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Intellivision Cuttle Cart 3

The Cuttle Cart

Cuttle Cart Title Screen

For the Atari 2600

Status:

Discontinued

Latest Software:

Version 2.3, Oct 10, 2003


Cuttle Cart Label

Cuttle Cart

What is the Cuttle Cart?

The Cuttle Cart is an Atari 2600 cartridge that can imitate other cartridges. It allows one to load ROM images (games) into an Atari 2600 using an audio interface such as a CD player. It makes a great development tool and distribution medium for new games, which can be created using freely available development tools. Finally you can play all those prototypes, homebrew games, and extremely rare titles on the real 2600 just like they're intended to be be played.

Simple to use!

The Cuttle Cart is simple to use. Just plug it into your Atari 2600, and connect the Cuttle Cart's audio cable to a source of games in audio format, such as a CD player or your computer's soundcard. Select the game you wish to play, press play on the audio source, and the game will download and start automatically on the Atari 2600. When you want to switch games, simply turn off the Atari 2600, and turn it back on and it will be ready to load a new game.

Software is provided with the Cuttle Cart for converting game ROMs (.bin files) to the necessary audio format. You have two ways to go; if you're using your computer's sound card, you can use the provided Win32 program to play ROMs directly into the Cuttle Cart, no conversion required. If you'd like to use CD's, a utility is available for the conversion of ROMs into .wav files ready to be placed on CD. (Note: CD burning software is NOT included.)

Features:

  • Software included for Windows 95/98/NT/2000.
  • Simple to use.
  • Same size as a standard Atari 2600 cartridge.
  • Plays almost every Atari 2600 game other than Pitfall 2 and games requiring hardware other than just a cartridge (i.e. KidVid games, they'll play, but you still need the KidVid tape player to do anything).
  • Comes with the complete Starpath Supercharger library of games on CD - ready to play on the Cuttle Cart.
  • Audio connector fits standard 1/8" stereo or mono phono jacks. Like those found on most portable CD and tape players and PC sound cards.

Technical features in detail:

  • Supports games up to 64K in size
  • The following bankswitching and extra RAM formats are supported:
    • 2K
    • 2K with 1K RAM (Commavid)
    • 4K
    • F8, F6, and F4 (all three with or without Superchip)
    • FA (with or without RAM+)
    • E0
    • E7 (with or without 2K of RAM)
    • FE
    • 3F (up to 64K)
    • Megaboy (64K)
    • Starpath Supercharger bankswitching and RAM support.
  • Multi-load games now display load index # - Create massive randomly accesible multi-load CD games.
  • Win32 download utility for loading games from Computer
  • Command line conversion utility for converting .bin ROM files to .wav files for burning onto a CD. C source for this program is also provided for those who use other platforms such as linux.
  • The Cuttle Cart is backwards compatible with an UNMODIFIED Starpath Supercharger. It will play the original Supercharger games and even load them from the original tapes!

Known limitations of the Cuttle Cart:

The Cuttle Cart draws much more power than a standard 2600 cart. Because of this, you must use an AC adapter that can source at least 500mA of current at 9V. This is the specification of the adapter that was originally packaged with the Atari 2600. If you are using a third party adapter, such as a Radio Shack universal adapter, please make certain that it can supply at least 500mA. (This information should be marked on the AC adapter itself.)

The Cuttle Cart will not play Pitfall 2 because that game has a custom sound chip inside it that is not supported by the Cuttle Cart.

The Cuttle Cart is NOT recommended for use in the Atari 7800. Many 7800's are incompatible with the Cuttle Cart (and other games) because of a timing circuit Atari installed in them to correct problems with a different (and as it turns out smaller) set of games. Use of the Cuttle Cart on a 7800 is NOT supported.

And a small disclaimer: I cannot guarantee that EVERY Atari 2600 game will work in the Cuttle Cart. There are LOTS of Atari 2600 games, and I have not tested them all. It is likely that a game other than Pitfall 2 will be found that does not work with the Cuttle Cart. All of the supported bankswitching types have been tested and work, but perhaps a game out there will use a slightly different bankswitching method, and thus won't work.

A list of tested games confirmed to work is accessible here.

More Information:

If you'd like more information on bankswitching, and what exactly the Cuttle Cart does, or how the Cuttle Cart compares to the original Starpath Supercharger, then follow this link: Cuttle Cart Background Information

Software:

Latest Version of PlayBin (Version 2.3) Available October 10, 2003

Thanks to Eckhard Stolberg and Robert Demming, a new version of the PlayBin software for the Cuttle Cart is now available. This update fixes a bug when using PlayBin with the Supercharger.

Note: this is the streaming player, not the utility to convert .bin files to .wav files.

Download the New Win32 PlayBin Version (2.3) Here.

For all the various PocketPC/WinCE versions, click here.

The software for converting .bin files into .wav files, known as makewav, is public domain from Bob Colbert. You can download it from Bob's website.


Cuttle Carts are no longer available.

The Cuttle Carts are sold out and no longer in production. They were a limited run item, with a total of 204 carts produced. I have no plans to produce more Cuttle Carts in the future. My license with Bridgestone Multimedia has expired.

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:

Do you know where I can get a Cuttle Cart?

