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FPGA Based Videogame System


kevtris
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Interest in an FPGA Videogame System  

674 members have voted

  1. 1. I would pay....

  2. 2. I Would Like Support for...

  3. 3. Games Should Run From...

    • SD Card / USB Memory Sticks
    • Original Cartridges
    • Hopes and Dreams
  4. 4. The Video Inteface Should be...



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Okay, so the NT Mini is 450 bucks, and with the "jailbreak" option I think it's worth that kind of money for everything the console offers (especially if I don't have to purchase any actual carts to play the games) but before I place my order, I have an important question: How do the guys behind the NT Mini feel about these extra cores you are planning to deliver in the near future? I wouldn't want to purchase an NT Mini with the expectation to play Atari, ColecoVision, Game Boy, etc. games on it (in addition to NES, of course) and then learn that you won't be releasing those cores because your associates are against the idea.

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@Pixelboy: Kevtris owns all his cores so he can technically do whatever he wants with them. I think the concept of piggybacking is brilliant, and it's one step closer to an all-in-one Zimba3000 concept.

 

 

@Kevtris: You mentioned running Atari ROMs. Can your FPGA Atari core handle DPC+ homebrew games which use the ARM coprocessor to offload calculations? That would be a big plus, otherwise there's still Harmony carts.

 

Pity about AVS not having the potential to play other systems. I guess it's just a one trick pony, then?

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Okay, so the NT Mini is 450 bucks, and with the "jailbreak" option I think it's worth that kind of money for everything the console offers (especially if I don't have to purchase any actual carts to play the games) but before I place my order, I have an important question: How do the guys behind the NT Mini feel about these extra cores you are planning to deliver in the near future? I wouldn't want to purchase an NT Mini with the expectation to play Atari, ColecoVision, Game Boy, etc. games on it (in addition to NES, of course) and then learn that you won't be releasing those cores because your associates are against the idea.

 

Well they seem to be fine with it:

 

https://twitter.com/analogue_co/status/828068581652918273

 

"happy to see any dev for the Nt mini, but the firmware is unofficial. Though, we'll still support your warranty with any fw!"

 

So there ya go. If you're worried about it you can always wait until I release cores to play things you are looking for. I am hoping to release 1 a week though until they are all released. Converting some of them might take a little longer though, so I am going to play it by ear.

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@Pixelboy: Kevtris owns all his cores so he can technically do whatever he wants with them. I think the concept of piggybacking is brilliant, and it's one step closer to an all-in-one Zimba3000 concept.

 

 

@Kevtris: You mentioned running Atari ROMs. Can your FPGA Atari core handle DPC+ homebrew games which use the ARM coprocessor to offload calculations? That would be a big plus, otherwise there's still Harmony carts.

 

Pity about AVS not having the potential to play other systems. I guess it's just a one trick pony, then?

 

I don't support a full blown ARM core on there, but I do support DPC. I also support the speech add-on (though right now I don't have the EEPROM support, but that could be added). The problem with that though is going to be finding the ROM for the PIC (speakjet). I also support a lot of esoteric things like the supercharger demo unit and the supercharger itself. I use the supercharger demo unit CPU (a 6800) along with some code I wrote to emulate a tape player to upload the supercharger games. All the other usual mappers are supported except DPC+ due to it having a full blown ARM core. DPC+ itself might be possible if I go by the specs.

 

I did extensive testing of the 2600 core against Bankzilla (anyone remember that thing?) to confirm that everything looked OK.

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Well they seem to be fine with it:

 

https://twitter.com/analogue_co/status/828068581652918273

 

"happy to see any dev for the Nt mini, but the firmware is unofficial. Though, we'll still support your warranty with any fw!"

 

So there ya go. If you're worried about it you can always wait until I release cores to play things you are looking for. I am hoping to release 1 a week though until they are all released. Converting some of them might take a little longer though, so I am going to play it by ear.

 

Analogue also retweeted this: "It's only been a week and now the @analogue_co NT mini has been #jailbroken to play NES ROMs, and other future cores?! Whaaat? ;)"

(https://twitter.com/RGBSource/status/827723605769228289)

 

So they really do seem to be supportive of the effort.

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Analogue also retweeted this: "It's only been a week and now the @analogue_co NT mini has been #jailbroken to play NES ROMs, and other future cores?! Whaaat? ;)"

(https://twitter.com/RGBSource/status/827723605769228289)

 

So they really do seem to be supportive of the effort.

Well, I suppose if it helps to sell more NT Minis, there's no real reason to be against it. :)

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So no "Melody" homebrews then? My 2012 Harmony cart still has purpose. LOL! If the ARM wasn't too complex then the speed might be (70Mhz).

 

Also how is it you can support Speakjet if you don't have the microcode for it?

The chip was dumped at one point. the PIC emulation is good enough pretty much only for that though, all the other unrelated peripherals on the chip aren't supported. You can hear it on some of my youtube videos:

 

 

That's my simulation, and the audio produced is simply piped through with the 2600 audio. The PWM register contents are treated as audio so it's actually higher quality than the real thing.

