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NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?

NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120584)
I know about PowerPak, I know about retro kits, but is there any cart that doesn't need any soldering, just popping microusb inside and would launch first rom on microsd? Kinda working like powerpak, but useful when you want to make cart release and you aren't good friend with Mrs. Soldering Iron.

Obviously it would work only for games that uses common mappers, but is something like that out there?
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120585)
The closest thing is INL-ROM v2, which comes fully assembled with blank ROMs that are programmed through a USB flasher.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120586)
And roms are put into connectors, like BIOS chips or need to be soldered onto board? If former then I'm interested.

//edit: I've had a look at InfiniteNesLives site and I'm a bit confused. The http://www.infiniteneslives.com/aux4.php page says "upgrade to fully assembled (no soldering required) full flash boards, reprogrammable with our kazzo 'INL-retro' programmer via USB. Plug and Play!". And http://www.infiniteneslives.com/aux3.php is the programmer and ask you to select connector. Does that mean that if I buy one with 72 nes connector, I'll get appropriate INL-ROM v2 board?
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120587)
You have to buy the programmer and the board, they are 2 separate products.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120595)
To order a board with pre-populated flash you need to add both the board and the flash update to your cart, like this:

Image

And the programmer is sold separately. Please note that Linux and Windows 8 is not supported by the author, although I have ported the Anago dumper program to Linux and created a utility to flash a cart with the dumper for Linux. Also, I was able to get the author's software to work in Windows 8 using the Unsigned Driver installation procedure.

This product is well known to the community. The author / manufacturer is a regular here (infiniteneslives), and the product has been under almost constant discussion in this thread. You can find the above-mentioned Linux tools on page 17.

This is by far the easiest and most well-supported way to get up and running with NES development, but do note that if you want to use this for making reproductions there are some gotcha's. Among them, only a certain set of mappers are supported (at this time Color Dreams, MMC1, MMC3 and FME7), and for a given mapper you will have to choose to use either CHR-RAM or CHR-ROM. These two choices will lock you into what games will be compatible with the board.

Furthermore the size of the ROM chips you get with the board will also limit you in some cases. For instance, if you get a 256KB PRG-ROM board you can't load a game that uses 512KB of PRG-ROM. Another consideration is that with that same 256KB PRG-ROM board, if you want to load a game that only uses half that space you'll need to double the ROM yourself.

Finally, the current version of the supplied software does not handle .nes files, only raw ROM files. You'll have to split your .nes files yourself.

So yea, it's certainly the easiest way to do repros, but that's not really what it was designed for.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120606)
I've used term repros, because I felt it would generate most helpful responses. No, I want to make game on my own and put onto a cart and since I'd probably f-something up with soldering, etc. I needed safer and easier way.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120609)
Ah, well in that case, you still need to decide what mapper to use and whether to use CHR-ROM or CHR-RAM. My personal choice in this matter was to use MMC3 with 32KB CHR-RAM. This gives me flexible PRG-ROM banking, WRAM, the flexability of CHR-RAM and the ability to do graphical effects that require CHR banking. This configuration is also fairly well supported by currently developed emulators like Nintendualtor and FCEU.

FME7 is also a very good choice for mapper, but I prefer MMC3's scan line counting IRQ over the FME7's CPU cycle counting IRQ. While technically more capable, I just don't like dealing with the extra complexity of the cycle counter.

You can also still target NROM by using an initialization bank to set up the memory mapper to an NROM configuration and upload your CHR data into RAM. You can also do the same thing with other discrete mappers like UxROM if you move bank swapping code into a library routine, and the timing of the bank swaps aren't super-critical.

INL-ROM board plus the INL-Retro programmer is by far the easiest way to develop apart from a PowerPak. Plus the PowerPak was several times more expensive and is no longer available from BunnyBoy.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120637)
darkhog wrote:
I know about PowerPak, I know about retro kits, but is there any cart that doesn't need any soldering, just popping microusb inside and would launch first rom on microsd? Kinda working like powerpak, but useful when you want to make cart release and you aren't good friend with Mrs. Soldering Iron.

Obviously it would work only for games that uses common mappers, but is something like that out there?


Yeah that issue pretty much captures the primary goal of the project. I wanted to create something that allowed someone without soldering skills, hardware knowledge, or expensive tools necessary to publish their own game. The EPROM version got things started to give options besides donors. Now I'm working towards a full line up of fully assembled flashable boards (no soldering required).

