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Thread: Notice: Piko Interactive's Quest Forge Game Carts Won't Damage NES Consoles

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    Exclamation Notice: Piko Interactive's Quest Forge Game Carts Won't Damage NES Consoles

    Originally named, "Warning: Piko Interactive's Quest Forge Game Carts Might Damage NES Consoles"

    Quest Forge from Piko Interactive could cause damage to NES consoles. See http://forums.nesdev.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=15240 for the how and the why of the situation. The short story: cheap Chinese circuit boards can cause damage to the NES's circuitry. Supposedly Piko Interactive will be addressing the problem, but I know no more than this.

    Perhaps someone with a technical inclination toward NES hardware can summarize things for us less technical types?

    Thanks to Gradual Games for the notice.
    Last edited by Nz17; 04-04-2018 at 04:09 AM. Reason: Updated to reflect the situation

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    Thanks to that thread I see that these officially licensed Retrobit multi carts are the same exact PCBs used in cheap bootlegs.

    I didn't think they could top them not even fitting into a real NES, but they managed to.

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    Well, I guess that's another reason for me to skip N64 40 Winks, which is also from Piko Interactive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nz17 View Post
    Perhaps someone with a technical inclination toward NES hardware can summarize things for us less technical types?
    Basically, from what I gathered, there are 5V components and 3.3V components(the flash chip). To get the 3.3V they use a very shoddy voltage regulator design that's prone to failure. When it fails, it tries to pull too much current from the NES chips that they weren't designed to provide, causing them to get too toasty and die.
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    I was reading an article about this the other night:

    https://db-electronics.ca/2017/07/05...etro-consoles/

    But I noticed in the comments there were some disputes over these claims (admittedly, mostly from cart manufacturers) but one guy pointed out something I'm wondering too: It just sounds like it's more likely the cart itself will die than the console.

    (Also, these dangers vary from console to console. Some don't have any problem whatsoever and you can stick any old crap in them)

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    this is why every one should have 26 NES backup systems like I do and then you could at least make it through the game.

    that is if it does pull current to fry the system. I imagine other less vital components will go before the main chips after some of the things I've seen/done to NESs

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    Yeah, NESes are pretty durable, and its worth pointing out that there have so far been *very few* cases of an actual damaged console, and I seem to recall those were from people who were using things like Everdrives and these multicarts almost nonstop.

    This problem has existed as long as repros and flash carts have been a thing, yet its only now we're hearing of problems. That's not to downplay the potential issues, just to point out that you don't need to be paranoid that one game is gonna break your NES.

    EDIT: Additionally, I'd have to doublecheck but I think the article *I* linked to mentioned that some *officially licensed* cartridges from back in the day had the same kind of problem (I think he specifically called out Atari/Tengen, though I think he also specifically mentioned their Genesis games)
    Last edited by Edmond Dantes; 03-15-2018 at 07:37 PM.

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    Ouch.

    Well, if the ROM is available online, we can try repros.
    Game Wants: http://www.digitpress.com/forum/showthread.php?t=121467
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    Jesus christ. Half the internet is truly retarded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmond Dantes View Post
    EDIT: Additionally, I'd have to doublecheck but I think the article *I* linked to mentioned that some *officially licensed* cartridges from back in the day had the same kind of problem (I think he specifically called out Atari/Tengen, though I think he also specifically mentioned their Genesis games)
    With the Genesis releases it seemed some of the Tengen games had problems with the traces on the circuit board rusting up. I'm going by memory so I may be wrong about it. You can fix these by swapping the ROM chip onto another compatible board.

    I can't remember anything like that killing consoles though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    Well, I guess that's another reason for me to skip N64 40 Winks, which is also from Piko Interactive.
    N64 is 3.3V. So using a modern flash chip shouldn't be any problem here.
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    About a year ago I bought a Genesis 112-in-1 multicart, Eliminate Down, and SNES Pocky & Rocky. I also have 3 bootleg carts from back in the day that I found locally, and I also bought the Retrobit Jaleco Brawler's Pack for SNES.

    So using these carts will damage my SNES and Genesis consoles? I thought that since cartridges are just ROMs, they couldn't affect the system in this way.

    I guess I could just play these carts in the Retrobit Retro Trio that I bought. I had basically put that thing away, since the NES cartridge slot is shot. The metal in the slot was so cheap, a bunch of the pins pulled out along with one of my cartridges after about 30 uses. I only have a few NES carts which I bought after getting the Retro Trio so it was too late to return it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sancoa View Post
    So using these carts will damage my SNES and Genesis consoles? I thought that since cartridges are just ROMs, they couldn't affect the system in this way.
    I'd say it's less that they will and more that they might. Some people act like it's no big deal at all, others act like its the worst idea ever. I'd say it's somewhere in the middle.

    You're console is basically feeding 5v into a cartridge with a ROM chip designed to run on 3v. The extra voltage has to go somewhere so there's a potential to both fry the cartridge and have the system fry itself if the voltage is backfed into it from a fried cart.

    These carts just started popping up within the past 10 years or so and are mainly marketed in places with out-of-spec clone systems so there's not a lot of concrete evidence to go on for long term use or damage. I've yet to read a definitive story that a system that had died due to 100% the fault of these cheap carts.

    To be honest I think more people should be worried about these cheap ass switching power supplies for retro consoles that are way out of spec from the originals.

