Saturday, October 12, 2013

Crown TV Dead... Back to BEKO CRT Testing

Hi People!

Yep... my crown TV blown... putted back the BEKO TV on the cabinet, and I've been doing some testing with GroovyMame with interlaced resolutions (this TV doesn't like progressive resolutions... what a petty). I'm ScartTV-Hunting now, but trying to get the best of BEKO TV with GroovyMAME.

Here are some pictures of the current setup (just interlaced resolutions).

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Testing other TV on the Upright and some thoughts for future MAME Setups


A couple of years ago I bought an used 28'' Crown TV for 50€ (model ACTV7298). It's has SCART-RGB input, and the same size as DPM 28'' (Beko C7/C8 chasis). I even informed it on the Build Your Own Arcade Controls Forum in Sailorsat's thread on the 18th of February 2011.
The TV was forgotten in the garage, so a few weeks ago I got some courage and moved it inside the Arcade Cabinet (they're both very heavy!).

The Beko tube has two great advantages:
- It switches on automatically when I turn on the cabinet;
- It protects itself from the 31Khz signal when the PC is booting (BIOS and XP64 boot screens).

But... it can not display progressive resolutions (they're all interlaced). I've been struggling with it for years. I try to do something different from time to time when I get some new ideas in BYOAC.

This time I had CRT Emu Driver, VMMaker, Arcade OSD and GroovyMame to test (in the past I was using Sailorsat's Soft15Khz). So, I began the testing on the Crown TV. I followed up the draft guides (we need an How-to, come on guys...) provided by Calamity and other BYOACer's on the forum, and my opinion is:

- For SCART-TV's that can do PAL (50Hz) and NTSC (60Hz), If you don't want to change the TV's geometry all the time with the Service Menu, you can't have all games displaying in their original resolution and fitting the screen- It's a fact!

A big disadvantage of GroovyMAME is: it calculates it's own modelines, even you correct them with Arcade OSD. Calamity says that we will be able to use the corrected modelines in the future, let's wait for that big improvement.

After struggling a few battles on the Crown TV (Editing custom modelines in VMMaker, changing monitor to PAL, NTSC, CGA, GENERIC,...) testing games, aligning the vertical geometry on the service menu, I think that I finally got a process for PAL/NTSC Scart-TVs that can ease the deployment of a MAME setup using SCART.

The process that worked for me was the following with an OEM ATI Radeon HD4350 PCIe for Horizontal Orientation:
- Connect the PC to a computer monitor (by default the Video Card outputs 31Khz);
- Install CRT Emu Driver 9.3a XP64 bit;
- Update VMMaker and ArcadeOS (extract, copy and replace the existing files) inside the folder of the CRT Emu Driver (download latest version from here, I used version 1.3c);
- Install the last version of Official MAME;
- Open a command prompt, go to mame folder and type "mame64.exe -cc" in order to generate mame's INI file;
- Create a folder named "INI" inside MAME's folder;
- Edit VMMaker.ini:
     1. Change MameExe path (in my case MameExe = "c:\mame\mame64.exe";
     2. Change Mame INI's path (in my case IniPath = "c:\mame\ini\");
     3. Set GenerateInis to 1 (GenerateInis = 1);
     4. Set monitor to NTSC (MonitorType = "NTSC");
     5. Set dotclock to 8.0 (DotClockMin = 8.0). This is needed for most recent RADEON GPU's, for older ones (9250 and alike) you can leave it;
- Run VMMaker.exe;
- Change the Resolution in Windows to 640x480 (I always use QuickRes utility, copy quickres.exe to Windows Startup folder so that it starts automatically);
- Disconnect the VGA or DVI Cable and Shutdown the PC;
- Power on the PC, wait enough time until Windows starts, and connect the ATI Radeon to the SCART TV with a proper cable (some examples here, I'm using the UMSA board that simplifies a lot the VGA->SCART connection. IMPORTANT! Sending 31KHz to your SCART TV may damage your TV! I take no responsability if anything goes wrong!
- If everything went well, you should see Windows Desktop in your TV through SCART;
- Open ARCADE OSD (Arcade_OSD.exe in CRT Emu Driver Folder), and edit the custom modelines generated by VMMaker so that they fit the most of the screen horizontally and vertically without any distortion.
- The most important modelines in my setup are 512x240, 640x240 (for horizontal games) and 1234x224 (for vertical games and horizontal games that don't fit the screen);
- Edit mame.ini in MAME Folder:
    1. Change rom path (my case, c:\roms );
    2. Change video from d3d to draw;
- Open a command prompt, move to MAME's folder, and run bobble bobble (c:\mame\mame64.exe boblbobl);
- Go to your PAL/NTSC TV Service Menu and change the vertical geometry so that MAME's screen fits the screen as perfectly as it can get (see next pictures);

