Jump to content
TailChao

Rikki & Vikki

Recommended Posts

17 hours ago, TailChao said:

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.

On my SCART/Péritel 7800 consoles, I've simply connected the right pads of R32 and R33 to get a better mix of music and sound effects. And I also openend the Rikki & Vikki cartridge and turned the volume knob to max to crank up the music. Works for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/1/2020 at 7:10 AM, Dionoid said:

On my SCART/Péritel 7800 consoles, I've simply connected the right pads of R32 and R33 to get a better mix of music and sound effects. And I also openend the Rikki & Vikki cartridge and turned the volume knob to max to crank up the music. Works for me.

Ah, cool - I don't own a Péritel 7800 so good to know there's an easy workaround. My assumption has been the SCART daughterboard tapped the audio before it was attenuated and mixed through the resistors, is that actually the case here?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got Rikki & Vikki already, the shipping was fast! 🥳 What a beautiful creation!

20201003_134018.thumb.jpg.7d8773a0e70f9d4cdf21e0d7928453a2.jpg


Unfortunately it wasn't my day and I ran into problems fast. It's probably my console that arrived at the same time that's having issues. It's beautiful on the outside, my daughter wouldn't believe it's not new, it even had the protective tape on the metal part (that I immediately pulled off haha).

20201003_140454.thumb.jpg.30a98c393ca05b770350c915a58bfab1.jpg


However Rikki & Vikki wouldn't stay on for more than a few seconds, and then it would black screen. It seemed to help when I took out the game and put it in again, so I sprayed some electronics cleaning spray in the cart-port and jerked the cart around a bit, and me and my wife were able to play the game for about 10-15 minutes (Wife and kids loved it) before black screen , the music kept on playing after black screen though. After this I wasn't able to get anything but black screen anymore. Even more unfortunate was that I kept removing and putting the cart in many times, 'til I managed to get distracted by something and pulled the cart out a bit without turning off the power. :_( Hopefully I didn't fry the game or something in the console.

Even before I managed to do that the built in Asteroids game did show some weird behaviour a few times when starting up the console. It seems to split the sprites over a couple of zones. I wonder if this is a common thing with the game or if there might be something wrong with Maria (or something else)?
20201003_175247_100420_123544_AM.thumb.jpg.339a60b1bd9b5d2d739eb77e2cfddc8e.jpg

 

20201003_155215_100420_123303_AM.thumb.jpg.0ef4727ecfd6edaf4f3cdee66da9aaad.jpg

Anyway, I'm not a hardware guy, but my computer club friend is good at repairing old computers, so I'll take it to him and we'll have a look. I'm still hoping that perhaps it's only a dirty cart-port or something that's possible to fix.

Also, I wonder what the switch next to the RF plug is on the back of the 7800?
20201003_211553_100420_123554_AM.thumb.jpg.ed195b181399aaaba526515d023fa81d.jpg

 

Edited by Turbo Laser Lynx
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
51 minutes ago, Turbo Laser Lynx said:

It's probably my console that arrived at the same time that's having issues.

I can't say I've ever heard of anyone with a 7800 that spontaneously duplicates entire zones. That's not a good sign and a dirt cartridge port would not be able to cause that. My guess would be that some RAM somewhere, maybe internal to MARIA, isn't being read / written to properly so that it thinks it's still on the same zone. I suppose it could be DPPH or DPPL messing about, and seeing as Rikki & Vikki does a lot with interrupts I believe, if those aren't triggered by the zone changing that would cause problems.

 

Also the switch should be the RF channel select, but not all revisions have it.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @SmittyB
that sounds very reasonable. Will investigate further with my computer club friend. It did the same when I tried this morning, however weirdly it seems to stop after a while when the console has run for a while. Then it might show up for a while when re-powering it. I need to contact the ebayer, because it was sold as working/tested.

 

Some good news is that Rikki and Vikki started up for a few seconds again, so the fault is definitely in the console itself.

