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Cuttle Cart 3 by Schell Electronics
- Works with Intellivision I, II, III, Intellivoice, and the ECS
- Fits inside a standard Intellivision Cartridge
- Backwards compatible with the Intellicart
- Reads FAT-16 and FAT-32 formatted MicroSD cards. These are the standard formats for MicroSD cards when purchased, or existing MicroSD cards can be formatted by most operating systems.
- Menu software is user upgradeable.
- Menus and other screens are all controllable using either controller.
- GUI Based Menu Editor/Game Importer for Win32, Linux, and Mac-OS X.
The Cuttle Cart 3 is an Intellivision cartridge that can emulate other cartridges. It allows you to play the games on a REAL Intellivision - the way they were designed to be played. Multiple games can be loaded into the CC3, and the games can then be chosen from an on screen menu.Once the games are loaded into the CC3 there is no further need for a connection to your computer. The CC3 is self contained. Just plug it into your Intellivision, pick your game, and play.It can also be used as a development tool and distribution medium for new games, using freely available development software. Or you can download from the various Rom sites listed below.
The Intellivision was developed using General Instruments parts in the CP1600 microprocessor line. This system in unusual in that it uses a common address and data bus. ROM used in Intellivision carts was designed for use in this system (GI ROM). Unfortunately GI ROM is not compatible with the ROM found in most other systems. To work on the shared bus, they must have an address latch built into the ROM. In addition, to reduce the need for external chip select components, each GI ROM can be programmed to respond to a certain range in the memory map. While this is a handy feature if you have GI ROM available, it makes creating a new Intellivision cart without GI ROM rather complicated - and with the CP1600 line no longer supported, GI ROM isn't readily available.
I was looking for a nice project to give something to the classic gaming community, as I enjoy classic gaming and have made use of much of the information provided by other classic gaming fans. After reading about people's wishes for a device such as the Intellicart, I said, gee, that sounds easy enough, let's go for it. Unfortunately, things were much more complicated than I anticipated. The GI documentation available on the web is flawed in several important ways, specifically in the purpose of the ADAR bus cycle. This is a very important cycle which GI kindly listed as being a NOP as far a ROM was concerned. And they listed it that way in multiple data sheets too. It was battling against this problem that lead me to enlist the aid of Joe Zbiciak, Intellivision Guru and creator of the new Intellivision game 4-Tris and the free Intellivision emulator jzintv. Between us and the De Re Intellivision documentation of the T-card, we were able to figure out the details of the Intellivision bus codes, and I believe that Joe is going to be providing all the details in the future so I'll leave that typing to him. Joe provided a lot of help along the way, including all of the Intellivision software to test various parts of the Intellicart, as well as assistance in algorithm development and tuning for use in the Intellicart. Thanks Joe!
Of course several other people helped along the way. Tim Lindner wrote the Mac version of the Intellicart download software, and did an excellent job formatting the manual. Jason Willis wrote the Windows version of the Intellicart download software. Chris Neiman performed the majority of the playtesting of the prototype Intellicart. And William Moeller and Doug Parsons provided background information and support along the way. Thanks to all of the above people for all of your help in making the Intellicart a reality.
Ok, here's a quick photo progression of the Intellicart, at least of the stages I have left. Click on any of the photos to see a larger version.
The first task was to build a cart reader to test how the Intellivision carts responded to various commands. Here's a quick photo of my cart reader. Not directly related to the Intellicart, but since it contains the PIC that I originally planned on using in the Intellicart it's somewhat related.
This is actually the last prototype. Most of the work was done on a breadboard with an old Poker cart used to plug into the Intellivision with it's ROM removed and wires soldered to the former ROM's pads to connect the breadboard to the Intellivision. That went away when I started working with the Intellivoice as I kept getting the strange error of no voice except "Mattel Electronics presents." First I wire wrapped the breadboard circuit to create more sound connections, but still used the Poker cart to connect to the Intellivision. No effect. Joe suggested it was bus loading due to the long leads, so I wrapped it onto the Vector C64 protoboard - still no effect. I THEN noticed that Mattel changed the pinouts in Intellivoice carts. They grabbed two pins that were supposed to be ground and left them open. Those two pins were then connected to two control pins inside the Intellivoice, so any non-intellivoice cart couldn't activate the Intellivoice because they grounded these control pins. The Intellivision is just one annoying little trick or hack after another. Anyways, I opened up those two pins and everything worked fine. A lot of time and effort was wasted on this problem. Numerous routes were explored etc. etc. In the long run it made for some improvements in the Intellicart algorithms, but mostly it was just a large annoyance. I really wish I had inspected the carts earlier, but c'est la vie.
