Dungeons Beneath Cairo by Andrew Flexman and David Harvey of Scorpion Software.
Neat little 80s D&D RPG style game. This one required a more advanced remastering technique.
This is Demo #1 from the Sega SP-400 Plotter Printer user manual. It draws a pie chart, colours in the segments, and then draws a legend (again with colours).
These little plotters are *so* cool to watch - they remind me of watching a 3D printer.
Right at the end you can also see one of my Sega SC-3000s with a breadboard component video mod. That is a work in progress.
After many years I have finally acquired a Sega SP-400 Plotter Printer. I'm like a kid in a candy shop :)
Back in the early 80s ALPS licensed a small plotter design which was used for home computers by lots of manufacturers like Sharp, Atari, Commodore etc. The SP-400 is Sega's take on the plotter. It has 4 individual pens (black, greed, red blue) with little ballpoints on each one, and the plotter draws by moving the pens left to right as the paper moves up and down.
I'm lucky that this plotter works, has a full roll of paper, and a pile of spare pens. When I get some time I will write some plotter demos to put on the multicart.
Anyway, enjoy this video of the unboxing and printer self test.
Two new releases for the tape restoration project today - The House and Help by Michael Howard.
Sorry about the delay in releases - life is busy :) We have a couple more almost ready to go.
We've always had a long term plan to clean up and release the SC-3000 tape software into the wild. We've finally started. Well, slowly anyway :)
We'll try to put out one or two remastered tape releases each month for the rest of 2015. These are 16-bit 44.1Khz WAV audio files, but are highly compressible because they have been digitally generated. They will work on original SC-3000 hardware and in emulators like MESS.
Life is very busy, but now the pages are up and running hopefully we'll be able to keep the releases coming. Check out the Tape Restoration Project pages for the latest releases, and some articles on various ways of remastering SC-3000 tape software, plus anything interesting we want to record about particular tape loaders or tape copy protection etc. for future reference.
Our first two releases are The Secret of Bastow Manor (text / graphic adventure) and Vortex Blaster, a vertical scrolling shoot-em-up and the first SC-3000 title to feature digitized speech.
Look for some more next month.
Well, there was enough interest in the old girl to get another run of SC-3000 Multicart PCBs off the ground. The PCBs look good. We rebuilt the design in Eagle CAD to give us a bigger range of manufacturers, and the new Mk IIb PCBs now have a nice little SC-3000 Survivors logo on them :)
We used PCB Wing (www.pcbwing.com), and they have done a nice job. Their website is totally automated. Just get a quote for the board size and features you want, upload the gerber files, then once they pass DRC checks manufacturing is automatically scheduled. Very cool.
We ordered a few spare PCBs, so let us know if you want to buy a SC-3000 Multicart.
But that's not all. Each cart now comes with a nice vinyl label printed in stunning black.
Oh yeah :)
No more smudging, and no more Inkjet Hell.
The new labels are removable, so you can lift them if you need to get access to the case screws. We just hope they have enough long term stickability. Only time will tell :)
We would just like to say a big thanks to Labels Plus for doing a great job on these.
Their website was excellent. It had an online quoting facility, and all the information we needed to create correctly formatted artwork suitable for printing. And the price was very reasonable too as they only have a $50 NZD + GST minimum charge. 128 labels cost $68.63 NZD including GST and courier charge. Christine at Labels Plus was a big help, and they sent us a couple of proofs for free before placing an order.
We are very excited to announce that Revival Studios is now accepting orders for Astro Dodge. This great new cartridge game for the SC-3000 and SG-1000 is reminiscent of Space Slalom, but much more fun with reward pickups, head-to-head mode, and an Internet Hi-Score Hall of Fame where you can submit your best scores.
Revival Studios is also releasing a cheaper version on tape for SC-3000 users.
Disclaimer: We've been involved with the cartridge production and advice with porting to the SC-3000 and how to create a tape version of Astro Dodge. We don't get any kickbacks from the sale of this game, we just think it is really cool that Revival Studios have churned out a great new title for our favourite home computer :) So please head over to Revival Studios and check out Astro Dodge.