Edited by Turbo Laser Lynx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This has been a rough time for eBay 7800s.

 

15 hours ago, Turbo Laser Lynx said:

Even more unfortunate was that I kept removing and putting the cart in many times, 'til I managed to get distracted by something and pulled the cart out a bit without turning off the power. :_( Hopefully I didn't fry the game or something in the console.

I had a big problem with inserting my early prototype boards backwards and they all survived, so you should be fine. This is also why I had Tiido add the big LABEL SIDE and BLANK SIDE dummy silkscreen to the production boards.

 

 

15 hours ago, Turbo Laser Lynx said:

Even before I managed to do that the built in Asteroids game did show some weird behaviour a few times when starting up the console. It seems to split the sprites over a couple of zones. I wonder if this is a common thing with the game or if there might be something wrong with Maria (or something else)?

The fact that this is occurring with the built-in game strongly hints something is wrong with the console itself.

 

 

14 hours ago, SmittyB said:

My guess would be that some RAM somewhere, maybe internal to MARIA, isn't being read / written to properly so that it thinks it's still on the same zone. I suppose it could be DPPH or DPPL messing about, and seeing as Rikki & Vikki does a lot with interrupts I believe, if those aren't triggered by the zone changing that would cause problems.

Yeah, this looks like Maria pulling duplicate entries from the Display List List. The actual problem might not be in her or the internal SRAM, but they're definitely suspect. Rikki & Vikki only has one NMI for the frame tick, actually. I didn't want to start twiddling rasters with our schedule and budget. That was supposed to be for later stuff using the PMC1 and it's fancier line counter.

 

 

6 hours ago, Turbo Laser Lynx said:

It did the same when I tried this morning, however weirdly it seems to stop after a while when the console has run for a while. Then it might show up for a while when re-powering it. I need to contact the ebayer, because it was sold as working/tested.

Having to "warm up" usually hints there's some sort of failure in a passive component (like a capacitor) or the voltage regulator.

 

So a few things to investigate if you can't return it to the eBay seller...

  • Voltage Regulator (7805 in the back)
  • Capacitors (only three you really need to replace anyway)
  • SRAM (2x 2KB)
  • Maria
Edited by TailChao
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TailChao said:

 

 

So a few things to investigate if you can't return it to the eBay seller...

  • Voltage Regulator (7805 in the back)
  • Capacitors (only three you really need to replace anyway)
  • SRAM (2x 2KB)
  • Maria

 

I agree those are the likely suspects. I'd start with the voltage regulator. It's guilty so many times I see people having problems it's almost a must replace as soon as you buy a 7800 it seems. The specific problems he's having sound like it could be something a little more like the ram and\or maria though. Let's hope it's only the voltage regulator or the caps as that is a cheap and easy fix.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks you very much for the help guys! It's good to have somewhere to start. Apparently my friend had already found the 7805 as a suspect too.

Does anyone know if Best Electronics still sells Maria chips? At least it's there:
http://www.best-electronics-ca.com/custom-i.htm

Ah, damn it says "PAL Maria, call or email". I couldn't see any Marias on ebay either, not current nor sold 😧 Might become expensive to keep the faulty console, but it would be nice to try and save it. I need to try to come up with some deal with the seller.

Edited by Turbo Laser Lynx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So after TailChao's successful and very generous repair, my 7800 and Ricki & Vicki are working better than ever now!  Even more issues were found when he examined the board than the ones listed earlier in the thread, to repair the solder issue, restore RF audio, replace the broken regulator, replace two capacitors, and replace the TIA socket, since apparently the modder used a cheap socket and the chip was coming out after running for several hours... yeah, quite a lot.  It's (almost) all great now, and I've played the game some and it's definitely good and quite impressive looking for the system.

 

Only one issue remains now, and that is audio volume.

 

So, for normal use with other systems, audio volume on my TV of maybe 20-30% is about right.  For the 7800, post-repair, getting video from the S-Video port and audio from the combined composite jack, for games that use the system's internal audio, I need to go up to about 35%.  That's still reasonable in other things, if a little loud sometimes.

