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TailChao

Rikki & Vikki

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20 minutes ago, Theallknowingsause said:

What console do you think killed it?

I think the Dreamcast but the spirit of each console having different looking graphics continued with portable consoles up into the early 2010's imo

I wouldn't say a certain console killed it - but Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, and XBOX were where things started to even out for me. Don't get me wrong, there were still visual tells on which hardware a game was running on (especially if you look for aliasing). There were just far less than in the previous hardware generation.

 

With portables, yeah I totally agree.

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10 hours ago, TailChao said:

...oh right, 31 Copies left.

Hey @TailChao, I was one of the earliest purchasers of Rikki & Vikki for the 7800, and my copy came with the old style silver cartridge labels.  What does one have to do to acquire one of the new silver labels that came with the later pressings of the game?  Thanks.

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10 hours ago, NostAlgae37 said:

Hey @TailChao, I was one of the earliest purchasers of Rikki & Vikki for the 7800, and my copy came with the old style silver cartridge labels.  What does one have to do to acquire one of the new silver labels that came with the later pressings of the game?  Thanks.

What do the old labels look like?

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10 hours ago, NostAlgae37 said:

Hey @TailChao, I was one of the earliest purchasers of Rikki & Vikki for the 7800, and my copy came with the old style silver cartridge labels.  What does one have to do to acquire one of the new silver labels that came with the later pressings of the game?  Thanks.

If you're comfortable replacing the label yourself, send me a PM and we'll work something out. Just keep in mind that if you damage the cartridge, leave bubbles under the label adhesive, etc - none of this is under warranty.

 

If you'd like to have the label swapped for you, it'll unfortunately have to wait for a bit. There's too much entropy in my schedule right now.

 

 

37 minutes ago, Crazy Climber said:

What do the old labels look like?

The artwork is the same, but instead of a foil backing (as in the newer labels) it's just a grey color.

 

You can read more about it here, but in summary I wasn't satisfied that we weren't able to get the silver spot color Atari used on the cartridge labels - especially since we got it on the game box. So I got tests from different print shops, one of which recommended trying the foil backing (as your copy has) which I think is way better! However, the cartridge's label will not affect the performance of the software inside it ;) .

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2 hours ago, TailChao said:

...There's too much entropy in my schedule right now.

Damn that Misery the Inconvenient, he's at it again! :D

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21 hours ago, Trebor said:

Damn that Misery the Inconvenient, he's at it again! :D

Hah, he's been super productive this whole year but it's still quality work - only the finest disorder.

What a guy!

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OH NO - Boring Hardware PSA!

 

So @A Black Falcon sent in both his 7800 and Rikki & Vikki cartridge for inspection after the game failed to start up. The issue ended up being in the console itself - in particular the 5V rail was sagging horrifically. Running a ROM-Only 7800 game already pegged it down to 4.9V, Ballblazer was down to 4.8V, and Rikki & Vikki dropped it to 3.5V (!). Yikes, that's way out of spec!

 

This was a UAV modded console bought off of eBay.

In case anyone else runs into this, the console was exhibiting the following issues in other software...

  • Extreme color drift, especially on any POKEY or EXRAM cartridges like Ballblazer, Commando, Jinks, etc.
  • S-Video or Composite may lose sync, but RF still works (if your set's AGC is any good).
  • Colors can drift by attaching more controllers or when pressing their buttons.
  • Some games or flash cartridges may exhibit instability or fail to boot.

 

I'm tracing back the issue now and already found a few shorts. Whoever modded this used solid core wire... it looks like telephone wire and the whole board is a mess - solder flecks everywhere, big chungus blob joints, blech. So please, be careful when buying premodded stuff.

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I'll second that. However when a seller has a few hundred or thousand sales and a 100% or 99% rating, you don't get much more to go on. Best to hire a modder but you can't always find one (or the parts needed) outside of an older one on eBay that was already modded. I got a 2600 with RCA mod off eBay that was far worse than the RF connection. Was able to return that. Recently got an S-video modded Bally Astrocade. Didn't do more than test it quickly at first due to other projects. Found out later it loses color after 3-5 minutes of play. Also found the mod's heatsink fell off easily, then that the mod shouldn't even need a heatsink! Unfortunately out of the return period, and while I did track down another Astrocade and a new video mod board for it, the current mods scramble the colors something awful (confirmed by several) so I'm back to RF.

