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The core concepts of DTube's new blockchain

Dear Reddit community,
Following our announcement for DTube v0.9, I have received countless questions about the new blockchain part, avalon. First I want to make it clear, that it would have been utterly impossible to build this on STEEM, even with the centralized SCOT/Tribes that weren't available when I started working on this. This will become much clearer as you read through the whole wall of text and understand the novelties.
SteemPeak says this is a 25 minutes read, but if you are truly interested in the concept of a social blockchain, and you believe in its power, I think it will be worth the time!

MOVING FORWARD

I'm a long time member of STEEM, with tens of thousands of staked STEEM for 2 years+. I understand the instinctive fear from the other members of the community when they see a new crypto project coming out. We've had two recent examples recently with the VOICE and LIBRA annoucements, being either hated or ignored. When you are invested morally, and financially, when you see competitors popping up, it's normal to be afraid.
But we should remember competition is healthy, and learn from what these projects are doing and how it will influence us. Instead, by reacting the way STEEM reacts, we are putting our heads in the sand and failing to adapt. I currently see STEEM like the "North Korea of blockchains", trying to do everything better than other blockchains, while being #80 on coinmarketcap and slowly but surely losing positions over the months.
When DLive left and revealed their own blockchain, it really got me thinking about why they did it. The way they did it was really scummy and flawed, but I concluded that in the end it was a good choice for them to try to develop their activity, while others waited for SMTs. Sadly, when I tried their new product, I was disappointed, they had botched it. It's purely a donation system, no proof of brain... And the ultra-majority of the existing supply is controlled by them, alongside many other 'anti-decentralization' features. It's like they had learnt nothing from their STEEM experience at all...
STEEM was still the only blockchain able to distribute crypto-currency via social interactions (and no, 'donations' are not social interactions, they are monetary transfers; bitcoin can do it too). It is the killer feature we need. Years of negligence or greed from the witnesses/developers about the economic balance of STEEM is what broke this killer feature. Even when proposing economical changes (which are actually getting through finally in HF21), the discussions have always been centered around modifying the existing model (changing the curve, changing the split, etc), instead of developing a new one.
You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
What if I built a new model for proof of brain distribution from the ground up? I first tried playing with STEEM clones, I played with EOS contracts too. Both systems couldn't do the concepts I wanted to integrate for DTube, unless I did a major refactor of tens of thousands of lines of code I had never worked with before. Making a new blockchain felt like a lighter task, and more fun too.
Before even starting, I had a good idea of the concepts I'd love to implement. Most of these bullet points stemmed from observations of what happened here on STEEM in the past, and what I considered weaknesses for d.tube's growth.

NO POWER-UP

The first concept I wanted to implement deep down the core of how a DPOS chain works, is that I didn't want the token to be staked, at all (i.e. no 'powering up'). The cons of staking for a decentralized social platform are obvious: * complexity for the users with the double token system. * difficulty to onboard people as they need to freeze their money, akin to a pyramid scheme.
The only good thing about staking is how it can fill your bandwidth and your voting power when you power-up, so you don't need to wait for it to grow to start transacting. In a fully-liquid system, your account ressources start at 0% and new users will need to wait for it to grow before they can start transacting. I don't think that's a big issue.
That meant that witness elections had to be run out of the liquid stake. Could it be done? Was it safe for the network? Can we update the cumulative votes for witnesses without rounding issues? Even when the money flows between accounts freely?
Well I now believe it is entirely possible and safe, under certain conditions. The incentive for top witnesses to keep on running the chain is still present even if the stake is liquid. With a bit of discrete mathematics, it's easy to have a perfectly deterministic algorithm to run a decentralized election based off liquid stake, it's just going to be more dynamic as the funds and the witness votes can move around much faster.

NO EARLY USER ADVANTAGE

STEEM has had multiple events that influenced the distribution in a bad way. The most obvious one is the inflation settings. One day it was hella-inflationary, then suddently hard fork 16 it wasn't anymore. Another major one, is the non-linear rewards that ran for a long time, which created a huge early-user advantage that we can still feel today.
I liked linear rewards, it's what gives minnows their best chance while staying sybil-resistant. I just needed Avalon's inflation to be smart. Not hyper-inflationary like The key metric to consider for this issue, is the number of tokens distributed per user per day. If this metric goes down, then the incentive for staying on the network and playing the game, goes down everyday. You feel like you're making less and less from your efforts. If this metric goes up, the number of printed tokens goes up and the token is hyper-inflationary and holding it feels really bad if you aren't actively earning from the inflation by playing the game.
Avalon ensures that the number of printed tokens is proportional to the number of users with active stake. If more users come in, avalon prints more tokens, if users cash-out and stop transacting, the inflation goes down. This ensures that earning 1 DTC will be about as hard today, tomorrow, next month or next year, no matter how many people have registered or left d.tube, and no matter what happens on the markets.

NO LIMIT TO MY VOTING POWER

Another big issue that most steemians don't really know about, but that is really detrimental to STEEM, is how the voting power mana bar works. I guess having to manage a 2M SP delegation for @dtube really convinced me of this one.
When your mana bar is full at 100%, you lose out the potential power generation, and rewards coming from it. And it only takes 5 days to go from 0% to 100%. A lot of people have very valid reasons to be offline for 5 days+, they shouldn't be punished so hard. This is why all most big stake holders make sure to always spend some of their voting power on a daily basis. And this is why minnows or smaller holders miss out on tons of curation rewards, unless they delegate to a bidbot or join some curation guild... meh. I guess a lot of people would rather just cash-out and don't mind the trouble of having to optimize their stake.
So why is it even a mana bar? Why can't it grow forever? Well, everything in a computer has to have a limit, but why is this limit proportional to my stake? While I totally understand the purpose of making the bandwidth limited and forcing big stake holders to waste it, I think it's totally unneeded and inadapted for the voting power. As long as the growth of the VP is proportional to the stake, the system stays sybil-resistant, and there could technically be no limit at all if it wasn't for the fact that this is ran in a computer where numbers have a limited number of bits.
On Avalon, I made it so that your voting power grows virtually indefinitely, or at least I don't think anyone will ever reach the current limit of Number.MAX_SAFE_INTEGER: 9007199254740991 or about 9 Peta VP. If you go inactive for 6 months on an account with some DTCs, when you come back you will have 6 months worth of power generation to spend, turning you into a whale, at least for a few votes.
Another awkward limit on STEEM is how a 100% vote spends only 2% of your power. Not only STEEM forces you to be active on a daily basis, you also need to do a minimum of 10 votes / day to optimize your earnings. On Avalon, you can use 100% of your stored voting power in a single mega-vote if you wish, it's up to you.

A NEW PROOF-OF-BRAIN

No Author rewards

People should vote with the intent of getting a reward from it. If 75% of the value forcibly goes to the author, it's hard to expect a good return from curation. Steem is currently basically a complex donation platform. No one wants to donate when they vote, no matter what they will say, and no matter how much vote-trading, self-voting or bid-botting happens.
So in order to keep a system where money is printed when votes happen, if we cannot use the username of the author to distribute rewards, the only possibility left is to use the list of previous voters aka "Curation rewards". The 25% interesting part of STEEM, that has totally be shadowed by the author rewards for too long.