 

However, in Ricki & Vicki or Ballblazer, the two games I have with audio chips in the carts?  In order to hear the music at anything louder than a barely perceptible to inaudible whisper, I need to turn the TV volume all the way up to about 60%!  That's really too loud, audio starts to sound off that high.  (Also, the volume buttons on my CRT TV's remote are broken, so I need to adjust volume on the TV itself, which is kind of a hassle -- it has this round dial for both channel and volume and it is hard to change the volume without also changing the channel.  This isn't an issue when playing on my HDTV, but retro games do look best on the CRT...)

 

Oh, and yes, I know about the volume knob inside the R&V cartridge, and turned it up all the way.  It didn't help much, max volume is as I described, I need to double TV volume to hear anything.  Sound effects are not affected by this problem, they play at the correct volume since they come from the console.

 

So, I did some testing by hooking up the now-repaired RF jack.  Well, the video picture quality from RF is hilariously terrible even beyond my worst expectations (I remember my old 7800 having bad video output, but I don't think it was quite THIS awful...), but the audio is nice and loud in all games and does not suffer from the Ricki & Vicki ultra-quiet-audio problem that the composite jack has.  Everything sounds fine at 30-something percent volume.

 

So, my next step will be to buy an RFU with added audio output jacks, so I can hopefully get the audio from the RF line and video from the S-Video mod.  Hopefully that will fix the problem... what a hassle this system is!  (I'm sure there is some way to internally mod the system to make this problem better, but this seemed like the simplest solution that should work.)

Edited by A Black Falcon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Strange lots of people have rf issues. Right channel? F adapter with no switchbox? Heavy aftermarket Rf cable with filters on both ends? I never seen snow or any problems and could never understand the modders that have to "fix the ugly horrible 7800 RF output"

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to hear the console (and game) made it back safely.

 

11 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

However, in Ricki & Vicki or Ballblazer, the two games I have with audio chips in the carts?  In order to hear the music at anything louder than a barely perceptible to inaudible whisper, I need to turn the TV volume all the way up to about 60%!  That's really too loud, audio starts to sound off that high.  (Also, the volume buttons on my CRT TV's remote are broken, so I need to adjust volume on the TV itself, which is kind of a hassle -- it has this round dial for both channel and volume and it is hard to change the volume without also changing the channel.  This isn't an issue when playing on my HDTV, but retro games do look best on the CRT...)

I'm convinced this is because of the A/V modification's design - specifically the lack of any amplifier for the sound. Both the TIA and Cartridge's Audio are tapped directly and run to the audio jacks. Redesigning and installing a new mod is a bit excessive, but if you have a small amplifier around (even a stereo) try running the audio through that before it hits the TV.

 

In the long run though, I hope the UAV is revamped with a proper audio path. Especially now that we're seeing more and more 7800 titles with enhanced sound.

 

 

11 hours ago, Jinks said:

Strange lots of people have rf issues. Right channel? F adapter with no switchbox? Heavy aftermarket Rf cable with filters on both ends? I never seen snow or any problems and could never understand the modders that have to "fix the ugly horrible 7800 RF output"

The quality varies from console to console, and is very sensitive to noise. It's also unlikely to look okay on anything other than an old CRT.

 

I do want to add that the 7800's board layout (and analog section) could be significantly improved, not just for proper A/V but even for RF. Better signal isolation, yadda yadda. Again, I like the hardware but this aspect of it always felt really cheap.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

If we compare the older, RF-only consoles that I have, I'd say that the Atari 5200, Intellivision (Sears Super Video Arcade), and NES 2 have pretty good RF with minimal interference.  The Odyssey 2's is also pretty good, and the Atari 2600 decent, with some stuff on screen but not much. However, the Colecovision and Atari 7800 have bad RF with heavy interference.  This 7800 is the worst of them all, but I remember that before it broke back in like 2014 I only used my first 7800 on my CRT, because the HDTV I had at the time couldn't detect its signal at all or something... maybe it was just really bad interference but either way it was unusable on that TV.  The Colecovision may have some kind of issues with its RFU port or something (though the system otherwise works great), but the 7800 has no excuse, both of the ones I have had just have bad RF.

