Monday, July 29, 2019

Quizard Resurrection

If you followed this blog the last few years, you will know what the QUIZARD from TAB AUSTRIA is and how i got interested in this arcade machine.

The truth is, that the Quizard is already completely dead! No Support from TAB Austria anymore since years, and i didn't find any parts for it anywhere to buy at least the last 3-5years.
I'm happy that i found a couple of CD's and MCU's for it in 2010, so at least some of the stuff is secured since years.
But we are missing at least 10 CD-Revision, which we could not find so far.

So, since you can't find any parts for this machine, most real cabinets got destroyed already and your only way to play these games today, is to emulate it in MAME.
While preserving games with emulators is a very good thing, it's also important to rescue the original hardware of these niche machines.

Quizard is a Philips CDI based arcade system. Inside the cabinet you will find a CDI-Player (mostly Philips CDI 220) and a board with an MCU on it. This board is also the interface to the push-buttons on the cabinet.
The game is completely on the CD, using the external MCU just for copy protection.

Original board from TAB AUSTRIA


While i could decap at least the MCU's for Quizard 1, 3 and 4 so far, there was still one thing missing, which was needed to get the Quizard playable on each Philips CDI. The interface board!

So i reworked the complete original board and made it even better (i think).

new interface board (made by TeamEurope)

This board is basically a 1:1 clone of the original board, but has some improvements:

  • only 1/4 of the original size
  • no external power needed (get's VCC over the serial cable, from the CDI-Player)
  • all  push-buttons included on the board
  • fits inside an Arduino MEGA case.

size comparison

I sent a board to rosewood from retrostuff.org a couple of weeks ago (read his blogpost about it here) and he did an amazing job, testing this board with a couple of different CDI-Players!

With the included pins on the board, you can even use it inside an arcade-cabinet as a real replacement for the original board!

Here are some pictures of the working board:
 



Here are some infos about the switches on the board:



I finished three boards today, which can get bought.

The package consists of:
  • Interface-board (ready to use)
  • 1x Arduino MEGA case.
  • 3x MCU's (for Version 1, 3 and 4 - GERMAN)
  • 1x serial cable
complete package

PRICE: 45EUR



Friday, July 19, 2019

Decapping an MCU from 1943!

Brian bought the board and sent me the MCU for decapping.
The protection of this game was reversed already a couple of years ago, but emulating the real thing is always better.

I got the MCU today via post-mail and as i had some free time today, i took a look at it.
At first i always try a test-dump from the MCU (maybe we are lucky and it was never locked). => Of course it was locked, just giving me FF's. ;-)


As with all 8751H's i heated the top of the chip, and removed it with a screw driver.



After that you just cover the eprom-area with some uv-resistent material (nail polish) and put the chip under the UV-Eraser, which will then delete the uncovered Lock-Bit.

Afterwards you can read the MCU with your favorite programmer, just like it was never locked.

The 4kb rom is nearly empty, just having some short binary snippets, but i already got confirmed that this dump looks good:


This MCU was used in a couple of 1943 variants and should now get them all fully preserved!
Most likely this will be included in the next MAME release.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Vtech Socrates / Yeno Professor Weiss-Alles / Professeur Saitout - RCA-MOD

The Socrates has a big problem, it's pretty hard to get it running on modern TV's as it only output's a RF-Signal.

This guy (https://modelrail.otenko.com/retro/vtech-socrates) already made an RCA-Mod on the Socrates, so the pinout was pretty clear and easy to handle.

I designed A small pcb which will make this mod easier and you will also get a back-plate which will cover the hole on the back of the console

RCA-PCB and Back-Plate

RCA-PCB

installed board
The installation is really easy, just solder the five wires of the console to the pcb and you are finished.
The board can get screwed to the console and the back-plate can get soldered to the rca-pcb.
Afterwards, everything fits and is ready to use.





I already modified three consoles with this mod.

The price for all parts (without screws) is 10EUR.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Super Note Club / Genius Leader (Super) Color - Flashcart + Dumping-Adapter

Another flashcart just got finished.


This time, it's a flashcart for:
  • VTech Genius Leader Color
  • VTech Genius Leader Super Color
  • Bandai Super NoteClub
  • Bandai Super NoteClub EX
The Flashcart has 512kb of space and as the games are 256kb or 512kb you even have the choice if you want to burn two 256kb games on the cartridge or just one 512kb game.

Just select with the left (silver) switch "1x 512" or "2x256" and if you have two games on the cartridge you can select the games with the right (red) DIP-switch.



That's my first flashcart which uses SMD-parts and a 39SF040 in PLCC-Package, mostly only because the DIP-Package was too big for this PCB.

I also made a Cartridge-Dumping-Adapter for this system. Cartridges can get dumped as 39SF040 (512kb games) or as 39SF020 (256kb games). Basically every programmer should be able to read those two Chip-Types.



Prices:
  • Flashcart (soldered + 1x 39sf040 for self programming): 14EUR
  • Dumping-Adapter (soldered): 8EUR
  • Package (Flashcart + Dumping-Adapter): 20EUR

Shippingcosts are 15EUR (worldwide)

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Super Cassette Vision (32kb+RAM Multicart)


The two already available Multicarts for the SCV can play all games, which do no need any additional RAM inside the cartridges.
Pop'n Chips in reality also needs extra RAM for saving the TOP-10 Highscore. On the available 27in1 cartridge you can play the game, but you get some garbage at the titlescreen and can't save the highscore.

Today i just finished the prototype cartridge for an 32kb+RAM Multicart! Which means, all three 32KB games (which need the extra RAM) are also now fully playable.


That bring's Super Basic, Dragon Slayer and Pop'n Chips to a fully working state! And best of all, each game has it's own RAM-Space.

Dragon Slayer


Super Basic

Pop & Chips on the 27in1 Multicart (garbage on the title screen, because of the missing RAM)

Pop & Chips on the new 32kb+RAM Multicart (with new/empty RAM)



Pop & Chips on the 32kb+RAM Multicart (with saved Highscore)

Features:
  • 32KB SRAM (usable as 4x 8KB)
  • ROM for 16x 32KB games (only 3 are used so far)
  • CR2032 battery for SRAM (cheapest and smallest solution)

The final cartridges will be ready in mid-august. I will update this post also with the final DIP-Switch sheet.

EDIT 2019-08-06:
THIS IS THE NEW DESIGN: https://team-europe.blogspot.com/2019/08/super-cassette-vision-32kb-ram.html