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    So, in the meantime, what's people's ideas on how they can enjoy these homebrews and repro carts without risking damage to one's console?

    Has anyone yet heard of a way to mod the console itself to protect it? This is the solution I would find the most practical since after all a lot of these carts are in the wild already.

    The other most practical solution I've heard (more practical than the preceding one, actually) is to have a backup console or just use one of the clone consoles on the market. Apparently clone consoles use the same voltage as these cartridges so there's no danger? (Note that a lot of repros and multicarts--in my experience anyway--outright state they won't work with the Retron 5, for whatever reason).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmond Dantes View Post
    So, in the meantime, what's people's ideas on how they can enjoy these homebrews and repro carts without risking damage to one's console?
    What about using those old cart copiers that use floppy disks to back up those homebrews first?

    Quote Originally Posted by Edmond Dantes View Post
    The other most practical solution I've heard (more practical than the preceding one, actually) is to have a backup console or just use one of the clone consoles on the market. Apparently clone consoles use the same voltage as these cartridges so there's no danger? (Note that a lot of repros and multicarts--in my experience anyway--outright state they won't work with the Retron 5, for whatever reason).
    Is there a risk of damaging legit games on these clone consoles if the chips are getting lower voltage than they're designed for?
    Last edited by Gameguy; 03-18-2018 at 12:41 PM.

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    I thought maybe using a Game Genie might act as a buffer for the system from these carts - maybe the Game Genie would get fried instead of the console? I guess though there isn't a way of knowing where the extra voltage would go, it could still affect the console.

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    Looking into it again I don't think the issue is a regulator failing causing the excess current flow. But the shoddy regulator design occasionally causing the current flow putting the console components out of spec.. causing them to heat up and potentially fail. I was initially reading it in the context of my EE101 or maybe high school electronics class that said although it will work, you should never use just diodes as voltage regulators.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gameguy View Post
    What about using those old cart copiers that use floppy disks to back up those homebrews first?


    Is there a risk of damaging legit games on these clone consoles if the chips are getting lower voltage than they're designed for?
    I *think* that the lower voltage is still within spec. 5v on a 3.3v chip is not. I think the real issue here is not the voltage, since that's being regulated, but the currents that can be created that put the system components out of spec.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gameguy View Post
    Is there a risk of damaging legit games on these clone consoles if the chips are getting lower voltage than they're designed for?
    Maybe one could use the clones only for multicarts and real carts on real consoles?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gameguy View Post
    Is there a risk of damaging legit games on these clone consoles if the chips are getting lower voltage than they're designed for?
    Not really any danger like the opposite (cheap 3v pirate carts on 5v consoles).

    Flash carts are power hogs. Maybe some that use additional hardware chips like the FX or SVP might need the proper voltage, as well as stacking multiple connecting carts & accessories. I'd imagine a Game Genie + Sonic & Knuckles + Sonic 3 through Honeybee converter probably needs everything it can get. If it wasn't compatible it would just end up not booting or playing with bugs and glitches, so you wouldn't be subjecting the cart to anything long term anyway.

    I have some clones that will boot flash carts but don't have enough juice to run the SD card properly.

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    Here are Piko's words on the topic:

    Mar 12, 2018
    It is under my understanding that the voltage regulator (U7) on the PCB would shelter the PCB from any damage. I don't think the PCB would cause any damage to the console, since the console is the one with higher voltage.

    I test all our games my self, beta test that is, so I have to play through them for hours on both NES NTSC and PAL consoles (I don't care about clones, most are fine with exception of Retron 5).

    Im not a hardware engineer, the factory we used is not the one directly selling bootlegs on Aliexpress, they serve all china, taiwan, and hong kong. And are the only ones that really give quality components and gold pins on PCBs (thus why Retrobit uses them) The guy that designs has been an electronics engineer for over 40 years and has developed games for NES and Genesis. He has done clone consoles, NOACs, and now he is working on clone consoles with upscalers He is pretty smart and we trusted his judgement, on top of that we tested the PCB to work.

    It is a shame that he does sell the PCBs to other trade companies in china that do bootlegs but oh well, we just buy the PCBs, and cannot control anything else. We might be moving to get the games done by other company that has done legit hardware products sold world wide; we'll see how it goes.

    We'll look into this issue and stress test to see if the PCB causes any damages to the console or to itself by being played on the console.

    Also, I am going to reach out to Kevtris to see if he can put the rumors to sleep about the whole 5v >3.3V chips killing retro consoles.
    Ready for some Engrish?

    I had a quick chat with the engineer, here is what he told me:

    "The Flash and sram is 3.3v, We use LDO for flash's VDD, but other pin from cartridge into the flash, so, the fact voltage is 4.3v"

    I think he is telling me that there is less voltage actually going into the flash and sram than 5v?

    Anyways, he told me he will do a new revision for the PCB. Still, I left the console today on for about 6 hours with a game on and no problem.

    I'll do that every day to see what dies first, The first NES console I've ever played (it has been in my family since 1989) or a game with this PCB.

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    The ICs used on the PCB are 4.3v compatible. Basically 4.3v is within the safe voltage signal for the IC. There is a diode on the voltage signal that turns 5V to 4.3v thus why these work and will not damage the console or the PCB.

    All the other rumors, are rumors only, we stressed test for a long time and no problem whatsoever.

    Another very good explanation:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vv4T...ature=youtu.be

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