Anyone able to help with faking up a bogus prototype render? :)


skeezix

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Hey everybody!

As at least a couple people here know I'm working on a retro-styled low end console/computer from scratch, as an excuse to learn some digital electronics and get a feel for why things were done the way they were. The design I'm making has some odd rules I've self imposed, so its old school, crummy, and should be easy as heck for people to understand and hack around with. Can do a far 'better' machine quite (quite!) easily nowadays - single chip even - and I just might later or as part of this project .. but this is not the point :) This particular sucker will be great for old school style games and demos, and probably no one or almost no one will have one! (I do plan on making some kits available, or at least open source designs.. schematics have been open source throughout, the bill of materials and instructions will be out there, and I'll have to make a FAQ for why I did things which way, etc. Hopefully anyone interested will learn something, or it'll be useful to at least one person :) I'm also making eeprom burner for flashing the carts, though other burners may well be compatible so I may not need to if they're cheap enough. (Aiming for Z80 classic ancient chip as the brain, though running at high speed; it is probably optional in that code coudl circumvent it and just use the video chip as the whole one-chip machine, since its crazy beefy. So it can be old school, or .. not quite old school but not modern. 8bit, or 32bit, say.)

Anyway, I really should put up a wiki-page/site for it sometime, as a place to record information, show some pics, schematics, et cetera. And any page needs a half-way cool front page with a product picture, even if sed picture is completely fake (for awhile anyway), right? :)

The device in question is a cartridge (or maybe SD, but likely cartridge) based machine, sort of akin to an Atari 2600 or NES .. with the capabilities roughly of a NES/SNES say. It will have keyboard support via ps/2 connector, audio like an old arcade machine or Atari ST (same chip, more or less), and a joystick port or two (using the old Atari-style connector.) You know, 8-way joystick (4 directions plus diags) and a single firebutton.. maybe support for a couple fire buttons.

Can someone(s) slap together a protoype render from a few angles, and of a few sizes, so I can toss together a website? Like, a black rectangular box, with a cart slot in the middle, joystick port or two on the front, a reset button/switch somewhere on it, headphone jack for speakers .. a LED for on. A DC jack for power brick. Oh, right.. VGA port for display. A couple little holes for programmer (to reflash components, too, perhaps.. or a panel that opens.)

The device is called (so far) the "Zikzak" (and the eeprom burner is the Zikburner)

Now I'm trying to guess up a good (unused) site name; zikzak.com/org/net are all taken (blast!) .. zikzakhack is not :p

jeff
 
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skeezix

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And fwiw it'll have a crummy BASIC for it .. Zikbasic or skeebasic ;) maybe we can port zxdunny's over or guido tiny basic .. But I had some luck with cp/m original MS Basic ;0


(In case you're thinking screenshot :)
 

moxie

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Maybe you should ask this Craig dude, I hear he has experience... *Bada-Dish* :D
 

fusion_power

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I hope it will be a nice 80's retro design. :) "ZikZaK" you say? Well ,at least a suiting logo already comes in my mind for this:

a93ff8040120739d20d9f9b.jpg


;)
 

Fzero

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I was going to try do one for you, but I know there are a couple people here who have good rendering skills, as shown by there Pyra models.

I was going to go to the Sketchup warehouse and basically use a few existing models to chop up...

Take the basic box shape from a Wii...

http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=80b762994729791ef08f8c645ab10971&prevstart=0

Nab the cartridge slot from the 2600...

http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=56a080b45246ebf56efa17520d19d2aa&prevstart=0

Get the other switches and stuff from various other ones, rather than draw them from scratch [not as nicely]
 

iprice

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I hope it will be a nice 80's retro design. :) "ZikZaK" you say? Well ,at least a suiting logo already comes in my mind for this:

a93ff8040120739d20d9f9b.jpg


;)
But if you rotate that logo in a specific way it turns into that of the SS. There might even be a swastika hidden in there somewhere. Or YinYan. or KKK... ;) :p

ZikZakAttack.com?
 

ZXDunny

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How fast is the CPU? Does it have a floating point unit? I'd be wary of porting PandaBAS to anything less than a CC Pandora - unless you were running at 320x240, in which case I'd be more than willing to modify the editor to fit.

