General Old Game Hardware Thread

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Thad
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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon May 18, 2020 8:33 pm

Got GBA working. Which I think was just down to getting a new BIOS file, so I suspect that may be the issue I'm having with Sega CD and NeoGeo, which still aren't working.

Odd symptom for a bad BIOS, though; I'd expect just an error message, instead of a blank screen and completely locking up the system (the reset button on the IO board doesn't work; have to power-cycle).

Tried some arcade cores and several of them are working. Some are giving the same blank screen/lockup issue. I'm not sure if I can get the picture to rotate 90 degrees on games that are designed for 3:4 screens, so a lot of games render sideways. (There's a menu option that lets me switch between vertical and horizontal, but it doesn't do anything; I suspect it'd work if I were using HDMI.)

No luck getting SNES, Genesis, and TG16 to use the correct refresh rate at initial load, but at least I figured out the workaround of muddling through blindly until I load a game; then everything works right and I can get the menu up to load another game.

A bit of poking around shows that the NES core supports ROMs that the EverDrive and PowerPak won't, like the FF7 bootleg. No luck getting any FDS games to load yet; I can get the BIOS to load, but trying to open an FDS game just restarts whatever ROM I had open.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Tue May 19, 2020 2:45 pm

The MiSTer TG-16 core was updated yesterday with TurboCD support.

I'm still dealing with the refresh issue when I first load the core, but the workaround where I load the first game in my list and that fixes the resolution so I can load whatever game I actually want to play is okay for now.

Fired up Rondo of Blood; couldn't get past the BIOS boot screen, so I decided at that point maybe I should finally try setting up a controller. Hooked my 8bitdo joystick up via USB and played a little ways into the first level. Not too shabby. Guess I'll try setting up my one-handed PS1 controller next. (Wouldn't use it for a platformer like Rondo, of course, but eventually when I get the SegaCD core working it should be a good fit for Lunar and Snatcher and stuff.)

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Tue May 19, 2020 5:55 pm

Decided to try a direct comparison between the MiSTer SNES core and a real SNES (using a YPbPr cable from HD Retrovision).

MiSTer has a sharper picture. The colors look slightly brighter too, but that may be a function of the decrease in pixel blur.

Audio's not quite the same, but it's got me actually wondering if there's something up with my SNES or the connection. Because there's a trumpet part on the Earthbound title screen that I can hear on the MiSTer but can't hear at all on the SNES running the game off an SD2SNES. I fired up a video of someone else playing Earthbound on original hardware and I can hear the trumpet part on that, so...uh, has anybody else played Earthbound on a real SNES? I just realized picking a game that sells for $200 on cartridge was probably not the best choice if I wanted to ask other people what it sounds like on original hardware. I should probably try Zelda or something.

ETA: Yeah, I think the audio issue is probably on the SNES side -- the SNES itself, the cable, the SD2SNES, or the input on the YPbPr switch. (It can't be the output of the switch because both devices are plugged into the same switch.) I fired up LttP and it sounds right on the MiSTer; the SNES audio output sounds like it's coming from underwater.

ETA2: Tried a real Zelda cartridge; same issue. That rules out the SD2SNES. I can poke around the cables and connections later, but at a guess, I'd say there's a pretty good chance not all the electronic components in my 28-year-old game console are in peak condition.

ETA3: Okay I still think there's something off with the audio output on my SNES and it sounds too echoey, but the MiSTer isn't quite right either. The Super Mario World intro -- you've got the 2-bar intro, then 8 bars of the main melody, then 8 bars of the bridge, then 4 bars call-response-call-response, then the 1-bar call repeats but instead of the response it goes into a three-bar coda and loops back to the melody. Anyway, you can barely hear the response part of the call-and-response on the MiSTer.

So it seems like I'm not getting the full range out of the real SNES or the MiSTer.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Fri May 22, 2020 4:48 pm

The Genesis audio reproduction is excellent but I'm finding inconsistencies there, too -- once again in a call-response section of the attract mode of a 16-bit platformer I've played the hell out of. This time, I left Sonic 2 on for awhile and when it got to the Aquatic Ruin demo I could barely hear the response part on the call-response at the beginning of the tune. I tried adjusting audio settings; it can simulate either version of the Genesis FM chip, and has a setting called "hifi PCM" that I'm not quite sure what it does.

Kinda curious what's going on. It doesn't appear to be an issue with the bass/treble balance. Maybe implementations of some of the sampled instruments are off?

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Fri May 22, 2020 9:05 pm

I've also figured out a workaround to the rolling picture on SNES, Genesis, and TG-16: you can put any ROM in a system's directory and rename it boot.rom, and it'll automatically load -- and, generally, this will correct the rolling picture after a few seconds.

Doesn't work for Game Boy, as I haven't been able to find a GB ROM that works at the correct refresh rate.

I've got the SNES core set up to boot the SNES-CD BIOS at boot, which amuses me.

Also, the downside of buying a generic USB hub instead of one explicitly designed to stack with the DE10-Nano is that I need to figure out a way to anchor it. The Nano comes with a top plate that can be conveniently turned into a bottom plate; I want to attach the USB hub to that. Some short self-tapping screws would probably do the job; I wonder if I've got any lying around.

