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notes from Colecovison VGA card install


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#1 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:29 PM

I ordered Colecovison VGA card from Matt, see link below. Got VGA board in 3 days :)

http://codehackcreate.com/store

**Please do all steps very slowly**

1-Snip VDP pins, Xuron 170-II micro-shear cutter is perfect for this, remove VDP

2-Desolder VDP pads on PCB, I used fresh flux on solder wick to remove solder from bottom of board, don't pull solder wick across CV pads as they are too weak and will break, do one pad at a time

3- I used Xuron 450S ultra percise tweezer node pliers with serrated jaws to pull out the pins, heat the pad/pin while doing this

4-I then went back and cleaned up pads with solder wick with fresh flux, hold solder iron on pad until pad eyelet is clear of solder, again don't move solder iron, let solder flux and wick do the work

5-Inserted new 40pin socket and solder

6-Clean flux off with alcohol and toothbrush, do this softly, only do this do after you solder socket to pads, if you do before perhaps pads will break off

7-Make sure PCB free of alchol, I use compressed air to do this

Games work good, but Frogger requires one to press reset after CV gives grabbled graphics from power on, other games tested ok and did not need to press reset.

Now VGA socket and cord are too long. Also VGA port is not deep enough. I'm going to search Digkey and Mouser for better VGA port to mount to CV, i.e. so external VGA cable can be fully inserted. CV plastic thicker than metal plate. Metal plate might prove useful to use as router guide to remove plastic for VGA connector hole.

I think I will try to mount directly behind the VGA board as the top cover can be removed.

Also its a good idea to buy 3.5mm audio jack as you will need this for audio.

Edited by grips03, Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:30 PM.


#2 phattyboombatty OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:04 PM

Nice write-up. Did you take any pics during the process? I'd love to see them, as well as a pic of the newly enhanced video output (i.e., a screenshot). :-D

#3 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 22, 2012 6:39 PM

Matt's F18A V1.3 Video Board is awesome. Video is very solid and colors are very good. I did not take pics, but I can. The VDP is the 40 pin chip with the heat sink on it.

I've been thinking about the VGA port provided and perhaps if I remove enough material then the external VGA cable will plug in fine. Too late to try it tonight as I'll make a mistake and really didn't want to make one as this is my only Canadian CV.

The VGA card has jumpers and comes with install instructions. I did not have to remove any jumpers for CV install.

My Sony TV has standard and Vivid video setting, standard setting seem to look best with this card. I'm sure other TV's will vary.

Edited by grips03, Wed Aug 22, 2012 6:59 PM.


#4 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:16 PM

Here are the pics

http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream
http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream
http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream

#5 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:55 AM

I practiced on another piece of plastic and had good results so I ended up using the VGA port that comes with F18A. Take the VGA port off metal PC slot thing. Place metal thing on back left of Colecovision, use tape to hold metal thing in place. Drill 2 holes for screws on each side. Put in screws, then drill hole in center of area for VGA port. Then use dremel (rotary) tool to clean out that area, but not all the way to the screw holes you just made. Finish with file. Remove screws and metal thing.

Now go buy a IDC 16 pin female socket ( 2 rows x 8 pins each), something like p/n 1658620-3. Cut ribbon cable going to F18A to length, use vice or IDC crimp tool install new IDC socket on ribbon cable, don't use needle nose pliers.

Install VGA port upside down so that the ribbon cable can be flat inside CV.

Then cut back CV's top metal shield so the VGA connector has space.

Here is pic of TV. Picture on TV, much better than picture shows.

http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream

Edited by grips03, Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:02 AM.


#6 matthew180 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:07 AM

Nice write-up. Did you take any pics during the process? I'd love to see them, as well as a pic of the newly enhanced video output (i.e., a screenshot). :-D


I posted 14 CV specific photos in a previous thread in this forum. Here is the link:

http://www.atariage....a-video-output/

I'm also planning on posting complete CV tear-down and install instructions with photos as soon as I can set aside the time. Overall, the CV is one of the most complicated installs.

