General Old Game Hardware Thread

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Thad
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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Tue Apr 07, 2020 8:16 pm

I've found my Dreamcast. And its power cable. And the first Dreamcast VGA box I bought, which no longer works. I have yet to find the second Dreamcast VGA box I bought, which should still work.

But I did find my Zapper, my Game Gear, two original-model Game Boys, and a Tiger R-Zone and you guys, I'm beginning to suspect I may have too much shit.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Tue Apr 07, 2020 9:07 pm

Okay I found the rest of my Dreamcast gear, and I got the transcoder to convert VGA to component on my HDTV. I still get a rolling picture on my tube TV.

So the good news is, the transcoder works.

The bad news is, it might not work with my CRT.

I say "might" because it's possible the Dreamcast is outputting at 480p and my tube TV will only take 480i, and I still might be able to get a viewable picture out of my PC if I can get it to output the correct resolution and frequency.

My emulation box won't let me switch its resolution. I suspect that's to do with the problem where the S-Video will only output at 800x600 downscaled to 640x480; I think it's probably doing the same fixed-resolution thing for VGA.

I've tried it from a laptop, too, one that's old enough to have a VGA port; no luck there, either, but I suspect that, while it's old enough to have a VGA port, it may not be old enough to actually output at 640x480.

I may need to try swapping graphics cards. Maybe even try one of my old nVidia cards, sigh.

(There are some specific old Radeon models that people recommend for 240p video, but they're AGP, and my emulation box doesn't have any AGP slots. Its motherboard is old, but not that old.)

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Sat Apr 11, 2020 8:53 pm

After swapping out several other video cards, I still don't have it working but I'm a little closer, because I've discovered that, while there might be a problem with the video cards' supported resolutions, there's definitely something wrong with Xubuntu, because it won't let me change resolutions at all (at least, not on a VGA connection), whereas if I boot to a Manjaro liveUSB, I can.

So I still don't know if I'll be able to get it to work with any of the hardware I've got. But I've at least figured out there's a software problem too. Oh joy.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Mongrel » Sat Apr 11, 2020 9:30 pm

I swear it's like you're some kind of magnet for every bizarre Linux corner case problem in the world.
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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Brentai » Sun Apr 12, 2020 12:08 am

Dawg every Linux user is a magnet for every Linux edge case in the world.
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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Grath » Sun Apr 12, 2020 2:15 am

My Ubuntu machine generally just works, I'm pretty sure Thad is cursed. That said, I did spend a couple months where the default terminal was broken and I had to use an alternate one... Then one day I rebooted and it just worked as normal again.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Tue Apr 14, 2020 1:00 am

Mongrel wrote:I swear it's like you're some kind of magnet for every bizarre Linux corner case problem in the world.

I am, but in this specific instance it's not like the process for doing this under Windows is straightforward. Linux has the advantage of a command-line program that lets you manually define a resolution and refresh rate; my problem is that for some reason that program isn't working. If I were trying to do this under Windows, I'd be looking at installing XP and running some kind of jury-rigged hacked version of Catalyst on it. Provided I could find it, because all the links in that RetroRGB post are broken.

In this case the problem isn't so much that I'm trying to get a PC to output a 480i/240p VGA signal to a YPbPr adapter to a CRT TV with Linux; it's that I'm trying to do it at all.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Thu Apr 16, 2020 10:12 pm

Can anybody recommend a good YPbPr switch with more than four inputs?

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:16 am

Welp, had a little money left over after my bonus and my stimulus check (after big-boy stuff like car insurance, savings, retirement, and taxes) and went ahead and ordered a MiSTer.

I ordered everything from misteraddons.com, which has a pretty good reputation. I considered getting the DE10-Nano itself direct from the manufacturer, Terasic, because it looks like it costs $20 less there -- but their shipping costs more than make up the difference.

So, what I got:

DE-10 Nano

128MB SDRAM (needed for Neo-Geo games)

IO Board (analog, because I want to hook it up to a CRT; if you're only hooking it up to HDMI, you probably want the digital version)

VGA-to-YPbPr cable (you can get these for cheaper other places, and I'm pretty sure I've got one around here somewhere, but I've read that not all cables work with it and man, I've spent enough time trying to get VGA-to-YPbPr conversion working over the past few weeks that it's well worth the $15 to me to have a cable that's sold as compatible with the hardware)

Inline power switch because disconnecting the power cable every time I want to turn it off makes me nervous (FYI, my understanding is that you don't need one of these if you get the digital IO board, because it's got a power switch built in, but the analog one doesn't)

What I didn't get:

USB hub. $40 for a USB hub plus another $7.50 for a connector seems like serious overkill -- what does it give me that a generic USB hub doesn't? Pretty much that it stacks on top of the other stuff, and that's it. That doesn't seem like it's worth the extra cost. I'll buy a generic USB hub -- if I can't find one lying around the house somewhere that I'm not using.