I do not know of any place you can get a Cuttle Cart. They were only sold by me, and only the 204 were produced. You can watch ebay in the hopes that someone sells one someday, or possibly head on over to Atariage and inquire if anyone wants to sell theirs, but I would guess the answer is no.

Are you sure you don't have one more that you can sell to ME?

Yes, I'm sure. If those spare copies did exist, many people would have beat you to them by now.

Can you send me the parts, code, plans, etc. so that I can make my own?

No, for several reasons. First I do not distribute the VHDL or jedec files necessary to make the Cuttle Cart. Second I do not have a license to distibute the BIOS ROM in that form. And finally, the Cuttle Cart is rather complicated to construct, requiring a custom PCB to mount all the surface mount components and the skills to do that soldering. It's beyond the typical hobby level.

If you have any further questions not mentioned here, or any comments please feel free to write.


Why "Cuttle Cart"? -or- What's that thing on the label?

The Cuttle Cart is named after the marine creature the cuttlefish. Cuttlefish are a type of cephalopod, a relative of the octopus. They are amazing animals capable of incredible shifts in both pattern and color, all in the blink of an eye. If I called this cart the Atari 2600 Chameleon, I think people would understand - chameleon because the cart can take on the appearance of other carts. Well, the color and pattern shifting abilities of the cuttlefish far exceed those of the chameleon, so it's an even better choice, and since I work in Oceanography, I couldn't resist the chance to spread the word about these creatures. They're neat, complex little animals with a lot of talent. There is evidence that they use their colors and patterns as a language to communicate with one another, and there are even papers discussing cuttlefish personalities! If you'd like to know more about these animals, or the other cephalopods, I highly recommend visiting The Cephalopod Page by Dr. James Wood. (The cuttlefish image used on the Cuttle Cart is licensed from Dr. Wood to help support that page, it is not free - please don't copy it for your own use.)


Cuttle Cart Reviews

I just wanted to let you know that the Cuttle cart is EXCELLENT in every aspect and I absolutely LOVE IT. Thank you for such a wonderful product.

--F. Cruz

Received the cart today. It is in a word -fantastic-. I have tried many "regular" 2600 files and Supercharger games with the bin2wav, and it works flawlessly and quickly. I've tried it on my original 2600, a 2600 jr, and two 7800's. It worked great on each system. It is truly the only cart you'll ever need for your 2600 gaming needs.

Congratulations, you've done it again! First the incredible Intellicart - and now the Cuttlecart, you've proven once again what a great resource you are to the classic gaming community. I truly wish I had a Schell's Electronics cart for all my classic systems!

Thanks for all the effort you've put in to the Cuttlecart, it's a great piece of hardware. The inclusion of the Stella get's a new brain CD is super too!

--Chris Helmstetter

Lee Krueger has performed extensive testing with the Cuttle Cart. You can read the review he posted to rec.games.video.classic here. Please note that at the time this review was written the Cuttle Cart was known as the SuperDuperCharger.

A list of games tested and confirmed to work on the Cuttle Cart during Lee's testing is here.


Thanks and acknowldgements

I'd like to thank and acknowledge the following people for their assistance in the development and testing of the Cuttle Cart. If you think you should be here, and I've forgotten you, please let me know.

  • Lee Krueger - Where to start with this guy? Countless hours spent testing games against his huge collection to verify that they all worked as expected. Encouragement to continue to the project when interest seemed low, and then campaigning to raise interest levels. And most visibly, for doing the label design, which entailed putting up with my COUNTLESS revisions and nitpicking, as well as shooting down so many of his ideas. I have no idea why he put up with it. No Lee would mean no Cuttle Cart.
  • Eckhard Stolberg - For helping me sort out the Supercharger BIOS, especially the user interface portions, and then the creation of a brand new and improved interface to go with the new loading routines. (Which also meant putting up with my revision process - although not quite as bad as for Lee.) Eckhard also provided the concept for implementing FE bankswitching, and provided lots of insight into specific details of 2600 behavior.
  • Glenn Saunders and Russ Perry Jr. of the Cyberpunks - For help in opening communications with Bridgestone Multimedia and for providing the Stella Get's a New Brain CD's for distribution with the Cuttle Cart.
  • Kevin Horton - For doing all the dirty work in figuring out how all the bankswitching and extra RAM formats for the Atari 2600 work and releasing that information in a nicely detailed document on the web.
  • Bob Colbert - For creating the tools for creating Supercharger audio files, and releasing that code to the public domain. For the record, Bob is also the first person to have requested a device like the Cuttle Cart, a long time back. So I guess you can blame, er thank, him for planting the seed.
  • Steve Richardson - For letting me compare some notes with him regarding his work on the Happy Cart, and thus verify that my initial concept wasn't completely broken.
  • Greg Davenport of Bridgestone Multimedia - For pushing the contract through where others had fallen short. Greg was very friendly, communicative and helpful throughout the process.
  • Rick Rambo - For educating me on intellectual property laws in the US as they stand today. (And as I see it, they're just ridiculous.)

Any thoughts, comments, or questions? Drop me an email.

Legal Notice: The Cuttle Cart was produced under license from Bridgestone Multimedia, owner of the rights to the Starpath Supercharger and its library of games.