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Getting Astrocade to work on a Japanese TV :-(


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#1 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:43 AM

Hi all,
 
I appear to have a working Astrocade, however I'm having issues getting it to work on a Japanese TV.
 
If I tune into channel 3, of course I get nothing. If I try channel 6, I do get a fuzzy image and the unit is obviously working.
 
I've heard getting a Japanese console to work on a US television involves setting the channel to 95 or 96, but how about the opposite?
 
My TV is not letting me enter an arbitrary channel number, it seems to have its own ideas about what channels are available (pressing channel up or down, but the keypad only goes up to channel 12 and only channel 6 shows anything).
 
Assuming it's impossible, what would I need to convert RF to composite, as in an adapter? Sure wish I had had a composite mod done. :-(
 
Carl


#2 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:12 AM

I appear to have a working Astrocade


Hooray! Having a working Astrocade, even if you can't yet see the console's picture on your Japanese TV, is much better than having an Astrocade that doesn't work.  I'm sure you'll sort out the issue with the TV.
 

I'm having issues getting it to work on a Japanese TV. If I tune into channel 3, of course I get nothing. If I try channel 6, I do get a fuzzy image and the unit is obviously working.

 
I've heard about these issues with Japanese consoles.  At the Louisville Arcade Expo at the beginning of March, there was a 1970s Nintendo Pong console setup on an old TV.  It was tuned, like you said, to (I think) channel 95.  Even then, the picture was extremely fuzzy.  I'm not sure what the equivalent frequency of channel 3 would be in Japan.  Maybe the Wikipedia page called "Television channel frequencies" will have some useful information for you:
 
https://en.wikipedia...nel_frequencies
 
I bet that you can stop by a video game store in Japan and ask someone about this.  Surely, there must be some game collectors there who have imported systems from North America (where the channel 3/4 output is commonly used for RF).
 

Assuming it's impossible, what would I need to convert RF to composite, as in an adapter?

 

I use the Ambery RFCM2 demodulator to convert my Bally's RF to composite.  It looks like this:

 

RFDM2-Profile.gif

 

It's a small box that takes RF as input and outputs composite video and audio.  Here is a link to the webpage where you an buy it:

 

http://www.ambery.co...fcotocovi1.html
 

This demodulator costs $85, but it's worth it.  I use it to capture the audio from my Astrocade for use on the Bally Alley Astrocast podcast.  I have also used this hardware with my Atari 7800.  The cool thing about this device is that it somehow cleans-up the audio.  My audio output from my Atari 7800 via RF is full of hiss.  When I run it through the demodulator, the hiss is gone.  In fact, I don't use the 7800 without this demodulator.  The composite output from the Ambery demodulator is fair: it's not improved from the RF input (how could it be?), but it's not noticeably worse either.

 

Sure wish I had had a composite mod done. :-(

 

I had someone send me a composite upgrade for my Astrocade about a week ago.  I have not yet tried it.  Here are two pictures I took of the composite upgrade:

 

Bally Astrocade Video and Audio Board (June 11 2015)(Composite Video Mod)(Picture)_01 (Cropped).jpg

 

Bally Astrocade Video and Audio Board (June 11 2015)(Composite Video Mod)(Picture)_03 (Cropped).jpg

 

As far as I'm aware, the above composite upgrade for the Astrocade (which does require soldering) is not available for sale.

 

I've mentioned before that I also have two s-video upgrades.  Not two different ones; they're duplicates.  They both give me ghosting on my Astrocade systems when used with tube TVs, but apparently this isn't typical, as other users haven't experienced this issue.

 

Carl, I'd be willing to loan you one of the s-video upgrades if you like.  You can install it in your Astrocade.  No soldering is necessary to install this upgrade, but but you do need to remove the RF shielding, which does require a heavy-duty soldering gun and solder wick, as the RF shield is soldered (and screwed) into place.  If it works out for you, then you can keep it and I'll sell it to you for one-million dollars.  Ahem.  I mean, something reasonable.

 

However, before you go in and open your Astrocade, I highly recommend that you try out a demodulator first.  This eliminates the need to open the Astrocade at all.  The demodulator I use works with all classic channel 3/4 RF systems from North America.  You may find yourself using it (like I did) far more than I ever imagined that I would need it.