That's It!
I have vertical overscan in 640x480 resolution (only use it for Maximus Arcade, doesn't matter), and for the games that don't fit the screen (namely vertical games like pacman, commando or 1943, or other horizontal like R-Type), I change their INI file (per example, pacman.ini) in order to fit the whole screen with 1234x224@60 resolution.

My 1943.ini:
screen0 \\.\DISPLAY1
resolution0 1234x224@60
hwstrech 1 #you'll need to do this for all vertical games running in your horizontal monitor
synrefresh 0
rotate 1 #only for vertical games
screen_aspect 4:3

My R-Type INI File (rtype.ini):
screen0 \\.\DISPLAY1
resolution0 1234x224@60
hwstrech 1
syncrefresh 0

I have no more flickering (typical of interlaced resolutions), and the famous arcade/retrogamming scanlines are perfectly noticed. Beautiful! Now, I can remember those games better.

I'm pretty happy with this setup, my favorite games (Golden Axe, Black Tiger, Double Dragon, King of Fighters, Bobble Bobble, Super Side Kicks) fit perfectly on the TV. The others that don't fit, I resize them to 1234x224 (progressive resolution, much better than resizing to 640x480i) with hardware strech set to 1.
Here are a few more pictures (Golden Axe, Pac-Mania and Black Tiger). The vertical games are not perfect, but in my opinion better than with the 640x480 resolution.

Hope that it helps someone that uses SCART-TVs as an Arcade Monitor! Cheers!
Next test will be with an Arcade VGA 3000.

Monday, September 2, 2013

One Step Back... Two Steps Forward!

Well guys,

After experimenting the 22'' and the 13'' screens inside the bartop's laterals (see pictures), I totally can't have a bartop with such a big screen. It's not movable and looks very big.
Here is a picture of the 22'' screen, with vertical orientation.

Now, a picture of the 13'' screen with horizontal orientation.

A 13'' is much better for a bartop. The 22'' is good for an Upright or a Lowboy / Mini-Cab (better for the kids).

Instead of one project, I'm going to have two!
- Bartop Cabinet with a 13'' SCART TV or 14'' CRT PC Monitor or a 14'' LCD (let's see what I can get for free or for less than 20€). I'll be using the wood I was using for this project. Still don't know if it will be vertical or horizontal, and what controls I'll be using (kept the 4-way for this one? Use a 8-way?);
- Lowboy Cabinet with the 22'' SCART TV (the one I've been testing). This one will be vertical for sure, but maybe for more games (include 2 simultaneous players, and 8-way joysticks, maybe switchable to 4-way for games like pac-man and alike).

These projects are going to take a while... I tried during holidays to do the much I could for this, now the time is going to be much less... I'll have to keep the costs low, but need to get some controls and wood for the Lowboy.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tuning Resolutions and Building the 2nd Cabinet

Hello MAMEr's, Arcade Friends!

I'm glad that I have skilled players as my Arcade Machines beta testers (here playing Pac-Mania on the vertical monitor and Altered Beast on the Horizontal Monitor). If they don't complain... it's working! :-)

I've been asking a few questions about my first SCART TV cabinet (the one on the right) to the experts in BYOAC, namely to Calamity (the CRT Emu Driver creator). The thread with my questions and Calamity's answers can be found at,133668.0.html. Thanks to Calamity I have the perfect setup now, all classic arcade games look more authentic... never been better! I'm going to close the TV's Geometry + MAME Resolutions task. The TV is one of the last built CRT's, and because of that is very limited for Arcade Gaming... but now is fine for my objectives.

