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RCA Studio II GOLD MINE! An interview with the Studio 2 Production Manager!


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What process was used to create the file AUD_2464_09_B41_ID01_01_01.rom? Was it done manually by looking at the waveform? Using a program to decode it? A combination of both?

 

I wrote a program to decode the wav files and posted that binary file... There's some degradation/dropouts in the recording, so these have to be corrected manually. I am going to try and see whether I can use the two signals (left and right) to create a more consistent waveform or even combine the four signals (L & R + second recording) to get a more consistent binary dump.

 

The program counts the number of zero crossings to determine whether it's a long pulse (1) or a short one (0). There's only a parity bit at the end of each byte as an error check, so it's difficult to ensure that the signal is correctly decoded. On top of that, the different files appear to be recorded with different hardware/software routines: this particular one seems to be newer than some of the others i've looked at, which conform to what is described in the document scans. In the Fred documentation, one of the last annexes describes the newer method...

 

I'll try to refine the decoder to see whether I get better results...

 

FliP

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The following is a "video" of a digitized audio reel containing a recording of an internal RCA presentation about the new Studio II that was presented by Paul Garver, P.K. Baltzer, and S.D. Callaghan on December 14th, 1976. It is absolutely amazing to listen these gentlemen discuss some of the plans, features, and design decisions to their colleagues. With a lot of videogame history, we only really ever get to look back- this one of the rare times we can listen to people back in the day looking forward! There's more than a few interesting tidbits of information, among them confirmation that the Studio III and Studio IV were already planned concepts by late 1976, and that planned games for the Casino Series included Acey-Ducey, Poker, and Horseracing.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IryIKV2EQDU

Edited by Blazing Lazers
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And of course, today a sort of (prototype) Demonstration and a "Tester" finally turned up!:

 

https://web.archive.org/web/20171213002726/https://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-RCA-Studio-II-ROM-Board-Logic-Tester-No-Demo-Prototype-Cartridge-Game/253308621526?hash=item3afa5ed2d6:g:53QAAOSwQQlaMAal

 

 

Random Ebay seller: Here for sale is something to geek out about for any fellow RCA Studio II collector. We have two VERY RARE (I have never seen before) prototype cartridges for the RCA system. One cart is a ROM board logic Tester No.1 #5008339 for use with the console. The 2nd is a RARE Demo cartridge that only a handful of dealers had in the country. These were purchased many years ago at a RCA engineer estate in NJ. I have had these in my personal collection for many years without telling only a couple people ever! It's time to let it go to someone who will treasure this in there gaming system/collection. I will be listing the console soon, so please look at my other auctions.

 

A few observations:

  • From what we do know of the Tester there was an external power supply required for use with it- if this is indeed the actual Tester I that was sold in the Service Manual then where exactly would it connect to this board? This copy may not be complete, and may also be a sort of Tester, but not necessarily the Tester, which anecdotally was in a cartridge much the same as all of the other known Studio II programs.
  • As the Tester mentioned in the Service Manual was something available for sale, it presumably is/was NOT the same as this board, which explicitly indicates that it is NOT TO BE SOLD on the back. This may be a rare case of a prototype/internal use only device turning up for sale before the actual finalized commercial version.
  • The ROM, and/or any data contained on this board, may well be the same as whatever was on the actual, commercially sold Tester I. WE NEED TO GET THIS PROPERLY DUMPED FOR PRESERVATION!
  • We now know what Studio II prototypes look like! Does anybody else here recall ever seeing something like this before?

I'll message the seller about preserving this, an encourage him to post more here about it; and all of our contacts from back in the day who might have actually seen something like this. More to follow...

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Edited by Blazing Lazers
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Wow - for that price, i would definitely want proof that these still work, especially with all the static warnings on the labels...

 

The fact that they have very different shells may indicate they are prototypes or at least very early versions...

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See the headline "The First Cartridge System" and scroll down a few paragraphs.

 

http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/545/vcg-interview-jerry-lawson-black-video-game-pioneer

 

Great article. Enjoyed reading that a lot. Too bad the Fairchild system didn't take off like it should have. It is a cool system and should have been able to have made more of an impact than what it did.