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....

Unfortunately the FPGA and RAM inside the mini isn't large enough to run 16 bit cores so no they most likely won't be ported to it.

Do you consider PCE and the SuperGrafx variant to be 8bit or 16bit in this regard? ;-)

 

Basically I am asking if it's in the plans to release a PCE/SuperGrafx core for the Nt Mini.

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I assume the 3 minute firmware update only occurs if the firmware on the sd card differs from what's currently loaded?

 

Can the roms be placed in subfolders (eg. A - Z) for more convenient access from the Nt mini menu ?

yes that 3 minutes is only if you update the firmware on the nt itself. Loading a core takes around 19 seconds. Loading the "Stock" internal core is about 3/4th of a second. I hope to speed up SD card some time but it won't happen until after I finish adding all the cores. There will be an update for each core probably because I have to add a bunch of menus and things for them.

 

Sure, you can put them anywhere you like. You should put them under /NES/ though (or whatever core it is) because that's what it tries to open by default. If there is no /NES/ or whatever directory, it will silently fall back to the root directory. You can have nested directories up to 10 deep, and there's a 32K heap for file information which translates into hundreds of files (the number depends on the length of the filename and how long you're willing to wait for it to load and sort them). They are sorted too from A-Z then a-z if anyone wondered.

Do you consider PCE and the SuperGrafx variant to be 8bit or 16bit in this regard? ;-)

 

Basically I am asking if it's in the plans to release a PCE/SuperGrafx core for the Nt Mini.

 

Yeah I thought about PCE. I have Intellivision too which is 16 bits.. if you count that :-)

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yes that 3 minutes is only if you update the firmware on the nt itself. Loading a core takes around 19 seconds. Loading the "Stock" internal core is about 3/4th of a second. I hope to speed up SD card some time but it won't happen until after I finish adding all the cores. There will be an update for each core probably because I have to add a bunch of menus and things for them.

 

Sure, you can put them anywhere you like. You should put them under /NES/ though (or whatever core it is) because that's what it tries to open by default. If there is no /NES/ or whatever directory, it will silently fall back to the root directory. You can have nested directories up to 10 deep, and there's a 32K heap for file information which translates into hundreds of files (the number depends on the length of the filename and how long you're willing to wait for it to load and sort them). They are sorted too from A-Z then a-z if anyone wondered.

 

Yeah I thought about PCE. I have Intellivision too which is 16 bits.. if you count that :-)

 

So after I've updated to a new firmware should I remove the firmware binary file from the sd card for subsequent boots?

 

Looking at the readme it doesn't mention how to navigate up/down a nested directory structure... so maybe you mean that the roms can be nested on the sd card but when they're presented in the nt mini menu they'll be one giant sorted list?

 

I think I need to try this myself and stop bothering you with my questions :)

 

PCE would be an incredible addition if you think it's doable :thumbsup:

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So after I've updated to a new firmware should I remove the firmware binary file from the sd card for subsequent boots?

 

Looking at the readme it doesn't mention how to navigate up/down a nested directory structure... so maybe you mean that the roms can be nested on the sd card but when they're presented in the nt mini menu they'll be one giant sorted list?

 

I think I need to try this myself and stop bothering you with my questions :)

 

PCE would be an incredible addition if you think it's doable :thumbsup:

 

You don't have to remove it. The way the upgrade works is it looks for a different upgrade by version. If the version is the same, nothing happens. if it is different, it will upgrade. So keeping the file on there doesn't hurt anything. If you need the space you can remove it. Navigating directories works like in DOS. you click on a /name and it will enter that directory. clicking .. will take you back 1 level. So if you have /NES/A/Agame.nes it will start you out in /NES/ then you can click /A and go into that subdirectory. then you can click Agame.nes to run it. to go back to /NES/ hit the ..

 

Entering a directory will cause it to load the directory then sort it. subdirectories are always at the top, followed by 0-9, then A-Z and a-z.

 

 

 

Kev, do you still plan on selling z3k as a board only, no housing..?

 

I don't know. I got a bunch of other irons in the fire right now. This nt mini firmware should be a good interim solution though since the hardware already exists and I have an entire core framework written for it. Converting my cores to run on it is good because then they will be ready for a Zimba 3000. I have been going through and doing all the nagging bug fixes at the same time.

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Yeah I thought about PCE. I have Intellivision too which is 16 bits.. if you count that :-)

PCE is basically an NES on steroids. The 6502 CPU core is clocked at 7.14Mhz, quadruple the clock speed of NES (and twice that of SNES), with a bazillion colors available and loads more sprites than NES. And a bit more RAM too.

 

So PCe support would be huge if you can pull it off. I'm not in the market for an NT Mini at this time, but it's certainly a unique proposition. :)

 

So I guess at this point, future work on the Zimba 3000, the (not yet complete) SNES core will probably be the limit in terms of console emulation? Any chance of future FX or SA-1 support? Currently no commercially available flashcart supports these yet. At any rate, I consider the SNES/Genesis/Turbografx to be the holy trinity of 16-bit gaming.