The other obvious part of the prototype is the microcontroller connected by all of those little wires. Let me give some advice on that right now: If you ever consider soldering individual wire-wrap wires to a fine pitch smd - DON'T DO IT. That was a complete pain. I had my friend with far more stable hands help me accomplish that, but it was a long frustrating process and in the end almost made the part unusable. Why did I do it you ask? Well because the silly little part is in a 52 pin PQFP package, and since that's a very uncommon package sockets cost around $70.00. I later found one for $30.00, but still, $30.00 for a socket? Anyways, that's why the Intellicart now resides on a PCB.
This is the hopefully final version of the Intellicart, outside of its shell. The heart of the card is under the heatsink. The two 8-bit RAM chips used in the prototypes have been replaced with a cheaper 16-bit RAM. I decided to take advantage of the new range of parts made available by printing a PCB. (Parts that were only available as SMD.)
What is the Intellicart?
The Intellicart is an Intellivision cartridge that can emulate other cartridges. It is designed to work with the Intellivision Lives and Intellivision Rocks CDs available from Intellivision Productions. It allows you to play the games on those CDs on a REAL Intellivision - the way they were designed to be played. It can also be used as a development tool and distribution medium for new games, using freely available development software.
Simple to use!
The Intellicart is simple to use. Just connect the Intellicart's serial cable to your computer's RS-232 Serial port (the standard serial port on PCs), plug the Intellicart into the Intellivision, and turn on the Intellivision. You'll see the Intellicart "Load Image" screen shown above. Now start the included loading software on your computer, select the game you wish to play (by selecting the .bin file which contains the actual code which makes up the game) and press the download button. The game is loaded into the Intellicart, and your Intellivision resets itself ready to play the game you just loaded. Now the Intellivision will act just like the cartridge of the game you've chosen is inserted until you turn the Intellivision off. When you wish to play a different game, simply turn the Intellivision off and back on. The Intellicart "Load Image" screen will reappear and you can select and download a different game.
- Software included for Windows 95/98/NT/2000 and Mac OS 8.1 or higher.
- Simple to use.
- Works with Intellivision I, II, III, Intellivoice, and the ECS.
- Same size as a standard Intellivision Cartridge.
- Individually digitally numbered.
*Newer Macs do not have the necessary RS-232 serial port, a USB to RS-232 adapter is required (not included.)
Advanced and technical features for developers of new games or download programs:
- 64K of 16-bit RAM - Enough to cover the entire Intellivision memory map.
- Emulates both GI ROM and 16-Bit GI RAM.
- Bankswitching to allow programmers access to the full 64K for new games.
- CRC-16 Error detection on ROM downloads.
- Auto baud rate detection - 2400, 4800, 9600, 14400, 19200, 38400, or 57600 baud.
- Sample source code included for development of loading software for other platforms and operating systems.
Known Limitations of the Intellicart
The Intellicart will not properly emulate games that use 8-bit RAM. The games known to contain 8-bit RAM (and thus known not to work correctly with the Intellicart) are Chess, Land Battle, and Triple Challenge (it contains Chess.)
The ECS game World Series Major League Baseball will not work correctly as it uses a type of bankswitching not used in the Intellicart. (This was not known at the time the Intellicart was created.)
Bonus - Free Games!
Compliments of the people at Intellivision Productions, the Intellicart shipped with six free Intellivision games - all ready to play using the Intellicart and Intellivision: Astrosmash, Deep Pockets: Super Pro Pool and Billiards, Night Stalker, Skiing, Space Spartans and Utopia!
The Intellicart is now sold out and no longer in production. 134 Intellicarts were sold directly by Schell's Electronics from 6/29/00 to 8/12/01, although one was lost by the USPS. After that retail sales were handled by Rob Mundo, who sold another 100 Intellicarts during 2002, for a total of 234 Intellicarts produced.
The Intellivision Lives and Intellivision Rocks game collections are still available through Intellivision Productions. So if you're looking for some Intellivsion fun pick them up and enjoy the games through emulation.
