Low-Cost Flash HuCard
Download PC-Engine or TurboGrafx-16 Games
The flash card is compatible with both Turbografx-16 systems (USA) and PC-Engine systems (JPN).
A commercial or homebrew game may be downloaded to the flash card over USB.
A game up to 8Mbit in size may be loaded onto the flash card (this allows any HuCard game except Streetfighter II to be loaded).
The flash card is powered by the USB port, when connected to a PC. Once the flash card has been flashed, it can be unplugged from USB and inserted into a game system.
There are no menus or load times, once the card has been flashed with a game. It will perform exactly as a commercial HuCard.
The flash card has very low power consumption (less than some commercial HuCards), so it ideal for handheld systems such as TurboExpress.
The flash card allows you to play homebrew games on a real system, and also to try commercial games before you buy.
The flash card also allows you to play JPN games on your USA system (or USA games on your JPN system).
This is a low-cost flash HuCard, which is compatible with both the American TurboGrafx-16 system and the Japanese PC-Engine system. The flash HuCard is identical in size to an actual HuCard. There is 8Mbit of Flash memory on the HuCard. This is enough space to hold any TurboGrafx-16 game or any PC-Engine game (except for Street Fighter II). There is a USB connector on the HuCard, which can be used to connect to a PC, for downloading of games. There is an easy-to-use Windows software, which is used to download games. This software can be downloaded here. There are both installation instructions and software-use instructions included with the software.
** [The USB drivers are included with the software. However, if other operating systems besides Windows are to be used, you may download drivers for various operating systems here at FTDI's site. For any programmers out there: I am providing all the information necessary for people who want to write their own PC software. This will allow the downloading software to be written for almost any operating system (MAC, Linux). You can download this software documentation here.]
A commercial game or homebrew game may be downloaded to the flash HuCard. This can be useful for developers and players of homebrew PC-Engine software, to test and play games on a real system. It also gives players a way to play Japanese-to-English translated roms on a system, instead of using an emulator.
The flash HuCard can be purchased either fully assembled (and tested), or just a bare board with no parts soldered down. For people who want to build it themselves (Caution: there are TSOP parts with 0.5mm pitch pins), I will include the Bill Of Materials with each board, and solder down the microcontroller. This is necessary because the microcontroller must be programmed with a specific software load. Each of the remaining parts are common enough to be found at vendors such as Digi-Key. This bare board could also make a very low-cost method for releasing a new PC-Engine game on the HuCard format. By soldering down only a pre-programmed flash memory (p/n# MX29F800CTTI-70G), and a couple capacitors, a production HuCard may be produced. The checkout basket below will allow ordering of either a fully assembled board, or a bare board with only the microcontroller soldered down. If you would like to order completely bare boards, just send me an email and we can work out a cheaper price.
My goal with this project was to create a low-cost flash-memory HuCard, which could be used to try a game before you buy, and to play homebrew games on a real system. In addition to low cost, reliability was also a major goal. There is gold flashing on the edge pins of the HuCard, which increases the reliability of the HuCard. There is error checking, while downloading a game to the HuCard. The download speed is reduced so there are no chips running at their margin. This increases the download time a bit, but increases the reliability of the flash memory writing. Also, due to the small amount of circuitry on the card, it also has the advantage of having very low power consumption. The power consumption is less than that of some commercial HuCards. This is advantageous, especially if using a battery-powered handheld (TurboExpress / PC Engine GT) unit.
Please read here for recommendations for loading commercial roms.
Unfortunately, I no longer have the time to build these cards. The parts are quite small, which makes it very time-consuming to build. Ideally, these should be machine assembled (as opposed to hand-assembled), but this would increase the cost by quite a bit, which defeats the purpose of the original intent.
However, I am making the design files available so that others can build this card. Click here for the board design information that you will need to build this card. Feel free to email me with any questions.