That's assuming you have a copy of FPC for the zikzak :)

D.
 

skeezix

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Maybe you should ask this Craig dude, I hear he has experience... *Bada-Dish*
You know, I was trying hard not to go there :) <- emoticon limit, doh

I hope it will be a nice 80's retro design. :) "ZikZaK" you say? Well ,at least a suiting logo already comes in my mind for this:
Hey, so we've got our 80s Blues Metal keychain down

How fast is the CPU? Does it have a floating point unit? I'd be wary of porting PandaBAS to anything less than a CC Pandora - unless you were running at 320x240, in which case I'd be more than willing to modify the editor to fit.

That's assuming you have a copy of FPC for the zikzak :)
Theres two cpu's really, depending how you want to use it/look at it. I wanted it to be retro, but not restrained, yet still using retro chips. Its still in flux, but it is very likely to use a new Z80 for the 'cpu' .. ie: same as old Z80, but running up to 20-30Mhz. Depends on a few things though (I can elaborate if you care, but mostly to do with RAM timings and race conditions.) I was thinking of doing z80 at say 1-2 MHz for 'old times sake' (slightly cheaper part, very old school, makes timing easy!), but it might be cool to pull out 20MHz on a z80, right?

The 'gpu' is just another cpu; 32bit STM32F405 is the current choice.. essentially an ARM Cortex-M4 chip, running crazy fast. (Since I wanted to learn about video generation, I'm doing it all in code on an mcu, not using some VGA/HDMI/DVI master chip.) So the sucker is fast enough to generate the video, and I'm hoping its fast enough to do the other stuff I need (do I/O .. talk to keyboard, etc.) The STM32F405 can run 168MHz (or less, software clockable.) and is crazy efficient. About 100MHz of that is probably used up effectively driving video, but you coul turn video off or slow it down, or do different kinds of video etc.. its all programmable. I coudl use an STM32F429 which is a few bucks more and runs at 180MHz.

The priamry goal of this chip is GPU. I was intending to use an avr8 chip (atmega644 say) as I/O microcontroller to do joystick, SDIO, keyboard, junk like that, but it seems likely the STM32 is fast enough not to have a problem running those (slow poll) devices, so no worries to be 2 main chips. (plus ram, eeprom, etc.)

I am planning on 320x240 or thereabouts, but can drive higher; I'm actually aiming to support 800x600 VGA spec, but with RAM tight on the gpu (well, this one is pretty hot about 190K), I want a couple framebuffers, and some space for font, sprites, etc. So 800x600 is pushign it in a lot of ways, especially framebuffer space (8bit colour btw.) VGA is inherently 640x480 or 800x600 (etc), so even if you do 320x240 you're actually doing 320x480 with double-vertical-rows. So for awhile I was doing mutant things like 320x600 and so on

Still working that out -- I've proven it works, but I want to see a sharp steady image before I finish prototyping that part of it.. since I want that hcip now to also do keyboard, etc, I want to make sure it can do those I/O thigns without throwing the display off. (Originally I was doing VGA out of a 16 or 20MHz avr8 chip, but its not fast enoguh to barely do VGA at all.. I was getting what, 160x200 or something at best; no framebuffer space at all; but every time you hit the joystick or keyboard, the screen would flicker .. just couldn't handle the extra interupt hit.)


..

So yeah, video wise.. aimign for 320x2?0, 8bit colour, with double framebuffers no problem

Note that, if I do the design right (I'm redoing the design now, based on these recent changes), the STM32 shoudl be able ot do it all and ignroe the z80, if you want to. ie: So then you're using a nearly 200MHz chip to do audio, video, the works; like a PSP, GP32, gp2x, etc, but better in many regards (and not yet as a mobile, just sayin'; a mobile is certainly in the cards if I get the console off the ground at all :p )

So current goal is.. you can write z80 code and just have the STM32 as is flashed as a GPU; or you can code into the STM32, or both. Use it as a z80 dev board, a STM32 dev board, or a jumbled up little console board. The entire thing is meant to be hackable.. I intend on exposing unused pins as headers on the board, and the firmware for the chips will be open of course; I'm not planning on doign a super duper job of it.. time being limited as it is and spraed across the whole thing.. so as-is it'll ship with working VGA in various modes, maybe some basic options (scrolling built in, say); but people can hack it all, add more VGA modes, add more effects, rewerite it all in assembly to speed it up, or go nuts.. the chips are very powerufl with a lot of peripheral support (LCD controller built in for example, options for accelerometer etc). I expecty to keep hacking away at it for awhile.

