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Dreamcast Keep Dreaming Project

Zeigren

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dc_pile.jpg

I’m starting a project for the Dreamcast, here’s a quick blurb

The Keep Dreaming Project aims to provide the Dreamcast community with an opensource ecosystem for collaborating on electronics and software projects along with tools for gathering and preserving information. The project consists of custom circuit boards for hardware research/development and a hosted software stack for collaboration and preserving information.

Checkout the links below for more information!

Links:
Project Overview
Project Documentation
Patreon
Discord Server

Edit: Added a post about the initial progress and some of my design choices for the openGDROM
Edit2: Discord Server
Edit Three: Simplified project description and added links
 
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NightBreeze

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Really cool, I love the idea of having readily available breakout/dev boards for tinkering with the Dreamcast!

A lot of the things you're working on interest me, I've recently purchased most parts needed to build a GD-ROM emu using the iCE40 dev-board and I've been planning wireless mods for Dreamcast controllers (using the nRF52840 chip for BLE).

I read your post on the openGDROM design decisions, and I'm curious about the iCE being only available in BGA package? When I was evaluating it's feasibility for some dev projects I could've sworn it was available in both QFP and QFN packages which should be fine. You also mention the performance of iceGDROM has issues, are you referring to the software side or do you believe the hardware also doesn't cut it?

I'd also love to know more about the Wireless Network Adapter, I realize it's in the planning stage but if you have anything to share that'd be cool. A project I haven't started yet but am considering is a mod to the Dreamcast modem that bypasses / emulates the conexant chip, providing either ethernet or WiFi, a bit like the moband adapter (which appears to be dead?) except it utilizes the modem hardware for G2 bus connector and ASIC chip.

Anyway, it looks like the DC has great things in it's future :).
 
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Zeigren

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Right now the plan is to use the nRF52840 for the wireless controller as well.

The ice40HX8K used in the iceGDROM is only available in BGA, but some of the other ice40 parts are available in other packages. I don't actually have my own iceGDROM so this is coming from other people, but they either haven't been able to get it to work or it works very slowly. It's sort of a mix of both, using an external MCU instead of the softcore would probably be enough to get the performance up.

Turns out the guy making MOBAND is still working on it! I'd like to avoid having to remove the modem connector or piggybacking off of it so my idea would be for a completely emulated solution. Although that's just what I want lol
 

NightBreeze

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Oh, that's cool, maybe we'll be able to collaborate! I'm also considering using an FPGA for the maple bus (for energy savings?), although first version might just rely on the nRF chip and bit banging. Eventually also looking to emulate memory cards and create receivers for other bluetooth peripherals (e.g. keyboard, mouse).

Looks like you are absolutely right about the iCE40 chip, I somehow missed that those packages aren't available for the HX8K. Thanks for clarifying about the iceGDROM.

I agree with you about the modem though, my thought was that it'd be easiest to emulate the conexant chip but I'd be quite happy with a modless solution if we can work out the connector. Well, here's to hoping MOBAND still becomes a thing!

PS. I've joined the Discord also ?.
 

MrMario2011

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This looks awesome so far! Any estimate on a cost, or too early to reveal?
 

Zeigren

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FPGAs on average will consume more power than a microcontroller, of course that comes with a big "depends on what you're doing". Right now the design we're working on uses the nRF and a CPLD.

Yeah emulating the actual modem chip could potentially be easier instead of emulating the whole thing.

The Maple Bus breakout board has like $3 in parts and the connectors on the G1 Bus breakout are like $10 total, those won't change much. Everything else is still really up in the air.
 

NightBreeze

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FPGAs on average will consume more power than a microcontroller, of course that comes with a big "depends on what you're doing". Right now the design we're working on uses the nRF and a CPLD.

You're probably right, I have zero experience with FPGAs/CPLDs (but interested to learn), so it's basically just a thought I've been entertaining at this point. The question is if a balance between performance / power consumption can be found. That said, I'm currently looking into if the nRF chip can fill that hole by itself using the GPIOTE / PPI.
 

Zeigren

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Ok wow, I haven't said anything since October. I updated the first post with a couple of new links.

There's been a handful of Patreon updates since then which goes over more stuff, but I'll cover some of it here.

kairohm.dev - Moved everything to a new server and new domain
InvenTree - Added a program to create a database of Dreamcast parts, variants, and assemblies
Official Documentation - I've been cleaning up the official documentation so it's easier to use
G1 and G2 Bus Development Boards - Switching from a Microchip to an STM32 MCU, no longer going to be modular
Discord - The updates channel now gets notifications from Docker Hub, GitHub, and Phabricator
Overview - Wrote a better overview of the project
Contributing - Wrote a better contributing guide
Joining - You can now use GitHub or e-mail to create an account for BookStack and Phabricator
tikatree - Made a little program that uses Apache Tika to parse metadata from the official documentation

I've reworked things a little bit so all the infrastructure I've been putting together can be used by other Dreamcast projects or other gaming-related projects, pretty much anything that would be welcome here on OG. Although it's all still on a tiny server so there's only so much capacity there.

I've put a bunch of time into working on the Sega official documentation so check that out. I went through a couple of @Laurent C.'s image dumps and turned them into PDFs. I've also added bookmarks to everything I've uploaded so far.

Not much done in the PCB department, unfortunately, looking to change that soon though. I've mostly been working on this when I'm tired and I don't particularly want to mess up the boards because I'm sleepy.
 

Zeigren

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I'm trying to put together a high quality pdf of the "VA0" schematics that have been floating around but I'm missing one of the sheets.

@l_oliveira posted the images on AG forever ago, which you can still download off of 4shared. However they are missing a sheet, which should be named SOUND_AND_CLOCKGEN.png and have a resolution of about 8000 x 5000. Said missing sheet can be seen in this dc-swat pdf as well as over on gamesx and console5. It would be nice to know the actual part number the schematics are for but if l_oliveira got them pre-censored it'll be annoying to figure out.

Interesting note the schematics seem to be scanned versions of official Sega schematics that have then been cut and pasted onto a generic template, printed, and then scanned again.

Edit: Didn't realize they had an account here lol
 
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