User Guide

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This User Guide is meant for people who wish to play with the Uzebox. The prerequisite is an Uzebox console (Uzebox, E-Uzebox, Fuzebox, it doens't matter which) in a "should be working" condition (not necessarily, but should).

Powering up

0.4.5 Game Loader
0.4.5 Game Loader
5.0.08 Game Loader
5.0.08 Game Loader

Depending on the model, you need an appropriate power supply (usually it is 9 volts), some RCA cable (a cable meant for audio with red and white plugs is OK too) for NTSC Uzeboxes or a SCART cable for E-Uzebox and variants, at least one SNES controller and of course a television capable to receive the Uzebox's picture. An SD card with some games is nice to have, too.

If this is the first time you are using the Uzebox, first check whether it powers up: Plug the power supply in, and you should see a LED lighting up.

If this passes (nothing odd happens), unpower it, connect it proper to the (unpowered) television, and also plug in the SNES controller(s). If all goes well, powering this up, you should see a game or a Game Loader starting.

If there is no display

  • Check whether the Composite cable (normal Uzeboxes) is properly connected: This may be trivial, but if you are connecting it using some converter (such as SCART), you might easier mix up cables. Note that you might not receive any audio either if the TV can't sync.
  • If you have an E-Uzebox, try to reconnect the SCART cable (on both the TV and the Uzebox end), it might just make poor contact.
  • Try to enter the Game Loader by either holding a button on the first player's SNES controller (usually left SNES connector) while resetting or powering up the Uzebox. This can help if you somehow got a broken game on the Uzebox.
  • Otherwise check Troubleshooting video sync issues below.

Using the Game Loader

Your Uzebox has a Game Loader which you can access the following means:

  • It might start when powering up the Uzebox (it is configured to boot into "Menu").
  • Holding a button down on the first player's SNES controller (usually left SNES connector) while resetting or powering up the Uzebox.
  • Holding Start + Select + B + Y down in most games (this doesn't always work, it depends on the game).

The Game Loader displays the games on the SD card plugged into the Uzebox's socket. If your card doesn't work, check Using SD cards below. Note that the 0.4.5 Game Loader (and similar versions with the blue interface) are more limited, you should not remove the SD card while they are running. The 5.0.08 and later (brown interface) Game Loaders support replacing the SD card while running.

The controls:

  • The DPAD (Left, Right, Up, Down) navigates along the games (left and right selects between pages).
  • Start starts the selected game.
  • Select in the blue (0.4.5) Game Loader switches between "Game" and "Menu".
  • Select in the brown (5.0.08) Game Loader also starts the selected game.
  • B in the brown Game Loader switches between "Game" and "Menu".

If the Game Loader is in "Game" mode, that means that on power-up or reset, the game will start. If it is in "Menu" mode, then the Game Loader will start.

If games are misbehaving

If the Game Loader appears to be functional but games crash or show errors in their behavior:

  • If possible, try to upgrade the Game Loader (Upgrading the Game Loader), the brown Game Loader is more resistant to data corruption most likely fixing this issue.
  • If you can't upgrade, you may use the [Uzebox burn-in tester] to detect whether there are indeed corruptions, or maybe the ATMega itself can not go too well overclocked.
  • You may try to use a different SD card which could solve data corruption issues with the blue (0.4.5) Game Loader.

Using SD cards

The blue (0.4.5 and similar versions) Game Loader is quite picky about SD cards. It can only use SDSC (SD Standard Capacity) cards (or MMC cards if you can get any of those). SDSC cards are 2Gb or less, and not all such smaller cards are actually SDSC even (the card's size so isn't a guarantee that it will work, neither the lack of an SDHC or HC marker). The card must be FAT-16 formatted (usually this passes), and must not be fragmented.

To ensure that the card is not fragmented:

  • Start off with an empty card (ideally freshly formatted).
  • Never overwrite or delete anything of it (if you want to delete or overwrite, reformat the card).

The brown (5.0.08 and similar versions) Game Loader doesn't have these problems: It should work with most SD cards with either FAT-16 or FAT-32 formatting (it doesn't work with MMC cards though). It doesn't require the filesystem not being fragmented (so you can freely overwrite or delete games on the card).

If you are using this Game Loader, pay attention that a few games have SD interfacing which often only works with FAT-16 formatted unfragmented SDSC cards.

Sometimes the SD card might make poor contact with the socket, or in some Uzeboxes the socket itself or its installation could have subtle defects. This will manifest in occasional subtly broken uploads with the blue (0.4.5) Game Loader which doesn't check for data corruption. If you suspect this, and you can not upgrade the Game Loader, try the followings:

  • Use the [Uzebox burn-in tester] to detect whether there are indeed corruptions, or maybe the ATMega itself can not go too well overclocked (and that's causing the occasional defects).
  • Using the burn-in tester, try other cards, maybe you have a card with a weak contact (Micro-SD converters could be an issue too).
  • If you can, you may attempt to modify the hardware (shorten the wires, re-solder the socket) trying to eliminate the problem.

Note that even if you upgrade the Game Loader, games using the SD card themselves will still experience faults as they neither check for data corruption (so if you want to play those games, you need to fix the socket).

Troubleshooting video sync issues

Megatris is a good game to check sync
Megatris is a good game to check sync

Some TV sets can be particularly picky about the video signal.

If an Uzebox powers up, but appear to be unable to produce picture (even after you tried to return to the Game Loader), and you don't have a programmer, the best thing to do is to try it with a different TV set (or even a different connector on your TV set if you have any applicable adapter or converter, it could work).

If you have a programmer, try to upgrade the Game Loader (Upgrading the Game Loader). This can help if you had the blue (0.4.5) Game Loader as that loader generates a somewhat broken signal.

The brown (5.0.08) Game Loader has good signal, also the game Megatris could be used as a reference. If this game works correctly, then you can assume that the connection between the Uzebox and the TV set is all right.

There are several games (typically older ones) which have more or less broken sync. If a game has a distorted screen on your TV, it isn't necessarily the hardware's fault. You may check the problematic game with the CUzeBox emulator (binaries are available [here]). This emulator can display sync problems as jaggy red bars on the sides of the game screen.

Upgrading the Game Loader

There is a good description on the upgrade process in the [0.4.5 Game Loader topic]. If you want to burn either of these Game Loaders on your AVR, you should also take the .hex images provided there (and not under any circumstance try to compile it yourself, the resulting binary will most likely be broken).

To get the brown (5.0.08) Game Loader, fetch it from the [New bootloader topic]'s first post, and proceed the same way with the included .hex file. Note that this newer Game Loader will work fine if you compile it yourself (it is part of the Uzebox master repository).