 

If anyone could point me to any good vintage system modders to follow on Twitter (no Facebook) etc. I'd appreciate it. Everyone I follow doesn't go back much further than SNES/Genesis, aside from the NES.

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17 minutes ago, TailChao said:

OH NO - Boring Hardware PSA!

 

So @A Black Falcon sent in both his 7800 and Rikki & Vikki cartridge for inspection after the game failed to start up. The issue ended up being in the console itself - in particular the 5V rail was sagging horrifically. Running a ROM-Only 7800 game already pegged it down to 4.9V, Ballblazer was down to 4.8V, and Rikki & Vikki dropped it to 3.5V (!). Yikes, that's way out of spec!

 

This was a UAV modded console bought off of eBay.

In case anyone else runs into this, the console was exhibiting the following issues in other software...

  • Extreme color drift, especially on any POKEY or EXRAM cartridges like Ballblazer, Commando, Jinks, etc.
  • S-Video or Composite may lose sync, but RF still works (if your set's AGC is any good).
  • Colors can drift by attaching more controllers or when pressing their buttons.
  • Some games or flash cartridges may exhibit instability or fail to boot.

 

I'm tracing back the issue now and already found a few shorts. Whoever modded this used solid core wire... it looks like telephone wire and the whole board is a mess - solder flecks everywhere, big chungus blob joints, blech. So please, be careful when buying premodded stuff.

Also another reason I change out the original VRs in 7800s to a more beefy 2A output variant. They don't really cost any more than the original spec ones did and you can be sure that there is plenty of power being provided to the system where needed. But yes, on a stock 7800, with a UAV in place and my Mateos running a Pokey game, most 7800s will eat up about 710 - 750ma current. 

 

I actually use 22g solid core in my UAV installs now as it seems to provide a much cleaner overall connection. But I only use that on the video taps to the UAV board. I only use stranded from off the outputs since that is the part that is likely to be flexed and need to be flexible in the future.

 

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1 hour ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

Also another reason I change out the original VRs in 7800s to a more beefy 2A output variant. They don't really cost any more than the original spec ones did and you can be sure that there is plenty of power being provided to the system where needed. But yes, on a stock 7800, with a UAV in place and my Mateos running a Pokey game, most 7800s will eat up about 710 - 750ma current.

If you're talking about the 78S05, yeah they're pretty great. I frequently use them in my development consoles. The thing is that the original 7805s should still be able to push 5V @ 1.5A - which is a fair amount of wiggle room when the 7800's components shouldn't yank more than 500mA on the 5V rail. Rikki & Vikki's boards don't usually require over 150mA.

 

Anyway, the regulator was the issue here. Whoever modded the console replaced it with a properly spec'd 7805, but I guess the soldering job was so bad that they cooked its guts or messed it up some other way that it couldn't push over 500mA without the 5V rail sagging.

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8 hours ago, Hastor said:

If anyone could point me to any good vintage system modders to follow on Twitter (no Facebook) etc. I'd appreciate it. Everyone I follow doesn't go back much further than SNES/Genesis, aside from the NES.

 

Cmherndon79 is a member here and has modded lots of systems including my 7800. He did a fabulous job and is an incredibly nice guy.

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13 hours ago, TailChao said:

If you're talking about the 78S05, yeah they're pretty great. I frequently use them in my development consoles. The thing is that the original 7805s should still be able to push 5V @ 1.5A - which is a fair amount of wiggle room when the 7800's components shouldn't yank more than 500mA on the 5V rail. Rikki & Vikki's boards don't usually require over 150mA.

 

Anyway, the regulator was the issue here. Whoever modded the console replaced it with a properly spec'd 7805, but I guess the soldering job was so bad that they cooked its guts or messed it up some other way that it couldn't push over 500mA without the 5V rail sagging.

So that regulator probably failed because the mod was badly installed with awful soldering?  Beware ebay indeed.  But it is much easier to just buy one there than, say, to find someone here to do a mod for me or something, and I never could install it myself, so I gave it a try... I guess you had to fix the shorts too, I presume?

