The Carnivore2 cartridge has been released. This cartridge is an all-in-one and has 8mb FlashROM, 1mb of RAM, IDE (CF card), FMPAC and SCC soundchips on board. It can work as an individual device or as a combination of all those devices.

MRC user Alexey has been working with his team RBSC on the Carnivore2 cartridge for a while and releases it as a Do-It-Yourself project. It includes the main board, a electronics parts list and software to go with it. The multimapper part of the cartridge supports Konami4, Konami5 (SCC), ASCII 8 and ASCII 16 mappers. Some Korean mappers may be added later. The cartridge can be also used as pure RAM, pure SCC, pure IDE, pure FMPAC or a combination of those devices.

  • The board has a full FM-PAC BIOS translated into English by Max Iwamoto. FM Basic works of course.
  • Bare board, parts list included
  • DIY but assembling of this board is more or less easy if you have decent soldering skills
  • 3.5mm jack only outputs stereo FMPAC and SCC

The total price will be around 30 euros. The boards are 5 euro each + 5 euro shipment within EU. If you want a tracking number, the shipment is 7 euros.

Sources, like the hardware parts list, firmware, ROMS and more, are available at RBSC's Github project page.

The related MRC forum thread is here. Contact Alexey to get your hands on this new piece of hardware-happiness.

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  • Carnivore2 multi functional DIY cartridge has been released
  • Carnivore2 multi functional DIY cartridge has been released
  • Carnivore2 multi functional DIY cartridge has been released

Comments (23)

By Alexey

Paladin (974)

Alexey's picture

10-03-2017, 21:40

IMPORTANT! We don't sell fully or partially assembled cartridges. The project is fully DIY. The first batch of boards is already sold out. If there's enough interest, I can order another batch. So for now I can only provide the bare boards and help with assembly instructions. I don't have any electronic components for the cartridges for sale.

By Louthrax

Paragon (1378)

Louthrax's picture

11-03-2017, 00:05

Hi Alexey,

I'm interested, count me in. summer time and barbecue are closing in, that's waking up my carnivore instincts Smile
I'm just a bit concerned by soldering the Altera and ST chips, even if I consider my soldering skills as decent.

By Alexey

Paladin (974)

Alexey's picture

11-03-2017, 09:23

Louthrax wrote:

I'm interested, count me in. summer time and barbecue are closing in, that's waking up my carnivore instincts Smile
I'm just a bit concerned by soldering the Altera and ST chips, even if I consider my soldering skills as decent.

It looks complicated indeed. But it's actually easier than you think. I was using the flat oval soldering tip in the past, but then I gave up and started to use the standard conical tip. It's all about how you solder and about the flux.

First, you need to have a good liquid flux. I use the Russian LTI-120. Second, you must carefully position the chip so that all pins from all sides match their soldering points exactly. Then you need to solder a few pins from each side of the chip so that it could not move. Just put a blob of tin on a few edge pins - you'll correct it later. Then comes a tricky part. I put a ball of tin on the edge pins and then I melt it with a soldering iron and start to slowly move it towards the other end. The tip should be always moved along the pins to avoid them bending and connecting with each other. The tip must touch a few pins at the same time, otherwise this will not work correctly. When the move along the pins is finished, I advance the tip a bit and continue doing the same moves. The blob of tin moves together with the tip to the other end while soldering all pins on the way. When the blob gets too small, just add more tin. Add more liquid flux if you see that the soldering action is poor. If a few individual pins get soldered together, just leave them alone for now.

When you reach the opposite end of the chip, clean the tip, get it fluxed and remove the excess tin with the same moves you did before. Periodically clean the tip and flux it again. Eventually you will remove the unnecessary tin and all pins will be properly soldered. If you still have some pins soldered together, use the same technique to remove excess tin as described above. If you accidentally bent a pin, correct it with a needle while holding a tip close to the pin.

I use the standard Chinese 40/60 tin with rosin core for soodering. I also use the standard soldering paste in a flat box for fluxing the tip. The tip's temperature is usually set to 350 Celsius.

It is important to clean the flux after soldering! I just put the board into an ultrasound cleaner for jewellery filled with spirit for 8 minutes (4 minutes per side). Works well, but make sure you don't get the spirit too hot. Also do it somewhere where you can deal with fire if the spirit ignites (it will not ignite without a fire, but shit may happen).

By Alexey

Paladin (974)

Alexey's picture

11-03-2017, 09:10

When soldering the DAC, RAM and FlashROM chips, use the same technique as for the big chip, but take care to avoid overheating them. Let them cool down after soldering a few pins. I usually press a finger against the chip to cool it faster. But don't get burned!

By Randam

Paladin (739)

Randam's picture

11-03-2017, 09:13

I don't trust my own soldering skills but is someone else willing able to do it for a fee? I am very much interested in this cart.

By igal

Master (193)

igal's picture

11-03-2017, 09:55

Please.
What are the possible simultaneous combinations?

Cf + Opll + Scc + Mapper 8Mb + 1Mb Ram simultaneously?

