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ZPH Streaming & Hardware Updates

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Today I made a breakthrough on the minor video interference that's been cropping up during the stream from the temporarily recruited composite modded Atari Jr. I received the "Ferrite bead" magnetic clips that I talked about on the show two streams ago to attach to the video cables in an effort to clean up the video interference I've been seeing during the stream.

 

I thought the interference was from the lights or the electrical equipment and this would be the solution. It wasn't, turning them off made no impact whatsoever... But while I was removing wires and switching wires around I discovered something. When I removed the hardware video encoder from the equation, the video COMPLETELY cleared up, instantaneously crystal clear (for composite). Nothing else had this dramatic of an effect, not turning off the lights, not turning off other equipment, this was the only thing that did it.

Then I discovered something else at the same time. I was trying different composite cables from the Atari to the Framemeister and temporarily unplugged the audio cables, and the picture quality went through the floor, it was terrible. When I plugged back in the audio cables, it was much better. I thought this was incredibly strange!

 

Then I remembered about the internal soldering that I did when I modded the system. All three output connectors were soldered together to a common ground inside the console. THIS IS A GROUNDING ISSUE!!

Because we're so close to tomorrow's big Champ Games reveal I don't dare touch what's working right now in case it all stops working but I will be opening up this case and getting my soldering iron hot very soon.

Edited by ZeroPage Homebrew
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When I recently upgraded to Al's s-video modded VCS the picture had less interference but not none. I then re-arranged the power situation in terms of where things plug in relation to other things and that cleared up the interference completely. I think it was a ground loop issue plus an issue with my composite modded VCS.  Either way, the problem is currently solved and there's extremely clean output now as you can see in the past two broadcasts! Hooray!

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For the first show back on Friday I revamped the layout and look of the stream, mostly concentrating on uniformity in the looks across all the different 'scenes'.

 

- I moved the 'CatCam' to the lower left across all scenes so that it stays in the same position no matter what. Much easier for people to keep track of.

- Changed the lower left graphic from ZeroPage Homebrew to just ZPH as the full title is everywhere already, much cleaner. Plus, I added the cats to it.

- I removed the social media graphic at the bottom middle, enabling me to increase the size of the gaming screen! There's an @zeropagehomebrew under the new ZPH graphic

- Checked the scaling options on all the graphics to make sure they're being resized with the optimized resampling method.

 

Yesterday I worked on streaming tech a bit more because I was disappointed that I wasn't able to get my new 4K HDR webcam working as the new CatCam for the first show back. It was completely cutting out both the camera feed and the 2600 feed whenever I tried. I found out that the drivers were a little outdated, so I updated them. That helped a LOT but was still interfering with 2600 feed. I played around some more and found that setting the CatCam to 720P stabilized the picture and now it's up and running! I think it's either a driver a USB 3 bandwidth issue. This new camera will come into play next episode as I have a bit of show and tell of all the streaming equipment.

 

I cleaned up the cabling A LOT yesterday as well thanks in part to the new USB3 hub that arrived during the stream. It reduced the number of wires going to the computer from all the capture devices from three to just one. It looks a lot cleaner now.

 

I also separated the local recording compression method in OBS to utilize the GPU on my video card, reducing the load on the CPU to concentrate on just the stream compression. This will result in an increase in quality for both of them. The GPU compression is a new option in OBS I didn't know about until coming across it in an OBS tutorial on a different topic.

 

On side note, I'm also transitioning all the graphics across all social media platforms to be more uniform with the ZPH's updated logos. I've already updated the signature and my thumbnail on the AA forums as you can see to the left and below. It actually reduced the size of my sig and it's now much more bright and interesting!

 

I changed the name of this thread as well to make it the place where I talk about tech updates to the stream.

 

- James

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Streaming Issues!!

 

I had to set yesterday's stream to quite a low setting (750kbps instead of 3Mbps) because my upstream was very spotty and also jumping between 3-5Mbps when it should normally be a blazing 15Mbps!! This resulted in a "watchable" stream except when there was a lot of movement, such as the equipment tour. I definitely prefer watchable over cutting out, nobody wants to watch something cutting out ever few seconds.

 

So today I did a webchat with my ISP today and showed them the below graph where my the speed has been terrible for the past few days.

 

846479028_20201021-ShawSpeedtestUpload01.thumb.jpg.93a7054750d12d3304b7ea4d33d072ca.jpg

 

They ask me a bunch of things I already tried in order to fix it (unplugging the modem, connecting directly, trying another computer etc..). Then they asked if I could try the speed test on their page, which makes sense as it removes any possible outside network issues. It came back with 15Mbps upload speeds. WTF?

