Wednesday, 25 February 2015

How to get files running on your computer.

At the moment ArduiTape can only play .wav files and these .wav files have to be below 20kHz due to limitations of the Arduino Nano. We hope to be able to get the conversions done automatically by the Nano board eventually but development is in an early stage as we've been focusing on getting the boards working first.

Arduitape does support sub directories but to move back and forth you need to create a file called ROOT with no extension. This can be done using a text editor like Wordpad. Create a new file, save as ROOT.txt and then rename the file and delete .txt. Put the file in every subdirectory on your SD card.

Another thing worth noting when loading 2400 baud wavs is that sometimes the wav will stop playing and it will look like the game hasn't loaded. Just press play and wait 5-10 seconds and the game will start.

For the MSX we have adapted a version of CASTools to convert .CAS files into .wav files at the right frequency to work with the ArduiTape. This 14400Hz for those who are interested. This works perfectly for most .CAS files at both 1200 and 2400 baud (2400 baud loads the games faster), however CASTools has a known issue with Gremlin Graphics games and a few others. We have found that the games that do not work with CASTools do work with Tapdancer though and Andrew has managed to create a programme that converts Tapdancer files into usable .WAV files at the right frequency.

CASTools for ArduiTape
To use just double click on CASTools and drag a .CAS file into the window. Choose if you want the .WAV to be at 2400 baud or not and then convert.

Tapdancer File Rip.
To use copy all the files from the tapdancer folder of your Android device to the files folder and then run Tapdancer File Rip.exe as Administrator. The .wav file you want to copy to your ArduiTapes SDCard is the 14400.wav file. Just rename it to the name of the game.

As the MSX has many different load commands and Arduitape cannot handle long filenames I recommend creating folders named after the load command the game requires. E.g. All games that use the bload"cas:",r command go in a directory called Bload.

For the Electron find and download UEF2WAV to convert the .UEF files and then use a programme like Gold Wave to Amplify the .WAV and then resample to 16000Hz. Your .WAV file should now be compatible with Arduitape.

Other Computers
At the moment there have only been  2 Arduitapes built and they have only been tested on the MSX and Electron. If you build one for use with another computer let us know so we can work with you to get it working on that system.

Optional extras and housing the unit

Optional Extras

The reset switch build is simple. Use a 5 hole by 5 hole piece of veroboard, connect the button to the centre, cut the copper strips in the same way you did on the button board, solder two wires and connect one wire to the RST pin and one to the standalone ground pin.

The 5v adapter jack is constructed in a similar manner to the 2.5mm jack. Solder a wire to each of the connectors and connect one to the GND and one to the VIN. If when you connect an adaptor nothing happens then switch the wires over.

Housing the ArduiTape

I bought my project box from Maplins as they have a wide range of project boxes. Always make sure when you do house your project you allow more room than you actually need as the wires do take up a lot of room.

My Project boxed.                                                                           Andrew Beers Project boxed.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The final steps

The final step is building the Button Board and the connecting everything together.
The Button Board.
For this you will need the following.
Veroboard I use (10 x 20 holes with the copper strips running horizontally)
5 x Buttons.
6 x Right Angle Male Pins.
Jumper wire.

Top view of the Button Board.

Flip the board over and cut the copper strips where indicated.

Bottom view of the Button Board.

That is most of the construction done. The only things left to do is cut off one end off two dupont wires (for ease make sure one is black) and solder the wires on to the connectors of the 2.5mm port.


This is where it gets complicated. First we will connect the LCD screen to the Nano board.

Use 4 dupont wires and connect to the pins on the back of the LCD screen. The wire on the pin marked VCC goes to a 5v pin. GND to a Ground pin. SDA goes to pin A4 and SCL to A5.

Now the SD Card Slot.

CS to D10
SCK to D13
MOSI to D11
MISO to D12
VCC to 5v
GND to Ground

 Your SD card reader may have it's pins named differently but the pin order is usually the same.

Now to connect the Button Board.

I've numbered on the picture where each cable should go on the Nano board. The pin numbered D6 actually goes to D7

The Filter Board and the Amp.

VCC to 5v Pin on the Nano Board
In to Amp in on the Filter Board
Both GND pins to the Ground Pins on the Nano Board.

On my Amp the is a green socket for two wires that go to the 3.5mm Socket I used a red wire for the in and Black for the GND and soldered the other ends to the 3.5mm socket.

The final piece of teh puzzle is the 2.5mm Motor Control socket. One wire goes to D6 and the other goes to the hopefully final Ground Pin.

The final piece of the puzzle is to programme the Arduino.

You should find the relevant .rar file here.

Monday, 23 February 2015

How to build the circuit boards.

And now on to construction.

For the Nano Circuit board you will need the following

Veroboard (I used a piece 13 holes by 19).
32 DIL Wide Socket.
28 Male Pin Headers.
Jumper wire.

Cut the jumper pins to the following

3 x 1 Pin
2 x 2 Pins
2 x 4 Pins
1 x 6 Pins
1 x 7 pins

Make sure the copper strips on the veroboard are vertical and on the underside of the board.

Top view of the Nano Board.

 When you have soldered all the components flip the board over and remove the copper strips where indicated. Be very careful not to cut yourself.

Underside  view of the Nano Board

When completed it should look something like this.

Now on to the Audio filter. You will need the following.

Veroboard (I used a piece 9 holes by 15)
4 x 4.7k resistors.
3 x 4.7nF Capacitors
1 x 100nF Capacitor
3 x Male Pin headers.

Cut your male pin header into single pins.

C1, C2, and C3 are the 4.7nF Capacitors
C4 is the 100nF Capacitor.

Top view of Audio Filter Board.

Now flip the board over and cut the copper as indicated.

Bottom View of the Audio Filter Board

The final assembled board should look like this (minus the wires attached to the pins).

In the next blog we will build the Button board and then assemble all the componants.

What you need.

For this build you will need the following

95x54mm of veroboard or larger.
1 x Serial I2C 1602 16x2 Character LCD Module
1 x Arduino Nano V3.0 (or cheap knockoff)
1 x Micro SD Storage Board For Arduino
1 x DIL32  Wide Socket
4 x 4.7k Resistors
3 x 4.7nF Capacitors
1 x 100nF Capacitor
1 x LM386 Audio Amplifier
1 x 3.5 mm Female Jack
1 x 2.5 mm Female Jack
5 x Tactile Buttons
A strip of Male Pin Headers
A strip of Right Angle Male Pin Headers
Some jumper wire
Some female to female Dupont cables.

1 x Tactile Button for a reset switch
1 x DC Socket Charger Power Jack Plug if you do not trust the USB socket to provide adequate power for the Arduino Nano.

All of these can be found relatively cheaply on eBay just make sure you check where they are being delivered from as it takes up to 4 weeks to get to you from China.

In the beginning.

This is just a test post to see if I know what I'm doing when writing a blog on how to construct the Arduitape project.

A taster of what the final product can look like.