The Commodore Amiga produces RGB video output @ 15khz. It has the ability to run in a higher resolution mode which causes a crazy amount of flicker when the screen refreshes. While I totally respect and give props to the Amiga friends over the years, their monitors seemed to always be a downfall. As a MS-DOS and VGA just didn’t have that issue.
This isn’t a new trick and has done before. But here is some slight documentation. I used one of the scalers that are popular with us arcade people to scale the video to drive a VGA monitor. This is pretty well known, really the most limiting part is getting hold of DB-23 connectors. In my case I used a DB9 as the input so I could re-use the DB-23 to DB-9 monitor cable with the scaler. I have a plastic project box on order from eBay/China to house the scaler and mount the connectors. I was more than impressed by the output from the scaler board, it looks really good.
Quick success and rapid turn around on this!
If you want to do the same using the DB9, I used a DB9 male solder type D-SUB.
Always check the pin labels on the plastic just to double check direction.
Pin 1 = Black, GND
Pin 3 = Red
Pin 4 = Green
Pin 5 = Blue
Pin 7 = Grey = Sync
The Yellow wire is not needed, no connection to the separate HS and VS pins on the scaler board.
Amiga 2500 / scaler
It has been a little while since I have updated my blog. I have been working on a number of projects at various levels of motivation so on with some updates!
Sooo…. an opportunity came up to buy Leroy’s SU2000 system on behalf of MAGFest. Much thanks to Leroy and Buddy! The next step is to get it working, hopefully before MAGFest. So the race is on.
No hard drive/CDs. So that is the first obstacle. Second step is the cable insulation has deteriorated. I think my thing is just going to be to heatshrink it for event. We will see.
Amiga keyboard restoration
Picture is pre-retrobrite and cleaning.
Pics not for the faint of heart!
Two Amiga keyboards came with the 2000 system I picked up via Craigslist. And the fun part is, full of bug carcasses and a few living worms.
Fully disassembled each keyboard. All keycaps soaked and washed. All the little rubber sping things were washed. Plastic part disassembled from metal backing, everything cleaned out. Space bar was not working on one but after cleaning it was back.
After everything was scrubbed and washed, the last step was to retrobrite the yellow away. Sally Beauty Supply #40 cremed it. There is some banding and you can see brush stroked under bright light, but better than it was!
Centipede audio fix
I bought Matt C’s Centipede from him! Of the classic arcade titles, I think Donkey Kong and Centipede are my #1’s. They’re the games I remember playing as a little kid the most. Both games have cool sounds for the time and were good looking machines. The Centipede machine was close to solid, the big thing missing was sound. Matt had taken a shot at it, but never finished.
I bought a cap kit from my friend Buffett, to recap the G07 monitor while I was at it. Compared to the other monitors I’ve been dealing with recently like Sanwa 29E31S and Wells Gardner K9200 the G07 was a breeze.
On to the sound issue. First thing was fuses were blowing on the AR2 board which is a power supply / audio amp combined. So I needed to tackle this. Nothing looked out of place, everything seemed okay. Threw it in with a new fuse and it blew. I then tried it again and rapidly removed power and felt components. One of the caps was very warm, which seemed odd. I looked at it closer and one of them was installed backwards. Matt had recapped it, but looking at the board everything was right. But two caps were configured in a way that seemed odd circuit wise to me. I pulled up pics of the PCB and sure enough one was backwards based on pictures. But the board has a + screened right in between them both with no -, I can see where this error came from.
Put it back in. Fired it up !!! Oh yea, annnnnnnnnnd. No audio.
Someone had installed a home brew hack to move the volume potentiometer onto the front with a small hole where the sound can be adjusted without opening the cabinet. I decided to split the problem in half, and fed the audio from there to an external speaker. Got sound. So it’s the potentiometer! So I checked sound after it and… it still worked. So it wasn’t that. Huh? Pulled the speaker and one of the copper braided leads going to the speaker was fully missing. Just totally gone. Ordered a new speaker, and a new track ball. Sound was back! And track ball was solid. And it’s now in the home lineup and won’t be leaving!
Thanks Buffett and Matt !!!
Amiga 2000 clean up
So I got this hit on a wanted advertisement on Craigslist. I was after an Amiga 2000 system to go with the Pangolin QuadMod16 I bought off of someone via Reddit. Oh yea, I forgot to mention, QuadMod16 in the hizzy! As I feared. As I expected. As I somewhat wanted (to save a computer from death.) The A2000 time/date/config battery had wicked it’s corrosive guts into the system board. The system booted though, so I mostly did my best to neutralize it with vinegar and baking soda.
I cleaned things up. The system was very very nicely loaded, including a Toaster, DPS TBC, DPS PAR, DPS s-video to toaster board, 030 accel, fast ram upgrade and more. I replaced the hard drives (one had failed, one was working but crazy loud) with a SCSI2SD. The one trick is the SCSI2SD boots slower than the Amiga so a soft reset is required after power on to get the system to load from the SCSI2SD board.
The toaster works but I have no way to sync up sources, the TBC-IV seems to not work. The PAR works. Most software seems to work via WHDLoad, although one or two guru meditate.