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Unusual that a seller would separate a key component of one listing into another, but the person offering the Tester seems to have done just that with a separate listing that contains what purports to be the required power supply for the Tester I:

 

https://web.archive.org/web/20171214033506/https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-RCA-Studio-II-Home-TV-Programmer-Console-18V100-Power-Supply-Control/253310689454?hash=item3afa7e60ae:g:PDIAAOSwH2VaMVo6

 

A few other points:

  • That "controller" is actually an ordinary antenna directional selector that just happens to resemble a videogame rotary controller. It's not at all Studio II related.
  • The power supply there may or may not actually be the one required for the Tester I. It has what seems to be a connector socket that appears to match the one at the end of the antenna rotator, suggesting that it is really the power supply for that device. It also indicates that the part number it is to be used for is 742937, which does not match any listed in the Service Manual through which these were ordered back in the day.
  • The really interesting part of the listing is the system itself, which is the lowest Serial Number unit yet seen- 121!

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That's just a portable antenna/signal amplifier that rca made. I believe a few years after the rca s2. It has nothing to do with the rca s2, I find it next to impossible it would be what would be used to power the tester in any way.

Seems like the seller being an electronic's collector would know this and is just trying to pull a fast one on potential buyers by grouping odd parts and being misleading.

The part number on the psu is just the number for the actual cord you would use with it (should you need to replace it).

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I don't actually see a spot on the tester cartridge for any kind of power supply in the photo, unless its on a side that isn't shown.

I don't think it's supposed to. I think the tester power adapter is just used in the console to give it more "oomf" for whatever stress testing it needs.

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Hello,


The test cartridge, as far as I know, did not have a power adapter connected to it. Instead it used a regular wall wart, just like the one shipped with the Studio II, but with higher current capacity.


Here is a screen clip from the Studio II service manual:


S2Clip.JPG


ED

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Right! I forgot about that. So in that case whoever wins this should just be able to just substitute a compatible power supply to see if it works (which I imagine this particular seller isn't going to bother doing).

I would say don't even try to power up the original. Go straight to dumping it and check the dump in an editor and test with emulation ;)

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I wonder if all the "tester" carts actually look like that. Or whether there actually are any that are more "finished" looking.

yeah its strange it has a sticker on it that appears to be sized to fit a standard s2 cart but it slapped sideways on this proto cart??
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yeah its strange it has a sticker on it that appears to be sized to fit a standard s2 cart but it slapped sideways on this proto cart??

 

Well the "Tester I" cart actually has the stock number on it, so it may well be all "Tester I" carts look like that.

 

 

The proto Demo Cart is also interesting, has what I assume is an earthing wire attached to it? It also says to use a modified power supply for some reason?

 

Wonder if how different that version of the demo is compared to the "released" version.

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As a note of interest (although minor)

 

The stock number on that Tester cart is: 5008339.

However the stock number in the service manual is: 5009339.

 

so 2 possibilities.

 

1)There is another version of it out there somewhere.

2)It was a misprint in the service manual.

-the power unit has a #: 5008333

-demo cart has a #: 5008331

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If the tape is actually stereo, then the left and right tracks could definitely be useful.

 

Have you tried any audio filters? One issue I see occasionally is that the waveform drops below the center line, even though the high frequency pattern is still there. See around 2m06.23s, for an example. A high pass filter can help with that. I used Audacity to apply a 2400Hz high-pass filter with 6db rolloff, then amplified it 6.631db. Maybe something like that will process better. The file's too big to attach here, but it's easy to replicate. You might have to play around with the settings a little to see what works best for these recordings.

 

 

I wrote a program to decode the wav files and posted that binary file... There's some degradation/dropouts in the recording, so these have to be corrected manually. I am going to try and see whether I can use the two signals (left and right) to create a more consistent waveform or even combine the four signals (L & R + second recording) to get a more consistent binary dump.

 

The program counts the number of zero crossings to determine whether it's a long pulse (1) or a short one (0). There's only a parity bit at the end of each byte as an error check, so it's difficult to ensure that the signal is correctly decoded. On top of that, the different files appear to be recorded with different hardware/software routines: this particular one seems to be newer than some of the others i've looked at, which conform to what is described in the document scans. In the Fred documentation, one of the last annexes describes the newer method...

 

I'll try to refine the decoder to see whether I get better results...

 

FliP

 

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soooo..... they sold at the last second.

 

Anyone here get them or knows the person who did? (looking at stupus again)

Let's just say they are 'all in the family' now.

And should be made available to me for dumping. ;)

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