Mateos’s multi-game cartridge for the Atari Lynx is a really useful cartridge that allows you to store up to 16 images of Lynx games of up to 256 Kb each. It can also store 8 512 Kb sized images using 2 of the 16 storage spaces per ROM file.
Image from Mateos website
This post is to help out using the cartridge. Mateos has instructions on his website as well. The instructions here are meant to suplement those of Mateos.
Using the cartridge is like writing a single file to a USB drive. First step is to insert a rewritable multi-game cartridge in the USB base connector called the Mateos Vectrex Burner Dumper (MVBD).
Image from Mateos website
This is a small oblong electronics board with a big black connector for the cartridge, a large EPROM and a USB-type C connector. Originally it was used to dump only Vectrex ROM files to a Vectrex multi-cartridge. Hence the name.
Make sure you align the crosses (XXXX) and naughts (OOOO) to the same side on both the cartridge and the connector.
Next, connect the USB connector of the MVBD with a classic USB cable to your PC. The PC should show a new drive volume with a drive letter. This might vary per operating system. I am describing the procedure for Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10.
Issues with Windows 8.1 and higher
If you have Windows 8.1 as your operating system or a more recent version (that would be Windows 10) you may notice that after connecting, the cartridge does show up as a drive. But, after selecting the drive, Windows Explorer becomes unresponsive. Or when you take no action at all, the drive disappears and an error message pops up, stating that there is something wrong with the drive.
This is a known issue related to Windows trying to add additional files and folders for system volume information on the drive. However, the multi-game cartridge does not support this, so you will have to disable this on your PC if you want the cartridge reading and writing to work.
The procedure is described at the Microsoft Knowledge Base here and in The Windows Club here. You can refer to these pages for a more complete description. Here is the mini-variation that might work if you have a standard setup.
Method 1: Group Policy Editor
Try running the GPEdit tool from the Run dialog. To do so, press Windows+R and type gpedit.msc. If you are in luck, a Local Group Policy Editor window will appear.
In the left tree navigate to Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search. Select the node Search.
On the right side select the Setting “Do not allow locations on removable drives to be added to libraries”. Initially it will have a state of Not configured. Double-click that line and select Enabled in the dialog that appears.
Click OK and restart your PC to have the change take effect.
Method 2: Registry
As an alternative you can use the Registry Editor to make the required change to your system. Press Windows+R and type regedit.exe. Click OK or press Enter. The registry editor will start. Navigate to Computer > HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Policies > Microsoft > Windows > Windows Search.
Create a new REG_DWORD entry from the Edit, Add, New DWORD (32-bit) Value menu item and name it DisableRemovableDriveIndexing. Set its value to 0x00000001 (or simply 1) in the dialog that appears after you double-click the entry.
Click OK, close the registry editor and restart your machine.
Method 3: Registry file
To make it even easier for you, here is the registry edit file that you can use as well. Copy and paste the content below in a empty notepad text file and save it with a .reg extension, e.g. DisableRemovableDriveIndexing.reg.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
Then, just double-click the .reg file and accept the warnings of the elevated priviliges and the dialog for the actual edit:
Just make sure you have verified what the .reg file contains and that you have a backup of your system. Changing the registry can cause havoc to your system. Not likely with this key added, but you are on your own here. Just saying.
Restart your machine to have the change take effect.
Preparing ROM files for cartridge
The ROM files that you save to the multi-game cartridge need to be raw ROM files, with a convention prefix of .lyx. These are not the standard .lnx files for the Handy emulator that you usually find as a download. The latter have a 64 byte header before the raw ROM content. The header is intended only for Handy. It needs to be removed for the game to work with the multi-game cartridge. Once removed it is a raw ROM file (again) and to distinguish that it is saved with a .lyx extension. The make_lnx.exe tool that is included with Handy will create a .lnx from a .lyx file, but not vice versa. You need to do a bit of work to remove it.
Option 1: Removing Handy header by hand
For the adventurous you can use a hex editor to inspect and remove the Handy header. Personally I prefer Hexedit for editing binary files.
Recently I found the Hexed.it website to be a quick and user friendly solution that requires no executables to be installed or run. Open the website and click Open file from the menu at the top. Open your .lnx file and check whether it shows a Handy header:
The header is recognizable by the magic LYNX characters at the first four positions. It is 64 bytes long, which comes down to 4 lines at 16 bytes per line. The next byte after the header is always FC, FD, FE or FF. (For those that like to know: this is 256 minus the number of encrypted header blocks. So 1 block evaluates to 256 – 1 = 255 (0xFF hexadecimal).
Once you have selected the 64 bytes (hold down the Shift key and use the arrow keys to navigate, or click-drag using the mouse), press Delete and a confirmation message will appear:
Next, click Export which will download the bytes using the original filename. The extension is still .lnx, although I recommend you change it to .lyx to avoid any confusion later. With .lyx you know it will not run in Handy. The created file will appear under your downloads in the designated folder for downloads.
Option 2: Use Mateos Lynx Convertor online tool
Mateos provides a tool that removes the 64 byte header, but also makes changes for 512 Kb files to work. The tool can be found here.
At the URL you click the Choose File button and select your .lnx file. Next, click Send File and wait for the download to finish. I’ve noticed that the download is 0 bytes in Microsoft Edge. Chrome appears to work fine.
The tool will generate a unique file name based on the original name prepended with a random number. Again the extension is .lnx, so make sure you rename it to .lyx instead of .lnx to avoid any confusion with the original file.
Option 3: Use GadgetUK’s offline tool
If you have a .lnx file, the Remove Header should most likely be selected. It is 64 bytes in that case. When in doubt, look at it with a hex editor (see Option 1).
For 256 KB cartridges select Remove Header Only. In case it is a 128 KB file, select 128Kb –> 256Kb (EPYX/Mateos) as your best bet. Files smaller than 128KB should select the (BLL/Mateos) option or when the EPYX option didn’t work.
Select a Source and Destination file and click Go (Gadget, Go!). The file to copy should be in the destination location.
Transferring files to the cartridge
Copying the file will take a couple of seconds. The progress dialog might seem to be “stuck” at 0%, but that is normal operation. Eventually it will start showing progress and transfer the file.
Remove the MVBD from the USB port and then remove the cartridge from the MVBD slot. Insert it into the Lynx and start it. You should have a working copy of the game you transferred.
You can transfer a single file each time, but the cartridge is intended to hold 16 games simultaneously. To make the cartridge hold more than one you need to switch the rotary knob to another position and repeat the process. Here are some practical steps to make it a speedy process:
- Set the rotary knob to position 0
- Connect the device
- Transfer the file as described before.
- Delete the file (don’t worry; it will remain on the cartridge)
- Switch to the next position
- Repeat from step 3 until the rotary is at position 0 again
Using 512 KB games
The official Atari Lynx cartridges only had two games that used 512 KB cartridges:
- Jimmy Conners’ Tennis
The procedure for game files that are 512 KB is similar yet somewhat different in a few places. For 512 KB files switch the top selector on the cartidge from 256 to 512. This will pair the slots 0 and 8, continuing with 1 and 9, 2 and A and so on. With 512 selected you should only use positions 0 through 7. The rest is pretty similar.
You need to change the cartridge file to not include the header (as always) and make it organized differently internally. GadgetUK’s tool will take care of this with the 512Kb –> 512 Kb (Mateos Flash Cart) setting.
Here are some nice videos about the Mateos multi-game cartridge which are fun to watch. Enjoy!