 

I should also mention that this mod also didn't do the updated mod that makes the AV port audio not super quiet, so (before sending the system for this check) I needed to like double TV volume in order to hear much of anything.  Unfortunate.

 

 

Maybe I should have tried to find someone here who could repair and av/s-video mod my other 7800, the one with the failed power button so it won't turn on... that one has the added (useless) bonus of having the expansion port on the back, something this one TailChao has at the moment doesn't.  Oh well...

Edited by A Black Falcon

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9 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

So that regulator probably failed because the mod was badly installed with awful soldering?  Beware ebay indeed.  But it is much easier to just buy one there than, say, to find someone here to do a mod for me or something, and I never could install it myself, so I gave it a try... I guess you had to fix the shorts too, I presume?

That's my guess, yeah. Whoever reworked this replaced the regulator with a correct part - but it wasn't able to maintain anywhere near its rated current draw. The shorts were all caused by small solder flecks / whiskers near the rework areas, so they just needed to be wiped off along with the excess flux. Everything seems to be stable now, but as mentioned in the email thread I want to keep it under observation for a bit to make sure.

 

 

10 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

I should also mention that this mod also didn't do the updated mod that makes the AV port audio not super quiet, so (before sending the system for this check) I needed to like double TV volume in order to hear much of anything.  Unfortunate.

At least as of writing, I'm not aware of any Atari 7800 A/V or S-Video modifications (available as a kit) which actually include a proper audio amplifier. They all tap the signals directly. This may attenuate the audio depending upon the length of the cable and what it's plugged into.

 

 

10 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

Maybe I should have tried to find someone here who could repair and av/s-video mod my other 7800, the one with the failed power button so it won't turn on... that one has the added (useless) bonus of having the expansion port on the back, something this one TailChao has at the moment doesn't.  Oh well...

No worries, this console at least had a happy ending. As a nice bonus, this was the first time I got to meet the late (probably the last) NTSC board revision.

 

 

Oh, right... 28 Copies left.

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Now I'm wondering what mod I have. I bought mine already RCA modded (not s-video) but I've never noticed any volume related issues. I need to adjust the volume a bit when switching between consoles in general but never noticed needing any major adjustment beyond the others for the 7800.

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19 minutes ago, Hastor said:

Now I'm wondering what mod I have. I bought mine already RCA modded (not s-video) but I've never noticed any volume related issues. I need to adjust the volume a bit when switching between consoles in general but never noticed needing any major adjustment beyond the others for the 7800.

Commando is the easiest game to test this because that game uses both TIA and Pokey audio. If the audio wasn't done in the current advised ways, then you end up in most cases with the TIA audio in that game overpowering the music. I believe the sounds and percussion in Commando are TIA while Pokey is all the melody music. Ballblazer is all POKEY so you wouldn't notice it as much there other than having to increase the volume on your TV more as opposed to most other games.

 

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Sounds like Commando is the only real way to check. Is Rikki and Vikki affected or does it not use TIA? I don't have Commando, and could try to do a comparison with Ballblazer and other games.

 

If they are out of balance, I'm gonna be looking for someone to do it right for me :)

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7 minutes ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

Commando is the easiest game to test this because that game uses both TIA and Pokey audio. If the audio wasn't done in the current advised ways, then you end up in most cases with the TIA audio in that game overpowering the music. 

Definitely!

When I did my mod, it was in Commando when I really noticed it (as back then, there weren't a lot of POKEY options).

I ended up adding a trim POT and adjusted it to the level I thought was the best balance between the two using Commando.

My plan was to eventually remove the trim POT, measure the resistance and replace it with a resistor that matched...

 

And years and years (and years) later, that trim POT is still there.. ;-)

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Oh I also have a couple AtariAge games with the PokeyOne in them - those all pure pokey?

I seem to remember the eBay ad I bought it from claiming proper audio output for both the system audio as well as Pokey. I mainly remember because I had to look up what that meant - I wasn't aware of the issue with other mods, but also wasn't aware that some 7800 games provided their own Pokey (I grew up on 5200). So that's when I learned about Pokey games. I only got it around a year ago or so. I think it was probably done right, but if anything seems up, I'll look into it.

Edited by Hastor

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46 minutes ago, Hastor said:

Sounds like Commando is the only real way to check. Is Rikki and Vikki affected or does it not use TIA? I don't have Commando, and could try to do a comparison with Ballblazer and other games.