#7 matthew180 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:50 AM

Now VGA socket and cord are too long.
. . .
Now go buy a IDC 16 pin female socket ( 2 rows x 8 pins each), something like p/n 1658620-3. Cut ribbon cable going to F18A to length, use vice or IDC crimp tool install new IDC socket on ribbon cable, don't use needle nose pliers.


The length of the VGA pig-tail (about 11-inches) will not affect the video signal and you can simply fold the cable a few times to take up the slack. A fully custom install like you have done is certainly an option for those who want to take it that far, however cutting the VGA ribbon cable to length is not a requirement to install the F18A.

The VGA pig-tail was actually a very large point on contention for me and I literally spent *months* trying different connectors, board configurations, cable assemblies, etc. I needed something that was long enough to work in any of the systems that used the 9918A/9928/9929, all of which are different. In my MSX1, the cable length is almost too short!

I practiced on another piece of plastic and had good results so I ended up using the VGA port that comes with F18A. Take the VGA port off metal PC slot thing. Place metal thing on back left of Colecovision, use tape to hold metal thing in place. Drill 2 holes for screws on each side. Put in screws, then drill hole in center of area for VGA port. Then use dremel (rotary) tool to clean out that area, but not all the way to the screw holes you just made. Finish with file. Remove screws and metal thing.


I had to do the same thing on another system (an MSX1) where the plastic was very thick. Once the hole was cut, I had to route-out the hole to half the thickness of the plastic. It was not easy and I took it slow so I didn't cut too deep. The VGA connector is industry standard, so if you find one that mounts better in a thick case please let me know! The metal plate is a standard back-plane insert for a PC case and I figured it might come in handy for people during the install and mounting.

As you mentioned, the metal insert makes a nice guide for cutting the proper size hole, but it could also be used by cutting it shorter, and simply making a rectangular hole in the case (which is much easier), and gluing or bolting the plate to the case. Basically the metal insert gives you options and I'll be very interested in seeing how people do their installs.

I have not mounted the connector in my CV yet, but below are some photos of a 99/4A and MSX1 install. The 99/4A has thin plastic so it was not a problem, and the MSX1 has a metal case where I cut the hole.

Attached Thumbnails

  • case_mod.jpg
  • f18a_install1.jpg
  • f18a_install2.jpg

Edited by matthew180, Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:52 AM.


#8 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:06 AM

I searched and searched but could not find anything better. The DB15 ports I liked (black and gold) are only in two row and not 3 row like VGA port, so I would have had to use a different video cable or had one custom made. Also space in the back of the CV is limited on the bottom corner. So the 3 row DB15 fits best interior wise. I've ordered several part numbers for 3.5mm audio jack and new IDC 16 female, right now I'm using a IDC40. Folding the ribbon cable works, but ribbon cable and IDC connectors are so easy to work with I figured why not :)

#9 phattyboombatty OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:24 AM

I practiced on another piece of plastic and had good results so I ended up using the VGA port that comes with F18A. Take the VGA port off metal PC slot thing. Place metal thing on back left of Colecovision, use tape to hold metal thing in place. Drill 2 holes for screws on each side. Put in screws, then drill hole in center of area for VGA port. Then use dremel (rotary) tool to clean out that area, but not all the way to the screw holes you just made. Finish with file. Remove screws and metal thing.

Now go buy a IDC 16 pin female socket ( 2 rows x 8 pins each), something like p/n 1658620-3. Cut ribbon cable going to F18A to length, use vice or IDC crimp tool install new IDC socket on ribbon cable, don't use needle nose pliers.

Install VGA port upside down so that the ribbon cable can be flat inside CV.

Then cut back CV's top metal shield so the VGA connector has space.

Here is pic of TV. Picture on TV, much better than picture shows.

http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream


Wow! That picture is phenomenally clear. True arcade quality! I have the 5-11under video component mod, which has been remarkable and very satisfactory for the price. However if I get a 2nd working Colecovision, I may spring for this card.

Thanks for the good info guys!

