Wednesday, 19 November 2014

NINTENDO NES NOSTALGIA ??

Howdy Pardnurs!

This week has been a week where I've been playing some games in between doing some graphics work as a little treat for getting stuff finished and sent off. But somehow I still end up managing to fix / work around a problem with one of my consoles.

The start of last week I traded in a few old un-played xbox 360 games at CEX and picked up Dead Space 3 for the 360. I really really loved the first game and the second game was great too but it took me ages playing it in sections as I tend to play now. The xbox 360 is in the living room and seen's its the shared room I can't really hog it by playing games when my wife wants to watch a tv show or something. Its a bit anti-social especially as she hates scary stuff and Dead Space's are horror games haha. So I've started that anyway as I want to finish the series. I've heard its not as good as the other two games and the Co-op element put me off when it originally came out but for £6 I think its worth a punt to round the games series off as I really liked the story.

Also at the end of the week I got back into listening to the Retro Beats podcast on youtube by Derek Alexander, also known as The Happy Video Game Nerd. I really like his web shows and I've always loved the NES game episodes.

The Nintendo NES has always been a console I only ever played in snatches when I went to Comet in my home town. Comet was a national home appliance chain store and the one in my area, back when I was a little kid they had NES's and when they came out SNES's that you could play on until the store workers came around and moved you on. It was a try before you buy type of thing except I could never buy as I was too young haha. So I played the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles game on there as well as Mario and I think Castlevania. But in tiny tiny goes so I never ever got very far. I always loved it though.

When I was growing up I basically went through the Sega consoles so I missed the Nintendo side of things until my mate gave me his childhood NES as he was moving away at the start of this year. I couldn't believe it!! :D

Unfortunetly a few years of inactivity had some how bought upon the dreaded flashing red LED of Doom! So back then I bought a new 72 pin edge connector and replaced the old one and it worked. While I was at it I disabled the lock-out chip to hopefully stop the non-loading problem in the future.

Well that was a while ago now and listening to the Retro Beats podcast re-ignited my want to play some of the games I never got to as a kid. So onto ebay I went and managed to get Duck Tales, cartridge only, for £5 + postage which is a steal I think! :D

Here it is on top of my tiny NES collection which was all given to me by my mate.


It arrived a day early and I excitedly plugged it into my NES and turned it on....and Grey Screen!!! I blew on the cart and in the NES (Old skool fix haha) and re-seated the cart a few times but no joy. Darn it! It was knackered again.

So last night I set about taking the console apart again to clean the connectors, again, and re-seat everything.

While I was at it I decided to give everything a good clean so with my contact cleaning spray. So the motherboard is all nice and clean now and not sticky anymore from flux residue etc. I put it all back together and excitedly tried the console again but still grey screen! :,-(

Out of curiosity I un-pressed / clicked the cartridge from its locked in position and tried the power again and low and behold the game loaded up!! I turned the console off and clicked the game in place again and it Grey Screened! Weird! I tried it with my Mario 3 cartridge and again it worked in the pre-load position but Grey screened in the clicked position. I must have a dodgy new ebay connector. Doesn't matter though as it works in the pre-load position and I've managed to play through 2 levels on Duck Tales so far and its awesome!! And incredibly hard (compared to new games) but it's a really nice challenge. And Im into that kind of difficulty at the mo with trying to beat R-Type on the PC Engine, which is still elluding me haha.


So yeah, Im into this NES malarky at the minute and really loving it! I can't wait to see the other bosses on the levels I've not beaten yet on Duck Tales. And man is that music good!!!! The moon level is amazing but really all the music I've heard so far kicks ass!!


So there you go. If your NES is Grey Screening and not loading any games give the pre-load position as I call it a go. It might be the thing that works as we are always programmed to click the game down in the NES to then play. It certainly works for me :D

Have fun!!

Duck Tales Do Do Do!

Porl'' 

Monday, 10 November 2014

SEGA MEGADRIVE SONIC THE HEDGEHOG USB DRIVE

Howdy Y’all,

I’ve not had much time this past 2 weeks to play with making my Neptune hook-up wires unfortunately and I’ve been getting myself down with doing ebay searches for Sega 32x’s on there and seeing how expensive they are now. The prices of them have really shot through the roof and they seem to be becoming more and more unattainable which sucks. I’m still searching though as I need to get a working one to finish the Neptune off.

Anyway, that’s not what this post is about. Its about a little mid-week recycling project that I’ve been thinking about. I like most megadrive owners / collectors have a couple of spare Sonic the Hedgehog 1’s knocking about that no-one wants and I’ve been feeling that its such a shame that such a great game is just gathering dust getting absolutely no love as there are so many of them about.

Well I had the idea that the cartridges are around the same kind of size as some usb portable HDD’s so I thought I could use the casing to house a HDD and make a geeky drive to carry around. Getting one of my spares out and looking over it I saw that they are a bit too small so I did some research on the internet to see if people have made retro game USB drives and saw that some people sacrifice some awesome looking Nintendo games to use the cases to house the drives. And when I saw this I actually thought its such a shame that the actual game, the physical chips and board are just getting binned so that the cases are empty enough to make room for the HDD’s to fit in. So I opened up my Sonic cartridge to see if there was anyway I could keep the game in there and hopefully make it playable still while also being a USB drive.