With optional keyboard etc, it can be a shitty little computer, or it can be a little game console.

Nice and retro, just like an Atari was back in the day, but way better hardware.

... and in kit form, so you can solder it together yourserlf :p (or maybe I'll charge a boatload and do soldering of it myself too, but not intending to do a lot of that.) Who knows, if it happens to take off, if I do a kickstarter or something, maybe afew thousand of these will come around.. but I'm rather expecting to make 10 or 20 or maybe 50 of them as kits, if people want them

Mostly, I'm doing it for me, to learn stuff, but you order boards in blocks of 10 so there will be at least 10

jeff

edit: and yes, AY-3-8910 PSG/Pokey sound chip on there, among other goodies not mention in the above quick summaries.


So yeah, I dunno if your zxbasic is a worthy fit or not, just seems a cute idea :)   Otherwise I started rolling my own shitty BASIC, and theres lots of historical and neat ones around to fiddle with. I have been flirting on and off with carts for the whole time but just a week back or so I had the idea to just make the entire ROM be cart, like an Atari 2600; no built in z80 firmware at all, just rely on a cart for that. So I'd have to bundle a zxbasic on cart :)


And don't you just want to see 1 cart in the world, with zxbasic on it? (an Atari E.T cart with a new eeprom in it, in fact :p )
 
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skeezix

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Going to order a domain for this in a couple hours..

Gotta go pick up my little one from school; anyone got a cool zikzak domain name idea? :)

jeff
 

Fzero

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I think the ZikZakHack.com that someone mentioned is a winner :)

ZikZakAttack is also a good one
 
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skeezix

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yeah zikzakhack was my second thought (after zikzak.com/org) since it could be useful for other 'hacks' type projects as well. I've long-had the 'codejedi.com' domain, but that sounds more 'single entity' revolving than a 'community' sounding thing.

openzikzak is another idea

makezikzak

wireymess.com

I'm leaning towards zikzakhack.com just cause...

--> knowing that since I've mentioned it, theres a squatter getting sweaty hands :)
 

skeezix

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oh ho, zikzak.ca is available .. sent in a registration request, will see what happens.

In the mean time, if anyone can knock up a bogus 3d render, I'd be in your debt :)

Otherwise, a plain text wiki/blog ftw :)

jeff
 

skeezix

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Mega sweet!

Got VGA 320x240 super tight working; a one-character change to fix my timer, and its sharp as hell on a real VGA display; 320x480 with a 320x240 framebuffer in RGB8 mode.

This is a crappy dummy image, but evidence is there :) Now I need to load in an image, add some basic animations, just for fun. But I consider the VGA prototype solid.

Real test is to add in a couple extra interupts and whack them at high frequerncy just to see how much abuse it can take before futzing the image, but it seems I have plenty of cpu time to spare.

dropbox image https://www.dropbox.com/s/8q5u3oecglvk3dp/Photo%20Jan%2029%2C%205%2029%2031%20PM.jpg

jeff
 
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Fzero

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I've just done a lil model effort in sketchup, bear in mind I am pretty pony with it though but you can have it if you want :) Hopefully someone who knows what they doing will make you something nicer for your website.

Just saving it and will up to my site and link here...
 

Fzero

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Here is my attempt

qnadj4.png


and here is a little fly around anim thing on it, though I exported the animation before I done the rounded edge you see on the front in the screenshot...

http://playpandora.com/temp/zikzak/index.html

edit: Ok that anim is a bit speedy eh :) ...at the back, the power socket, and the other end at back that is a PS/2 port. You blink and you miss it though in that poor flyby I done :)
 
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