I call it... KOStana

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ThePerfectK
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I call it... KOStana

Post by ThePerfectK » Sun Dec 15, 2019 7:23 am

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Finally this thing works so I can show it off. Been working on this on and off for a few months now, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. I've always wanted a real Katana dev kit, but after years of lusting, I figured I should do something about it. Not content to sell a pinky toe to finance one, I decided I'd build something similar instead. Hence...

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Obviously this is not a real mac, nor a real Katana. But this is a fully self-contained, integrated Dreamcast devkit, entirely built from FOSS technologies. This machine is simultaneously a modern PC -- i7 4790k, 16 gb RAM, AMD RX580 short-form GPU -- and a Dreamcast all in one, in the same case, interacting with each other.

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This is the dreamcast internals all laid out before they went into the case. The dreamcast is pretty modified. Firstly, I have built a USB Coder's Cable directly into the Dreamcast from the test points on the mobo, the steps to do so are outlined here: https://dcemulation.org/phpBB/viewtopic ... 9&t=105308

A pico PSU has been installed in the dreamcast to keep things running cooler. I have also installed heat sinks on Holly and the SH4 to keep them running cooler. Might add a fan to both as well just in case, because it's now in a big PC case.

This lets the Dreamcast talk to the host PC via a USB connection, rather than using the more common (I think?) BBA solution. I did this, because using a BBA to connect to a development PC ties up the modem on the dreamcast, so it's impossible to write and debug modem software. This is a devkit, devkit aint got no time to play around, devkit meant to dev with. So inside this PC tower is also a raspberry pi, running DreamPi, which the Dreamcast's 56k modem interfaces with, that pipes to the back as a ethernet port. Just plug the ethernet cable into your router and the Dreamcast is online, and you can write and debug online code with the thing.

The GD-Rom drive has been removed from the Dreamcast, and in its place is a GDEmu, which lets the Dreamcast boot directly up into the image of my choosing. On the front of my KOStana tower is an SD Card reader which connects to the GDEmu via a ribbon, so i can easily swap out the image the DC boots into without disassembling the computer. Currently, it boots into [USER=107]@SiZiOUS[/USER] latest version of DC-Tool-Serial:

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The Dreamcast's video runs into an old VGA adapter I had laying around. You can see I've installed a toggle on it, which runs to the back of the tower. When the toggle is in one position, the Dreamcast outputs to a VGA port on the back of the tower, which lets you connect to an external monitor. When the toggle is in the other position, the Dreamcast outputs via SVideo, which piped into a Happauge Win-TV card in the tower, which can be opened via VLC, letting the Dreamcast video and computer video run on a single monitor side by side if needed. This way, the Dreamcast output appears to look like a floating window in Xubuntu, the OS I'm using to power the entire thing:

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Xubuntu has been skinned to look like OSX Aqua circa 1999, to match the entire theme of the Dreamcast. It is running on a modified Blueberry Apple Studio Display Monitor. I say modified, because when I got this about a month ago, it was working, but the flyback transformer on the thing was a bit messed up. When you'd turn on the monitor, it would fill the air in the room with static electricity and sparks would come out. I tried replacing the flyback, and while it removed the static electricity and sparks, it also removed the picture from the tube. Doh!

So, not to be deterred, I pulled the guts out of the monitor:

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And bolted on the guts of 4:3 17" LCD Dell monitor...

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and Viola! A test of the monitor:

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Everything is meant to match. The tower is crystal blue, as is the monitor. A pic together:

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Additionally, I have a bunch of other crystal blue stuff that goes together. An earlier pic of some stuff together:

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Crystal blue keyboard, crystal blue mouse, crystal blue controller, crystal blue VMU, crystal blue SD Card...

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Ah yes, and a second crystal blue Dreamcast, which serves a purpose:

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This second crystal blue dreamcast is also a devkit. These are older pics, the white brick on the side is a BBA, which I have since put into it's own crystal blue shell to match. This dreamcast, with the BBA, can be used to debug and develop software for, but the main purpose is to dump GD-Roms if needed. I can use dreamshell or some other application to dump GD-Roms to an SD card, which can then be popped into the KOStana and run like normal.

Ah yes, developing stuff. Aside from Xubuntu being skinned like OSX Aqua, I've also integrated KOS and GDB into QT Creator for a fully GUI IDE:

Video Link!

no janky CLI here, all full GUI. And, if need be, if for whatever reason I don't want to use the dreamcast hardware inside... like say I need some extra advanced debugging options... this also can run gdb through Redream, a linux Dreamcast emulator (notes on how to do so here: https://dcemulation.org/phpBB/viewtopic ... 4#p1056797

I still have things I want to do going forward. One of the drive bays on the crystal blue tower is open, for example. I want to build a light box for it so that, when the computer is turned on, the words "DREAMCAST" will shine through with glowing light. I'll use my 3D printer to build a shadow mask to do that. But that'll come in the future.

