PC Comm Card

I'm investigating in starting some Saturn development just to supliment my Genesis and DC development a bit.

The PC Comm Card that everyone has been using to connect to their Saturn's AR carts; is it a standard RS232 comm port just with a D25 connector? The reason I ask is I'm considering getting a USB Converter and using it to send binaries to the Saturn. Anyone know the details as to what standard the PC Comm Port use?
 
No, it is more similar to a parallel port (sends 8 bits at a time). A USB serial converter will not work, nor will a USB parallel. I had some plans to build a USB comm links (compatible with Saturn AR and CD64 and maybe even PSX) but not materialized yet.
 

vbt

Staff member
Maybe Pinchy can help you. He did a commcard with USB port or something like that.
 
I see now after looking up some info and schematics on the FreeWing adaptors. Blah! Oh well, looks like I'll be building that. It would be neat to do such a thing, just a usb->parport->freewing all in one cable/adaptor.

Originally posted by runderwo@Tue, 2006-02-21 @ 10:20 PM

No, it is more similar to a parallel port (sends 8 bits at a time). A USB serial converter will not work, nor will a USB parallel. I had some plans to build a USB comm links (compatible with Saturn AR and CD64 and maybe even PSX) but not materialized yet.

[post=144586]Quoted post[/post]​

 

ExCyber

Staff member
Pinchy's USB comms uses a cart he made himself that has a Cypress USB microcontroller onboard; there's no actual commslink port involved on either end.
 

RockinB

Staff member
Originally posted by ExCyber@Wed, 2006-02-22 @ 04:43 AM

Pinchy's USB comms uses a cart he made himself that has a Cypress USB microcontroller onboard; there's no actual commslink port involved on either end.

[post=144593]Quoted post[/post]​


Anyone ever tried to build it? I wonder how much work it is or if Pinchy would sell these things. I really think he should, this thing would be very useful for Saturn devver today.
 
Are you all that hard up for dev hardware?

I wouldnt mind making a handful for a few peeps just to see if they like it or not.

The only thing I dont like about it is that the people that I use to make the pcb boards dont cut slots into it that are needed for that cart connecter.(they can do it but its a whole other service and they charge a premium as most other pcb houses that i know) It really needs a precise cut for it to work when you plug it in. What I did is just use a moto dremel of course and cut the cart edge as best I could. Ive cut too much on mine so you have to insert it carefully for it to line up with the contacts. You can hear the contacts slide off when you dont insert it straight and amazingly ive never managed to fry the cart slot.

Ive made it so it will fit in a AR cart except you will have to cut some more off the top for the usb connecter. Its been a while since I looked but I think I might need to move some of the chips around for this plastic 'divot' in the middle.

Ill have to look around but Im pretty sure Ive got another blank board and maybe enuf parts to complete another. If someone wants to spare a few bucks they can get it.

On the subject of pc comms card I did make a pci version of that ISA card. It really wasnt hard at all. Theres a place called http://www.fpga4fun.com/ that has a PCI card with a fpga on it for experiments. He had some example code showing how to make some memory mapped IO ports and it was trivial to make into a comms card clone.

Needless to say it worked as well as the original. Like crap! Long cables made it puke. When it did work it was faaast. There just so much noise its crazy. After that I tried using the usb controller directly to the par port on the card. It didnt work very well at all. It basically did what all those freewing clones do and just go through the handshaking that the comms does. It should have worked a lot better but I didnt spend much time on it.

The command line utility I made for the card just has some basic functions

implemented for right now and needs some work but should not be hard at all to add whatever. For linux dudes theres drivers for ezusb devices but youll have to fix all the usb related calls.
 
I have just begun work on making an interface cable which will connect to the 25-pin PAR connector, with the other end plugging into the USB port on a PC. Of course it will have a custom circuit board in the middle of these two connectors.

If I can get the prototype working, and I can build them at a low enough cost, I will offer to build them for other folks.

I am just starting this project though, so it will be a while.....
 

RockinB

Staff member
This would be really great. In several means, this should be the best approach. I really hope you will be successful!
 
Originally posted by Pinchy@Wed, 2006-03-01 @ 06:04 PM

...

Ill have to look around but Im pretty sure Ive got another blank board and maybe enuf parts to complete another. If someone wants to spare a few bucks they can get it.


how fast is your transferspeed with your USB-ActionReplay-interface ?

(currently I´m only using a Yano/Exstand-clone mainly at half speed of original commslink-card)

so how many buck$ we are talking of ?
 
Originally posted by seal1@Sat, 2006-03-11 @ 08:19 PM

how fast is your transferspeed with your USB-ActionReplay-interface ?

(currently I´m only using a Yano/Exstand-clone mainly at half speed of original commslink-card)

[post=145052]Quoted post[/post]​


I get around 160KByte/sec. What was the speed of the original comms link? I wanted to run some speed test a long time ago with someone who had a real comms link but dont remember if I ever did.

Im working on a HIEW clone for the AR-usb card called SIEW. Ive got basic functions like search,edit and dissasembly done. Next step I want to do is replace the AR bios completely. Ive want it to have all the functionality of the orginal in regards to the cheat system, so I spent some time figuring out the cheat file format. I got that done and am trying to better understand there debugging hooks they use.

The master codes afaict place a trapa op (and sometimes a country patch) to there own vector routine. The odd thing is that it can be different places. Sometimes they place it low around 0x2800 and sometimes high around 0xFFE00 or so, I think depending on if the country check is patched.

