Upgrading Lynxman’s Atari Lynx Flashcard

Recently Lynxman released a new version of the firmware for the incredible Atari Lynx Flashcard. I use this card very frequently for testing my homebrew code on an actual Lynx console. In fact, I have 5 different versions of the cartridge with different capabilities and EEPROM FlashROMs sizes. So, the upgrade involved doing the flashing of the firmware multiple times. For future reference, a write-up with some pictures.

Preparing the upgrade

Before you get started you need the following:

  1. USB driver for FTDI chipset on Flashcard
  2. USB cable with the classic connector
  3. Terminal software: HTerm, Putty, HyperTerminal or your own favorite tool.
    The pictures that follow are from Hterm.
  4. Firmwares:
  5. Manuals:
  6. Find version of your board. See instructions below.

You can find the version of your Flashcard at the bottom of the frontside, which also contains the components. See below for your board

Version 1.2X and 1.3x PCB Flashcards

Requires the 1.40 version of the firmware.

image image image
v1.271 v1.276 v1.280
image image  
v1.3a4
(additional 8Kb EEPROM 20th and 25th anniversary demo)
v1.3d4
(two 512Kb FlashROMs)
 

Board 6 Flashboards (Version 1.9X PCB)

Requires the 6.40 version of the firmware.
Comes in two board versions and a couple of variations:

  • Flashchips 29F040 or 39SF040
  • EEPROM 93C46 (128 Byte), 93C66 (512 byte) and 93C86 (2048 byte)
image image
v1.913 v1.923

Walkthrough of upgrade

This is a step by step walkthrough of the process. You can find a similar one in the german and english version of the Flashcard manuals. This is an alternative that has some screenshots.

Step 1: Connect Flashcard

  1. Connect the USB cable to your PC and Flashcard.
  2. Install the driver software if necessary. On Windows 10 this might not be necessary. You can check in Device Manager and see if there is a COM port registered. If there is, you’re in luck. If not, right-click the COM port with the question mark and upgrade the drivers.
  3. Start the terminal software and connect a terminal session to the Flashcard.
     
    image
  4. Set the baudrate to the correct value. By default 9600, but probably higher if you used the Flashcard already. 115200 is most likely then.
  5. Press the AnyKey (button on the left side of the board. See pictures above). If the baud rate is correct you should see something similar to this:

    image

    Should you get weird characters:
    image
    then repeat from step 4 and try a different baudrate (9600, 19200, 38400, 57600 or 115200).

Step 2: Check version number of board

The box of your Flashcard will tell the version. Just to make absolutely sure you know what the version of your Flashcard is, check the current firmware version information by sending ‘s’ to the Flashcard.

image

Type the ‘s’ in the textbox and click ASend. You should get data in the Received Data pane above like this picture shows. The actual contents may vary.

image

This particular board shows:

    • Firmware version v6.25beta31020
    • Language version v6.32
    • Serial number 230
    • Flashchip 39SF040
    • EEPROM 93C86
    • Board 6
    • Some internals numbers here and there

Step 3: Initiate bootloader

You need to start the special bootloader for flashing the firmware. Initiating the boot loader takes a few steps. Read these twice so you know what to do. There are some time critical parts in the sequence of the steps.

  1. Set the terminal software baudrate to 2400.
  2. Press and hold the AnyKey and do not let go until step 7.
  3. Press Reset for 1 second. You will hear a device disconnect and connect sound if you are running Windows.
  4. Wait until the LED turns green. This should be within 4 seconds. Be quick with the next step.
  5. Disconnect the terminal software and connect again. Simple as clicking Disconnect and Connect quickly.
  6. Wait 3 seconds. The LED will glow red.
  7. Let go of the AnyKey.
  8. The LED should glow yellow and you should see the text ‘send data’ in the terminal window. If not repeat from step 2.
    image 
     

Step 4: Send firmware

You can now send the correct firmware file to your Flashcard. Remember to pick the appropriate version for your Board 1 or board 6.

  • Click on Send file.

    image

Pick the right file in the browse dialog.
Board 1: Firmware V140N 20160107 Language V140x.fcb1
Board 6: Firmware V640N 20160107 Language V640s.fcb6
or a newer version if you read this after newer versions have been released.

Remember that the zip archive must be unpacked. On Windows make sure that you have ‘Unblocked’ the file after downloading it from the Internet.

image

  • Click Start in the Autosend dialog.

The progress bar will grow and the Flashcard will have two red LEDs.

image

At 2400 baud the uploading of the firmware will take around 1-2 minutes.
You should see ‘press reset’ after the firmware has been sent.

image

Step 5: Complete upgrade

The final steps of the process are:

  1. Press the Reset button (right side of the board).
  2. Quickly disconnect the terminal software and connect again.
  3. Change the baud rate to 9600.
  4. It should say ‘press anykey to prepare for first use’.
    image
    In case you did not change the baudrate fast enough, it might send some strange characters. The message will be repeated until you actually press the AnyKey. It should be readable after you changed the baudrate to the right value.
     
  5. Press the AnyKey and verify that the menu appears.
    image
    Notice the ‘erasing memory at the top.
  6. Send ‘s’ like before and check that the information corresponds to the new firmware.
    image
     
  7. Disconnect the terminal software.
  8. Disconnect the USB cable.

Step 6: Verify your Flashcard still works

If all went well you should be able to upload a new ROM file (*.lyx, *.lnx, *.o) into your Flashcard just like you always did.

After flashing the firmware the default baudrate of 9600 is selected again. Make sure you select 115200 and set the right ROM type before uploading.

Let me know if this works for you or when it doesn’t.

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One Response to Upgrading Lynxman’s Atari Lynx Flashcard

  1. Johney says:

    Phew ,5 different versions of the lynx flash card,well am glad i own a lynx sd flash card but sure i bet that some of these exciting looking flash cards do have features wich the sd card lacks.

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