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About EricBall

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    River Patroller

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    Markham, Ontario, Canada

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  1. https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2021/05/exclusive-valve-is-making-a-switch-like-portable-gaming-pc/ Not to be a wet blanket, but I predict failure (based upon the info in the article). IMHO the main problem going to be processing power. A decent gaming PC has a CPU & GPU far more powerful than the Switch and if Valve tried to squeeze that into a portable system the battery life would be very short. But downgrading the CPU & GPU to a level where battery life if reasonable would make the system underpowered for anything more than casual 2D games. Consoles like the Switch can get away with a lower powered CPU & GPU because developers learn how to do more with less or rework their game to fit within the system limitations. Other problems: Basing the SteamPal on Linux because While Steam supports Linux (and MacOS) this isn't true of the majority of games available through Steam. Graphics performance on Linux still lags Windows. Fewer PC games support controllers effectively vs keyboard & mouse Price - although not stated, I don't think this is going to be a cheap device
  2. I got the Raspberry Pi 3A+ last week and the HDMI to DVI adapter finally showed up on Friday. So I immediately hooked everything up and started to redo the setup (fortunately I'd tried to keep notes for most of the config changes). I had powered the Zero off the USB hub built into the monitor which meant I could turn both on and off with the monitor's power button. At first I did the same with the 3A+, but I got occasional "under voltage detected" errors. At first I ignored it as it didn't seem to have any impact, but then RetroArch mis-recognized the Xinmo controller and I knew a change was necessary. So I switch to using a standard wall wart and started over. But I really wanted to be able to turn both the monitor & Pi on and off with one switch - ideally with the monitor's power button. If I couldn't use the built-in USB hub, maybe I could use the 12V jack used to power a speaker. In fact, before I bought the USB powered speakers I'd looked into some 12V audio boards for the RPi, hoping there would be a reasonably priced option (ha!) which would also power the Pi. What I wanted was something cheap which would convert 12V to USB power. Then it hit me - cars are "12V" (not really), but I bet I could crack open a cheap (dollar store cheap) car lighter USB adapter, solder on a cable with the correct barrel connector and have a probable solution. A couple of hours later I had done just that - and it worked perfectly! Moving up to the 3A+ has also increased the number of potentially playable games - although this time I'm starting out with just 44 from a combination of "best of" lists. So I need to go through those, make sure they work (near) perfectly, then make up the media for the front end. I also need to finalize the control panel artwork (I've decided to just use heavy-duty vinyl, so no need to try to cut & bend plastic) and then I can build the final cabinet!
  3. The other day I learned lr-mame2000 doesn't save high scores. Part of me thinks I should just accept it. But the more I play the more I want to have the high scores saved over time. Being on or first on the high score table is part of the arcade experience. (Ideally I'd love it if Libretro saved the entire system state on exit so it wouldn't have to go through the initialization sequence.) And while lr-mame2003 does support high scores, it needs more CPU. So either I'd end up cutting my list of playable games even more or I need to get another RPi - and I'd rather not spend even more $$ on this project. OTOH, prior to making my barcade I was using the Raspberry Pi Zero to play back DVD rips (no problem with the MPEG-2 decoder licensed/enabled); so in the long term I'd want to buy a second RPi anyway. (Heck, I suspect eventually I'll get a third to hook up as a retro console.) So two good reasons won over my frugal nature and I bought a Raspberry Pi 3 A+, which fits my requirements perfectly. I've ordered Of course now I will need to go back through the list of games and see if there's any other "best of the best" which are now playable. For the actual build the current bottleneck is creating artwork for the control panel. Much to my relief others have confirmed vinyl is durable enough for the control panel and it's not necessary to cover it with plexiglass or lexan. This great because I suspected it would take me several tries to successfully bend & cut holes in the plastic (plus I'd need to buy a bit for my router). My plan was to use macro photos of quarters as a background. However, it's amazing how scratched a quarter can be even if it looks "mint" under a magnifying glass.
  4. My technique was to loop through the objects then append the entry to the relevant display list(s). Just need to store an offset for the end of each list. But whatever the method you have to transform the Y position to select the correct display list and then the graphics page offset.
  5. IMHO one of the big challenges of programming the 7800 is the amount of data required to get anything to appear on screen - you need to generate the display lists and the display list list. And once you get that done you realize it's non-trivial to dynamically generate those display lists efficiently.
  6. You can use https://youtube-dl.org/ to download the audio tracks directly from YT.
  7. Focusing on the "best of the best" games was a very good idea. It meant I only had to do marquees, attract videos and control panel diagrams for 19 games rather than over 100. This is a screenshot of my Attract Mode theme. The marquees are instead of the more typical text game list. And when the game is selected it shows a video of the game's attract mode. The bottom is a basic diagram of the cabinet control panel to show which controls are used for what in the game. From a software perspective the system is at the 90% finished stage: Go back through the games list and maybe add a few more games. Due to MAME romset differences I only have screenshots rather than videos for a few games. See what tweaking can be done to the boot-up & game start sequences to make them quicker & avoid text displays. However making the final cabinet is almost more important. But I'm really struggling with anxiety about having everything go right. At least it's playable - so I'm going to go play some games.