To cut a long story short, we can now make our own awesome SC-3000 Survivors Cartridge cases, and all Multicarts ship with a case! Check out how we did it in The Great SC-3000 Survivors Cartridge Case Project.
Here is the SC-3000 Multicart Label sheet for you to print your own labels.
I did my best to make some nice sticky labels to ship with the Multicarts. Unfortunately the label paper I used was very disappointing as it smudges easily, is thin, and has poor color balance.
So my new recommended setup is to print the labels on to glossy photo paper designed for your printer and using original inks. That looks a lot better and it less likely to smudge.
You can then use a glue stick to attach it to your cartridge shell. Cover the label with a tissue or clean piece of paper when you press it into place so you don't get your fingers all over it. And don't use too much glue as it may squidge around the edge of the label when you press it down.
I'm much happier with that. The photo paper is a lot thicker, so it stays flat. And by using a glue stick you may even be able to lift the label later on if you need to unscrew the case.
The SC-3000 Multicart User Manual v1.01 is now available for download.
I've tried to summarize and include all the interesting or relevant information that is spread around the website or in the SMS Power Dev Forums into a single document. Most of you will only need the Quickstart Guide and Care of your Multicart sections. But there is also a History section, How it Works, Programming reference, a list of all software shipped with the cart as standard, and the Credits and Acknowledgements section. I may make a few more improvements, but this is getting close to the final version.
I've just about cleared the backlog of orders. There are still a few PCBs left, so get in quick if you want one.
Once again, many thanks to everyone who participated in this project. It has been around 20 months since we conceived the idea, and the last 6 months or so have been crazy busy. But I'm very pleased with how the Multicart has turned out. It does almost everything I had originally envisaged, and in some cases more besides.
I'm working my way through the order list and the next 8 SC-3000 multicarts are ready to ship. Some of them have been ready since last week. But I've been trying to print out and include a nice sticky label with the carts for you to put on your donor cart cases. It even has a circle that shows you where to drill the hole for the reset button (thanks to Francesco for letting me borrow his artwork). Sounds simple right?
Well... I'm just about to give up on that and send you all a pdf you can print out yourselves.
My printer was out of ink. I don't keep the colors stocked up because the kids just waste them on pictures of Dora the Explorer. But I thought this was a good excuse to refill. So I bought a full set of 5 high capacity recycled / refilled carts and some glossy sticky labels. I ran a test sheet, guillotined them, and they looked good.
Oh oh... those refilled ink carts smear, dammit. I figure I'll do a print sheet at work and check it isn't the label paper that is the problem. Sure enough, the one at work is colorfast and water resistant, although being an el cheapo printer it looks like crap.
So I try the home printer again a day later. AAAAAGGGGHHH WTF WTF WTF???? Looks like the refilled ink has clogged the photo black and magenta nozzles, and the yellow and cyan are a bit iffy too. Lots of running cleaning routines but nothing.
Ok - back to the store and swap for genuine HP cartridges (and pay the extra $60). Back home and... nozzles still clogged, possibly even worse than before because cartridges were out of print head all day.
Hunt around on the net, find out how to pop the print head and give it a clean. It looks like that recycled photo black leaked ink all over the printhead. Great. Find some older sticky blobs of ink too and remove those. Get one on finger. About to flick into rubbish bin when HP printer decides to park the print carriage and it tries to snap off the open printhead release lever in the process. Rush to printer. Blob of ink falls into printer. Can't see where. Hope it doesn't cause a problem.
Finish cleaning print head reassemble 3 times to get past HP warnings about printhead problem. Print test page. No improvement on clogged nozzles. But now I get a nice big black stripe down the page from that ink blob that fell onto the paper roller and is hiding in a place I can't remove it.
So... cost of failed sticker experiment so far is approximately $170 USD, and that doesn't allow for the fact I may need to buy a new printer now too.
Hopefully if I feed 100 or so sheets of blank paper through the printer then the black smear will disappear, and I may try soaking the printhead in distilled water for 24 hours to try to unclog the nozzles. But otherwise it is stuffed.