And, of course, what's a devkit without some cool ass software made from it? That's something i'm getting ready to distribute in shortly, I've been working on something for many, many years now. In the meantime, enjoy the kit!
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Re: I call it... KOStana

Post by Ayla » Sun Dec 15, 2019 7:45 am

Oh man 😍
That deserves a post on Hackaday. Really fantastic build!
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Re: I call it... KOStana

Post by |darc| » Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:18 pm

Damn dude. This is quite impressive.

I thought about doing something like this; that is, using retail Dreamcast hardware put into a custom case with dials and switches hacked up to do the same thing as they do on the real dev.kit, but with additional selectable options like multibank BIOS, selectable modem/ethernet, selectable GD-ROM/GDEMU, etc. but that has just been such a massive undertaking I never left basic planning steps.
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Re: I call it... KOStana

Post by ThePerfectK » Wed Dec 18, 2019 11:17 pm

|darc| wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:18 pm
Damn dude. This is quite impressive.

I thought about doing something like this; that is, using retail Dreamcast hardware put into a custom case with dials and switches hacked up to do the same thing as they do on the real dev.kit, but with additional selectable options like multibank BIOS, selectable modem/ethernet, selectable GD-ROM/GDEMU, etc. but that has just been such a massive undertaking I never left basic planning steps.

I want to put in a multibank bios or something similar, I just don't know if I see the real utility in doing so.

I can swap out the Modem/ethernet pretty easily by opening the case, but it feels like the dreampi is the more popular solution these days. I have concentrated my education on socket programming on the 56k modem. I'm curious, though, what was your proposed solution to swap between modem/ethernet? I saw moop the other day in discord talking about how the modem port on the DC is actually a pretty bog standard PCI port in just a different shape, did that factor in?

The box actually runs hot right now, though. This is an old style AT case not made for this kind of modern PC inside. I've been working on the case the last few days to get proper airflow going inside, drilling holes in the side to mount fans, etc. The Dreamcast actually overheated recently, it would get too hot and turn off after about 20 minutes, so I ordered some small fans to mount on the heatsinks on the holly and SH4. I think a big problem with the heating solution is I used thermal grease on the heatsinks, which let them actually come up off the chips, instead of thermal epoxy to permanently attach them. I'm waiting for some thermal epoxy to arrive in the mail, at which point I'll do some further tests. If the DC inside is damaged, no biggie, I have like 10 of them laying around that I can just gut the mobo from lol.
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Re: I call it... KOStana

Post by ThePerfectK » Thu Dec 19, 2019 2:26 am

The Dreamcast was actually overheating when I was testing it earlier this week, so I took a hole saw tot he side of the case and created some positive air flow with a new fan on the side. It now runs cool without problems, been running for an hour without fault. The fan for the DC:


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Also gives me an excuse to take a picture of the Dreamcast piping back into the case through the WinTV card:


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Re: I call it... KOStana

Post by Moopthehedgehog » Sat Dec 21, 2019 11:51 pm

ThePerfectK wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 11:17 pm
I saw moop the other day in discord talking about how the modem port on the DC is actually a pretty bog standard PCI port in just a different shape, did that factor in?
Just want to super quickly clarify: Even if it's not actually a true PCI slot (as that was apparently added to the SH7751R), it can certainly be converted into a bog-standard PCI slot with something like an FPGA that does whatever GAPS does. Then if you run Linux or NetBSD you can use it as a normal PCI slot for whatever you want.

What may also be just as interesting is the serial port, as it's actually bog-standard 3V3 UART. You could hook up any Raspberry Pi UART-using device to it like a bluetooth module or a GPS receiver (if there's a UART-compatible one, which there probably is), or whatever else is popular to use these days. If there were a cheap, reliable way to get serial port connectors, we could be making all sorts of fun peripherals for the serial port very easily and very cheaply (of course they'd require new software written to support them, but that's not hard, especially if one uses widespread stuff like popular Arduino/Raspi/BeagleBone-compatible things).

But I don't want to derail this thread any more, 'cause this project is too awesome and shouldn't have its thread derailed. :)
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Re: I call it... KOStana

Post by ThePerfectK » Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:20 am

1999, 2019, same thing right?

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finally set aside some time to get my Dreamcast framework up and compiling:

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All 3 screens coming from the same box.

oh, also, I installed a light in my monitor:

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Re: I call it... KOStana

Post by cube_b3 » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:27 am

Happy new year to your KOStanaCast.
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