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Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:14 pm
by Revenant
I can't believe I didn't notice this before, but the Satellaview EXT connector is nearly just an 8-bit version of the parallel ATA/IDE interface; even part of the pinout is virtually identical:


Since the ATA-1 standard does allow for enabling 8-bit transfers, you could theoretically hook it up to such a drive and get the following register mapping (based on Table 6 in the spec):

Code: Select all

Command block:
$21A0:      data (R/W)
$21A1:      error register (R) / features (W)
$21A2:      sector count (R/W)
$21A3:      sector number / LBA bits 0-7 (R/W)
$21A4:      cylinder LSB  / LBA bits 8-15 (R/W)
$21A5:      cylinder MSB  / LBA bits 16-23 (R/W)
$21A6:      drive/head    / LBA bits 24-27 (R/W)
$21A7:      status + ack. IRQ (R) / command (W)

Control block:
$21A8-21AD: open bus
$21AE:      status (R) / device control (W)
$21AF:      drive address (R)

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:23 am
by calima
What's that in practical terms? Someone with a Satellaview can hook up a CF card, and have their game contain 128 GB of data?

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:15 am
by nocash
Cool, that does in fact look very similar - and it does explain why they came up with two chip selects instead of using a fourth address line.

Hmmm, I was always thinking that PC's did have some sort of "HDD controller", but looking at the pinout, it does more seem as if they did only have some "address decoder" and did merely forward the chipselects to the actual controller in the drive.
Revenant wrote:Since the ATA-1 standard does allow for enabling 8-bit transfers, you could theoretically hook it up to such a drive...
Do you have some info which drives support 8bit transfers, up to which capacity, from which era?

As far as I remember somebody made a homebrew adaptor for connecting 16bit-only drives to 8bit computers using a dirty trick: It's simply leaving each second byte unused, so you get only half of the drive capacity. The advantage is that it should work with all 40pin/parallel drives, and even halved capacity should be huge for SNES standards. The downside is that one couldn't swap the drive between 8bit and 16bit computers because they'd either see each 2nd byte missing, or see garbage bytes inserted between each byte.

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:44 am
by Revenant
nocash wrote:Do you have some info which drives support 8bit transfers, up to which capacity, from which era?
No idea about specific drives, unfortunately.

In terms of era, the standards timeline looks like:
  • ATA-1 published in 1994, declared obsolete in 1999
  • ATA-2 published in 1996, declared obsolete in 2001
  • ATA-3 published in 1997, no longer allows 8-bit transfers
It might be safe to assume that most IDE drives made during the lifespan of the Satellaview (or at least the earlier years) could be usable in 8bit mode.

(note: I also edited my previous post since I think I had the IDE CS0 and CS1 signals the wrong way around previously)

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:17 am
by calima
The CF spec requires that all compliant cards support 8-bit transfers in True-IDE mode using Set Features as you discovered. So you are guaranteed this will work for all CF cards.

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:10 pm
by Revenant
Interesting. Sounds like a CF/EXT adapter would be the way to go, then, but since there's no BIOS support I have no idea what it'd actually be useful for aside from some extravagant homebrew project...

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:08 pm
by nocash
As the HDD interface is mainly consisting of an address decoder, one won't even need the BSX base unit for that, one could as well built some small circuit that decodes 21Axh, and wire it to the SNES mainboard, expansion port, or cartridge slot.

Extravagant homebrew... how about porting the unreleased Super CD BIOS to load unreleased CD games from the unreleased HDD interface instead of from the unreleased CDROM interface. And of course, for the best of best extravagancy: after finishing that homebrew project - keep it unreleased!

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:32 pm
by DaveyPocket
Story time!
"Nintendo, for example, showed the Kittyhawk team an entertainment system they had already designed, unbeknownst to HP, with a slot for a Kittyhawk drive to be plugged in—a module that could contain many more games, with much more sophisticated graphics, than Nintendo’s conventional cartridge approach. ‘The system is all set,’ the Nintendo representative persuaded. ‘All you have to do is sell us your drive for $50.’ When White protested that the Kittyhawk’s accelerometer alone (required for shock resistance) rendered the $50 price impossible, Nintendo responded that they did not need the accelerometer— they just needed 20 megabytes at $50, cheap and simple."
Citation: Clayton M. Christensen. (2006). Hewlett-Packard: The Flight of the Kittyhawk (A). HBS No. 606-088. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.
Excerpt used with permission.

In reference to the HP Kittyhawk hard drive. This hard drive was introduced in 1992, plausible that this is what was intended for the Satellaview.

For some context, the quote is from a case study on the HP Kittyhawk hard drive project from a business standpoint. The study did mention that Nintendo was a potential customer and showed interest in the hard drive after the idea of a miniature mass storage device was pitched to Nintendo marketing manager at a trade show. What 'system' the quote mentions can be up for interpretation but I am placing bets on the Satellaview.

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:21 pm
by DaveyPocket
Out of curiosity, I found a Dauphin DTR-1 tablet - an old portable touch screen MS-DOS tablet produced around 1993. It has a Kittyhawk hard drive in it. I purchased to see how the drive would fit.

Comparison of the Kittyhawk drive next to 0.01CAD inside of the Satellaview EXT bay.

Plenty of room to build a plastic enclosure around this and fit an adapter to connect the hard drive to EXT port.

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 2:11 am
by calima
I have a Microdrive or two somewhere, larger IBM models IIRC, a GB or few. They come in the CF form factor, with a CF connector. Early iPods used those.

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:36 am
by Revenant
Pretty interesting find about the Kittyhawk drives. A small form factor drive like that would have made sense for a console peripheral, but it sure is small for the amount of space in the actual bay.

I started prototyping a CF adapter board just for fun earlier this week, I might post the KiCad files / some example software to read the card whenever I start writing the latter (probably sometime next week).

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 2:00 pm
by Revenant
This took longer to get around to doing than I meant it to, but I managed to successfully read a CF card through the Satellaview EXT port: images here

In doing this, I designed a passive adapter using a CF breakout board connected to my own small custom board ordered from OSHPark. The KiCAD files and small demo ROM are here:

Still no idea what this would ever actually be useful for, but at least it's a successful proof of concept :)

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:27 pm
by LuigiBlood
Well DaveyPocket got ahold of a BS Encoder (Kenwood BS-3600), and it generates BS signals from back then, and guess what?

(Warning: Loud)
It works on the Satellaview hardware! :)

This will be super helpful. Hoping to find some documentation on the device actually.

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:27 am
by nocash
Uh, what is that "Kenwood BS-3600"? It looks like a beep-generator with train-station-sized LED display... or does it have some slightly more useful features like converting incoming analog or digital audio to digital BS format? And what was that thing good for, was it for broadcast stations, or was it some sort must-have daily madness home wifi equipment?
Anyways, it's a pretty good finding for testing the satellaview hardware.

Re: BS-X Satellaview Datapak's

Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:38 pm
by DaveyPocket
The BS-3600 is capable of encoding video and digital audio to the standards compatible with BS decoder set-top boxes. There is a built-in function generator to test the audio channels. It has the capability of accepting external audio input from an external analog-to-digital converter (which I do not have). It might be capable of encoding auxiliary data but I am unaware as I do not own documentation for this device. The BS-3600 seems to be intended for manufacturing/repair/testing of BS-related equipment, definitely not intended for the consumer market.