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THE ULTIMATE ASTROCADE - UPGRADED


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Runs in low or high resolution graphic modes.
Includes USER ROM and RAM plus custom graphic boards.

 

Check out the YouTube promo infomercial entitled "The Ultimate Astrocade" at
MCM Design's YouTube channel
MCMs Astrocades
@mcmsastrocades9336
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSNIrZW723s

 

This infomercial video lists all the main features of an Astrocade gamer/computer that is being modified and upgraded by MCM Design to operate in the low (160 x 102 pixels) or high (320 x 204 pixels) resolution graphic modes.

 

Nine soundtracks from low-res cartridge games are included to show off the awesome sound/music capability of the Astrocade, which was sold over 40 years ago.

 

Subscribe to or visit the MCMs Astrocades channel to view the latest videos informing you of MCMs progress in building The Ultimate Astrocade.

 

Progress report documentation, photos or video links will be attached below when they are available.

 

MCM Design
May 2024

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On 5/25/2024 at 2:57 PM, AstroHRman said:


Runs in low or high resolution graphic modes.[...] Includes USER ROM and RAM plus custom graphic boards.

 

I didn't notice that this message needed to be approved before it was posted in this Astrocade sub-forum.  Maybe it is because it is his first post here on AtariAge.  I just approved it.  It's nice to see ya around here, Michael.

 

I always look forward to hearing about and from MCM Design.

 

Adam

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On 5/28/2024 at 6:25 PM, Jess Ragan said:

My understanding is that GORF and possibly Wizard of Wor used two Astrocades in concert for better graphics.

 

The original intention of the custom chips created in 1976/1977 and used in the Bally Arcade was to have two modes. One was low-resolution, which required less RAM. The higher resolution would require 16K of RAM. Michael has modified his Astrocade to have additional RAM and also the extra hardware that is required to access it and use high-resolution.

 

The first arcade game to use this custom chipset, "Seawolf II," came out in 1978.  It had 16K of RAM, so it could use high-resolution. It also happens to be the very first color arcade game.  "GORF" and "Wizard of Wor" also do use these chips, but have extra hardware.

 

Adam

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The following is a listing of MCM Design's 2024 agenda relating to the Ultimate Astrocade (UA) build project.


Record video "The UA – Progress Report 1" providing a brief overview of the UA upper assembly, which consists of the:
Astrocade console modified for low/hi-res operation,
Quick–connect audio/composite video drivers board, which replaces the Aztec RF modulator,
Temporary auto low/hi-res select scheme, which will end up on the add-under Board 2,
Low/hi-res static screen RAM (SRAM) Board 1 and
Bread boarded star/sparkles scheme.


*************************************************************************************


Wire wrap (WW), then test all the User SRAM/ROM (EEPROM)/flash memory schemes plus the auto low/hi-res select scheme on the add–under Board 2.


Mount also the WW sockets for the 8 page hi-res multipager (MP) scheme (8 x 16KB = 128KB). Do not wire the scheme at this time.


Can you tweak the MP scheme to provide an optional 8 page low-res MP (8 x 4KB = 32KB)?


*************************************************************************************


Post photo of the add-under Board 2


*************************************************************************************


Build add-under console with 3 tier horizontal rack and a housing for the full size 24 key remote keyboard.


Mount the hinged UA upper assembly on top of the add-under console.


Finish with the necessary drill holes, etc. for any additional console or keyboard components to be wired up.


Stain the wooden console and keyboard housing.


Wire up unconnected components.


Test for perfect operation, the completed assembly of:
Upper UA assembly
Add-under console with Board 2 in rack, +5Vdc power supply, Bally power xfmr, power on LED, etc.
Remote keyboard.


************************************************************************************


Record video "The UA - Progress Report 2".
Briefly tour the UA build in progress.
Execute some low and hi-res graphic programs.
Demonstrate the hi-res ROM (EEPROM) powering on the Astrocade in hi-res automatically disabling the Astrocade low-res ROM.
Play around with the User RAM and User flash memory using Bit Fiddler's MLM or MCMs upgraded hi-res MLM software and using the remote keyboard.

 

 

End of Posting
June 3,2024
MCM Design

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MCM Design has recently published a YouTube video relating to the Ultimate Astrocade build project.


"The Ultimate Astrocade - Progress Report 1" is available for viewing on the MCMs Astrocades channel.
@mcmsastrocades9366
youtube.com/watch?v=abekLjUFxvE

 

MCM Design has recently come up with a new designation label to distinguish its modified low/hi-res Astrocades.


The original first-generation (1G) low/hi-res Astrocade, which rested on top of a Viper cabinet, utilized 32 dynamic RAM (DRAM) chips for hi-res operation.
The 2G low/hi-res Astrocade is designated as such because it utilizes only 4 static RAM (SRAM) chips for hi-res operation.