What I dont like about there comm port related IO code is that they usually ignore the status register and just read a byte from the data port looking for the preamble "IN". If they see 'I' then they just hang there forever looking for 'N'. Im sure most people have experienced some hangs using some cheat and other utils. The more I look at there code the less I like it.

I also want to incorporate some real debugging functions like watch/break points and stepping to the ar functions. The SuperH manuals ive seen are pretty lacking on the subject of debugging related stuff. Am I looking in the wrong place? The ones I have dont even mention the vector table or watch breakpoints.
 

Runik

Staff member
Originally posted by Pinchy@Mon, 2006-03-13 @ 04:44 PM

I also want to incorporate some real debugging functions like watch/break points and stepping to the ar functions. The SuperH manuals ive seen are pretty lacking on the subject of debugging related stuff. Am I looking in the wrong place? The ones I have dont even mention the vector table or watch breakpoints.

[post=145082]Quoted post[/post]​


Have you looked into the SH7604 Hardware Manual from antime's website ?
 
Originally posted by Pinchy@Mon, 2006-03-13 @ 03:44 PM

I get around 160KByte/sec. What was the speed of the original comms link? I wanted to run some speed test a long time ago with someone who had a real comms link but dont remember if I ever did.

Im working on a HIEW clone for the AR-usb card called SIEW. Ive got basic functions like search,edit and dissasembly done. Next step I want to do is replace the AR bios completely. Ive want it to have all the functionality of the orginal in regards to the cheat system, so I spent some time figuring out the cheat file format. I got that done and am trying to better understand there debugging hooks they use.

The master codes afaict place a trapa op (and sometimes a country patch) to there own vector routine. The odd thing is that it can be different places. Sometimes they place it low around 0x2800 and sometimes high around 0xFFE00 or so, I think depending on if the country check is patched.

What I dont like about there comm port related IO code is that they usually ignore the status register and just read a byte from the data port looking for the preamble "IN". If they see 'I' then they just hang there forever looking for 'N'. Im sure most people have experienced some hangs using some cheat and other utils. The more I look at there code the less I like it.

I also want to incorporate some real debugging functions like watch/break points and stepping to the ar functions. The SuperH manuals ive seen are pretty lacking on the subject of debugging related stuff. Am I looking in the wrong place? The ones I have dont even mention the vector table or watch breakpoints.

[post=145082]Quoted post[/post]​


my yano/exstand-clone:

with native code incorperated to sat.exe I got 66 kb/s under xp or w98se (no diffs.)

under w98se with yano´s vxd 36 kb/s

my orig. pccommslink:

speed was 114 kb/s

so your 160kb/s is nearly 2.5x faster, not bad.

but is the saturn or the usb-chip on your AR the speedlimiter ?

for debugging and mem-viewing I patched some days ago the debugger from TyRaNiD for use with my yano-clone under win xp.

cool you doing an AR-firmware replacement.

you flash the firmware when the AR is in the saturn ?

but what is when your code fails and init of the AR is not possible ?

boots the saturn still with a bad flashed AR-bios ?
 
@Runik , that manual was just what I was looking for. thanks;)

Originally posted by seal1@Mon, 2006-03-13 @ 09:37 PM

under w98se with yano´s vxd 36 kb/s

my orig. pccommslink:

speed was 114 kb/s

but is the saturn or the usb-chip on your AR the speedlimiter ?

you flash the firmware when the AR is in the saturn ?

but what is when your code fails and init of the AR is not possible ?

boots the saturn still with a bad flashed AR-bios ?

[post=145094]Quoted post[/post]​


The speed limit seems to be the saturn afaict. the AR protocol is having it exchange a byte every time and read from the status register. The fx2 usb chip is good for a few MB/sec.

You can flash it just like a regular AR card with excyber flash cd (which is what I did). If for some reason the code in the bios is bad and crashs when it runs then you can reprogram the cpld to disable the flash and will boot normally. Then you reprogram the cpld to make flash reappear and flash with cd.

With my crappy cart slot, I can tilt the cart back and it wont see it then tilt forward again and it will be on. So thats another method if your in a bind and ph33r hot plugging the cart;)
 
Originally posted by Pinchy@Tue, 2006-03-14 @ 05:43 PM

You can flash it just like a regular AR card with excyber flash cd (which is what I did). If for some reason the code in the bios is bad and crashs when it runs then you can reprogram the cpld to disable the flash and will boot normally. Then you reprogram the cpld to make flash reappear and flash with cd.


so the cpld is programmable via usb-cable from pc even with a non-booting saturn, only power is need from the saturn-psu ?
 
Originally posted by antime@Sat, 2006-03-18 @ 05:01 PM

I've written some tools for FTDI's FT2232 USB-serial converter. It's less convenient than a cart, but has some advantages and is a lot simpler than creating a custom PCB. Transfer speeds are up to 110KB/s.

[post=145163]Quoted post[/post]​


oh yeah, a lot of USB activity for the saturn but you lost the RACE ;-)

pinchy´s solution is faster and I can´t wait to get his one.

110kb/s is about the same speed as old PCCOMMSLINK, so point is only to use it with a PC w/o ISA like most modern boards ?

gdb works for you ? on saturn with serial-output to pc ?

last time I wanted to load something to sh2-gdb on pc it didn´t worked because wrong format or so ( tried different debug-compiler switches but no success). some time ago I got it running but I think it was from HEW.
 
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