Sparkoids

Which FPGA Board Please?

16 posts in this topic

I am completely new to this so please be gentle!

I want a stand alone board to run arcade games where I program the PCB and put it into an arcade cabinet and leave it doing nothing but that.

I am interested in Space Invaders and Bomb Jack.

Is the Papilo Pro a suitable platform for both these games please? I don't want to use a Raspberry Pi or other emulator so just need the simplest and cheapest platform to do it on.

Thanks in advance...

James :-}

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papilio pro (+arcade megawing)/papilio duo (+computing shield) are fine for space invaders (and its many many many many many many clones)

[check out romvault papilio edition]    http://gadgetfactory.net/learn/2015/12/15/rom-vault-papilio-edition-for-papilio-arcade/

there is a video at the bottom of the page...

 

bombjack is a bit different since it was ported to the papilio plus (which is a different beast all together)

vlait i believe was considering porting it to papilio pro/papilio duo but i dont know if he ever started/finished

 

connecting the papilio to an arcade cabinet...  thats a tough one.  are you planning on leaving the original tube in there? converting to lcd?

do you know how to build a harness for the controls?  lots of questions that you need to decide on before i can give you a proper coherent answer :)

 

 

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Hi Felix,

 

That's fantastic. The Rom Vault looks like a must have. On the arcade front I intend to run an LCD with VGA and put it through a scan line generator. (I know it's actually making every other line black by grounding it). I have numerous cabinets and various boards such as the Namco Ms-Pac/Galaga reissue but fancy giving the FPGA a shot. 

On the harness front I can fix that - we do electronics where I work at a way higher level (BGA's and the like). It is just knowing which boards to buy, configure and leave alone.

Thanks for the reply in the meantime :-}

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i dont remember if the bitfiles have a setting for scanlines or not nor am i sure how well the vga output from the papilio will work with the scan line generator.  

i dont have an SLG so i can't test..

if i was going to do it, i would get the

arcade megawing (if you are using a papilio pro)

OR

classic computing shield (if you are using a papilio duo)

Eagle CAD files from the gadgetfactory github account, and add a JAMMA connector to route the coin switches / start button and controllers to the proper place,

leaving the VGA connector intact.  maybe add in a voltage regulator to power the papilio from the 5v line..

that way you can swap boards/papilio out whenever you want. (assuming you have a cga2vga box .. cheap from china)

i considered designing one awhile back but

a ) i don't have a cabinet

b ) i cant solder those tiny SMDs used on the shields. heck, i can barely see them :D

c ) the gadgetfactory community doesn't seem to have much interest in the arcade games =/

 

alternately you can do a fingerboard to DE-9  (DB-9 ugh) and have access to everything on the joystick

and wire up the coin/start to the shield itself (via the push buttons on the shield)

 

either way, lots of options..

feel free to ask questions and i will respond the best i can

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Papilio Pro is a great dev board, but if you want to integrate it into a game cabinet it's huge overkill, especially for a game as simple as SI. For what it's worth, I have Space Invaders running on a $13 Cyclone II FPGA board I got from ebay, using only an external EEPROM or SRAM, a pair of resistors for the video and a simple RC filter for the audio. I'm running Galaxian on the same board, but PacMan requires more ROM and the two ROM areas do not share the same bus. Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe are also working, using a small vector monitor I built myself. Any of the Papilio boards will run SI, and most of the other Midway 8080 games ought to work with minimal effort though some used special controllers. Bomb Jack is a bit different as outlined above, but no matter what FPGA you use, you'll probably find that most arcade games are memory constrained. For example most of the classics that have been implemented in FPGA form will fit easily in the old Papilio 250 except there is not enough block memory to hold all of the ROM and RAM. By adding some ROM and/or RAM externally you can greatly expand what the FPGA can do.

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Hi, Bombjack works ok on Papilio DUO, can't remember if it would be possible to get it running on a PRO (DRAM access time might be the limiting factor)

You don't necessarily need a scanline generator, the internal scan doubler can easily be modified to blank(or dim) every second line.

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I realized I forgot to mention isn't there a Papilio Nano? That would be ideal for this sort of thing, basic low cost board without all the extra stuff that isn't needed when it's being built into a cabinet. The Midway 8080 games will run on that with nothing more than a couple resistors to mix the video and sync and a resistor and capacitor for the audio.
 

IMHO classic games look like sh!t on LCD monitors, CRT is the only way to go, nothing else looks right at all and I cringe whenever I see a classic cabinet with one of those nasty looking LCD monitors stuffed into it. Driving a CRT arcade monitor from an FPGA is fairly easy, some of them have enough headroom that they will work with the VGA levels, otherwise you just need an amplifier for each of the 3 colors. This can be as simple as a single transistor or you can get single IC's specifically designed as video amplifiers.

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The Papilio Nano is still a work in progress.. Still trying to find a solution for the reset issue.

Jack.

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With the USB PHY's that we are using if there is no USB core on the FPGA then there is no way to load a bit file to the device without manually pressing the reset button. I'm not happy with that solution and am thinking that it will be best to redo the Papilio Nano with a USB to serial chip instead of the USB PHY. Let the USB PHY be an optional Wing.

I also have to work out how the bootloader process is going to work which I will be doing on the Papilio Flex board first.

Jack.

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What about making the USB to serial chip a separate board that can be connected for programming? I like the idea of the nano being a minimal board, something that is simple and inexpensive enough to be built into a project, for example develop on one of the bigger Papilio boards and then wire up a nano with just the stuff you need and make it a permanent part of the project. One could just develop directly on the Nano depending on needs.

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3 minutes ago, james1095 said:

What about making the USB to serial chip a separate board that can be connected for programming? I like the idea of the nano being a minimal board, something that is simple and inexpensive enough to be built into a project, for example develop on one of the bigger Papilio boards and then wire up a nano with just the stuff you need and make it a permanent part of the project. One could just develop directly on the Nano depending on needs.

 

i agree.

separate the programming hw from the rest of the nano.  that way you should be able to produce a cheaper board.

and a separate board that can be used to program multiple nano's. 

probably a good idea to ship the nano with a USB core preloaded too...

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That is actually what I'm doing with Papilio Flex. :)

I'm testing out the method of just using an FTDI 6 pin connector so the board itself is as cheap as humanely possible, but can be expanded out to anything you would need.

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