Downvote rewards

STEEM has always suffered from the issue that the downvote button is unused, or when it's used, it's mostly for evil. This comes from the fact that in STEEM's model, downvotes are not eligible for any rewards. Even if they were, your downvote would be lowering the final payout of the content, and your own curation rewards...
I wanted Avalon's downvotes to be completely symmetric to the upvotes. That means if we revert all the votes (upvotes become downvotes and vice versa), the content should still distribute the same amount of tokens to the same people, at the same time.

No payment windows

Steem has a system of payments windows. When you publish a content, it opens a payment window where people can freely upvote or downvote to influence the payout happening 7 days later. This is convenient when you want a system where downvotes lower rewards. Waiting 7 days to collect rewards is also another friction point for new users, some of them might never come back 7 days later to convince themselves that 'it works'. On avalon, when you are part of the winners of curation after a vote, you earn it instantly in your account, 100% liquid and transferable.

Unlimited monetization in time

Indeed, the 7 days monetization limit has been our biggest issue for our video platform since day 8. This incentivized our users to create more frequent, but lesser quality content, as they know that they aren't going to earn anything from the 'long-haul'. Monetization had to be unlimited on DTube, so that even a 2 years old video could be dug up and generate rewards in the far future.
Infinite monetization is possible, but as removing tokens from a balance is impossible, the downvotes cannot remove money from the payout like they do on STEEM. Instead, downvotes print money in the same way upvotes do, downvotes still lower the popularity in the hot and trending and should only rewards other people who downvoted the same content earlier.

New curation rewards algorithm

STEEM's curation algorithm isn't stupid, but I believe it lacks some elegance. The 15 minutes 'band-aid' necessary to prevent curation bots (bots who auto vote as fast as possible on contents of popular authors) that they added proves it. The way is distributes the reward also feels very flat and boring. The rewards for my votes are very predictable, especially if I'm the biggest voter / stake holder for the content. My own vote is paying for my own curation rewards, how stupid is that? If no one elses votes after my big vote despite a popularity boost, it probably means I deserve 0 rewards, no?
I had to try different attempts to find an algorithm yielding interesting results, with infinite monetization, and without obvious ways to exploit it. The final distribution algorithm is more complex than STEEM's curation but it's still pretty simple. When a vote is cast, we calculate the 'popularity' at the time of the vote. The first vote is given a popularity of 0, the next votes are defined by (total_vp_upvotes - total_vp_downvotes) / time_since_1st_vote. Then we look into the list of previous votes, and we remove all votes in the opposite direction (up/down). The we remove all the votes with a higher popularity if its an upvote, or the ones with a lower popularity if its a downvote. The remaining votes in the list are the 'winners'. Finally, akin to STEEM, the amount of tokens generated by the vote will be split between winners proportionally to the voting power spent by each (linear rewards - no advantages for whales) and distributed instantly. Instead of purely using the order of the votes, Avalon distribution is based on when the votes are cast, and each second that passes reduces the popularity of a content, potentially increasing the long-term ROI of the next vote cast on it.
Graph It's possible to chart the popularity that influences the DTC monetary distribution directly in the d.tube UI
This algorithm ensures there are always losers. The last upvoter never earns anything, also the person who upvoted at the highest popularity, and the one who downvoted at the lowest popularity would never receive any rewards for their vote. Just like the last upvoter and last downvoter wouldn't either. All the other ones in the middle may or may not receive anything, depending on how the voting and popularity evolved in time. The one with an obvious advantage, is the first voter who is always counted as 0 popularity. As long as the content stays at a positive popularity, every upvote will earn him rewards. Similarly, being the first downvoter on an overly-popular content could easily earn you 100% rewards on the next downvote that could be from a whale, earning you a fat bonus.
While Avalon doesn't technically have author rewards, the first-voter advantage is strong, and the author has the advantage of always being the first voter, so the author can still earn from his potentially original creations, he just needs to commit some voting power on his own contents to be able to publish.

ONE CHAIN <==> ONE APP

More scalable than shared blockchains

Another issue with generalistic blockchains like ETH/STEEM/EOS/TRX, which are currently hosting dozens of semi-popular web/mobile apps, is the reduced scalability of such shared models. Again, everything in a computer has a limit. For DPOS blockchains, 99%+ of the CPU load of a producing node will be to verify the signatures of the many transactions coming in every 3 seconds. And sadly this fact will not change with time. Even if we had a huge breakthrough on CPU speeds today, we would need to update the cryptographic standards for blockchains to keep them secure. This means it would NOT become easier to scale up the number of verifiable transactions per seconds.
Oh, but we are not there yet you're thinking? Or maybe you think that we'll all be rich if we reach the scalability limits so it doesn't really matter? WRONG
The limit is the number of signature verifications the most expensive CPU on the planet can do. Most blockchains use the secp256k1 curve, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Steem and now Avalon. It was originally chosen for Bitcoin by Satoshi Nakamoto probably because it's decently quick at verifying signatures, and seems to be backdoor-proof (or else someone is playing a very patient game). Maybe some other curves exist with faster signature verification speed, but it won't be improved many-fold, and will likely require much research, auditing, and time to get adopted considering the security implications.
In 2015 Graphene was created, and Bitshares was completely rewritten. This was able to achieve 100,000 transaction per second on a single machine, and decentralized global stress testing achieved 18,000 transactions per second on a distributed network.
So BitShares/STEEM and other DPOS graphene chains in production can validate at most 18000 txs/sec, so about 1.5 billion transactions per day. EOS, Tendermint, Avalon, LIBRA or any other DPOS blockchain can achieve similar speeds, because there's no planet-killing proof-of-works, and thanks to the leader-based/democratic system that reduces the number of nodes taking part in the consensus.
As a comparison, there are about 4 billion likes per day on instagram, so you can probably double that with the actual uploads, stories and comments, password changes, etc. The load is also likely unstable through the day, probably some hours will go twice as fast as the average. You wouldn't be able to fit Instagram in a blockchain, ever, even with the most scalable blockchain tech on the world's best hardware. You'd need like a dozen of those chains. And instagram is still a growing platform, not as big as Facebook, or YouTube.
So, splitting this limit between many popular apps? Madness! Maybe it's still working right now, but when many different apps reach millions of daily active users plus bots, it won't fit anymore.
Serious projects with a big user base will need to rethink the shared blockchain models like Ethereum, EOS, TRX, etc because the fees in gas or necessary stake required to transact will skyrocket, and the victims will be the hordes of minnows at the bottom of the distribution spectrum.
If we can't run a full instagram on a DPOS blockchain, there is absolutely no point trying to run medium+reddit+insta+fb+yt+wechat+vk+tinder on one. Being able to run half an instagram is already pretty good and probably enough to actually onboard a fair share of the planet. But if we multiply the load by the number of different app concepts available, then it's never gonna scale.
DTube chain is meant for the DTube UI only. Please do not build something unrelated to video connecting to our chain, we would actively do what we can to prevent you from growing. We want this chain to be for video contents only, and the JSON format of the contents should always follow the one used by d.tube.
If you are interested in avalon tech for your project isn't about video, it's strongly suggested to fork the blockchain code and run your own avalon chain with a different origin id, instead of trying to connect your project to dtube's mainnet. If you still want to do it, chain leaders would be forced to actively combat your project as we would consider it as useless noise inside our dedicated blockchain.

