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Playpower Challenges

Page history last edited by Derek Lomas 11 years, 10 months ago

Current Challenge:

"Discover how to read the keyboard output of the SUBOR $10 home computer."

CHALLENGE DEFEATED! By Brian Parker of RetroUSB.com 

Read the solution here


  1. Dump the Cartridge ROMs that are included with the SUBOR.  Pictures of the cartridges are here and here. Notice that they have an SST Flash memory chip!!
    1. You will need either an EPROM burner/reader or the CopyNES from retrozone.
    2. This may be a lead to a simple AVR-based EPROM/Flash Dumper/Writer:  AVR EPROM Dumper
    3. You will need to reverse engineer the pinout.  This NES<->SUBOR adaptor will help.
    4. Then we may need to make our own adaptor to read the cartridges, save them to disk, and publish them.
  2. It will also be useful to understand the hardware interface of the VT02 chip to the keyboard.
    1. This page begins documenting some of the various hardware pins of the SUBOR chipset.
  3. Disassemble the Code on the ROMs and discover where the keyboard-reading code is. 
    1. We will be posting some tools to help with this soon on our Google Code Archive.
    2. The manual for the VT02, the NOAC on the SUBOR, will help.  Get it here:  VT02 Data Sheet RevisionA5_ENG__1.pdf
    3. The following page is where we're keeping notes on reverse-engineering the keyboard.
  4. Make a custom cartridge the proves the keyboard routines work.
    1. You can buy a SUBOR to work with from the Maker Shed here:  Maker Shed SUBOR.
    2. You can debug the code using the PlayPower JavaScript in-browser SUBOR emulator, which is based on the JSNES in-browser NES emulator.  For fastest running, use google Chrome browser.
  5. Hand off the code to developers to make a typing program to help underprivileged kids learn to type!

Read the solution here


Upcoming Challenges:


  1. Reproduce the tape player socket functionality of the famicom keyboard
  2. Successfully port a game from another 8-bit platform
  3. Develop source code that accepts keyboard input
  4. 1-click download of all relevant development tools
  5. Create a Code-to-hardware testing pipeline, enabling us to test code directly on a Famiclone 


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