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 Post subject: Barcode Boy not working?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:29 pm 
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So, I recently acquired a Barcode Boy, a couple of games (Battle Space and Monster Maker) and a couple of cards that go with each game. My goal is to document and preserve this thing (via emulation) before it's forgotten by history. I have the hardware, but apparently I'm heading into a bit of trouble already. The Barcode Boy lights up and it seems fine (makes a high-pitched whine, but I assume that might be normal). The unit has a serial port for the 1st generation of Game Boys (clunky gray "bricks" aka DMGs) but I don't own one yet, so I used the Universal Link Cable (MGB-010) which is supposed to connect a DMG port with a GBC or GBA port. My process is:

1) Connect Barcode Boy and GBC via Universal Link Cable
2) Turn on Barcode Boy and GBC
3) Play either Battle Space or Monster Maker
4) Once past title screen, games perpetually ask me to turn on Barcode Boy (" バーコード ボーイの でんげんを いれなおしてください")

So, a couple of possibilities:

1) Barcode Boy is broken. Hopefully not, the seller said it was in working order, but perhaps they only checked if the light came on. Perhaps it was damaged during transit (all the way from Hokkaido) but it was double-boxed with no visible damage anywhere.

2) Universal Link Cable is broken. It works with GBC-to-GBC games just fine, tested it today. However, I have never used the DMG-to-GBC end of the cable... It's an old thing that came with the Game Boy Printer, and again, I don't yet have an original DMG to test that out.

3) For some reason, the Barcode Boy only works with the DMG and nothing else? Would this even be possible? Perhaps its serial port was only designed to handle the original DMG, and for whatever reason, adapters simply won't work. I'm not a hardware person, so I don't even know if that sounds crazy or not. The included cable is very short, however, like less than 4in or ~10cm, maybe it was designed with that in mind?

4) I'm doing it wrong. I dunno, I read the manual, and although my Japanese is basic, the instructions basically amount to "plug it in, turn it on".

Just wondering if anyone has any knowledge that might help me get this working with my games. I have a DMG on order sometime in the next 2 weeks, so I'll know for certain if it's something weird that only works with the DMG. So far, it's failed to work with my MGB, GBC, and AGBs. Ideally, I'd like to exhaust all possible options before I have to throw down more money to get another one (they're not cheap or easy to find).

I really want to see this thing properly emulated and documented. So far all I have is how the Game Boy detects a Barcode Boy and a few hunches. Nuclear option is full disassembly of Battle Space and studying the barcodes I have, but even if proper emulation is achieved like that, it's still missing hardware verification. Thanks for any and all responses!


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:26 pm 
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No replies, eh? No worries, I got everything working anyway :mrgreen:

Apparently, the Barcode Boy WILL NOT WORK with other Game Boys via the Universal Link Cable. Only a 1st generation Game Boy (DMG) seems to work. I just got mine in the mail, and thankfully both Battle Space and Monster Maker recognize the Barcode Boy! I have no idea why this is; the only thing I can think of is that the DMG can drive more voltage/power/current or whatever over its serial port. Any GB hardware buffs know anything about that?

Anyway, I am in the process of intercepting Serial I/O data from card scans so I can see what the data looks like. Preliminary analysis shows that the barcode data format for the Barcode Boy is probably almost exactly like Barcode Taisen Bardigun. Looks totally different from something like Barcode Taisen Bardigun. The Barcode Boy seems to have a more complex protocol (like the GB Printer?). I literally just opened the data dumps I made, so can't say what's going on 100%. Will post the rest of my findings sometime soon, likely Tuesday. I guess I'm open to any questions if anyone is curious.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:46 pm 
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IANA DMG HW buff, but

They changed the link cable format pretty much every model, iirc, actually.

Power wouldn't surprise me; I expect the later kinds (which all used smaller or fewer batteries) had less to spare even if they did make other things more efficient.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:03 pm 
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Myask wrote:
They changed the link cable format pretty much every model, iirc, actually.


Yeah, I remember being annoyed at that a lot when I was a kid. From DMG to MGB/GBC to AGB/AGS, all the way to OXY. It was always a pain trying to figure out which cables you needed for whichever friends came over to play :D

Myask wrote:
Power wouldn't surprise me; I expect the later kinds (which all used smaller or fewer batteries) had less to spare even if they did make other things more efficient.


Honestly what really took me by surprise was that the adapters specifically meant to connect GBCs to DMG serial ports didn't help. I guess it does make sense given that the Gen 2 port on the GB Pocket wasn't introduced until around 1996 and the Barcode Boy was introduced in 1992. Namcot probably never thought the Barcode Boy would have to work with anything other than a DMG, so maybe they designed it to be a bit of a power hog. I was somehow hoping that Universal Link Cable would have handled everything though.

On the other hand, I still find this all very fascinating. The Barcode Boy is hardware that's only accessible on the oldest Game Boy model (which is approaching 30 in a couple of years), so its preservation is definitely a priority. There's not much info on it, and the only decent resource I found that extensively wrote about the Barcode Boy said it should work with an adapter, so it's rather exciting to come across new data like this.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:22 pm 
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Shonumi wrote:
Myask wrote:
They changed the link cable format pretty much every model, iirc, actually.


Yeah, I remember being annoyed at that a lot when I was a kid. From DMG to MGB/GBC to AGB/AGS, all the way to OXY. It was always a pain trying to figure out which cables you needed for whichever friends came over to play :D
Huh, i thought the Pocket had a different one than GBC. But, there are like four or five v1-v2 connector-cable options, accordng to Wikipedia

Though you did skip the GCN-GBA cable.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:23 am 
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Alright, so I thoroughly studied the Barcode Boy. Got the barcode format figured out and how it transmits data to the Game Boy. For anyone curious, here's the technical documentation I wrote up about it -> https://gist.github.com/shonumi/291f16c ... 5306b71c89


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