Once opened you can see that the actual game board doesn’t take up all the room inside the cartridge and the space available is just a bit bigger than a USB pen drive with some room to spare around the sides. This is a pretty good result as I have a spare USB pen drive knocking about that I don’t use as I always end up losing them seen’s they are so small. And it was also free as I got it in a promo goody bag gift.


I found some sticky back velco strips as I thought that I might get a larger capacity pen drive in the future and if I glue gun the pen drive in place it will be stuck there forever. A rare bit of forward thinking from me haha. I also quickly ordered up a usb extension wire from the interwebs to give me a wire that can connect the cart / usb to my computer. I don’t really like the look of just the USB connector sticking out of the sides so wanted to go the dangly wire way.


Here you can see how the insides of the cartridge will look with the USB pen drive in place and the extension cable hanging out the side. Looking pretty neat.


And here you see how it looks with the little security screws put back into place and the cartridge all closed up.


When I was brainstorming how to have the USB extension cable and have the game playable I thought that if I have the cable coming out of the top of the back alignment groove the cartridge should still fit into the Megadrive 1 and 2 and not crimp or squash the cable. And it was a bit of a relief when I tried it after screwing it back together and it still fit into the cart slot and switched it on! :D


WOOP! Now I have a retro styled backup USB drive which has given a dusty unused cartridge some new life AND the game is still in there and working. So if there is an emergency situation where I see a Megadrive and heaven forbid there isn’t a game available to play then POW! USB Retro pen drive saves the day!

Hopefully this little post will inspire some other people to give their spare cartridges a new lease of life without sacrificing the actual game itself as that seems a big shame to me too.

I’m going to be making some time to make the hook-up wires for the Neptune next so hopefully there will be a post on those soon.

Catch you later

Porl’’


Friday, 31 October 2014

R-TYPE 1CC FIRST LOOP - PC ENGINE

Hi Guys,

This has been something that I've been wanting to attempt since I watched Ex_Mosquito's awesome R-Type arcade 1cc first loop on youtube and when he released the video with commentary I really started trying to get somewhere on my PC Engine version.

The deal with the PC Engine version is they couldn't fit all of the game onto 1 Hu-card as its a really accurate conversion (except they added in vertical scrolling which isn't in the arcade version) so they split it into 2 releases. Misleadingly they named the second half of the game R-Type 2 but this is actually the second half of the first game. Confused? haha

I've tried and tried since being a young lad to get anywhere on the R-Type games on the arcade or on any computers or consoles I found it on and always got stuck on the 2nd level. Its such a hard game. So a stupid dream is to actually get to the end of the game and this has always seemed like a fruitless dream.

With the R-Type version on the PC Engine you get to have a little halftime break so I've been practicing and practicing and I've finally managed to crack the first half of the game. Which is technically, on the PC Engine the first game finished :P it has an ending etc.

I'm so happy right now that I've managed to get through the first part of this game as level 4 is so tough!!! And that I managed to get it on camera. It wasn't the smoothest run that I've had but it's the first time I've been able to beat it. So no more waffle, more video.



Now I'm going to start practicing R-Type 2 so I can finally beat this game! More studying of Ex_Mosquito's commentary and lots and lots of practicing. :D

Catch you later

Porl''

Thursday, 23 October 2014

SLOWLY GETTING BACK INTO PROJECT STUFF

Hi Everyone,

I'm back!!! :D Well, I'm not in full on geek project mode again but it's getting there. Our wedding and Honeymoon have now passed which has gone far too quickly!! But the day was amazing and went exactly how we wanted which is all you can ask for. Perfect! Then the day after our wedding we jetted off to Singapore for 4 days then hopped onto another plane and went to Bali for 6 days. The honeymoon was so awesome and such a change of pace from here at home. It was 4 days of non-stop sight-seeing and walking about and then 6 days of non-stop chilling out and relaxing and swimming. It was absolutely brilliant!

Then the next weekend we were off to Gloucester for a Lindy Hop weekend, 3 nights of social dances and 2 full days of workshops/lessons. We love this weekend which happens every year and it was the icing on the cake of our wedding few weeks. :D

Now we're home and getting back to normal I've started finding the time to get some more work done on my Neptune. Not so much the case but the wiring for the modular idea I've had where I won't potentially be ruining an expensive 32x to make a Neptune.

So I've been doodling what I need to do.

As you can see from the picture on the right I'm going to do the Fold Under way of mounting the 32x because of the new placement of the power and reset buttons. They are moved up the board closer to the cart slot, see the photo later on, so the normal stretched out 32x layout wont work as the cartridge connecter area goes over the buttons and they wont work.

The modular idea is to desolder the megadrive's cartridge slot and rather than binning it like you would normally I'm going to solder the short wires to this so that its a repostitioned cart slot. This will mean that I wont have to solder straight to the 32x. I want to not have to do too much modding to the 32x if I can help it and if I can I don't want to put solder all over the cart pins on the 32x. Its going to be a bit tighter in there because of the cart slot but thats the plan anyway.

