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HW Noob Question - Classic Era Cart readers?


godslabrat
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Hi All,

 

Question: What would be involved in making a Retrode-style device that would read Atari, Coleco, INTV, and/or Vec carts? I realize this is something of a twofold question. I'd like to know what it would take to cobble together one on a DIY basis, and also (broadly) see what would be involved in mass producing them. I realize the latter question is very nuanced.

 

The reason for asking is that I would really like such a device, and I'm curious why it hasn't materialized before now. I know there was a 2600 adaptor for the Retrode, but the whole project seems to have been dropped and that's a shame.

 

Thanks.

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You would need a suitable connector and know the pinout. 5200, 7800, CV, Odyssey^2, etc can be done fairly easily. Intellivision is going to be a bitch to connect retro style because it uses odd data and address multiplexing. If you have searched for EPROM proto board for Intellivision, that is what the early dev had to work with before they can submit final ROM image for chip fabbing. There's a good reason G1 ROM encoding isn't around anymore.

 

You could probably create a CPLD or something similar to do address and data translation from Inty cart to Retrode style for cart reading.

 

http://spatula-city.org/~im14u2c/intv/dri/dri_9.txthas the schematic of EPROM board to get you started, you would need to save the text file and view it using DOS viewer.

Edited by 7800fan
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Thanks. I'm also under the impression that for most of these systems, there's no good way to get new cart connectors without harvesting them from dead systems. As in, off-the-shelf components don't work for one reason or another. There is apparently a suitable 2600 connector, but the others get pretty tricky. Is that accurate?

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Is the project a cart dumper or is it more like a normal console? If its the former, the connectors don't have to be perfect because you're only going to insert the cart once (carefully) to extract the data, so a close match in pitch/spacing and PCB thickness is all thats required. If its the latter then better fitting connectors are required.

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digikey, mouser, or newark

 

5530841-2 <---TE part number

Perfect match for original Colecovision connector.
Best Electronics has Atari connectors.
C64 and other common computers have readily available connector replacement. It's not as rare as one may think. If you know the pin spacing and the number of pins (usually in form like 2x15 for a 30-pin connector) plus the gap between rows (typically same as PCB) then any generic connector can fit. Many of the common older pin spacing were 0.1" and 0.15" although there are other spacing.
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Is the project a cart dumper or is it more like a normal console? If its the former, the connectors don't have to be perfect because you're only going to insert the cart once (carefully) to extract the data, so a close match in pitch/spacing and PCB thickness is all thats required. If its the latter then better fitting connectors are required.

 

More like a normal console. Essentially a Retron5 for pre-crash systems. I figure if one could get the physical connector, there would have to be a way to get support on the software end from a REtrofreak, RPi, or PC of some kind. Yes, I could go pure emulation, but it'd be nice to get mileage out of my actual carts.

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More like a normal console. Essentially a Retron5 for pre-crash systems. I figure if one could get the physical connector, there would have to be a way to get support on the software end from a REtrofreak, RPi, or PC of some kind. Yes, I could go pure emulation, but it'd be nice to get mileage out of my actual carts.

 

In that case you need as close to the original connectors as possible. You can still get a connector suitable for the Intellivision (I don't know a part number off the top of my head). The one that would cause issues would be the 7800 one due to the spacers. However, if you had capital to invest then a Chinese company could make you any style of connector you need.

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In that case you need as close to the original connectors as possible. You can still get a connector suitable for the Intellivision (I don't know a part number off the top of my head). The one that would cause issues would be the 7800 one due to the spacers. However, if you had capital to invest then a Chinese company could make you any style of connector you need.

 

I've really never dabbled in hardware at all. It sounds like a worthwhile first project.

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I've really never dabbled in hardware at all. It sounds like a worthwhile first project.

 

If you are aiming to sell the final version as a product its probably not the best "starter" project. It'll involve hardware design, software, PCB design and most probably an R-Pi hooked to a microcontroller via USB.

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2600 would be a challenge to replace because of the pins to open the cart's dust flap. The pins are molded into 2600Jr shell and used separate regular type connector on the board. All older style, the pins were molded into the cart connector.

 

You could defeat the flaps by using small paper clips and little sticky tack to hold it open and back but it gets tedious if you have 100+ to go through on a plain 12/24 pin connector that doesn't have 2600 style dust flap pins.

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