Bunker Project Log

17 Aug

TJ Bearygutted

 When I was a kid, my grandpa got me a Radio Shack 160 in One Electronics Kit. I loved it, but I only remember doing two things with it. One was a cheezy morse code project (with both noise, and lights, and both!) and the other was… the Shocker.

The Shocker used the 9V battery connector, a relay, a capacitor, a transformer, and probably one or two more parts that I can’t remember. It basically charged the capacitor, then somehow tripped the relay, then charged it again with a nasty clicking noise. I zapped my sister a few times, and was hooked.

So, in order to further my diabolical schemes, I bought a Radio Shack Printed Circuit Board Kit. I read the instructions, etched myself a crude circuit board, soldered it together, and slapped it into a Radio Shack project box. The box had a jack, into which plugged the “Shock Gloves”.

The Shock Gloves consisted of the wool inner lining of a military issue leather glove, with copper plumbing caps sewed onto the fingertips. The caps were soldered to wires which ended in a plug, which plugged into the project box. With the whole contraption on, if I touched you with two adjacent fingers, you would get a jolt.

This looked awesome, but was easy to short since the fingertips were so fatty. I later bought some wire screen door material and sewed that into the fingertips. This worked better, but not well enough. In the end, I settled for the “Shock Rods” which were two metal rods that I held in my hand. In my clumsy youth, I just as often zapped myself as anyone else.

All of this culminated in a duel with my friend Dennis, who decided to Karateka kick my Shock Rod hand and drive one of them into my palm. I still have a groovy stigmata-like scar where the rod punched in.

Anyway, the purpose of all this is to explain where my some-encompassing knowledge of electronics comes from. In other words, I ain’t no expert, but I know enough to be dangerous.

So this brings me to our friend TJ Bearytales. I first mentioned him in the stunning episode “Why I <3 Target“. He’s been staring at me funny, and scaring Mrs. G, so I thought it was time to give him a look and see what’s under the hood.

First off, the four screws on his back were nasty triangular security jobbies. This got me excited, one because I could use my eBay bought security bit-set, and two, because usually when this kind of security is used, it means there is something cool and easily hacked inside. I was disappointed to find that my bits were way to big, but a Nintendo Tri-Wing saved the day.

TJ - Opened up

The first thing I noticed is that big nasty black blob on the right. This is a sure sign of a custom chip, or if not custom, unidentifiable because there are no markings. I’m assuming that this is where the actual micro-controller is.

TJ - PCB - Front Top

Now this makes we happy! I’ve been hoping that I can isolate the actual programming, and I’m pretty sure this is is where it is. The major clue is that it has been soldered on. The micro-controller shown above is locked in. The green board below is made to be changed out.


Now all I have to do is figure out how to access the data on that thing. I start by tracing it back to the cartridge connector. I’m guessing that they share pins, and the cartridge is somehow given precedence when it exists in the circuit.

TJ - Testing Pinouts

From what I can see, pin 1 is +3.3V, pin 12 is ground, and pins 3, 4, 5, and 6 are “something else”.

Now I just have to do a little research. My hopes and dreams/instinct is making me think that this is at it’s heart a USB memory stick, and I just have to wire it up and plug it in to a PC and read it. This could be totally ludicrous, or so crazy that it just might work.

But, I’ve got a Bunker Party to prepare for, so TJ Bearywhatever will have to wait. Don’t wear out the edge of your seat!

One Response to “TJ Bearygutted”

  1. 1
    Retroplayer Says:

    Not sure if you are still looking for the pinouts or not, but here is what I have (for the cartridge at least):
    1 3.3v
    2 GND (Looks like a detect switch)
    3 NC – These wiggle when accesing on-board phrases, I assume they are chip selects for the on-board flash
    4 NC
    5 U8_CS* There are two memories in the cartridge. One chip select wiggles for song mode and the other for story mode
    6 U7_CS*
    7 CLK
    8 DI
    9 DO
    10 Data2 ??
    11 Data3 ??
    12 GND

    When I connect the cart up to a microcontroller using one of the CS lines, clock, and DI and DO, I get data streaming into the micro on each clock pulse. I don’t seem to have control over it yet using the DI line. I tried JEDEC commands for flash ID strings but didn’t have any luck with it yet. I originally thought that this was a QUAD-SPI config with 4 data lines. It may even possibly be eSD memory.

    I am getting the cartridge and onboard flash module xrayed at work right now. Hopefully that will solve the mystery. When I get them back, one trick I plan to try is to solder it up to an SD reader and see if that gets me anywhere.

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