This cartridge uses simultaneously [Direct Data D0 to D7] + [CS1] + [CS2] + [CS12] + [Slot Select]?

I am curious to know which combinations are simultaneously possible using a single port cartridge of the MSX Smile

In any case, bravo for this card Face

By Alexey

Paladin (974)

Alexey's picture

11-03-2017, 19:36

Any combination is possible. By default everything is enabled - RAM, SCC, FMPAC, IDE and FlashROM. Some software may not like expanded slot, so it won't work. For example Metal Gear 2 does not like expanded slot, so its entry needs to be edited to disable slot expansion. Aleste doesn't like FMPAC in extpanded slot, so there will be no FMPAC sound unless you run the game from a different device (in a different slot) and use FMPAC-only configuration mode (without slot expansion) for Carnivore2 cartridge.

We were thinking of hijacking an empty slot to be used for one of the on-board devices, but this is quite risky and may result in MSX going crazy...

By Louthrax

Paragon (1378)

Louthrax's picture

12-03-2017, 17:13

Thanks Alexey for your soldering explanations and expertise here, looking forward to try it.

By Argon

Paladin (983)

Argon's picture

13-03-2017, 19:13

I'm very interested, but I have zero experience soldering :'(
Is there any way to obtain a fully assembled cartridge?

Thanks.
Kris.

By ronivon

Resident (52)

ronivon's picture

13-03-2017, 20:53

Great piece of hardware, loved it.
I want one.
++

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (2391)

sd_snatcher's picture

14-03-2017, 02:40

I wonder: can the FPGA be updated by the MSX itself, just like other carts allow updates to the Flash?

By MicroTech

Champion (372)

MicroTech's picture

14-03-2017, 09:42

sd_snatcher wrote:

I wonder: can the FPGA be updated by the MSX itself, just like other carts allow updates to the Flash?

I agree, it would be really cool if FPGA contents could be loaded dynamically by cpu.
On the board both JTAG and Active serial connectors seem provided... maybe it is also possible (if not yet planned) to make them accessible via some slot-selected register (imagine what you can do with a carnivore in every slot...) Hannibal

Anyway really cool device, great effort! ... this is something like an "hardware DLL"

By Alexey

Paladin (974)

Alexey's picture

14-03-2017, 14:40

sd_snatcher wrote:

I wonder: can the FPGA be updated by the MSX itself, just like other carts allow updates to the Flash?

It's not the Altera, that keeps the firmware data, it's a small EPCS4 chip. And this chip can be only programmed with Active Serial. There's no point to program it on MSX. I also believe that this is technically impossible.

By Alexey

Paladin (974)

Alexey's picture

14-03-2017, 20:15

For all of you who are asking about purchasing the ready-made cartridge - we will be negotiating the production and selling the cartridges by a third party. In case of the successful deal I will announce this here.

By Fabio Belavenuto

Supporter (13)

Fabio Belavenuto's picture

15-03-2017, 01:30

Hi Alexey,

You can flash the EPCS4 via VHDL/Verilog. You must instantiate the "cyclone_asmiblock" component.

By syn

Paragon (1536)

syn's picture

15-03-2017, 15:41

Looks very nice! Cool

By Alexey

Paladin (974)

Alexey's picture

15-03-2017, 21:40

To all those people who were asking us about the fully assembled cartridge - there is now hope for you to get what you were asking for! More details later.

By Pablibiris

Paragon (1542)

Pablibiris's picture

16-03-2017, 09:02

Noce Alexey!! Keep us informed Wink

By hardwaremaker

Expert (89)

hardwaremaker's picture

21-03-2017, 12:32

This cartridge, works with MSX-1 and MSX-2?

By Alexey

Paladin (974)

Alexey's picture

22-03-2017, 21:06

Yes

By Alexey

Paladin (974)

Alexey's picture

17-04-2017, 01:26

Video of the cartridge's operation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRzPOb8lb1A

We have also added an option to use the cartridge as MegaRAM. The special utility can load ROM file into cartridge's own RAM and the data stays there until power-off. If the cartridge has a battery installed, the data will be preserved as long as the battery is good. The utility allows to set the protection onto the copied data so that the copied ROM could not write into its own address space corrupting the data (some copy protections work like that). However there's an option to disable the protection if necessary. For the saved ROM image the special directory entry is created with the "RAM: " prefix. Here's the video of the MegaRAM option test (sorry for the shaky camera):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfTw8rjLwZQ

Unfortunately not all ROMs can be loaded into the cartridge's RAM. For example most of ROMs up to 256kb work, however Metal Gear 2 ROM doesn't. We will look into this later.

By Alexey

Paladin (974)

Alexey's picture

17-04-2017, 02:45

MG2 works, but needs some tweaks to be run from RAM. No big deal.

By Alexey

Paladin (974)

Alexey's picture

27-04-2017, 09:53

I used a similar soldering technique for big chips that is shown in this video starting from 10:00:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VihgDVlgBY0

My MSX profile