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Flash cart refuses to flash past the boot menu...
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Yoder



Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:52 am    Post subject: Flash cart refuses to flash past the boot menu... Reply with quote

Hello,

I've finally got a parallel port that supports the old school 278 address space working and my PCE pro only worked a couple of times and now it refuses to flash more than a few KB of data...

I was able to laod up a full 32MB of data once or twice but now, after it loads the boot menu, it loads about 10-20% of the first game and then it just uses 50% of my CPU power and hangs forever. If I unplug the USB cable, it appears to finish the flash of the first file, but obviously it's not.

I've tested my roms with an emulator and they're fine. If I had to guess, I'd think the Intel flash memory is not working. I've spent hours on this and restarted my computer, tried different USB ports, different versions of dreamwriter (both 1.4 and 1.5), disconnected and reconnecte, etc, to no avail.

Oh, and the parallel cable I'm using is fine...it came from Tototek, too. Again, this was working for a little while...then nothing more than the boot menu.

Can anybody give me a hint? Is my flash card bad?

Thanks....
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Chilly Willy



Joined: 08 Feb 2009
Posts: 174

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, removing the USB kills the power, so that's not going to help. Is it getting enough power via the USB? Do you have it plugged into a USB port on the motherboard or a powered hub? Is there a lot of other USB devices? Power is very important to these things. Not enough power means the flash won't burn correctly.
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Yoder



Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I wasn't intending to solve the problem by removing the power source, but it was simply something I tried as I was trouble-shooting for the last few hours, and decided to report here. Forget that I mentioned it. Regarding USB power...It's connected directly to the USB port on the motherboard of my desktop computer and the only other USB device is my wireless mouse which I don't suspect draws more than a couple hundred mA. I do have the option of connecting my USB hub that has a 2.6A power supply. Actually I'll try that now so that I can rule out power issues.

Again, this was working and flashing fine for a few minutes when suddenly it just would not go past the boot menu. There were no add'l USB devices added since then.

I'm sure it's just something I'm doing wrong. I'll keep working at it.
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MottZilla



Joined: 08 Sep 2004
Posts: 745

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you using the correct parallel port mode? EPP mode I believe. Have you avoided static electricity from discharging into the card?
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Yoder



Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I set the onboard parallel interface to EPP in the BIOS and I/O range is set at 278-027F and is set accordingly in the GUI. As far as static... No, I've not worn an anti-static wrist wrap or a ground wire, etc. Do you think I may have fried the card? I suppose even with the PC-engine being near the TV it could have damaged something since I'm running it on a CRT...they seem to gather a lot of static on the surface, unfortunately.

Gonna go grab the powered hub now...
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Yoder



Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Arghh...my login timed out and I lost my post. Powered hub doesn't help. It won't even write a 1 Mb rom past 50%. Seems to not want to write more thatn 512 Mb, no matter what I do. Bad block or something?

Tomorrow I'll try my other desktop compuer, assuming it has a parallel header.

Tomy, do you have any ideas of what I could try?

It's 2:30 am and I'm off to bed...
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Yoder



Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, so I didn't go to bed...

I tried again, turning off "Program at turbo mode". This time I could write a ROM every so often, but after verification, I often get a dialog box saying: "Not complete, due to verify not success". Then I got another window with a
bunch of memory addresses and error codes that looked like this...almost 16,000, in fact...

err $003FFC 07 : 13
err $003FFD 3E : 9F
err $003FFE 4A : 08
err $003FFF 90 : 02
more...

But sometimes I can actually write a file successfuly in this slower mode...strange. In the last transfer, one 2 Mb file was successful, and the other 2 Mb file gave me errors...

One thing's that apparent is that it won't write anything in turbo mode...
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MottZilla



Joined: 08 Sep 2004
Posts: 745

PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Private message Tomy. http://www.tototek.com/phpBB2/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=2

It is possible the Flash memory is damaged if it's reporting those errors, as it seems like it's reporting values read versus what was supposed to be programmed.
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Yoder



Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, thanks... I kinda thought so too. Will PM him now...
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Yoder



Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I PM'd and then a few days later emailed Tomy with no response. It's been over a week. I'm wondering if these cards are still going to be sold and/or supported...haven't seen them in stock in a while.

I'm having a little better luck, though. I was able to flash a few ROMs recently without errors as long as Turbo Mode is not selected. It takes forever to flash that way (I bet 1/2 hour for a whole 32Mb), but I've been able to play a few games. Still refuses to flash in Turbo Mode, though...just hangs forever.
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Tomy
Site Admin


Joined: 02 Aug 2005
Posts: 408

PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, sorry for late reply.

If you can flash it without Turbo Mode turn on, then seems PCE Pro not work with your PC's EPP mode.

What you can do is change another parallel cable, or try another PC to test.

If still not work, you can return it to me, I'll try to find the problem.

-Tomy
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Yoder



Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Tomy,

Ok, thank you for the reply. I appreciate it.

I did try on a second desktop machine. It still refuses to flash in turbo mode. However it does do a better job in "non-turbo", as I did not receive any errors.

I am willing to try other PCs too before having to send it back to you. Maybe I can bring it in to work and try it on those computers too....

I'll hunt for another parallel cable too...

Thanks,

Sean
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Yoder



Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:48 am    Post subject: Holy crap, it was the cable! Reply with quote

Well, I finally found the correct type of parallel cable locally and I tried it tonight and it fixed the problem!

I'm now getting "turbo" flashing without any issues! I've gone back and forth between the cable I got today and the original cable I got from Tototek and the problem always tracks with the bad cable.

I have no idea why the cable doesn't work, but I can see that the card appears to flash in about 1Mbit increments, then it pauses. It seems like the cable I got from Tototek gets hung up at the first "pause" point and just stays there at 100% CPU indefinitely. Now my new cable does fine.

It's kind of a bummer that I wasted so many hours on this, especiallly after ordering the cable from Totoek just to avoid issues, but I'm glad we found the problem. Now, maybe I can play some games!

Tomy, thanks for suggesting a different cable. Honestly, figured it would be futile, but that did the trick!

FYI, the cable I got is a used one from the flea market. It is likely 10-20 years old and is very thick...probably twice as thick as the Totoek one. The crazy thing is the Tototek cable has ZERO CONTINUITY on ANY pin from one connector to the next....at least with my 1.5V test light. Somehow this cable has an internal fault that has affected every wire inside...seems impossible, though. Just wanted to follow up in case anyone else runs into this problem.
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Chilly Willy



Joined: 08 Feb 2009
Posts: 174

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cables are one of those things that are so trivial and cheap that they normally aren't (well) tested. There's no need... well, almost no need. It's pretty rare to run across a bad cable, but you seem to have hit the jackpot! Laughing
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Yoder



Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, that's true. I was thinking the whole time, "I'm sure they didn't screw up the cable", but it turns out that that was the case. I think it may just have been poor quality wiring inside that broke down quickly since it did work for a couple of minutes.

I try to keep in mind the concept of parsimony when I solve problems, but I never actually expect that approach to work!

But, yes, I did feel that I hit the jackpot.
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