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Monk

Harmony Cart Interference

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Ok, I started a new thread about this, as I was kind of planning to do previously anyway, because I started feeling I was kind of hijacking that Harmony Cart preorder list.. sorry about that. These things just seem to happen so quickly it's easy to get lost in the discussion without realizing early enough what has happened.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW-LQ5Jxn6g

 

I have seen black bars going up the screen on a 2600 with a bad PSU, but if it's just video artifacts, that's not it.

 

Also some of the developers have PAL consoles and nobody has reported issues, so if may be your console or just your particular cart.

 

A bad bypass cap could cause interference. Also the Harmony differs from other carts in that pins 1 and 24 aren't connected. These are supposed to be connected in the console but it us possible they are not in yours. If they aren't, a ground loop condition could occur that could cause interference.

 

I personally can't tell the video interference in that video apart from the compression artifacts in the video.

 

What am I looking for?

 

I would like take this to PM or start a new thread if that's ok with you.

 

The video was probably still processing. Try it again, now it should show the interference VERY clearly (and you can hear the audio - it's no compression artifact..)

 

You'll see what you are looking for.. (:

 

Thanks for the explanation by the way, that loop-thing would really explain it.

 

- Monk

Edited by Monk

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Also some of the developers have PAL consoles and nobody has reported issues, so if may be your console or just your particular cart.

 

Yes, I have been suspecting that particular Atari. Though again we are in the question of 'how will the Atari know which cartridges to mess up and which to leave alone'..

 

Your explanations make a lot of sense though, and seem very valid. I hope to be able to test this as soon as these holidays and all things like that are over (there's only -one- working day next monday and then there's gonna be two 'holiday' days again, which means I might not get the NTSC Atari any time soon now.. I know it's been shipped already, but it takes lots of time for such a heavy package to arrive from USA all the way to Finland - besides, the customs might want to talk to me about it so it would take even more time)...

 

So, I guess with lots of patience and just trying to cope with the interference for now, we might all get through this.. it's kind of lonely to be the only one with such interference, heh.. I almost wish someone else would have it too (I mean, now that the other person got it fixed - forgot his name though, sorry).

 

Anyways, if all else fails, I can then bet it's that darn airport, which is really located so near that those private small airplanes are constantly flying over this building back and forth by day time..

 

Google Earth shows it's about 1,608 meters to the nearest runway - that's almost exactly one mile.

 

Thank you anyways for your interest in helping me in my curious and weird problem (I am almost getting used to having such weird problems that no one can ever really help me)..

 

And thank you very much for creating this awesome Harmony Cart, I still love it and plan to use it even with the Interference - and still managed to have lots of fun with it yesterday and a little bit today too. So don't worry if we never get it solved, I still respect you and am very thankful to you for creating this and sending it to me for such a cheap price and good manual and everything!

 

- Monk

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Does this happen with other carts or just the Harmony? I suspect a very dirty cartridge slot or some of the video/sound components of the Atari may be failing (capacitor or two).

Edited by Longhorn Engineer

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Does this happen with other carts or just the Harmony? I suspect a very dirty cartridge slot or some of the video/sound components of the Atari may be failing (capacitor or two).

 

Yes, SOME carts, like 32-in-1 for example. Jungle Hunt also has this. But Cosmic Ark doesn't!

 

So it certainly depends on the cartridge. I have had my suspicions on that Atari unit ever since I got it.. (but a Darth Vader Atari 2600 showed even more intereference, though a bit different, I suppose, so I kept this one and gave the Darth Vader to my mom who doesn't even realize what interference is (: ..)

 

I did test it by taking it many kilometers away to my mom's place, and it -seemed- there was much less interference there. So that airport might still be the main villain here, who knows.

 

But your explanations wouldn't account for the fact that for many cartridges (River Raid, Cosmic Ark, Demon Attack, Chopper Command etc.) there is almost none of that interference (can't be sure that there isn't -any-, so I say 'almost', but I at least can't notice any that would disturb me at all when playing those games even if I really try to look very closely and accurately) ..

 

So, I guess mr. Batari's explanations might be the only ones that would explain it, like that 'loop'-thingie because of the different structure of Harmony Cart.

 

I just wonder why other people's Ataris don't cause this.. hm.. I should probably toy around with all the different Firmwares/BIOSes, just to make sure, but that will have to wait for awhile.

 

Thanks for your interest for this curious and odd problem anyway!