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Well they seem to be fine with it:

 

https://twitter.com/analogue_co/status/828068581652918273

 

"happy to see any dev for the Nt mini, but the firmware is unofficial. Though, we'll still support your warranty with any fw!"

 

So there ya go. If you're worried about it you can always wait until I release cores to play things you are looking for. I am hoping to release 1 a week though until they are all released. Converting some of them might take a little longer though, so I am going to play it by ear.

I was about to order an NT Mini via the official web site, but their ordering process is somewhat opaque so I contacted them to get clarifications, especially concerning shipping options and fees. But it's only a matter of time before I place my pre-order. :)

 

Beyond that, I'll be waiting for the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, ColecoVision and Atari 2600 cores.

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You don't have to remove it. The way the upgrade works is it looks for a different upgrade by version. If the version is the same, nothing happens. if it is different, it will upgrade. So keeping the file on there doesn't hurt anything. If you need the space you can remove it. Navigating directories works like in DOS. you click on a /name and it will enter that directory. clicking .. will take you back 1 level.

 

Sounds perfect!

 

Are you planning on implementing a simple save state ability (similar to Everdrive), where you can use a button combo in-game to save the state, and another to load the state?

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Kevtris, there is Hi Def NES, Nt mini, and now these additional cores. Maybe it would be a good idea to start using some kind of bug/feature tracking system for your projects? People discuss your work in many places such as various message boards or comments to your YT videos, it can get messy and it's easy to miss something important. I think some centralized bug/feature reporting system could benefit both you and us -- users:

  • automatic notifications about bug/feature status change (via mail, for instance)
  • you can categorize bugs/features to show people what's important/possible
  • you could easily show people that a given bug has already been reported and you're working on it
  • bug trackers have historical value for a project
Edited by retro_fan
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@Kevtris: Do you think you can support the Coleco Flashback controllers? I have a pair and they would be great to use with the FPGA cores. Due to the way they are wired internally, there was no simple method to fabricate an adapter to make them wirk with real hardware.

 

I don't know much about them. I did a quick google search but didn't find much information about what is inside it or how it works. Are they available for purchase separately?

 

 

Sounds perfect!

 

Are you planning on implementing a simple save state ability (similar to Everdrive), where you can use a button combo in-game to save the state, and another to load the state?

 

No there won't be savestates, at least not right now. Since the FPGA isn't a computer, adding them is a lot more difficult since I don't have direct access to all the internal state of the mappers and things.

 

 

Kevtris, there is Hi Def NES, Nt mini, and now these additional cores. Maybe it would be a good idea to start using some kind of bug/feature tracking system for your projects? People discuss your work in many places such as various message boards or comments to your YT videos, it can get messy and it's easy to miss something important. I think some centralized bug/feature reporting system could benefit both you and us -- users:

  • automatic notifications about bug/feature status change (via mail, for instance)
  • you can categorize bugs/features to show people what's important/possible
  • you could easily show people that a given bug has already been reported and you're working on it
  • bug trackers have historical value for a project

 

Yes a bug tracker is probably a good idea but I don't really have much clue how to set one up.

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[...]

 

Yes a bug tracker is probably a good idea but I don't really have much clue how to set one up.

Hmm... There are a few free bug trackers, from a user point of view (I'm not a programmer) I think I like Bugzilla the most, but of course you should choose something that suits you best. Does anyone here know how to set a bug tracker up and could help kevtris?

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I got an NES Classic today. I don't mean to derail the thread though, BUT I can at least say the $500 is gonna be worth it for a lot of people wanting to get the NT Mini and having the money for it xD
The NES Classic has input lag that's not bad, but I can't beat Mr. Dream in it at least without having to retry lots of times, when I can do it from the first try on NES and on the AVS.

It also, strangely, has more sound lag than image lag. So the sound plays delayed by a bit.
The 4:3 also gives me bad uneven pixels. And the CRT option is blurry, though you can sorta get used to it.

This is 4:3 on the NES Classic... notice the horizontal uneven pixels?

https://s5.postimg.org/8zfzgsc1z/4_3_NES_Classic.jpg

Edited by veelk55
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Wanted to echo the support for Turbo Grafx 16 / PC Engine. If you can make that happen that would be incredible. It has an amazing game library and one that is largely overlooked due to the massive success of the MegaDrive / Genesis and Super Fami / SNES. Truly some great gems in the PC Engine lineup, and from a nostalgia factor probably my favorite system from that era.

 

As far as bug trackers. I could set up a Jira instance, but I don't think they offer any "free" version at all. Is Bugzilla is actually free?

 

As a really low tech alternative, wouldn't a shared google sheet with appropriate drop down fields get us halfway there? If you do a google search for issue tracking or bug tracking template there are quite a few out there already.

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I just played around with the jailbreak on the Analogue NT and it's pretty awesome.

 

Some feedback (and please excuse me if I'm missing something on these):

 

1) Can't play FDS games from SD card (maybe wrong extension)? PowerPak plays them just fine.

2) When I want to make changes (say to modify scanlines), I seem to have to exit the game to do so

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