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Unicart64 - The FPGA based cartridge for Commodore 64

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  • Unicart64 is the new cartridge for Commodore 64 computers based on FPGA.


    Planned Features:

    • Altera Cyclone II FPGA EP2C5T144C8N.
    • SD card connector
    • 3 Reset buttons
    • Flash ROM memory 8MB (not in prototype)
    • SRAM memory 8MB (not in prototype)


    I have created this project because I was inspired by the great EasyFlash3 cartridge possibilities.
    But, there are some limitations in EasyFlash3.
    Thus, the goal of this project is to extend EF3, not to compare with Ultimate / Chameleon projects with their complexity and price.


    I plan to extend:
    1) The FPGA logic elements. Comparing EF3 CPLD against Altera FPGA, now there is more space to create various hardware.
    2) The flashing time is very long to set up ROM memory with its software content. Instead of this as an alternative it is good to have SD card & larger SRAM.
    The EasyFlash image can be loaded very fast from SD card into SRAM and started afterwards. It could be significantly faster.


    I have no external memories in this prototype yet, only small piece of RAM inside FPGA to be able to boot software.
    The UC64 SD card Commander is developed especially for this cartridge.


    Already developed hardaware inside FPGA:

    • Boot UC64 Ultimax 512 bytes cartridge - booting system from MBR of SD card.
    • SD card reader cartridge.

    Watch this video ... :thumbup:

    Unicart64 prototype tests


    Altera FPGA on universal board


    Resistor Voltage level dividers 5V --> 3.3V


    UC64 SD Commander


    Overview of this ugly prototype ... but working :thumbsup:

  • Hi, it is dependent on Manufacturer company I 'm try to talk with. The board is drawn already in Eagle. My estimation is around 110-120 EUR.
    I wanted it <100 EUR in the past, but it seems to be not realistic. Actually, the most expensive part is SRAM 8MB, but this is key component for me as well. There is possibility to transfer bytes between FPGA RAM/SRAM <--> C64 RAM using DMA, e.g. REU emulation.


    Another problem is order 1st piece of hw, I have to pay, but I cannot guarantee correct functionality (to avoid mistakes, bugs inside board).
    We will see. maybe sponsoring of the manufacturer.


    If there is someone able to help to bring it into life, just send me the hints ...

  • Hi all,


    Finally, I proudly present you my fully working board :thumbsup::done::thumbsup: !




    Testing firmware is now "good enough", but still in development.


    Currently FW20181129 featured by:


    After startup active parts:

    • Boot Ultimax cartridge (autodisabled)
    • Native Unicart64 registers
    • EasyFlash cartridge
    • IO2Ram controller
    • SD card controller


    Starting as part of EasyFlash cartridge:

    • Cartridge 8 kB
    • Cartridge 16 kB
    • Ultimax Cartridge
    • Ocean Type I


    Starting by CRT select register:

    • Action Replay
    • Super Snapshot 5
    • Final Cartridge 1/2 (* small bug, but usable)
    • Final Cartridge 3
    • Kernal cartridge
    • Blackbox (* currently only part of FC1 logic)
    • REU (* without IRQ support)
    • GeoRAM
    • RamCart


    SDCMDUC 2.4 - SD card UC64 commander


    - supports loading .PRG/.P00 files directly to C64 memory and/or starting
    - supports flashing/uploading CRT images into 8 MB Flash ROM and/or 8 MB SRAM


    Unicart64 supports custom mapping of CRT images using mapping registers.
    The setup and organization of memories Flash ROM/SRAM is up to software !

  • Hi Dekay,


    No, the price is not set up yet. Now, I see the situation around 90-100 EUR if there will be "preorder".
    Simply, 1 piece order is very expensive and more pieces will decrease the price.
    As I wrote before, SRAM is my "price killer". But, on the other hand it is more simpler & better for FPGA handling.
    just for your info ... I paid around 200 EUR (uff ;( ) for the prototyping !
    But, you know it is kind of love !!!