And once I’ve gotten the cartridge slot moved, which I’m not looking forward to as its a lot of wires to solder and they are the lovely little wires that love to pull away from solder or to snap if you move them even remotely quickly, I’ll then have to get onto making some wires that will hook the 32x up internally. Normally with the Neptune mod you either desolder the A/V in and out ports on the back as well as the PSU port and solder wires from them to the required places on the Megadrive’s motherboard. Obviously with this modular route I don’t want to be taking things off the 32x or soldering to it if possible, I want this expensive peripheral to still be nice, and also problem solvable. I think I have 2 Megadrive 2 A/V plugs in my tool box at home so my plan is to create 2 wires with A/V plugs on the ends that will plug into the 32x. One will go into the A/V in port which will be soldered to the underside of the Megadrive 2’s A/V out area. The other will be soldered to the original Megadrive 2’s A/V port which will be mounted upside down as of The Longhorn Engineer’s original design. Then, in theory the wiring will work exactly the same as the normal way of doing the mod but in a plug and play way. The PSU connection will be done the same way the Mega-CD tail I made for my Jammadrive 2. I will need to sacrifice a Megadrive PSU to get the port but it should also work fine having a plug inside the case.

—— FAST FORWARD Doodle-doodle-doodle-doodle ——

I’ve been writing this post over the span of 2 weeks when I’ve got snippets of time and I’ve actually done some of the modifications to the Neptune wiring already. So I thought I would show its progress so far. Bare in mind I don’t have a working 32x yet, I only have my original FUBAR’d one which I’m using for checking on spacings inside the case etc.


This weekend I started the long task of desoldering the cartridge port and wiring up all the extension wires to it. I’ve recently been getting into The Game Chasers web show on youtube and this kept me company through the slightly tedious task of stepping and repeating the wiring. Here are a few photos of the process of extending the cartridge slot so that it will sit in the position I’ve been thinking will work best. In these photos you can also see the power on / off and reset buttons that I’ve moved so that they will work with the new positioning of the buttons on the Neptune case. You can also see on the underside of the board where I’ve moved a load of capacitors to the make room for the extended cart slots wires to sit. ( Note - you can see the last cart solder point on the right has come away, this was a gutting moment I must admit, but thankfully I traced where it went off to and managed to patch in the wire when re-wiring the cart slot and it all works)


For doing wiring like this I highly recommend the helpful hand crocodile grip stands. They are a god send for holding parts in place while you solder them. It’s such a pain to do this sort of stuff without them.


And here you can see the cartridge slot in place with a copy of Sonic 2 in there from when I successfully tested the slot out. Phew that was such a relief when I switched it on and it worked. Its a little buzzy in the audio department but its not too bad and it could possibly be from interference / cross talk from the unshielded wires. I tried a couple of games but I had it twice not load a game for me and when I inspected the wires one or two had come away from the cart slot. I desoldered these little tinkers and tried a pile of my megadrive games out. Games from different producers and I even got the furthest I’ve ever gotten on Shadow Dancer. So while it was still playing I delicately ran some hot glue over the top layer or connections on the cartridge slot to help give the wiring a little bit more grip and hopefully stop any breaks.

The next step was to get my 32x slotted into place and see how it lines up with the cartridge slot on the top of the case. A little disappointingly I couldn’t get the case to close. It seemed to be held apart from the lower part of the case by nearly 5mm. So off I trotted outside with my dremel and a grinding bit and tried to shave out some of the inner plastic a bit more to give me a smidge more room for the chock to sit as this is the bit that seems to be the tallest part on the outer edges of the 32x.
After some trimming and testing and trimming I got the case to close. :-D

Here you can see how the 32x sits in the folded under method connected via the now repositioned megadrive 2 cartridge slot. Its sitting really neatly in there I think and doesn’t look any different to the soldered in place versions other than the fact its still plug and play.



Now onto the last step of getting the 32x to stay put inside the case, other than the outer case gripping it like a vice haha. I needed to find some screws long enough to reach through the 32x, its lower board and the megadrive 2 motherboard and into the lower cases screw holes. This has been something I’ve been trying to find whenever I’ve been in a hardware store to buy different things like paint etc. But I’ve always come up with nothing as hardware screws are always too big, they won’t fit through the cartridge slot holes. It’s been a really pain in the butt.

But like an idiot I forgot that where I work, which is a radio control car manufacturer and distributor, I might actually be surrounded by screws that could work. And low and behold that seemed to be the case!!! The trick is to find screws that are the same dimensions ( M3 ), have a similar thread spacing and also long enough, which seems to be around 30mm. Asking some of the tech guys here I’ve found that these screws fit and seem to work a treat! : http://www.hpiracing.com/en/part/Z574  I originally tried a different screw which also fit but the head of the screw was quite deep and the cartridge wouldn’t sit in the slot low enough to be very stable.

Here you can see the new long screws holding everything into place. WOOP!


So the next steps, which I haven’t actually done yet. Make some small tin-foil shields to sit between the wires to try and limit any cross talk between the wires. Make 2 sets of A/V cables which will plug into the internally mounted 32x. And finally make a wire to hook up the 32x with power.

So over the next few weeks I’ll tinker away and try to make some A/V and power wires up and get them mounted into the Neptune case. It’s actually all starting to come together finally for this project.

Catch you later


Porl’’

Saturday, 9 August 2014

LITTLE BIT OF AN UPDATE

Hi Peeps,

I've just sat down at my desktop computer and realised I hadn't made any blog updates in a while. Man it's been a hectic past month and a bit and all I've been able to do geek-wise is plan things to do.