 

Adam



#3 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:16 AM

I've linked to the Astrocade s-video upgrade before in other posts, but just in case you don't have the link handy for the s-video hardware's installation procedure, then you can find it here:

 

http://www.ballyalle...-video_mod.html

 

I'd try the demodulator first to get a picture on your Japanese TV.  The demodulator won't improve your picture, but it will certainly give you a picture that you can see that's about equivalent with the original system's RF-output.

 

Adam



#4 128Kgames OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:41 AM

You do not need to remove the RF shield to install the S-VIDEO upgrade, its pretty much plug and play.

#5 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:51 AM

You do not need to remove the RF shield to install the S-VIDEO upgrade, its pretty much plug and play.

 

There are various versions of the Bally Arcade/Astrocade.  The early units have much more RF shielding than others.  I'm pretty sure that on at least one of my units, I could not have installed the s-video upgrade without removing the RF shield.  However, I can't be 100% sure, because I always remove the RF shielding from all of my Bally Arcade/Astrocade consoles.  I took a closer look at the install procedure for the s-video upgrade. It appears that the Astrocade, Inc. release of the Astrocade probably doesn't need the RF shielding removed.

 

It's notable that "128Kgames" sold the remaining stock of these 8-Bit Domain s-video upgrades last year.  If he says that you don't need to remove the RF shielding, then I presume he is right.  Plus, "128Kgames" is a co-host on the Astrocast.  If you can't trust him, then who can you trust?

 

Adam



#6 128Kgames OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:22 AM

You'll have to spill the beans on that composite mod at some point.

Carl I know you tried channel 3 but what about channel 4? The console should be able to switch between the two. Also, if your TV does not have channel 4 you should be able to add it manually. I had to do it with my Vizio to play mine.

#7 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:47 AM

Hooray! Having a working Astrocade, even if you can't yet see the console's picture on your Japanese TV, is much better than having an Astrocade that doesn't work.  I'm sure you'll sort out the issue with the TV.
 

 
I've heard about these issues with Japanese consoles.  At the Louisville Arcade Expo at the beginning of March, there was a 1970s Nintendo Pong console setup on an old TV.  It was tuned, like you said, to (I think) channel 95.  Even then, the picture was extremely fuzzy.  I'm not sure what the equivalent frequency of channel 3 would be in Japan.  Maybe the Wikipedia page called "Television channel frequencies" will have some useful information for you:
 
https://en.wikipedia...nel_frequencies
 
I bet that you can stop by a video game store in Japan and ask someone about this.  Surely, there must be some game collectors there who have imported systems from North America (where the channel 3/4 output is commonly used for RF).
 

 

I use the Ambery RFCM2 demodulator to convert my Bally's RF to composite.  It looks like this:

 

attachicon.gifRFDM2-Profile.gif

 

It's a small box that takes RF as input and outputs composite video and audio.  Here is a link to the webpage where you an buy it:

 

http://www.ambery.co...fcotocovi1.html
 

This demodulator costs $85, but it's worth it.  I use it to capture the audio from my Astrocade for use on the Bally Alley Astrocast podcast.  I have also used this hardware with my Atari 7800.  The cool thing about this device is that it somehow cleans-up the audio.  My audio output from my Atari 7800 via RF is full of hiss.  When I run it through the demodulator, the hiss is gone.  In fact, I don't use the 7800 without this demodulator.  The composite output from the Ambery demodulator is fair: it's not improved from the RF input (how could it be?), but it's not noticeably worse either.

 

 

I had someone send me a composite upgrade for my Astrocade about a week ago.  I have not yet tried it.  Here are two pictures I took of the composite upgrade:

 

attachicon.gifBally Astrocade Video and Audio Board (June 11 2015)(Composite Video Mod)(Picture)_01 (Cropped).jpg

 

attachicon.gifBally Astrocade Video and Audio Board (June 11 2015)(Composite Video Mod)(Picture)_03 (Cropped).jpg

 

As far as I'm aware, the above composite upgrade for the Astrocade (which does require soldering) is not available for sale.

 

I've mentioned before that I also have two s-video upgrades.  Not two different ones; they're duplicates.  They both give me ghosting on my Astrocade systems when used with tube TVs, but apparently this isn't typical, as other users haven't experienced this issue.