Focused governance

Another issue of sharing a blockchain, is the issues coming up with the governance of it. Tons of features enabled by avalon would be controversial to develop on STEEM, because they'd only benefit DTube, and maybe even hurt/break some other projects. At best they'd be put at the bottom of a todo list somewhere. Having a blockchain dedicated to a single project enables it to quickly push updates that are focused on a single product, not dozens of totally different projects.
Many blockchain projects are trying to make decentralized governance true, but this is absolutely not what I am interested in for DTube. Instead, in avalon the 'init' account, or 'master' account, has very strong permissions. In the DTC case, @dtube: * will earn 10% fees from all the inflation * will not have to burn DTCs to create accounts * will be able to do certain types of transactions when others can't * * account creation (during steem exclusivity period) * * transfers (during IEO period) * * transfering voting power and bandwidth ressources (used for easier onboarding)
For example, for our IEO we will setup a mainnet where only @dtube is allowed to transfer funds or vote until the IEO completes and the airdrop happens. This is also what enabled us to create a 'steem-only' registration period on the public testnet for the first month. Only @dtube can create accounts, this way we can enforce a 1 month period where users can port their username for free, without imposters having a chance to steal usernames. Through the hard-forking mechanism, we can enable/disable these limitations and easily evolve the rules and permissions of the blockchain, for example opening monetary transfers at the end of our IEO, or opening account creation once the steem exclusivity ends.
Luckily, avalon is decentralized, and all these parameters (like the @dtube fees, and @dtube permissions) are easily hardforkable by the leaders. @dtube will however be a very strong leader in the chain, as we plan to use our vote to at least keep the #1 producing node for as long as we can.
We reserve the right to 'not follow' an hardfork. For example, it's obvious we wouldn't follow something like reducing our fees to 0% as it would financially endanger the project, and we would rather just continue our official fork on our own and plug d.tube domain and mobile app to it.
On the other end of the spectrum, if other leaders think @dtube is being tyranical one way or another, leaders will always have the option of declining the new hardforks and putting the system on hold, then @dtube will have an issue and will need to compromise or betray the trust of 1/3 of the stake holders, which could reveal costly.
The goal is to have a harmounious, enterprise-level decision making within the top leaders. We expect these leaders to be financially and emotionally connected with the project and act for good. @dtube is to be expected to be the main good actor for the chain, and any permission given to it should be granted with the goal of increasing the DTC marketcap, and nothing else. Leaders and @dtube should be able to keep cooperation high enough to keep the hard-forks focused on the actual issues, and flowing faster than other blockchain projects striving for a totally decentralized governance, a goal they are unlikely to ever achieve.

PERFECT IMBALANCE

A lot of hard-forking

Avalon is easily hard-forkable, and will get hard-forked often, on purpose. No replays will be needed for leaders/exchanges during these hard-forks, just pull the new hardfork code, and restart the node before the hard-fork planned time to stay on the main fork. Why is this so crucial? It's something about game theory.
I have no former proof for this, but I assume a social and financial game akin to the one played on steem since 2016 to be impossible to perfectly balance, even with a thourough dichotomical process. It's probably because of some psychological reason, or maybe just the fact that humans are naturally greedy. Or maybe it's just because of the sheer number of players. They can gang up together, try to counter each others, and find all sorts of creative ideas to earn more and exploit each other. In the end, the slightest change in the rules, can cause drastic gameplay changes. It's a real problem, luckily it's been faced by other people in the past.
Similarly to what popular and succesful massively multiplayer games have achieved, I plan to patch or suggest hard-forks for avalon's mainnet on a bi-monthly basis. The goal of this perfect imbalance concept, is to force players to re-discover their best strategy often. By introducing regular, small, and semi-controlled changes into this chaos, we can fake balance. This will require players to be more adaptative and aware of the changes. This prevents the game from becoming stale and boring for players, while staying fair.

Death to bots

Automators on the other side, will need to re-think their bots, go through the developement and testing phase again, on every new hard-fork. It will be an unfair cat-and-mouse game. Doing small and semi-random changes in frequent hard-forks will be a easy task for the dtube leaders, compared to the work load generated to maintain the bots. In the end, I hope their return on investment to be much lower compared to the bid-bots, up to a point where there will be no automation.
Imagine how different things would have been if SteemIt Inc acted strongly against bid-bots or other forms of automation when they started appearing? Imagine if hard-forks were frequent and they promised to fight bid-bots and their ilk? Who would be crazy enough to make a bid-bot apart from @berniesanders then?
I don't want you to earn DTCs unless you are human. The way you are going to prove you are human, is not by sending a selfie of you with your passport to a 3rd party private company located on the other side of the world. You will just need to adapt to the new rules published every two weeks, and your human brain will do it subconsciously by just playing the voting game and seeing the rewards coming.
All these concepts are aimed at directly improving d.tube, making it more resilient, and scale both technologically and economically. Having control over the full tech stack required to power our dapp will prevent issues like the one we had with the search engine, where we relied too heavily on a 3rd party tool, and that created a 6-months long bug that basically broke 1/3 of the UI.
While d.tube's UI can now totally run independently from any other entity, we kept everything we could working with STEEM, and the user is now able to transparently publish/vote/comment videos on 2 different chains with one click. This way we can keep on leveraging the generalistic good features of STEEM that our new chain doesn't focuses on doing, such as the dollar-pegged token, the author rewards/donation mechanism, the tribes/communities tokens, and simply the extra exposure d.tube users can get from other website (steemit.com, busy.org, partiko, steempeak, etc), which is larger than the number of people using d.tube directly.
The public testnet has been running pretty well for 3 weeks now, with 6000+ accounts registered, and already a dozen of independant nodes popping up and running for leaders. The majority of the videos are cross-posted on both chains and the daily video volume has slightly increased since the update, despite the added friction of the new 'double login' system and several UI bugs.
If you've read this article, I'm hoping to get some reactions from you in the comments section!
Some even more focused articles about avalon are going to pop on my blog in the following weeks, such as how to get a node running and running for leadewitness, so feel free to follow me to get more news and help me reach 10K followers ;)
submitted by nannal to dtube

Hack original board (not just replace w/ Pi/etc)

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NEWS 30: Final Fight is not a 2nd-Gen game. It uses the same board as all the other 1st-Gen games. Controls match SF2 exactly (but FF uses only 2 buttons per player.) Should be trivial to add FF's games to a SF board, to make a "7-in-1".
NEWS 29: Added additional "2nd Gen" hardware and software info - 256MB RAM, runs Armbian. Uprights use 17" 1280x1024 monitor like Gen1. Countercades use 8" 1024x768 monitor. Countercades are Gen2, even if the games were a Gen1 release. (Pacman, etc.)
NEWS 28: Added "1st Gen" and "2nd Gen" hardware sections. Added early info about 2nd gen hardware. (2nd Gen = MK2/FF/GT and later, including the counter-cade mini machines.)