The Naomi is up and running and worked like a dream on my stag night were a group of us had a gaming night where I put out a load of my consoles with some tv's and my two arcade machines. Everything ran like a dream which was a real relief especially seen's its all old tech really. We got a real good game of Super Mario Bros going on the Mario Allstars cart on the SNES with about 4 of us taking turns trying to beat world 5. Damn Hammer Bros!!! haha. And I also got inspired to play more Sonic Spin Ball on the megadrive where my mate how's really good at it played through the first level while giving me tips. One tip was don't play it overclocked haha as it runs a lot faster and can make a tricky game even trickier! :-P



I've had a few emails about the Sega Neptune replica I've been working on for the past two years and it's progress. Well the progress of it is the outer casing is finished. But the project has stalled because of not having a working 32x to check that it will all work within the case. So I've been checking ebay every now and again but it seems the prices are going up all the time. I've not wanted to put the case out there as finished until I know that the whole kit and caboodle works.

I did a little work on it this morning, well it's not really work but I added in a brighter red LED to the motherboard so that it shines out of the new power light area how I'd like. I've been drawing plans and steps I want to do next to make it so I can get the megadrive 2 ready for a 32x to be put into it but it will still work as a megadrive while I wait on getting one. Make it kind of modular by basically repositioning the cartridge slot so that I won't be soldering to the 32x itself. I think it will work so I'll be doing some capacitor and resistor moving to make space.

Right, well none of this is going to happen until the end of next month now as we're ramping up to the wedding and honeymoon. So it's all hands to the pumps. I best get back to it.

Catch you all soon

Porl''

Thursday, 10 July 2014

SEGA NAOMI CHASSIS SAGA CONTINUES

Hi everyone,

Been a little bit of a break between posts again I know but not as long as it has been in the past haha. We've had a chock-a-block-a couple of weeks and I'd been struggling to get some time in on the Naomi project with helping to setup for summer concerts (indoor and outdoor) practicing for playing in the concerts as well as helping to organise our wedding and our stag + hen do activities. So getting to posting some updates has been a little tight like a tiger. But! Hopefully we have a nice couple of weeks of summer holidays now and a more leisurely pace.

Well, As you probably read in my last post I had a real lemon of a monitor in the Naomi, and from some reading around on the forums I frequent I think it had been a problem for the owner at least a year before I won it on eBay. Bit crap really but I guess that's why I ended up getting it so cheaply. Anyway, nothing to it but try to get the sucker up and running.

So at the end of the last post I had my Naomi up and running via my Dreamcast and had a great time playing some Street Fighter 3 : double impact and Giga Wing. But the pin cushion controls weren't working so you couldn't get it to full screen without it pinching inwards from the sides quite a lot! Pretty annoying and obviously another fault on the chassis.

Well, the chassis lasted until I played on the machine again after having a good nose round it. It started looking like it wanted to scroll and then POP the line came back. I guess some parts of it gave up the ghost, again. So back onto the repair dude for thoughts and ideas because he'd been slowly eliminating problems as he went with my chassis.

Because I'd replaced the transistor already and it had gone again it had to be something else and Grant started thinking it could be a faulty Yoke or fly-back. Well I know what the parts of the monitor are now from doing research on them for the Naomi project but haven't got the first clue with how to diagnose and fix them. So off my chassis went again down south for Grant to do some more inspections and to soak test the chassis again on his spare tube to see if it would hold out. And if it did that would mean that I had an internally sparking Yoke or something.

I had a nose around the Yoke area after I sent the chassis off and found a piece of plastic that encloses some copper wiring was loose and flapping about so I mentioned this to Grant and super glued it back on. He said that this wouldn't be the problem though, so I glued it up so that it should help stop moisture getting into the Yoke area through that avenue.


The coiled up copper wiring on the white cone is the Yoke area. It was absolutely filthy around this area so I gave it a good ol' clean down to see if anything else looked a little suspicious.

The chassis was posted off and received and I waited to see how it would hold up to Grant's tests and started trying to do some internet research on getting hold of Sanwa 29" tubes or even worst case senario, 29" tv's to sub into place. Both lots of research basically came up bust though and it would seem I would need to drop a couple of hundred on a complete monitor and chassis if it show's up as my tube is faulty as spares for them seem to be non-existant anymore. :-(


The weekend comes and I get a PM and its good news, well for me. The chassis popped again on Grant's spare tube within about 20 minutes. This ruled out my Yoke being the issue which made me have a huge sigh of relief!!!

And with this happening it got Grant's head scratching again and he would have to really start delving into the chassis. This could take a while, so awesomely! This is a true example of the Arcade scene's helpfulness and friendliness. He offered to send me his spare working, repaired chassis to use while he spends some time diagnosing and repairing mine so that I have a Naomi to use and play on while he gets into the nitty gritty with my faulty chassis. What a dude!! :D

So while I waited for the spare chassis to arrive I started working away on my Mame PC setup. I've played Mame before on my desktop PC but I've never set up a machine just to play Mame on an arcade machine before so I had to do a lot of reading up on what to use and how to set it so that the resolutions are fixed so they don't damage my fragile monitor and so that there isn't screen tearing etc. The last thing you would want is to give the game away that it wasn't running real arcade hardware inside with crappy looking screen tearing!

I follow a guy on YouTube called Exmosquito who does 1CC runs of some of the hardest arcade games and he runs Mame on his arcade machine and thankfully he did a video a while ago explaining his Mame setup. It looks like it runs absolutely smoothly so I wanted to copy his setup so I could have a spot on machine.