Wifi dongle -- it's out of stock anyway, but I shouldn't have any trouble using good old-fashioned wired ethernet. (I guess I'm out of ports on my switch, but I could disconnect something. Or see if I've got another switch around here somewhere.)

Bluetooth dongle -- I don't usually worry too much about latency, but I figure I'll start with wired USB connections and see if the lag is noticeable. Going to be using wired controllers anyway for now, since I'm still playing one-handed.

BlisSTer (a device for zero-latency controls that you can hook original controller up to with adapters) -- the preorders are sold out, and since it's not officially supported by the MiSTer project anyway, it sounds like it might be a headache to get it working. I could always get one later if I change my mind.

Memory card -- I've got a spare 128GB microSD card. I'll use that.

Case -- Seems unnecessary. Even $10 for a plate to put across the bottom seems unnecessary.

Course, the nice thing with something as modular as this device is, I could always add more stuff onto it later.

All told it ends up being about $300 after shipping. A little pricey, but what the hell, it's a project. And if it works I can pack my Genesis and Sega CD away, and that'll save a lot of space on this tabletop that I could put other shit on. (N64?) Hell, I could put my SNES away too, except I've still got a Yoshi's Island game in progress on an original cart. I'd hate to start over, but on the other hand it's not like I've played it in months anyway.

I'll let you all know how it goes. I'm not quite as confident in my ability to put together electronics as I used to be, but what the hell, this sounds like it's -- not a breeze, exactly, but a lot simpler than it was a couple of years ago (and, by some accounts, simpler than setting up a Raspberry Pi). Maybe I'll leave it hooked up for the Super Game Boy? The MiSTer can simulate a Game Boy, or a Super NES, but AFAIK won't do full-on Super Game Boy functionality at this point.

...and I should order socks. I have like six pairs of socks with holes in them.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby mharr » Sun Apr 19, 2020 4:54 am

Damn, you got there first. (Ignore me, just jealous!) I'll have to focus on the handheld format project then.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Sun Apr 19, 2020 4:52 pm

Oh, there's still time for you to actually get yours working first...

As far as handhelds: I'm still really interested in the Analogue Pocket, but who knows when it'll be out. And while I'm intrigued by its second, programmable FPGA, from what I've read it's a less powerful FPGA than the DE10-Nano. I don't know if it'll be able to handle, say, Neo Geo games.

ETA: Getting started by preparing the SD card. Here's how to prepare the card on Mac. The Linux instructions are slightly different, but pretty close; the main thing is to install the required packages (git, wget, unrar, and mkfs.exfat) and make sure you get the address of the card you're erasing right (in my case /dev/sdh).

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Fri May 08, 2020 5:14 pm

My MiSTer has arrived and I've put it together.

Initial issues:

I don't have working input. I assumed I wouldn't need a USB hub until later, since I ordered the IO board and I saw that it has a single USB-A slot on it, but I plugged a keyboard into it and it doesn't work. After further research I've learned that IO board's USB port isn't actually USB -- that is, it uses a USB connection, but doesn't actually support the USB data standard.

So actual USB connections have to be made through the main board, which has a mini-USB slot and a microUSB slot. I figure I'll want to get a USB-OTG hub with a microUSB connector and plug it into that.

(EDIT: this post originally described the microUSB port as USB-C, but it isn't; on further review, it's a microUSB-AB port. I've never seen one before but I guess it'll take a microUSB-A connector or a microUSB-B connector, the latter being the connection you probably picture when you hear "microUSB". So it'll take a USB hub with a microUSB connector, though the hub also has to support USB-OTG -- which it probably does if it's got a microUSB connector.)

Also: my memory card didn't work; something must have gone wrong with the Linux SD installer.

Now, I didn't know at first that the microSD card was the problem. I fired up the MiSTer and the LEDs on the board lit up but I didn't have a picture (either VGA or HDMI). So, y'know, great way to start.

The good news is, it came with an 8GB microSD card already set up. I don't know if this was a mistake or a recent change, but when I ordered it microSD cards were something you had to buy separately -- but looking at the store now I don't see them listed anywhere anymore. Maybe they decided to just include an 8GB card with purchase? I bet that saves them money in the long run -- buy low-capacity microSD cards in bulk for cheap, take a few minutes to set each one up, and you've just potentially saved yourself a bunch of e-mails (and maybe even returns) from people trying to set up their own cards and failing (because, for example, the Linux setup script didn't work).

Anyway, fortunately, because it came with a working microSD card, I was able to determine immediately that the reason I wasn't getting a picture was that my microSD card didn't work. So I hauled out my Windows laptop, ran the Windows setup utility, and now my 128GB microSD card boots. It doesn't do anything yet since, as previously noted, I don't have any working inputs, but I turn it on and I get a picture.