 

3 hours ago, TailChao said:

Glad to hear the console (and game) made it back safely.

 

I'm convinced this is because of the A/V modification's design - specifically the lack of any amplifier for the sound. Both the TIA and Cartridge's Audio are tapped directly and run to the audio jacks. Redesigning and installing a new mod is a bit excessive, but if you have a small amplifier around (even a stereo) try running the audio through that before it hits the TV.

 

In the long run though, I hope the UAV is revamped with a proper audio path. Especially now that we're seeing more and more 7800 titles with enhanced sound.

Is there a newer mod version that amplifies the audio?  Because as much as I like the results in video quality (it looks great!), I would have to call this mod a faulty design if the audio is working as intended.  It is clear that it was not designed for cartridge audio properly.

Edited by A Black Falcon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, A Black Falcon said:

Is there a newer mod version that amplifies the audio?  Because as much as I like the results in video quality (it looks great!), I would have to call this mod a faulty design if the audio is working as intended.  It is clear that it was not designed for cartridge audio properly.

None of the currently available Composite or S-Video modifications bother with an audio amplifier, at least to my knowledge.

 

It's not so much that this decision makes them "not designed for cartridge audio" but moreso less robust than desired - including my own board. For something mass produced which is could be hooked up to who-knows-what in a termination and leveling sense, you want a buffer or amplifier there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe the Magic Knight s-video does incorporate audio balancing more properly? I know on the ones that I assembled for use, I was replacing the audio resistors in the design to match that of the NTSC resistors used to balance that out.

 

I really need to find a good set of he PAL schematics to have a better idea on how it was done vs the NTSC, but I would think at worst you could replicate what we do on the NTSC side of things and go from there.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

I believe the Magic Knight s-video does incorporate audio balancing more properly? I know on the ones that I assembled for use, I was replacing the audio resistors in the design to match that of the NTSC resistors used to balance that out.

This isn't a balancing issue, this is an amplification issue - i.e. the currently available mods tap the chip outputs directly rather than using something like a 358 or 4558 in their output stage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wanted to give an update on my Rikki & Vikki cart (and my 7800). So the R&V cart is definately 100% fine. 🥳

I got another 7800 game (Food fight) and later a 2600 game (Smurf). When we tried, both R&V and Food Fight black screened although R&V was working a little bit sometimes earlier when I tried. So my friend that knows electronics suspected that it might be some bad connections from the cart port, since it pushes down on the motherboard every time you insert a cart. He said the voltage regulator was working fine, but that the soldering on the board from the factory was quite shoddy (the factory warranty seal was still intact). He filled in a bunch of half empty solder points and indeed both R&V and FF started working fine. We played Rikki & Vikki for at least 45min and everything was working perfectly (great/fun game!). Playing the 2600 Smurf game the screen was sometimes jumping a little bit, but good enough for me.

Now comes the strange part, with Food Fight and the built in Asteroids game, the console still has to warm up three minutes before the "sprites split over zones" issue disappears (like the photos in my earlier post), but it works instantly with Rikki & Vikki! :o How is that possible? I mean even if it uses a different graphics mode than most games it still obviously has to use the zones. It would be interesting to hear some 7800 experts opinion on this. Worth noting is that he didn't change any caps or sram as suggested earlier in this thread.

I'm thinking that I'm going to keep the 7800 although it has the warm up glitch. I guess it might be a bit risky if it's Maria that's showing signs of starting to fail, but I don't feel like sending the thing all the way back to Germany and start looking for a new one etc. either.

Edited by Turbo Laser Lynx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Designed for long term reliability, this wedge was  not...

