Projects

CRT pickup Road-trip

CRT Madness. Does it exist? My wife thinks I have it, so it must be real. I’ve just been on a 400mile (round trip) to pickup a pair of Sony Trinitron TV sets. It was a long day but totally worth it. I’m no stranger to buying CRT TVs and finding problems when I get them home, but this seller was showing them working. He was also able to answer questions before I made the decision to take a drive across the country to pick them up. I was getting both a 25″ and a 21″ TV.

When I got to the destination address the seller had already set them up with a DVD player to show them working. I brought along a Mega Drive and Everdrive cartridge to use the amazing 240p Test Suite program to quickly establish how good they still were.

Having done some quick tests and played a bit of Sonic 3, I loaded up the car and set off home. 4 hours later I had them both on my console workbench to do some more tests and hopefully tweak the calibration to my liking.

KV-25F1U

The 25″ Trinitron KV-25F1U was in very good condition and was producing a good strong picture with no flickering in 60hz. Its geometry was ok for a 25″, and on the whole was quite acceptable all round. I did find the Horizontal positioning was slightly over to the left (see grid below). This I’m sure can be improved in the service menu. Colour and picture settings were also improved by doing a factory reset of all settings. Thankfully no problems with the convergence or gun strength here. 

Photos before calibration above. This TV will be my new primary TV for retro consoles, and is in place. I’m still tweaking this.

KV-X2182U

I knew this Trinitron KV-X2182U could be a really good set, and I’ve owned one before. Straight away the colours and contrast were very strong and the picture looks very sharp and detailed. Unfortunately cameras cannot do justice to a good CRT in photos, but Its very impressive. This TV looks to have ok geometry but could be improved somewhat. The vertical pin, and h-shift can be corrected in service mode when I get time.

Again the photos are without any adjustments yet. I think this set will look amazing when calibrated.

Its always a roll of the dice now when buying CRT TVs, but I think I’ve got lucky with this pair. This should provide me with a couple of spear units, and CRT gaming for a long time to come. I’ll post more photos when I get them both looking perfect.

At last! An update.

2021 is just flying by, and its been a long time since I had time to sit down and do an blog update.
My workshop got finished early this year just in time to start working from home.

So here’s how it went carrying on from the last post. Once the insulation was all installed, the plasterboards went up. Next the joints were filled and sanded to give a smooth surface for painting. I decided to go with a striking and warm orange along with contrasting grey (please don’t say ‘Easy Jet’). I then found a local supplier for floor carpet times.

These carpet tiles are new, found through Facebook. Two shades make a nice checker-board pattern.
I then finished installing the network points and the switch. I contemplated installing a patch panel, but decided to just allow the cables through the wall to the switch ports. There are 12 network sockets in total around the room, all going to the switch. I went with a TP-Link 16-port PoE switch. The WiFi point is powered from the switch and sits nicely on top.

For desks I also used Facebook marketplace and got a nice curved desk for my games table, and another straight desk for my PC area and soldering stations.

Then it was time to start unpacking boxes, setting up consoles and bringing over my arcade machines from storage. Lots more work was also done with the inclusion of smart heating and sensor controls.

So there you have it. An unused space in the garden transformed into an amazing space for playing arcade and console games, along with office space and electronics workshop.

Current Status – Workshop/Arcade plans

Hello. Its been a while since I last posted an update. We moved into our new house in the middle of February. The house had been empty for 4 years and is completely outdated, so we have a huge amount of work to do.

During this lock-down I’ve been able to start planning my new workshop. I’ve marked out the area I should be able to build in. It gives me an area of 19 x 8 foot. That should be plenty for a decent sized workshop and space for my arcade machines. The building will be breeze-block construction, and too keep the cost down, I’ll be building it myself.

I’ve also been brushing up on my Sketchup skills and done some renders of how it might look.

To get a better sense of the space I wanted accurate models of my 3 arcade machines, but couldn’t find the exact ones in the 3D warehouse. I finally found a model of the Naomi Universal, but not for the Electrocoin Neo-Geo or my Scud Race cabinet. So I made them in Sketchup too 🙂

So As you can see, its a long way to completion. I need to remove the old greenhouse foundations first, level the ground and get a new foundation ready. This project needs to be done alongside the house renovation when I can afford it. Until its build I have nowhere to work and understandably I still cannot accept and work requests. I’ll post more updates as the work starts.