  • 8 MB Ram is a lot. Why so much of it? I ordered me is61lv25616 rams for 2,50 a piece. Should be enough to play with a ep2c5t144 ?


    Answer:

    • REU (for demos, I have "only" 8MB, I wanted 16MB at the beginning :D )
    • EasyFlash loading images into SRAM (1 slot = 1 MB)

    I had also idea to use the PRAM (not sure if this is correct name ...) instead of SRAM. This is significantly cheaper. There is DRAM inside, and this stupid autorefreshing is hidden , interface is like SRAM. But, unfortunately, I could not find 8/16 MB.

  • @Peto74
    nix für ungut :thumbsup:
    dein deutsch ist besser als mein englisch.
    Es gibt hier auch welche, bei denen ist das englisch noch schlechter als meins.
    Probier es doch einfach und poste in einem deutschen Forum nicht gleich auf englisch einen ganzen Roman.
    Ich weiß, die Diskussion hatten wir schon zu genüge.
    Es reißt dir keiner bei Rechtschreib- oder Grammatikfehlern den Kopf ab, es wird dir eher Respekt entgegengebracht wenn du dir die Mühe machst und es versuchst.

    Arcade: Twinliner, Fashion Vision,
    "Cosmic Guerilla" cocktail table
    Pins: Bride Of Pinbot + Getaway
    C64, C65, C66, Gammel+Mist...

  • Nice one! I've interest in one :)
    You may offer in Amibay forum too, I'm sure you will find additional customers there.

  • Answer:

    • REU (for demos, I have "only" 8MB, I wanted 16MB at the beginning :D )
    • EasyFlash loading images into SRAM (1 slot = 1 MB)

    I had also idea to use the PRAM (not sure if this is correct name ...) instead of SRAM. This is significantly cheaper. There is DRAM inside, and this stupid autorefreshing is hidden , interface is like SRAM. But, unfortunately, I could not find 8/16 MB.

    Ah...ok. We just want to create a cheap shield for those mini dev boards and just need enough ram to store the video ram in it.


    Yes, SDRam is a bit of a problem. I got 32 MB on my de0 nano, but still have not written a working memory controller for it. :schande:


    Currently struggling with VGA out...

  • !!! Merry Christmas - Frohe Weihnachten - Vesele Vianoce !!!
    :prost:


    Update info:

    • BlackBox, now runs in own logic
    • Final Cartridge Plus, added, usable, NMI line 0->1 in freezer mode is not implemented, searching for info
    • Epyx Fastload implemented

    If everything will go correct I expect 10pcs boards in middle of January, I will update you, probably in MarketPlace section.
    95,- EUR + postage (I think standard 5 EUR, "letter to your hands")

  • Answer:

    • REU (for demos, I have "only" 8MB, I wanted 16MB at the beginning :D )
    • EasyFlash loading images into SRAM (1 slot = 1 MB)

    I had also idea to use the PRAM (not sure if this is correct name ...) instead of SRAM. This is significantly cheaper. There is DRAM inside, and this stupid autorefreshing is hidden , interface is like SRAM. But, unfortunately, I could not find 8/16 MB.

    In development I would also use sram :) but for production one want to make any cost reductions,
    ie if you do of 50 pcb one single ic ram could cost me up to 10E per board,
    but if I put 8 chips instead of one, as it is more available, it cost cheaper ie 3.78E for 8 chips per pcb,
    and you would be surprised what you can put today on back side of 6.5x5cm pcb :)


    Pseudo SRAM is good choice winnbod make them 128Mb and 256Mbx16 @1.8V, they are also known as cell ram,
    these rams are low powered and even dram is refreshed only where is content in cells:)


    Do not be afraid if it is x16 a) you can use only half of it b) you can bank it, ie half for REU half for EF
    after all you will interface it with FPGA :)


    did not try to use dram before but, someone already done this,interesting
    https://hackaday.com/2013/10/1…roller-for-low-end-fpgas/
    https://github.com/enjoy-digital/litedram