 

Okay, then I try my normal speedtest page and .... 15Mbps? WTF? I told them that it's showing all good now and they told me that they didn't do anything on their end (hmm...) and to keep monitoring it. So far, hours later, it's still perfect at 15Mbps.

 

So the lesson here is, if the speeds are bad before a show, call the ISP and they'll "do nothing" and then the speeds will magically correct themselves! MAGIC! 🙂

 

Luckily I record the show locally in high quality and uploaded the YouTube versions always look good as a result. 🙂

 

- James

Edited by ZeroPage Homebrew

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You are not the first one to experience this kind of "magic".

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Just tested out the wireless bluetooth earbuds for some upcoming streams so we don't have to deal with echo 'feedback' in the studio. Myself and my co-host with each be able to have one each so we can hear the guests that come on the stream. This will improve the quality of the audio immensely as I won't have to find a balance between hearing the guest and not having the guest's voice come back into our mic .5 secs later.

 

- James

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I now have the 7800 SVideo mod in hand and on the way are:

  • Concerto Cart
  • Ballblazer cartridge (for Pokey chip)

I already own a loose Ballblazer plus a sealed Ballblazer box, both of which I didn't really want to destroy to use the Pokey chip for the new Concerto cart. I was able to find a PAL copy in a crushed box on EBay for $42.90USD (shipped) so I was pretty happy about that.

 

I now need to install the svideo mod in one of my 7800 consoles but need to buy some connectors, most importantly a female svideo connector. The mod doesn't look too terrible to install, about a dozen or so solder points, so it should go fairly well, hopefully...

 

- James

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Looking forward to this Friday where we'll be interviewing John Champeau @johnnywc for his Developer Spotlight. We'll be using the new wireless earbuds which will solve a lot of volume issues, both for us to hear the guest and also for the audience to not get double audio from the guest (coming from the speakers back into our mic).

 

I'll be doing a test of that tonight or tomorrow to make sure it's all working end to end. If this works out well it will enable us to have a lot more guest/audience interaction.

 

- James

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The complete test was successfully conducted tonight with all the components in place! I had the laptop connected up to the video capture for John's interview and the wireless earbuds hearing the sound from the laptop. There's a very short delay in the audio from the interview laptop but this is only local because of the bluetooth so it won't be noticeable by the audience.

 

Before the sound was coming through the studio speakers and back into the microphone making for annoying doubling up of the guests voice, now the audience will only hear them once.

 

The route for the guest voice is now:

Guest -> Microphone -> Video Conferencing Software -> Internet -> Video Conferencing Software -> HDMI Out -> HDMI Capture -> USB In -> OBS -> HDMI Out -> Stereo Amplifier -> Analogue Audio Out -> Bluetooth Transmitter -> Bluetooth Earbuds -> My ears!

 

Four video feeds were coming into OBS at the same time, all arranged nicely on the screen:

  • Interview Laptop video conference
  • Webcam (Catcam)
  • Studio Camera
  • Atari 2600 output Capture

There was a slight bit of noise from somewhere that I need to isolate, I think it was just because I was so far away from the studio microphone, but I'll work on that tomorrow to eliminate or reduce it.

 

- James

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The Concerto Cart has arrived and I'm waiting on my Ballblazer cart to arrive (ETA is any day now) for a donor Pokey chip. I also need to mod my 7800 for SVideo to show it off in the highest quality possible.

 

I've been busy getting ready for the Champ Games developer spotlight tomorrow so I should have some time on the weekend to start the soldering!

 

- James

 

DSC00073-altered.thumb.jpg.97229562e1533c4cedced5cbb94d0cd3.jpg

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It looks like the "Atari Lightgun" I won on Ebay and showed on the stream a few shows ago is definitely a Famiclone gun of the "Panther" variety. I did some searching and found the exact same model on a website that talks about these types of lightguns. The EBay description said: "This listing is for one (1) Atari Light gun. I believe this is compatible with the 2600 since it has the 9-pin connection. I have not tested this, so selling as-is until I can find a working Atari console."

 

Oh well, I will be only searching for an Atari XG-1 light gun from now on so that I know that it'll be compatible with the 2600, 7800, XEGS. 😕

 

- James

 

Photo from EBay (the lightgun I won):

 

https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/FhMAAOSw-e1f0t3r/s-l1600.jpg

 

Photo from the Famiclone site:

 

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2I94rQZqbsI/U5iLHfUjsmI/AAAAAAAAANE/gdr3u_cseI0/s1600/Panther.png

 

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Can't you convert it? Like a Sega Light Phaser?