#10 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:42 AM

I practiced on another piece of plastic and had good results so I ended up using the VGA port that comes with F18A. Take the VGA port off metal PC slot thing. Place metal thing on back left of Colecovision, use tape to hold metal thing in place. Drill 2 holes for screws on each side. Put in screws, then drill hole in center of area for VGA port. Then use dremel (rotary) tool to clean out that area, but not all the way to the screw holes you just made. Finish with file. Remove screws and metal thing.

Now go buy a IDC 16 pin female socket ( 2 rows x 8 pins each), something like p/n 1658620-3. Cut ribbon cable going to F18A to length, use vice or IDC crimp tool install new IDC socket on ribbon cable, don't use needle nose pliers.

Install VGA port upside down so that the ribbon cable can be flat inside CV.

Then cut back CV's top metal shield so the VGA connector has space.

Here is pic of TV. Picture on TV, much better than picture shows.

http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream


Wow! That picture is phenomenally clear. True arcade quality! I have the 5-11under video component mod, which has been remarkable and very satisfactory for the price. However if I get a 2nd working Colecovision, I may spring for this card.

Thanks for the good info guys!



I have the component video board as well. Works well besides for games with tons of black on the screen, example Gorf turns dim after level 1, and Galaxian level 1 when only 8 bad guys are left on screen. Next week I'll try to adjust the pots to fix this. I don't have the same issue with the VGA board, but there are no pots on the VGA card to adjust. Can you test you component video card to see if it does the same thing? If it doesn't can you take a ohm reading of the top to wiper lead, also bottom to wiper lead would be great too.

#11 phattyboombatty OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:09 PM

I practiced on another piece of plastic and had good results so I ended up using the VGA port that comes with F18A. Take the VGA port off metal PC slot thing. Place metal thing on back left of Colecovision, use tape to hold metal thing in place. Drill 2 holes for screws on each side. Put in screws, then drill hole in center of area for VGA port. Then use dremel (rotary) tool to clean out that area, but not all the way to the screw holes you just made. Finish with file. Remove screws and metal thing.

Now go buy a IDC 16 pin female socket ( 2 rows x 8 pins each), something like p/n 1658620-3. Cut ribbon cable going to F18A to length, use vice or IDC crimp tool install new IDC socket on ribbon cable, don't use needle nose pliers.

Install VGA port upside down so that the ribbon cable can be flat inside CV.

Then cut back CV's top metal shield so the VGA connector has space.

Here is pic of TV. Picture on TV, much better than picture shows.

http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream


Wow! That picture is phenomenally clear. True arcade quality! I have the 5-11under video component mod, which has been remarkable and very satisfactory for the price. However if I get a 2nd working Colecovision, I may spring for this card.

Thanks for the good info guys!



I have the component video board as well. Works well besides for games with tons of black on the screen, example Gorf turns dim after level 1, and Galaxian level 1 when only 8 bad guys are left on screen. Next week I'll try to adjust the pots to fix this. I don't have the same issue with the VGA board, but there are no pots on the VGA card to adjust. Can you test you component video card to see if it does the same thing? If it doesn't can you take a ohm reading of the top to wiper lead, also bottom to wiper lead would be great too.


I played with the pots on the component-vid card quite a bit. They work differently for different TVs. I finally got mine where I like them, and I plan on leaving them untouched! Unfortunately, I am without a Fluke right now, so I cannot give you resistance readings. All I can suggest is reading 5-11 Under's PDF that he created as an installation tutorial. I had to read the part about adjusting the pots about 10 times just to be clear on what I was adjusting, and when.

BTW the only problem I've had with the component-vid card are banding on the screen (which was disclaimed by the engineer from the outset). Getting the background deep black rather than blue took some tweaking while keeping an eye on the screen.

Cheers!

#12 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:12 PM

ok, np. I have have the component pretty dialed in besides the going dark on me for some games. If you ever do get a DMM again and the CV is apart, it would be great to get some readings. The F18A doesn't have the vertical lines that the component has, but one thing the component does is stretch the video from edge to edge on my TV. The VGA doesn't do this, hence the picture is smaller.

Example: Frogger with VGA has green band around edge, like a picture frame, the component doesn't do this. Perhaps its just how my TV works, but I wish the frame could be black vs. green, or no frame at all. I have widescreen LCD TV.

