Cart/Box/Manual Manufacturing Options?

Discuss hardware-related topics, such as development cartridges, CopyNES, PowerPak, EPROMs, or whatever.

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Goose2k
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Cart/Box/Manual Manufacturing Options?

Post by Goose2k » Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:15 pm

I'm just starting to think about a possible physical cart release (for some time down the road), and I'm not totally sure what kind of options are out there. I'm struggling to find solid, up to date info.

Does anyone know of a good article or post that kind of captures everything involved in releasing a physic cart? From boards, to chips, to box, to manual, to shipping, to online store?

It's super early for me in the process, so apologies for being so broad with my question.

I know of RetroUSB, Broke Studios, and Infinite NES Lives. But even then, I'm not totally clear what they do (do they just supply parts, do you just send them a ROM and they take it from there, or something in between?). I've also seen places on AliExpress that I can just send them a ROM and they will send me a flashed cart. Any experience with that? Sounds like a good way to be pirated day 1. :lol:

I don't think I have the skills or equipment to do it all myself, so I was kind of hoping to find some place that helps a lot.

Anyway, as I mentioned, this is just a twinkle in my eye at this point. Just want to start reading up, and don't really feel comfortable reaching out to those companies at this point. :oops:

Thanks!

calima
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Re: Cart/Box/Manual Manufacturing Options?

Post by calima » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:11 am

The three you mentioned as well as MegaCat can do the entire thing; send a ROM and the manual/box data, let them build and sell. INL also sells cart parts, several other shops do too, if you were to make the carts yourself. Box and manual can be done by most print shops. Etc etc.

As your game is NROM, there are "no soldering" options available for making the carts. So for very small runs (or low prices/low margin) you would buy a few of those and a compatible programmer, write the ROM to the boards yourself, and assemble the cart plus sticker. New cart shells are sold in many places, in many colors.

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Re: Cart/Box/Manual Manufacturing Options?

Post by tokumaru » Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:40 am

Whatever you do, never go the AliExpress route! Those cartridges are known to use modern 3V parts without the voltage converters necessary to make them work safely with the 5V of the NES. This will fry the cartridge and possibly the console over time.

It's a shame that a few greedy cartridge manufacturers are doing this and basically ruining the retro/homebrew scene, causing old hardware to fail at a faster rate than normal.

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Re: Cart/Box/Manual Manufacturing Options?

Post by Memblers » Fri Jul 03, 2020 4:37 am

I supply boards to people who are self-publishing, and also some releases of The 6502 Collective, who publishes games for others.

For now, I only have GTROM ($9.50) and GTMP3 ($17). Assembled and tested. I can supply them pre-loaded, or the user does it themselves with a programmer (INLretro recommended).

Frank Westphal, developer of Armed for Battle, is one person I know who makes excellent quality boxes, manuals, cart sleeves. Otherwise, I'd recommend asking the 6502 collective.

I also have Playchoice-10 boards for NROM and GTROM. I could make Nintendo VS kits.

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Re: Cart/Box/Manual Manufacturing Options?

Post by Goose2k » Fri Jul 03, 2020 2:19 pm

tokumaru wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:40 am
Whatever you do, never go the AliExpress route! Those cartridges are known to use modern 3V parts without the voltage converters necessary to make them work safely with the 5V of the NES. This will fry the cartridge and possibly the console over time.

It's a shame that a few greedy cartridge manufacturers are doing this and basically ruining the retro/homebrew scene, causing old hardware to fail at a faster rate than normal.
I asked a guy in China directly about this, and he says:

Me: "do you use modern 3V parts without the voltage converters necessary to make them work safely with the 5V of the NES?"
Them: "We can make mapper0 games, we use 3.3V LDO regulator to convert 5V to 3.3V for the 3.3V components"

Is this something I could easily verify looking at the carts? (sorry I don't know anything about electronics)
Memblers wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 4:37 am
I supply boards to people who are self-publishing, and also some releases of The 6502 Collective, who publishes games for others.