Update: 14 March 2012
I saw a cheap HP 3070A all-in-one printer on special for about $60 USD. It uses the same HP 564 inkjet carts as my old HP C6380, so I figured that was the best way to avoid totally losing the investment in new inkjet carts. However I hope they are still fresh when I get to use them. There should be a special circle of Hell reserved for whoever decided to chip the carts that come with a new printer so that the printer won't initialize using a standard set of carts.
Anyway - the new HP 3070A works well, so you will all get a couple of sticky labels with your carts. The ink can still smudge a wee bit, so be careful when handling them. They work out to about $4 USD per label after this debacle :)
Hi All. I shipped out the first two production multicarts on March 2. Thunderbirds are go!
I'll start contacting people with paid up deposits as I work my way through the pre-order list. That could take 3-4 weeks for people near the end, so please be patient. Hopefully quicker than that though :) But feel free to email if you want an update on where you are in the list.
Thanks once again to everyone who chipped in with a deposit to get this production run off the ground. There are still a few carts left, so get in quick if you want one. I suspect I'll be taking a break from this project for a while once I've shipped the last one :) It has been fun, but it has also been a huge amount of effort over the past couple of years, and the past 3-4 months especially.
Great news! We've just recently managed to dig up two tape classics that we hadn't seen in 25 years. Many thanks to Glen for spending a couple of days digging through his cupboards.
The Deadly Jewel of Antark is an early RPG by Grant Emms who later wrote Delta Fighter and The Tomb of Nozar.
Satellite Salvage is a fast machine code game by Shayne Burbery. Use your jetpack to pick up the falling pieces of satellite and return them to base whilst dodging the aliens. The aliens get faster and more appear as you go up the levels. Fast and addictive.
Check out the following video for a glimpse of DJOA, Satellite Salvage, plus some of the many tape games from Sega Magazine like Colditz, a Basic graphics demo, the new Text Adventure menu, and a quick look at a funky little Pacman clone called Demon Gobbler.
The lighting isn't the best, and the iPhone struggled with the colors on screen a bit, but you should get the idea :)
Deadly Jewel of Antark and Satellite Salvage just arrived over the past weekend, so I'm going to miss that 1 March shipping date by a couple of days. But nearly there.
Hi All. We're making good progress and it looks like we should hit that 1 March shipping date for the first paid up multicart.
The multicart software is almost finalized now. Here are the most recent changes:
Commercial SC-3000 Games
Educational / Utility SC-3000 Tapes
Sega Magazine Software
Good news - the new SC-3000 Multicart PCBs are here! I assembled one last night to check and it works fine. Futurlec have done a nice job again. Observant viewers might notice a couple of minor changes from the original Mk II layout.
So it is a good time to update everyone on progress and when you are likely to get your multicart.
I need until around the end of February to finish tweaking the Multicart software. Actually, I could happily spend another 3 months tweaking it, but I need to make a cut somewhere for your sanity and mine :) So I will make up a final to-do list which is achievable, then I'll try to stick to that and 1 March 2012 for shipping the first multicart.
After that I will work my way through the list of orders as quickly as possible. But I can really only build one or two of these carts a night at best, and that's only if the kids go to bed nicely :) So please be patient, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Off the top of my head, the to-do list is approximately
Hmmm... that seems like a lot to get through in 3 weeks, so I may have to skip some of that in order to make the cut.
I want to do the following too, but these will probably miss out:
Once again, many thanks to everyone who stumped up with their deposit to make the production run possible. I finally shipped some of the prototypes to the other Survivors for testing last week and they were blown away. So I hopefully the end result makes all the waiting worthwhile :)
Hi All. Just a quick note to let you know we've added a pile another 13 interesting items of Sega SC-3000 tape software to the cart.
The demos are original Sega or Grandstand demos that show off the flexibilty and power of Sega Basic very nicely.
Hi All - Happy New Year!
Sorry it is has been a while since the last update - real life intruding and all that :) But the family had a nice Xmas despite all the rain. We're currently trying to confirm the Multicart PCB order with Futurlec, and we'll let you know when that is officially underway.
Anyway - back to the update. Here's a new video clip for you:
I tidied up a couple of little things, and added something very cool.
