Reading Sega carts off a breadboard

Golden Axe is great, and the Sonic 3/Sonic and Knuckles combo is one of the highest works of art from the 16-bit era, but for those of us without a working Genesis or Megadrive, we’ve had to make due with the ROMs others provide. [Lee] figured out an easy way to read the data off these old Sega cartridges using easily scavenged parts and an Arduino Mega, paving the way for an Arduino-based ROM dumper.

The connector on the bottom of a Sega Genesis cartridge has a 2×32 pinout, normally requiring 64 connections to actually read the card. These connectors aren’t readily available, but [Lee] did manage to find a few 2×31 pin connectors lying around in the form of old ISA sockets. The outer pins of a Genesis cart are used for grounds and a ‘cartridge insert’ slot, and after filing away the end of an old ISA connector, [Lee] found he could actually read the data on these old game cartridges.

There are 49 data and address pins on these old Sega carts, so an Arduino Mega needed to be brought into the mix to actually read some of the data on the ROM chip. As of now, [Lee] can read data from the cart but has only gotten so far as to read the licensing data stored at 0×80. Still, very cool and the first step towards an Arduinofied Sega cart dumper.

When console modders face off, only good things happen

sega-multi-gen

We really love when friendly competition leads to excellent hacking. Not too long ago, we showed you a nicely done Sega Genesis portable put together by console hacker [Downing] who challenged fellow hacker [EVIL NOD] to a build off. The two were hacking Sega consoles, [Downing’s] for personal use, while [EVIL NOD] was working on a commissioned build.

As you might have guessed, [Downing] finished first, but that doesn’t mean [EVIL NOD’s] console is anything but spectacular. His Sega Multi Gen is a portable Genesis console modified to play both NTSC and PAL games. It features a large 5” PSOne screen as well as the guts from an official 6-button Genesis game pad. The case was vacuum formed by [Downing], and is another example of his fine workmanship. The console looks as if it’s had the controller melted right into its face – a design that is sure to give you the authentic feel of sitting in front of your TV mashing away at the buttons.

Check out the video below to see an unboxing video that [EVIL NOD] put together before sending the console out to its new owner.

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GeneBoy is the portable Sega Genesis you’ve always wanted

geneboy-portable-sega-genesis

There’s something about portable gaming systems that just doesn’t get old. Perhaps its the nostalgia, or the unique cases and form factors the modders come up with. Whatever it might be, we think they’re great.

[Downing] wrote in to share a portable system he just wrapped up, called the GeneBoy. He broke down a Sega Genesis console to the bare necessities, then attached a 3.5” backup camera screen to serve as the display. A 3rd party Genesis controller donated its buttons to the GeneBoy, while his D-Pad was salvaged from an original Playstation controller.

The case was built from vacuum formed plastic, which made it easy to get just the size and shape he needed to hold everything together perfectly. Even though he says that the outside of the case got a bit roughed up during final assembly, we think it looks great. I would certainly enjoy having all the fun of [Sonic the Hedgehog] or Road Rash in the palm of my hand any day!

Continue reading to see the GeneBoy in action, and be sure to check out [Downing’s] blog along with the Modded by Bacteria forum thread where he discusses the finer details of its assembly.

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Adding visuals to chiptune performances

If you’ve never been to a chiptune show – yes, they exist – you’ve noticed the awesome visuals behind the performers that are usually displayed with a glitching NES. If it’s a really good show, that 8-bit visualization will be in sync with the music and may actually serve as a lo-fi spectrum analyzer. [Andy] came up with his own visualization system for a Sega Genesis or Megadrive. With 16 bits behind his build, we’ll say if far surpasses the lowly NES.

For his visualization, [Andy] feeds audio into an ATMega328 and the ever-popular MSGEQ7 seven-band graphic equalizer IC. The output from the EQ goes straight to the second controller input of a Sega Nomad [Andy] had lying around that is running a custom ROM for his show. The ROM is programmed in tandem with the microcontroller project to serve as a spectrum analyzer for his shows.

You can check out [Andy]‘s visualization with the chiptunes of Danimal Cannon after the break. We would prefer a demo featuring An0vA and the code for the microcontroller, but it’s still a very nice demo indeed.

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Hackaday Links: January 24, 2012

Open source engraving

[Scott] wanted to do some v-carving with a CNC router, but couldn’t find software to generate GCode that didn’t cost hundreds of dollars. He ended up doing the sensible thing and wrote his own that will generate tool paths from CXF fonts. We’ll be bookmarking this for when our router project is done.

Improving Genesis sound output

Dissatisfied with the sound output on his Sega Genesis, [Drakon] installed a few mods into his console. How much could it really affect the sound? Listen to the video. The changeover happens at 0:50. Impressive. Now if only the chiptune scene would get into Segas.

Yes, we did, and now we’re seeding

Here’s an alternative to Thingiverse: The Pirate Bay has a new category for 3D-printable objects. The best file so far? A 1970 Chevelle. US Copyright law does not protect (most) physical objects, so it’s not illegal. Honestly, we can’t wait for somebody to take this to the courts; It’s sure to be an interesting case. Somebody upload a ship hull design and give the EFF a buzz.

Just be glad it’s not a QFN

[Mikey] was pulling a PDIP ATMega8 out of a socket with pliers and a screwdriver and broke the RESET pin. Ouch. He fixed it by soldering on a lead from a resistor. We’ve all done this before, but [Mikey]‘s results look really good. Here’s the gallery.

This might be fake

If you want a second analog stick for your 3DS, you could wait a month and buy a Circle Pad Pro, or install a PSP analog stick. We’re not sure how this would work – the Circle Pad Pro works over IR, and we’re not seeing an IR transmitter on this build. Here’s the source if anyone wants to give this a shot.

Retrode gets an upgrade

We’ve been following the Retrode since it was an obscure video on YouTube that we swore was an elaborate hoax. Now, [Matthias] tell us it’s getting its third major upgrade, and it is really starting to resemble a commercial project. The video features the new prototype case for the Retrode II, which has been 3d printed. The fact that such advanced protyping facilities are availavble to the common hacker is just incredible.  The new Retrode II will have ports built in so SEGA and SNES controllers can be plugged in. Since its launch the community has been collaborating to build plug-in boards allowing people to play Virtual Boy, Atari 2600, GBx, Turbografix-16, Neo Geo Pocket, and even N-64 cartridges directly from the cartridge on their computers. Very Cool.

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Developing a Sega Game Gear flash cartridge

[Gerry O'Brien] tackled his most recent project, designing a flash ROM cartridge for the Sega Game Gear, with great success. Above you can see the test rig he used to reverse engineer the communications between an original ROM chip and the circuit board that it came on. He removed the chip, soldered a ZIF socket to the pads, then used a DIP socket as an adapter for that chip. Connected to each pin is a test lead for a logic analyzer. That’s a heck of a lot of channels to decipher!

It turns out that the cartridges use Integrated Mapping (does anyone have a link explaining this?) so dropping in a flash memory chip is not an option; you need a memory bank controller. [Gerry's] solution to this issue is twofold: you can etch your own board with a controller chip and ZIF socket for the flash chip, or you can modify a Sega Master System cartridge to use as an adapter board. We’ve got pictures of both methods after the break, as well as his five instructional videos walking us through the fabrication process.

This isn’t [Gerry's] first time working with flash cartridges. We looked at his work with Game Boy ROMS earlier in the year.

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