He uses GroovyMame which is a modified version of Mame and he also uses the CRTEmu drivers which are designed to work on ATI graphics cards. So I set about sourcing all the parts for making up a small PC that would run GroovyMame out of my spares.

Typically I didn't have very many parts left over at all. Since I was a teenager I've been into PC's with my Dad and whenever we'd upgrade parts I would generally keep them as spares incase anything went wrong. And over the years I've kept doing this and whenever anyone's PC's needed replacements I've popped these spares into their machines to help fix them. So when it comes round for me to want to make another PC I couldn't as I've given all the spares I need away! haha blumin' typical!

So I went on the scrounge a bit. I remembered my Brother might still have his old motherboard and processor still from when we upgraded his machine a few months ago so I gave him a call and thankfully he did! So I nipped over to pick it up. A good start! I have a mobo and processor. Next I need an ATI graphics card, which no-one I know has so I sourced a nice looking ASUS Radeon HD4350 512mb Silent PCI-express card that's compatible with the CRTEmu drivers and some memory from the local CEX. Im trying to get this little machine running on the cheap cheap if you couldn't tell. Next thing is a Power supply which is easy as I have my spare modular Corsair HX520w psu which will work a treat. And the final thing, a hard drive. I recently had a PS3 Phat 60GB that I reflowed which lasted for a very short time before it was properly bricked so before I binned it I took the HDD out of that and hooked the sucker up. Perfecto! A nice little Mame PC on the pretty cheap.

I mounted it all to the Naomi wooden board so that I knew it would fit within the bottom box of the arcade machine and it ended up looking like this :D


Not too shabby I don't think haha. I set up a switch so that it could be turned on from the front and all the ports are easily accessable from the door of the Naomi and the power cable routes out of the back of the machine.

Next step is to get GroovyMame installed and a load of games loaded and wait on the chassis to return.

More in the next post! :D

Porl''

Thursday, 12 June 2014

A NEW TOY / PROJECT : SEGA NAOMI UNIVERSAL MAME CABINET

Hi peeps,

It's been a little while since my last post. I've been itching to make posts about my new toy but I've been having nothing but trouble with it from pretty much the off so much so that I haven't gotten it to a stable position enough to make a post about it haha.

And the weird thing is I bought this under the impression that I could just plug this sucker in and play. Unfortunately that hasn't been the case.

Here is the beast, my very own candy cab! I must admit, I didn't think I would ever own a candy cab because they are so expensive!

Unfortunetly this isn't the view I had when I first got it home.

Right, how did I end up getting hold of a Naomi Universal cabinet in the first place?

Well I was sitting at our breakfast bar one evening after work with my FiancĂ© Rozzy and some how doing a random google search I came across an link to an ebay auction for a Mame ready naomi universal arcade cabinet. So being a nosey bugger I clicked the link and went through to the listing. It had 2 days to go I think and it had some bids but it was ridiculously low so I said to Roz that I might bid on it but I would never ever get it because it's going to go for at least £200. She said that if I did end up getting it for the measly sum I put in she would treat me as an early wedding present. But I was convinced that I wouldn't get it and to be honest, if I did win it where would I put it?! We live in a cosy small cottage and I don't have a garage haha.

Well, obviously I kept watching how the auction was progressing and no more bids came for a while and I was winning and thinking "crap! Im actually going to win this and I have no where to put it!!! what was I thinking!?" but it still had time and any arcade machines I normally watch for curiosities sake have a blitz near the closing time and shoot right up. Well finally another bid came but I was still winning. Then Wednesday lunchtime comes and Im watching for the Blitz like a hawk on my phone and .....I won it! I only went and blumin' won it and for the princely sum of £64!!!! £64 for a candy cab! And the description said that all I would have to do after collecting it was to plug in a Mame set up PC and it's ready to go! Wowzers!!

I had a bit of a panic about the whole situation to Roz and being awesome she got on the phone and sorted out with her family that I could keep it at their farm until we eventually end up getting a bigger house and I can take it home then. I had the idea that it could go up into our hobby room (this was before I saw how big it actually was and how heavy it is. jeez is it heavy!) but the floor wouldn't be able to hold this kind of machine as its an old place. So I have to store it and work on it at the minute.

Well, we borrowed the Discovery and headed off to Birmingham to pick it up and hope that it would fit in the back. We met up with the seller and had a good ol' chat and nose around his lock up which was packed to the gills with other arcade machines and spare parts. Pretty awesome! And the 3 of us, lifting with our legs, managed to get it to fit quite nicely in the back of the Discovery without any disassembly other than taking the top marquee out. Phew, that was a worry! I really wish I'd taken a photo of the machine in the back of the Disco but with all the excitement I didn't get my phone out. Oh well!

Off we trotted carefully back home in the Disco in rush hour traffic and got the machine out and across the yard to where I'll be working on the machine.

Super excitedly I looked over the machine, got my Dreamcast out of its carry case as the Dreamcast (VGA modded) should be able to plug straight into the Naomi and play straight off and plugged it in. Turned all the power on and I get an image on the screen but it is rolling like a maniac!! Vertical sync isn't working! The image filled the screen from what I could tell but it was scrolling really really fast. I switched off the Dreamcast and tried it a few more times checking the cable was sitting correctly but no go.

I tried my laptop set to 640 x 480 but got the same result :-(

Here you can see the Dreamcast image rolling and rolling and rolling.

