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Monk

Harmony Cart Interference

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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

That should not happen. PM me with your address and I will ship a new cart to you immediately. You may continue to use the cart you have in the meantime.

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I just wish I knew if there was something I could do about this, or at least what causes it. Maybe the memory in the Harmony Cart is somehow broken?

 

I haven't really done anything weird with it, I did accidentally slide the SD card inside in the wrong 'slot' (there is a small opening where the card fits if you are not careful where you insert it) for awhile but I realized my mistake pretty quickly. Could that be causing it?

 

Anyway, here is some video of how it looks like. It's the NTSC version, but all versions I tested look (and sound) pretty much the same.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_EyzgCEoZ4

 

I also tested the ROM files in Stella, they are just fine (yes, I copied them FROM the SD card into the harddrive in a unique directory and tested thus those same, specific ROM files).

 

Here's some pictures too..

 

http://www.aijaa.com/v.php?i=5483697.png

http://www.aijaa.com/v.php?i=5483700.png

 

I hate having all these problems when all I really want to do is just play some Atari 2600 games with the real hardware with decent enough picture quality. Seems it's too much to ask.. my Karma is heavy and depressing.

 

- Monk

post-24940-126242516827_thumb.png

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That should not happen. PM me with your address and I will ship a new cart to you immediately. You may continue to use the cart you have in the meantime.

 

Oh, thank you so much! I did send you a PM about this.. You are a kind and honest man, and I am very sorry for troubling you with all these problems. They are really more my problems than yours, I feel ashamed for even bringing them up.

 

- Monk

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Apart "interference" problems, Pitfall II works well with my cart.

The only game that doesn't work so far is homebrew Gunfight.

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For testing purpose, I attach Gunfight (PAL version) that doesn't work with Harmony cart (firmware PAL60).

 

Fred, regarding my interference problem identical to Monk's, I think it's a good idea to wait and see if the new cartridge you will send to him has the same problem.

Gunfight (Manuel Rotschkar) (2001) (PAL).bin

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For testing purpose, I attach Gunfight (PAL version) that doesn't work with Harmony cart (firmware PAL60).

 

Fred, regarding my interference problem identical to Monk's, I think it's a good idea to wait and see if the new cartridge you will send to him has the same problem.

I think I see the problem with Gunfight. It calculates a checksum of itself before it starts and does not clear the carry before starting this check. If the 6507 starts with the carry clear (it may indeed) the original cart will work, but if the carry is set, it will fail. The Harmony probably starts games with the carry set.

 

I would consider this a bug in the game, not the Harmony, as games shouldn't rely on the state of any processor flags at startup (which is why we always clear the decimal flag at startup, for instance.) It's probably possible to fix the BIOS to clear the carry before starting a game.

 

I could also post a modified version of Gunfight but won't without Manuel's permission.

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I think I see the problem with Gunfight. It calculates a checksum of itself before it starts and does not clear the carry before starting this check. If the 6507 starts with the carry clear (it may indeed) the original cart will work, but if the carry is set, it will fail. The Harmony probably starts games with the carry set.

 

I would consider this a bug in the game, not the Harmony, as games shouldn't rely on the state of any processor flags at startup (which is why we always clear the decimal flag at startup, for instance.) It's probably possible to fix the BIOS to clear the carry before starting a game.

 

I could also post a modified version of Gunfight but won't without Manuel's permission.

http://www.atariage.com/forums/topic/8090-gunfight-and-copy-protection/

http://www.atariage.com/forums/topic/8094-the-worldwide-gunfight-boycott/ :)

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I think I see the problem with Gunfight. It calculates a checksum of itself before it starts and does not clear the carry before starting this check. If the 6507 starts with the carry clear (it may indeed) the original cart will work, but if the carry is set, it will fail. The Harmony probably starts games with the carry set.

 

I would consider this a bug in the game, not the Harmony, as games shouldn't rely on the state of any processor flags at startup (which is why we always clear the decimal flag at startup, for instance.) It's probably possible to fix the BIOS to clear the carry before starting a game.