Guess I'll have to order a USB hub before I can do anything else with this, but anyway it's here and it powers on and outputs video (including the VGA port on the daughterboard). And it was extremely easy to put together. It's easy to tell at a glance where to put the heatsink, the IO board only fits on one way, and the 128MB RAM expansion clearly goes in the remaining slot on the board.

Looking forward to seeing how this thing runs and what I can do with it. And putting my Genesis and Sega CD away and freeing up some table space for, I dunno, maybe my Dreamcast or something? Or maybe it'd be better in the kitchen. The CRT TV I use for retro games won't do 480p, but I've got a 1440p monitor in the kitchen, so that's integer scaling (as opposed to the 1080p TV in the living room).

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon May 11, 2020 1:40 am

Got the USB hub. Still haven't done much (like hook up a controller or speakers).

YPbPr support is weird. Works when I first power up but then it's like there's some kind of resolution change because after maybe 10 seconds the the picture changes and starts rolling. Slowly on the menu but when I try to load a core it looks like I'm trying to watch scrambled porn. Which is definitely some '90s nostalgia, but not the '90s nostalgia I was going for.

I think I'm probably going to be asking for help on some forums before all this is over. But at least I feel like I've made some progress. Even on a weekend where I had to work and get my AC replaced.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Mongrel » Mon May 11, 2020 2:21 pm

Incidentally, how did your AC replacement go?
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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon May 11, 2020 3:16 pm

New one seems just as cool and much quieter. So far so good.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon May 11, 2020 5:51 pm

I've got the menu and NES and SMS/Game Gear cores working. Made these changes in MiSTer.ini:

ypbpr=1
composite_sync=1

Still getting a rolling picture for SNES, Genesis, TG16, and Game Boy, and no picture at all for MegaCD, NeoGeo, or GBA. Haven't tried any other cores yet.

I also set

fb_terminal=0

which disables the framebuffer and allows you to run scripts (such as the updater) without switching resolutions. Doesn't fix any of my issues with the cores, but at least I can update now. And hey, NES, SMS, and Game Gear aren't a bad start.

(ETA: Also there's a switch on the IO board; it's called a SoG, or Sync on Green, switch. If it's set to AUTO, then the picture rolls everywhere; if it's set to OVR, then it works in the menu, NES, and SMS/GG cores.)

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby mharr » Mon May 11, 2020 6:43 pm

I love how much work people have put into this just to recreate the joy of not being able to stabilise the picture on the damn screen. I'd pretty much forgotten that was ever a thing.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon May 11, 2020 7:27 pm

Well, I'm sure part of the reason analog is nontrivial to set up (at least for me; other people don't seem to have had the same difficulties I'm having, which is kinda typical for me and Linux) is that the vast majority of users and developers are hooking it up to modern TVs and not seeing all these issues.

Are you planning on hooking yours up to an old PAL set? I expect that comes with its own set of unique funtimes.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon May 11, 2020 9:12 pm

Got Genesis working. The problem seems to be that it's defaulting to PAL; if I stab blindly at the menu until it switches to NTSC, it works fine. Haven't figured out how to make the setting permanent, but I'm sure there's somewhere to do it. Hopefully the fix will work on the other consoles where the picture rolls, too.

As for the three that just give me a blank screen, I can't get a picture on a VGA monitor, either, which concerns me. They're higher-end machines (SegaCD, NeoGeo, GBA) so I suspect they're overtaxing the system. Things to check: is the heatsink/fan combo I got not doing enough to keep the machine cool? And did I get the wrong SDRAM cartridge? (I definitely ordered the 128MB, but I didn't see any markings to say what size it is.)

Downloaded some CPS1 games too but haven't gotten them to run yet.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Sat May 16, 2020 8:34 pm

Did a little more poking, confirmed that the SNES core is doing the same thing as the Genesis one; if I manually switch it to NTSC, then it works on my TV.

I assume the same is the case on the other systems but they don't have a way to manually set the region, presumably because Game Boy was region-free and TG-16 was never released in Europe. (So I'm not sure why either one of them would default to outputting PAL, but maybe that's what the dev is using; who knows.) (ETA: I've discovered TG16 seems to correct itself a few seconds after I load a game. So who the hell knows what's going on here.)

Seems like there has to be a configuration option somewhere that forces everything to use NTSC globally, bu t I haven't been able to find it. And I still haven't worked out what's wrong with GBA, Neo Geo, and Sega CD.

atari-forum.com seems like the place to ask for help, except it's been down for the past few days. I'd just as soon not sign up for a Reddit account, but that may be what I end up doing.

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