 

At this time, MCM Design has 2 low/hi-res Astrocades.

 

The original low/hi-res Astrocade was revised (updated). It's original screen RAM board was replaced with a board utilizing the 2nd generation of 4 SRAM chips, so it is now considered a 2G low/hi-res Astrocade. This new board is also compatible with the screen RAM Board 1 on the Ultimate Astrocade.

 

The Ultimate Astrocade, even though it has a lot of extras, is still considered a 2G low/hi-res Astrocade.

 

MCM Design has plans to eventually build a 3G low/hi-res Astrocade prototype. This very exciting vision is significantly innovative. When the prototype is unveiled, it should be obvious why MCM Design is attaching the 3G label to it.

 

MCM Design
June 2024

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Attached is a photo of the Ultimate Astrocade's screen SRAM Board 1 with the Star/Sparkle Colors graphic breadboard removed.


You can see the 4 wide-body static RAM chips. Each of the 4 SRAM chips represents one hi-res screen RAM bank.


The top SRAM chip is also used for low-res graphics.


The Bally custom 40 pin Address and Data chips were originally designed to be interfaced with four 4KB screen RAM banks using 8 DRAM chips per bank, totaling 32 DRAM chips for hi-res operation.


MCM Design created a second generation screen RAM scheme using only 4 SRAM chips, meeting the hi-res hardware requirements for the 2 custom Bally chips.


Note that four SEPARATE hi-res banks must be present when the 2 Bally chips decide to scan (read) the hi-res screen RAM for the TV display. That's why you see four 74LS166 "8 bit shift register" chips to the right of the 4 wide-body SRAM chips.


The Bally Address/Data chips scan (read) 16 pixels (32 bits) at a time, that is, 4 pixels (1 byte) from each of the four hi-res banks, simultaneously. The 16 pixels are then shifted into the Data chip's Serial 0 and Serial 1 inputs. Shifting occurs quickly using a 7Mhz clock at the four 74LS166 chips. The Z80 CPU on the Astrocade motherboard operates using a slower 1.78Mhz clock. So, the hi-res TV scan operates faster and independently of the Z80 CPU.


Each of the SRAM chips on the Ultimate Astrocade (UA) screen SRAM Board 1 can store 32KB of data. The UA will also utilize a hi-res multipager, which will be located on the UA add-under Board 2. Three select lines plus a gnd line will be wired to Board 1 from Board 2 via a short ribbon cable. These 3 select lines will select via software 1 of 8 hi-res pages to display on the TV or will be used to write/read a byte at the selected page.


As indicated above, the multipager will provide the option via software to display 1 of 8 possible hi-res 16KB graphic pages. It will provide access to 128KB total of screen RAM. The multipager will not only be able to store/select graphics, it will also allow storage or execution of machine language programs within a selected page. The UA multipager scheme is a variation taken from the DataMax UV-1R multipager. The MCMs Astrocades channel includes a hi-res multipager test demo video.


Having a multipager allows a programmer to create multiple graphic scenes, all of which are accessible using a simple Z80 output port instruction. There is no time delay waiting for graphics to be written (filled in) to screen RAM by the slower Z80.


Imagine a hi-res game utilizing up to 8 separate graphic scenes, having a program capacity up to 256KB utilizing one 32 pin flash memory chip that can be easily inserted into a 32 pin ZIF socket plus having the awesome sound/music capability of the Bally 40 pin I/O chip. That's the potential that MCM Design's Ultimate Astrocade will have. WOW!


End of Posting
MCM Design
June 2024

Screen SRAM Board1.jpg

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11 minutes ago, AstroHRman said:

Attached is a photo of the Ultimate Astrocade's screen SRAM Board 1 with the Star/Sparkle Colors graphic breadboard removed.

 

I just happened to read this post immediately after it was added to this thread.  I absolutely love your work and descriptions, Michael.  Keep it up, my friend.  I hope you mention these new posts to the Astrocade group on groups.io.  You don't have to repost what you wrote again there; maybe you can provide a link to new posts.

 

There is a thread an Astroade thread from 2016 on AtariAge that may interest you called "Astrocade development."  It is here:

 

https://forums.atariage.com/topic/252830-astrocade-development/

 

You mentioned 8 full-size, hi-res screens.  Have you seen this low-res Pokémon animation of Pikachu created from an animated GIF display on an Astrocade:

 

 

The source code for that demo is here:

 

https://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/bally128k-com/maxflash/maxflash.htm

 

You can see more about this here:

 

https://msdconsulting.wixsite.com/128kgames

 

Keep in mind that this site is archived and that it isn't active anymore.  It's too bad that it didn't come to fruitition.

 

Adam

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