HARDWARE INFO:

There are now two distinct hardware types - 1st Gen games (AtariDeluxe12in1/Asteroids/AsteroidsDeluxe/Centipede/FinalFight/Galaga/PacMan/Rampage/StreetFighter2/SpaceInvaders 3/4 scale uprights) and 2nd Gen games (MK2, likely Final Fight, Golden Tee, and all the countertop-size mini cabinets). 1st Gen use a single-core CPU, and 2nd Gen use a quad-core CPU.

Hardware Info (1st Gen):

Development platform was this Olimex board.
CPU is a single-core AllWinner A13 SoC ("System On a Chip") + AXP209 power controller - both are used in many low-end Android tablets.
Memory 128MB DDR3, Flash storage 128MB connected via 4-channel SPI interface
Sound goes through a NSIWAY NS4165 ~3W mono amplifier chip to a single 4" speaker on the control panel. On all boards I've seen, only the RIGHT audio is passed to the amp. For most games this isn't a problem, but SF2 and Gauntlet (Rampage cab) use stereo sound, and the missing left channel means missing sound effects. Hardware repair service available on eBay or you can DIY for free.Volume is software-controlled at 0%, 50%, or 100%, depending on position of the sliding volume selector.
- Add volume control to the stock control panel & speaker: Wire an L-Pad like this diagram. If you disconnect the stock volume slider, max volume will be the same as the "low"/50% setting.
USB is accessible via TP27/TP30, near the corner farthest from the power jack. Pins are GND, D-, D+, 5V. (The middle two are reversed from standard USB wiring.) Newer boards don't have TP27/30 marked, and are missing several components from that area of the board, but it doesn't seem to affect USB operation. If you don't mind voiding your warranty, hack up a USB extension cable and attach it here to add a USB port. Adding USB allows a USB trackball or mouse to be used in MAME for MAME-using cabinets.
UART (serial port) is accessible via pads of CON4, which is slightly covered by the large 40-pin connector. Pin-out (starting at the outside edge of the board): GND, TX, RX, 3.3V (Use only TX, RX & Gnd). An inexpensive UART<->USB adapter and free PuTTY client will let you interact with the embedded Linux O/S. Settings to talk with board -115200,N,8,1. (Visit Windows' Device Manager to see what COM# was assigned to your USB<->UART adapter.) Username & Password - default:mimebox or newborg:newborg. (To gain root access, visit software section below)
LCD Monitor is 17" SXGA (1280x1024) non-widescreen "4x3" (technically 5x4)), with LED backlights. Video signal is sent via a 30-pin LVDS connection. LED backlight driver (traditionally called an "inverter") is powered by the 6-pin/3-wire connection: Red=12V, Black=GND, Yellow=Enable. ("Enable" input requires ~2.5V or more to turn the backlight on.)
Mainboard & LCD backlight driver board offer no way to adjust brightness, but here's how to add brightness control to the stock monitor, or purchase one of my Plug-n-Play kits. For the monitors that are washed out or have a lot of edge bleed, this kit can make a large improvement.
Power Supply: Stock power supply is 12V @ 3A (36W), with a standard 5.5mm plug (2.1mm inner pin), tip positive. I tested multiple boards and two different monitors, and found peak power draw was about 1.5A (18W). So, the stock power supply has ~18W (1.5A) of power available for other uses. Replacement 12V 3A power supplies via Amazon: Option 1, Option 2, Option 3.
Controls interface directly to CPU's GPIO pins, so they should have very low latency.
Trackball and Spinner use the normal quadrature encoding, but the signals are transmitted to the main board in a non-standard serial format at settings of 115200,7,N,1. (Connecting directly to the sensors would likely allow you to use a conventional USB optical encoder, for a Pi/PC/etc.)

Control panel wiring:
Except for the speaker and power switch pins, all switches connect to ground when closed. (Speaker & power switch each have both their connections run directly to the main board - no connection to ground.
If you're wanting to connect a Raspberry Pi, JAMMA board, etc to the original control panel, here are two different "breakout board" options. Each gives you easy screw-down terminals for the control panel's 40 pin cable, including powevolume switches and speaker. Option 1, Option 2.
Pin # Atari 12-in-1/Asteroids Centipede Rampage StreetFighter2 Galaga/Pacman/SpcInvdrs
1 P1 Button A P1 Start P3 Up P2 Up
2 UART pin 2 (track/spin) UART pin 2 (track/spin) P3 Down P2 Down
3 P1 Button B P2 Start P3 Left P2 Left
4 UART pin 1 (track/spin) UART pin 1 (track/spin) P3 Right P2 Right
5 P1 Button C P1 Button A P3 Button A P2 Button A
6 P1 Button D P1 Button B P3 Button B P2 Button D (SF2 Only)
7 P1 Button E P1 Button C P2 Up P2 Button B
8 P1 Start P2 Down P2 Button E (SF2 Only)
9 P2 Start P2 Left P2 Button C (SF2 Only)
10 P2 Right P2 Button F (SF2 Only)
11 P2 Button A P2 Start P2 Start
12 P2 Button B P1 Start P1 Start
13 UART pin 4 (5V) UART pin 4 (5V) (to pin 17) (to pin 17) (to pin 17)
14 GND GND GND GND GND
15
16
17 UART pin 4 (5V) UART pin 4 (5V) (to pin 13) (to pin 13) (to pin 13)
18 GND GND GND GND GND
19 P1 Up P1 Up P1 Up (Pac only)
20 P1 Down P1 Down P1 Down (Pac only)
21 P1 Left P1 Left P1 Left
22 P1 Right P1 Left P1 Right
23 P1 Button A P1 Button A P1 Button A (Gal/SI only)
24 P1 Button B P1 Button D (SF2 Only)
25 P3 Start P1 Button B
26 P2 Start P1 Button E (SF2 Only)
27 P1 Start P1 Button C (SF2 Only)
28 P1 Button F (SF2 Only)
29 GND GND GND GND GND
30 GND GND GND GND GND
31 GND GND GND GND GND
32 GND GND GND GND GND
33
34
35 Power Switch Power Switch Power Switch Power Switch Power Switch
36 Power Switch Power Switch Power Switch Power Switch Power Switch
37 Vol_A Vol_A Vol_A Vol_A Vol_A
38 Vol _B Vol_B Vol _B Vol_B Vol _B
39 Speaker Speaker Speaker Speaker Speaker
40 Speaker Speaker Speaker Speaker Speaker

Hardware Info ("2nd Gen"):

