Archive for the ‘NGPC Flash Cart’ Category
EDIT: At the end of the day (June 3), I now have 3 bundles available for purchase at http://www.flashmasta.com/purchase/. Just note that they may not ship immediately due to me being frequently out of town in the upcoming weeks.
First of all, I’ll give you guys a bit of an update on what’s been happening over the last couple weeks. There were some things that I had mentioned were in my plans for leaving my job and starting my self-run business/life. Here are a few items that have changed. I will write more about this sort of stuff at www.EdMandy.com.
We put our house for sale on the market. We have probably averaged around 1 showing per day over the last week and a half. I think that’s pretty good. We got one offer that was a low-ball deal from some sort of investment group. I think they have some automated system that sends out offers just to see if they get any interest. I don’t think they even looked at the house. Other than that, we’ve had some good feedback, but no real offers.
I started working on the iOS game. So far, my effort has been directed at getting it to compile on my Windows 7 laptop and then installing Windows 7 under VirtualBox on my Macbook. It has taken a significant effort to do these things well, but I feel like it’s working properly now. Oh, the game I’m working on already exists on Windows. I will be bringing it to iPad and iPhone.
This week, my 2 oldest daughters have their last day of school on Thursday. On Friday, we will drive to Wisconsin to attend a wedding. We should get back on Monday and then maybe leave for Rapid City the next day. It will be a lot of driving. I hope to get a good amount of work done even though I won’t be at home. This will be a good test of my location-independence. Again, if you’re interested in this stuff, EdMandy.com might have more info for you.
As far as the Neo Pocket Flash Masta project goes, I’ve been soldering all day today. Over the past months, a friend of mine had been doing a lot of the soldering for me. Since I left my job, I figure that it’s best for me to take over this task again. It’s a long process, but you can see a part of the hot plate soldering method I used. I’m sorry that I didn’t narrate the video, but you may find it interesting, anyway.
After that’s all done, I go over every part with a soldering iron under a magnifying glass. I find that it’s better to just do this, because the chances are VERY high that I’ll have to do it anyway. It’s easier to do them all at once than try to debug ‘em one at a time and then go over the parts that “seem” like they need more work.
I just got done with the iron soldering, and now I will need to program each cartridge. Once that is done, I will need to test each cartridge. I’m hoping that over half work right away. 8/10 would be excellent. Then I have to try to debug and resolder the ones that don’t work.
Once all 10 work, then I’ll get to making Linkmasta USB devices to pair with the cartridges. If I wasn’t going out of town, I’d say I should have 10 bundles ready for purchase in a week or so. As it stands now, that MAY be doable, but it’s more likely to be 3 weeks just do to being gone.
Today a new owner of the NGPC Flash Masta & Linkmasta bundle emailed me with a question about backing up Neo Geo Pocket savegame data. In particular, he was asking why the software won’t backup only the save-game data when you are using a flash cartridge. If you’ve never tried it, the Linkmasta software will allow you to backup the savegame data from an official cartridge, but it won’t do it when it detects a flash cartridge. To backup the savegame data on a NGPC flash cart, you need to backup the entire (usually 32mbit) cartridge.
To understand this, first of all, it’s important to understand that the NGPC does not have separate savegame “SRAM” and game data “ROM” memory. This is a common misconception, because many systems had this architecture. What the NGPC has is flash memory that is used to store both game and savegame data.
In official games, the game data is protected so the NGPC can not write over the actual game ROM. However, you can write to every official NGPC cartridge. To do it, you’d have to write to an unprotected area of the cartridge memory, and this is typically where the savegame data would live.
What happens when you want to backup the savegame data from an official cartridge is that the Linkmasta uses some low-level routines to talk directly to the flash memory chip and ask about the protection status of each block. Whenever it encounters an unprotected block, it assumes that is where savegame data lives (or could possibly live) and backs it up. It saves this in the NeoPop savegame format which is the closest thing we have to a standard for this.
The problem arises when you try to employ this technique on a flash cart. The flash cart is 100% unprotected. The Linkmasta has no way to know which blocks contain savegame data and which ones contain game code/data. It could make guesses, but they would not be 100% accurate. The only way to be sure that you backup all of the savegame data is to backup ALL of the data on the cart (savegame plus game data).
I have thought about this before, and there is another way that the Linkmasta could (most likely) determine what data is savegame related. There could be another function to backup changes in the cart. This would probably be slightly different than the NeoPop savegame format. What you would do is to write a ROM file to the Neo Geo Pocket Flash Masta cart. Then, you would play it and save your progress. If you wanted to backup changes, you would (in theory) hit the “save changes” button. The software would then ask you to supply the ROM file used to create the cartridge. Then, it would compare, byte by byte, the contents of the file against the contents of the cartridge. Whenever it encountered a mismatch, it would save this to a savegame backup file. It would be like using the verify feature and saving a “diff”.
So, now that I’ve laid this out, I wonder if anyone is interested in implementing it. I am spending most of my time lately working on building bundles and researching and designing a WonderSwan cartridge. In the past, I have talked about making the NeoLinkmasta software open-source. I would be interested in hearing from anyone that would want to work on adding features like this. Do you have other ideas? If so, contact me. I just haven’t gotten around to “opening” the source, but I’m definitely interested in discussing this with coders.
I have been trying to get a bunch of bundles ready. It wasn’t my intention to announce that I only had 3 ready, but that’s the reality. I’m expecting to get a bunch more ready in about 2 weeks (when I can get some more NGPC cartridge connectors made).
As always, head over to the purchase page to find the Neo Geo Pocket Flash Cart for sale.
