Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

reminisce about bbc micro & electron games like chuckie egg, repton, elite & exile

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MartinB
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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby MartinB » Mon May 22, 2017 12:36 pm

Hi Dave - yes, the MGC roms 'kill code' is in but one thing I haven't actually tried is programming an MGC with an up to date games compendium, kicking it into life and then going through the erase/program sequence. Could you email me the biggest image you currently have (is it 4Mb?) noting that it will have to include the lowest sectors because mine has nothing in at all.

Its worth noting generally that all the utils I have written thus far, and now the UPURS extensions, are totally MGC intended-use agnostic in the sense that they treat the device simply as a piece of large eeprom-based hardware with a set of control and status rules and the utils know nothing of the MGC context of a menu and games etc.

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby MartinB » Mon May 22, 2017 6:48 pm

Back to the utils....

Once *UPMGC <start sector> programming is under way with the Receiving/Programming cycle taking place as seen in the earlier video, the Beeb is pulling 16k blocks of data from the PC (equates to one sideways rom image) and is programming the next logical 16k of MGC which is one quarter of the current 64k sector. The programming algorithm always assumes that it can keep pulling 16k blocks from the PC and programming sequential 'roms' until the last rom of the last MGC sector is reached which is sector $B1F, rom 3. This is why I mentioned in an earlier post that the source data 'granularity' is 16k - any less would leave a rom only partially programmed. With this methodology in mind, there are four possible outcomes for the programming phase as follows...

1. A programming error occurs where the current MGC eeprom byte fails to program. This could be an actual device fault but is more likely to be caused by the current sector (or the entire MGC) not having been erased before programming which a is mandatory requirement. (The second utility, *UPMGCER has been provided for this purpose.) Should such a fatal error occur, the utility will abort and you will see something similar to the following...

UPMGC Device Error.JPG


2. The received (Rx) PC serial data stops but not on a 16k boundary and as described above, this will leave an incorrectly programmed rom. The utility will necessarily abort and you will see something similar to the following...

UPMGC Rx Data Error.JPG


3. The received (Rx) PC serial data stops before the end of the MGC (before sector $B1F is programmed) but exactly on a 16k rom boundary. The utility will necessarily abort but any sectors and roms programmed from the user-supplied start sector to the data end will be correctly programmed. In this case, you will see something similar to the following...

UPMGC Rx Data End.JPG

Note that the approach in 3 above is perfectly valid and is used to program single or multiple sectors in preference to the entire MGC device. In the example above, I programmed only sector A06 by specifying this as the start sector in the command line and by then sending only one 64k sector (= sequential 4 x 16k rom images) from the PC.


4. The final outcome is where received data is available until the last rom of the last MGC sector, $B1F, has been programmed. This is the expected outcome for a full MGC programming (where a start sector of A00 was specified) or where an offset start sector was specified but where the data extent allowed programming to the end of the MGC device. In this instance, you will see something similar to the following...

UPMGC Programmed ok.JPG




Last few notes and the rom image to follow a little later tomorrow now - unexpected visitor plus Dave H has kindly sent me an MGC image to play with. (Not actually a single contiguous 4Mb image but 64 x 64k sector images so I'll have to concatenate them first... :wink: )

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby MartinB » Tue May 23, 2017 1:22 pm

I did some testing with a full MGC image as supplied by Dave last night and everything worked perfectly!

I did have one little scare early on because Dave obviously set me a little covert test by making the last ($B1F) of the 64 sector images he sent me only 48k long instead of the normal 64k. Thus, once I'd concatenated all the separate files into a single 4Mb (but not quite!) image and I programmed the MGC, I got the number 3 'Rx Data ended' outcome (as described in the above post) rather than the expected number 4, 'Programmed Ok'. Anyway, I eventually spotted the aberration and so I re-made the 4Mb image with the last sector $FF padded to the full 64k and everything was good. The full image loaded in approx. 22 minutes and on a subsequent checksum (*UPMGC S), I got the expected $240929FD result. The MGC ran perfectly following a <Shift><Break> and I was able to happily run a selection of games.

Finally, Dave H take note, I was able to simply erase and re-program the MGC with no issues whatsoever by virtue of the built-in kill code within the two utilities.

So, I shall definitely now post the UPURS 2.0E rom image early evening when I'm home....

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby daveejhitchins » Tue May 23, 2017 5:06 pm

Fantastic, Martin . . . Looking forward to trying it out.

I'm surprised about the last block - Richard's php program is supposed to do the padding - However, the way I've been programming, up to now, wouldn't have bothered about the short block. I'll check a few others before I contact Richard.

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby daveejhitchins » Tue May 23, 2017 5:08 pm

Ha! it seem that all the last blocks are short. I'll ask Richard if he can fix it.