So I gave up for the day and headed home and onto the Forums and google to get a hold of a manual and do some research.

The next day I went back to the Naomi with an idea that I'll take the back hood off the machine and hunt down the vertical hold / sync and get it adjusted to settle it down.

Unable to find a V Hold pot I started adjusting the H hold and got the image tuning in and out like you get with an Old TV tuning a station in. I got all the way to the left and got a vertical thin line. This must be the left hand side of the adjustment so lets turn right and see what happens when we get going. Turn......nothing......turn.......still nothing. I got a very cold feeling go down my spine with a realisation that it had just broken big time!!!! Oh man!! This was meant to be an easy plug and play system.

See the image to the left. This is all that happens when tried with either the Dreamcast or the laptop. Oh, and the thin vertical line is still rolling without Vertical sync.

So I got back on to the forum and I got chatting with a guy who is the go to man for repairing the chassis in Naomi's and he's confident that he can repair it.

Of I headed to take the chassis out of the machine and send it off for repair and he found a multitude of things that had gone wrong on the chassis. Cold solder, capacitors gone as well as the vertical transistor and safety resistor. I think I'd been sold a bit of a dog of a monitor set up within this machine. The machine as it is is sound even if it needs a little bit of work to tidy up but the main bit being the monitor seems a bit boned!

Anyway, after a week Grant sent me back my repaired chassis and I installed it into the cabinet and I get a full screen view but its got a twitch to it. It seems like its trying its hardest to roll but something is holding it back. You could really tell it was itching to roll. I adjusted the image with the control panel break-out board and had a quick go on Street Fighter 3 double impact on the Dreamcast. This go was without sound though as the speakers are mounted within the rear hood of the machine. So I got up and headed over to get the hood so I could plug the sound in and I heard a really loud SNAP!!. I quickly turned round and the thin, glowing vertical line was back! Flippin eck!! :-(

After some further PM's Grant really nicely sent over a replacement Transistor and resistor as he thought that the transistor was faulty. The next weekend I replaced the components and BINGO!! I got a steady image! Its on a slight tilt but not so much that the lay person could see without being told. I've got weird pincushion squeeze that I can't adjust out but I'm able to finally play some games on it using my Dreamcast and my Dreamcast arcade stick as I haven't got any pad hacks done yet.

Check it out! That's me playing some Street Fighter 3 Double Impact on the Naomi :D It's stripped down because of fitting the repaired chassis but its working and MAN IS THAT SCREEN BIG!!! It's like sitting in the cinema on the front row, you actually have to turn and really look around the screen or you'll miss something. Its awesome!!!

The pin cushion pinch is a bit anoying though as you can't get the image full screen without it pushing in at the sides so this needs to be adjusted (see right) but the next main job is building a Mame PC from as many spare parts as I can find so its nice and cheap as it's going to sit in the lower part of the Naomi perminantly and only play games. So it doesn't need to be any kind of real power house! And once the PC is working I can get the control panel hooked up via the iPac thats installed in there. :-D

Here's a few shots of the Dreamcast running on screen :



I've also made a video explanation of the progress so far so you can see it actually playing Street Fighter 3 Double Impact.


Looks pretty sweet I think!! :D

Geeky exciting stuff!!!

Catch you in the next update y'all.

Porl''

Monday, 19 May 2014

ARCADE MACHINE REFURBISHMENT - RESURRECTION PART 6. FINISHED!

Hi all,

It's been a couple of weeks since my last update so I thought I would post up a quick update on the Jamma arcade machine resurrection.

ITS FINISHED!!! :-D

Yep indeedy. I've been over to the machine over the last weekend and finished up the last little touches I wanted to do to it so I can call it done. And its a pretty great feeling to know that I've taken a machine that was basically sitting and rotting broken and unusable and its now a tidied up and rejuvenated arcade machine that can be used to run both Jamma and MVS games.

The main finishing touch I wanted to do was re-fit the blackout card around the monitor so that you couldn't see into the machine while playing it and it just makes you focus on the game your playing. When I was removing the card to do the cleaning a part of it got torn so I had to tape it back together.

You can see the join if your looking but Im pretty sure if you didn't know it was torn and repaired you wouldn't spot it. It needed a little trimming and adjusting to get it to fit the new monitor shape nicely but in the end (with some stapling and then re-stapling) I got it to fit how I wanted and closed up the front of the machine and clamped the latches down so its all secure at the front.

On the left you can now only see me and the wall behind me reflecting in the glass rather than seeing straight into the cabinet.


Below you can see a kind of POV of how it looks when your playing. You really just see the game now.



The next step was to tidy up the dangling wires inside the coin door area so I got some of my cable tie bases stuck to the inside of the wood and cable tie'd the wires out of sight. Nice and easy.

I also wanted to mount the Test Switch within the coin mech area on the back of the coin door but the wires weren't long enough so I got a pair of off cuts from the jamma harness and extended them so that I could neatly route the wires along the inside of the cabinet and out to the coin mech nicely. So now when you open the coin door to get to the remote to set the TV to AV so that the picture is perfect the Test switch cabling is no longer pulling on the harness wiring and the door swings freely. :-)

And that's it! :-D I wanted to make a new marquess sign for the machine which I might still do at some point but It all still works and fits and is how the machine was last set up so I think its good for now.