Regarding the 2nd Cabinet (I'm going for a Bartop!), I've been developing my wood / carpenter skills :-). A few days ago I've sawed and polished the wood that I got from my old computer's desk. I still need to cut some more wood and assemble everything. Here is the Sketchup's model, the original wood, and some final work.

About the technical part, I did my 1st prototype with an old Pentium 4, 1.5GHz with 378 MB of RAM... but I managed to put my other CPU working (a little bit younger), an AMD Sempron 3200+ with 2GB of RAM. It's already running and playing. As disks, I'm using two Compact Flash (with IDE-Compact Flash adapters), 2GB CF for the Operating System and 16GB CF for MAME, ROMs and Maximus Arcade. The operating system is MicroXP (search for the torrent), very light XP that uses only 200MB of disk space, with only the needed processes / threads running. Here are a couple of pictures of the 1st prototype (already with the Compact Flash Disks).

I'm using Ultimarc's Arcade VGA 2 (AGP) as the GPU (check this baby on the next picture), with CRT Emu Driver (32 bit version), much better than the original Arcade VGA driver (I can get more low resolutions with it). 
It's an ATI Radeon 9200 with 128MB RAM, with an hacked firmware for outputting 15KHz (Arcade Monitor or SCART TV frequency). I got it for 40€, about 2 years ago, on an Ultimarc's stock-off. Now, you can only buy the PCI-e version (about 80€). The main advantage of this card is seeing the BIOS and Operating System boots on the SCART TV. Other more powerful ATI Cards (like the Radeon HD 4250 I use on the other cabinet) will work with CRT Emu Driver or Soft15Khz (Great piece of software developed by SailorSat).


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Maybe not a Cocktail nor a Bartop...

Just changed the sharpness of the TV to maximum and,... Eureka! All games fit perfectly on the whole screen! Donkey Kong, Galaga, Frogger, Pac-man, Pac-Mania, ... you name it!
Simple resolution for a big issue! These old CRT tubes... Check Donkey Kong running!

The guys at BYOAC suggested a few options for the control panel and cabinet format here.
I'll may go for a small size cabinet, it looks a better option to be.
Now, I'm going to take some measures and start a few sketches.

Vertical Bartop or Cocktail?

Another brick in the wall!

Here is a picture of one of the experiments with the 13'' TV, GroovyArcade (Linux Arcade distro) installation in a Sony 8GB USB Stick.

My old kitchen 13'' TV (Basicline, AK36 Chasis) is not appropriate:
- First, it's not possible to adjust the horizontal geometry size, I get 2cm (~1 inch) of overscan;
- Second, it doesn't restore it's last state when the power is back on. Every time I turn up the machine I have to turn it on with the remote! I found a few information regarding this, it can be just a jumper change in the chassis... through the service menu is not possible to solve;
- Third, sometimes, it doesn't turn on with the remote... it might be something simple for a TV technician, but not for me...

So... I tried the 22'' Grundig (55cm).
Had to do lot's of googling in order to find how to change the geometry, I finally found the TV's technical PDF with the service menu details.

I'm using the CPU of the other Arcade Machine, booting GroovyArcade from the 8GB USB Stick.
I had a few troubles setting the screen to vertical, through the installation. I set the orientation to vertical, but neither AdvanceMenu (the front-end) or GroovyMame are set to vertical. I needed to edit  advancemenu.rc and mame.ini.
It boots very fast, and runs very quickly! Since I'm going to have a very reduced set of ROMs (only 4-way vertical MAME ROMs), I might use this or other USB Flash Disk as the only disk.

To give you an idea of the Project's state, here is a picture of my son testing Pac-Mania on the shoe box.

Pac-Man (Ms, Jr, Mania, ...) and Galaga (original and 88) fit perfectly on the screen! It's like a real Arcade Monitor. I get a little bit of overscan for the Donkey Kongs... less than 0,5 cm, I can live with that.

It's a very big screen for a Bartop! So, I'm kind of in a dilemma right now... Will I go Bartop or Cocktail?
Maybe I'll try something like this (here's the source website):

A copy of that, will fire up the project costs... I'll need to be creative so that I keep the budget as lowest as possible.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Arcade Original Resolutions and Scart-TV Geometry

This has been one of the hardest tasks... Achieving the real Arcade experience... Getting original Arcade resolutions on a SCART-TV.