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I didn't do it myself (@Tigerduck did it), so I cannot help. But the former looks familiar.

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23 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

Sadly that link says that "Nintendo’s Zapper works on a simpler principle than their Atari and Sega counterparts". Looks like PacManPlus tried to do exactly what we're proposing and destroyed two guns on the process. I can't seem to find any other attempts other than people saying it can't be done.

 

Looks like I should keep looking for an official Atari one or convert a Sega lightgun if I want to save some money and try my hand at some electronics.

 

- James

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Oh man, just finished doing the audio recording of all 84 (14x6) nominee names and categories with Tanya and preparing the same number of graphics and titles for the Awards presentation videos, phew! Also recorded a lot of the gaming footage for the videos and prepared the layout. Tomorrow I'll be recording the rest of the gaming footage and putting it all together.

 

- James

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Edladdin just posted they have finished constructing my new Super Twin 78 Controller, the first one out of their shop with the new Smoke and Purple gem balltops! Can't wait to have it in the studio so I can play Atari 7800 games without destroying my hands on the 'Painline' controllers. PLUS it's a twin stick so I'll also be able to play RobotWar:2684 the way it was meant to be playing with two arcade twin sticks!

 

- James

 

143857348_2903420149936198_6804566794682366571_n.thumb.jpg.14b05ae10438f270719b0d23ebd26da2.jpg145052874_2903420133269533_5217307321656150879_n.thumb.jpg.a07910a820956afd137f35bca81a6f61.jpg145678938_2903420186602861_7389093299136352651_n.thumb.jpg.6eb11705099e71ee6be562dc75a47d54.jpg

Edited by ZeroPage Homebrew

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When I streamed the Awards last Saturday I set the stream to 30fps as we weren't streaming (much) game footage. Last night when I switched back to 60fps I actually set it to 59.94fps which matches the framerate that the Framemeister passes from the 2600. I was surprised at the increased stability of the picture with demanding games like Champ Games' new Lady Bug Arcade where the maze is completely constructed from flickering 30Hz playfield! I wasn't sure that Twitch or YouTube could handle the non-exact 60fps but they were both fine with it.

 

Definitely watch it on YouTube (see below, make sure you set it to 60fps) rather than Twitch as YouTube seems to be able to handle the flicker much better. The picture is pretty much rock solid compared to previous broadcasts at 60fps. This is a great step forward in the look of the ZPH stream! 🙂


- James

 

 

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The fight continues against video interference! I was able to find at least a temporary solution to the problem.

 

I ran an extension cord for the camera to the hallway but that didn't work, still video interference on both the 2600 & 7800. I then ran it even further to another room and (PHEW!) it finally went away and resulted in a clear picture! This is not an ideal solution running cabling around the house but it'll have to do for now. I'm guessing the hallway is on the same circuit as the broadcast office?

 

I have no idea how this was all set up to produce a clear picture before I moved everything upstairs for AtariAge Day but no matter what I do within the broadcast studio I can't get rid of the video interference. The fact that the interference happens on both the 2600 and 7800 makes me believe it's not either of those systems, I think it's just the simple fact that everything is plugged into the same circuit interfering with each other.

 

- James

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Have you considered adding a line conditioner to your power? A UPS with true sine wave output could also help (I tend to favor CyberPower).

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Excellent suggestion! I just bought a line conditioner so hopefully that will help with the noise. We'll find out when it arrives! 🙂

 

- James

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New modem has arrived, I now have 1000Mbps Down/100Mbps Up! I can't find a speed test fast enough to go all the way to 1Gbps though...

 

- James

 

image.thumb.png.af9113e7b0a9ed5c01342851104c5706.png

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Isn't the bandwidth an "up to"? In Germany this means that at least 2/3rd of the advertised bandwidth have to be provided.

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5 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Isn't the bandwidth an "up to"? In Germany this means that at least 2/3rd of the advertised bandwidth have to be provided.

Very true, they do say "up to" and it might also be my internal equipment limiting the speeds as well (network card, cabling etc..).  Either way, 600+ Mbps is WAY more than I need and I actually upgraded for the massive boost from 15Mbps to 100Mbps as I do a lot of large uploading.

 

- James

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6 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Isn't the bandwidth an "up to"?

It sounds better in marketing materials than "if you're lucky".

44 minutes ago, ZeroPage Homebrew said:

Very true, they do say "up to" and it might also be my internal equipment limiting the speeds as well (network card, cabling etc..). 

My apartment building is my limiting factor. They're using the original 30+ year-old phone lines as twisted pair. I'm lucky I can get anything. My upload speeds are effectively unusable.

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