Booting a 1989 Mac with Mario

As a new recruit to the 68k Macintosh Liberation Army, [dougg3] is really showing off his hardware hacking ability. He came up with a replacement ROM SIMM for his Mac IIci and made it play the Mario theme on boot instead of the normal chimes.

Swapping out the ROM in these old macs isn’t an uncommon procedure. On some 68k machines, there’s a SIMM slot to either replace or expand the soldered ROM. In fact, it’s fairly common to take the ROM SIMM out of a IIsi and put it in the king of kings computer to make an SE/30 32-bit clean. We’ve never seen a re-writable ROM SIMM for these old macs, so we’re pretty sure [dougg3] just spared a Mac IIsi from the dumpster.

Now that the entire 68k Liberation Army is clamoring for one of [dougg3]‘s re-writable ROMs (we’ve got cash), the question of what to do with it comes up. Of course, SE/30s can now be 32-bit clean without installing MODE32 and new startup chimes can be added. We’d really like to see some hard-core ROM hacking going on, like installing a 68060 in a Quadra 950.

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NES multi-cartridge

Here’s a mutlicartridge hack for the original NES that [Callan Brown] put together. He spent some time snooping around the signals on the circuit board seen above until he found the trace that maps the reset signal from the game console. This will be used to cycle through the various games stored on the cart’s memory chip. The ROM images that will be stored on this cartridge are concatenated, then burned to the EPROM. Since the donor cartridge (and the ROMs which were chosen) use memory managment, the hardware can be tricked into reading the ROM from a specific point in the EPROM.

The switching itself is handled by a 74HC161 binary counter chip. The reset signal from the on-board security chip acts as a clock trigger for the counter. Some clever wiring allows the output of the counter to select the starting address for the EPROM. Each time you press the reset button it increments the counter, thereby selecting a different ROM to load. See [Callan] demonstrate the finished hack in the video after the break.

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Gameboy ROM backups using an Arduino

gameboy_cart_reader

[Alex] collects retro gaming consoles. One day while playing a SNES title, his save games got wiped when he powered off the system. It turned out that the battery inside the game cartridge got disconnected somehow, and it got him thinking. He decided he wanted to find a way to back up his save games from the cartridges for safe keeping.

While cart readers exist, he says that they are hard to find nowadays, so he decided to construct his own using an Arduino. SNES cartridges are relatively complex, so he opted to focus on Gameboy cartridges for the time being. Before attempting to back up save games, he first chose to learn how to communicate with the cartridges in general, by reading the ROM.

He breaks the cartridges down in detail, discussing how they are constructed as well as how they can be addressed and read using the Arduino. He was ultimately successful, and offers up code as well as schematics on his site for any of you interested in doing the same. We imagine that save game reading (and perhaps editing) will likely happen in the near future.

Check out the video below to see his cart reader in action.

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GBA emulator ported to Didj

Tired of messing with the hardware of the Didj you picked up? Now you can use it for gaming on that last road trip of the summer. A Game Boy Advanced emulator has been ported for use on both the Didj and the Explorer. You’ll have to dig up a copy of the original bios for a GBA as well as some ROMs, but the rest seems pretty straight forward. We are still holding out hope for Doom or Quake on the Didj, but this will help us wait a bit longer.

[Thanks Nirvous via Rosincore]

DroidX gets a custom recovery image

[Birdman] has managed to push a custom recovery image to the DroidX. This previously impossible action opens the doors to all kinds of fun hacking. While you can’t just drop a custom Rom on the phone right now, this is the first step in making that happen. You can find the directions in the post, but they’ve got a while to go before they become as easy as something like a jailbreak.

[via phandroid]

PLCC replaces Game Boy cartridge ROM

[Gerry] sent us pictures and a few details on replacing the Game Boy cartridge chip with a flash chip. For the prototype he used a PLCC and a little wire porn to interface a flash chip with the cartridge’s PCB while still having access to it for programming. In retrospect he plans to use a 32-pin ZIF socket on the next version to make things easier. It does work and he’s had some success loading his own code and getting it to run. There are other cartridge hacks that let you load code onto a cartridge but if you have the knowhow and the parts this makes for a fun weekend project. We’ve posted the rest of the photos that [Gerry] sent us after the break.

Update: Gerry is working on a video and a pinout. We’ll post info once we get a hold of it.

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Storage for your hacking needs

Sometimes your project needs a lot of non-volatile ROM, right on cue [Matthew] let us know how to not only connect, interface, read, and write to SD cards with a PIC over serial, but also how to do the above mentioned with an old PATA HDD. For those without a PIC/serial connection don’t fret, [nada] let us know about his Bus Pirate SD card hack, of which our personal favorite part is the creative use of an old 5.25″ floppy connector as the SD card socket.