this morning, but I just checked… neither of these will work, even ignoring the 3.3V problem. You need a standard parallel ROM… those have sector based access.

If you’re only looking to do repros, and want to go with a PLCC package, check out the 27C080 in PLCC. It’s OTP, but works great for games where you don’t need to reburn the chips (I used those and 29F040s on my carts).

Another thing to note… the original PCBs are 0.020″ thick, and PLCC chips are still a bit thick to put inside the shell (I sanded down the tops of mine to keep the cart from bulging).

DogP

DogP wrote:
I didn’t actually look at the other datasheet this morning, but I just checked… neither of these will work, even ignoring the 3.3V problem. You need a standard parallel ROM… those have sector based access.

These chips can be accessed in 2 modes. the parallel access is the PP mode that is mentioned in the data sheets.

DogP wrote:
If you’re only looking to do repros, and want to go with a PLCC package, check out the 27C080 in PLCC. It’s OTP, but works great for games where you don’t need to reburn the chips (I used those and 29F040s on my carts).

Thanks, I already noticed this on the tutorials that you wrote. I keep them in mind. But a flash option would be nice too and I can’t find any PLCC flash chips that are big enough to store the bigger games.

DogP wrote:
Another thing to note… the original PCBs are 0.020″ thick, and PLCC chips are still a bit thick to put inside the shell (I sanded down the tops of mine to keep the cart from bulging).

Thanks for the tip.

I’m not planning to build a PCB any time soon, but I’m checking out my options.

DrWho198 wrote:
These chips can be accessed in 2 modes. the parallel access is the PP mode that is mentioned in the data sheets.

PP mode only has 11 addresses (A0-A10), so I’m assuming it’s sector based as well (similar to a CompactFlash card, which can be many GB, has a parallel interface, but not a purely parallel ROM).

The reason that there are no 8-mbit 32-pin parallel PLCC flash chips is lack of pins… since EPROMs don’t need a /WE pin, they were able to use the additional pin for another address on the 27C080… but a 29F040 is the largest 32-pin parallel flash (1x VCC, 1x GND, 8x data, 19x address, 1x /CE, 1x /OE, 1x /WE = 32 pins). For 8-mbit, you need 20x address lines.

They do make some PLCC-44 x16 flash, but IIRC they don’t have any of the larger chips in that package (like the 29F160 or 29F320). They had basically moved to TSOP by then.

DogP

if you have 11 adress lines (0-10) then you can access 1024 possitions. Multiply this by the 8bit (a0-a7) this chip is and you get 8Mbit or 1Mbyte. The parallel mode is used to program the chip in a programmer. In operation these chips were meant to be used sector based.

I know that the likelihood of finding any bigger chips is small unless I go for another chip. And I also know that these chips were not meant to be used in parallel mode during operation. but what I don’t know is if the complete range of 1024 addresses can be written to because of its original purpose… namely to store a BIOS.

I think it should work… but I would have to try to be sure. I think the biggest problem is the 3.3v. I wanted to keep the PCB simple and cheap.

If I don’t use a PLCC package then making a proto would be harder because of how close and small the pads become. Stepping to 16bit flash would mean I need even more pins. A lower bit count like 4 bit(I have no idea what kind exist) would work but I would need more chips. I think that in the end I will have to walk away from the PLCC anyway as I want to have the possibility to add RAM in the end.

DrWho198 wrote:
if you have 11 adress lines (0-10) then you can access 1024 possitions. Multiply this by the 8bit (a0-a7) this chip is and you get 8Mbit or 1Mbyte. The parallel mode is used to program the chip in a programmer. In operation these chips were meant to be used sector based.

You might want to check your math again. πŸ˜‰ You’re off by an order of magnitude (and 1). 11 address lines gives you 2^11, or 2048… multiply by 8 and you’re at 16Kbit (2KByte). You’ll need two of them in parallel for the 16-bit bus, but that’s still only 4KB. πŸ˜›

DrWho198 wrote:
Stepping to 16bit flash would mean I need even more pins.

Technically, fewer total pins, since it’d be one 16-bit chip, rather than two 8-bit chips (which requires routing duplicate address/control lines to each chip).

DogP

dang… you’re right! what have I been smoking -.-”

about the number of pins I was referring to the number of pins/chip. I guess plcc is not going to be an option for my final design. But getting a batch of pcb’s being made in china is gone have to wait. In the end they would be almost the same as a flashboy…

 

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