 

Carl, I'd be willing to loan you one of the s-video upgrades if you like.  You can install it in your Astrocade.  No soldering is necessary to install this upgrade, but but you do need to remove the RF shielding, which does require a heavy-duty soldering gun and solder wick, as the RF shield is soldered (and screwed) into place.  If it works out for you, then you can keep it and I'll sell it to you for one-million dollars.  Ahem.  I mean, something reasonable.

 

However, before you go in and open your Astrocade, I highly recommend that you try out a demodulator first.  This eliminates the need to open the Astrocade at all.  The demodulator I use works with all classic channel 3/4 RF systems from North America.  You may find yourself using it (like I did) far more than I ever imagined that I would need it.

 

Adam

Okay, here's the situation.
 
Displaying on a Japanese TV is a total bust. I even had the idea of hooking up to a VCR here and seeing if I could get more channels to choose from, but no matter what, you can't select more than 12 channels on a Japanese TV. As I said, some picture comes through on channel 6, but it's extremely fuzzy and totally unacceptable.
 
I would try the S video upgrade, but my TV does not accept S video -- composite only. I might be able to track down the TV with S video, but there is no equivalent of Craigslist here, as far as I know, and it may not be possible. Also, you mention ghosting and I really don't need another problem getting this thing to display acceptably. :-(
 
I tried to find someone who would ship the RF to composite modulator box to Japan, but it's an absolute no go. No one ships to Japan. Plus, both the unit and the shipping would be damned expensive.
 
Is there any way I could persuade you to part with your composite mod kit for the Bally? And what are the installation instructions? I have never worked a soldering gun and do not own one. Please don't ask me to buy one. :-(
 
You're my only hope…


#8 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:02 AM

There's another option… If someone would send me their old VCR (does not even need to be working as far as playing tapes) and just charge me the shipping cost to Japan (hopefully not more than $50), this would be a viable option.



#9 128Kgames OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:36 AM

There's another option… If someone would send me their old VCR (does not even need to be working as far as playing tapes) and just charge me the shipping cost to Japan (hopefully not more than $50), this would be a viable option.


Whats a "VCR"?

#10 128Kgames OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:43 AM

Whats a "VCR"?


OK I'm messing with you but seriously we must be missing something here, Carl surely is not the first person to try and play an early US console on a Japanese TV.

Maybe try posting about it in the main forum, see whos tackled this before?

Oh and the "ghosting" with the S-VIDEO? Just Adam. :)

#11 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 AM

OK I'm messing with you but seriously we must be missing something here, Carl surely is not the first person to try and play an early US console on a Japanese TV.

Maybe try posting about it in the main forum, see whos tackled this before?

Oh and the "ghosting" with the S-VIDEO? Just Adam. :)

They probably have had their systems composite modified, or are using one of those RF to composite modulator boxes that are so expensive. Personally, I could not afford one… Much less the exorbitant shipping cost to Japan. :-(
 
I am willing to try the S video upgrade and try to track down a CRT here that will take S video. I have to ask though, what about the sound? Does it include the red and white cables for sound then?


#12 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:37 AM

I am willing to try the S video upgrade and try to track down a CRT here that will take S video. I have to ask though, what about the sound? Does it include the red and white cables for sound then?

 

Carl, please contact me personally via an AtariAge message with your mailing address.  This way, I can send you the s-video upgrade next week.  The s-video upgrade supports sound.  If I remember right, it is "pseudo-stereo," that is, the same mono sound comes from both channels.  The s-video upgrade doesn't include any cables; but it uses a standard s-video cable and RCA cables for sound (which I presume are readily available in Japan).

 

Adam



#13 128Kgames OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:14 PM

 

Carl, please contact me personally via an AtariAge message with your mailing address.  This way, I can send you the s-video upgrade next week.  The s-video upgrade supports sound.  If I remember right, it is "pseudo-stereo," that is, the same mono sound comes from both channels.  The s-video upgrade doesn't include any cables; but it uses a standard s-video cable and RCA cables for sound (which I presume are readily available in Japan).

 

Adam

 

Correct: mono sound.  Cables should not be that hard to find but keep in mind one end uses a mini-plug for sound, something like this cable would work:

 

http://www.ebay.com/...xkAAOSwtnpXjwlo



#14 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 15, 2017 12:06 AM

 

Correct: mono sound.  Cables should not be that hard to find but keep in mind one end uses a mini-plug for sound, something like this cable would work:

 

http://www.ebay.com/...xkAAOSwtnpXjwlo

Can you verify these are the exact cables I need? The video one looks funny with the mini plug that seems to end in a S video plug. I'd like to buy it now so it reaches Japan about the same time as the S video mod.
 
