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  3. Behind the scenes - making of the 48 in 1 Atari Lynx multicart

One day I was going though Twitter and came across an odd looking cartridge for the Atari claimed to be a 48-in-1 game cart. This wasn't something I have ever seen previously to it piqued my interest. Consequently, I reached out to the author of the Tweet and he was able to point me to the creator of this cart. This article outlines the process of creating this cart at a high level, more of a showcase than any specific detail. I'm looking forward to trying out the cart more and will write another review type article of it in the future.

First some history. This cart was made by Rafał as the prize for the first place winner for entries in the Silly Venture 2k17 convention. The cart is not built as a for-sale item but as something fun and a challenge to try to get the most out of Atari Lynx. It supports 256kB and 128kB games and a total of 48 can fit on the cart. It's possible to switch between them using buttons on the back. A nice segmented LED display shows the game number that's currently selected and the cart remembers which game was active even when the power is switched off. Very impressive!

So lets see how Rafał put it together!

I am very impressed with how much care and attention to detail went into this project. The box for the cart is 3D printed and fits perfectly. That silver tone LYNX and Atari logos at first looked like they were done in silver pen until I saw the photos. That's a multi-colour 3D print, very cool.

The cart itself is 3D printed too. There are 2 parts to it - rear shell and the lip ridge. The PCB covers the front portion. The rear shell has grooves for all of the circuitry to fit in. It also includes 'windows' printed in clear plastic where the segmented LED display sits.

The PCB is even more impressive. I haven't seen such a complex Atari Lynx cart design, apart from maybe the Lynx SD cart. It even has pins for programming it!

All of the components are SMD type of course. There are three memory chips and an ATmega micro-controller as the brains of the cart. The rest are capacitors, resistors, voltage controllers, LEDs and a couple of switches. It's a simple layout, but very well thought out.

Prior to the cart assembly, the memory chips were programmed first. Once the cart was put together, the ATmega was then programmed. Finally testing of the cart could be done with a Lynx console.

We have power and it all works!

A very impressive feat of engineering right there! Rafał has also agreed to go into more detail of the making of this cart and even agreed to share the documentation on how to do it. I'll be talking to him more in the future and sharing this information here too, so keep an eye out on more details about this 48-in-1 cart!

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