Putting those to new use is better than seeing them thrown away eventually.
I sure agree, but keep in mind there is no unlimited source of existing NES carts. In europe, it is serioulsy rare to find used NES games to sale as opposed to GameBoy, Gameboy color and SNES games wich you can found pretty much easily. I don't know in america, but I just think it's better to keep carts for collectors (and by all means NOT to throw them away !!). I'm not totally against recycling carts, I just don't think it's a very good idea to goal to do any mass production with used carts. Anyway, due to the low quantity and quality of homebrewn games available right now, I don't think it's a question to solve immediately, because nothing will be mass producted right now.
But if anyone wants to pursue that goal, be my guest. I'm just saying that I personally would have null interest in boards whose functionality is identical to cheap carts, minus the CIC and plastic case.
With the exact same funcitonality, I agree. But imagine a card you could just erase and re-write and switch from mapper to mapper as you like. Squeedo is just another complex mapper, and it cannot run games not designed for it. That's not bad at all, just a whole different thing.
A such cart would really be cool, I think. I think it is worth developping *one* prototype that could help developement and allow people to play commercial game they doesn't have. (don't bother me with legal issues here please, because you just cannot found every game arround at least not for a decent price).
About the package, I have strictly no idea how hard it is to make any. Wisdom Tree and Codemasters didn't seem to have any trouble doing it, but again maybe they just did have more money and knowledge than us. I partialy agree with Bananmos, I found somewhat ridiculous to place a brand new board in an old plastic package and let the old board away, unless that card in question has amazing features of course.
My vote would be for the following ideal (all in ONE cart) :
- Connectable to a computer via any kind of common parallel or serial port (USB comes in mind, but I don't think if it's doable).
- A PC software would come with and would just be able to control the cart from your computer
- A programmable logic (CPLD) could handle most common mappers (not ALL mappers of course) in hardware, and could be rewritable trough the computer with a plugin system.
- You can manually force the CPLD to some state emulating a mapper
- You can 'burn' internal PRGROMs and CHRROMs (done with any system such as backuped SRAMs, Flashroms, EEPROMs, etc...) with raw ".bin" files
- You can burn a iNES and maybe UNIF ROM on your card that will automatically detect PRG/CHR sizes and the CPLD plugin corresponding and write stuff on the card.
- You can manually force an internal battery backed WRAM with any ".sav" file on your PC
- You can dump the on-board battery backed WRAM and save it on a ".sav" file on your PC
- The cart could hold PRGROM up to 512kb, CHROM up to 512kb and 8kb of CHRRAM (typically only one of them will be connected trough the CPLD).
- The WRAM in the cart can be disabled trough the CPLD to run games without SRAM, it could also have various size in funciton of the mapper/submapper implemented (typically 8kb, 16kb and 32kb). Of couse the actual size will always be 32kb, but not the whole thing will be acessible in most cases.
- On board CIC defeater, so that most people will be able to play it without any modifictions. Of couse it won't be very acurate, but in the case it isn't, you just can cut pin 4... Personally I've both a modified and unmodified NES.
- It would be a pain to inser the PC connector (USB or whathever) inside an existing NES plastic package
- Somewhat expensive, but it's a one-time investisment
- Needs a lot of tought to put in developpement, but many people here have knowledge
- Needs a donor card only for the package (?). However, most of us already have a board/cart you've destroyed by error, or a game you hate so much you don't even want to recycle the board
- Need CIC defeater, and not all of them are accurate, unless the CIC gets completely reverse-engineered
- Need to be tricky to fit a NES package both horizontally and vertically
- Not all mappers will be supported
- Ridiculously high cost for mass-producting
- You have to rewrite the cart each time you want to make changes to your code or change game you're playing.
- This process will eventually damage the Flashroms/EEPROMs on the board above a few thousands of times.
- Easy to use
- You can test your code on the real hardware very easily without having any f**** soldering and rewiring to do, without talking about the EPROM programming issues and the fact that you cannot erase them without a UV light machine, and most people don't have one (at least I don't)
- You can play both homebrew and commercial games
- You can backup your saves on both homebrew games, as well as importing exploits you made with an emulator onto the real hardware !
- If it can hold NOROM, C*ROM, U*ROM, A*ROM, S*ROM, P*ROM, T*ROM and F*ROM, it can definitely hold 97% of the NES games library, and that is most likely to be possible on a CPLD. For the other 3% you can just go with the traditionnal donator cart issues.
- All chips can be SMD (PLCC and SO packaged) chips as well as DIP chips, because you just have to solder them once and all programming and so will be on board.
- Don't need any modification to the hardware nor any knowledge in electonics for the used (and modify an existing card definitely needs knowledge in electronics).
- Different plugins will be needed for each submappers, and for each small configuration available (such as mirroring).
Of couse this is only suggetions, but I think a such thing could be pretty idea. I can help in the developement of a such cart in questions, because I've some knowledge in electronics. If anyone does have ideas opposite to mine I won't be angry, but I just exposed my point of view. I just think developping a NES cart in hardware sounds so COOL !
Life is complex: it has both real and imaginary components.