Dave H :D
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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby MartinB » Tue May 23, 2017 5:59 pm

As the shortfall was at the end of the full image, it wouldn't matter to the new UPMCG util and everything that is present would program correctly. I only noticed because as I described in the earlier posts, you get a different completion message to alert you that a full image wasn't sent. Ideally though, we'd be better dealing in full 4Mb images, padded as necessary, to allow consistency of functionality, at least whilst people get used to programming their own MGC's.

I'll be posting the rom a little later, it's all ready to go.....

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby MartinB » Tue May 23, 2017 7:58 pm

Ok, long time coming but attached is the 16k rom image of UPURS 2.0E which adds two MGC configuration commands to the existing Electron UPURS suite. The details are described in several preceding posts but the executive summary usage is....

*UPMGCER (ALL) (A<id>) (B<id>)

This command is used for erasing the MGC contents, in their entirety if ALL is specified or of a single 64k sector if either A<id> or B<id> is specified where <id> must be a two-digit hex number in the range of 00 to 1F. Note that any locations that are to be re-programmed in the MGC eeprom device must be erased prior to programming or a device error will occur.

*UPMGC (S) (A<id>) (B<id>)

This command has two functions, the first being a utility to calculate and display the Checksum-32 of the entire 4Mb MGC if S is entered (see the preceding posts for details) and the second function is a utility to program the full or partial contents of the MGC using fast serial data from a PC via the UPURS interface. When a sector is specified, this represents the start sector from which inclusive programming will take place and will continue until either the PC data stops or the end of the MGC device is reached, i.e. after sector B1F has ben programmed. As with the erase command, the start sector is specified as either A<id> or B<id> where <id> must be a two-digit hex number in the range of 00 to 1F. Again, see the preceding posts for possible outcomes and associated messages.

Important : Hopefully obvious but in order to use this MGC programming facility, your Elk must have a proven functional UPURS system embodied in parallel with the MGC. If you are a newcomer to UPURS, I strongly recommend that you fully integrity-test your UPURS set-up before diving in with MGC programming. UPURS is extremely robust and reliable (almost bomb-proof I'd say) but only after you've established the correct configuration. If you are a new user, do have a read of, and download the Elk UPURS manual from, the excellent Retro-Kit site here.

I think that's all for now, perhaps Dave H could at some point add a few words regarding obtaining, configuring and maintaining MGC images? I would recommend that a Checksum-32 parameter is adopted when distributing full MGC images to allow unique identification of these complex and highly re-configurable binary files and importantly, to allow a programming integrity check. I've included as a second attachment, a 4Mb test image which consists of random data only for programming test purposes (no games!) and the Checksum-32 of this test image is included in its filename.

UPURS 2.0E.zip
(6.36 KiB) Downloaded 19 times


MGC 4Mb Test Image 1FE28A23.zip
(4 MiB) Downloaded 12 times

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby richardtoohey » Wed May 24, 2017 8:04 am

daveejhitchins wrote:Ha! it seem that all the last blocks are short. I'll ask Richard if he can fix it.
A bug? In my code? Never! :^o

Had a quick look, nothing obvious but suspect maybe it will depend on the titles used - maybe if you don't fill all the 16K and 32K slots there's a gap at the end; 16K in this case. Maybe. :?: :-k

Or maybe you are doing it wrong. :P :twisted: :wink:

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby daveejhitchins » Wed May 24, 2017 8:37 am

Problem file sent for autopsy :lol:

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby daveejhitchins » Thu May 25, 2017 7:00 am

Richard has worked his magic, once more =D>

I won't be able to test it out until next week, as Mrs H seems to think that because the sun is out we've to go away to enjoy ourselves! She still hasn't twigged :lol:

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby MartinB » Thu May 25, 2017 8:29 am

No worries Dave and no rush 8)

I'm having great fun with MGC now I can reprogam it straight from my PC - nothing to do with games though.... [-X :wink:

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby Elminster » Thu May 25, 2017 9:07 am

Soooo..

Dave if Understand correct from when you 'burnt' my MGC at Cambridge a couple of weeks ago....

THE ABE on the cart is the Acornsoft version and not the PRES one, because still have issues with the PRES one, as originally documented on here ?

(Getting on quite well with the Acorn version of ABE on the Master now, so looking forward to extra utils on the PRES version)

So now once the issues are sort I can then flash my MGC with UPURS and bob is my uncle. I have been avoiding UPURS as already had 3 GoSDC, Ext DC, Sprow Ethernet, but looks like Martin might have finally got me to take the plunge and replace my incompatiable USB Serial dongle. Assuming he hasnt coded into the new ROM an Easter egg to delete everything if it is me, punishment for missing him off the hardware list.

Regards,
Nephew of Bob

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby MartinB » Thu May 25, 2017 1:07 pm

and wrote:...looks like Martin might have finally got me to take the plunge and replace my incompatiable USB Serial dongle.
So now once the issues are sort I can then flash my MGC with UPURS and bob is my uncle.