 

I could also post a modified version of Gunfight but won't without Manuel's permission.

http://www.atariage.com/forums/topic/8090-gunfight-and-copy-protection/

http://www.atariage.com/forums/topic/8094-the-worldwide-gunfight-boycott/ :)

Interesting, so it's not a bug but a deliberate programming trick to make it fail on some programmable carts.

 

If Manuel doesn't have a problem with it, we could fix Harmony BIOS to work with Gunfight. Or, if he prefers that it doesn't work with Harmony, we could just leave it the way it is.

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First I must say that the Harmony carts work great and I'm a happy owner.

However, I see the same kind of non-random, game-specific, interference

on both of my Harmony carts too.

 

This is on a 2600jr PAL, no video-mod, connected to the TV by RF-cable.

It doesn't matter if I run the NTSC, PAL or PAL60 menu versions.

 

If I wrap the cart with foil and ground the foil to the RF-shield the

interference is reduced to a great extent but still noticeable.

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First I must say that the Harmony carts work great and I'm a happy owner.

However, I see the same kind of non-random, game-specific, interference

on both of my Harmony carts too.

 

This is on a 2600jr PAL, no video-mod, connected to the TV by RF-cable.

It doesn't matter if I run the NTSC, PAL or PAL60 menu versions.

 

If I wrap the cart with foil and ground the foil to the RF-shield the

interference is reduced to a great extent but still noticeable.

 

I finally got my NTSC Atari 2600jr too, and here's what I found out.

 

1) The interference is STILL there (bugger!).. but on the other room it seems much less (hard to tell for reasons I hope to get into soon)

 

2) It doesn't work very well with PAL RF cable (I guess I have to get some other kind of RF cable to test it - there's no color and there's no sound, except some whirring noise - but the games work just fine generally speaking), so it's hard to determine these things. In the livingroom television the interference is clearly there, but the picture quality is at least relatively 'clear' (it's very fuzzy here in the other room, but it almost looks as if there's no - or almost no interference, but it's hard to tell under that fuzziness)

 

3) It supports paddles (yay, finally I got to play Kaboom! with real paddles! ahh, what a great joy it is and what control, compared to emulator+mouse - whooh.. very different experience! (though without sound and color the experience is a bit smaller)

 

Could it be because in the livingroom I have the computer table set right next to a fridge? Or perhaps it IS that airport.. I don't know. I just wish Harmony Cart could've been produced similar way than the original carts.. then there wouldn't be interference.

 

But if I ever get color and sound to this NTSC Atari 2600jr, I don't think I am gonna complain about the interference anymore anyway.. now I realize there are more important functionalities. It just kinda bugs me that it's always like this for me, almost as if I am cursed.. why everything that works just swell with other people, always gives me problems, gray hair, stress and headaches without any explanations WHY.. aargh.

 

Anyways, this was just a small update until I get the other Harmony Cart and the NTSC RF cable from somewhere (I am not even sure that can be purchased in Finland).. I hope to give you more news as I get them myself.

 

Now onwards towards the grocery store..

 

- Monk

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First I must say that the Harmony carts work great and I'm a happy owner.

However, I see the same kind of non-random, game-specific, interference

on both of my Harmony carts too.

 

This is on a 2600jr PAL, no video-mod, connected to the TV by RF-cable.

It doesn't matter if I run the NTSC, PAL or PAL60 menu versions.

 

If I wrap the cart with foil and ground the foil to the RF-shield the

interference is reduced to a great extent but still noticeable.

 

So far we have found 4 carts with interference problems with PAL consoles connected to PAL televisions by RF cables.

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I haven't tried mine out yet(well I still need an sd card to load games on)

so I don't know if there is interference or not.

one problem might be all the electronic stuff surrounding the 2600.

my 2600 is next to my att set up box,DVD player and the RT box ATT uses for it's service

and I occasionally get interference as well(I do it get on my tv card on my pc as well when I play games

connected to it)

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Dan, we are talking about interference problems that happens only with Harmony cart (with PAL consoles connected to PAL televisions by RF cables).

As you can see in my pictures, games in original cartridges don't have interferences.