The corrosion inside is fairly bad, and I fear that in the future this system might still fail. The accelerator that takes over the role of the main CPU might be the saving grace. Also, the ISA slots have corrosion on the connectors. Seems like it might be okay, but time will tell.
The monitor will need to be pulled apart and switches cleaned, and the focus is off quite a bit. Probably could use a recap but that seems like a daunting task.
The keyboard restoration is in another post, it took a lot of work.
Overall I’m thrilled to finally have an Amiga 2000 with the proper specs. The QuadMod16 is another project, it didn’t seem to work or the software is locked to the board — I’m going to ping the original creator for some insight. But Amiga is rocking! My 600 suffered a pretty bad issue and I’m having someone else do the repairs. During the process of 2000 restoration I took a stab at two dead A500s I have, and was not successful in anything after a good number of hours of work. I found bad RAM and replaced but past that neither work at all. Oh well.
A work in progress, so far I’ve managed to build a BeeCard reader (writing doesn’t work) around an Arduino Mega (ATMega) and a BeeCard purchased from someone who sells old Atari parts (Atari Portfolio.)
I had tried to use the Portfolio BeeCard (32K SRAM) in my Korg Wavestation however it doesn’t provide the battery voltage on a certain pin therefor the keyboard always rejects it as a low battery.
My attempts to write data to the writable BeeCards I have has yet to work. I’m not sure where I’m going wrong, I’ve tinkered with the various control lines and can’t seem to get a write to happen.
My read ability might of been an accident? But it’s what I needed. A sloppy python script dumps the card to a file. Not sure if I will revisit writing the writable cards.
Halloween hit and I wanted to do something cool. The goal was to be able to hit buttons on tablet, and trigger a lightning type effect. I wanted to trigger DMX stobe and LED up-lighting (Color Kinetics) in time with blanking the LED video wall segments and firing off a cue in Pangolin Beyond that contains sequenced static beam shots terminated safely. I also wanted to be able to trigger a few other cues in each program.
Cell DNA allows midi input which is able to switch which cue is playing. However, the laptop I was running it on (that also had the duty of spitting out scraped video over gigabit network to the LED panels) struggled. I didn’t have a ton of time to scale the video down optimally.
FreestylerDMX can talk midi. Beyond can talk midi and OSC directly.
Touch OSC usually targets a single endpoint, so in my case I ended up running the TouchOSC midi endpoint aimed at Beyond, which has a feature of doing midi through. From there I simply shot the output into the rtpMidi utility which then got the commands onto the network as a broadcast protocol and delivered them to both the computer running CellDNA (borrowed from MAGFest) and the one running FreeStylerDMX.
CellDNA was the only thing that had a lot of issues, and that was it drowning in the video codec I believe.
The outcome was a pretty cool looking halloween display that simply wasn’t scary enough. The wind blew away the output from the fog and haze machines often — though some people caught the lasers. And it was cool when kids would straight up ask, “Is that a laser?” Yep.
But needs to be more scary.
Elmco First Class Transmission Repair
So this machine is something of a pain in the ass. I decided to pick up a slushie machine before MAGStock, to bring to MAGStock. I didn’t jump on the more expensive Bunn unit and opted for a Elmco unit which was located farther away. The journey to get the machine from Ocean City Maryland was fun, and I visited 5 arcades on the trip. But, so far the repair of the machine hasn’t been the easiest.
For the first post, I’ll talk about the gearbox. In a slushie machine if the slush mix is just water it will freeze. There has to be a certain content of sugar. And when cleaning the machine, or running it it seems like it’s a pretty big risk of it happening. The machine has a optical sensor on the input side of the gearbox so the controller can monitor the RPMs of the motor, but there isn’t an encoder on the output side. If there was one on the output side it could cut power to the motor and save it from expensive damage. But no, they put it on the wrong side.
When I bought the machine, it appears that one side had a cracked gear. The gears are easy to buy, and to be honest removing the gearbox wasn’t too bad! It was made to be serviced, probably because they break easily. So for $60 you can get a new plastic gear and be set!
This fully fixed the machine, until slush mix dripped down into one of the controllers and it died. So that repair is in another post (I’ve cleaned it up but haven’t tested it yet.) Slushie machine ownership is not to be taken lightly, setup and tear down time (and mess) is pretty strong. The bowls sit on a seal and the seal doesn’t always seal so well until everything is cold.
This one is checked off and done, although the pictures don’t show it. This was quite a PITA, honestly.
The place I live had a condensate drain clog. The floor has a drain, but the concrete was graded in a manner that everything flows away from the drain. This led to it getting in carpet, then soaking up into my Galaga cabinet which is made of particle board.
I used Milwax wood hardner and soaked it into the wood really good to stiffen it. I removed the broken soaked bottom panel and replaced it with a cut piece of plywood. It took two tries to get the cuts right, as I measured it wrong on one of the attempts (oops.) Also, given that the wood was flared out a bunch it didn’t go so easily. I added some L brackets, and also lots of pieces of wood glued to the side and bottom. I ordered new leveler feet, although I’m still nervous about having the cabinet sit on the replacement board 24×7. I might just leave it and the new game that is joining it sitting on 2x4s in case the carpet gets soaked again.
Pictures are of the initial removal, I didn’t seem to have any of the replacement in the album and it’s back on it’s feet.
Galaga Cabinet Repair