For now, I only have GTROM ($9.50) and GTMP3 ($17). Assembled and tested. I can supply them pre-loaded, or the user does it themselves with a programmer (INLretro recommended).

Frank Westphal, developer of Armed for Battle, is one person I know who makes excellent quality boxes, manuals, cart sleeves. Otherwise, I'd recommend asking the 6502 collective.

I also have Playchoice-10 boards for NROM and GTROM. I could make Nintendo VS kits.
I sent a message to Frank. Thanks for that tip!

Do you know if the conversion from NROM to GTROM difficult? I am writing everything in C (NESLib) if that is relevant.

And I assume your prices are in USD? Do they include shipping (I am in Vancouver Canada).

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Re: Cart/Box/Manual Manufacturing Options?

Post by Memblers » Fri Jul 03, 2020 6:41 pm

Goose2k wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 2:19 pm
tokumaru wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:40 am
Whatever you do, never go the AliExpress route! Those cartridges are known to use modern 3V parts without the voltage converters necessary to make them work safely with the 5V of the NES. This will fry the cartridge and possibly the console over time.

It's a shame that a few greedy cartridge manufacturers are doing this and basically ruining the retro/homebrew scene, causing old hardware to fail at a faster rate than normal.
I asked a guy in China directly about this, and he says:

Me: "do you use modern 3V parts without the voltage converters necessary to make them work safely with the 5V of the NES?"
Them: "We can make mapper0 games, we use 3.3V LDO regulator to convert 5V to 3.3V for the 3.3V components"

Is this something I could easily verify looking at the carts? (sorry I don't know anything about electronics)
An LDO regulator will give a 3.3V supply to the flash chip, but the inputs will still be getting 5V from the NES, which is out of spec for the parts. The right way to do it is to either use 5V parts only, or use 3.3V parts and have 5V-to-3.3V level translators for the inputs.

Those 3V carts don't have the best reputation among people who buy homebrew games. They normally are used for bootleg carts. Releases I'm aware of:
8-bit Music Power - I guess it works on common clones, but not so well on a real system. It seems that some people who bought it modified the board to make it work.
VGBS Season 1 - Bought this through a Kickstarter, it was cheap at least. It appears the mapper has problems, it worked before but last time I tried it the CHR bankswitching was broken.
Quest Forge - critically acclaimed, but seemed like a lot of people were not happy that it was released on a 3V cart.
Goose2k wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 2:19 pm
Memblers wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 4:37 am
I supply boards to people who are self-publishing, and also some releases of The 6502 Collective, who publishes games for others.

For now, I only have GTROM ($9.50) and GTMP3 ($17). Assembled and tested. I can supply them pre-loaded, or the user does it themselves with a programmer (INLretro recommended).

Frank Westphal, developer of Armed for Battle, is one person I know who makes excellent quality boxes, manuals, cart sleeves. Otherwise, I'd recommend asking the 6502 collective.

I also have Playchoice-10 boards for NROM and GTROM. I could make Nintendo VS kits.
I sent a message to Frank. Thanks for that tip!

Do you know if the conversion from NROM to GTROM difficult? I am writing everything in C (NESLib) if that is relevant.

And I assume your prices are in USD? Do they include shipping (I am in Vancouver Canada).
Those are USD and doesn't include shipping. NROM is easy to convert, I have an automated tool for it actually and some NROM games have been released with it. The only problem you can run into is with the nametables, since it's 4-screen. If you display a "mirrored" portion of the nametable, on GTROM it will be actual memory and not mirrored. Also, GTROM isn't compatible with some of the poorly designed clones, because of the nametable memory. Those clones have problems with some official carts, too. It works fine with properly designed clones.

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Goose2k
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Re: Cart/Box/Manual Manufacturing Options?

Post by Goose2k » Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:05 pm

Thanks Memblers! I'll reach out in PM if I end up making a physical release and going with GTROM (the name table issues you mentioned shouldn't be a problem; I have very minimal, 1 direction scrolling).

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