Popeye bootleg partial schematics

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Aug 022017

I worked on these a few months ago and thought it was about time I uploaded them.
Not complete but i’m sure they could be useful to someone

 Posted by at 7:32 pm
Jul 092017

In this log I fix the sprite’s incorrect colors as discovered in part 1. To review the problem see the image below. Note that the colors for the weightlifter are incorrect, the runner also has red shadow instead of black and the colors for the area in between the flags on the right are also incorrect.


Initially, I thought the area between the flags were actually made up of background tiles. These are actually sprite objects used as background graphics. I used my test rom to confirm this.


The bipolar proms I ordered finally came but were all faulty! So that was a complete waste of time and money. The good news is after checking the palette prom [ several times over ] it appears to be good and I must have been reading it incorrectly with my TopMax in part 1 of the repair log.

I thought about this for awhile and had an idea that would help me troubleshoot. Firstly, I looked at the color palette for Hypersports in MAME and took down some notes.


After comparing the colors of the sprites from images online [ google images was a good starting point ] with colors from the table above, my suspicions were that there was a stuck bit somewhere. Black [ color 0 ] is being displayed instead white [ color 1 ].

For black [ color 0 ] to be displayed instead of white, bit 0 would have to be stuck low. Color 2 is also being shown instead of color 3 and the only way this could happen is if bit 0 was stuck low. The athlete’s shadow is also being shown as red instead of black for the same reason which results in color 8 being shown instead of color 9.


The backgrounds and sprite data appear to be combined at the LS157 at A4 which then form the signals OUT0-OUT4 at the LS174 A2. These 5 signals represent the color of a single pixel on the screen [ 32 possible colours ]. But I’m more interested in the signals OCOL0-OCOL3 [ object/sprite colors ] so I begin poking around at the inputs and outputs of the LS157 at C17 first. I generally choose the multiplexers to troubleshoot first whenever it’s relevant because these seem to get worked fairly hard [ especially in the video circuit ] and exhibit higher failure rates in these areas.


Pin 4 [ 1Y ] output of C17 appears to be stuck low, exactly what I was looking for. This was later confirmed after testing the chip out of circuit.


The Fujitsu in C17 is a temporary measure, I promise. It’s a working pull from my Gyruss and I didn’t have any other spares on hand.


The colors seem right although I seem to be missing overall color from the CRT.





Changing it over to my LCD just to confirm that my 1084 probably needs an adjustment of some sort.



Popeye tech info

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Apr 072017

I’ve been working with a Popeye PCB recently and I wanted to figure out the hardware so I thought it would be good to document what I found.

The PCB uses some fairly simple obfuscation for the CPU address lines utilising what the schematics refer to as a PLA device. Further investigation revealed that the devices used on the address bus here are actually 74LS367 at locations 6F and 6H. I originally believed the IC at location 6E to be the same but in the decoding routine that MAME uses, the new address value returned after swapping the bits gets XOR’d by 0x3F.

Checking further I found this chip is actually a 74LS368 (inverting line driver). If you notice on the video PCB there is another chip with its markings removed at location 5U.

This is a 74LS04 inverter and is needed because the lower 6 address bits are inverted from the CPU by the 74LS368 at location 6E so we need to return them to their intended state. Inverting them again allows the video and background RAM to be addressed properly.
All these so called PLA’s are actually regular TTL with their markings etched off.

The data lines are also scrambled and can be easily followed from the schematics.
The code in the program EPROM’s is scrambled to accommodate the above methods.

There are 2 additional IC’s also marked as PLA’s attached to the outputs of 3 x 74LS161 counters at location 3E and 4E. These have been identified as a 74LS367 at location 4E and a 74LS368 at location 3E and are part of the DMA circuit.

The hardware doesn’t use any other interrupts, only the NMI.
The NMI vector is the same for all Z80 program and starts at address $66 in ROM.
It is triggered essentially by the /VBLANK signal and during this time all the on screen background and sprites are updated.