Thanks


#15 128Kgames OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 15, 2017 12:11 AM

Thats the audio plug, Carl, its RCA left and right on the other end (mono). Its S-VIDEO to S-VIDEO on the other part of the cable. I'm turning in for the night but can look for some more tomorrow.

#16 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:33 AM

Thats the audio plug, Carl, its RCA left and right on the other end (mono). Its S-VIDEO to S-VIDEO on the other part of the cable. I'm turning in for the night but can look for some more tomorrow.

So it sounds like your run-of-the-mill S video cable will do, and an RCA cable with a mini plug on one end (like you used with the old Sound Blaster), also sounds like it would do.
 
If so, not really a problem as I have both here. But they are really short, so once I can verify that these are the right cables I'll try to look for something more specialized (longer).
 
Thanks a lot, Carl


#17 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:43 PM

I have sent Carl his s-video upgrade kit.  I hope that it arrives quickly and safely.  Just as much, I hope that it finally allows Carl to be able to use his Astrocade in Japan.
 
Before I mailed the kit to Carl, I tested it out to make sure it was working properly.  I figured that I may as well make a video of the installation process.  It's nothing fancy, but it should give Carl an idea of how to install the kit.

 

Here is the video's description on YouTube:

 

This video explains how to install the s-video upgrade for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade that was released in 2007 by 8-Bit Domain. This kit is no longer available new, but sometimes you do see them come-up for sale as used items. This video is made up of four segments. In the first segment, I use my Canon Powershot SX60 HS to shoot video of my Astrocade's RF output (before the installation of the upgrade). I show the built-in game Checkmate and the calculator being used. Next, I show how to install the s-video upgrade, which requires no soldering at all. The third segment shows the s-video output on my 13" TV. I play a game of Cosmic Raiders to give an example of what you can expect with the s-video upgrade installed. Finally, the fourth segment of the video shows five still pictures that show greater details of the kit and close-ups of parts of the kit's installation.

 

Here's a link to the video:

 

It's too bad that this s-video kit, or one similar to it, isn't currently available anymore.  Then again, I suppose that s-video, as clean and as beautiful as it looks, isn't as popular anymore now that there is HD.  I know that my HD TV doesn't have s-video input.  Do any modern flatscreen TVs have s-video input ports anymore-- or is that just one more example of technology that has been deemed obsolete for the masses?

 

Adam



#18 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:51 PM

I just want to add in again how much I appreciate this.
 
I cannot find an S video equipped TV in Japan (local to Kagoshima) or indeed any CRT up for grabs, so I have elected to buy an adapter for the time being (S video to composite). Thank God it's very cheap, I just hope it works well.
 
We'll let you know the second the mod arrives. And your video will be immensely helpful; it does look quite simple, so I finally have some confidence that I will be able to pull this off.
 
Thanks again, Carl


#19 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:45 AM

I have elected to buy an adapter for the time being (S video to composite).


Hopefully this doesn't introduce any delays. Man, you sure do have to jump through some hoops to get older systems to work in Japan!
 

your video will be immensely helpful; it does look quite simple, so I finally have some confidence that I will be able to pull this off.

 

That was the idea of the video, to show that it isn't hard to install this upgrade.

 

On the YouTube video, in the comments section, I noticed that you asked if you should remove the RF Shielding.  I say yes, but with reservations.  The shielding is held on with huge gobs of solder.  If you have no experience soldering/desoldering, then this would be a difficult task to do as a first time experience.  I'd say the first order of business is getting your Astrocade to display a picture on a TV screen.  After that, it's all downhill from there!

 

Adam



#20 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 28, 2017 3:52 AM

Hopefully this doesn't introduce any delays. Man, you sure do have to jump through some hoops to get older systems to work in Japan!
 

 

That was the idea of the video, to show that it isn't hard to install this upgrade.

 

On the YouTube video, in the comments section, I noticed that you asked if you should remove the RF Shielding.  I say yes, but with reservations.  The shielding is held on with huge gobs of solder.  If you have no experience soldering/desoldering, then this would be a difficult task to do as a first time experience.  I'd say the first order of business is getting your Astrocade to display a picture on a TV screen.  After that, it's all downhill from there!

