A new snowboard, a broken wrist and a hard drive crash later…
Thanks for hanging in there. The last couple of days I’ve been working pretty hard on the project in my spare time. I have the first board revision 95% done and tonight or tomorrow I should have it ready to send out to the fab house. I have decided a few things about the design:
- I will go with a “bare pcb” design that does not fit inside a VB donor cartridge. In the future people may want to make their own cases for the PCB but for now it’s simply too much effort for not much gain. I think this is a good solution because now we won’t have to keep using VB donor carts and sacrificing the already-decreasing number of VB carts out there.
- The VB connector issue has been 100% solved and I have several suppliers in line for the 2mm-pitch headers. The only downside is the cost, because each header comes in at just over $7, which is very expensive for a header. The thickness of the board is such that it makes header installs extremely easy, even for novice solderers. See this picture for how the board will fit in the VB:
- I fixed all package sizes for the SRAM and bus transceiver chips, which is why my first prototype failed. Now I just have to fix a few traces on the board and it’s essentially ready for Rev 0.1.
- On the software side I think I have some solid code in place but there are still some questions in the air about how to alert the VB when a new game has been loaded into SRAM. I will investigate these issues once the hardware has been validated and I can focus 100% on software.
- I am toying with the idea of using a MicroSD-based bootloader on the microprocessor. That is, upgrading the firmware would be as simple as downloading a special firmware file and dropping it onto the MicroSD card. This will allow me to fix bugs for people who already have a cartridge.
- I haven’t set up the VB dev environment on my new hard drive yet so I haven’t done any of the VB program development yet.
That’s it for now. More updates to come, hopefully more regularly now (once a week or more).