Gen 2 games include MK2/FF/GT. Countertop-size cabinets (including previously-release-as-Gen1-upright-games like PacMan) are Gen2.
CPU is a quad-core Allwinner H3 SoC ("System On a Chip")
Memory 256MB, Flash storage ???MB.
Sound goes through a NSIWAY NS4165 mono amplifier chip to a single 4" speaker on the control panel. Gen2 boards have traces for a second amplifier chip, but only one is installed on the boards I've seen.
Video likely leaves the H3 SoC as HDMI, and is converted to LVDS by an external chip.
LCD Monitor: Upright cabinets use the same 17" 5x4 1280x1024 as Gen1. (Some have different backlight wiring, some are the same as Gen1.) Counter-cades use an 8" 1024x768 monitor. This means that countercade mainboards won't display on upright monitors and vice versa.
Control panel wiring (Gen 2):
Except for the speaker and power switch pins, all pins connect to ground when switch is closed. (Speaker & power switch each have both their connections run directly to the main board - no connection to ground.
If you're wanting to connect a Raspberry Pi, JAMMA board, etc to the original control panel, here are two different "breakout board" options. Each gives you easy screw-down terminals for the control panel's 40 pin cable, including powevolume switches and speaker. Option 1, Option 2.
Pin # Pacman
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11 P2 Start
12 P1 Start
13
14 GND
15
16
17
18 GND
19 P1 Up
20 P1 Down
21 P1 Left
22 P1 Right
23
24
25
26
27
28
29 GND
30 GND
31 GND
32 GND
33 Power Switch (Gen1=N/C)
34 Power Switch (Gen1=N/C)
35 ???? (Gen1=Power Switch)
36 ???? (Gen1=Power Switch)
37 ???? (Gen1=Vol_A)
38 ???? (Gen1=Vol_B)
39 Speaker
40 Speaker

CABINET INFO (Gen1 & Gen2 UPRIGHT):

Approx 19" wide, approx 46.5" tall. (This height was likely chosen to avoid over-48" surcharges from shipping companies.) Uses 17" 1280x1024 5x4 LCD monitor with LED backlights. Some have a different backlight "inverter" and wiring (internal to the monitor chassis), some are identical to Gen1.
All appear to have been designed without the ability to adjust brightness. Brightness adjustment kit available here:
The only cabinet known to be different in structure is Golden Tee. The control panel is deeper and slightly angled, and the monitor is leaned back. The side panels and control panel are definitely different from the other cabinets.
Here's a guide to adjust the monitor to a more "leaned back" angle, closer to original arcade cabinets. (Golden Tee uses a similar angle.)

CABINET INFO (Gen2 COUNTERCADE):

Uses 8" 4x3 1024x768 monitor, connected via 8-bit 1-channel LVDS interface. Uses

SOFTWARE INFO (generic to all "1st Gen" cabinets):

Flash chip is 128MB total. Partition 1 is 8MB FAT, contains uImage kernel. Partition 2 is 100MB EXT4, contains Linux, MAME, ROMs, etc. Partitions 3/4 are incomplete and can be ignored.
TEST MODE - allows you to see the version of the software on your board. To enter, turn machine off, set volume control to middle setting, press and hold "all" the buttons, and turn the machine on. Among the info displayed will be the software version number. (No one seems to know exactly which buttons are required, but pressing all or as-many-as-you-can seems to work.)
ROOT ACCESS - Connect using settings listed in Hardware section. Login with any of the known accounts, use vi to edit /root/mameload.sh. Add a new line at the top, containing: echo -e "pass\npass" | passwd root and reboot the device. Select and start any game to cause mameload.sh to run, exit the game, and cycle power. (Even though the file is in \root, its permissions are set so any user can edit it. And since it runs at whenever you start a game, it's an easy way to reset the root password to a known value - "root".) After it has run once, you can edit the file again to remove the added line.
EMULATORS - there are two three four different emulations systems in use in - MAME, the "MOO" commercial emulator, RetroArch + Libretro + FBA (for Gauntlet on Rampage v1.0.1, MAME for the rest), RetroArch + Libretro + MAME2003 (for Gauntlet on Rampage v1.0.4 & v1.0.5, MAME for the rest):
  • MAME is v0.139u1 on the 12-in-1, Centipede, Asteroids, & Rampage cabinets. Each cabinet has it's own compiled build of MAME, configured to understand that cabinet's control panel layout. (See controls in the pin-out "spreadsheet" above.) If you add a USB port, a PC keyboard allows access all the standard MAME options - including spinner sensitivity. USB mouse functions as a trackball (at least on 12-in-1)
  • MOO is a commercial emulator, and appears to be built/licensed per cabinet; it's hard-coded to support only a specific small number of ROMs - the games that are in the cabinet. Used in SF2, Galaga, PacMan, and Space Invaders. All future cabinets are very likely to use this same emulator.
  • RetroArch + Libretro + MAME 2003 I have near-zero familiarity with. Who can give me a quick rundown on how it works, how it differs from MAME, how it's similar, etc?
  • RetroArch + FinalBurn Alpha I have near-zero familiarity with. Who can give me a quick rundown on how it works, how it differs from MAME, how it's similar, etc?

SOFTWARE INFO (unique per "1st Gen" cabinet):