 

(Hm, perhaps I should make a side-to-side comparison video with a cartridge that doesn't show any, and with that exact same game loaded within Harmony Cart, to really show the difference)

 

- Monk

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If it's your individual cart, I will of course send you another one to replace it, and you can send yours back and I can see what's actually wrong with it. Maybe we can rule something out, anyway.

 

I'd say the first step would be to look at the cart slot in your 2600. See if pins 1 or 24 are damaged.

 

If they look fine, and you have a multimeter, measure resistance between pins 1 and 24 of your cart slot - it should essentially be zero.

 

I also suggest measuring continuity between pins 1 and 24 of a 32-in-1 cart (actually anyone with one of these carts can) and see if this cart happens also has no connection between these two pins like the Harmony.

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If it's your individual cart, I will of course send you another one to replace it, and you can send yours back and I can see what's actually wrong with it. Maybe we can rule something out, anyway.

 

I also suggest measuring continuity between pins 1 and 24 of a 32-in-1 cart (actually anyone with one of these carts can) and see if this cart happens also has no connection between these two pins like the Harmony.

 

So you saw the video all right now, and can clearly see what you were looking for? Weird phenomenon, huh?

 

I appreciate your kind and honest offer, but I won't be sending it back no matter what. Once I finally have it in my hands, I don't ever want to part with it, hehe. Besides, I wouldn't want you to go through all that trouble and so on. I am very satisfied with it, and as I said, it is probably not the cart's fault, but just that individual Atari unit I have (or the airport)..

 

Oh and I can't do any of those things you asked me to, hehe.. I am not electronical-minded person, I wouldn't recognize any loose connections or anything like that.

 

Thanks again anyways for trying to help and all, I don't want to take any more of your time off your hands, I know how busy you are and how much important stuff you have to do.. don't worry about it, it's all right, I don't mind the interference that much. Maybe I will get used to it eventually and find it 'charming' or something :)

 

I wish you a happy and uplifting decade transformation phase!

 

Sincerely,

 

- Monk

A satisfied customer

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I made a comparison video of games, so you will really see what I am talking about when I say there is a difference..

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TW0j1qwWh0

 

Please remember that I -just- uploaded it, so it's still probably in a bad picture quality (lots of compression artifacts) phase, until it's fully 'processed' by youtube. So, if you are seeing really bad quality and lost of compression, just wait for awhile and try again until the picture is clear and you can see what the heck I am talking about when I talk about the interference.

 

- Monk

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Wow, that's pretty awful. I noticed that the menu fonts seem to "change" when you move the cursor. Also the interlacing used for the fonts seems not to "merge" together. So instead of e.g. an S you see only every 2nd line which looks more like an X. Or is that your camera?

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Yersterday I have written I have solved my "interference problem" on my PAL 2600 connected to TV with antenna cable doing firmware update (PAL60 version).

Before going to sleep I quickly checked Ms. Pac-man and not other games.

This morning I have checked many other games and unfortunately I still have "interference" problems.

Here are the pictures I have taken (Harmony cart on the left - original cartridge on the right).

Looking at the pictures, Harmony cart output seems awful; it's not true, the output is similar to original cartridges, apart vertical interference lines.

post-12528-126225035956_thumb.jpg

post-12528-126225043406_thumb.jpg

post-12528-126225048471_thumb.jpg

post-12528-126225049667_thumb.jpg

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Wow, that's pretty awful. I noticed that the menu fonts seem to "change" when you move the cursor. Also the interlacing used for the fonts seems not to "merge" together. So instead of e.g. an S you see only every 2nd line which looks more like an X. Or is that your camera?

 

Yeah, it is kinda hard to try to ignore.

 

It's very difficult to answer your question, because I don't know how it's SUPPOSED to look like.. I can read the text ok, and I think it does the interlace all right (though I don't understand why interlace would be necessary - to get a higher resolution for the fonts, I suppose..(?)), but the text does look a bit mutated and garbled at times, and sometimes it's a bit difficult to read.. in any way it looks very messy and kinda ugly, compared to what I think it's supposed to look like.

 

I think my crappy camera definitely has it's part though in making the fonts look even worse than they actually look like.. 30fps isn't very good for ~60Hz interlace, you know..

 

- Monk

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Yersterday I have written I have solved my "interference problem" on my PAL 2600 connected to TV with antenna cable doing firmware update (PAL60 version).

Before going to sleep I quickly checked Ms. Pac-man and not other games.

This morning I have checked many other games and unfortunately I still have "interference" problems.

Here are the pictures I have taken (Harmony cart on the left - original cartridge on the right).