RetroFlag cases for Raspberry Pi

With all my game collection, tool and most of my equipment packed up for the move (see here for details), I’ve been looking for an easy project to keep me busy. Something that doesn’t involve soldering for once.

I recently found out about the RetroFlag line of retro console inspired cases for the Raspberry Pi. Some while back I started looking into RetroPie for a friend, so I decided to build a couple of emulation machines for the living room. One based on the Megadrive case, and the other Nintendo SNES case.

Both cases are very good and could easily sit along the lines of the current mini consoles from Nintendo and Sega. The even feature working buttons for power and reset.
I’ll post more info and details of how I setup these machines soon.

Retro PC now with Voodoo2

You may have seen my previous posts about building a Retro PC for some DOS game action…

I wanted to keep maximum DOS compatibility, but also add support for 90’s 3D accelerated Windows games. So the biggest additions were the CPU upgrade to 233Mhz, double the RAM to 64mb and the Voodoo2 3D card. Specs are now:

  • Pentium MMX 233Mhz
  • 64mb EDO Ram
  • 3DFX Voodoo2 8mb 3D Card
  • S3 Virage DX 2D card

All working perfectly and now I’m able to play games like Unreal Tournament with most settings maxed out. Some very old DOS games may run too fast, but I found a program that can disable CPU caches and other features. This should allow be to slow the PC down to 486 speeds when needed.

More on this project later when I get time.

Affordable RGB to HDMI adapter

I’ve been looking for a cheap RGB Scart to HDMI adapter for some time. Its already been proven that most of the cheap units on Amazon or eBay are crap and don’t in-fact support RGB or resolutions down to 240i/p. So I got a recommendation to try this one. Elephas Scart to HDMI and can be found on eBay and Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Converter-ELEPHAS-Adapter-Support-Set-top-Black/dp/B00RMMGOGS

It actually works quite well for the low price, but does have a little lag. Picture quality ranges from Ok to quite good, with some of the best results on the MegaDrive and Neo Geo Consoles. Its no replacement or a OSSD, but not bad at all.

It certainty allows for clear stable screenshots and for testing purposes. I don’t I could recommend it for extended play sessions with the lag. I’ll do a full review later.  

 

 

Retro PC

During the last couple of months I’ve been playing around with the idea of building a DOS based retro PC. Now I’ve finally gone and made a start.

My aim is to have a good, fast, DOS/Win98 compatible PC for games. Nothing too fast or fancy. I also wanted to keep the price down. Unlike some other projects, this should be cheap.

I settled on a board, CPU and memory combo from eBay. The motherboard is a Lucky Star 5I-VX2B. CPU is a Pentium 100mhz without mmx, and it came with 32Mb of 72pin SIMM RAM.

I was tempted to go with a highend 486 biuld, but this was a good speed/value price-point. The motherboard chipset is also new enough to work with large drives (by that I mean over 8Gb) so no worries about fitting a large game collection on the HDD. 60Gb should be fine. Win98/DOS7.1 allows for FAT32 and removes the old 2gb partition restrictions. DOS7.1 is actually just as good as the older versions when setup correctly. Windows 98SE is just for a few Widows only games that need it.

I’ll upload more pics, videos and info as this project progresses.

Upgrades on Upgrades

I’ve taken a little timeout this weekend to play with my Amiga 1200 Tower. Recently I got a very cool Apollo 1260 Accelerator card with a 80Mhz clocked Freescale 68060 CPU. One downside to the A1260 over the Blizzard line of cards was that they only shipped with a single RAM socket, limiting memory to just 32mb. This is still fine for most setups, but I always like to extract the max potential when possible.

The reason for this limitation was to allow the card to fit correctly in the original A1200 wedge case. A mounting point is present on the card for an additional 72 pin SIMM socket. After I tracked one down with the help of a fellow Amibay member, it was very easy to install. Now I have 64mb of ram with a pair of matching 32mb simms.

I also got to install the Elbox FastATA MkV controller that arrived recently. Replacing my original MK1 16bit version gives a big speed increase to HDD access. I’ll do some benchmarks later..
More to come soon.