If you already have interferences it's another problem and I think nothing will change with Harmony cart.

My VCSs don't have electronic devices nearby (apart TV) so I don't think interferences are from outside.

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Dan, we are talking about interference problems that happens only with Harmony cart (with PAL consoles connected to PAL televisions by RF cables).

As you can see in my pictures, games in original cartridges don't have interferences.

If you already have interferences it's another problem and I think nothing will change with Harmony cart.

My VCSs don't have electronic devices nearby (apart TV) so I don't think interferences are from outside.

ok just putting my .02 cents in thats all.

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Dan, we are talking about interference problems that happens only with Harmony cart (with PAL consoles connected to PAL televisions by RF cables).

 

And also now NTSC consoles connected to PAL televisions that support the Amiga's and Dreamcast's NTSC-mode, which, I am told, might not be 'genuine' NTSC mode after all..

 

So the interference is still there with the NTSC Atari 2600jr. I wonder if it's mostly a jr problem or .. I can't really understand all this. It's almost as if it's totally illogical - in the way that "Whatever Atari Monk uses, let there be interference! (sounds of thunder)"

 

I am starting to realize that my televisions might not support genuine NTSC, only PAL60..

 

So I must then purchase a new television, and somehow make sure it actually supports real, authentic NTSC and not just PAL60. Easier said than done here in this stupid country..

 

- Monk

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As you can see in my pictures, games in original cartridges don't have interferences.

If you already have interferences it's another problem and I think nothing will change with Harmony cart.

My VCSs don't have electronic devices nearby (apart TV) so I don't think interferences are from outside.

 

Maybe he meant that he has the interferences the same way I had already the interferences with the 32-in-1 cartridge (and a few others)?

 

Cosmic Ark and Pitfall! original cartridges absolutely have almost NO interference (or whatever it should be called), very clear and nice picture, great and wonderful picture quality.

 

But Kaboom! and Circus Atari seem to have it... as well as Harmony Cart - but perhaps not as strong, it's hard to estimate without painstakingly testing them over and over again and notifying carefully all changes etc.

 

Yes, it's kind of difficult to test whether the interference comes from the TV or not (-8

 

I actually tested turning the fridge off (unplugging it in fact) -- no effect on the interference. Either it's the airport, or it's some internal weirdness. I have bad luck for having it on BOTH my Atari 2600jr's..

 

You know, sometimes the interference looks almost like a motherboard in shape.. I mean, it looks like these microchips in neat rows in a larger scheme..

 

Oh and I noticed a weird thing; there's this odd interference with Circus Atari where if you move the paddle (when the screen is dark - I don't know what color it is 'cos there's no color in the NTSC right now), you can see the paddle position from the interference - it's like a meter or something.. heh. It's pretty neat in it's own way.. if you move the paddle, the interference moves to show where you moved it.. (hard to explain with only a few hours of sleep - woke up to the mailwoman bringing me the Atari (: )

 

Now, I hope to be able to test these things next week:

 

1) Darth Vader-Atari (far from airport) with Harmony Cart

2) The NTSC Atari 2600jr with a new (hopefully NTSC genuinely supporting) TeleVision

3) Harmony Cart within that system of NTSC Atari 2600jr and the new TeleVision

4) The NEW Harmony Cart with both the PAL 2600jr and NTSC 2600jr with the old and new TeleVision

5) PAL-Atari2600jr far from airport with Harmony Cart

 

 

Then I think we might again have some more information..

 

- Monk

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ok just putting my .02 cents in thats all.

 

Two hundredth of one cent? Wow, that's very little amount (-8

 

Did you pay with Paypal?

 

- Monk

Edited by Monk

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ok just putting my .02 cents in thats all.

 

Two hundredth of one cent? Wow, that's very little amount (-8

 

Did you pay with Paypal?

 

- Monk

.02 is two cents

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I dug out my NTSC Jr. and tried some experiments. No interference unless I literally wrapped the video cable around the Harmony cart 5 times before it was noticeable. I went and wrapped it 5 more times and the game was nearly unplayable. However, even then, the interference was then reduced almost to zero by putting a ferrite bead around the cable just as it exits the 2600, even with this cable wrapped around the cart.