 

Philsan, that's very familiar-looking interference you have.. :-) ..

 

Did you look at my video? You might see something very familiar too. I think we have the EXACT same problem. Do you live near any airport or factory or something like that?

 

Do you have the 32-in-1 cartridge?

 

Do you have other Ataris you could test with? Can you use an NTSC Atari?

 

I am sorry to say this, but I am actually kind of relieved that you still have the problem, because it means I am not alone with this .. so instead of it being just a weird quirk in a weird person's life, it's actually a real, authentic phenomenon that MIGHT happen to some other PAL-using people too!

 

Do you have an Atari 2600jr or some other model?

 

With just one whining guy it's kind of easy to ignore and just forget all about it (not that anyone has, people have been very interested and helpful with this! I want to thank you all), but with TWO people having the same exact problem, verifiably so.. people tend to take it more seriously and try to find what actually exactly causes it.

 

Which will be then for the benefit of potential future users which might otherwise have suffered as well..

 

So, I kind of would wish to thank you for still having that problem, if it didn't sound so weird and corny :)

 

Here is the link to my comparison video (I also have Pitfall! in it) again in case you missed it:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TW0j1qwWh0

 

- Monk

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Yeah, it is kinda hard to try to ignore.

As a test, you could try to wrap some shielding around your Harmony cart. Just to see if that helps.

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Monk, your video an my pictures explains exactly the problem we have.

 

I have just tested a new PAL 2600jr.: same problem.

 

No, I don't live near an airport...

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Yeah, it is kinda hard to try to ignore.

As a test, you could try to wrap some shielding around your Harmony cart. Just to see if that helps.

 

Yeeeessss... I could...

 

If I just knew how (: I mean, I don't even know what qualifies as 'shielding'.. do I have to find some easy-to-bend metal somewhere? Are there other materials? I think the interference might be caused internally anyway, between the cart and the Atari, so I can't really put any shielding there.. (because I wouldn't know how anyway)

 

But it would be something to experiment with of course, hmm.. perhaps you could tell me some pointers of how that could be accomplished, assume that I am a total newbie when it comes to shielding, ok? (:

 

- Monk

Edited by Monk

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Monk, your video an my pictures explains exactly the problem we have.

 

I have just tested a new PAL 2600jr.: same problem.

 

No, I don't live near an airport...

 

My thoughts exactly; it must be the SAME problem, not two individual and different ones.

 

Was the other Atari also a 2600jr? So.. two PAL Ataris = problems.

 

People with NTSC Ataris = no problems.

 

Hm... perhaps that's it? PAL Ataris are somehow more sensitive to certain carts' interference-creating abilities? (which kinda sucks, because I was planning to lend this to my mom .. though she probably wouldn't be bothered as much as I, as her eye is not very good about this kind of things)

 

- Monk

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No, I don't live near an airport...

 

What about a factory? Cell phone network - oh, right - we all live in the middle of that. Hmm..

 

I'll tell ya; it's gonna be mighty interesting getting to experiment with an NTSC Atari!

 

But I have to wait for four whole days, and perhaps actually even seven more days or more (because of stupid holidays).. aagh!

 

Oh well, I still have my Dreamcast and X-Arcade adapter for it and Capcom Vs. Snk 2 that I just completed (was really fun).. (:

 

So maybe I can pass the time pretty easily anyway..

 

- Monk

Edited by Monk

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For the tests I have used a PAL 2600 (Darth Vader) and a PAL 2600jr.

So far we have three PAL consoles and two carts with video problems.

Perhaps other PAL users have a video mod so they don't see this problem.

Anyway, Fred will see my pictures and your videos.

 

Thomas, you have made wonderful games!

Monk used the word "interferences" but I don't think those are interferences from outside, so I think it is not a problem of shielding.

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For the tests I have used a PAL 2600 (Darth Vader) and a PAL 2600jr.

So far we have three PAL consoles and two carts with video problems.

Perhaps other PAL users have a video mod so they don't see this problem.

Anyway, Fred will see my pictures and your videos.

 

Thomas, you have made wonderful games!

Monk used the word "interferences" but I don't think those are interferences from outside, so I think it is not a problem of shielding.

It could be shielding. The Harmony has a 10 MHz crystal and a PLL that runs the chip at 70 MHz so shielding the cart itself from RF could help.

 

Do you have a multimeter that you can use to try some of the tests above?

 

I'd try the foil around the cart anyway. I also suggest a ferrite bead around the video cable coming out of the console. These can be found on other video cables and sometimes snap on and off, such that you could borrow one to try.

