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MiSTer FPGA

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On 9/10/2020 at 8:41 AM, Skeeter said:

Yeah, I'm thinking I'll run Mr. Fusion first. I'm guessing 8GB is enough room for all the cores and then with the space left (if there is any) I can cherry pick what roms I want, even if I have to add those manually.

For bigger ROMs, you can also use external USB storage or a shared network drive.

 

File transfer can be done via SFTP or Samba share so it's easy to manage your library from your PC. I personally use Filezilla (note: use binary transfer mode).

Edited by Newsdee

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5 hours ago, Newsdee said:

For bigger ROMs, you can also use external USB storage or a shared network drive.

 

File transfer can be done via SFTP or Samba share so it's easy to manage your library from your PC. I personally use Filezilla (note: use binary transfer mode).

Got it and set up yesterday. I wasn't sure exactly what all the update_all script would pull in rom wise. I had put that in the scripts directory after flashing the mrfusion.img. Turns out I had plenty of room on that 8GB card and then did just like you said, ftp in and add stuff. Got it all going well and loving it, already looking to get that 128MB SDRAM for the Neo stuff.

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If you get one, let us know how well it works. I wouldn't mind trying to get my MiSTer rigged up to a consumer CRT via S-Video. Currently I run it into a VGA monitor, which is great, but I'd like more options.

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3 hours ago, Austin said:

If you get one, let us know how well it works. I wouldn't mind trying to get my MiSTer rigged up to a consumer CRT via S-Video. Currently I run it into a VGA monitor, which is great, but I'd like more options.

I think I will get it.  I used to run the mister through component to my old 27 inch Wega, but I decided last summer that I didn't want that hulking boat anchor in my house anymore haha.

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The TurboGrafx core just got updated a few days ago. It now has options for "original" colors or "raw RGB". You can switch on the fly too. The original colors were derived from the custom YUV table that was dumped from the VCE a couple of months ago, and then looking at how the VCE applies a non linear setup on R-Y and B-Y (each pin captured with a scope), and validated again known UV vectors on a scope. I'm super happy for this option, as it's the only accurate color options for TG/PCE emulation (anywhere). It's pretty great to be able to change it on the fly too. Skin tones are definitely less orange-ish. Same for browns. Yellows are not under control. Basically that garish 'red-push' throughout the entire 512 colors is more subdued.

 

 I run the filter setup snes scanlines soft +bright (has a light scanline effect), and use a polygamma of 2.6 - very CRT-ish looking but still crisp enough (ala RGB with just a slight bit of analog filtering). Looks incredible on my 65" HDTV.

Edited by turboxray
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On 9/22/2020 at 2:31 AM, zetastrike said:

Does anyone have experience with this s-video adapter?

 

https://www.antoniovillena.es/store/product/vga-composite-s-video-adapter/

 

The only CRT I have has composite and s-video, so I was curious if this works well enough to bother buying.

 

@SegaSnatcher you're usually on top of these things.

It's supposed to work well in S-video, but has some extra artifacts in composite. Source: a surreal argument I had about it with the board maker: https://misterfpga.org/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=1068

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Does anyone else prefer the PC10 palette for the NES?  I always use it, I like the yellow/red push it has and makes me think of the Playchoice 10 machine at my local barcade.

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The PC10 palette is pretty unique. It doesn't look much like the colors a normal NES produces via RF or composite, and a lot of people have never seen a Playchoice 10 in person so they don't have nostalgia for those colors. I think that's (part of) why its less popular.

I like that we have it as an option, for PC10 games and historical purposes if nothing else.

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4 hours ago, youxia said:

I've heard that there is no "normal' NES palette due to how composite has worked in the old hardware and variable results it produced.

No, but there's a 'range of accuracy' you can get to. And then there are what the developers used to create their art assets. For one, Japanese TVs are slightly different than US/NA sets. They're calibrated to a different k/temperature. And that assumes all developers had perfectly calibrated sets. I think the problem is much more pronounced on the NES simply because you have games that use one or two shades of colors, in a way that might be different than another game. Color is still highly relative to perception of other colors arounds it. You can have a color that's brown, or olive, depending on the surrounding color (and the context of what the color supposed to represent in pixel art too!). That said, PC10 is so utterly wrong for an NES palette hahaha.

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15 hours ago, youxia said:

I've heard that there is no "normal' NES palette due to how composite has worked in the old hardware and variable results it produced.

Yep. I'm not an expert, but here's my understanding of (some of) the problems with defining the "correct" colors for the NES:

The NES doesn't have an internal color palette that it references and then modulates into a composite/rf signal. It produces a modulated signal from the start.

