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#1
flashcart for sale??
Posted on: 2006/6/15 23:14
Newbie
Joined 2004/9/10
9 Posts
Long Time User (15 Years)
Being not good at soldering and all, i was wondering if someone is ready to sell me a homemade flashcart or throught a trade of items, there are some homebrews that I would like to try on the real console...
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#2
Re: flashcart for sale??
Posted on: 2006/6/15 23:26
Nintendoid!
Joined 2005/10/25
Great Britain
123 Posts
Long Time User (14 Years)
I second that emotion :)
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#3
Re: flashcart for sale??
Posted on: 2006/6/16 14:53
VUE(xpert)
Joined 2003/7/27
Australia
267 Posts
CoderLong Time User (15 Years) DonatorApp Coder
A long while back there was talk of making flashcarts, but like a lot of things in the VB community as of late, this never happened.

It should be possible to make easily reproducible flashcarts as long as someone can make the circuit design, and purchase and solder the chip(s).
One problem may be getting hold of enough VB carts to salvage for cart connector and case.


...But like most things, we just don't seem to have the time to do such things anymore...
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#4
Re: flashcart for sale??
Posted on: 2006/6/16 15:42
Nintendoid!
Joined 2005/10/25
Great Britain
123 Posts
Long Time User (14 Years)
Hmmmm.... Well I'd personally be willing to buy some virtual league baseball carts and donate them to this little project :)
I'd really like to get this thing off the ground. We have two experienced game makers expressing interest in making homebrew vb games so this is an ideal opportunity for us. I'm willing to help in any way I can. If we need more people to learn programming I'd be more than willing to do that.
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#5
Re: flashcart for sale??
Posted on: 2006/6/16 17:06
VUE(xpert)
Joined 2003/7/27
Australia
267 Posts
CoderLong Time User (15 Years) DonatorApp Coder
Making a 1MB cart should be easy enough, as it only requires 2x512K chips. The problem arises when you try to make 2MB or cart with SRAM.

Another problem may be the chips themselves. Last I heard they were no longer being produced, and our usual source for them (DogP) seems to have dissappeared from IRC.


Personally I want to make a 2MB cart with SRAM, to be able to run both PD and commercial ROMs, but before that it probably is best I attempt something a little easier.

I have a lot of this (cart and programmer) fleshed out in my mind, but just haven't had any time to go any further.
Another problem may be my original idea for a programmer involved a LPT-based unit, but most OSs (and even some PCs) nowadays don't seem to support it anymore. I may have to do some research on a USB based unit. This would end up being faster, but would also end up a lot dearer than the other method.


Another idea of mine was to make an in-console programmable cart using the VB link port, but I never did figure out an easy method of switching the hardware from read to write and vice versa...
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#6
Re: flashcart for sale??
Posted on: 2006/6/17 9:46
VB Gamer
Joined 2006/4/20
40 Posts
Long Time User (13 Years)
Hey Lameboy,
I've been really interested in a flashcart for some time now and since you can't just buy one for vb the only alternative is to make one witch is a pain, but the idea is so hard to let go. However were all very busy with our real lives and do not have much time for projects such as this it's practically impossible for one person to research, design and build a flashcart effectively. Would you be interested in a collaborative project? I'm really fond of the idea of a flash cart that is written by a pc via the USB port, I think it would be the most effective way to do it. I have some experience soldering, working on PC's and Laptop hardware, limited programming experience and own precision tooling. I think I could build a flashcart that works with a USB port with some research into it and some help as I've never taken on a technical project with such depth. If we were going to do something with the USB Port we would need drivers for it to work with windows witch I can't write because I've never written one. Anyway,before I delve deeper into the idea would you be interested? I've got a couple of ideas as starting points to the flash cart hardware that could make it easy to build. Let me know. Later.
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#7
Re: flashcart for sale??
Posted on: 2006/6/17 14:22
VUE(xpert)
Joined 2003/7/27
Australia
267 Posts
CoderLong Time User (15 Years) DonatorApp Coder
I may be interested in that idea. I have a few weeks holidays coming up soon, but I doubt I'll use it on this. If anything I'm more likely to get stuck in and hopefully get my site back up.