The first tidy-up is a menu option to let you toggle the Print64 Menu System on and off. So you get the small text by default, but if you find it just too damn small you can still quickly switch to a text mode menu instead.
Second, I tidied up the EPSGMOD Player code. I got rid of a couple of glitches, added a simple title screen, and compressed 8 EPSGMOD / VGM music files into a single 32KB block. They sound great, and now it looks nice too.
Music Cartridge Demonstration Cassette
The cool new thing is the demo songs for the Sega SC-3000 Music Editor.
You've probably seen the Music Editor before, but never really played with it. That's not surprising as you really need the keyboard overlay and a bit of patience to learn it. And a bit of musical talent helps too :)
The Music Editor is actually a very capable little cart that lets you compose songs using one of three instruments (Piano I, Piano II, Organ) and 3 note chords. You can then save / load these tunes to tape or even print them out if you have a printer / plotter.
Sega / Grandstand Leisure Ltd released a demo tape that you could buy with 10 demo tunes on it to showcase the cart's capabilities. And now the Multicart has those included too. There is just enough empty space in the Music Editor ROM to embed a compressed copy of the tunes and self extract them when the cart loads. They are a really nice collection of classical tunes:
And remember, we are currently organising our production run, so please order your multicart now.
SMSPower recently released a dump of Xevious for the Korean Gamboy / Master System clone. I was very excited about that because I loved the arcade game. And even better, because this was an MSX port running in legacy mode it should work on the SC-3000!
Most of the Korean / Taiwanese dumps I've tried have two problems on the SC-3000. First, they don't initialize the SC-3000's PPI so the joysticks don't work. No problem - the multicart menu system does that automatically. Second, they often have conversion errors with bad memory addresses that rely on RAM mirroring to work. No problem - the multicart now has jumpers to disable the SRAM on the cart.
So I fired it up and... nothing. Ok - it looks like this game needs more than 2KB of RAM (confirmed in MEKA debugger - it requires 8KB of RAM from E000 to FFFF and there are no read / writes from $8000 to $DFFF). So I switch the jumpers around to use 32KB of RAM and WOW that's some funky screen distortion :)
After a lot of playing around in the MEKA and BlueMSX debuggers I found the two problems. It all has to do with the differences between the SMS VDP registers and a real TMS9929A.
TMS9929A register 1, bit 7 and 4K VRAM
The first problem is the way the code tries to turn the screen update on / off when updating the VRAM tile set etc. It writes $42 to VDP register 1 to disable interrupts and $62 to register 1 to enable interrupts. That works out like this:
The problem is that bit 7. It is ignored on an SMS, but on a real TMS9929A it forces the chip to use 4K of VRAM instead of 16K of VRAM which does some interesting things to the tile sets :) I think that's because the original TMS99xx chips only had graphics mode 1 and 4K of VRAM. The TMS99xxA adds extra modes, but still gives you the option of running with only 4K of VRAM.
So the solution is to change the code to write $C2 and $E2 instead of $42 and $62.
VRAM update code writes bad value to VDP register 6 which shifts Sprite Generator Table
The second problem is that for some bizarre reason a couple of the VRAM update routines that are called later on have a hard coded write of $00 to VDP register $0E. This is ignored by the SMS VDP, but the TMS9929A treats it as a write of $00 to register 6 which resets the Sprite Generator table position from $3800 down to $0000. ie. it overlaps with the tiles, which is why you get to fly a bunch of letters around the screen :) Since the SMS ignored those instructions anyway, we just nop them out.
If you want to see the way it looks on a real SC-3000 with 32KB of RAM on the cart, use BlueMSX and set up the memory space to 32KB RAM from $8000 to $FFFF. Or just check out the YouTube vid above. Enjoy :)
WLA DX code to patch the Xevious ROM
Here's a WLA DX .asm file that shows how to patch the Xevious ROM to work on an SC-3000 or SG-1000. Note that the cart you use will still have to have 8KB of RAM or more and it must be available from $E000 to $FFFF. Or you could just order one of the multicarts ;)
Hi All. I tried out a couple of changes to the PCB over the weekend. I drilled some extra holes in the PCB, cut a few traces, and added some extra jumper wires to the back. This is very close to the layout I will use for the production PCBs (without the jumper wires, of course).
