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Yurkie

Atari 2600 RGB mod

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By dedicated upscaler I mean something like Framemeister and OSSC which are dedicated for games. They will not try to deinterlace 240p content, and they will multiply the pixels instead of interpolating them.

 

240p is not Atari 2600 exclusiveness. It is used by every second, third and forth generation consoles AFAIK.

 

Framemeister has some quirks on Warlords, Tapper and Video Pinball, which are games doing unusual (maybe wrong) stuff with their sync signal? Yes, ok. But Framemeister also fails in Mega Drive 480i mode and has a few other issues.

 

Like I said, upscalers are not perfect. They evolve. So it's better that they are out of the console box. This has a few advantages:

  1. Multiple consoles served by a single upscaler.
  2. Only one upscaler to upgrade whenever Framemeister 4K or OSSC 2.0 are released.
  3. No need to ever touch the mod again.

You can make an Atari 2600 mod that has HDMI output? Sure. Let's say you can make a upscaler dedicated for Atari 2600 that address all the issues with weird sync signals, which is already difficult enouth. Then, when 4K or whatever becomes the standard, we will still have the TV incorrectly upscaling the 720p/1080p image. Then what? Either we will have to upgrade the mod, or we will need another upscaler to chain with the internal one.

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The games you mention (Warlords, Tapper and Video Pinball) have also had issues in Stella in the past, before the emulation was improved. Tapper in particular has a scanline count that alternates between 261 and 262, and using 'jitter' mode in Stella would make that ROM unstable. So we adjusted the jitter code to only take effect if the scanlines change 3 or more. It seems older TVs were lenient with this, so we had to emulate it that way. But I can see how an upscaler would be very confused by this.

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Then, when 4K or whatever becomes the standard, we will still have the TV incorrectly upscaling the 720p/1080p image. Then what? Either we will have to upgrade the mod, or we will need another upscaler to chain with the internal one.

 

This right here is where you make the leap into nonsense. Upscaling the signal from an old video game system is tricky, but upscaling a standard HDMI video stream is not. At that point it's just a progressive pixel grid, trivial to scale.

 

And once again I point out that if this is a problem (it isn't), then by your logic it's a problem with literally every HDMI device ever manufactured.

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I could point out that the 2600's video output is partially digital, namely the three luma outputs which form a 3-bit luma value. These outputs are mixed together via resistors to get an analog representation of the brightness signal. It is the color signal that is truly analog.

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Oh god, you again.

 

The 2600 RGB mod works by intercepting hue codes directly from the CPU. So no, it works entirely within the digital domain.

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You're arguing against yourself. First you said a 2600 shouldn't have HDMI output because that would require a scaler. Now you're saying it would need a dedicated 240p scaler.

 

Obviously the best scaler for the 2600's unique video output would be one designed specifically for the 2600, that would generate a standard 720p (or 1080p, whatever) signal. And the best place to position a scaler in the data stream is as close to the raw video output as possible. An internal mod like this one, that directly taps the TIA output pins, would by definition deliver more accurate video data to any scaler than one that was working from an analog signal.

and thus, eliminate the ability to connect the 2600 to an analog connection on a CRT, thus rendering any game that intentionally employs 30hz flicker as an intentional graphic element, or works with a light gun - useless.

 

I get what you're saying about convenience for hook ups, you want HDMI because it's the de facto standard, this week. but any video mod that disables certain games entirely from being played in my opinion, is much worse than one that provides a superior, clean analog output which can be connected to any legacy or modern hardware.

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and thus, eliminate the ability to connect the 2600 to an analog connection on a CRT, thus rendering any game that intentionally employs 30hz flicker as an intentional graphic element, or works with a light gun - useless.

 

Point out where I said the analog connections should be removed.

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The games you mention (Warlords, Tapper and Video Pinball) have also had issues in Stella in the past, before the emulation was improved. Tapper in particular has a scanline count that alternates between 261 and 262, and using 'jitter' mode in Stella would make that ROM unstable. So we adjusted the jitter code to only take effect if the scanlines change 3 or more. It seems older TVs were lenient with this, so we had to emulate it that way. But I can see how an upscaler would be very confused by this.

 

Thanks for the info. Now I'm curious: what is the deal with Video Pinball?

 

We have hacks as workarounds for Warlords and Tapper to work on 2600RGB, but not yet for Video Pinball.

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Yes I second that. What's the issue with VideoPinball. I wanna know for personal and just general knowledge. When I do mods for others' consoles, it'd be nice to know.

 

Disclaimer: I do all my VCS gaming via Stella - and thus am denied the pleasure of experiencing the subtleties and problems of real hardware & mods.

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This right here is where you make the leap into nonsense. Upscaling the signal from an old video game system is tricky, but upscaling a standard HDMI video stream is not. At that point it's just a progressive pixel grid, trivial to scale.

 

And once again I point out that if this is a problem (it isn't), then by your logic it's a problem with literally every HDMI device ever manufactured.

 

You are missing the point because you are only considering video format, but video content also matters.

 

Upscalers built on TV are not good for retrovideogames, no matter if analog or digital.

 

If you get a 480p DVD movie and put it on a 4K TV, pixels will be interpolated, some bicubic filtering or whatever will be applied. The result will not be great, but it's the best we can have for this kind of content. It's unlikely that any dedicated upscaler will do much better.

 

But take Atari 2600 and output crisp and sharp digital 480p through HDMI. Now take it to a 4K TV and the graphics will be blurried. You just can't use trivial upscaling methods for retro-videogames.

 

Anyone with a Framemeister and a 1080p TV can do a simple test: get Atari or any console up to 4th generation. Set framemeister to output 1080p and look at the picture. Now set Framemeister to output 480p and look again. Blurrier, isn't it? That's because the TV is not good to upscale retro-videogames, no matter if the source is analog or digital.

 

And no, "my logic" doesn't apply to every HDMI device. It only applies to retro-videogames because it's their content that matters.

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Point out where I said the analog connections should be removed.

 

Your whole argument in this thread was that analog outputs are dated and useless, and people should focus only on HDMI. That implies you think the composite/s-video/RGB output are unnecessary at this point.

 

leaving the RF converter in the console would likely cause interference with the HDMI mod, just as it does with current composite, s-video, and RGB mods. You would need to remove the RF to eliminate interference.

 

So were you arguing for HDMI only, or for a video mod board that included all, composite, RGB, HDMI, etc? If the former, then you're arguing to remove analog outputs. IF the latter, then why come here to argue against analog video boards, if you want one included anyway - unless you're exercising your pedantic muscles?

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Your whole argument in this thread was that analog outputs are dated and useless, and people should focus only on HDMI. That implies you think the composite/s-video/RGB output are unnecessary at this point.

 

They are dated and useless.

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But take Atari 2600 and output crisp and sharp digital 480p through HDMI. Now take it to a 4K TV and the graphics will be blurried. You just can't use trivial upscaling methods for retro-videogames.

 

First, I question your premise that blurry output is a bad thing. All commercial 2600 games were designed with the knowledge that they would be viewed via a fuzzy RF connection. They were never sharp. They're not supposed to be sharp.

 

Second, fine, then have this theoretical 2600 upscaler generate a 1080p signal. There, the 2600 is now in the same boat as every modern gaming console.

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First, I question your premise that blurry output is a bad thing. All commercial 2600 games were designed with the knowledge that they would be viewed via a fuzzy RF connection. They were never sharp. They're not supposed to be sharp.

 

Second, fine, then have this theoretical 2600 upscaler generate a 1080p signal. There, the 2600 is now in the same boat as every modern gaming console.

 

If you are happy with RF, there is no point in modding anything at all.

 

There is people which believes Atari 2600 should be played only on CRTs through RF. I respect that.

 

But once we are improving the picture to look good on modern display, why the hell we want blurryness? If you want to play on LCD with blurry image, well, RF connections are still available. No mods required.

 

Regarding the second part. Even if your theoretical 2600 upscaler generates 1080p now, we need higher resolutions for tomorrow and then your upscaler will need an upgrade. Again, it's better if it's out of the box.

 

Modern gaming consoles may not need a dedicated upscaler since their graphics are completely different and closer to TV content anyway. Again, content matters.

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It isn't about improving the display to look better on modern displays. It's getting them to work in the first place.

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They are dated and useless.

also - ask any recording engineer is analog recording is dated and useless. or film director if celluloid is dated and useless.

 

it's not.

 

You may personally prefer digital formats. That is an opinion. Please stop stating opinions as facts.

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It isn't about improving the display to look better on modern displays. It's getting them to work in the first place.

99.9999999999999% of "modern" TVs with HDMI inputs have a composite analog video input on them that work just fine.

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So is the Atari 2600. Why are we even here?

 

And that is ok. Dated doesn't mean bad. It can be bad when you have to crack open a unit and start dicking with the wires inside, to view it on a modern television. We are here because we enjoy the games we played on the VCS.

 

The VCS console proper may no longer be the best vehicle for that purpose, but its essence is still relevant to those that grew up with it. Or even newcomers wanting to take a trip 40 years back in time.

 

We are here to discuss the best way of enjoying the great games like Basic Math, Slot Racers, Basic Programming, Missile Command, and to see how far the hardware can be pushed with the likes of Draconian and Scramble and Pac-Man 8K.

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99.9999999999999% of "modern" TVs with HDMI inputs have a composite analog video input on them that work just fine.

 

So far. That's going to go away.

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Well yes, Only X amount were made. And it doesn't seem even remotely likely that anyone will produce a transistor-by-transistor accurate TIA anytime soon. Even if they have been decapped and each layer mapped.. Too costly. Too niche. And irrelevant in today's tablet & smartphone generation of faster-than-instant access to millions of lame games.

 

Attrition through various methods will steadily decrease the number of consoles.

 

Aging and parts wearing out, simple electronic failure

Damage to consoles via improper modding by unskilled hobbyists

Flooding, fire, theft, loss in moving, and other accidents

Abandonment and throwing them in the trash

Lack of repair experts

 

..and I'm sure there's more.

 

So other things must be done to preserve it and make it available to anyone and everyone who wants to play.

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So far. That's going to go away.

No, it isn't. Not until every Cable TV provider completely replaces all their existing cabling infrastructure from Coaxial to Fiber, which isn't going to happen in your lifetime if you were a child when Atari was released in 1977. Maybe in your kids' lifetime, if you have any.

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And that is ok. Dated doesn't mean bad. It can be bad when you have to crack open a unit and start dicking with the wires inside, to view it on a modern television. We are here because we enjoy the games we played on the VCS.

 

The VCS console proper may no longer be the best vehicle for that purpose, but its essence is still relevant to those that grew up with it. Or even newcomers wanting to take a trip 40 years back in time.

 

We are here to discuss the best way of enjoying the great games like Basic Math, Slot Racers, Basic Programming, Missile Command, and to see how far the hardware can be pushed with the likes of Draconian and Scramble and Pac-Man 8K.

You do realize that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who have video modded Atari, Coleco, Nintendo, Sega consoles that required no "dicking around with wires" because they were installed properly, by skilled and educated electrical and video engineers, right?

 

Your whole narrative here seems to make no sense. You're trying to convince people to not video mod their consoles because you don't beleive they can be done correctly or safely (which is flat out wrong), and instead rely on crappy, inaccurate, "guesstimation" emulators instead.

 

I mean - at least Zylonbane is arguing to include HDMI in original consoles. You're basically giving people two choices: crappy RF, or crappy emulation. Thanks, but no.

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