Worklog Super NOTendo

fibbef

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Jumping on Switch bandwagon with the name. There's already some really incredible worklogs started for this compo and I know my work wouldn't stand a chance if I went the normal route, so I wanted to do something different.

What exactly is the Toggle? I'll let my buddy Xander sum it up:



Clear as mud? The Toggle will be a console dedicated to running those crappy plug-n-play games that take 4 AA batteries apiece, except instead they'll receive power from the dedicated console. I'm building it out of a Super Nintendo shell whose motherboard I fried while making a SNESp a few years back. My original plan was to keep the SNES shell and controller looking as stock as possible, but that's proving to be not so easy.



For cartridges I'm using some Super Famicom carts that I got in an ebay lot about a decade ago. There were some awesome games in the lot, like Link to the Past, Mario Kart, a couple of Final Fantasys, etc, but there were also a lot of bad ones like train scheduling and horse breeding sims that require greater Japanese reading comprehension than I have. Those are the carts I will be butchering. The above pic is an Atari Flashback 3. Should be able to fit easily with some minor trimming.



To keep the system looking stock, I wanted to decode the controller's signals using a microcontroller and pass individual button presses from there to the cartridges through the cart slot. I quickly became overwhelmed and scrapped that idea. Next was to wire one end of a VGA cable to each button contact inside the controller and mount a VGA port to the front of the system. After all, 15 pins, right? Wrong. Idiot me soon realized that several pins in a standard VGA cable are common ground. So I decided to switch (Toggle) to HDMI, which has 19 pins, all separated. Image above only shows the fit; port isn't yet wired up here.



After looking at how close together HDMI pins are, I thought it would be genius to design a replacement controller board with the HDMI footprint included and have OSHPark make it for me. Again, impatience won out again and I decided to dive in to the manual method. For anyone considering soldering to an HDMI port like I did, bend every other pin 90 degrees. That way adjacent pins aren't so close to each other.



I really only need 13 wires for the controller (12 buttons plus ground) but I went ahead and did 15 just so I could have some extra ground connections. After I tested continuity between these wires and the far end of the HDMI cable, I hot glued (yes, the dreaded 'H' word) all the wires in place. My 6 month old woke up from his nap before I could get any further, but wiring the port to the inside of the controller should be a snap. Once that's done the controller should be done and I'll start focusing on the system itself.
 
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cheese

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To keep the system looking stock, I wanted to decode the controller's signals using a microcontroller and pass individual button presses from there to the cartridges through the cart slot. I quickly became overwhelmed and scrapped that idea.
You should've just asked about that lmao... For sure you could've accomplished that with an Arduino, I would've even done it for you :P

This looks cool though, looks like it'll be neat!
 

Doom

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You should've just asked about that lmao... For sure you could've accomplished that with an Arduino, I would've even done it for you :P

This looks cool though, looks like it'll be neat!
you'll have to do this on the next one fibs, the YEStendo
 

fibbef

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You should've just asked about that lmao...
But.... I did.

BUT it's not too late! If you think you would be able to help with this, I still have the controller ports and an unused Arduino Uno collecting dust.
 

cheese

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I dunno how I missed that... Maybe because you never mentioned that you didn't finish it? I'll look into it, but I'll need to get a controller first since I wanna test it before sending you random snippets of code :P You can probably get away with using 3x 74HC595 chips along with the Arduino, since the Uno doesn't have quite enough digital IO pins...
 

fibbef

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Ah yes, that one is on me for not resolving that thread. Thanks for looking into it cheese. Although if I use your code, would that disqualify me from the competition for using someone else's work?
 

fibbef

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Awesome! Thanks again for looking into that for me.

I'll probably pick up an Arduino Mega since it appears to have plenty of I/O. Funny thing with Arduino is apparently there are a ton of bad clones and the Mega's listing on Amazon got a bunch of 1-star reviews because of that. So I'm looking at this clone, which is cheaper, doesn't hide the fact that it's a clone, and has pretty strong reviews.
 

Aurelio

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Awesome! Thanks again for looking into that for me.

I'll probably pick up an Arduino Mega since it appears to have plenty of I/O. Funny thing with Arduino is apparently there are a ton of bad clones and the Mega's listing on Amazon got a bunch of 1-star reviews because of that. So I'm looking at this clone, which is cheaper, doesn't hide the fact that it's a clone, and has pretty strong reviews.
Do you want to decode only one controller or two?
 

fibbef

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I would like to be able to do two if possible. Not many of the PNPs are going to have 2-player support but I know at least the Atari Flashback does. What are the ramifications of doing 2, aside from needing additional I/O pins?
 

Aurelio

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I would like to be able to do two if possible. Not many of the PNPs are going to have 2-player support but I know at least the Atari Flashback does. What are the ramifications of doing 2, aside from needing additional I/O pins?
Well pretty much nothing else. The SNES pads are really easy to drive
 

cheese

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Put trimmed consoles inside cartridges too! I wanna see a Wii with 2 GC+ in there!