(See above section "Test Mode" for determining which software version your board has.)
"Extra" ROMs (more than what cabinet was sold with) are highlighted in bold.
  • Atari Deluxe 12-in-1, model 7017 (v1.0.1, 2018-05-24)
Uses MAME v0.1391, compiled 2018-06-21.Linux boot process captured via the serial terminal: https://pastebin.com/9MB5i6r0File/folder structure: https://pastebin.com/F2TUgNgJHere's the /root/mame.ini file: https://pastebin.com/N5xiz6SP.
/root/roms folder contains astdelux.zip, asteroid.zip, ccastles.zip, centiped.zip, gravitar.zip, liberatr.zip, llander.zip, mhavoc.zip, milliped.zip, missile.zip, bak.quantum1.zip, quantum.zip, quantum1.zip, quantump.zip, sbrkout.zip, sbrkout3.zip, & tempest.zip.
  • Asteroids: model 6650 (v1.0.1, 2018-06-03):
Uses MAME v0.139u1, compiled 2018-05-28. Controls are connected the same as the 12-in-1, minus the trackball.
/root/roms folder contains astdelux.zip, asteroid.zip, gravitar.zip, llander.zip, mhavoc.zip, tempest.zip & sf2ce.zip
  • Asteroids: model 6650 (v1.0.2, 2018-06-25):
Only difference I noticed from v1.0.1 board is /root/565/04.load - the "how to play" screen for Lunar Lander. (v1.0.1 indicated the spinner was used to move. This was removed from v1.0.2)
  • Centipede model 6653 (v1.0.1, 2018-06-14):
Version and date info gathered from log files on v1.0.2 cabinet. No other info known.
  • Centipede model 6653 (v1.0.2, 2018-06-16):
Uses MAME v0.139u1, compiled 2018-06-21. Controls mostly match up with Atari 12-in-1. See table above for details.
/root/roms folder contains ccastles.zip, centiped.zip, liberatr.zip, milliped.zip, missile.zip, & sbrkout.zip.
  • Street Fighter 2 model 6658 (v1.0, 2018-05-24):
Uses the commercial "MOO" emulator.
Linux boot process captured via the serial terminal: https://pastebin.com/rSQHKNhb
File/folder structure: https://pastebin.com/LG10cN6K
Emulator executable is /root/MOO-Capcom-ShipMusl-SF and full command line is ./MOO-Capcom-ShipMusl-SF L0 \\cat /tmp/game\.
ROMs are located at /root/zassets/Capcom, and .sav.zip files are at /root/zassets.
Additional MOO .sav.zip files (but not ROMs or emulator) exist at /root/docs, and shows a game we haven't seen elsewhere - "1944TheLoopMaster". Also has Final Fight, Ghosts N Goblins, and Strider. Likely this unreleased cabinet will be using the MOO commercial emulator as well.
  • Galaga model 7032, (v1.0, 2018-05-24):
Uses "MOO" emulator too - a separate build from the SF2 one. Supports only two ROMs - Galaga & Galaxian.
File/folder structure: https://pastebin.com/SMnwYQdv
Emulator executable is /root/MOO-MIME-ShipMusl-GG and full command line is: ./MOO-MIME-ShipMusl-GG O3 L0 \\cat /tmp/game\.
File system has leftover .cfg files for some MAME usage, similar to SF2 cabinet.
Early control panel PCBs have connections for joystick Up/Down, and a 4-way joystick will plug right in. (Control Panel has to be modified from a "slot" to a round hole to allow joystick to physically move up/down.) Early control Panel PCB marked: "Galaga, Pacman, Space Invaders". Later ones likely use "Final Fight" control panel PCB, but are missing the jacks for P1 Up/Down, P1 B button, and all P2 controls.
Info from MOO readme.txt:
MOO-NAMCO-GG contains the data and executable for the NAMCO GALAGA / GALAXIAN cabinet.
The executable is named MOO-MIME-ShipMusl-GG Executables can be renamed to whatever you want. Executables can be placed whereever you want; they will look for their data in ./zassets
Command line parameters:
g# = Game Number \default G0]G0 = Galaxian [NAMCO ROM DROP, modified version of mame:"galaxian" = Namco - Set 1.]G1 = Galaga [NAMCO ROM DROP, modified version of mame:"galagao" = Namco - Rev A])
P# = Pixel Scaling \default P1]P1 = Even Pixels (game has blank area around edge, pixels are evenly sized.P2 = Full Screen (game has blank area around edge, pixels are irregularly sized))))
L# = enable/disable local save \default L1]L1 = Load local saved state [if it exists] from ./docs/gamename.sav.zip. If no local save exists, fixed save state will be loaded from ./zassets/gamename.save.zip. Local game state will be saved to ./docs/gamename.sav.zip when exiting game via 1P-START button.L0 = Never load or save local game state.)
O# = Orientation of Screen \default O1]O1 = Top of Game on RIGHT of normal monitor [monitor should be LEFT SIDE DOWN]O3 = Top of Game on LEFT of normal monitor [monitor should be RIGHT SIDE DOWN])
-mode screensaver: instant exit from any button press
In-Game Features:EXIT: Hold (1P-START for 3 seconds \if local save is enabled, saves local save to ./docs]RESET: Hold 2P-START for 3 seconds [loads fixed save state from ./zassets])

  • Galaga model 7032, (v1.0.5, 2018-xx-xx):
Info will be updated when I have time to dig through the software.

  • Pacman model 7030 (v1.0.1, 2018-06-30):
Early control panel PCBs have connection for P1 Button "A". Button can be plugged in, and the control panel will work for Galaga or Space Invaders boards. Early control Panel PCB marked: "Galaga, Pacman, Space Invaders". Later ones marked "Final Fight", and are missing the jacks for P1 A & B buttons and all P2 controls.

Uses "MOO" emulator as well. Info from MOO readme:
MOO-NAMCO-PP contains the data and executable for the NAMCO PAC-MAN / PAC-MAN PLUS cabinet.
The executable is named MOO-MIME-ShipMusl-PPExecutables can be renamed to whatever you want. Executables can be placed whereever you want; they will look for their data in ./zassets
Command line parameters:
g# = Game Number \default G0]g0 = Pac-Man [NAMCO ROM DROP - modified version of mame 'pacman' Midway - US Version Set 1.]g1 = Pac-Man Plus [NAMCO ROM DROP - modified version of mame 'pacplus' Midway])
P# = Pixel Scaling \default P1]P1 = Even Pixels [game has blank area around edge, pixels are evenly sized.]P2 = Full Screen [game has blank area around edge, pixels are irregularly sized])
K# = Graphics Patches \Pac-Man Plus] [default K1]K0 = No patches [original graphics with COKE can.]K1 = Patched graphics [PAC can instead of COKE can])
L# = enable/disable local save \default L1]L1 = Load local saved state [if it exists] from ./docs/gamename.sav.zip. If no local save exists, fixed save state will be loaded from ./zassets/gamename.save.zip. Local game state will be saved to ./docs/gamename.sav.zip when exiting game via 1P-START button.L0 = Never load or save local game state.)
O# = Orientation of Screen \default O1]O1 = Top of Game on RIGHT of normal monitor [monitor should be LEFT SIDE DOWN]O3 = Top of Game on LEFT of normal monitor [monitor should be RIGHT SIDE DOWN])
-mode screensaver: instant exit from any button press
In-Game FeaturesEXIT: Hold 1P-START for 3 seconds \if local save is enabled, saves local save to ./docs]RESET: Hold 2P-START for 3 seconds [loads fixed save state from ./zassets])

