The Introduction ::
This is a review of my experiences and thoughts of the MCC-216 ( Multiple Classic Computer ).
What is an MCC-216 ?
The MCC-216 is a Multiple Classic Computer that Emulates, the Commodore 64 and soon, the Commodore Amiga and Atari 2600. It can potentially store up to eight systems. This neat little device uses Emulation, but through custom hardware, that it is able to run in real-time with similar behaviour to the original hardware. Each Classic Computer is run through a Core system that can run in both NTSC and PAL, in this instance, the Commodore 64.
You can reboot the system by simply, lightly pressing the Power Button ( select Core Image ) or via a Regular PS/2 Keyboard ... Ctrl-Alt-Del :
For the Commodore PS/2 Keyboard :
NTSC Mode -> Press: Commodore + Alt + Pi
PAL Mode -> Press: Commodore + Alt + Pound
switch discs -> Press: CTRL TAB key
F12 -> Display reading and CPU power
F11 -> Switch between Fast and Normal CPU mode
Hardware Specifications of the Device ::
- Altera Cyclone 3 FPGA with 16k gates
- 16 MByte SDRAM
- 2 MByte Flash
- Micro SD card interface
- USB Host interface (USB 1.1) for future expansion
- USB Device interface (USB 1.1)
- Video Out (4 Pin S-Video or VGA out)
- Stereo Audio Out (3.5 mm jack)
- 2x joystick interfaces (DB-9 connector)
- JTAG interface (internal for programming and development)
- GPIO interface (internal addition I/Os for to be defined functionality)
The Front Panel supports:
- 2x DB-9 Joystick Interfaces for classic retro joysticks
- Micro SD card interface for FPGA cores, boot and system rom, games and application data
- USB Host interface for future expansion of the MCC with external devices (e.g. USB keyboard and mouse, USB memory stick, etc.)
The Back Panel supports:
- Mini USB interface for power supply
- Stereo Audio Out (3.5mm aux jack)
- S-Video Out (4-Pin connector) or VGA high quality video out
- PS-2 interface for keyboard
- PS-2 interface for mouse
The MCC-216 uses a Micro SD Card for storage of the system and ROM images. A 128 MB card is bundled in with the device, but I have used a 2GIG card for maximum storage. I believe it can read up to 8GIG cards.
Cloanto has a partnership with the developers of MCC, so to the reason why you get C64 Forever and a few Demos and Games to get you started. The Demos and Games are loaded through an Index System, that reads the selected Core ( C64 ) that is chosen. A nice selectable Index of Demos or Games appears and by a simple Press of the Fire Button on a Joystick ( supplied ) or via a PS/2 Keyboard ( C64 or PC - Sold seperately ) using the Cursor Keys and Enter / Space, you can load up the selected Demo or Game. The Index File can be edited via a Text Editor or through an Excel Spreadsheet designed by the MCC team ( available from the MMC website, which allows you to produce a list of images with their ; Folder Paths, D64 or T64 image types etc. However, the filenames must be only eight characters with a suffix e.g. :
ID = 22.214.171.124.4.1.23153.1000.24.2.1
Type = game
Entity = "Mr. Chip"
Title = "Ad Infinitum"
Year = 1984
Genre = action-shooting
System = c-64
Port = 1, joystick
Tape = "APPS\ADINFI~1.CHI\ADINFI~1.T64", "APPS\Ad Infinitum (Mr. Chip, 1984, C64)\adinfinitum.T64", "1"
However, if you add you own images, it could look like this :
ID = 0.0.0.0.0.0.16384.1000.2.1
Type = game
Entity = "Elite"
Title = "Commando"
Year = 1985
Genre = arcade
System = c-64
Port = 2, joystick
Floppy = "APPS\commando\commando.d64", "APPS\commando\commando.d64", "1"
You can also use the Cloanto Archive Manager to expand you ROM library. Although, I found this method slightly confusing and couldn't get to grips with the Excel Index Creator / Editor. So, I ended up creating and modifying the list manually.
My overal experience :::
YouTube Video of MCC in action : [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF8imGPOyPs
Video Output ::
Now, over the last week, I have had a bit of a challenge trying to get one thing to work on the MCC-216. That is the Video Output ! I was initially offered a VGA Output MCC, but went for the S-Video version. Unfortunately, it wasn't as simple as I thought it would be. In order for a four-pin S-Video connection to fully work, you need a direct connection to a TV and not through a Scart Adaptor. If you do, do this, the Video Output will be Black and White or Commodore 64 does Classic Nintendo GameBoy style. You can use an S-Video end convertor to Composite Video, but you will loose picture clarity and quality. I even tried using an NTSC / PAL Video convertor, but alas, no such luck, just colour, then black and white pulses. Strange ! Yep ! It sure was ! Finally though, after replacing my LG 19" TV / Monitor for a Hitachi 19 " TV / Monitor with a direct S-Video connection, was I able to experience full colour on the MCC-216. So, if you choose the right MCC with the right Video Output for you. The VGA Output model would seem more compatible than S-Video and would provide a cleaner, crisper image quality.
Sound Output ::
No real quibbles, apart from the MCC is Emulating the 8580 SID which produces, in some case differences in SID playback and is quite hellish for sampled sounds, as in, they are too quiet. I am sure the 6581 SID would provide more compatibility for playback. A fine example is any sampled sounds in Demos or Games, try Bionic Commando by Capcom ( Tim Follin Music ). For more information about the differences with C64 SID's : [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOS_Technology_SID
Demos and Games - 1541 Drive Emulation ::
I am not sure why, but some Demos and Games don't seem to load correctly or even crash. You either get garbled text or run ... ready. The one that really puzzled me was, Commando by Elite. I have tried several different trainer versions and each one loads perfectly. However, when it comes to pressing the fire button, the game just won't run. Jigging around to the synthetic melodies of Rob Hubbard is good enough, but I want play the game as well. Sometimes successful loading is totally random, quite puzzling really.
Screen Positioning ::
Some Demos and Games use routines to take advantage of the screen borders, mainly for scrolling text or score bars. In this instance, Delta by Thalamus is a fine example. Roughly half of the score bar is missing, probably due to the screen positioning. Changing the screen modes on the TV doesn't make any difference, even from 4:3 ( full screen ) to 16:9 ( widescreen ).
Loading Images :
If the ROM images stored on the Micro SD cards could be read in as a folder, then read in as a disk or tape image, it would rule out the need for the Menu System and would simplfy the loading process.
A choice of SID Chips would cater for lovers of both 8580 and 6581, perhaps it could be chosen on the Core selection or other menus ?
The MCC-216 Standard is currently priced @ 199.99 USD
The MCC-216 Colour Lightning is currently priced @ 219.99 USD
Please visit the MCC website for prices and other accessories :http://s318412817.e-shop.info/shop/catalog/browse?shop_param=
The MCC-216 is a real box of tricks with real pontential and if the developers tweak and improve the environments on the C64 and future systems, I am sure it will be a winner.
For more detailed information on the Multiple Classic Computer, head over to : http://mcc-home.com/index.html