 

ferrite-bead.jpg

 

As far as RF imparted into the console somehow, I'm not sure how that could happen. There are a total of 5 bypass capacitors and several more on the regulators. The only thing I can think of is the Harmony also has a pullup resistor on one of the data lines. The resistor is weak and I'm not sure how this would affect video, but maybe it has some subtle effect.

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Happy New Year to all, especially to Fred who as worked a lot in these holydays.

 

I have tested my cart wrapped in an aluminum foil and with a ferrite bead around the video cable but nothing changes.

 

EDIT

I have also tested it with another TV (an LCD instead of CRT) but nothing changes again.

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FWIW I tried the Harmony Cart on a PAL Darth Vader and had no major interference beyond the usual RF fuzz (I'll have to wait till Longhorn Engineer sells the PAL videomod, or practice my noob soldering skills). I'm in the Netherlands if that means anything. I have another Darth Vader and a Jr but haven't tried it on those.

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FWIW I tried the Harmony Cart on a PAL Darth Vader and had no major interference beyond the usual RF fuzz (I'll have to wait till Longhorn Engineer sells the PAL videomod, or practice my noob soldering skills). I'm in the Netherlands if that means anything. I have another Darth Vader and a Jr but haven't tried it on those.

 

Okay, thank you!

 

This is valuable information. Now we know not ALL PAL Ataris do this, it's just some individuals. Now if we could only pinpoint the key piece that causes it about some PAL Ataris, we could then make more educated guesses about what Atari's will suffer from the effect and what Atari's won't. Thus we could predict then reliably how it's going to behave - disappointing surprises would be then removed from existence when it comes to Harmony Cart!

 

Could you please test at some point, at your own convenience of course, those other Ataris as well, and see if they have any interference beyond the usual RF stuff that we all are used and love?

 

Thank you. Yes, Netherlands means something to me, I know people from there..

 

- Monk

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FWIW I tried the Harmony Cart on a PAL Darth Vader and had no major interference beyond the usual RF fuzz (I'll have to wait till Longhorn Engineer sells the PAL videomod, or practice my noob soldering skills). I'm in the Netherlands if that means anything. I have another Darth Vader and a Jr but haven't tried it on those.

 

Have you tested the same game, with original cart and harmony cart?

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I have also tested it with another TV (an LCD instead of CRT) but nothing changes again.

 

It is a sticky problem, isn't it? I have also tested with many different televisions and all, and it was never completely away. It's curious how some games seem to suffer only little from it, and some games output extra pixel-looking things.. and in any case, the picture quality is way more fuzzy and incoherent than it is with a 'straight' cartridge.

 

I plan to conduct more tests as these holidays finally end some day in the eternity, because then I might have a Darth Vader PAL version at my disposal, and I am able to test this in another location (far from airports and factories) and perhaps even with the NTSC Atari - I am sure with all those tests we are bound to get some information on what actually causes it.

 

Still, I have kind of forced myself to use the Harmony Cart to play the games I have there, and I succeeded in enjoying them nevertheless!

 

I played Keystone Capers, Ms. Pacman and a few others.

 

Just as a sidenote; would anyone here happen to know this space-game for Atari - where you travel in space, then you land on a planet (or in a world), and you explore and you have some kind of mission there, then you can lift off at any time and then go to some other planet, etc.. I remember there being a city where you must land properly, and then the space itself is very VAST, you can easily get lost in there without even finding any planets..

 

I can't remember it's name - the concept is just very fascinating to me.

 

Anyways, I wish the beginning of the new decade to be better than the last decade put together.. (which isn't saying much unfortunetaly, hehe)

 

- Monk

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This isn't about the interference, really - but I don't know if it's worth opening a new thread for.

 

But.. the Pitfall II stopped working. Well, 'technically' it works, I suppose, but the sound is now totally garbled and weird, and the graphics.. well, you wouldn't even recognize the game now. Even teh Activision logo looks like just some 8's or something.

 

I might take some pics later, but I am just casually mentioning this now.. hope to get that NTSC Atari either monday, or thursday or friday..then if it STILL doesn't work, I might get more worried.

 

I have heard that the Pitfall II utilizes more memory than many other games (which still work), so perhaps it's a memory problem? I don't know. I tried changing the BIOS again, from NTSC to PAL60 to PAL50 and it still doesn't work any better at all. I don't know what to try next if the NTSC Atari still won't display it.. I guess I'll have to buy the actual cartridge from eBay or something.

 

- Monk

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