 

Adam

Well, I'm sorry to say this has been a disaster.
 
My problem seems to be only with the clip. I have no idea exactly how or to even what it is supposed to "clip" to. Yes, I've looked at the close-ups on BallyAlley, but they do not seem to correspond to my situation. Yes, I see the first resistor on the left… But I reiterate, I see nothing to clip to. The photographs seem to picture a possible wire that runs from the end of the clip perhaps around the top arm of the resistor, but nothing whatsoever protrudes from the end of my clip.
 
You seem to simply clip onto something in your video, but that is not possible with what I'm seeing. There's absolutely nothing that would cause this clip to be inserted or to stay in place at any point I can see.. :-(
 
I'm completely lost. And to my further disappointment, it's obvious that the wire leading to the clip is not even attached. It comes right off. I can slide it back in, but…

Attached Thumbnails

  • wire not attached to clip.JPG
  • nothing on end of clip.JPG


#21 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 28, 2017 10:06 AM

 

Well, I'm sorry to say this has been a disaster.

 

It looks as though the clip broke off from the wire during the package's long journey to Japan.  Hopefully you can get someone to solder it back on for you.  Maybe someone at a computer store can help you out?

 

Once the clip is soldered back to the wire then it attaches to the resistor.  I looked up the name in the PA-1 service manual, and for reference, the resistor is called R33.  The clip is attached to the resistor's lead.  If you're looking at the Astrocade from the front, then it would be the top of the lead on the resistor that you clip to.  I've taken a picture of the resistor and circled in red the lead that must be attached to for the s-video cable.  Here's that picture:

 

S-Video Clip Attaches to Astrocade Resistor R33 (Circled).jpg

 

Does this help you out?

 

Adam



#22 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 28, 2017 3:16 PM

I know where it's supposed to attach to, the problem is there is nothing to attach. It's just a piece of plastic -- there's nothing on the end of it. I fail to see how it actually "clips" to the resistor. :-(
 
I thank you for all your help, but I think I'm going to put the RF unit back in and just save up for the expensive RF to composite converter box (which I will also have to have shipped to Japan?).
 
Thanks, Carl


#23 128Kgames OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:09 PM

 

I know where it's supposed to attach to, the problem is there is nothing to attach. It's just a piece of plastic -- there's nothing on the end of it. I fail to see how it actually "clips" to the resistor. :-(
 
I thank you for all your help, but I think I'm going to put the RF unit back in and just save up for the expensive RF to composite converter box (which I will also have to have shipped to Japan?).
 
Thanks, Carl

 

 

Carl-

 

That "clip" is actually a plunger: you press the back of it and a little metal hook pops out the other end, which you then "clip" onto the resistor in Adam's picture.  



#24 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 28, 2017 5:21 PM

 

Carl-

 

That "clip" is actually a plunger: you press the back of it and a little metal hook pops out the other end, which you then "clip" onto the resistor in Adam's picture.  

The fact that I would need this explained to me shows my extreme inexperience with this type of thing. ;-)
 
This was extremely helpful… I even properly installed it, hoping that with the wires just touching together it might work, but it didn't.
 
The only computer repair shop I am aware of close down years ago. I live in a pretty remote area of Japan, but I'll see if I can find someone willing to solder the wires together.
 
Thanks again, Carl


#25 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 29, 2017 5:19 AM

Well, I went to the local PC shop and they seem mystified that I would want to connect the end of one wire to something else and turned us away. We eventually ended up at a PC shop that actually had a soldering iron. Wow
 
Long story short, they soldered the wire. I got home, and being an expert by now, quickly hooked up the mod and… SUCCESS!
 
The picture is incredibly sharp, even know I'm converting it from S video to composite. It still looks better than any classic videogame system I've seen. The Intellivision composite mod with all its ghosting and artifacts looks like crap next to this.
 
The colors look a little off compared to what I've seen on YouTube, but I probably just need to adjust my TV.
 
Tried out gunfight solo and then a little incredible wizard. The sounds are very loud, with lots of scratchy noise and crazy effects. The Astrocade is so cool. :-)
 
Thanks to everyone on the forum and Adam for being kind enough to send the mod.
 
Carl

Edited by Carl Mueller Jr, Sat Apr 29, 2017 5:20 AM.





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