Looking for help, advice and ideas to finish getting an Idolmaster setup working

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    • Looking for help, advice and ideas to finish getting an Idolmaster setup working

      Quite a while ago I was trying to get a working setup for The Idolmaster as I posted about here, unfortunately I hit a bunch of roadblocks with the complicated setup and then due to a house move everything had to get put on hold, but now I have the opportunity to work on this project again I want to make a final push to get it fully working and post a detailed guide on the full setup for others to use as reference. Unfortunately while it seems like I'm right near the home stretch as I have basically all the hardware needed and a full wiring diagram, I'm struggling right near the start.

      So, what are the problems?
      - I only get a black screen
      - As such I have no idea if the System 246 is working fully
      - Or if the HDD/Dongle works
      - Or if test DIP switch even works
      - And there is a startup check that needs to be passed

      The System 246 itself was purchased as faulty, when I got it I could never get past 3 beeps, but that was solved when I found out the ribbon for the controller port board wasn't connected. The HDD and dongle were purchased as "removed from a working machine a decade ago, stored safely, untested currently". I've tried to make a backup of the data, but Windows won't recognise the drive via any software and while Linux does see something is connected it didn't mount and I didn't access it. I don't know how to use Linux (and the terminal scares the hell out of me) so I went no further with that, but I really do want to make a backup of it at some point so I can switch to using a cloned drive rather than the original. So yeah, I just don't know if that hard drive is ok, but there are no backups available online to make a spare and try that out.

      I purchased a cheap Gundam HDD game with the hopes of using it for testing, but I didn't realise it is 256 only so it won't boot. However, with it connected I do get a picture briefly with BOOT 01 on the screen, that ticks up to BOOT 03 before going blank and doing nothing further. Can't access test mode. On a different monitor I get an "out of range" message during this so I assume that confirms the BOOT 01 screen is 15khz? My main monitor should be capable of running 15, 24 and 31khz signals as I use it with a PC-9821.

      If I connect the HDD and dongle for The Idolmaster it passes all the beeps, the hard drive spins up but then nothing else happens. Now, I know that this game in particular has 3 checks that stop it from booting which are related to the card reader - specifically the shutter. 15-20 seconds after the hard drive spins up the cabinet normally starts up a 24V motor which lifts and lowers the shutter flap for the card reader a few times, the cabinet has 3 photointerupter sensors - motor, shutter up, shutter down - which send signals to pins 22B, 24A and 25A of the I/O board respectively. After 5-10 seconds of this flap going up and down the game goes to a white screen, then a black screen, then a loading bar and the motor turns off.

      What doesn't make sense though is why I can't get to test mode, I know that a Dragon Chronicle Online cabinet has the same shutter system and I know that it can access test mode with a broken motor (thanks to @typer9b on Twitter). Is the test mode only accessible when the game has fully booted up? If so, it might be that The Idolmaster is the only game which doesn't boot without a fully working card shutter assembly. I know you have to flip the dip switch after the unit is on, but I don't know the exact timing to do so (I've tried before and after the hard drive spins up, no difference).

      Now, there is someone on Twitter (@uyo_U4) who has successfully managed to cram a full Idolmaster setup into a briefcase to play on the go. He eliminated this shutter check and replaced it initially with a set of 3 toggle switches, then with an automatic shutter emulator ran by an ATTiny13 as you can see in these two photos. In addition I found mention that the shutter check can be passed by a button press sent to the JAMMA connector, but that there is a specific sequence these inputs need to occur in, and no matter where I look I cannot find out what this sequence is. I have a video of the shutter mechanism functioning during startup which is uploaded here.

      Anyway, that is where I'm at. No signal, no evidence that anything works and in need of help, if I can prove that everything functions then I need to pass this startup shutter check to finally get the setup working. Here is the edited wiring diagram, I've deleted all the non-essential wiring areas (coin slot, control panel, audio amp, case lighting etc.) and highlighted the important stuff to make this much easier to understand. At this point I'll take any ideas or help, because my searches for more info are turning up fruitless, and I'm hesitant to do any more experimenting using my genuine HDD in case it dies in the process.
    • Get the Dragon Chronicle Online software and test the card reader is working right.

      Did you get a system 256 with your gundam game. If so flip the jumper to 246 mode and test your idol master in the system 256

      On your system 246 test it with a cheap cd gundam game and put a cd drive on the system 246 for testing.
    • Symphony wrote:

      Now, there is someone on Twitter (@uyo_U4) who has successfully managed to cram a full Idolmaster setup into a briefcase to play on the go.
      This is the guy you're probably going to want to talk to about the shutter business.

      As for the 246, snag one of the 246 Gundam games (this time make sure it's 246 :P ), they're dirt cheap, and will allow you to test it. Not much sense doing anything more until you know your 246 works.
      On the hunt for: Dinoking, Mushiking, Love & Berry, Egret 29, and an SNK SC-25.

      Shameless plug: Rewrite's Recaps - Your monitor and PSU recapping service center
    • rocket wrote:

      Get the Dragon Chronicle Online software and test the card reader is working right.

      Did you get a system 256 with your gundam game. If so flip the jumper to 246 mode and test your idol master in the system 256

      On your system 246 test it with a cheap cd gundam game and put a cd drive on the system 246 for testing.
      No, I specifically got a 246 C which was originally from an Idolmaster cabinet. For Dragon Chronicles Online I'd also need to get a dongle and well, I've been looking for the last two years but the only thing I've ever seen come up for auction was a loose disc, it's significantly rarer than Imas.

      rewrite wrote:

      Symphony wrote:

      Now, there is someone on Twitter (@uyo_U4) who has successfully managed to cram a full Idolmaster setup into a briefcase to play on the go.
      This is the guy you're probably going to want to talk to about the shutter business.
      As for the 246, snag one of the 246 Gundam games (this time make sure it's 246 :P ), they're dirt cheap, and will allow you to test it. Not much sense doing anything more until you know your 246 works.
      The only 246 Gundam I can get hold of at the moment is AEUG VS Titans DX, do you know if that one can boot to the test menu without requiring a specific I/O board and such connected?