All in all I think most people will be happy with either, both are much better than RF and composite.

Edited by grips03, Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:40 PM.


#13 5-11under OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:00 PM

The width of both the Component and the VGA picture should ideally be changeable on a widescreen TV. That depends on the TV, of course.
A 16 x 9 image is okay sometimes, but often a 4 x 3 image is preferred, at least for me.

The beauty of the F18A... which I haven't tried yet, but should within a day or two... is that its output is derived from 21st century parts instead of 20th century parts. The component mod is good (I think! hah!), but it still relies on the old TMS9928A and further analog tweaking in less than ideal conditions to create the required signals.

#14 matthew180 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:53 AM

Example: Frogger with VGA has green band around edge, like a picture frame, the component doesn't do this. Perhaps its just how my TV works, but I wish the frame could be black vs. green, or no frame at all. I have widescreen LCD TV.


It is not quite as simple as expanding to the edges (I wish it were). The original video format is a 4:3 ratio, so any time you display on a widescreen, your TV (or monitor) is going to either stretch the original video, or have bars on the sides.

The F18A is designed to produce a 640x480@60Hz 4:3 ratio signal, which is very different than an analog composite video signal. I spent a lot of time debating the final output format and resolution, and whether the F18A should reproduce the border (overscan) of the original VDP. These were the considerations:

* 640x480 is massively supported by almost every type of display made since the late 1980's. The other choices were 800x600 or 1024x768, but the higher the resolution, the higher the frequency and the more data that has to be pumped to the display. Since the original "resolution" of the 9918A is 256x192, anything over that resolution is a waste of time and complicates the circuit.

* The "border" of the original VDP is really the off-display overscan of a TV, and on a modern TV or computer monitor the display can be sized to fill the physical screen (no visible overscan). Not so much with old TVs, so the designers had to include fudge-factors so the VDP worked on all TVs. Since the border was visible on the original VDP, and the color of the border is programmable, I thought it was important to have some of that border visible in the F18A.

* Stretching vs dividing. In a CRT, the horizontal sweep does not have any resolution, it is truly analog. The number of pixels depends totally on how fast the color signal change, and how fast the CRT can respond to those changes, as well as the mask on the inside of the tube.

If during the duration of the horizontal sweep you only put out color changes for 256 pixels, then you will only see 256 pixels and it will fill the screen from edge-to-edge, no borders. The "modern day" problem is that monitors are not being made with CRTs any more, but with fixed resolution displays, i.e. LCD and LED flat panel monitors. Unlike a CRT, the number of pixels across the display is not truly analog, and if you ignore that fact and try to display a resolution that is not divisible by the monitor's native resolution, you will get artifacts as the analog pixels cross the physical pixel edges.

I tried the truly analog approach to the video and the results were unacceptable. Based on the strong support for 640x480, even in modern LCD and LED monitors, I decided to drive the monitor at that resolution and simply make "fat pixels" (each VDP pixel is a 4x4 block of VGA pixels) to match the 256x192 resolution of the original VDP. The math breaks down something like this:

256 * 2 = 512 display pixels to support the native 256 horizontal pixels
640 - 512 = 128 display pixels of border, 64 on each side

So the VGA display goes like this:

|<--64 pixels left border-->|<--512 pixels display-->|<--64 pixels right border-->|

Top and bottom is similar:

192 * 2 = 384 display lines
480 - 384 = 96 display lines of border, 48 on the top and bottom

I did consider 1024x768 for a time (1024/256=4 and 768/192=4), and use a 4x4 pixel block to make one native VDP pixel. While that would have let the display stretch to the edges, it would require pumping pixels at 80MHz vs 25MHz (which complicates the circuit design a *lot*) and there would be absolutely no simulated border that was available on the original VDP (and let me tell you right now, people would complain about that!)

Also, at 1024x768 you lose the ability to have 30-rows (the F18A offers the ability to display 30 tile rows instead of just 24).

Anyway, there are a lot of trade-offs and "stretching to the borders" is not as simple as it seems. Video and crossing formats is very complicated, and trying to support thousands of different monitors and TVs makes it even harder, as does trying to make everyone happy. If anyone thinks it is easy, I suggest they give it a try first.