Nearly every mapper that was used in Nintendo licensed titles is supported with my boards. There's room for custom options as well. Although I've only got a small portion of what's possible listed for immediate checkout. If there's something specific you're looking for you can always make requests.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120648)
Well, it could be good if you could make board with microSD slot inside. Then no flashing equipment would be required, chr and prg would be stored on microSD either as .nes file (kinda like powerpak, but instead of menu, launching first .nes file in directory) or it will be stored by formatting microSD specifically using special program.

You wouldn't need then any flashing equipment, only SD card reader (most of current PCs has one), microSD->SD adapter and a little know-how (far less than flashing).

//edit: Also on microSD savefile could be located for mappers that support saving - no more faulty batteries!
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120668)
Which might then require an SD card and FAT file system royalty per unit.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120675)
What if it would use other file system like ext4? Also GB/A, NDS and other flashcards doesn't care about sd royalty even though they use sd cards.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120678)
darkhog wrote:
Well, it could be good if you could make board with microSD slot inside.


So instead of a one time $20 purchase of the programmer, you'd rather each cart cost $20 more due to extra hardware needed to support?

Sure such a device could exist, and I could probably do it for less than $20 extra to be honest. But it's GOING to cost more and have several times the complexity for no good reason IMO.

If you provide the rom (which you have rights to) at time of purchase I'll flash the boards for you for a fee that's much smaller than the cost of your requested hardware.

As an aside I'm currently working on allowing the firmware to copy data from a SNES cart acting as temporary storage. Once the rom image was loaded onto the SNES cart, you could operate without the PC completely. Just provide power to the kazzo, plug in NES cart, hit reset, wait 10sec or less, done. It really is easier and less work as a whole compared to using removable media.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120682)
This SNES cart thing you mention, this would be for a mass production run of writing NES carts? Atleast that's what I assume you meant.

I like the way the carts are now, there is no need for SD or other storage. If you want a cartridge like that, buy the EverDrive N8. These are nice as they are stand alone and basically operate exactly like original cartridges would.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120685)
But how about putting simple flasher in the cart itself? You'll just connect pc via usb with cart (by means of USB port on cart itself), pretty much like you do with kazoo. Given it won't require connectors kazoo does, as power and data would go through USB cable into rom chips, it probably would be cheaper than cart+kazoo combined (though one could reflash cart after buying game, but it is their problem).
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120688)
Sort of like the EFA-Linker on Game Boy Advance? That'd require putting a USB device chipset and USB micro-B connector on each cart and joining USB-IF to get a vendor ID. It'd probably also involve paying for a kernel-mode code signing certificate to get a driver on Windows.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120690)
Somehow kazoo didn't do any of these for flasher and it still uses USB :roll: .
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120695)
You do realize that INL's external flasher is a modified kazoo, right?
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120697)
darkhog wrote:
Given it won't require connectors kazoo does, as power and data would go through USB cable into rom chips, it probably would be cheaper than cart+kazoo combined

For a single cart, yes, but for quantities it makes much more sense to make each cart cheaper instead of putting the whole flashing hardware inside every cart.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120698)
lidnariq wrote:
You do realize that INL's external flasher is a modified kazoo, right?

Yes. That's why I've written kazoo instead of "INL's external flasher" - easier and faster to type and remember.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120699)
Shorter, but apparently harder to spell because it keeps getting autocorrected to a musical instrument.
darkhog wrote:
Somehow kazoo didn't do any of these for flasher and it still uses USB :roll: .

As I understand it, Kazzo/INL-Retro also doesn't work so well on any operating system other than 32-bit versions of Windows. Few people who run 64-bit Windows or Linux or OS X are going to buy a copy of 32-bit Windows to dual boot.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120701)
Can't driver be updated so it'll work on 64bit Windows? I kinda need 64bit windows because of other development I'm making (Unity...) and dualbooting just to flash rom on a cart isn't specially convenient...
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120704)
No, 64-bit windows requires driver signing.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120707)
MottZilla wrote:
This SNES cart thing you mention, this would be for a mass production run of writing NES carts? Atleast that's what I assume you meant.
Yes, that is what I meant. Being tied to the PC (and slow USB transfer rates) is a pain if you're programming a significant number of carts. Using a SNES cart as temporary storage for the rom image means it only takes seconds vice tens of seconds to minutes for programming. That and no PC needed to flash once the SNES cart is loaded means you could have multiple kazzos going all at once independent of a PC if desired.