I know that some people have contacted me inquiring about the availability of the NGPC bundles, and I’ve said to sign up for the automated emails or watch the site to find out when there are bundles in stock. If I don’t announce this stuff here, then I may be letting people down.
Otherwise, my work on the WonderSwan continues, building more NGPC bundles continues, real life continues, etc.
If we haven’t connected on Twitter yet, please send me a message and we can follow each other. I’d like to start using that more as a way to connect with people.
I just got done shipping out bundles to the people on the “waiting list.” I have a few more bundles available that are almost ready to ship, but I can’t list them right now. I will be out of town through next week. When I get back, I’ll have some to put up for sale here on the site.
That’s not much for news, but I wanted to keep you guys informed.
To the right, I included a completely unrelated video just for fun. A friend of mine just got a “Walkera QR Ladybird” quadcopter, and we went out and did some flips with it. The thing is pretty impressive. If you ever wanted to fly a quadcopter, this is the one I’d recommend starting with.
Summer has been a bit crazy. It definitely hasn’t been bad for me. I’ve had a chance to take a couple little vacations with another coming up, so I’m not complaining. It’s just that I’ve been off my regular schedule, and I haven’t had a lot of time for soldering and assembling Neo Geo Pocket Color Flash Masta carts.
To help make up for my lack of time, a friend of mine has been helping with the soldering. While I was out, he soldered up some cartridge PCBs. This past week, he soldered up some Link Masta PCBs, so now we’re dangerously close to having full bundles available again. All I need to do is put the NGPC cartridge socket on the Link Masta PCBs, do a bit of assembly with the cases, and test them out to make sure they’re at 100%.
This time around, I already have a waiting list of people that have contacted me ready to make a purchase. I don’t like selling something I don’t have, so I want to make sure these are all working before putting them up on the site. However, I will be contacting those on the list now to offer bundles to those that have been waiting.
Part of what this means is that if you were someone that contacted me and you want to be sure that you get one of these, email me back, especially if you don’t hear from me in the next day or so.
I should have enough bundled to cover those on the waiting list, and still have a few left to put up for general sale here on the site. We’ll definitely be building more now. I’d prefer if I could stay in stock and keep up with demand, but I’m sure I’ll come up with some lame excuse about having a baby or being on vacation or something.
I’ll post again when bundles are ready to go live (and remove the “Sold Out”) on the purchase page.
I had a little photo shoot with some good poses. No, I didn’t wear a bikini, but I think you’d rather see these pictures.
Things have been slow since summer started. I haven’t had much time for stuff, and I assume that you guys are pretty busy, too. Ever since school got out, sales have dropped off. Because of these things, I have decided to offer a “Summer Sale” and dropped the price of the bundles. Check here for the summer cheap NGPC devkit pricing. I should note, however, that this coming week is a holiday here in the US, and any orders that come in during that week will probably be delayed by about a week.
Here are the results of this morning’s photo shoot.
Above is a video I just uploaded. In it, I detail how to go about putting two games on a single NGPC Flash Masta cartridge. I’m sure this is obvious to some people, but there are lots of people that want to see how this works before attempting it themselves. I’m the same way with lots of stuff.
In other news, I’ve been working on an adapter to use 5 SNES controllers on a Turbo Grafx 16, PC Engine, TurboDuo, etc. It’s pretty much a Multitap/Turbotap for the PC Engine, but it allows you to use ultra-cheap SNES controllers (which you may already own) instead of expensive PCE/TG16 controllers. Here’s a little picture of the current prototype. At the moment, it only works with a single controller, but adding the other 4 should work. It just takes a bit more doing/debugging.
I’m not yet sure what I want to do with this project, so if you’re interested in the SNES to PCE Turbotap, leave a comment.
I’m putting some more bundles up for sale right now. To purchase, click here.
I have several bundles ready that just need a bit of assembly before I send them out. I put some of them for sale just now, and I will adjust the quantity as I build more units. If they sell out, I will update the purchase page to reflect that fact. If I sell out, I will then publish a new post here when I have more available. If I don’t sell out, the Add To Cart link on the Flashmasta purchase page will remain open.
As the title suggests, there’s also new “gear” available. That wasn’t intended as a pun, but, as you can see on the right, the T-Shirt features Gears Of Fate which is a homebrew game created by Thor. You can find the game at Thor’s site.
If you’d like to get yourself this NGPC-themed T-Shirt, I’ve listed it on eBay. I have more than one, but I plan to only list one at a time. If you know anyone else that might care, please share this link.
Wow. Maybe that’s a record for me. All 9 bundles are already sold. I expect to have around 7 bundles available in another week or so when I get some more soldering done. For those of you that have just ordered in the last day, I would expect to ship your bundle by this coming Friday. I’ll email you when I do. If you don’t hear from me by Friday, email me!
Thanks everyone. You guys always exceed my expectations. Maybe I should raise ‘em.
P.S. I found that pic somewhere a while back, and I’ve been wondering what post it would apply do. Well, I didn’t have a picture for this post, so why not?
I am hoping to get some more bundles made again soon after these are sold. I now have parts for some more bundles, but, as it always seems to go, I’m running low on certain parts. It’s like a never-ending cycle. I mean, it’s a good thing, because it means they’re selling, but it means that production is slow at times.
Please note that the page where you can purchase the NGPC flash cartridge and linker currently shows an older picture of the bundle. I will update that when I have a full bundle all together. Right now, I only have the Flashmasta and Linkmasta as seen in this picture to the right. The full bundle you can purchase will look like this but have a hole in the cartridge and include a USB cable.
Thanks for your patience while production was slow. Now is the time, if you’ve been waiting to buy!