I think I will probably start to confirm orders and collect deposits soon so I can order the PCBs. They will probably take 6-8 weeks to arrive because of Christmas, so that should give me plenty of time to finish off the cart software.
I'm actually really busy at work and home at the moment, so it may be another week or so before I start to contact everyone who has expressed an interest about that.
J2 - Disable SRAM
I had always intended to let you use the SC-3000's onboard 2KB of SRAM by removing J1 (top left in photo). Unfortunately I forgot to disable the SRAM on the cart, so that didn't work. Oops. Now you can remove J1 and shift J2 from pins 2-3 to pins 1-2. J1 enables the SC-3000's onboard 2KB of SRAM and J2 disables the SRAM on the cart.
This is important for the Korean / Taiwanese MSX to SG-1000 / Gam*Boy ports. Unfortunately most of those have errors where they didn't correctly remap all the memory locations to the $C000 to $C7FF range. That is fine if you are using the SC-3000's onboard SRAM because the memory space is mirrored, so if you accidentally read / write to a higher location it still works. But that fails when you have 32KB of RAM. I will try to provide patches for those ROM images, but in general if an SG-1000 ROM game doesn't work on the multi-cart, then try disabling the cart SRAM and it should work.
The other problem with those Korean / Taiwanese ROMs is that don't initialize the SC-3000 to turn on the joysticks. So the multicart menu system does that automatically for you before the ROM image is launched.
J3 - Flash/EEPROM Jumper
Charles MacDonald suggested in the SMS Dev Forums that I support EEPROMs as well as EPROMs. The multicart actually does that without any jumper support, but J3 makes things a bit tidier. When you remove J3, then pin 31 on ROM 1 (the left hand ROM) is tied to +5v. That disables the write circuitry in the Flash EEPROM chips.
It also has the effect that slots 0..7 and 8..15 are the same and slots 16..23 and 24..31 are the same. So I'll tweak the auto-scan routines to look for duplicates and only show 16 slots instead of 32 when using a Flash chip.
Note: J3 only controls ROM1. ROM2 always has pin 31 controlled from the '373 latch. Basically this was a trade off between giving you guys a bit of extra flexibility, and keeping the Jumpers easy to use. I could have controlled each ROM with its own jumper, plus shifted corrected the A18 control line from the latch across to pin 1 on the ROMs, but I would have needed another 5 jumpers to do it. That would have been hard to fit in, and very easy to stuff up the jumper settings - hence the decision to use a single jumper.
Hi All. The Geek Factor is pretty high on this post, but I've been wanting to try it for years and it covers an interesting piece of SC-3000 history.
Mike Hadrup was the last editor of Sega Computer Magazine in New Zealand from 1987 to 1988. He was only 18 at the time, but he wrote a lot of really cool toolkit to extend the Basic Interpreter for the SC-3000. One of these utilities was Print 64 (published in Sega Computer Magazine October 1987).
The SC-3000 uses a TMS9929A or TMS9918A video chip. In text mode you can display up to 40 characters across and 24 rows down, but you are limited to two colors and no sprites. This is good, but it looks a bit boring and you can't fit much text on the Multicart Boot Menu. In particular, it means that if I want two columns in the menus then I have to use short names for some games.
The Screen 2 graphics mode gives you 256 x 192 pixels with 16 colors and sprites (this is what the games use). So I can make the boot menu look better, but you can fit even less text in - only 32 columns by 24 rows.
That is where Print 64 comes in. It works in Screen 2 graphics mode, but it paints two characters into each 8 x 8 pixel block on the screen. The characters are only 3 pixels wide each (with the 4th pixel column being whitespace). So the text is a lot smaller, but it is still looks really good on a CRT - the screenshots don't quite do it justice. Check out the video for a better idea of how this looks on the Multicart.
Print 64 has a simple window system (you specify top left / bottom right of window) and the routines take care of all the text wrapping / scrolling etc. inside that window whilst leaving the rest of the screen intact. Most of the standard layout commands are in there - CR, LF, CLS, simple tabbing system, inverse characters etc.