Yes, it is that straightforward. Although a full MGC program takes around 20 minutes, the two new utilities allow you to erase and reprogram individual 64k 'sectors' in just a few minutes so if you have the base MGC image files from Dave and the appropriate instructions, it's a breeze to swap roms in and out of the MGC and you can do it all without any plugging and unplugging... :D

Elminster wrote:Assuming he hasnt coded into the new ROM an Easter egg to delete everything if it is me, punishment for missing him off the hardware list.

I'm not that subtle - I usually just order a surprise air-strike on people who displease me... =; [-(

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby Elminster » Thu May 25, 2017 2:23 pm

MartinB wrote:I'm not that subtle - I usually just order a surprise air-strike on people who displease me... =; [-(


Lucky I took a delivery of Bloodhound Surface to Air missiles from ebay last week, I just need to re-cap all the control consoles.

Right time to find the post with the 'it works' USB serial adaptors and add to my 'buy after payday'' list.

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby 1024MAK » Thu May 25, 2017 3:15 pm

Elminster wrote:Right time to find the post with the 'it works' USB serial adaptors and add to my 'buy after payday'' list.
Paul did give details of two U.K. suppliers in the UPURS manual. But if those don't work, try the suppliers home page. As every now and again, they move things around.

Mark
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BeebWiki‬ - for answers to many questions...

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby MartinB » Thu May 25, 2017 3:30 pm

I always recommend the one below from Tronisoft (price is plus VAT I'm afraid) but whichever you do choose, ensure it's based on an FTDI chipset or the RS232 hardware handshaking may not be correctly implemented, if there at all.

http://www.tronisoft.com/shop/adaptors- ... -90cm.html

IMG_0013.PNG

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby Elminster » Thu May 25, 2017 3:57 pm

You're way to slow. Order that exact one from them (follwoing the docs) at 16:02 :)

Edit: Even with postage and VAT it was very well priced compared to other, so was no point in saving a quid for one that might not work.

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby MartinB » Thu May 25, 2017 4:33 pm

Elminster wrote:You're way to slow. Order that exact one from them (follwoing the docs) at 16:02 :)


Well done that man... =D> :D

and wrote:...so was no point in saving a quid for one that might not work.


A message I have sometimes struggled to convey over the years... :roll:

( Not users from on here so much btw, but in the wider world at large.... :x )

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby Elminster » Thu May 25, 2017 7:17 pm

In my overenthusim I forgot I am waiting for Dave to finish developing AP5. Will have to test me new dongle on Master or Beeb until I have an AP5 to test rebuild MGC.

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby daveejhitchins » Thu May 25, 2017 7:48 pm

The ABE issue was minor and is fixed now. When I get home (Tuesday) I'll redo your file and get the replacement 64K block out to you. You just need to get the block readable by your Electron. GoSDC will be fine. You should be able to save the Utils to you GoSDC too. Takes less than a minute to program. Read the User Guide :D

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby Elminster » Thu May 25, 2017 8:21 pm

daveejhitchins wrote: You should be able to save the Utils to you GoSDC too. Takes less than a minute to program. Read the User Guide :D


Sounds easy. Too easy. Add tha to my build pitube and test UPURS list. Enough for this week.

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby MartinB » Thu May 25, 2017 9:06 pm

I assumed you knew that there is already a set of utils for MGC programming? I wrote these though to be disc-based and they can't therefore really deal with anything bigger than one 64k sector at a time so are fine for editing an MGC but are a little labour and time intensive for a full MGC reprogramming. The new UPURS-based utils are to allow programming with a full 4Mb image but also have the advantage that for both sector and for full image files, you can program the MGC directly from a PC without the need for any form of intermediate file transfer via an Elk disc or MMC interface. I've already found that if you're into rom editing and tinkering, the UPURS system allows for a really quick and efficient development cycle without having to touch the set-up and with no media swapping whatsoever. So, the upshot of all this is that if you only want to be able to reprogram the odd sector now and again and you're content to do that via a disc or MMC system, there are already suitable utils available and you probably don't therefore need the UPURS option.

Anyway, if this all means that you've now bought a USB-RS232 adaptor under false pretences, I'm happy to buy it off you at whatever it's cost you in full, just give me a shout when it arrives... 8)

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby Elminster » Fri May 26, 2017 12:43 am

Can never have enough storage/connection methods. I like to have at least one of everything.

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron

Postby fwibbler » Fri May 26, 2017 5:14 pm

davidb wrote:
fwibbler wrote:There are a lot of games not listed in the spreadsheet.
Im still hoping they will be added at some point before I buy mine.

Which ones were you thinking of?


Ok, I've been cpomiling this for a while, here goes....