#15 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:44 AM

Thanks for the explanation Matt.

Here are some more photos. I've added radio shack 1/8 (3.5mm) stereo jack. CV plastic is kind of thick, so depth is barely enough for nut to thread on outside of CV. I would recommend 15/64 (or 1/4 inch) drill bit for the 1/8 jack's hole. Radio shack 1/8 jack has lip so either widen the hole from inside CV, or remove lip, to expose more threads for the nut to grab.

I did order a couple of 1/8 jacks from Digikey, so if one of them has a greater depth to it I'll post the part number here. I got audio from left side of C88, in the upper right of the console (looking from the front).

http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream
http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream
http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream

#16 5-11under OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:04 PM

I just installed one of these for someone... well, at least the socket for one. Plugged my own module in, and it works great.
Thanks to Matt for a great product!!!

#17 matthew180 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 24, 2012 7:18 PM

You are welcome. I'm glad people are enjoying the F18A, and I hope people support it and take advantage of the enhanced features. Also, feedback is the biggest reward for me, so please ask questions, make comments, etc.

#18 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 25, 2012 2:35 PM

If you cut ribbon cable to length, use IDC 16 pin female socket:

3M p/n 89116-0001 <--made in USA
or

Omron p/n XG4M-1630 <--made in Japan

the Radio Shack 1/8" jack has the longest threads, but requires a little more work to install due to lip on thread side of connector.

2nd choice would be 35RAPC2BV4 or SJ1-3513 (this one has eyelets to solder wire into)

Edited by grips03, Sat Aug 25, 2012 2:36 PM.


#19 ApolloBoy OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:00 AM

I assume the F18A can't be switched to output 15 KHz video? Would be nice to get some RGB out of the CV.

#20 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:15 PM

I tried the expansion module 1 (Atari) with the F18A, but got no video. Matt does that sound right?

#21 5-11under OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:19 PM

I tried the expansion module 1 (Atari) with the F18A, but got no video. Matt does that sound right?

Yep, that sounds right.

#22 5-11under OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:40 PM

I tried the expansion module 1 (Atari) with the F18A, but got no video. Matt does that sound right?

Yep, that sounds right.

Pin 33 of the expansion port is composite output for the expansion module. Otherwise look up the instructions for my YPbPr mod kit, and hook up the composite output to where the yellow wire goes.

#23 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 1, 2012 10:58 AM

I tried the expansion module 1 (Atari) with the F18A, but got no video. Matt does that sound right?

Yep, that sounds right.

Pin 33 of the expansion port is composite output for the expansion module. Otherwise look up the instructions for my YPbPr mod kit, and hook up the composite output to where the yellow wire goes.



I tried Expansion Module #1 off my YPbPr / component enabled CV and it works. Video is kind of bad, but I think just how EM1 works in general. If I use F18A enabled CV I get audio, just no video, so I bet tapping the composite signal as 5-11 outlines will make the EM1's video be fine on the CV with F18A. However, I think I'll just use s-video off my old Atari rather than play via EM1 as it looks much better.

#24 matthew180 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 4, 2012 8:16 AM

I tried the expansion module 1 (Atari) with the F18A, but got no video. Matt does that sound right?


I don't know much about the Atari module, but I suspect it bypasses the CV all together and does not use the CV's VDP. However, the modules video should still be present on the original output connector? Maybe?

Basically, any expansion that does not use the CV's original VDP will not produce video with the F18A. Sorry. :-(


#25 5-11under OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 4, 2012 8:31 AM

I tried the expansion module 1 (Atari) with the F18A, but got no video. Matt does that sound right?


I don't know much about the Atari module, but I suspect it bypasses the CV all together and does not use the CV's VDP. However, the modules video should still be present on the original output connector? Maybe?

Basically, any expansion that does not use the CV's original VDP will not produce video with the F18A. Sorry. :-(

The YPbPr mod kit is the same. The composite from the expansion module just needs to be "picked off" separately as I described above. On a stock CV, there's an electronic switch inside to select internal (CV) versus external (expansion module).




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