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So I wrote to a couple of people and prodded them about making firmware available......

I think I got the definitive response from David:

Thanks for your support , very sorry for that we do not have a firmware for i3mega which support free modification , because of the printer was sold as a complete kit ! so pls pay attention to the risk if you modify the firmware for i3mega , some functions of the printer may fail , and you may lose the qualification of the warranty 

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Thanks and best regards 

David 

With a marginally useful suggestion... that may or may not be more useful than my initial impressions :

Hi Andrew

Sorry , if you would like to configurate the firmware for i3mega , you can find the firmware ( i3 , similar to i3mega ) that support modification via the link :
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B8VIB533cgdMNGZfbm5FX2ZqTUE

Thanks and best regards 

And similar from ebay anycubic_official

New message from: anycubic-official (2,521Red Star)
Hi friend,

So sorry for any inconveniences brought to you!

We have reported this to our sub-manager,
if it available,we will tell you asap.

Anyway,if you buy some items from our store next time,
we will give you some discount,
here is the link:
http://ebay.us/8Wr2N1

Looking forward to do more business with you again in the near future.

Best regards

So it would seem that we need to pursue this entirely without anycubic's assistance.
I'm surprised at how disappointing this is. They made the i3 a rather good machine, but to have it closed source almost certainly have stopped me from buying it if I realised beforehand.

Still.... I guess we can ?safely? experiment with Marlin - without the TFT functionality - and if necessary revert to the original i3Mega hex file if we can't get any joy from Marlin.
Given that there is only 3 or 4 things I ever use the i3 touchscreen menus for anyway, and I could easily use the 7" touchscreen on the raspberry pi instead.