Also, check your PMs, I shot you a message about the Arduino stuff.
 
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fibbef

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I wanna see a Wii with 2 GC+ in there!
Oh my... I can't... I had not even considered that. But it should be very doable. I guess my biggest concern would be heat dissipation. I do have a secret something in mind for another cartridge but a Wii cart might have to wait until post-contest since I don't have any PTH08080 regs on hand and I doubt the PowerMii Lite will be out in time.

Got your PM. Haven't had time to test the Arduino stuff, but assuming I'm not drained by the time I get the kids in bed, I should have some time to mess with it tonight.
 

fibbef

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Finally had time to mess with Arduino stuff. Cheese's code has been an incredible help which I've been able to build off of, which he has then edited and improved.



Just wanted to show it off partially working. Since the Uno doesn't have enough I/O pins I can't have every button do something, but I hooked up an LED that turns on when I press B. After taking this picture I hooked up another LED to a single direction on the d-pad just to make sure the buttons were registering correctly.

Placing my order for an Arduino Mega now. While I wait for it to arrive I can start working on the console's internals, which I can confidently say won't win any awards for tidiness.
 
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fibbef

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The Mega arrived in the mail yesterday. It's a clone by a company called Elegoo, but fortunately the Arduino software doesn't know any different. Updated my code to light up LEDs when the 4 cardinal directions and A/B/X/Y are pressed. I still need to optimize the code with cheese's suggestions, but I'm pretty stoked that it otherwise works exactly as intended.



Haven't done anything on the console itself aside from severing a bunch of the cart slot traces. I need to be very picky about what goes to and from the carts and I'd hate for some random signal or voltage from the SNES board to fry one of my PNPs.
 
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fibbef

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Maybe not terribly exciting for the rest of you, but I think I finalized my code. It compiled at least. B|

If all goes according to plan, the Arduino should read in data from both controllers fast enough that it would seem simultaneous. I couldn't remember exactly which buttons correspond with which bit of the data, so I did some guesswork just to complete the code. I'll test it out once I get everything wired back up and update my code to match.

Hate to say it, but I have no delusions of finishing this before the end of the comp. Children and PS4 have gotten in the way. Besides, now I really want to work a Wii into this and I'd prefer not to present this as finished until I get all planned carts completed.

Edit: fixed all the pics in this thread. Now to get the rest of my stuff off of Photobucket...
 
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fibbef

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Been finding some time here and there to work on this again, so it’s time to update this thread.

Basically had to start by clearing off my workbench since it got to be a dumping ground of miscellaneous stuff. I started thinking about how the small amount of guts would fit into the case and doubt there will be much of an issue. The mega board will take up the most space but I started making room by depopulating the SNES board before my desoldering iron crapped out. Removed all topside components except for the ICs. Would love to invest in a hot air station to remove those too, but it’s not in the budget at the moment.

I have a 6V wall wart that the plug-n-plays run nicely from. I’ll mount the female jack inside the SNES’ RF output hole since I’ve already ripped out the RF components. Keeping the default power jack intact because I’m hoping that I can power a trimmed wii from the stock 10V adapter.

Also picked up some additional PNPs since I started this, so I’m more excited than ever to keep the ball rolling.
 

fibbef

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Having recently completed an overdue project, I thought it best to keep the ball rolling and check in on this project that I last visited *checks watch* ...4 years ago!?


In my previous post I mentioned depopulating the SNES board. Since I'll be using the cartridge connector, I don't want stray voltage or data running through my plug-n-play games. I did in fact pick up a hot air station, which made short work of the ICs. And to top it off, I severed the traces to each of the cartridge pins. I can still solder to them on the underside of the board, but I wanted to make sure they weren't connected elsewhere on the board and cause any potential shorts.


There's kind of a lot going on in this image. I dug my Arduino Mega clone out of storage and after some poking and prodding, feel 95% confident that the code works 100%. Data signals from the controller ports are sent to the Arduino, which converts the data into individual button presses (one output pin per controller button), which is sent direct to the cartridge. From there, the plug-n-play cartridge does its thing and outputs audio and video via additional cartridge pins, which are fed to AV jack.

I was really worried about supplying power to each of the components, thinking I would have to use a non-standard jack or incorporate voltage regulators inside the SNES. Luckily, that problem seems to be solved by the Arduino itself. An OEM SNES power brick claims to output 10v (I measured it closer to 13.5) but the Arduino can run off of 6-20v. Also, it outputs 5v, so that should be enough for the controllers and the PNPs. Some of the PNP games operate off of 4 AA batteries, but the one I tested above seems to work fine, so I'm hoping this solution will be viable for most, if not all of the games.
 
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