Saturday, November 16, 2019

Konami Picno Flashcart

Another system, which did not have any flashcart so far, is the Konami Picno.

This flashcart has 1mb of space and supports all available games.

This design consists of three layers of PCB's, to get the best slot-in solution for this console.

Did not expect that it will work that good, but the result is pretty amazing, easy to solder and cheap to produce.

Price for one flashcart (ready to use, with one 27C801 eprom) is 16EUR.

Friday, November 8, 2019

GAMEKING Flashcart

Another console which i always wanted to design my own flashcart for, the GameKing from Timetop.

The frontside contains the eeprom and six switches, the backside contains a description for all switches on the board.

This flashcart has 512kb of space and is switchable between 1x 512kb bank or 4x128kb banks.
Which means you can program 4 games with 128kb to it, or just one of those 4in1 roms, which have 512kb.

The cartridge is reprogramable with every programmer which supports 39VF040 eeproms. For example the cheap TL866IIPlus (costs about 35-40EUR) can do the job easily. Programming a 512kb rom takes about 25seconds.

The goal of this cartridge-design was to be as small as possible, while also as much useable as possible.

The cartridge itself should also work within the GameKing3 to play the GK1 and GK3 games on it. As with the recent emulation progress of the GameKing and GameKing3 (emulated in the next MAME-release) it was determined that the GameKing3 makes some checks about flashroms at it's startup. Which could be a protection-check.
Because of this fact, i would need someone with an GameKing3 to verify, if this cartridge is really working on a GK3 handheld. (This person will get a discount on the cartridge!)

I currently have 9 pieces of this cartridge left.
One cartridge can get bought for 15EUR.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Let's do two more this month

Caius contacted me about two 8751H mcu's which  Jorge Silva would borrow us for decapping.
The package arrived today and i took a quick lookat them.


This game is inside MAME since December 1997 and while the game-emulation works, we had no chance to preserve the MCU the last 22 years.
The MCU got decapped today and completes this romset!


Dumped in March 2000, this is another game which works in MAME since years. And finally today we got the MCU decapped for it!
Another game fully preserved!

Interesting fact:

The dump of "Air Duel" has this at the very first lines:

Whatever "Last of Ninja" is...

EDIT 21-10-2019: Maybe it's from "Ninja Spirit", a game which was released two years earlier (1988) from IREM and they had some MCU's of it left, which they recycled for "Air Duel".  As "Ninja Spirit" is missing it's MCU dump too, we will try if this dump also works for it. 

EDIT 22-10-2019: "Last of Ninja" is really the name of "Ninja Spirit". The MCU-dump is working perfectly for "Air Duel" and it really looks like IREM was just too lazy to remove the wrong game-title from it. This dump will not work with "Ninja Spirit".

Thanks to Caius and Jorge Silva for helping to preserve these games!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Final MCU's from Brian's package

and here we have the last three MCU's of Brian's last package.

Body Slam

Matches the existing decap of it! So this is another confirmation of the decap and practice for my decapping skills.

Fire Trap (US)

This is the MCU for the US-Version of Fire Trap. (The Japan-Version was decapped a couple of weeks ago).
It does not match the handcrafted dump! So this is a new real dump!

Last Mission

So this is really interesting!
As i already decapped this chip about 6 weeks ago already, we got good reads from it back than. Now i decapped this new chip and got a different dump.
While the rompart of the chip is the same on both and matches each other, there's a difference in the empty-part of the rom:

LEFT: old decap
RIGHT: new decap

both dumps will work on the real hardware with no difference, as this is only in the not used area of the rom.
Basically the second dump is cleaner and this way looks "more" correct to me.
As i have the "old" mcu here too, i redumped it a couple of times today and always get the same rom. So they are really different in that area.

Friday, October 11, 2019

why decapping MCU's is so important

Got the next two MCU's from the lot in my hands. Those two proved, why it's so important to decap and secure MCU's, as Emulation-Simulations of the MCU's won't help you to rescue your real board.

Image Fight

I test all MCU's about PIN-connections before i start to decap it. to be sure that the MCU is at least "working" before i put my hands on it.

So i put the MCU in my programmer and got this:

No matter what i did, nearly all pins on the left side had no connection. Only GND had a connection, so i cleaned all other pins, tried again and got the same result.

So i started to open the chip. As it was already dead, i had nothing to loose. I checked the die with my bare eyes and didn't see any faults. So i put on some nail-polish and afterwards made the first pictures of the die with my microscope.

Look what i found:
Can you see it? Two wires are cut.
Now to the interesting thing, this is GND!!!

As i  don't have the equipment to fix this small wires, and solder those back together, i made my own little fixing-tool for it:

When i connected the two wires, i got connections to all pins and could read the mcu.

Sadly the dump matches the existing Image Fight (Japan) dump. As we didn't know for which region this mcu was, we were hoping it is for the missing World revision.