The machine now needs some games played on it so it can be used again. At the minute I've gotten my Jammadrive 2 in permanent residence so that I can get blasting some of the amazing Megadrive arcade conversions I have. Golden Axe really plays nicely in the stand up cab set up even though its still the megadrive version.

Here is the arcade machine in its new location for a while. As you can see I had my trusty assistant with me helping me out. Unfortunately he's too short to reach the Player 2 controls. haha :-P

As I said numerous times Im really stoked out with this project and how I've managed to bring an actual arcade machine back to life from the dead! Its been a project where I've learnt a lot and gained a lot of confidence in this area of retro games electronics / wiring etc.

I have another arcade machine project on the go at the minute, yes I know! Another! But this project is very different to this machine so again its a neat learning experience.

So expect another post up here soon. Hopefully I get a major component for it back tomorrow (fingers crossed) so I can really get to work on it.


Porl''

Monday, 28 April 2014

HOMEMADE SCAN LINE GENERATOR - MID-WEEK PROJECT

Hey y'all,

Last week inbetween working on things for my arcade machine (fixing the blackout paper and making extension wires etc) I started work on something I've been wanting to make for ages! A Scan Line Generator for my dreamcast! :D

As always I headed over to mmmonkey's awesome modding website www.mmmonkey.co.uk and started reading up on how you make them and what sort of bits and bobs I would need to get. Well, as it turned out I'd had some fore-thought and bought some of the required IC's and some matrix board last year when I was thinking of giving it ago. So All I would need to get would be the male and female vga ports and a little project box to house it all in.

With this in mind I started out on monday night with my soldering iron and started following mmmonkey's photos and write up. I found it a little confusing at points to follow along and know what was going on but after some cups of tea (and one hot chocolate with all the trimmings) I had a finished off matrix board. Awesome!!

I couldn't try it out though because the next step was to make a VGA extension cable (female - male) so that I could hook the R,G,B, V sync, H sync and Ground up to one end of the cable.

Fast forward a couple of days and I headed over to Maplin in Tamworth and picked up the sockets and project box so I could carry on with my little project. Fast forward to thursday and I get soldering again and the cable is made up and the SLG is soldered up to one end of the cable.


Cue excited running upstairs to plug it into my Dreamcast and check out the kick-ass scanlines!!!.......no scan lines! :-( There was a picture but five wiggly bands of what looked like interference. Darn it!

I looked over the matrix board again and noticed that one of my ground links wasn't hooked up so I bridged that and replaced a resister leg bridge with a small bit of wire. Cue new test and the same result!

hmmm

I got the images of the SGL progress from mmmonkey's website on the Tablet and got a fresh cuppa to ponder where I'd gone wrong.

I couldn't spot any differences until I went to the start of the article and looked at his original sketch. Could I have the chips in the wrong way round?! Could it be that simple?! I popped out the 74 and the 125 IC's giving myself a mental High Five that I'd had the forward thinking to solder in sockets rather than soldering straight to the chips themselves. If I hadn't it would have been pretty much starting from scratch if I'd have to desolder both the chips to flip them.


A quick check on the main TV downstairs and whats this?...could it be? SCANLINES!! WOOO! It took a little bit of head scratching but it's worked in the end!


Check those suckers out! That's some retro viewing right there on a modern LCD TV :-D

With the scan lines all working nicely I headed back to the project bench and started finishing off the casing.

And here is the finished result in the project box. I got the VGA cable sitting nicely in between the 2 socketed IC's which will help keep it all snug in its box, even though the hot glue will probably do anyway :-P


With the box all finished off I popped upstairs and hooked the Dreamcast back up to my PC monitor and put the SGL inbetween the two and flicked the power switch. The image comes on for a second then dissappears!! NOOO!! I hit my odd / even lines switch and nothing, turned the monitor on and off and it again appears for a second then dissappears. Darnit!

So I tried it on my smaller flat panel tv in my games room and nice scan lines show up.

It seems that my PC monitor isn't compatible with my SGL. Doh! Im not sure why. Could be that I've left a few of the pin's floating rather than grounding them out but I've hot glued it all in place now. Oh well, it was only a mid-week project and it works properly on my TV's :-D So when I fancy some Dreamcast on the big TV I can have nice old-school scan lines running on there.

I have enough IC's etc to make another SGL if I fancy it at some point and I'll ground out the floating pins and add in another switch to alter the width of the scan lines. I went with the basic version to start with to see if it would work or not.

Im really pleased with the result in the end, even though it doesn't work on my PC monitor. Its a shame but not the end of the world. :-)



Looks pretty neat all finished. If you want some retro scan lines on your VGA modded dreamcast then I recommend checking out mmmonkey's guide. Its a nice cheap and pretty quick project to get some retro goodness on your TV.

Just a quick last minute photo. It turned out not too dissimilar to my drawing I made during the week :-) I was trying to figure out how the video signal would run and which way it would face inbetween the monitor / TV and Dreamcast.


Catch you all later for the next project update.

Porl''

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

ARCADE MACHINE REFURBISHMENT - RESURRECTION PART 5. MARQUEE AND JAMMADRIVE 2

Hi All,

Well, the weekend has passed and I managed to get a little bit of work done on the arcade machine while my fiance was planting trees with her mom in one of the fields. Shirking a little bit of manual labour I slinked off to my arcade machine to continue work.

