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NES/Famicom Multicarts

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mike boss:
I'd be very interested with a multi-cart at a great price with a great selection of games !

Howard_Casto:
Well with any luck mine will arrive by spring.  It's the only bad thing about ordering stuff from China. 

I've been researching them online in the meantime and I think getting the manufacturers to make us a custom cart might be the best bet.  It's not that I think it's impossible to hack them, it's just those traces look awfully small in the pictures.  Maybe we could do a kickstarter or something. 

Locke141:
This sounds like fun. Keep us posted.

Howard_Casto:
Well I've been reading up on the concept of a nes multicart and it's rather fascinating.  It might be a bit above my pay grade, I could certainly use help on a few areas, but I don't think it would be that hard to make a custom one. 

The menu itself is the hardest thing, you've basically got to make a nes game, only it's just a menu.  There are a few open source examples floating around the interwebs though. 

Basically for the games themselves you split the rom into the program rom and graphic rom and add them, in order to rather large memory chips that are big enough to hold multiple carts.  You put the graphics and logic for the menu in the first slot.  The menu will do a soft reset and boot the selected rom, which reads relative memory positions instead of absolute ones, so the game thinks it's a regular cart. 

The only issue is the memory mapper chips (MMCs).  They are proprietary Nintendo chips and while you can mimic their function via a field programmable gate array (FPGA), you are beginning to blur the line between playing the game on a real NES and simulating components.  Also most multi-carts only support games that run on one particular MMC, or similar MMCs for that very reason.    There are lots of advantages though, namely cost and load time.  A multi-cart game loads instantly.... no need to dump it from a sd onto a chip.  Sure you can't fit a full library on a multi-cart, but they are so cheap you can buy 5 for the going rate of a flash cart with a case, which allows 800+ games.  So it's about the same difference if you are going for a full set. 

I'm just spit-balling here, maybe nothing will come from it, but I'm willing to explore our options as I'm not super fond of some of these flash carts.  They get the job done mind you, but a non-graphical list is kind of archaic. 

Howard_Casto:
So my cart finally came in.  I haven't tried it yet but I have taken it apart (yeah I'm weird, I know).  The build quality is rather impressive considering the low cost.  I inspected the board and there are some exposed traces but most of them I've already identified as those solder-point dip switches found on nes carts.... like the horizontal/vertical rom ordering dip, ect.....  I'll keep at it. 

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