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    The Learning Circuit
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    Ben takes apart a shop-bought version of a cheap Oregon Trail game to find out how it works.   He’s got some questions about a couple of IC2 EEPROM chips and the type of data they store. Felix dumps the chips onto a Raspberry Pi because Linux makes it easier for you to tell what the I2C EEPROMs are used for.  Once they know how it works, they’ll use their knowledge to create an ultra portable version of the Oregon Trail is even smaller and less bulky.   

     

     

    The Oregon Trail game from Target only costs about 25 dollars but it’s probably only worth a fraction of that price in parts.  Ben unscrews the back of the case and removes the included batteries.  The graphics are much better than the Apple II version and it includes PCM sound. Ben rips out all the parts.  It contains glop tops, also called “Chip on board” method.  A glop top is an epoxy covering for an ASIC.  An ASIC is an application integrated circuit.  An integrated circuit is bonded to the PCB, and then covered with a glop top to protect it. It’s an inexpensive way to put an integrated circuit into something.  The Nintendo on a Chip also had a glop top. When Nintendo included Duck Hunt with their NES it was also using a glop top.

    Ben desolders the speakers and demo controls to make it easier to take apart.  There are quite a few pins under the LCD so it’s probably not running in serial mode.  Ben points out the fact that there are two main ASICs, a power regulator, a switch, a cap, and two SOIC chips. Felix dumps the chips onto a Raspberry Pi to learn more about what the two I2C eeproms are used for.  Linux allows you to detect IC2 devices and also write to them.  To find out what’s on the BUS they are going to ping all 128 locations and see what responses it gets to find the address.  They’re test with an off the shelf I2C EEPROM to see if it works first.  Felix finds a way to do a Binary dump and they’re well on their way to hacking the Oregon Trail.

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