Software and Errata for NESRGB Kit

Batch #1

Identify: Five coupling capacitors are black in colour. Text reads NESRGB, T.W. 2013, 00266A.

Release: October 2013

Hardware Version: 1.0

Software Version: 1.0


Batch #2

Identify: Five coupling capacitors are yellow in colour. Text reads NESRGB, T.W. 2013.

Release: January 2014

Hardware Version: 1.0

Software Version: 1.0 or 1.3


Batch #3

Identify: Text reads NESRGB12, T.W. 2014.

Release: May 2014

Hardware Version: 1.2

Software Version: 1.5 or 1.7


Software Changelog

Version 1.0 - Original software. Shipped with first batch and generally works OK on this hardware. Due to different RAM chip used in later hardware this software does not work correctly with anything other than batch #1 hardware.

Version 1.1 - Quick fix for RAM problem in V1.0, had some side effects.

Version 1.3 - RAM bug fixed properly.

Version 1.4 - Fixes a bug which prevents access to mirrors of the PPU palette address range (as seen in intro of Castlevania II English Re-translation). Also allows for a the small SPDT switch to be used for palette selection.

Version 1.5 - Fixes bug which causes random colour in some obscure games (Orb 3D, Morskoy Boy, Duck Maze). Fixes compatibility with Everdrive save states. This version is has more RAM timing issues which causes a few games (Mario 2, Metroid) to have incorrect background colours in some areas.

Version 1.6 - Quick fix for RAM timing issues in V1.5.

Version 1.7 - I spent more time on RAM access logic and it should be solid now.

Version 1.7 FBX Palette - Special build with a different palette #1

Buggy Releases

Batch #2: In January 2014 many boards were sent out with V1.0 software and this resulted in most games having grey backgrounds. The solution is to upgrade the software on the board to at least V1.3 (preferably the latest version). The in an alternative fix which requires replacing the RAM chip. Because replacing the RAM chip is difficult, the software fix is preferred.

Batch #3: In May 2014 some boards with buggy V1.5 software were sent to customers in the US, Japan, and Korea. This is a minor bug which only seems to affect the background in a few games (Mario 2, Metroid). The solution is to upgrade the software on the board to V1.7. If no programming hardware is available an alternate hardware modification can be performed as described below.


Hardware fix for batch #3 with V1.5 software

Find a 22p ceramic capacitor. This needs to be soldered between pin 48 and ground.

The 22p cap will be connected between pin 48 (third from the end) and the ground point of the bypass capacitor next to it. Cut the legs of the capac short, tin with extra solder, and bend into position. Solder the ground pin first then carefully align the other leg above the IC pin and heat with a soldering iron. I recommend adding some hot glue to prevent it from falling off. 

How to update the PLD software

board_jtag.jpg (70923 bytes) JTAG_pinout.png (1608 bytes)

To update the software a JTAG programmer is required. I recommend an Altera USB Blaster or clone.

There is an umarked 6 pin  JTAG programming connection on the lower left hand side of the board. Pin 1 is encircled.

JTAG Pinout

  1. +3.3V power rail
  2. Ground
  3. TDO
  4. TCK
  5. TDI
  6. TMS

The Altera USB Blaster requires the Quartus II Progammer Software for Windows to be installed. The download is 185 MB and installation requires 700 MB of hard disk space. The USB Blaster drivers are included in the package (find them in the folder after installation).

Quartus II Progammer Software for Windows   - Version 13.1 - working on Windows 7 and XP

quartus2prg.png (9626 bytes)

To use:

26/1/14 - Page Created.
28/1/14 - Corrected part number for original RAM chip. Uploaded original POF file
31/1/14 - The part number for the RAM chip ends in -ZXI, the -ZXC part does not exist. Changed the  Altera programming software to ver 13.1 the old version 11.1 SP2 is still available here.
6/2/14 - Added NESRGB POF version 1.3 to the page.
13/3/14 - added v1.4
23/5/14 - added v1.5
25/5/14 - added v1.6
26/5/14 - added v1.7, added info on how to identify the different hardware, and an alternate solution for the latest batch bugs.
15/12/15 - added FBX palette build of v1.7