 

If they are out of balance, I'm gonna be looking for someone to do it right for me :)

Like Commando, Rikki & Vikki uses cartridge expansion audio for music and the TIA for sound effects. Unlike Commando, you can use the left difficulty switch and volume knob in the cartridge to adjust the balancing to your taste.

 

When discussing the "correct" mixing circuit, it's usually referring to the NTSC one - where the TIA and cartridge audio go through a 18KOhm and 6.8KOhm resistor, respectively. The PAL circuit uses 6.8KOhm for both, and while this is annoying - it's still official. Many of the older modification guides use the PAL circuit - and I've seen more than one installation where no resistors were used at all, the cartridge audio left disconnected, and numerous other permutations of nope.

 

Addendum : There's also the SCART / Péritel 7800, which is an official nope.

Edited by TailChao

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Rikki & Vikki uses its own audio chip to produce the audio, but it uses the same external audio line out from the cartridge port through the 7800 that the pokey games use. I believe the sound effects are still TIA on R & V.

 

The LHE board did incorporate audio filtering, but the original instructions for the installation had you pulling that audio before the resistors so you ended up with TIA over powering the POKEY / External audio and there are MANY 7800s still configured this way. 

 

The Magic Knight also incorporates the audio, but it was originally designed with the PAL 6k8 resistors in mind. On the ones I installed and pieced together, I replaced the resisitor values with the proper 6k8 for pokey and 18k for TIA on those boards. 

 

For the UAV installs, I now add an additional 6k8 and 18k off of R5 and R6 and then tie their ends to the + side of a 10µf cap to the centers of the RCA output jacks or whatever might be getting used. You can also just cut the legs off the resistors on the ends towards the back of the console and then attach those ends to a cap as I have in the original UAV NTSC install guide.

 

 

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Ok cool, been a bit since I've had it out but I'll pay attention next time. Just clicked in my brain after I started thinking about this that the eBay ad bragged about proper pokey audio, so it was probably done right (is an NTSC system).

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7 minutes ago, Hastor said:

Ok cool, been a bit since I've had it out but I'll pay attention next time. Just clicked in my brain after I started thinking about this that the eBay ad bragged about proper pokey audio, so it was probably done right (is an NTSC system).

I've worked on at least 2 such systems that stated the audio was done properly...and it was not. One was an LHE system that I reversed out and installed a UAV in. They were pulling the audio from the resistor side closest to the main ICs so not correct. The other had the cheap composite mod installed with a CVBS to HDMI converter shoved inside it producing a very dark composite output along with a stretched image and 2 - 3 sec delay from power on to seeing the picture since the converter inside had to power up and do its thing. The audio was working on and off on that one. I think the converter was having an issue locking into the Pokey sometimes because I could put in ballblazer and hear broken up sound, no sound, or it would be correct but you would have to keep powering it on/off until it was correct.

 

And in both of those above cases, they had been ebay purchased.

 

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1 minute ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

I've worked on at least 2 such systems that stated the audio was done properly...and it was not. One was an LHE system that I reversed out and installed a UAV in. They were pulling the audio from the resistor side closest to the main ICs so not correct. The other had the cheap composite mod installed with a CVBS to HDMI converter shoved inside it producing a very dark composite output along with a stretched image and 2 - 3 sec delay from power on to seeing the picture since the converter inside had to power up and do its thing. The audio was working on and off on that one. I think the converter was having an issue locking into the Pokey sometimes because I could put in ballblazer and hear broken up sound, no sound, or it would be correct but you would have to keep powering it on/off until it was correct.

 

And in both of those above cases, they had been ebay purchased.

 

Hmm if I get mine out in a couple days could I DM you a pic of the mod and find out what your diagnosis would be? :)

Or if you could just tell me what to look for that would be obvious to someone whose experience is limited to solder-by-number guides (and not delicate soldering either lol).

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3 minutes ago, Hastor said:

Hmm if I get mine out in a couple days could I DM you a pic of the mod and find out what your diagnosis would be? :)

Or if you could just tell me what to look for that would be obvious to someone whose experience is limited to solder-by-number guides (and not delicate soldering either lol).

No problem! Happy to help however I can.

 

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