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About this blog

Geeky things I'm up to

Entries in this blog

 

Vertical MAME pt 10

I've been playing through the games and I'm up to R so the end is in sight!  77 games on the "perfect - include" list so far.  So now I need to start thinking about what comes next.   Double check the games which didn't quite make the cut, in particular any "top 100" entries. For each of the games to be included, check to see if there's a child rom which should be used instead. Create merged sets for the child roms. Remove all of the roms, config files, etc for

EricBall

EricBall

Vertical MAME pt 9

Vertical MAME pt 9

Unfortunately the cardboard box didn't really have the strength to hold he monitor in place.  But I wasn't ready to build the final cabinet (i.e. spend $$ on materials).  Fortunately I was able to build a replacement using a 12x24 shelf cut along the diagonal and some Ikea scraps which were the perfect length.  I used some "hockey tape" to decorate the cut edge.  (Not sure what I'm going to do on the final version as I don't feel like spending the $$ to buy the slot cutter to use T moulding.)

EricBall

EricBall

 

Vertical MAME pt 8

So I've started playing the vertical games which MAME 0.37b5 supports and I've learned a few things.   First, while the Raspberry Pi Zero is incredibly powerful compared to the CPU of the arcade games, it is also having to emulate the graphics and audio processors as well.  So while the majority of the games are playable, the game isn't displaying all of the frames and the sound is choppy or worse.  The lower fps actually turns out to not be a big deal, but it's difficult to listen to

EricBall

EricBall

Vertical MAME pt 7

Vertical MAME pt 7

In the words of Sinstar, "Beware, I live"     As I mentioned in the previous post, I started over with lr-mame2000 (MAME 0.37b5 as a Libretro core) on RetroPie 4.7.1 (current).  While mame4all-pi is supposed to be faster, it doesn't do me any good if it doesn't support rotation.  It also became obvious that mame4app-pi is basically an unsupported hack.   Once I started over I tried the recommended solution of disabling the internal "soundcard" without success, like

EricBall

EricBall

 

Vertical MAME pt 6

While researching for whether anyone else had found a solution for my audio issues, I discovered that mame4all doesn't support screen rotation.  Bogus!   So now I'm going to try to use lr-mame2000 (the same version the MAME core code, but built on top of the Libretro platform) on the current release of RetroPie (4.7.1) - hopefully I won't have as many issues (or it won't be such a headache to resolve them).  

EricBall

EricBall

 

Vertical MAME pt 5

My current challenges are with getting the audio working - not something I expected, so it's fortunate I realized I could use the USB headset.  I've been working with RetroPie 4.5 as RecalBox is locked down by using a read-only partition.  (So I can't rotate Emulation Station.)   Audio on Linux is handled by ALSA.  It provides a lot of flexibility in order to handle the breadth of soundcards - which means a lot of complexity.  Unfortunately, there's not a lot of good, authoritative, cu

EricBall

EricBall

 

Vertical MAME pt 4

While I have made some progress, I've also encountered a bunch of frustration.   The progress is mostly on the hardware side where I realized I could plug the Raspberry Pi back into the monitor's USB hub with a old USB A to B cable via the USB B jack to micro USB OTG cable.  Then I had the second realization I could simply plug in a pair of USB headphones for audio (and use cheap USB speakers in the final build).  While the USB speakers won't be as loud as ones powered by the 12V jack

EricBall

EricBall

 

Vertical MAME pt 3

There's a saying which goes something like "progress is seldom made in a straight line" - which basically means you can't really anticipate what you need to do until you've started.  But if you're wise you'll minimize your losses.  For me that means spending time rather than $$, which is why I am forcing myself to work out the software before I spend too much on hardware.   Last night I plugged the RPi0w into the monitor (I did buy a mini-HDMI to DVI-D cable as I couldn't assume that w

EricBall

EricBall

 

700 arcade games

Several years ago I rescued a number of old 4:3 LCD monitors my employer was discarding, including several particularly nice 20" 1600x1200 Dell 2007 FP.  My plan was to use them to create vertical monitor MAME cabinets.  But having learned from past projects, I resisted doing anything on the hardware side until I'd figured out the software side.  And then, like many of my projects, that's where it waited.  I'd occasionally give the idea some thought, but never really do anything serious.  

EricBall

EricBall

 

retro 720p GPU

This is the result of think exercise to design a 2-D GPU similar to those used by 4th generation consoles (e.g. SNES, Genesis, TG16) but at HDTV resolutions.  Rule of thumb is to make it easy to program (i.e. minimum updates), while still being flexible.   Output is 1280x720 @ 60fps.  For reference, this has a 22.2usec line interval and 30 lines of VBLANK.   GPU contains internal 2.5Kbyte RAM for two 1280 x 8 bit line buffers (one is written while the other is read), reset to $0

EricBall

EricBall

 

New PC - now with Windows 10!