The NES can output twelve chroma signals at four different levels of brightness/intensity. It's up to the monitor/TV to decode these signals and place them within the NTSC color space so that they can be displayed. Different displays handled this process in different ways, which means you'd get different colors on different TVs. To make matters worse, the NES doesn't follow the standards perfectly... which means some of those signals are out-of-spec... which leads to even more variation in how different TVs would handle the signals.

Even if we ignore the issue with out-of-spec signals, there are still some colors that the NES (and old TVs) could produce that fall outside of the range of colors that modern displays are designed to produce. So, until we're all using super-wide-color-gamut monitors, we have to lower the intensity/brightness of some colors or clip them in some way so that a modern display can even reproduce them.

And also (as turboxray mentioned) Japanese and American TVs had slightly different standards so different players (and developers) would be seeing slightly different in different regions...

And I'm sure there are lots of things I'm missing.

There are a lot of people with very strong opinions about how we should respond to these problems, but they all involve some degree of personal choice and compromise. So it's probably best to just go with one you like.

Edited by DragonFire

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It may be so that "perfect" reproduction is impossible, but I've asked this question there because I am interested which palette is closest to the original. I don't have a real NES and no frame of reference.

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Most of the popular palettes are really good and it just comes down to preference. I'll use a few popular ones as examples.


The two most popular are probably Smooth and Wavebeam. Both were designed by connecting a real NES to a CRT and repeatedly adjusting the palette's colors until it looked really similar to the original console. Unlike the hundreds of other palettes based on eyeballing a CRT, they're the product of years of tweaking and updates, which has definitely helped their popularity. They're each based on different CRTs and had slightly different priorities / methodologies so they don't look identical, but both are a very good representation of what an NES looks like on certain CRTs. Smooth is more muted/desaturated and is based on a high-end professional CRT, while Wavebeam is more vibrant and is based on a few different CRTs.

Another very popular one is Sony CXA. It's named after the NTSC decoder chip used in some Sony CRTs and is designed to look similar to the colors you'd see when playing an NES on those TV sets. It's vibrant and a few colors look very different compared to other popular palettes, but that's because Sony TVs (like most TVs) fiddled with the colors to make things look "better" instead of trying to adhere perfectly to existing standards. It looks great and definitely seems to capture the quirks of certain consumer-grade Sony CRTs. Smooth and the PVM palette try to replicate the colors of professional Sony CRTs, which look very different.

The Composite Direct palette is exactly what it sounds like. It's the result of plugging an NES into a capture card and measuring every color. This is basically what an NES would look like if you plugged it into most modern displays. It looks very good and you could argue that it's closer to the "original" colors since it's based on direct measurements... but because of all the analog weirdness that makes NES colors hard to pin down, it might not look as much like a real NES on a CRT as the previous ones.

The NES Classic palette is a direct rip of the NES Classic's palette. It looks like Composite Direct but less colorful and darker, and it seems to have been created using similar methods. It's technically "official" and it's a good choice if you're used to the colors of NES games on the Switch or NES Classic, but I think any of the previous choices will look closer to original hardware.

The PC-10 palette is the only RGB palette designed by Nintendo during the NES's lifetime. These are the colors produced by the PlayChoice-10, which was an arcade machine designed around NES hardware and games. In that sense, its the only RGB palette that's 100% accurate to original Nintendo hardware from the era. On the other hand, the colors are pretty unique and look dramatically different from what you'd get from any other kind of NES hardware (or from any other palette, or from any of the screenshots or commercials or box art of the era) which means that it doesn't match the colors that most NES players or NES game designers would have seen. For that reason it's usually considered more of a cool novelty.

It's also possible to design a pallete using math instead of measurements or visual observations by taking our understanding of how the NES generates video signals, combining it with our understanding of how those signals were supposed to be decoded, and then mapping those results in the modern sRGB color space. I don't think MiSTer currently includes any of these by default, but you can add your own custom palettes if you want. The only downside is that these represent an idealized scenario that ignores much of the out-of-spec weirdness of the NES and the displays of the era, and they still require us to make some choices like how to handle out-of-spec colors or what white point to use, so there's still an element of personal preference among all the (extremely cool) math. If you wanna see how this works, here's a cool online tool that lets you generate you own palettes using these techniques.

Hopefully that helps explain how there can be multiple valid and accurate choices. Most of the built-in palettes will look very close to a real NES because most of them are based on a real NES, and a real NES would look different on different TVs.

(Short answer: use Smooth, Wavebeam, PVM, or Sony CXA to simulate NES colors on different kinds of CRTs, use Composite Direct if you want a raw capture of NES composite using a modern tool, use PC-10 if you want to see what the arcade version of the NES looks like, and use NES Classic if you want to pretend you're playing on that hardware instead)

Edited by DragonFire
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2 questions about palettes.

 

First, what should I do in case I want an accurate Japanese CRT color looking image? All of this seems based on US TV sets, from what I've seen. I've never used a Famicom or NES ever so I'm not really sure what it looks like in person, although I suppose there isn't a whole lot preventing me from buying a cheap Famicom tomorrow if I wanted to.