  • Rampage model 6657 (v1.0.1, 2018-06-14):
Uses MAME v 0.139u1, compiled 2018-xx-xx. Also uses RetroArch + FBAlpha, for Gauntlet only.
/root/roms folder contains ccastles.zip, centiped.zip, defender.zip, gauntlet.zip, gauntlet2p.zip, gauntlet2pg.zip, gauntlet2pg1.zip, gauntlet2pj.zip, gauntlet2pj2.zip, gauntlet2pj3.zip, gauntlet2pr3.zip, joust.zip, liberatr.zip, milliped.zip, missile.zip, rampage.zip & sbrkout.zip.
  • Rampage model 6657 (v1.0.3):
No info at this time.
  • Rampage model 6657 (v1.0.4, 2018-xx-xx):
Uses MAME v 0.139u1, compiled 2018-xx-xx. Also uses RetroArch + Libreto MAME2003, for Gauntlet only.
They removed the extra ROMs left on earlier versions. It does have several versions of Gauntlet 2-player ROMs. /root/roms folder contains only defender.zip, gaunt2pr3.zip, gauntlet.zip, gauntlet2p.zip, gauntlet2pg.zip, gauntlet2pg1.zip, gauntlet2pj.zip, gauntlet2pj2.zip, joust.zip & rampage.zip.
  • Rampage model 6657 (v1.0.5, 2018-10-19, sometimes referred to as "version 2" or "fixed version" in various forums):
Uses MAME v 0.139u1, compiled 2018-10-xx. Also uses RetroArch + Libreto MAME2003, for Gauntlet only.
They removed the extra ROMs left on earlier versions. It does have several versions of Gauntlet 2-player ROMs. /root/roms folder contains only defender.zip, gaunt2pr3.zip, gauntlet.zip, gauntlet2p.zip, gauntlet2pg.zip, gauntlet2pg1.zip, gauntlet2pj.zip, gauntlet2pj2.zip, joust.zip & rampage.zip.
  • Space Invaders model 6999 (v1.0.3, 2018-10-xx):
Only has one ROM file - /root/zassets/Taito/SpaceInvaders.zip, which contains 10 .WAV samples, sicv.maincpu, sicv.proms, and sisv.maincpu.
https://tcrf.net/Space_Invaders_(Arcade)) details the various versions of Space Invaders, including the "CV" and "SV" versions used here.
Uses MOO emulator. Info from MOO readme.txt:
MOO-TAITO-SI contains the data and executable for the SPACE INVADERS cabinet.The SI executable is named MOO-MIME-ShipMusl-SIExecutables can be renamed to whatever you want. Executables can be placed whereever you want; they will look for their data in ./zassets
Command line parameters:
g# = game numberg0 = Space Invaders \B & W, 'SISV']g1 = Space Invaders [Color, 'SICV'])
S# = SAMPLED SOUND OPTIONS \default S1]S0 = Emulated SoundS1 = Sampled Sound)
P# = Pixel ScalingP1 = Even Pixels \game has blank area around edge, pixels are evenly sized]P2 = Full Screen [game has blank area around edge, pixels are irregularly sized])
L# = enable/disable local save \default L1]L1 = Load local saved state [if it exists] from ./docs/gamename.sav.zip If no local save exists, fixed save state will be loaded from ./zassets/gamename.save.zip. Local game state will be saved to ./docs/gamename.sav.zip when exiting game via [1P-START button.]L0 = Never load or save local game state.)
O# = Orientation of Screen \default O1]O1 = Top of Game on RIGHT of normal monitor [monitor should be LEFT SIDE DOWN]O3 = Top of Game on LEFT of normal monitor [monitor should be RIGHT SIDE DOWN])
In-Game FeaturesEXIT: Hold 1P-START for 3 seconds \if local save is enabled, saves local save to ./docs]RESET: Hold 2P-START for 3 seconds [loads fixed save state from ./zassets])

SOFTWARE INFO (generic to all "2nd Gen" cabinets):

Runs Armbian, using a 2018 release of U-Boot. (Gen1 was a 2014 release of U-Boot.)

MENU SYSTEM ("Gen 1" cabinets only):

