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Old 30 January 2015, 07:35   #1
modrobert
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Project: Wild Port - USB Host solution for classic hardware

I'm developing a PIC based USB host solution primarily for the Amiga range of computers, but it will work on anything using the Atari 2600 (VCS) joystick port de facto standard which includes VIC-20 and C64.

The prototype of Wild Port currently supports HID devices (joystick, mouse, keyboard) and hubs on the USB side, it connects to the 9-pin joystick port on the classic computer. There is also a serial RS-232 port for configuration.


Here is a photo of the prototype running on breadboard.

Current features:

* Standard digital joystick functionality with 3 fire buttons
* Amiga 3-button mouse support with pseudo wheel functionality
* Full CD32 joypad hardware emulation
* Keyboard WASD style joystick implementation
* Serial RS-232 port for button configuration and settings
* Settings can be saved
* WHDLoad compatible
* Fits A600 joystick port

Wild Port is designed with focus on compatibility and reliability for gamers like myself. In order to protect the classic hardware a poly switch (aka PTC fuse) is installed on the 5V line (pin 7) and it uses a transistor solution where the classic computer feeds its own signal to ground, just like a standard digital joystick. However, CD32 joypad support is the exception as it requires additional signalling and communication protocol, but it does behave like an original CD32 controller on the joystick port side.

The "pseudo wheel" feature mentioned for the mouse support relies on FreeWheel for Amiga, specifically the "Middle Button: Click: Movement -> Scroll" setting enabled which Wild Port emulates and maps to the wheel on the USB mouse, the benefit is that it does not require any additional drivers installed. The wheel works well in some software like Workbench, JanoEditor, and iBrowse, but not so well in others, but neither does FreeWheel standard operation in those cases.

Keyboard to joystick support was added mostly for fun, since it is part of the USB HID standard, but perhaps there are people out there who would like to control the games using a USB keyboard (when only joystick is supported in the game).

The WHDLoad compatible feature was added mainly to point out that Wild Port works on the joystick port hardware level, and does not suffer from the gaming limitations of software based USB stack like Poseidon. There is no software required on the classic computer except a terminal program to optionally configure the device.

The project is in development stage, next up I will be soldering some prototype boards and send out for testing. Schematics is completed but still need to design the final production PCB layout. To allow for hardware hacking, as in easy modification and that true classic feeling; Wild Port will be using through-hole (DIP) sized components on a single sided board layout. I've managed to source the components locally here in Bangkok, but if stock runs out it might be necessary to redesign the board using surface mount technology. Also managed to source cables with contacts which actually fits the A600 joystick port. There will be a case, most likely ABS plastic (roughly sized 120x75x35mm), there are some cool aluminium ones but it just doesn't feel right, it should look like the computers we love.


I'm still allowing for feature creep so any ideas are welcome.

This is also posted here:
http://www.eurasia.nu/modules.php?op...7326&forum=105

Update 2015-07-06:

Attached prototype schematic.
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Last edited by modrobert; 06 August 2015 at 05:50. Reason: Added schematic.
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Old 30 January 2015, 14:32   #2
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Excellent !

I will follow this project...
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Old 30 January 2015, 18:35   #3
modrobert
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Thanks.

The best part about this project is all the product testing, even when it's not really needed. Hard to put down the joystick with great titles like Project X SE (CD32) and Pinball Fantasies (CD32).

Here are some low quality photos of the A1200 while testing CD32 joypad support (it's not easy to take good photos of a real CRT):






Here is a screenshot of Psygore's JoyPortTest:



The "joypad" part there means JoyPortTest detected a CD32 controller (well, Wild Port in this case). This tool was a great help when reversing the CD32 protocol, that and the logic analyzer.
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Old 30 January 2015, 18:40   #4
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Excellent!

Bangkok? really??
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Old 30 January 2015, 19:02   #5
modrobert
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Yes, since 2001. That A1200 might be the only one in Thailand.

BTW: I could use some help testing the Wild Port prototype on a real CD32 (would be great if that person also had a C64 and VIC-20).
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Old 06 July 2015, 12:17   #6
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Lightbulb

The schematic is starting to stabilize for the prototype, so here it is (in PDF and PNG format).

EDIT:

Forgot to mention that I have been testing the mouse support the past week by playing Frontier Elite II Special Edition, lots of fun, racked up 4 million credits so far. At this rate, with all the product game testing involved, this project might take a while to finish.
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Last edited by modrobert; 06 July 2015 at 12:57. Reason: Prototype testing.
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Old 06 July 2015, 12:49   #7
crazyc
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Exciting stuff

This looks great!
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Old 06 July 2015, 15:18   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by modrobert View Post
Yes, since 2001. That A1200 might be the only one in Thailand.

BTW: I could use some help testing the Wild Port prototype on a real CD32 (would be great if that person also had a C64 and VIC-20).
I have a real CD32 & C64 if I can be of some help?

Also I have the following featuring the classic 9-pin D-Type:

A1200
Spectrum +2A (so uses 'Sinclair' joystick layout/config, but I have a Kempston-to-Sinclair adaptor).
Sega Megadrive MK1

oh a a few Raspberry Pi's for some GPIO hacking.

Last edited by Higgy; 06 July 2015 at 15:21. Reason: Added additional systems.
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Old 06 July 2015, 16:23   #9
modrobert
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Higgy,

Thanks, it would be great if you can Beta test the prototype. I will PM you after I've built some more prototypes, also have to code the boot loader with "update via X-modem (or Z-modem)" function first in order to install firmware updates via terminal program for testing.

The idea with this project/product is to be 100% usable with retro computers, with main focus on Amiga, and involving a PC for updates or other reason would just feel wrong. Besides, I'm really itching to design that terminal ASCII/ANSI board (BBS) style interface for the product settings. Hopefully it will be /X style all the way, with "expert mode" option.

Last edited by modrobert; 06 July 2015 at 17:01.
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