 

Second, what palette are the Castlevania and Contra collections on modern consoles using, and is it accurate? I rather like that palette, and I prefer it to the Famicom Mini's palette, even though I played the FC Mini way before those collections released. I tried researching this palette myself and didn't find much, unfortunately, so I figured it would be better to ask people who actually understand this stuff.

Edited by Steven Pendleton

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I should've mentioned that I output to a CRT (Triniton) and I'm simply looking for the closest representation of what the original output has been like. And from your description, Dragonfire, it sounds like most of these palettes are trying to compensate/simulate stuff for modern displays, perhaps with exception of Composite Direct?

 

Btw, this is for a project of mine, which requires stuff to look as close to the original as possible, not my personal gaming - I'm not that fussy about colours actually.

Edited by youxia

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12 hours ago, youxia said:

I should've mentioned that I output to a CRT (Triniton) and I'm simply looking for the closest representation of what the original output has been like. And from your description, Dragonfire, it sounds like most of these palettes are trying to compensate/simulate stuff for modern displays, perhaps with exception of Composite Direct?

They're not really compensating, it's more like they have to decide how to display colors that don't exist. Remember that the NES isn't outputting a specific color, just a specific voltage, and even those voltages are out-of-spec. Different displays (and different standards) would interpret these signals as different colors. Palettes, on the other hand, are based on fixed sRGB color values. They should look the same on any (calibrated) display.

Should palettes use the colors you'd get if you used a hypothetical perfect monitor that followed all the relevant specifications? If so, should we aim for Japanese or American specifications? Or should palettes choose the colors you'd get if you used a normal consumer tv? If so, which TV? Because different sets broke the rules in different ways. And how do we handle a color (like the sky in SMB1) that's so intense that it literally doesn't exist in the sRGB color space? You have to clip it in some way, by lowering the brightness or saturation or both. sRGB can't display as many colors as NTSC, but even CRTs had to do this, because that specific voltage is outside of the NTSC color space too! You have to make choices... unless you just plug the NES into a capture device and measure the output (like FBX did with Composite Direct) in which case you're letting the device make the choices for you. But it isn't making the same choices most CRTs would.

Anyway, I'll try to write shorter posts so I don't hog the thread. Smooth was designed specifically for CRTs, so that's probably the one you'll want. FBX tested it by using a switch to swap between a real NES and an NT Mini with his custom palette on it, hooked the switch to his PVM, and tweaked the colors (for a crazy long time) until both of them looked as close as possible.

If you want more vivid colors, use Wavebeam. It was also designed for CRTs, and based on CRTs, but it was based on the general look of a bunch of different sets instead of mimicking the look of a pro-level CRT monitor.
 

14 hours ago, Steven Pendleton said:

 

First, what should I do in case I want an accurate Japanese CRT color looking image? All of this seems based on US TV sets, from what I've seen.

 

The PVM palette (PVM Style D93) is based on a PVM calibrated to D93, which is the standard used by Japanese NTSC TVs.

I also like the Castlevania/Contra collection palettes but I'm not sure if they're floating around online yet.
 

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55 minutes ago, DragonFire said:

The PVM palette (PVM Style D93) is based on a PVM calibrated to D93, which is the standard used by Japanese NTSC TVs.


I also like the Castlevania/Contra collection palettes but I'm not sure if they're floating around online yet.
 

Alright, thanks. I still have not been able to get my MiSTer to work (even my keyboard stopped working in games so I gave up on it completely), so I'll try that palette when I get my Nt mini. Hopefully someone manages to make that Castlevania/Contra Anniversary Collection color palette available.

Edited by Steven Pendleton

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On 9/21/2020 at 7:31 PM, zetastrike said:

Does anyone have experience with this s-video adapter?

 

https://www.antoniovillena.es/store/product/vga-composite-s-video-adapter/

 

The only CRT I have has composite and s-video, so I was curious if this works well enough to bother buying.

 

@SegaSnatcher you're usually on top of these things.

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner, but I just recently moved to Arizona.  

Anyways, like others have said, S-video quality should be good while composite isn't all that great. Its likely using the same converter found in similar devices.

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Made a small video explaining MiSTer and FPGA gaming via how the hardware evolved.

Been showing it to friends and people who've been asking me what MiSTer was, but were not very technical.

 

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2 hours ago, Newsdee said:

 

Made a small video explaining MiSTer and FPGA gaming via how the hardware evolved.

Been showing it to friends and people who've been asking me what MiSTer was, but were not very technical.

 

Nice video!

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@Newsdee  - WONDERFUL video, friend! So nice to put a voice to your words after so many years too. I hope everyone that reads my words checks out Newsdee's video.

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