The menu system works similarly for all 1st-gen cabinets. At boot, script /etc/init.d/S99games displays the boot video and license screen, then runs script /etc/init.d/mame.sh to start the menu executable (/root/menu) and passes it the number of game choices (Galaga=2, SF2=3, 12in1=12, etc) and which game was previously selected: ./menu X $(cat /tmp/selected) (X=# of game choices)
A text file exists for each menu choice (/root/gameX, where X=1-12), consisting of only one line. For MAME it contains the the ROM name ("asteroid","tempest", etc). For MOO it's a hard-coded game number ("g0","g1","g2").
Two image files exist for each game - /root/565/X.*565 and /root/565/X.*load (X=game number, 1-12). *.565 are the main menu screens, and *.load are the "how to play this game" screens. They are 640x480 images stored in an unusual RAW format - 24-bit RGB + 8-bit alpha channel for a total of 32-bit/pixel (~1.2MB each). UPDATE: Here's how to convert to/from PNG to edit the menu screens
The "menu" application displays the .565 image matching the current choice, and changes the image shown as user rotates through the game choices. When a game is selected, contents of the matching /root/gameX is written to /tmp/game, and menu displays the matching .load image ("How to play" screen). After P1 is pressed to start game, MAME/MOO is executed and pointed at the game name in /tmp/game: ./mame $(cat /tmp/game) (12-in-1), ./MOO-Capcom-ShipMusl-SF L0 $(cat /tmp/game) (SF2), or ./MOO-MIME-ShipMusl-GG O3 L0 $(cat /tmp/game) (Galaga).
I dug into the menu code, and it has a hard limit of 12 choices. If set to 13 on the 12-in-1 cabinet, an "invisible" 13th option exists on the main menu, available between the 12th and 1st games. The screen doesn't update, but if you push "A" then "P1 Start" while on this invisible choice, MAME opens and provides a list of games. On cabinets with fewer games, an additional page can likely be added to the menu, configured to run MAME so it will prompt with a list of ROMs. Done! See sneak peek video & video # 2.)
---
NEWS 27: Added info about gaining root access by modifying /root/mameload.sh. Added how to access "Test Mode" to view software version number.
NEWS 26: Added info for Asteroids v1.0.2. (Same as v1.0.1, except for the Lunar Lander "how to play" screen.)
NEWS 25: Added info for Space Invaders v1.0.3. As expected, uses MOO emulator and the controls match up with Galaga & Pacman. Has only one .ZIP file that contains both games and ten .WAV audio samples. Emulator can be configured to use samples or emulate the sound effects.
NEWS 24: Added info on modifying/replacing the stock menu screens. Listed all included ROMs on each version of the boards that use MAME - any "extra" games available via USB mod + MAME menu are bolded. Visit each game below in the "SOFTWARE" section for the added info. Confirmed memory is DDR3 (SoC supports 2 & 3), and flash ROM is connected via quad-channel SPI interface.(OLDER NEWS AT BOTTOM OF POST)
NEWS 23: As promised, here's how to wire an L-Pad as a volume control with the stock control panel/speaker. First batch of Plug-n-Play kits for brightness control available. (Still free to DIY your own brightness control.)
NEWS 22: Added info for adding an L-Pad as an inexpensive volume control, and several options for replacement power supplies.UPDATE: More information coming about installing the volume control. I have one on the way from Amazon. :)
NEWS 21: Added how-to for adding brightness adjustment to stock LCD backlight. Added technical details about the stock monitor, the interface between it and the board. Added info about Rampage 1.0.4.
NEWS 20: A Redditor asked about how much power the stock system draws. I tested several boards and two different LCDs. Peak power draw was during the boot video, and was 1.3A-1.5A (depending on monitor, they vary a bit.) So, ~18W (~1.5A) of the 36W (3A) power adapter is available for other uses.
NEWS 19: Update on Trackball/Spinner protocol (serial @ 115200,7,N,1, and added info for Asteroids (control panel wiring is same as the 12-in-1.)) Trackball should be easy to add to Asteroids cab.
NEWS 18: After many requests, I've partnered with an eBay store to offer USB mod + Sound fix + UART pins installation services, available here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/163461358596 (UPDATE: or just the sound fix: https://www.ebay.com/itm/153374535545)
NEWS 17: Determined the specific games supported by each MAME build; info added here. Uploaded a second YouTube video, showcasing most of the games playable w/Rampage's MAME.
NEWS 16: Christmas update: Bad news on the MAME front. We knew each game had a copy compiled to support the specific controls in that cabinet, but it turns out each may be compiled to support \only the games in that cabinet*. I tweaked the config to run MAME from USB and added a number of ROMs, but the menu only showed the games already included in the cabinet. Troubleshooting, I ran "MAME -listclones" on Rampage's MAME, and only ~10 games (plus their many clones show up. Didn't know MAME could be compiled to support only a handful of games, but I suppose it would save space to not support systems/CPUs/etc that won't be used. Will check other cabinets' MAMEs soon.))
NEWS 15: Added section for control panel wiring, which allows me to confirm that MAME from the Rampage cabinet will work for Pacman/Galaga cabinets! Already knew the basic joystick functions worked, but confirmed that everything for Player 1 matches exactly, except P1/P2 Start. (And they match up w/ P2 buttons A & B, so can easily be remapped. Also, appears we can easily add a second fire button to Galaga/Pacman, even though it's not on the circuit board - Pin 24 & GND. (or add 1 or 2 buttons to PacMan))
NEWS 14: New info gathered from Rampage v1.0.5 - a third emulator has entered the mix. Success at getting MAME to see/run ROMs stored on USB flash drive. Info added for Centipede. Software info split out into "generic" (all cabs and "specific" (per cab.))
NEWS 13: Added a guide for adjusting the monitor to a more original-arcade-cabinet angle: https://imgur.com/gallery/DyS36SR
NEWS 12: Uploaded a sneak preview video, showing MAME running on a "MOO" cabinet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE1fIJeSeRM
\*NEWS 11**: Info about the MOO emulator discovered on Galaga board. Added serial terminal login that works on all games I've seen so far - *default*:*mimebox*.)
NEWS 10: Added basic info for Galaga, with more to come. Adding an invisible 13th option to 12-in-1 menu opens MAME directly, and MAME displays a list of all the ROMs on the system. \*This is probably our best bet for adding games to the MAME cabinet with the least amount of effort**. Will try to create a process that moderately-technical folks can follow.)
NEWS 9: Created instructions for adding a USB port to 12-in-1, to access MAME options. (Probably useful for Asteroids, Centipede, Rampage, maybe others. Cleaned up info above, separated the two emulation systems, and added details about menu operation.)
\*NEWS 8**: Emulation-related updates. On Atari12in1,) MAME is v 0.139u1. Adding a USB port to the board and connecting a PC keyboard allows you to access all the standard MAME options (TAB to open menu, and the settings stick after a reboot.) This includes adjusting screen scaling options, spinner sensitivity, etc! Currently, the only way to access these options is to solder a USB connection to the board. \This change will almost certainly void your warranty*, but I'm looking at creating a solder-free USB add-on.)
\*NEWS 7**: Successfully connected USB flash drive to both SF2 and Atari 12-in-1 boards, and used "dd" via the serial terminal connection to create a full image of each device. Flash storage on both appears to be 128MB, not larger as I originally thought. (The 3rd partition referenced appears to be a remnant from the development platform. Attempting to mount it fails, and nothing seems to access it. When directly reading flash chip via external hardware, only the first ~12MB of 3rd partition is readable - 8MB + 100MB + 12MB = 128MB. 3rd partition can be ignored. The Atari 12-in-1 definitely uses MAME. SF2 appears to use a self-contained emulator + external ROM files. (Some MAME files exist, but don't seem to be used. Executable is named "MOO-Capcom-ShipMusl-SF". When run, shows "MOO Emulation Copyright - Built Apr 13 2018 03:30:15".))
Number of games is set in /etc/init.d/ - line is: ./menu, XX \cat /tmp/selected` where XX is number of games - 3, 12, etc.)
Front-end menu looks like it will be pretty easy to modify, other than an odd image file format. Menu on both boards uses two RAW 640x480 images for each game, game\*XX**.565 and load**XX**.565. (XX=01-03 on SF2, 01-12 on Atari-12-in-1 The first image is the on-screen "menu", the second is the "how to play this game" screen displayed after a game is chosen/activated. The "menu" system is just displaying each "game**XX**" image, one at a time, as joystick movement selects a game. But the images are created in a way that)) looks like a scrolling menu system - each image shows game(s above/below current selection, has page #s, etc. Images seem to be in a rgb565-type format, but have) 4 bytes per pixel rather than 3 - 1228800 bytes per image. (Alpha channel? Can preview them in GIMP, but can't open.There is a "game\*X**" text file per game, and each contains only the ROM name, and a blank line. ("game1" = astdelux, "game12" = liberatr, etc.. Menu must read the appropriate game)))X file, and pass that ROM name to MAME.
\*NEWS 6**: Login name and password for serial interface on SF2 board are both "**newborg**". This same combination does) not work on the Atari 12-in-1 board.
NEWS 5: Gathered serial output for Atari 12-in-1 cab too. Added above.
NEWS 4: Successfully pulled the 2nd partition from the flash - it's \100MB and contains Linux, MAME, the ROMS, etc! (Based on some partition info I gathered, I believe it's 512MB in total, with a 3rd unknown partition taking up the remainder.)
NEWS 3: Successfully interfaced with the UART (serial port. Here's a capture of the serial output at boot, from a Street Fighter 2 board:) https://pastebin.com/rSQHKNhbAnd from the Atari 12-in-1: https://pastebin.com/9MB5i6r0
Some interesting info right off the bat:CPU: Allwinner A13 (SUN5I\***************)************************) & \*DRAM: 128 MiB**- We already knew the CPU, but RAM size is good to know.)Board: A13-OLinuXino - Interesting. Their development platform was very likely this board.\ 0.055267] [usb_manager]: CONFIG_USB_SW_SUNXI_USB0_HOST_ONLY) - This explains why I had trouble interfacing via USB; I was attempting to access it as a peripheral/slave device (as USB mass storage, etc. It can probably access a USB flash device, but won't act like one. (Update: changing this setting did not allow a PC to access it, but can confirm the board can access a USB flash drive.)\ 1.317732\] mousedev: PS/2 mouse device common for all mice) - The trackball and spinner electronics look very similar to the workings of a PS/2 mouse with a scroll wheel from 10+ years ago. Could be how they're interfaced/used.Playing arcade1up.avi & VIDEO: \H264] 640x480 24bpp 24.000 fps 1380.3 kbps (168.5 kbyte/s****************)************************) - The startup video can almost certainly be edited/replaced.menu ver:May 28 2018 & game count=3 \- The first info I've seen about games, menu info, etc.)
After booting, the board displays info about each button press,including volume up/down:
keysDown 1P UP down 12 update_image: 2 down 13 keysDown 1P DOWN down 13 update_image: 0 down 13 keysDown 1P DOWN down 13 keysDown 1P DOWN down 13 update_image: 1 down 12 volume: 50 volume\_cb: 50 volume: 100 volume\_cb: 100 volume: 50 volume\_cb: 50 
Volume is \CPU-controlled*, and gets set to 0, 50, or 100, depending on the position of the switch - "-"(left connects one input to GND or "+" (right connects another.))
NEWS 2: I've successfully pulled the software image 8MB boot partition (uImage\*********)* from my SF2 board!
NEWS 1: First hardware hack found - Missing left-channel channel audio in SF2 fixed. UPDATE - Gauntlet has similar issue, and the same fix works.
submitted by BerryBerrySneaky to Arcade1Up

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