My main aim for the weekends work was to try and figure out the marquee light and try to get that hooked up and working. I must admit though I hadn't got a clue how the thing hooked up to the power supply as it was just 2 wires and they weren't standard colourings to the wires. Hmm, surely one has to be ground and one live? There's a sticker on what looks like the ignitor? power block for the light that says 240v so I thought 'brilliant! I'll hook it up to a mains plug and see what happens'. Well, what happened was the bulb got really bright then a burning spot appeared at a part of the bulb and it switched off. Doh!! Burnt it out and my confidence with getting that thing working dropped through the floor.

I could try to get another bulb to fit but I might struggle and then it could just burn out like this one did because its not wired correctly, so I decided to head down to my local B&Q diy store and pick up some tree ties for Roz and her mom and picked up a small strip light while I was at it. While I was there I checked over all the lights and checked that the one I got was mains powered so I could just hook it up and I'd be away.

I had a good long piece of mains cabling and scrounged a plug and hooked up the light to check that it fired up and worked okay. And, bingo! It worked! Next step is to get it mounted to the marquee board and check again. Here you can see it mounted to the board before I routed the wiring down the back trunking of the machine and down to the power strip thats sitting in the base.


After I got it all cable tied to place and hidden in the trunking I go it switched on in its new home. :D


Check that glow! haha. Another tick on my list of things to do there. Marquee light, done!

Here's how the machine looks at the minute with the glass and marquee sign all back in place.

Looking pretty snazzy I think. I don't know what it is but when the light turned on it just clicked to me. This is finally an arcade machine, it just feels more right.

During the week I'd received some new Neo Geo MVS games so I thought I'd bring one of the cartridges with me to 'test' out in the cabinet. Metal Slug 2! :D

Its crazy how different the game looks compared to my little LCD TV I've got at home. Standing up close to the CRT monitor with the scan lines etc makes it feel a lot more proper.

I got a nice little stash of games and I'm really itching to complete them all but the one thing I'm making sure I don't do is credit my way through them. I.e. just pressing the credit button continuously to force my way through the games. One thing I've been doing with Metal Slug 2 is giving myself 3 credits and 3 credits only. Trying to recreate only having so much change in my pocket like when I was a kid. Man, is Metal Slug 2 a hard game though!! I can only get to the end of level 3 so far with my 3 credits. Its crazy tough even on level 4 difficulty settings. I'll get there though.

The Games I got (as I got side-tracked there) are : Metal Slug 2 (loose cart), Metal Slug 4 (full kit), King of Fighters 2001 (loose cart), Puzzle Bobble (loose cart) and Tecmo Soccer '96 (loose cart). I'll probably be selling on Tecmo Soccer as Im not that into football games but the others are definate keepers.

So that was Saturday's work and I thought I would be all done for the weekend but we headed back on the Sunday so Roz could help her mom out with some more tree's so I had an idea of what I could leave in the machine semi-perminantly as I don't want to be leaving my 'real' arcade boards in the machine when it's not at my house yet.

So I used the time in the morning at home to source out an old Megadrive / Mega CD base plate from my wardrobe to see if I could modify it into a PCB stand for my Sega Jammadrive 2 :-)

I found the base plate out but quickly found out that its not going to fit the Jammadrive 2 unless I take the rubber feet off the bottom of the casing (not gonna happen as I want it to look stock :P ) or modify the plate. So I got my metal saw out and started hacking away at the base. I got a little way but needed some proper equipment so I took it to the farm and used the saws there.

Here you can see the Jammadrive 2 next to where I was working so I could keep offering up the plate to it to see how it was fitting.

Right, a little disclaimer...I'm not going to show the finished off plate because its VERY embarrassing and looks like a torture device from Vlad the Impaler (and it actually did impale me at one point and cut my hand doh!) but it does fit nicely and work very well. I drilled out some holes and mounted PCB feet that I had spare so that I could then screw that into the internal wooden wall of the arcade machine.


And here is the Jammadrive 2 sitting in place on the wooden wall. The way I positioned it is so the weight of the console pushes downwards onto the mounts of the base plate so it will keep in place and it also has the Jamma edge at a nice easy to access position. I've also mounted it quite high on the board so that I can still fit other arcade games in there past it so I don't have to take it out all the time to put other game boards in.

Im really pleased with how it sits in the cabinet I must admit and really happy that the baseplate worked after all my hacking of it (and my hand).

And here you can see the machine running Streets of Rage from the Sega Mega Games 6 cartridge. A neat little fact about this cart is that it has the full version of Streets of Rage on it so much that if you flick it over to Japanese language you get the game Bare Knuckle instead of Streets of Rage :D A good cart to test your language switch mods on ;-)

I thought I could leave this cart in the machine and there are a few games to have a blast on when there aren't any arcade boards plugged in.

Also its inspired me to dig some of my megadrive arcade converstions out of my shelves such as golden axe and I know its not technically an arcade game but its pretty close to the original, Splatterhouse 2.

Oh, I also painted up the old coin door that I mentioned in one or two of the video progress reports. Well it turns out after I painted it up that it didn't fit and wasn't the correct door!! Double dang it!

But I scratted around and found the proper one which is chrome and only needed a quick brush down to look half decent again. I mounted it into place and quickly tie-wrapped my Test Button to it but I'm going to extend the wiring on that so that its neater when you open the door.

And that's the progress so far. I'll leave you until the next post.

Catch you later

Porl''