Cuttle Cart 3 Questions And Additional Information
What is it?
The Cuttle Cart 3 (CC3) is an Intellivision cartridge that can emulate other cartridges. It is designed to work with the Intellivision Lives and Intellivision Rocks CDs available from Intellivision Productions. It allows you to play the games on those CDs on a REAL Intellivision - the way they were designed to be played. Multiple games can be loaded into the CC3, and the games can then be chosen from an on screen menu.
Once the games are loaded into the CC3 there is no further need for a connection to your computer. The CC3 is self contained. Just plug it into your Intellivision, pick your game, and play.
It can also be used as a development tool and distribution medium for new games, using freely available development software.
You choose the games!Which games are available from the CC3's menu is up to you, as you load the games you desire onto a MicroSD Card which is then inserted into the CC3. The game files are the same ROM images one would use to play the games in an emulator, such as those available on the Intellivision Lives and Intellivision Rocks CDs from Intellivision Productions Inc.
You also decide what order the games will appear in the menu, and what they will be called. List them alphabetically, group all of your favorites together, or both. Even divide them into separate menus and link the menus together however you wish.
Game manuals too!
Game manuals or overlays can also be stored on the MicroSD Card in ASCII text format for display on the Intellivision. (Note: ASCII versions of the overlays and manuals are not provided by Schell's Electronics.)
User selectable settings!
Don't like the default color scheme? No problem, change it to a scheme that you prefer. Like to pick up where you left off? Have the cart remember the menu position of the last game you played or manual your viewed, and start at the same spot the next time you load the Cuttle Cart 3. Or, if you have all your favorites at the start of the menu, leave this setting off and start near your favorites every time.
The Cuttle Cart 3 is easily upgradeable. The menu software can be updated by loading a new version onto the MicroSD Card and then flashing it to the cartridge using the built in flash routines. There's even a backup boot system to allow one to recover from an error during a flash update (such as a power failure.)
Details for Game Programmers
How does one load games onto the Cuttle Cart 3?
The games must be loaded onto the MicroSD Card using a MicroSD card reader/writer. Most MicroSD cards come with an adapter to allow them to be used in standard SD Card devices. Standard SD card reader/writers are commonly available as USB devices for connection to a PC. They run about $15.00.
As an alternative for game developers, a single game at a time can be loaded into the CC3's SRAM using the serial connection. (Schematics for the serial cable are in the manual, cable not included.) The serial mode does not require that a MicroSD card be installed in the CC3. The serial mode cannot be used to load games onto the MicroSD card. Games loaded via serial port are erased from the CC3 memory as soon as the Intellivision is turned off.
Are there any games that won't work?
World Series Major League Baseball will not properly with the Intellivoice because it requires special bankswitching and the extra portion of the ROM containing much of the voice information is not legally available. Other games might be found to be incompatible as well, especially any prototypes discovered that use the same bankswitching as WSMLB.
How many games can it hold?It can easily hold the entire Intellivision Library many times over using a 16MB or larger MicroSD card.
Does it come with a warranty?
The Cuttle Cart 3, like all Schell's Electronics products, comes with a 90 day warranty against defects in material and workmanship.
What's a MicroSD Card, where can I get one?
CC3 has MicroSD card included.A MicroSD Card is a particular type of flash memory card, most commonly used in cell phones. It is also known as a Transflash card. These are very small cards.
Please be sure you get a *MICRO*SD card, not a MiniSD, or normal SD card. The MicroSD is the smallest of the three, and the only one that will work with the CC3.
MicroSD cards are available at most big electronics stores and many department stores, such as Best Buy or Walmart in the USA. They are available online starting at about $10.00 as well.
Note: The CC3 will only work with MicroSD cards built to the 1.0 spec, which limits the cards to capacities of 1GB or smaller. I recommend using cards between 32MB-512MB in size, and from a name brand, such as Lexar or SanDisk. For the record, I built the CC3 using SanDisk's literature and SanDisk cards. (16MB cards work as well, but require special formatting instructions under Windows to be used with the CC3.)
Also please note that MicroSDHC cards are not backwards compatible with MicroSD cards. MicroSDHC cards will NOT work in the CC3. Any card over 1GB in size is either a MicroSDHC or a non 1.0 standards compliant MicroSD card and will almost certainly NOT work in the CC3.
What you get:
What you need in addition to this to use the CC3: