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Schizophretard

Video Problem in Harmony Cart.

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I received my Harmony Cart yesterday. I put on Rom's collection and have been playing it. Anyway, I'm having a very annoying problem with the video. The menu, the games, all of it isn't centered, is kind of tilted, and the square edge is kind of warped. It reminds me of when a picture is messed up on a monitor and you have to adjust everything to make it a perfect square that is perfectly centered.

 

I thought it was the 1985 TV I was using. I thought the the tube or something was acting up from age. I went to a flea market today and bought a 1998 Sony Trinitron. I was excited to get it home because it is a real neat TV. It looks like a tiny monitor on a stand. I get home, plug up my 7800, turn it on, and see the exact same problem. I assumed it must be the 7800 so I hooked up my Sears heavy sixer. I saw the exact same problem. I'm 100% it is the Harmony Cart. The problem looks identical in every way.

 

I'm hoping this is a known problem and that it can be solved without having to send it back. Hopefully the problem is within the SD card and I just have to reformat it or download something. I'll send it back if that is the only solution but I would appreciate a detailed list of instructions of how to solve the problem if the solution is known and it is something I can do. Thanks.

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I don't see how the Harmony could cause video issues like you describe, so pictures are really useful here. The only thing it could cause is RF issues but I'm not sure yours sounds like that.

 

If you have any other 2600 carts, please post a pictures of your screen with exactly the same game playing on the Harmony and the 2600 cart.

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I don't see how the Harmony could cause video issues like you describe, so pictures are really useful here. The only thing it could cause is RF issues but I'm not sure yours sounds like that.

 

If you have any other 2600 carts, please post a pictures of your screen with exactly the same game playing on the Harmony and the 2600 cart.

 

I over looked the obvious and didn't even think to see the difference between one of the ROMs and another cart. I checked and I was surprised to see the problem on another cart. Now I'm confused. I used different TVs, different systems, and now different carts. I'm getting identical pictures. If I can find my wife's camera I'll empty it and take pictures later. I see it on every game. Some more than others. Even the Harmony Cart menu has it.

 

Where it is the most obvious is on Enduro. The left side of the picture has a big black border. The right side has a thin black border. The thick black border on the left changes at the horizon. It is thicker in the grass and slightly thinner at the sky. When it goes to the snow scene on both sides of the horizon it warps in a little. It also does this on an actual Enduro cart. I'm very confused. Does your Enduro look like this?

 

On the Harmony menu it is similar. The top of the letters are slightly going off screen. On the left the white rectangle that moves when selecting is a little longer than the one on the right. The one on the left is farther from the edge of the screen. The one on the right is closer to the edge of the screen. All the text looks slightly tilted. Does your menu look like this?

 

The overall basic appearance of the menu and all games is like if a picture frame was in the screen, slightly tilted clockwise, slightly shifted up, and slightly shifted to the right. I expected to see everything perfectly centered. Is there a problem or has Atari always looked like this on CRT TVs? Has my eyes been spoiled by HDTV and I forgot what it looked like? I'll test it later on the HDTV.

 

After I finished typing this I found the camera so I can stop rambling. I also included a picture of Beamrider. There is a big black gap on the left. This is what I see:

post-28856-0-12777900-1304483883_thumb.jpg

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post-28856-0-38440600-1304483907_thumb.jpg

post-28856-0-65181700-1304483917_thumb.jpg

post-28856-0-05398200-1304483932_thumb.jpg

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It looks normal to me. The large border on the left is used in many 2600 titles to hide the HMOVE bars. The fuzziness and bulging borders are due to color bleed and dot crawl. You might be able to improve things slightly by using a better quality RF cable, but you won't be able to remove it entirely without doing an AV mod of your console. I think you have been spoiled by digital TV quality :)

 

Chris

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It looks normal to me. The large border on the left is used in many 2600 titles to hide the HMOVE bars. The fuzziness and bulging borders are due to color bleed and dot crawl. You might be able to improve things slightly by using a better quality RF cable, but you won't be able to remove it entirely without doing an AV mod of your console. I think you have been spoiled by digital TV quality :)

 

Chris

 

I just don't remember it being this far off. I don't remember anything tilted. I remember it looking level. I don't recall if the whole picture was centered but it seems like I remember things within the picture being centered. For an example, on the Centipede start up screen I don't remember the centipede and Fuji being towards the right. I remember it being in the center. Also, I tried out Juno First. The problem with that is it looks too good. I don't recall Atari looking that awesome. The song is messed up too. I never left an Atari game on a start up screen just to listen to the song over and over and over with head phones. Something just isn't right.

 

If this is normal then I guess I'm fine with it and I'm glad I thought there was a problem because I wouldn't have bought this TV. Other than the weirdness I've already described, it has less static and looks more clear than my other CRT TV. It seems like going to an even smaller screen makes it look less pixilated. I originally had it hooked up to my HDTV through my VCR and the VCR into an a/v selector that has an s-video out. It was ok but the pixels looked like they were made up of other pixels. Every block had smaller blocks. I had a smaller(I think maybe 19 inches) CRT TV from 85 that I bought for Atari but didn't test out until I got the Harmony Cart the other day. I noticed these problems but I also noticed it looked less pixilated. I thought if I found another TV the problems would be gone and it would still be less pixilated. The problems were still there and after testing everything out I concluded it must be the Harmony Cart but on the bright side it was even less pixilated than the other CRT TV. A block is just a solid block. It's only a 9 inch screen. Smaller seems to be better. It's like shrinking it down makes it less blocky. Also it looks very retro and space age. The white coiled wire, white casing, monitor stand, and it's curves makes me wonder if HAL is going to talk through it. It has composite video so maybe it will be perfect when I get my Coleco Sagittarius fixed.

 

Anyway, if someone can show me a screen shot of a CRT TV with the Harmony Cart menu with the different size rectangles and the slightly rotated clockwise look I'll be satisfied that there is no problem.

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It's fairly common for CRT TVs to have some tilt or skew to the image, though this can be largely corrected by a competent TV repairperson. It's also very common for the image to widen where it gets brighter and get narrower where it's dark on a CRT; this is why the left edge of the Enduro screen has that step where the sky meets the grass. It may be possible for something like a capacitor kit to improve this flaw, but in most CRT TVs it can never be completely eliminated.

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It's fairly common for CRT TVs to have some tilt or skew to the image, though this can be largely corrected by a competent TV repairperson. It's also very common for the image to widen where it gets brighter and get narrower where it's dark on a CRT; this is why the left edge of the Enduro screen has that step where the sky meets the grass. It may be possible for something like a capacitor kit to improve this flaw, but in most CRT TVs it can never be completely eliminated.

 

Interesting. I wonder if it would be cheaper to buy another Sony Trinitron KV-9PT50 than get the tilt fixed. This TV only has composite video and one audio jack. I wish it had s-video and another audio jack. Vertical hold or multiformat would be nice too. I hope there is a similar model with more features and if not I wonder if a TV repairperson could add them. On the other TV Jammed played fine but for some reason on this one it rolls. What would cause that?

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Also, I tried out Juno First. The problem with that is it looks too good. I don't recall Atari looking that awesome. The song is messed up too. I never left an Atari game on a start up screen just to listen to the song over and over and over with head phones. Something just isn't right.

 

Flattery will get you everywhere :)

 

You may be able to adjust some of the settings on your Sony TV by accessing the "service mode" menu: http://myweb.accessus.net/~090/sonyadj.html#sony

 

Chris

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Also, I tried out Juno First. The problem with that is it looks too good. I don't recall Atari looking that awesome. The song is messed up too. I never left an Atari game on a start up screen just to listen to the song over and over and over with head phones. Something just isn't right.

 

Flattery will get you everywhere :)

 

You may be able to adjust some of the settings on your Sony TV by accessing the "service mode" menu: http://myweb.accessus.net/~090/sonyadj.html#sony

 

Chris

 

Thanks. I got into service mode, wrote down all the codes and their values, and wrote down what they mean. I experimented with the vertical and horizontal positions. I came to the conclusion that because of the HMOVE bars and how well they were able to handle them they programmed their own borders. Not just the left side of the screen but the black border all the way around. It is impossible to make the center of every game the center of the screen. They created their own screens. If their black screens were another color then I would see their edges touch the actual screen. I experimented with other settings also. I couldn't find one setting that could improve anything in any way by changing it's values. In conclusion, the factory defaults are perfect, my Atari is perfect, and the Harmony Cart is perfect. I was 100% wrong that I was 100% sure that the Harmony Cart was the problem. There is no problem. HDTV is the DEVIL!

 

As a side note, from the values that I have the option to change I think that maybe if I knew the factory defaults of the PAL version of this TV I could change this TV to PAL or at least close enough. I wonder if there is a way to set it in between the two and make it both.

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If you want to have every different game centered, you have to go for emulators and video generating soft like ADVV to create dozens of specific video modes... It happens on many many real systems, on my Sega Mega Drive as well - some games are a bit shifted horizontally compared to the others... it is part of authenticity (=imperfection).

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If you want to have every different game centered, you have to go for emulators and video generating soft like ADVV to create dozens of specific video modes... It happens on many many real systems, on my Sega Mega Drive as well - some games are a bit shifted horizontally compared to the others... it is part of authenticity (=imperfection).

 

I was just worried it was a problem. I forgot about the "imperfections" because I never noticed them in the first place. I have only had a LCD for the last few years but it was long enough to make them noticeable. I noticed them, I thought there was a problem, my mistake was pointed out to me, and now I'm satisfied that there is no problem.

 

I don't have a problem with them not being centered if they are suppose to be that way. I do have a problem with RF interference and the horrible blocks within blocks look my Ataris have on my LCD though. They look pretty good on my 1998 Sony Trinitron KV-9PT50 and my 1978 Sony Trinitron KV-9300 is a retro beauty that looks good with Atari without even having to turn it on. I just wish both of them had s-video and I wish I could figure out what everything on my 1978 model does. The earphone has two jacks, the top one gives sound to my left ear, and the bottom one does nothing. Either it was made for two sets of headphones and both jacks are broke or one pair of headphones use to use two jacks back then. I can't figure out what the AUTO and AFT knobs are suppose to do on the front. On the back the V HOLD is the only one I know for sure what it does but the V SIZE, SCRN, B BKG, G BKG, and R BKG I'm not so sure about. I assume that V SIZE affects the aspect ratio, SCRN has something to do with the screen, and the others have something to do with adjusting the colors blue, green, and red in the background. I'm scared to touch them whatever they do.

 

Anyway, I'm happy with my Harmony Cart, hoping I can find the perfect portable CRT TV, and I think I'll eventually replace my LCD with one of those wide screen CRT HDTVs because I have a feeling they are probably the best type of TVs for video of the past and present but it is something I need to research more. It just seems like LCD TVs are only designed for HDTV and Blu-rays. I feel like I just paid for a flat panel and that I lost more than I gained.

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V SIZE stretches the picture vertically, so yes it affects aspect ratio but basically you can adjust this according to your preference for how filled the screen is (i.e. whether you want to allow the corners to be hidden since the tube isn't perfectly rectangular). SCRN is a brightness control. I'm guessing R/G/B BKG are the cutoff adjustments. Basically once you've got brightness and contrast set the way you want (sounds like you don't have an exposed contrast adjustment though), you want to adjust them with a black screen just below the point at which the color in question starts to become visible (i.e. black should be black).

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V SIZE stretches the picture vertically, so yes it affects aspect ratio but basically you can adjust this according to your preference for how filled the screen is (i.e. whether you want to allow the corners to be hidden since the tube isn't perfectly rectangular). SCRN is a brightness control. I'm guessing R/G/B BKG are the cutoff adjustments. Basically once you've got brightness and contrast set the way you want (sounds like you don't have an exposed contrast adjustment though), you want to adjust them with a black screen just below the point at which the color in question starts to become visible (i.e. black should be black).

 

Thanks. Can you explain more about the R/G/B BKG being cutoff adjustments and adjusting them with a black screen? I have a knob on the front for picture. Would that be contrast? Do you have any idea about the AUTO and AFT on and off switches? Do you understand the two earphone jacks? On the UHF and VHF switches it has knobs that can spin. I can't tell if they are there for looks or if they do something. Could they be for tuning in the channel? Here is a picture of it.

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Edited by Schizophretard

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Not sure what those knobs are for. I'm no TV expert. My knowledge is based on working on arcade game monitors. BTW, I see "brightness" on the front. "Screen" on the back will cover a HUGE range of brightness levels and the "brightness" knob will cover a much smaller range, so it's good for fine tuning. I doubt it was common for TV's to expose the "screen" control.

 

But from my childhood memory I think the uhf and vhf adjustments are for fine tuning a station. Think of radios with knobs that dial in a station and how you have to adjust the knob very precisely to get the station to tune in the best. Same kind of deal. The switch gets you in the ballpark and you adjust the knob to fine tune.

 

BTW, I vaguely recall having a TV with 2 earphone jacks and there being something strange about them. But I don't really know.

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I don't know what "Auto" is but AFT is auto-fine-tune, which automatically tunes in a channel rather than relying on the outer adjustment wheel on the channel knob. Pretty much any TV made in the past 20 years has AFT.

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As far as cutoff goes, it's not something that a consumer would normally do. Usually those controls wouldn't be accessible externally, so they may not be cutoff controls. I'm really not sure. However, the idea on adjusting them is with a black picture if you turn up a cutoff control too high, you'll start seeing red, green, or blue faintly. You don't want to see that. So when you adjust it, you adjust until you can faintly see the color in question and then back off just enough to eliminate the color. Repeat for each color.

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The R/G/B BKG, V SIZE, and SCRN knobs aren't outside consumer knobs but inside service knobs that you use with a screw driver. They are inside of holes. Sorry I didn't clarify that. I can tell they are meant for TV repair persons but I rather learn it myself instead of taking someone out of retirement.

 

If I turned my brightness up all the way red did come through on a black screen. What I did was use the color bar generator ROM. I used the screen with all the dots because it had the most black. I adjusted R BKG until the red went away. I turned my brightness all the way down then adjusted SCRN to the point where gray becomes black. I slowly turned up brightness and as I did it I adjusted R/G/B BKG whenever it didn't look like a shade of gray but a hint of one of those colors. Now if I have brightness all the way down the screen is black and as I turn it up it goes through the grays to almost white(It didn't do that before. Originally they were all black and brightness all the way up had a hint of red). I had brightness all the way down and then put the color bar generator on the gray scale page. The last two lines looked like black so I turned up the brightness a little to the point that there was a line showing in between them and the gray scale looked even. Did I do all that right? Is a black screen suppose to look almost white when brightness is all the way up or are all the settings suppose to be black all the way through and brightness just adjusts the brightness of the colors? Did I do it backwards and should adjust full brightness as black?

 

If I turn V SIZE all the way it turns into wide screen. If I turn it all the way the other direction the screens rolls. So I turned it slowly until it stopped rolling. Am I right to assume that right when it stopped rolling it was at perfect full screen?

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I would adjust brightness to your liking (using the color bar screen for instance) and then adjust the cutoffs. But yes, a black screen will start to turn gray/white if you turn up the brightness too much (especially the screen control).

 

A pic is worth 1000 words. It sounds like you've got it dialed in pretty good but I could comment better if I had a decent pic to look at. :)

 

As for v size, if it starts scrolling when you get it to the size you prefer, then try adjusting v hold.

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I would adjust brightness to your liking (using the color bar screen for instance) and then adjust the cutoffs. But yes, a black screen will start to turn gray/white if you turn up the brightness too much (especially the screen control).

 

A pic is worth 1000 words. It sounds like you've got it dialed in pretty good but I could comment better if I had a decent pic to look at. :)

 

As for v size, if it starts scrolling when you get it to the size you prefer, then try adjusting v hold.

 

Sorry for taking so long to reply. I kept on messing with it after we last talked and was trying to adjust it with another Atari but I think that Atari itself needs adjusted(I need to learn how to do that), so I can't really take pictures of how it looked but I think I figured out how to adjust everything properly except for the V SIZE.

 

I tried to adjust the V SIZE with one of my wife's VHS cassettes to get it perfect but it works different than I thought. It doesn't change the size of the image. The image will always fill up the screen. It just stretches and compressed the image. I think what might work is to get my other 9 inch, put them side by side, hook the VCR to both, play a movie, and adjust the V SIZE on my 78 Trinitron to match my 98 Trinitron.

 

Before I readjusted everything with the other Atari and got frustrated, I think I had the color perfect. I was adjusting the color and hue using Disney's Pocahontas. It's colorful and has a variety of skin colors so I thought it would be a good one to use. While doing it I figured out what the AUTO switch does(kind of). It seems to auto adjust the color and hue with my adjustments. It is like it is combining my settings with default settings. To get the best picture I adjust them with the AUTO off, turn it on to see how it changes , turn it back off, adjust some more..., and keep going back and forth until the picture doesn't change when I turn it on.

 

On one of my days off I'll try the TVs side by side idea with Pocahontas playing and adjust it again. I'll take a picture of the movie and a picture of Atari to see what you think.

 

Thanks for your help.

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Glad to help. Although I'm no TV technician, I think it would be better to adjust the colors with a color bar pattern. That'll allow you to get the brightest bars of R, G, and B to be a comparable brightness, the dimmest bars comparable, and when you do so, the white bars will truly look white/gray, rather than an off-white (due to R, G, and B not being adjusted comparably). This screen will also show you that black is truly black, and the color bar right next to black is very close to black but not exactly black. So IMO take advantage of that test cartridge!

 

As for V SIZE I'm not sure I'm following you. What you say almost seems contradictory (doesn't change the size vs. stretches and compresses). Do you mean that you can never make it short enough to not fill the screen and therefore it's only a question of how much of the image is cut off rather than if the image is cut off? If that's the case then I would guess that the circuitry is out of spec/faulty due to age (e.g. electrolytic caps need replacing, V SIZE pot needs cleaning or replacing, etc).

 

But if by "doesn't change the size" you mean you were thinking it would also adjust the width simultaneously (i.e. maintain aspect ratio), then that was just a misconception. It shouldn't affect the width. That's done with an adjustable coil and a capacitor but you'd have to crack open the case to deal with that, and even then the coil will be so old as to likely be too brittle to adjust at this point. Using my arcade world as an example, the width coil is VERY frequently replaced in the process of rebuilding a monitor, for that reason.

 

I enjoy working on monitors and learning about them. But I have often been very frustrated as well! Hope you ultimately enjoyed the process and learned a little too. :)

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