At least it was a great challenge. I'm pretty sure someone mixed up VCC and GND on the board and that's why these two wires got blowed up.


Brian already told me, before he shipped this package from the US, that one of the MCU's is missing many pins.
It was the MCU for Quartet and many of the pins got corroded and really broke away if you just looked at it.
After a short fixing job it at least looked like this:

The other side did look nearly the same, so basically about 20 of the 40 pins were at least partial missing.

The decap and Pin-fixing job worked out and it got constant reads after erasing the lock-bit.

Another mcu preserved!

MCU challenge

Another package from Brian arrived today!

Brian drove about 400 miles (or 650km) to a guy who borrowed us these 8751H chips for decapping. I had some time today and started with the first 3 MCU's from the lot.


Finally this MCU is now secured! I already tried it in MAME and it looks like it's working flawlessly. So the handcrafted dump can now get removed.

CHELNOV (US) (Data East)

And here's another MCU dump for Chelnov. This time it's for the US-Version. Interestingly, this dump does not match the handcrafted rom. Will be interesting, what's the difference.

Dynamite Dux (set 1) (8751 317-0095)

Now also this set is completely secured and preserved.

Enjoy another batch of 8751 MCU dumps for MAME. More will get decapped soon...


Friday, September 27, 2019

Another step forward

I received another package from Brian today!

Altered Beast (set 6) (8751 317-0076)

With this mcu-dump the romset is now complete and another missing mcu is preserved!

Chelnov - Atomic Runner (Japan)

Here we have now the MCU for the Japan-Version! The World-Version was decapped last week and while Dirk patched the World-MCU dump for the Japan-Version (which looked to be good!) we could never be sure, if the handcrafted dump is good.
This new decap now confirms, that the "handcrafted" dump from Dirk is correct!

Dragonninja (Japan)

Another missing mcu is now preserved! This new dump is different to the available handcrafted mcu-dump. So it's always good to have it decapped from the real chip for confirmation.

Golden Axe (set 2, US) (8751 317-0112)

Matches the existing decap. Brian just sent the mcu for completeness, we basically knew that it will most likely match to the existing dump.

This short update now confirmed two existing roms and got us two new mcu dumps! Thx to Brian for sending the MCU's to me!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

More Data East MCU's

We are currently on the hunt on getting most of the remaining 8751H mcu's for MAME decapped and dumped.
This is really costly and so far we paid all stuff from our own money. No donations came in for this so far. 

Decapping MCU's is risky! Even handled with extremely care, chances are high to break the chip. I decapped so far eightteen 8751H MCU's and 3 of those broke while decapping.
Getting better and better with every chip i decap it's basically a 25% chance something goes wrong and the chip is dead without a dump of it. Which also means we have to buy a second board to get the MCU dumped.

The today's update did cost us over 1250EUR.

Fire Trap (Japan)

Brian bought a board, a couple of month's back and sent me the MCU from it. Sadly it broke while decapping it...
I put in my own money and bought a second board to get the mcu again.

MCU now dumped! => Costs (both boards): ~800EUR

Chelnov - Atomic Runner (World)

I also bought this so we get a MCU dump.

MCU dumped! => Costs: 450EUR

Birdie Try (different MCU)

While i already decapped the MCU from Birdie Try a couple of weeks ago, ee got a what could be
 different revision of the MCU.
And yes, it's really a different revision. 7 bytes are different to the existing dump.

MCU dumped! => Costs = free!

All of these new dumps got programmed on a fresh 89C51 and tested with the boards. Confirming that all dumps worked on the real hardware.

Donations are highly needed, as the secured postage fee's are already taking a lot of money! So please, if you can, donate some money to

Monday, August 26, 2019

Super Cassette Vision - 32KB RAM Multicarts

You have most likely already seen this:

This old design basically worked, but no matter what i did, it drained the battery within 3 days. So i had to look for another solution.

Basically only one of the 32KB games need the battery and this is POP & CHIPS for the HIGHSCORE table.

So i reworked the design to use F-RAM chips and now POP & CHIPS worked like a charm. But DRAGON SLAYER did not, this one only worked with the S-RAM chip. Luckily it looks like, it really only needs the RAM for gameplay and not for saving.

The conclusion is, we now need two cartridges:

The good thing, none of these two cartridges now needs a battery and the F-RAM cartridge will hold your data for at least 30 years.

DIP 5 & 6 are the DIPS for the RAM-Banks. Each cartridge has 4 of it. Which means you can save four different Highscore-Tables for POP & CHIPS if you want.

Both cartridges have a lot of space left, so many homebrew games could get designed for the Super Cassette Vision:

Here are the DIP-Settings for both cartridges

I tried to get the prices as low as possible, but in the end it's a little bit more expensive as the old design, for both carts:

F-RAM Multicart: 17EUR
S-RAM Multicart: 15EUR
Both for: 30EUR