 

I also noticed something about the Jr. I had not noticed before - it does not have its own video cable but rather just an RCA plug and you use your own cable. If you aren't using a fully sheilded coaxial RCA cable (e.g. if you are using an audio cable or other non-shielded cable) I can see how interference could be an issue. I'd recommend trying a quality, fully shielded video cable and a ferrite bead attached near where the cable plugs into the console. When I do this, there is absolutely no interference from my Jr.

 

It is also worth noting that I tested a Combat cart as a control and the interference was worse than Harmony for all tests, but in any case it became crystal-clear after adding the ferrite bead. The sweet spot for the ferrite bead seems to be about a 6 inches to a foot from where the RF cable exits the console.

 

The reduction of interference with the ferrite bead was so dramatic that I am thinking of posting a video.

Edited by batari

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Fred, I used two PAL consoles (2600 and a new 2600 jr.), changed 2600 jr.'s RF cables (I have many new computer/consoles so I have many good video cables), tried ferrite bead but absolutely nothing changed.

Very good pictures with original carts (Boxing, Pitfall), interferences with Harmony cart.

If original carts are ok and sd games have interferences, I don't think it's a problem of video cables.

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Fred, I used two PAL consoles (2600 and a new 2600 jr.), changed 2600 jr.'s RF cables (I have many new computer/consoles so I have many good video cables), tried ferrite bead but absolutely nothing changed.

Very good pictures with original carts (Boxing, Pitfall), interferences with Harmony cart.

If original carts are ok and sd games have interferences, I don't think it's a problem of video cables.

I am not disagreeing that interference must be coming from Harmony in your case. That doesn't mean that there isn't a solution to minimize the interference it does produce. It's not feasible to redesign the Harmony at this point. I have already paid many thousands of dollars for circuit boards and professional assembly of the boards and really can't afford to throw them all away.

 

If you can answer some more questions, I'd appreciate that. Do PAL consoles allow the signal to output on more than one channel? If so, can you try the other channel? Also, are you using a switchbox or one of these on the end?

 

goldlyle2.jpg

 

Do PAL consoles use RCA cables? If so, I'd be happy to send you the cable I've used successfully, with ferrite bead attached in the place where it worked best.

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I had a good success with the Ferrite bead here. Actually, what I used was one of the rings that came on the Atari 400 cable. (yeah, I'll have to mod that one anyway) I did three loops through the ring and got a great signal.

 

My Harmony interference shows up on some games more than others. Pitfall II has a fair amount of it, so does the menu. Other games, like Breakout, have very little.

 

NTSC TV, NTSC games, played on 6 switch light six, running composite video from the simple, unshielded Ben Heck mod, using rather ordinary patch cables. I'm thinking of getting a shielded set. BTW, the ring did improve the RF considerably, though it's still just generally noisy enough to be a bother.

 

This can be dealt with, IMHO. Some fiddling with the ring got me a very nice improvement. Bet good quality (not audio) cables, and maybe the right Ferrite device, will sort this out for a lot of people.

Edited by potatohead

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ok just putting my .02 cents in thats all.

 

Two hundredth of one cent? Wow, that's very little amount (-8

 

Did you pay with Paypal?

 

- Monk

.02 is two cents

 

$.02 is 2 cents

.02 cents is $0.0002

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It is also worth noting that I tested a Combat cart as a control and the interference was worse than Harmony for all tests, but in any case it became crystal-clear after adding the ferrite bead. The sweet spot for the ferrite bead seems to be about a 6 inches to a foot from where the RF cable exits the console.

 

This finally answers the question I've been wondering for decades: "Why did they place that "stupid" box (ferrite ring) a small distance from the computer (where it's ultra-noticable) on the RF cable for 800XL/130XE?"

 

Now I know!

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ok just putting my .02 cents in thats all.

 

Two hundredth of one cent? Wow, that's very little amount (-8

 

Did you pay with Paypal?

 

- Monk

.02 is two cents

 

$.02 is 2 cents

.02 cents is $0.0002

like what ever dude.

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