One side effect of trying to install SteamOS is realizing doing the base install & updates while hardwired is a pretty good idea.  However, I did take the advice of JayZ and disconnect the PC from the network for the initial install to avoid having the Admin user tied to an email address.  I've also created individual normal users for each member of the family.   The actual Windows 10 install & update went smoothly.    Then came the big test - I installed Steam, CS:GO

EricBall

EricBall

 

New PC - lessons learned (updated)

I've bought a new primary computer to replace the current one - a late 2013 27" iMac.  The iMac has been a great computer and for the most part not being able to use it to run Windows apps has been offset by being able to run MacOS apps.  Plus it gave me the opportunity to develop an iOS app.  And it has a really nice 27" 2560x1440 screen.   The problem is games.  I've been playing CS:GO's Danger Zone mode and putting up videos on YouTube for over a year and have been getting comments

EricBall

EricBall

 

making an app

YouTuber Tom Scott has just released a 16 episode series on making an app.  (YouTube link behind the Spoiler.)   I haven't watched the series (although I will), but IMHO the first question you need to ask yourself is what it's going to cost on an ongoing basis and how you plan on paying for it.   For Slide Tilt Roll, the only ongoing costs were my Apple Developer ID* and a small website & domain name**, but something like Tom's failed messaging app is going to require s

EricBall

EricBall

 

Why CS:GO Danger Zone is better than PUBG

Valve decided to make CS:GO free to play and at the same time add a battle royale mode "Danger Zone". This is great for me as I was looking for a way to scratch my PUBG itch on my 27" iMac rather than playing PUBG on phones. But IMHO Danger Zone is better than PUBG because it is only 16 players on a correspondingly smaller map. This leads to quicker, more intense gameplay and shorter games. With PUBG, I typically spent the first third of the match (10-15 minutes) looting up, the second thi

EricBall

EricBall

 

Fortnite keyboard trainer

One of the big challenges in getting good at Fortnite is getting good at building. While many hours of playing Wolf3D, DOOM, Descent etc have drilled the standard WASD key mapping into instinct, but I find I'm fumbling when I want to build. I realized I needed something akin to typing drills, so I coded something up in Javascript: <html><head> <title>Fortnite keyboard trainer</title> <script language="Javascript"> var h1txt = ""; var h2txt = ""; var id

EricBall

EricBall

 

Fortnite versus PUBG

I've been feeling minor PUBG withdrawal since my son took his Samsung tablet to college as I'm unwilling to spend the $$ to buy my own tablet for a "free to play" game. Last night i broke down and installed Fortnite on my 27" iMac. I've played about a dozen games so far and noted the following differences: The big one is the whole building mechanic. It's hard! I'm not sure I have the free time to be more than a noob. I'm certainly not expecting to win any time soon. Unlike PUBG, it look

EricBall

EricBall

 

OSMC on RPi0w

I have an external drive (5TB in your pocket for US$120 - the mind boggles) to which I've ripped DVDs, including Game of Thrones. Now that my son is off to college, it might be easier for my wife and I to find the time to watch them. They play back fine on my wife's MacBook - but its USB ports died so we have to use a DisplayPort adapter, which then precludes connecting it to the big screen TV. However, the new router has a USB port and can share the drive over the network. However, it's st

EricBall

EricBall

 

Dream computer - OpEd

Via one of the guy's YouTube videos, I happened across http://www.the8bitguy.com/2576/what-is-my-dream-computer/ Now, not to rain on anyone's parade - but retro dream computers are just that, dreams. I've been playing with computers since the Apple ][+ days - so I've got plenty of nostalgia for retro computers. But guess what, when my parents gave me a TRS-80 Color Computer as a gift a few years ago, I wondered why they bothered. Sure, it's the computer I had in my teens and I've got a lo

EricBall

EricBall

 

my (100% free) iOS game is on the App Store!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/slide-tilt-roll/id1366633420?mt=8 I took a day off so I could finally put on my "round-tuit" and get my iOS game into the App Store. 100% free to play. No in-app purchases. No subscriptions. No advertising. WiFi not required. 30 levels to complete (so far) Built-in level creator with the option to submit levels for inclusion in future updates. Requres iOS 9 or better, compatible with all devices

EricBall

EricBall

 

PUBG Mobile

So last night I played my first game of PUBG Mobile - and survived long enough to reach #34 and made 3 kills. (And I probably would have done better if the game hadn't glitched and not auto-reloaded my AR.) I'm old enough to have played Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM; but not Quake because I'd stepped off the upgrade treadmill. Multiplayer shooters also didn't interest me as I didn't have the time to sink into playing the games to get good enough not to be cannon fodder. So why am I playing PUBG M

EricBall

EricBall

 

N64 versus PS1

This past Christmas I bought an N64 for my son (and me) to enjoy my collection of games. (Although the problem turned out to be dirty cartridges rather than a dead N64.) He's been having a blast playing Super Mario 64 and the Mario Party games. This nostalgia rekindled my interest in what is under the hood of both it and the original PlayStation. It turns out there's a lot of similarities between the two, more than I would have expected. Both used a MIPS CPU (PSX: 32bit R3051 @ 33.8688 MH

EricBall

EricBall

 

iOS game nearing completion!

(See previous entries for more info on the game.) It's surprising what a little motivation and enthusiasm can accomplish. One big help was I reached out to YouTuber Torogadude and asked if I could use his compositions as background music and he agreed. Bonus! I've also added sound effects and knocked a lot of other items off my to-do list, which leaves really only three big ones: Revise the embedded HTML "About" pages and try to fix the back navigation so it goes to the previous page rat

EricBall

EricBall

 

Back working on my iOS game

I'm back to working on my iOS game "Slide Tilt Roll" in preparation to using it for a presentation to some computer students at my son's high school.   I updated the MacBook to High Sierra, updated to XCode 9, installed XCode 8 to upgrade the code base from Swift 2.2 to Swift 3.0, then used XCode 9 to bring it up to Swift 4.0. That worked for 90% of the code, then I needed to go through and manually fix a few errors and warnings (mostly confined to sqlite and CGPath functions).   I've als

EricBall

EricBall

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