Still no luck with FDS games, or the NeoGeo or MegaCD cores.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Mongrel » Fri May 22, 2020 9:11 pm

What? You mean you're not a fan of "stack peripherals in a ridiculous Jenga tower" method of organization? Where's your sense of the comedic?
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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Fri May 22, 2020 10:44 pm

Oh, I am, it's just that I need a way to secure the USB hub so it doesn't get tangled up in all the wires I've got coming out of the Wii, PS2, and SNES I've got stacked on top of each other.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Sun May 24, 2020 3:57 pm

Thad wrote: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.

I was looking at the MiSTer wiki today and saw a link to the official forums at misterfpga.org.

I was feeling like a fool and wondering how the hell I missed that in the weeks I've been staring at the docs for this thing, until I took a closer look and realized it just went up today.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon May 25, 2020 12:02 pm

Was about to post a help request in the forum because I still hadn't been able to get an FDS ROM to load, when I decided hey, maybe I should try one more time, make sure I haven't missed something obvious that's going to make me look stupid.

Anyway, if you try to load an FDS game and all you get is the boot screen that says "please set disk card", try pressing the A button.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon May 25, 2020 10:14 pm

In one of those good news/bad news situations, I've narrowed down the issue with the NeoGeo and MegaCD cores to something wrong with my memory card. So, y'know, all I have to do is format another memory card and then re-copy 80GB of files over to it.

I suspect Linux's shitty FUSE-based exFAT support is to blame. Fortunately that's in the process of becoming a thing of the past, with exFAT support being added directly to the kernel in 5.4.

At least I've got a spare 128GB microSD card lying around. I'd hate to reuse the same card and find out it's the card itself that's fucked up, not just the filesystem.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby mharr » Tue May 26, 2020 4:33 am

I don't think I've ever owned an SD card that worked more reliably than an old 3.5" floppy disk found in the back of the fridge magnet drawer. They're the bane of all pocket gaming attempts.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Brentai » Tue May 26, 2020 11:05 am

All my SanDisk SD cards are alive and kicking, even the ones purchased after Western Digital bought them out. Every other brand is a nail biter.
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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Tue May 26, 2020 2:22 pm

This was a SanDisk. But again, I suspect filesystem corruption caused by spotty exFAT support in Linux, not a problem with the card itself.

OTOH, the card used to be in my music player, so it's spent a lot of time in a hot car, too.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Fri May 29, 2020 9:54 am

After quite a bit of futzing about trying to figure out how to mount the little $6 USB hub I bought to the "bottom" plate of the DE-10 Nano* (short version: I might be able to do it if I had a drill and some clamps, but I don't), I happened across an official MiSTer USB hub on eBay for a fraction of the usual cost. (The listing explains that the microUSB port doesn't work, so you can't use a microUSB-to-microUSB bracket to connect it to the Nano, but it works fine with a USB bridge that connects to pins on the board instead of the microUSB port. That's a defect I'm willing to live with for the price.)

I also decided to try my hand at replacing the buttons and stick on my 8bitdo joystick. That looks like a manageable project. I did my research and it looks like I found buttons and a stick that will fit in the case and that I can connect without having to solder anything. I'll let you guys know how that goes.

*actually the top plate; I just moved it to the bottom. This is relevant because it's not rectangular; it's cut so it doesn't cover up the pins on the board when it's screwed to it. Which makes it difficult to position my little USB hub on it.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby mharr » Sat May 30, 2020 7:28 am

Wait, so the microUSB on the Nano is just a power socket? You can't, for example, attach controls through it?

That's going to be a big hassle for handheld projects. :/

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Sun May 31, 2020 8:38 pm

mharr wrote:Wait, so the microUSB on the Nano is just a power socket? You can't, for example, attach controls through it?

No, when I said the microUSB port doesn't work, I meant on the add-on board I bought on eBay. The hub I'm buying has a defect; that's why I got it for $10.50 when they usually go for $40.

The microUSB port on the Nano transfers data; that's where you typically attach a USB-OTG hub (can be the official hub, but any microUSB-OTG hub will do) and plug the USB devices in.

It's not powered, or rather, it's only as powered as a typical USB connection. A keyboard and a controller or two hooked up to a USB-OTG hub hooked up to the microUSB port will work fine, but too many devices or devices that require more power (like a hard drive) will probably require external power. Or, in the case of the official MiSTer hub, a power splitter that plugs into the same connector as the main board.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby mharr » Mon Jun 01, 2020 3:52 am

Oh, does that mean the official hub is (or could be rewired into) a generic OTG adapter capable of connecting devices while also powering the host? I've been wondering if such a product exists electronically but it's a tricky search. (Financially stuck with my headless NV Shield for the moment and being able to directly connect our media drives would be quite the upgrade!)

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon Jun 01, 2020 12:38 pm

Not sure about that, but the hardware designs are free/open-source (GPLv3); you can look over them and see if that gives you any idea.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon Jun 01, 2020 11:49 pm

Got the official hub.