Original Arcade Games where displayed on Arcade Monitors (off course, LOL!). Arcade CRT Monitors! CRT monitors that can do 15KHz frequencies (not 31KHz like Computer CRT Monitors).
Besides that, these monitors receive a RGB signal, giving a excellent image for these games.

These games (70's, 80's and 90's Arcade Games) were designed to be displayed on 15KHz RGB CRT Monitors, and for a certain resolution (for instance, 320x240 or 256x224).
When running MAME on a LCD computer monitor in full screen (let's say, with 1024x780 resolution), the game's image is stretched and the pixel's smoothed. The image doesn't look the real thing.

CRT technology is dead... you can't buy CRT's at a retail store. It's possible to buy used Arcade CRT monitors at eBay, or new at a few online stores (China and Taiwan). Weiya still produces CRT Arcade Monitors.

CRT Arcade Monitors are (still) expensive. Let's say you need a 13'' monitor replacement for a Pac-Man cabinet? A used monitor with more than 30 years can cost you more than 200€ on eBay.

Because of the cost, and when trying to find alternatives, Arcade hobbyists found something beautiful: CRT 4:3 TV's that have SCART work like an Arcade Monitor!
Why's that? Because (the majority of) SCART accepts a RGB Signal, like Arcade Monitors, a 15KHz signal!
CRT 4:3 TV's are are not produced or sold anymore, everyone is throwing them away! Grab a few if you want to start or maintain you BYOAC project!

This will solve the monitor part, but for connecting a PC to a SCART-TV, you'll need two more things:
- 1 VGA/DVI to SCART Cable
- Software that changes the PC signal from 31KHz to 15KHz, or a Hardware Conversor (VGA to CGA, for instance), or an Arcade VGA (Ultimarc's greatest invention)

Click Here to find very useful information and links to other resources related with connecting a PC to an Arcade Monitor or a SCART TV.

My Setup is the following:
- CPU running Windows XP SP2 64 bits;
- UMSA Adapter (check my previous post about it) + SCART Cable + VGA cable;
- ATI Radeon HD4350
- CRT Emu Driver 9.3 64 bits + VMMaker + GroovyMame64
- 4:3 28'' SCART (Beko CRT Tube, branded DPM) - one of the last sold in MediaMarkt in 2009...

After setting up everything (for more details check BYOAC forum), you'll may need to change the TV's geometry on the service menu. To access the service menu you'll need to find the secret code (usually inputed with the remote control).
In my case, to access the service code, on the remote, I press "Menu" and 9-3-0-1. Here's a picture of the "secret menu", with the 60Hz geometry highlighted.

Here's a clear picture of the 640x480 resolution on the TV through SCART (Testgrid and XP Desktop), after fine-tuning the TV's Geometry.

After installing CRT Emu Driver and running VMMaker, I got 109 15KHz modelines.
I ran GroovyMame64 to test the switchres mechanism and see if the games were presented with acceptable resolutions.

1st test: Golden Axe
- it displays with it's original resolution (320x224), horizontal size Ok, but the vertical size is too short (black vertical bars up and down).

2nd test: Bubble Bubble
- it displays with it's original resolution (256x224), horizontal overscan on the left, same size vertical bars.
3rd test: R-Type
- it displays with it's original resolution (384x256), horizontal overscan on the right, smaller vertical bars.

4th test: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
- it displays with it's original resolution (336x240), almost fits the screen like 640x480. Tiny horizontal overscan on the right.

5th test: Double Dragon
- it displays with it's original resolution (256x240), size similar do R-Type, but with overscan on the right.

6th test: Mortal Kombat
- Doesn't display on it's original resolution, and the "Vertical Stop" is too high (it cuts the bottom of the game).

Just posted a few questions to Calamity (CRT Emu Driver and VMMaker developer):,133668.0.html

It's much better than a year ago, I could live with this setup, it almost fits perfectly! Let's see if I can improve it even more, and go on with the other project (Vertical Bartop).