Mike also provided a hook into the Basic IIIB Print command. So all you had to do was to add the machine code to your program, activate the hook, POKE the window bounds and cursor position into RAM, then execute Basic PRINT commands to output 64 column text to the graphics screen.
This made it really easy to extend your own programs. Unfortunately, interest in the SC-3000 was dying out by this stage, and Mike was moving onto bigger and better things at University so we never really saw much software that took advantage of his toolkit. But it is seriously cool and is definitely worth a look.
The good news is that Print 64 is actually quite portable and is (almost) totally independent of the IIIB ROM. I've disassembled and commented a fair chunk of it, and eventually I plan to post a WLA-DX .asm so you can include it in your own projects if you're interested. It should work fine on an SMS in legacy Screen 2 mode as well as MSX machines with a bit of tweaking - perfect for text adventures or word processors :)
So... am I going to use Print 64 for the Boot Menu? I'm not sure yet :) It is very cool code, and a fitting piece of SC-3000 History to include in the Multicart. But... that text really is pretty small and it is harder to read than the normal sized text. I'll have a play around with it and make my mind up. But I think the Geek Factor alone may mean I stick with Print 64 :) To be honest, my head says to use the standard graphics mode with a single menu column and standard sized text, but my heart says Print 64. We'll see.
Video showing the difference between Print 64 and normal text mode on a TV screen
My replacement Top853 Programmer arrived nice and quick - $45.59 USD including shipping. Thank goodness for eBay, cheap Chinese production, and free shipping! It only took about 10 days to get here from China.
I think the trouble I had with those AMD29F040B Flash chips was just coincidence as they work fine with the new programmer. They erase, write, and verify perfectly now. In retrospect, the old one was always a bit twitchy. The chips seem to work fine on the Mk II Multicart, so I may support that as an option in the future.
Anyway, I'm pleased to announce that the MkII Multicart now has 4 new tape games:
It looks like my Top853 Programmer is malfunctioning. I bought some cheap AMD29F040B Flash chips off eBay, and the problems started after that. Now the programmer won't work with the 27C801 EPROMs I've been using either. I keep getting write errors, and I can't get a consistent read off a known good EPROM either. Probably coincidence, but I'll dump that batch of Flash chips just in case.
So while I'm waiting for a new Top853 Programmer to arrive in the post I've made two more videos. The first one shows you some of the Multicart software features I've been working on over the past couple of months, and the second one shows you Burglar Bill, a 1980s class from Mike Boyd.
Enjoy, and you can also find all these videos on the SC-3000 Survivors YouTube Channel
As you can see, the multicart content is coming along nicely. Here are the main features in the Video:
The colors look a bit washed out in the video, but it looks good on a CRT TV. I had to fight with the TMS9929A limitation of having only two colors within an 8 pixel block. Basically that means it is very difficult to have a space on the screen where three colors merge together, so you get odd display effects. Not much you can do about that aside from squaring off your graphics color changes to 8 pixel boundaries, unfortunately. Click on the image below to see a zoomed version and look at the distortion around the Survivors logo (thanks to Franceso for the artwork):
Burglar Bill is a classic 1980s JetSet Willy style level based game from Mike Boyd. Here's the quote from the cassette inlay:
While doing the rounds of the local village one dark night, Bill comes across a large dark mansion situated on top of a small hill. Seeing no lights on, Bill decides to check the place over. Inside, Bill comes across a large wooden door. Opening the door, Bill makes his way down into the darkness below...
Your Job: Guide Burglar Bill through the many cellars of the mysterious mansion, collecting the treasures scattered through them. But beware! Each room is guarded by deformed creatures under the control of their creator, the mansion's owner. Also, poison tipped objects litter the cellars making your passage through them very dangerous. After collecting the five objects from each room, a door allows access to the next of the ten rooms, with a new challenge in store for you.
...and here's the cassette inlay
Welcome to everyone from SMSPower. We've come a long way since we put these pages together back in March. The SC-3000 Survivors MK II Multicart is now up and running. It has a Boot Menu, and holds up to 63 SC-3000 or SG-1000 games carts, or 30-50 games carts plus a pile of Tape Games which have been specially converted to load off the Multicart.