The chips I use are AMD (AM) 29F040 PLCC-32. You may want to find a spec sheet on it for pinouts. PLCC seem to be the smallest 512K 5V flashchips that are still a solderable size. Most chips >512K are something rediculously tiny like TSOP and such. They measure about 21x25mm.
I doubt you have one, but you have a VB screwdriver/tool (either 'official' or a screwdriver or biro hack), you can open a VB cart and take a look at the PCB in there. Carts like Mario's Tennis (non-SRAM) are actually tiny compared to the potential size in there. This would allow more than 2xPLCC chips, but the probelm is working the PCB track into that size, not to mention any additional flash/SRAM chips.

Another problem with a non-inconsole method is finding a cart socket to plug the flashcart into in order to flash it. This is another reason I want to make an inconsole model.

Finally, Lupin over at http://pokeme.shizzle.it/ has made a USB-capable Pokemon Mini programmer using USB consisting of an Atmel AVR (microcontroller). I've been in contact with him for ages, but haven't gootten any real details from him about his software for it.

If you need any extra info let me know.
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#8
Re: flashcart for sale??
Posted on: 2006/6/17 14:39
VUE(xpert)
Joined 2003/7/27
Australia
267 Posts
CoderLong Time User (15 Years) DonatorApp Coder
As for my in-console idea, I figured out you can actually upload code to RAM and execute it from there. I also decided that I could tie the flash /WE (write) pin to the (unused) pin used by the VB for expansion (for stuff such as DSP, which never happened). This would mean when you access EXP area it would in fact be using ROM area but with the WE pin active. One potential problem with that may be the code needed by the flash chip to erase and write might need the WE pin active for the entire duration of the special code sent to it (for the write to work), whereas this would in fact drop the pin back to low after each byte of the code is sent. As I don't have a flashcart obviously I never got to test this fact.

I also decided on a barebones bootloader code that would be injected into each ROM upon write, which would do a minimalistic check of the link port to see if it was active, then begin transfer of the boot/flash ROM code over link port to RAM where it would be executed. This would mean only the most basic of code would need to be injected into the ROM, reducing the risk of lack of spare ROM space.

As for my LPT-based programmer idea, it would be reasonably easy as it could use a counter IC to increment the address lines of the cart, and control the cart WE/CE/OE/data pins and addr clock increment/reset pins via LPT. As it is already 5V there wouldn't be any need for voltage conversion. One possible problem is that LPT data lines are 8 bits wide, and the VB is 16 wide, which would mean some way of buffering the 2 lots of 8.

...And of course the whole programmer cart socket again. Only source for those things seems to be a (hopefully) dead VB.
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#9
Re: flashcart for sale??
Posted on: 2006/6/18 1:55
VB Gamer
Joined 2006/4/20
40 Posts
Long Time User (13 Years)
well, it just so happens I purchased a spare VB on ebay a couple of weeks ago witch has the infamous eye problem. So it has to be opened up anyway. I wanted to make a custom head mount shell for it with the guts but have always been interested in a flashcart. I bought some perfboard, 40 pin IC sockets (probably won't work though, just got excited when I saw a 40 pin socket.), new solder tips, solder and spool wire today at radioshack, . Not to mention I have the busted VB and an unattractive teleroboxer cart. I'm almost ready to go I have to see if I can get my hands on some chips then some sockets and a compatible eeprom programmer, oh and I'll have to make a gamebit with my dremel so I have to buy some new bits for that. But we can definitely get away with the classic eeprom cart. Although taking one of those usb media card reader/writers and crossing it over with a cart would be cool. a lot more BS though.
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#10
Re: flashcart for sale??
Posted on: 2006/6/18 5:36
VUE(xpert)
Joined 2003/7/27
Australia
267 Posts
CoderLong Time User (15 Years) DonatorApp Coder
For the easiest method of EEPROM programming I would suggest actually buying a chip programmer such as those available from Willem. Making a programmer from scratch would probably be a bit too hard.
Edited by lameboyadvance on 2006/6/18 5:51
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