  8. The living room is approx 10 feet by 15 feet with the TV & speakers at one short end. The problem is one long wall is windows with a sofa in front while the opposite opens onto the rest of the house & the stairway.
  9. My first home stereo system was a Denon amp & Jamo speakers. About eight years ago I replaced them with a Pioneer S-HSAJ2 5+1 speaker system (although I've never hooked up the center speaker) and Yamaha AV Amp. When I was shopping around I spent some time doing some listening tests at a HiFi store making the sales person swap cables while I listened to the same 30 second clip. My conclusion was the difference between amplifiers at the price point I was buying was minimal. Speakers made a bigger difference, although I bought based on reviews & specs rather than listening tests. The one variable I couldn't change and would make a big difference is the room.
  10. The first pass through the vertical games has been completed! I've marked a little over 100 games as "perfect - include". So now I'm doing a second pass. My original thought was to have a second look at the "perfect - maybe" and "playable, 50 fps" (where MAME was skipping some frames) games, but now I'm thinking maybe I might want to whittle down even the main list. Is it better to have more games to chose from or to try to only include those game which will probably get played? It was suggested to me to use the "All Killer, No Filler" game list rather than going through the games myself. While I would have still needed to go through that list to figure out which games would work with my setup, I'm now thinking there might be value in using it to decrease the size of my list. OTOH, having seldom played games on the system isn't a bad thing; although each game will take some time & effort to find and create the assets (e.g. marque, snapshot) for the front-end. Update - My wife has stated that more is not better and I should be ruthless in my second pass and, at least to start with, only include "the best of the best" games.
  11. 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 games which aren't included. My idea for a front end theme is a vertical list of marquees with a game snapshot or attract-mode video for the selected game. I should be able to do this in AttractMode. Migrate from Emulation Station to AttractMode Create & debug the theme Create / obtain resources for the theme The final step will be to create the actual cabinet. The woodworking shouldn't be a problem (measure twice, think, measure again, then cut), but for the control panel I want to top it with a sheet of acrylic (Plexiglass) or polycarbonate (Lexan). And while it is possible to drill through hard plastic, care must be taken or it will crack. The tool of choice is a router with a flush trim bit (need to buy one). In addition to the holes, I also want to bend the sheet over the front. Again, possible in theory, but this is something I've never attempted before. I also need to get the artwork for the control panel created and printed.
  12. Best of luck! The one thing I suggest is to spend as much time as possible planning before spending $$ and also determine your critical path for spending. Nothing worse than a CFO asking about an expensive never-to-be-finished project. Also start small with something you can easily verify success, then start adding complexity. You may want to invest in something like an Arduino or RPi Pico which you can use to validate external HW. Heck, pick up a CoCo off eBay to understand how it works. (Also check out https://colorcomputerarchive.com/repo/Documents/Manuals/Hardware/Color Computer Technical Reference Manual (Tandy).pdf - lots of good info.) You're also going to need some way to program your micro, i.e. a ROM burner. You might also want to check into PALs for address decoding.
  13. 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.) Then I one of the local 'cade shops decided to have a sale, so I picked up a Sanwa joystick for half price along with buttons, a controller & wiring. This past weekend I made a simple control panel out of a scrap piece of 3/4" MDF - both to mount the buttons so I could start using them, but also to test out my woodworking skills for the joystick mount. For the final version I'm planning on having a 1/8" top-cover to hide the mounting plate & buttons. So far it's worked out great except I had planned to use the player buttons to both insert a coin and start the game. Unfortunately some games don't like this configuration, so it looks like I'll need to have a dedicated coin button. I've ordered Logitech S150 USB speakers and they should be showing up this week next month. I lucked out as the cheap "USB powered" speakers I was planning on using still used a headphone jack for audio rather than USB! (This actually turns out to be quite common for "USB speakers".) Before I found the S150 I was worried that I'd have to go to a more costly option. I'm still going through the games. There's a lot of games which are playable, but not at full FPS. While this doesn't impact the gameplay, it also means the RPi doesn't have the CPU power for good audio. I'm also mulling over how to finish the cabinet. While I'd love to get some custom vinyl made, I'm not sure of the cost. Plenty of time to figure that out later!
  14. 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 the sound (at least through headphones). Given the huge number of games I can afford to be ruthless pruning down the list. So anything which isn't running at full speed (or has other issues) won't make the first cut. And even if the game does play perfectly it also must be fun to play. There's no point in including games which I won't want to play again. I have flagged the games the "best of" lists on arcade-museum.com (aka KLOV) and the games included on a 60-in-1 vertical multicade. These might be exceptions to the full speed rule. It's also amazing to go through these games and re-discover some while playing others for the first time.
  15. 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, likely due to the same problem of the USB headset being "card 1" rather than "card 0". I then re-enabled the internal soundcard and instead configured the system so the USB headset was "card 0" - and it worked! So this morning I made a stand out of a cardboard box (~20 degree tilt) and tweaked the libretro config to rotate and fill the screen at native resolution (along with rotating Emulationstation). So now the task is to go through ~450 games to see what's playable and what's worth playing. After that I can focus on setting up the front end.
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