darkhog wrote:
But how about putting simple flasher in the cart itself? You'll just connect pc via usb with cart (by means of USB port on cart itself), pretty much like you do with kazoo. Given it won't require connectors kazoo does, as power and data would go through USB cable into rom chips, it probably would be cheaper than cart+kazoo combined (though one could reflash cart after buying game, but it is their problem).
It's not as simple (nor cheap) to program two separate large parallel roms as you're making it out to be. Your suggestion more than doubles the hardware cost of my current discrete mapper boards. Not to mention the increase in design complexity. That said, I am working on a design that would only have serial rom (all parallel memories are ram.) which makes programming the rom with a cheap mcu and USB cable reasonable for production. While that could be adapted to run on a SD card as you're requesting, I'd still say it's a waste of money for publishing a typical homebrew game.

tepples wrote:
As I understand it, Kazzo/INL-Retro also doesn't work so well on any operating system other than 32-bit versions Windows.

I've yet to get any such reports, are you having troubles?

I run on 64bit windows7 all day long, as do numerous customers of mine. I've had reports that it works on windows8 too (64bit IIRC), although updating the firmware had to be done on a windows7 machine for now. qbradq just got his running on Linux...

lidnariq wrote:
No, 64-bit windows requires driver signing.
Call me naive, but I've been ignoring this 'requirement' for years with no reported issues.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120709)
Ahh... If it work with Windows x64, then cool. Probably I won't buy anything for now as I don't have anything worthwhile to put on cart yet and I'm not bootlegger. Say, do you plan offering things like cart cases so our game won't be lonely board with some printable sticky label that we could draw cart art on or print, then stick to cart plastic?

Another questions:
- Will you offer something like PowerPak in future or other kind of "dev" cart that is able to emulate/have multiple switchable mappers on board? I've heard it isn't made anymore and ebay prices are outrageous
- Can full kazzo-flashable boards be flashed multiple times (e.g. to test different version of game on actual hardware)?
- Do you sell pre-assembled boards with famicom connector? I got recently famiclone which for obvious reasons can't play NES games so this is all I can test games on (it's one of better famiclones though, Pegasus IQ-502). It'll be some time before I'll be able to put my hands on actual nes though.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120710)
As far as powerpak replacements, there's the Everdrive N8 and the InviteNES.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120726)
I use 64-bit Vista and INL's flasher and carts work for me.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120727)
darkhog wrote:
Say, do you plan offering things like cart cases so our game won't be lonely board with some printable sticky label that we could draw cart art on or print, then stick to cart plastic?
I'm putting down the deposit on my own molds this week. Should have cases early next year.

Quote:
Another questions:
- Will you offer something like PowerPak in future or other kind of "dev" cart that is able to emulate/have multiple switchable mappers on board? I've heard it isn't made anymore and ebay prices are outrageous
Possibly someday, but nothing planned as there are other options currently available.

Quote:
- Can full kazzo-flashable boards be flashed multiple times (e.g. to test different version of game on actual hardware)?
Yeah you can flash them over 100,000 times.

Quote:
- Do you sell pre-assembled boards with famicom connector?
I have had thoughts of making them lately, but nothing officially planned.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120760)
The INL-Retro software works on Windows 8, you just have to jump through some hoops to get the unsigned driver installed.

Saying that I "got it working" on Linux is a bit generous :) But yea, Linux software is available with source and works on 64-bit systems as well.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120807)
INL do you offer a specific setup that supports Gimmick! with expansion audio?

Also, is VRC1 available on the "no-solder" V2 PCB?

EDIT: My NES does have the Resistor mod on EXT. So if your INL-NES uses the same pin for expansion audio as PowerPak I guess I'd be set?
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120818)
GameMachineJames wrote:
INL do you offer a specific setup that supports Gimmick! with expansion audio?
Yes, you have to purchase the synth upgrade to go along with a FME7 board to get a sunsoft5B in the end. Fully assembled flash is available for that option as well.

Quote:
Also, is VRC1 available on the "no-solder" V2 PCB?
The PCB is designed to support, but I haven't gotten around to getting VRC1 implemented, tested, and listed for checkout.

Quote:
EDIT: My NES does have the Resistor mod on EXT. So if your INL-NES uses the same pin for expansion audio as PowerPak I guess I'd be set?
Yes, EXP6 is used for audio just like the powerpak.
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120877)
Eh. V1 PCB is fine.

Can I put a salvaged VRC1 onto it or does it use the CPLD?
Re: NES cart kit that makes easy to make own repro carts?
by on (#120887)
GameMachineJames wrote:
Can I put a salvaged VRC1 onto it or does it use the CPLD?

I only design boards with new parts, so yes it would need a cpld. the VRC1 is pretty simple though and will be the first one of the vrc's I tackle.