The main RAM for Popeye lies at address $8800 – $8FFF and is a TMM2016 located at 7H on the CPU PCB.
The main RAM doesn’t appear to invert the lower 6 bits of the address bus so the actual locations written to in RAM will be different to what the program actually expects however this is not an issue as all the accesses will give the correct data. In the event of fault finding though this could potentially cause confusion.
DMA accesses to this RAM are all correct.
Access to this RAM is controlled via a 74LS139 at location 8F.
The first demultiplexor of this IC is enabled when address bit A15 is HIGH (address $8000). Output Y0 connects to select input B of the second multiplexor and address bit A11 is connected to select input A. Output Y1 (pin 11) is connected to the /CS pin of the RAM.
In order for Y1 to be active A15 and A11 need to be HIGH (address $8800).

There are two pull-up resistors used on this RAM connected to AD10 and AD11. These are present for when DMA accesses are happening as it only uses 9 bits. Without these resistors AD10 and AD11 would be floating during these times.

As we only write nibbles to the RAM section but need to preserve the nibble value we currently are not writing too there is a system in place to deal with that.

/CSBW is generated when we write to anywhere in address $C000 – $CFFF.
This signal clears the DMA access to background RAM and sets the 74LS157 chips to use the address bus instead of DMA.

When a write to the background RAM is initiated the 74LS174 at 8U gets clocked before the write enable for the RAM goes low. This latches the current RAM nibble not being written to, onto the outputs of 8U which lets the RAM get updated without losing data.
The delay for latching the RAM data before writing is achieved by a 74LS20 at 5D on the CPU board. One of these signals is the /WR but goes through a 74LS74 in order to create a delay of 1 clock cycle. This gives enough time to latches the RAM data before the write enable is active on the RAM itself.

There is a security ALU that sits at address $E000 – $E001 in the memory map. It can be both read from and written to. MAME has functional behaviour for this emulated in the driver.
The various modes of the ALU are selected by an IC labelled as ‘Selected Decoder’. This is actually a 74LS139.

I wanted to implement this chip into one of the 28 pin CPLD modules I have. Being an amateur in HDL programming I wasn’t too sure whether the design could be implemented into an unclocked CPLD design so I asked my friend Charles MacDonald for some advice on Verilog.
He kindly sent me a draft code based on the MAME implementation. I have adapted this to reflect the real hardware and it is now implemented and seems to be working. The programming file can be found in the download section if anyone ever feels the need to use it. I would still like to get hold of an original chip to study as although the code for this works with the titles that use it, all the behaviours of the chip are not fully documented that I know of.

Without this chip present Popeye will reset when starting a game. There may be other issues as well but I cannot pinpoint them.
There is an unprotected version of Popeye available in MAME which does away with the requirement for this security chip so there isn’t much need to use a reproduction of this chip.

 Posted by at 8:01 pm

Commodore 64 Game Killer cartridge

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Dec 152016

Found this oddity on eBay not too long ago.

Its a crude device that attempts to disable collision detection for games that used hardware sprites.
It device itself wasn’t too successful but it was cheap and love my C64 so here it is.
I spend half an hour drawing up a schematic for the device and also dumped the ROM which is in the downloads section.

Cant imagine anyone ever needing to use the schematic for anything. Its very simple and any fault finding could be done in moments and who in the right mind would want to create more of these things but it was a small side project.

 Posted by at 1:26 pm

Rainbow Islands – Clock Circuits

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Jun 242016

A short simple post on two of the clock circuits used on Rainbow Islands.
There are 3 x crystal oscillators on the Rainbow Islands PCB. This post will cover two of them. The third is used for selecting a chip enable line of some RAM in an elaborate way which I don’t fully understand right now.

First lets look at the X2 Oscillator which is 12MHz.

This is solely used as the clock for the C-Chip and simply goes though IC54, an inverter, into pin 20 of the C-Chip at 12Mhz. Easy!

Next up is X1. This supplies the clock signals for the Z80 and the 68000.

The 16MHz clock signal serves as the clock signal for a 4-bit binary counter at IC30. Output Q1 (pin 13) of this binary counter gives a 4MHz clock which is the clock signal for the Z80 sound CPU.
Output Q0 (pin 14) of this binary counter gives out the 8MHz clock for the main 68000 CPU.

Both of these clocks also feed into the custom PC060HA chip at IC45 on pin 14 (SCLK) and on pin 15 (MCLK).

That’s all there is to this one.

 Posted by at 1:00 pm