Games of Atari, and More - A Day Off in the Life of a Retro Enthusiast
Last year's health issues interfered with a lot of plans, not the least of which was adding more content to the Games of Atari website. I'm happy to say after months of inactivity, I'm ready to add content again. I now have a ColecoVision modded for S-video, and the pictures are coming in quite nicely:
Plenty of original titles and lots of modern homebrews are waiting to be catalogued. When I'm done that Q*Bert entry will be one step closer to looking like the Parker Brothers ad that planted the first seeds of inspiration for this project, long, long ago.
In the meantime, I enjoyed a rare day to myself today, and as usually happens, I found myself knee deep, just about literally, in little spur-of-the-moment exercises that in the end got me a little closer to my perfect* audio/video room (* definition subject to change without notice). I had an A/V switcher that was originally going to route video to my video-capturing Win2K box, but a while back I decided captures were better with direct connections. Also a while back I connected my laserdisc player to the tube TV on the opposite side of the room, thanks to a nice long set of RCA cables I scored at the thrift store. Today while setting things up for ColecoVision captures, I glanced at the dormant A/V switcher, and realized I could hook that up to the TV instead. Not only would I be able to run both the laserdisc player and the VCR through the TV while still keeping them within reach for capture projects, I could even pipe the Win2K box itself to the TV! Perhaps needless to say, that little idea pushed me down into a rabbit hole. Activating the video card's TV out meant installing more software, some of which demanded the dreaded Dot Net. Naturally Dot Net spit out an error when I tried to install the requested version. I think it's a law that Dot Net has to give everyone grief at least once per installation. Thankfully I got all that straightened out in decent time, and now I have the Win2K box's entire library on my TV, including...
...good ol' MAME! Of course since this is Win2K, it's not running the latest MAME... or Stella.. or any other emulator, but the versions it can run are more than enough for casual play. The only problem with this set-up is, since Win2K wasn't coded intelligently enough to properly rearrange desktop icons when the resolution is changed, my desktop becomes a big jumbled mess whenever I switch to the TV and the resolution knocks down to 640x480. Does anyone know if there was ever a third-party app or other bit of Win2K software that can capture a particular icon layout and then bring back that layout laster on?
Parts of this Win2K box are well over 15 years old. It occurred to me while wrestling with all those cables in back that a machine I built to help me better enjoy old hardware and games has itself become a collection of old hardware and games. Even the games I bought new for the machine, games like Midtown Madness, SimCity 2000 and Descent 3, are now collected and played by the retro community. I was reminded how someone had brought a Win98 box with games to the 2016 Houston Arcade Expo, and even he was surprised at how many people were happy to play Doom and other games of the era on the intended hardware (have a picture). What's new is now old again!
Finally, I have a question about this tube TV. It's a decently preserved Sony Trinitron from the early 2000's, and I am quite happy with it, but I've noticed it loves the color red. It doesn't bleed red the way some old TV's do, but reds definitely bloom a lot more than other colors. I know how to get into the TV's service menu, and I've done all kinds of fine adjustments even to the three different color guns, all in an effort to balance those blooming reds with the rest of the spectrum. The adjustments have helped somewhat, but I've come to the conclusion it's not a problem with the input signal being incorrectly processed, it's something about the hardware that makes reds shine brighter even when the TV is calibrated to treat all colors equally. I've also tried going the other way, turning the red gun down almost to nil, but then reds are so weak there may as well be no red at all. There doesn't seem to be a happy medium. Is this a common problem with older sets? Are there any good workarounds?
Ah well, back to the grind tomorrow. Here's hoping for another happy, lazy yet productive day like this some time soon.