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Matej

Build in Ethernet ESP32 Wifi

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I think internet/ethernet build into motherboard will be great. For playing multiplayer games online with friends. Also some kind of 2D virtual world / social network / MMO RPG / Scifi MMO will be cool. I am reading Neal Stephenson Snow Crash and He was inspired by C64 network game called  Habitat. Metaverse is world like from movie Ready Player One - Oasis. On Atari we have FujiNET based on ESP Wifi module. Also Wifi will be good for load uploading files to and from X16 SD card using PC or MAC etc. Wifi modules cost few USD. Like coffee latte or so. It will be nice feature.

Metaverse

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaverse

Habitat C64

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habitat_(video_game)

FujiNET

 

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For me, it's a feature that is best implemented as an expansion card (or maybe through the user port?); otherwise feature creep will increase cost and make the X16 ship a lot later. Besides, the added complexity means troubleshooting and support get trickier, so it's better to have a simpler platform at first and get it right.

However, I would say guidelines on how to create APIs for the X16 and expansion cards could be enough to ensure different implementations of ESP32-base expansion boards behave well together and with software that will use them. Having clear guidelines will also spur hardware development for the X16, which would be nice.

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I agree - this would be a great feature for an expansion card.

And I'm probably not the only one who wants to build one just for the fun of it, so please don't take that away by including it on the mainboard. 😉 Seriously, though - I don't think that this would be likely anyway. Including a Wifi module that could probably emulate the whole rest of the system without breaking a sweat would feel like a weird design decision to me. (Yes, I suppose the VERA hardware could probably do that too, but going for an FPGA solution for the video was a necessary, or at least quite reasonable, compromise in my opinion.)

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Come to think of it, a Snow Crash / Cyberpunk themed Habitat-like game for the X16 would be really cool.

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I regret I couldn't join Habitat because of different country and situation. I like the concept of Oasis a lot. I'm glad I was able to join Active Worlds. And I hope I will expiriance something similar to Habitat with X16.

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I am very interested in developing such an expansion card, too. This would be my first pcb(waaaaaayyyy - sorry, Peri...) project. I have done a lot of tinkering around ESPs though I am only an enthusiast.

That said, are there more people interested in doing so - and when is the design stable enough so that this interface card can be (at least physical) designed? 

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13 hours ago, TheUnknownDad said:

That said, are there more people interested in doing so - and when is the design stable enough so that this interface card can be (at least physical) designed? 

I try to join the facebook group but there is no answer yet.

I'd like to see first, if others have picked up this idea already and supporting them would be most effective. But nevertheless - being the Mr. Feature-Creep I am, what would you think should this card support?

My plan would be to integrate an ESP32 so there are lots of possibilies. Ideas comming to my mind:

  • Act as a modem (not RS/232)
  • having local storage for downloads
  • providing special transfer software
  • act as a cartridge so there is an easy way of accessing special transfer software (if this could be done with these cards - I don't see that from the "specs" so far)
  • Webbrowser proxy mode - do modifications so C64 can handle the site but special features still working
  • support modes for acting as a multiplayer gaming client AND server (offloading the TCP/IP-part of it)
  • provide API for multiplayer gaming
  • support download to (virtual) disk - especially normally attached (virtual) disk drives
  • open source design, software and hardware
  • target price of production:  €25 (sorry, I'm german) for PCB and parts, self build kit
  • ...
  • (please add your features here)

From the few specs regarding expansion cards that I found so far, there are some questions arising:

  • Ok, we get memory mapped I/O with 32 Bytes, but...
  • can we actually implement banked ROM?
  • can we access system memory directly from the card?
  • ...

So, who is up to this project?

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, TheUnknownDad said:

So, who is up to this project?

I am in no way able to help out with physical production, but I might be able to help out with writing software. Btw, I am from Denmark

Edited by JimmyDansbo
Adding locality information

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That's great. Software support is essential - I am still more into software but keep getting better at electronics.

Are you already in the facebook group?

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5 minutes ago, TheUnknownDad said:

Are you already in the facebook group?

Yes I am, have been since it started 😄

 

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Hm, how long did it take them to add you to the group? I am waiting for 12 hours now, possibly not much but I want to clear my mind of my ideas. That would work better if I knew, which direction to take. I hope to find some clues in that group. More technical information especially on the expansion port system. Is it worth waiting? 🙂

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This page is the official repository for all information regarding the CX16, all you will find on the FB page is "old" information and links to the same stuff as can be found here.

When that is said, I did a quick search on the group for ESP32 and found a post by @Lorin Millsap which I will paste here:

Ok. So I talked with our KERNEL guy and we have some conclusions and while these things could change these should be the way things will work and should establish some goals and guidelines regarding networking.
The default device ID#2 will be the on board RS232 which is handled by the KERNEL and uses a few of the user port pins just like the C64 did. It remains to be seen. In theory you can get good speeds out of it.
However this does not conflict with the development of an IEC network device.
So this is a call for you the community to get involved on making said device and I will simply outline a few requests on how it works and features it should definitely have.
1: It needs to be seen as a disk drive with all the standard features you find on the SD2IEC. So that means time/date stamping, subdirectories, etc. it does not need D64 or other disk image support as those are more C64 related.
2: It needs to be able to support legacy IEC and JiffyDOS. This way it can be used on all Commodore 8 bit systems.
3: It needs to be able to understand AT Hayes type commands.
4: It needs to be able to connect to modern FTP file servers or something similar and treat them as drives.
5: It must be able to connect to BBS servers.
6: This device needs to handle all actual secure protocols such that the software running in the system doesn’t have to deal with them.
Suggestions: It has been mentioned that the ESP32 would be suitable, but we leave that to you guys. I suggest that its default device ID be 12 but that it can obviously be temporarily or permanently changed to any valid ID. Also it wouldn’t hurt if it’s designed such that you can send data and instructions to it via RS232.
As for development, you don’t need our system to be ready yet. It this works on a C64 it will work on our system. There are numerous open source projects that could make a good starting point.
Edit: There seems to be some confusion as to what the point of such a device is. So let me clarify. If I want to connect to a terminal it’s not as simple as sending a few bytes to a device. You have to maintain and keep track of a lot of seemingly ever changing security protocols. BBS services are about the simplest things to connect to as they are very primitive. So here’s a real world situation and use case. You could set up a simple server on your local network and have all your files stored on a modern computer and access them over your local network. But you could access a server anywhere. You could of course do BBS systems. And maybe that’s all people want and if that’s the case, then we can just use our built in software RS-232 and interface that to already existing WiModem devices. But what I’m proposing adds an abstraction layer that handles a lot of the overhead seamlessly and would allow you to connect to file servers with modern security. If it is easy to set up servers then that’s a strong basis to make an online support system for the platform using common software. To set this device up you just send a few commands.
As always relevant questions and ideas are welcome. I’m sure you’ll have many. Major important stuff will be added to this post.

Note that this comment is from the 28th of august 2019

Most group administrators are on American time so you can probably expect to be let in to the group some time this afternoon.

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That's a great starting point - at least from the software point of view. Thanks for searching and reposting it. I think I will setup a github repo - would that be a reasonable starting point of collaboration to you?

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On 1/7/2021 at 3:07 PM, JimmyDansbo said:

Sure

I have used the wiki in github to put my first thoughts into words and structure... You might want to have a look.

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