Monday 28 April 2014


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 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!!! 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!


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.


Wednesday 16 April 2014


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


Monday 14 April 2014


Hi peeps,

Here is a small update for the last progress report. I finally managed to upload the video progress reports to Youtube over the weekend so I thought I'd post them up here while I carry on working on the cabinet.

I know you can see the progress in the photos but I always like to see arcade machines in action with the game up and running and yelling out of the way too loud speakers! haha :-P

Capcom CPS2 button demo:

Neo Geo MVS button demo:

catch you on the next update!!


Sunday 6 April 2014


Hi everyone,

I've made some more progress on "the Machine" this friday afternoon and it's starting to get there now :-D

The aim for the control panel was to get 6 buttons for each player so that I can play my Street Fighter games on there no problem. So I set about drawing out the positions for the new buttons on the control panel so that I could figure out if they would all fit. What I've found is Player One's part of the panel had more than enough room around the existing 3 buttons to get the others to fit. But Player Two's area is really cramped. It's like they ran out of room as they worked along from left to right. So between the 3rd button and the cigarette area is rather cramped. So this part of the panel is going to have to be a bit of a compromise.

Last weekend I'd tried to make a start on the control panel and thought that I would be able to drill out the hole like a little pepper pot with the largest metal drill that I had and then cut out the linking bits of metal with my Dremel. Well let me tell you, that isn't the way to go about drilling the holes out of a metal control panel. To get the one hole done it took me an hour and a half and I went through 2 grinding wheels on my Dremel. This way would take me forever and I would be buying new grinding tools every other button hole.

So I left it there last weekend and during the week I picked up a Holesaw along with the corresponding drill bit from Wickes and set about the control panel again. What a change using the proper tools makes! The holesaw made short work of the control panel and I breezed through this time.

Here is the second player's control area. You can see that button 6 has had to be squashed up to get it to fit. And I've had to fit the extra buttons a little closer to the original holes because of available space. It doesn't feel too tight to use.

 Here you can see the holesaw I used. Its a 29mm holesaw and the buttons fit perfectly into the space you drilled. I thought it might make holes that are a little too big but they are spot on.

One thing to remember though is take out the existing buttons when you start to do your drilling. I didn't do this and buggered up one of my buttons. :-( The holesaw generates lots and lots of really little metal flakes and they can go down the litte gaps around the buttons and jam them up a treat! Because the plastic is quite soft the metal seems to dig in really well and it doesn't feel like it will come un-stuck.

So I'm going to have to order another one to replace the stuck one.

Below you can see the backside of the control panel all wired up. It looks a little bit of a mess but it's as neat as I can get. I can't pull the harness wiring through any further because its pulling the jamma edge up too high for my smaller game PCB's to sit on the bottom of the machine.

You can see that Player One's buttons are laid out more traditionally than Player Two. The spacing is still not exactly how you would normally have it if you were to make the control panel from scratch. But its nice enough I think.

Once I'd gotten all the buttons wired in and tested I started working on a little idea I'd had during the week. One thing I found out from making my first arcade stick for my Super Gun was that if you make an arcade stick that is just 6 buttons you won't be able to play Neo Geo MVS games that require 4 buttons. This sounds a little daft but when you make a 6 button stick for CPS2 Street Fighter games your top row consist of A, B and C from the Jamma harness. And the bottom row are Light Kick, Medium Kick and Heavy Kick which come straight from the CPS2 kick harness. Neo Geo MVS uses button D from the Jamma Harness. So when I made my second arcade stick I made it have 7 buttons so that it had D on there as well.

The problem with the arcade machine is that the control panel has very limited space but I still wanted to be able to play Neo Geo MVS games on it. So I decided to see if I could wire up a switch so that I could convert button 6 to either by Heavy Kick or Neo Geo Button D.

Here you can see the Conversion Switch held in place via Cable ties mounted on my new bases.

The center of the Double Pole Double Throw switch leads to button 6. The left hand tab comes straight from the kick harness and the right hand tab comes from button D on the jamma harness. So if you flick the switch over to the left your hooked up for CPS2 games, and if you flick it to the right you have button D for Neo Geo games. :-D Im really pleased that such a simple switch works a treat! Probably very simple to most people that mess about with electronics or wiring stuff up but being new to this I was quite proud that it worked. woop!

Here you can see the finished control panel all working with the glass window in place. I've got Samurai Shodown running in the machine using my Neo Geo MVS 1F board.

For some reason when the Neo Geo is running in the machine the TV is keeping the channel panel up in the top right corner of the screen. Im a little unsure why its doing this as it doesn't do it on normal Jamma games. I'm pretty confident that when I get hold of the remote for the TV I can get that to turn off though so it's not obscuring so much of the screen.

And as a last little picture, here is how the CPS2 cartridges sit in the bottom of the machine. You can see how the Edge connector is in the back and how smaller boards will just end up hanging from it. Which isn't a good way to have them connected. So I'm going to be making a little box that sits in the bottom of the machine so it raises the boards up a bit.

So what's next for the machine? Im going to be cleaning up the glass window and trying to get the marquee light working. Tidy up the coin door a little bit and remount it to the front of the coin door area. Sort out the back panel of the machine. Repaint it or something as birds have been pooping on it a bit. Ugh!

Catch you on the next update :-)