Turns out a powered hub really makes a noticeable difference with an 8bitdo N30 joystick. It feels much more responsive than it did with a non-powered USB hub.

I've got a new stick and buttons coming anyway and I'm interested in swapping out the parts. But this is a real improvement even just with the stock stick.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Thu Jun 04, 2020 1:26 am

Thad wrote:I also decided to try my hand at replacing the buttons and stick on my 8bitdo joystick. That looks like a manageable project. I did my research and it looks like I found buttons and a stick that will fit in the case and that I can connect without having to solder anything. I'll let you guys know how that goes.

Went great! My fingertips are a little sore but it worked out really well.

I learned a lot more about joysticks than I ever knew and still feel like I don't know very much. I would not be surprised if I get things wrong here, so if anybody who knows more than I do wants to correct me, please feel free.

Thing one: apparently the 8bitdo N30 arcade stick is very similar to the Mayflash F300. But there are a couple of significant differences. One is that the N30 has Bluetooth. The other is that there are two kinds of stick connectors, and the F300 has both but the N30 only has the Happ style.

Apparently there are two main kinds of connector for joysticks: Sanwa-style and Happ style. Sanwa uses a single 5-pin connector. Happ uses 4 2-pin connectors. You can convert the one type of connection to the other (basically, the Happ-style is just 4 different sets of hot/ground pairs, while Sanwa-style is 4 hot pins and a common ground), but that's more work than I wanted to do. I don't own that kind of crimper, I think it would be a little silly to buy one just to use it once, and the last time I crimped a cable it made my hands hurt because I've got inflamed joints and that's the reason why I'm trying out arcade sticks in the first place.

So anyway. Everybody says Sanwa is the best, but I didn't want to fuck around converting the 5-pin connector to 4 2-pin connectors, so Happ-style it was.

My major resources were these videos by this guy.



In the first video, he uses a stick by a company called Blee. But then he's got this second video, where he replaces it with a Seimitsu:



So I went down a rabbit-hole for awhile learning about different kinds of sticks.

Evidently, while Sanwa is considered the gold standard of Japanese parts, Happ was the primary supplier for US arcades.

Happ is now Suzo Happ, and you can buy from their website, but there's a minimum $50 per order. They still have a pretty decent reputation, though they're not actually using the same manufacturer they did back in the old days. That manufacturer is Industrias Lorenzo (IL).

Anyway, the Suzo Happ and IL joysticks both look great, but they're designed for arcade cabinets and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't fit in the N30's case. I couldn't find any information for sure to confirm that, but I did see an Amazon review of a stick called the EG Starts that looks to be a similar height, and a nice Italian reviewer had this to say:

La leva è più profonda dei Joystick Sanwa JLF quindi dovrete montarlo in un mobiletto adeguatamente profondo, per esempio non potete utilizzarlo per sostituire il joystick a corredo del 8BitDo .


Which, according to Google Translate, means

The lever is deeper than the Sanwa JLF Joysticks so you will have to mount it in a suitably deep cabinet, for example you cannot use it to replace the joystick supplied with the 8BitDo.


Thank you, nice Italian reviewer; you saved me a lot of trouble.

So ultimately I decided on that Seimitsu stick from the second video, the LS-32. I bought it, and 8 Sanwa buttons, from focusattack.com. And I bought some quick-connect 2-pin connectors, so I wouldn't have to crimp my own.

Shipping was fast, and assembly was straightforward. The hardest part was removing the quick-connect connectors from the old buttons; they did not disconnect as quickly as their name would imply. Those videos up there show them popping right off, but mine did not. This guy says that's normal:



He mentions using needlenose pliers to remove them, but I was pretty damn sure I'd pull the connectors right off the wires if I did that and maybe break some other shit besides, so I just spent an interminable amount of time working them back and forth with my fingers, a chip extractor, and one of those plastic wedge things you use to open up electronics. My fingertips still hurt five hours later.

But, aside from the trouble disconnecting the old buttons, it was easy. No issues; everything worked when I hooked it up. And I'm really happy with these parts: the Seimitsu stick is springy and responsive and a huge improvement over the stock stick. And the Sanwa buttons are maybe not as clicky as I'd like, but they're sensitive and responsive and not as spongy as the stock buttons.

This was a neat project, I'm very happy with how it turned out, and I managed to put shit together without getting immensely frustrated in the process, so that's a win. I think it's good to have projects and it helps keep me sane, especially in this socially-distanced world I'm living in.

I wonder if there's a half-decent cheap 4-way arcade stick I can use for Pac-Man. Because have you ever tried playing Pac-Man with an 8-way stick? It's awful.

I can adjust this stick and make it a 4-way, but that requires opening it back up again, and I don't want to have to do that every time I want to switch between Pac-Man and Street Fighter or whatever.

Maybe not worth worrying about; Pac-Man's fine with a D-pad. And I could play it one-handed even if I didn't own any one-handed controllers, because it's Pac-Man and it doesn't use any buttons.

Even if I'm playing it sideways because it's designed for a vertical screen and there doesn't seem to be a way to make MiSTer rotate the picture 90 degrees.

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