Anarchy Zone
Bug Eyes 1
Bug Eyes 2
Commando
Cops and Robbers
E-Type
Evening Star
Exile
Future Shock
Helter Skelter
Imogen
Intergalactic trader
Omega Orb
Percy Penguin
Pipemania
Plunder
Southern Belle
Spectipede
Stairway to Hell
Trapper
Vindaloo
Woks
Yie Arr Kung Fu 2
Hyper Viper

Phew!
Is there any chance of these (or someof them) getting onto the MGC?

Cheers!

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron

Postby davidb » Fri May 26, 2017 8:12 pm

fwibbler wrote:Ok, I've been cpomiling this for a while, here goes....

OK, splitting into different sections for different excuses... ;)

These do odd things during loading. Perhaps I can work from disk versions from Every Game Going:
Anarchy Zone
Bug Eyes 2
Future Shock


These are already supported. They may not have made it into the spreadsheet for some reason:
Bug Eyes 1
Omega Orb
Pipemania
Yie Arr Kung Fu 2

Bug Eyes is also known as Space Agent Zelda Meets The Bug Eyes. Unless there's a substantial difference between the two versions, I thought that it would be enough to just convert one of them. Let me know if you think both should be included. :)

These don't work in Elkulator, as far as I can tell, so I would have to convert them with my fingers crossed:
Evening Star
Southern Belle


These require extended ROM paging support in the menu - I can build sets of ROMs that work, but they need to know where they are in the 4MB of the MGC:
E-Type
Exile
Imogen

Exile is a bit of an oddity here because there's no reasonable way to save your position. If I was feeling adventurous, I'd suggest to DaveH that a snapshot feature would be nice for the MGC but then he'd ask me to implement it. ;)

Some of these I forgot about, others I thought were not worth the effort (but I understand if others disagree):
Commando
Cops and Robbers
Helter Skelter
Intergalactic trader
Percy Penguin
Plunder
Spectipede
Stairway to Hell
Trapper
Vindaloo
Woks
Hyper Viper

I may have casually converted some of them but not bothered to optimise them, so there's a chance many of these will easily move up into the "already done" list above.

Phew!
Is there any chance of these (or someof them) getting onto the MGC?

I'll take a look and post an updated list.

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron

Postby davidb » Sat May 27, 2017 12:32 am

Notes alongside each one. ;)

Anarchy Zone :D
Bug Eyes 1 :D
Bug Eyes 2 :D
Commando :D
Cops and Robbers :D
E-Type :)
Evening Star :?:
Exile :)
Future Shock ](*,)
Helter Skelter :D
Imogen :)
Intergalactic trader :D
Omega Orb :D
Percy Penguin :D
Pipemania :D
Plunder :D
Southern Belle :?:
Spectipede :D
Stairway to Hell ](*,)
Trapper :D
Vindaloo :D
Woks :D
Yie Arr Kung Fu 2 :D
Hyper Viper :D

The ](*,) ones look like they need a lot of work. The :?: ones might be possible at some pont. The :) ones should work in principle, but they need to use paging as I mentioned previously.

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby daveejhitchins » Sat May 27, 2017 6:29 pm

I'll get any games David sends added to the spreadsheet as soon as I get them.

Dave H :D

David: I've got this one to add - no idea where from! Space Jailer
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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby fwibbler » Sat May 27, 2017 9:45 pm

Thats great!
Thanks for the information and all the work that you're all putting into this.
Cheers! :D

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby Elminster » Wed May 31, 2017 9:55 pm

Elminster wrote:In my overenthusim I forgot I am waiting for Dave to finish developing AP5. Will have to test me new dongle on Master or Beeb until I have an AP5 to test rebuild MGC.


New USB dangley thing arrived today and seems to work with the cable I think might be UPURS cable that I build 3 years ago. Tested on Master. Seems to more or less work when I used the UPURS ROM, I just download cutecom from macports as that is what peopel seem to do.

Seem to send data with *upload Rn but ROM never appeard but I did exported a ROM back to the mac. So all seems to work in some form or other. Now just waiting for an AP5 so I can move this over to Electron (not hugely useful on the faster that has a permanet internet connection via Mr Sprowson and variou stoolkit ROMs.) But I see it as being very useful on Electron. Plus I can test this rebuilding MGC over UPURS

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Re: Mega Games Cartridge for the Electron MGC

Postby MartinB » Wed May 31, 2017 10:20 pm

Elminster wrote:Seem to send data with *upload Rn but ROM never appeard but I did exported a ROM back to the mac.

Loading a rom should work just fine and the rom should appear after a <Break> as with any sram/srom loading utility. I'd be a lot happier if you could get the uploading side of things to work for sure - maybe make a real disc from an ssd? Thing is, the Elk MGC loader is all about PC-to-Elk data transfers so if there's something not quite right, you'll be on a hiding to nothing. Just sayin'.... :- :wink:


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