 

5 hours ago, Turbo Laser Lynx said:

Now comes the strange part, with Food Fight and the built in Asteroids game, the console still has to warm up three minutes before the "sprites split over zones" issue disappears (like the photos in my earlier post), but it works instantly with Rikki & Vikki! :o How is that possible? I mean even if it uses a different graphics mode than most games it still obviously has to use the zones. It would be interesting to hear some 7800 experts opinion on this. Worth noting is that he didn't change any caps or sram as suggested earlier in this thread.

Rikki & Vikki's cartridge has very careful (perhaps somewhat paranoid) decoupling compared to both Atari's boards and the 7800 itself, this could prevent it from acting wonky if the console's 5V rail isn't stable or some of the capacitors are failing. Another possibility is the 7800's internal SRAM is what's at fault - as Rikki & Vikki places all its Display List Lists in the cartridge's EXRAM. Fetching a Display List (List) has the tightest timing requirements of Maria's accesses, so if the SRAM is drifting out of spec it might not get the right data out in time.

 

 

5 hours ago, Turbo Laser Lynx said:

I'm thinking that I'm going to keep the 7800 although it has the warm up glitch. I guess it might be a bit risky if it's Maria that's showing signs of starting to fail, but I don't feel like sending the thing all the way back to Germany and start looking for a new one etc. either.

Based upon these new symptoms I don't think Maria is the culprit. I'd first go for the regulator (just to be safe) and big electrolytic caps, then try replacing the SRAM.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Turbo Laser Lynx said:

Thanks so much for this @TailChao! 🙏 This really helps understanding the situation. I've made up my mind, I'm gonna keep my 7800, woohoo!

FWIW you can find a 'tested working' console-only with no games/controllers on eBay for like $50-70. I know that isn't nothing, but it is a hell of a lot cheaper than they were new, even if you don't count inflation! It may also be worth it just to avoid any concern or having to fuss with things on other games. Just the price of a single modern console game. If you wanna be extra secure, and spend a little more, get a modder to recap it as well, and maybe replace the voltage regulator. In any case even just a 'tested working' should not have the problems you're seeing, and you can return it (possibly paying shipping yourself) on eBay if it has problems they didn't disclose.

Edited by Hastor
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep in mind that unless I have the hardware in front of me all of this is a guess based upon the symptoms, it could very well be something else. But good to hear you're keeping the console!

 

2 hours ago, Hastor said:

FWIW you can find a 'tested working' console-only with no games/controllers on eBay for like $50-70. I know that isn't nothing, but it is a hell of a lot cheaper than they were new, even if you don't count inflation! It may also be worth it just to avoid any concern or having to fuss with things on other games. Just the price of a single modern console game.

7800s also stack extremely well despite their funny shape - just rotate each one 180 degrees to impress your friends with a Yertle the Turtle scale of towering classic cred.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, TailChao said:

7800s also stack extremely well despite their funny shape - just rotate each one 180 degrees to impress your friends with a Yertle the Turtle scale of towering classic cred.

OMG, that needs to become a trend. We need to see which 7800 hardware guy is the alpha stacker! 🤣

 

I'd kick it off, but nobody would be impressed by my shameful stack of one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only got three I can stack, unless I cheat and add my Sears Arcade 2 in there somewhere.

 

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TailChao said:

Keep in mind that unless I have the hardware in front of me all of this is a guess based upon the symptoms, it could very well be something else. But good to hear you're keeping the console!

Yes of course, but I think they're still very educated guesses! ^^
 

Quote

7800s also stack extremely well despite their funny shape - just rotate each one 180 degrees to impress your friends with a Yertle the Turtle scale of towering classic cred.

:grin:

@Hastor Yeah, I will consider getting another one at some point, but I'm starting to have one too many retro systems, so it's not acute. At least I need to put other stuff in circulation before that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's fine to have too many. I do and I'm still alive lol. Get them all!

(aside from maybe tracking down a Vectrex, I think the Bally Astrocade and Watara Supervision may be my last though... maybe)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...