Where We’re Going

I feel better now but the same can’t be said about my coworkers so Saturn ODEs will be delayed further. I hope to have better news to share come 2nd week of March or so. But we did manage to get something done – I will have some GDEMUs for sale next week. I will open orders this Saturday.

Now, I need to explain a few things, let’s start with PCE: My device is meant to replace the CD-ROM drive, and only that. If you are looking for something more then there is another solution on the market that basically replaces the whole IF unit and AFAIK even lets you play cart-based games. It’s an interesting (if somewhat expensive) approach but personally I’ve always preferred to leave as much of the original console intact as possible. Because once you start improving and replacing things, where do you stop? But you have a choice now – and I wanted this to be clear as some people expect me to pretty much make the same thing, but cheaper.

With that out of the way let’s talk about FM Towns. Here’s a mockup of how the new ODE fits inside the Marty:

The final product will have black/gold PCB. I would’ve liked to keep the SD card socket at the edge of the PCB but it’s not really possible here – there are some pros and cons of this approach. You need to learn how to remove the card with your fingernail (it’s easy once you figure it out) but at the same time there is less risk of it falling into the console. Plus the PCB doesn’t move around as it’s being held by the original metal pegs. No soldering of any kind, obviously.

With the latest changes to the PCB I got it working pretty well, so well in fact I will offer that overclock option I mentioned to speed up loading times. And now it’s even better than 10% 🙂 I’ve tested a few dozen games with it on and everything loaded just fine. It’s completly optional though. Now I plan to order just a few PCBs to assemble by hand for the final check, and try to sell them. If there are no problems I will make a bigger batch. I still expect this batch to be small, while the PCB is bigger and considerably more expensive for me. Shipping will be somewhat more expensive too. Expect a bit higher price than usual, for now I think 150 Euro will cover everything.

Speaking of prices, I did take a look at non-Marty FM Towns machines. Well, I didn’t much like what I saw. For now I’m going to try getting a broken unit and attempting a repair – though I’m not very optimistic about that. But at the very least I will have some spare parts and something to study closer, since I have to figure out the connectors, where and how to put the ODE, etc. But a good, working FMT box is about 800 Euros (and full sets go for way more), and worse yet there are at least 3 distinct kinds: The original one with vertical CD drive, the U* versions that had the monitor built-in and a more typical tray drive, and the later 486 horizontal desktops. Which apparently also got an upgraded x2 speed drive at some point. I’m not even going to bother with the late Pentium and above models.
So chances are all these have different drives with different protocols, and I’m not buying one of each to verify that. Not at these prices plus I really have no space for any of it. So, those of you that want FMT ODE, any ideas on what to do about it? Please leave comments.

EDIT: GDEMU orders are now open closed. As usual please allow a few days for processing.

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