SNES FLASH/ROM Project Teaser

Update: project completed and posted here.

I’ve been working on a small device to let you ‘burn’ your own code to a chip and run it on a Super Nintendo. The main point of the device is to allow me to create customized versions of NBA JAM and play them on SNES hardware. My device replaces the stock ROM chip inside the SNES game cartridge. I just finished the design and sent the files off for the board to be manufactured.

It’s a two-layer board, black soldermask, white silkscreen. Hand routed (meaning I made all the connections by hand rather than letting the computer do it automatically…the auto-router is trash) with a ground pour on the bottom layer, and a 5V pour on the top layer.

The board has a 3D model for every part — I spent many an hour struggling with Solidworks and STEP files to get everything how I wanted it. My excuse? I’m not a mechanical engineer!

The brain of the board is an Atmel ATMEGA32u4 microcontroller, which is admittedly heavy overkill for this project. I wanted to play with the chip though, so I ordered a couple. You could probably even get away with an ATMEGA16u2 but the packages they come in are less hobbyist friendly.

What is sorta cool about this board is that pretty much every pin is broken out from the ATMEGA32u4, so the board could also be used as a generic breakout board with a little manual reworking.

There are solder pads to connect an Atmel ISP programmer, should one choose to program the device that way. I intend to experiment with the preloaded Atmel USB bootloader, which allows you to update program code over a USB connection without any special programming device.

It’s hard to tell the relative size of this board from the pictures, but it’s very small – about 1″ x 2.5″. (Which made all that hand-routing super tedious!)

Here is what the board actually looks like ‘behind-the-scenes’. You can see the connections and ground/5V pours. The ‘top’ layer of the board is in red, while the ‘bottom’ is blue.

To ensure all my footprints were correct, I had my design laser cut into some cardboard @ Pumping Station One. This worked out really well and actually turned out to be very helpful. The footprint I had made for the 16 MHz oscillator was technically correct, but fairly difficult to hand-solder. I widened up the pads a bit and that should make it easier for me to assemble.

I will have more info and pictures in the upcoming days – the boards should be here in a couple weeks. I ordered from the folks at iTead Studio.

I’ll take some pictures during the assembly and testing of the boards, and some final shots of everything working in perfect harmony all on the first go. (Yeah, right.)

Design files –schematics, Gerbers and  a BOM — for the project will be released once the boards come back to me and test out OK.

9 Responses to “SNES FLASH/ROM Project Teaser”

  1. Tijmen June 15, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Hi great project you got here! I would be very interested in helping you an testing you product i would ven buy it.

    I am studying electrical engineering and love playing snes with friends its just so sad some games are not available to all.:(

    • Tijmen June 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

      Ok let me a bit more clear on that i was just so exciting seeing a product like this on hack a day. If you start selling it for around 50 euro’s i will definitly buy one.

      • dext3r June 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

        thanks! two things: 1) If there is more interest, a software rewrite would be needed. It’s nowhere near commercial quality. 2) this cant run every SNES ROM :( Different games uses different memory mapping chips. i basically designed this to work with NBA JAM T.E. It may work with other games, but I’m not sure which ones, really. If you want a cart that works with all games, check out the SNES PowerPak or the sd2snes project!

        • sonicdude10 June 15, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

          Very cool. BTW, you forgetting another SNES flash cart: Everdrive SNES also called the Super Everdrive. This thing uses the more common SD cards for ROM loading. High game compatibility if not all games can be played.

          • dext3r June 15, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

            true! that Everdrive looks baller. thanks for the post.

      • Kaz June 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

        There’s a new one I haven’t seen much press about, but it’s basically one of the old SNES copiers reworked and put into a cartridge with an SD slot. Just Google for “superufo pro 8″ and it should come up. Looks like Amazon sells it for 60 bucks, and Focalprice sells it worldwide for $67 (a little over 50 Euro). It probably is not quite as good as some of those other ones in terms of compatibility, but it’s cheap and exists today…

  2. Tijmen June 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    Have you looked at the prices of those cards?!

    Yours can offer same feature set, and don’t have to cost that much to me, i can make it myself. And I also don’t like finished products let me do my own tweaking!(all of this exclude everyday life items)

  3. Number6 June 20, 2012 at 1:55 am #

    So, I want one of these. Looking forward to the files :D

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