The TI-99/4A emulation offers two kinds of cartridge formats:

  • the common ZIP format for ROM packages in MAME
  • the RPK format

The first format is used throughout MAME for bundling ROM dumps that belong to some collection, for example, all ROMs for a computer system. In the same way, all ROMs of a cartridge are stored in a single ZIP file, which must be added to the software list, a XML file in the hash subdirectory. For the TI, this would be the file ti99_cart.xml.

The second format was the result of an earlier attempt to find a format for cartridges. Later, the ZIP format became the recommended format for cartridges, but it has a shortcoming: It depends on an update of the mentioned XML file. The RPK format, on the other hand, allows the user to set up a self-contained cartridge package that can be used right away. For this reason, the RPK format was kept in MAME.

I will elaborate on the details of both cartridge formats in a separate document.

Creating a ZIP cartridge

to be added

Creating a RPK cartridge

There are some points to follow, but this is not really difficult.

  1. You have to collect all dumps that shall be part of the cartridge. These are the dumps of memory in ROM space and in GROM space. Also, you need to check whether the cartridge offers RAM space or NVRAM space (which is saved on shutting down).
  2. You have to determine the type of the cartridge. The type is relevant for the function of the cartridge board where the ROMs are located.
  3. Now you have to set up the defining XML file called layout.xml. It must be part of the cartridge package. This is an example for a "gromemu" type:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<romset version="1.0">
     <rom id="gromimage" file="TETRISg.bin"/>
      <pcb type="gromemu">
         <socket id="grom_socket" uses="gromimage"/>

The most important parts are marked up in magenta. The PCB type is gromemu, and the ROM dump file is called TETRISg.bin. It is referenced by the "gromimage" tag, and the "socket" element declares it to be a GROM image by using the ID "grom_socket". You can use any other tag for "gromimage", and the file may also have any name.

Note that there is no format for the dump file name; the "g.bin" at the end of the file name has no special meaning for MAME. This is different to other emulators where the file name also determines its type; in the RPK format, the meaning of the dump file is determined by the socket element.

  1. Create a ZIP file from the dump files and the layout.xml. All these files must be part of the package.
  2. Change the suffix of the ZIP file to "rpk".
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