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ZPH Streaming & Hardware Updates

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23 minutes ago, Nathan Strum said:

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.

Must be your cables then. Over here is it is normal to use these cables (even much older ones!) and get 100/40 MBits/s. 

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I've been investigating an issue I've been having with the various capture devices cutting out or not working sometimes and I think I've finally figured it out.

 

I've found out (much too late) that the maximum length of a USB 3 cable is about 9'10" (3 meters) and I've been extending some of my USB 3 cables out to about 12'!! I'm actually amazed that they've worked as well as they have in fact. I've now bought a USB 3 "Active USB Extension Cable" which was recommended in the previous link for lengthening your USB connections and it arrived today. I plugged it in and BOOM, everything worked right out of the gate, no need to disconnect and reconnect over and over. Phew! One problem solved.

 

The next problem I need to tackle is the computer has crashed in the past two shows, blue screen crashes. This MAY have something to do with the USB connector but I doubt it. The first thing I'm going to do it take apart the computer and clean out all the dust and then after that I'm going to put it under normal broadcast load and watch the temperatures of all the components.

 

- James

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22 hours ago, ZeroPage Homebrew said:

I plugged it in and BOOM, everything worked right out of the gate, no need to disconnect and reconnect over and over. Phew! One problem solved.

Just a followup from yesterday... we did a 90 min broadcast last night using the new setup and it went so incredibly smooth with the shorter USB 3 cables and the new Active USB extension! No problem whatsoever getting all the inputs working immediately. It was like magic!

 

The computer also didn't crash or give any trouble during the broadcast but we also didn't have the extra input from the video chat. We'll try that out on the next broadcast by having Pixel conference in from upstairs to give us his input on how things are going, hahah.

 

Still waiting on the shipping of the power conditioner to try it out but it doesn't arrive until June 12th so in the mean time I'll continue to plug the camera into another room's outlet.

 

- James

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Another issue has been fixed, my fill light that reflects off the ceiling wasn't working for the longest time and I thought I'd have to open it up and do some repairs. It was powering on only 1/30 times you flick the switch, the digital readout was flickery and sometimes the power brick didn't have the light on. What I did was replace the three prong power cable and BOOM it's all working again. It was a standard C5 power cable so I had a few in my cable storage. I never thought that a cable could deliver only partial/reduced power?

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/419G3XeSTML._AC_.jpg

 

During the break I also took the opportunity to do some cable management behind my computer desk and mount some speakers on the wall. There's so much room now on and under my desk, what an amazing difference!

 

I've also been working on a whole new set of different layouts and graphics for when the show returns to streaming again.

 

- James

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Posted (edited)

HELP! Today I did more video interference troubleshooting and I've narrowed down the issue but I'm getting desperate for help on this as it's driving me crazy.

 

My "EMI/RFI filtration" power bar showed up today and it didn't solve the issue at all. So this got me pulling cabling and trying different combinations to get rid of the video interference that has been showing up on the video capture with the 2600 and 7800. See the two screenshots below for examples of what the interference looks like. It's groups of wavy lines and dots that slowly move upward.

 

Without Interference

image.thumb.png.9408a90ab64c075a12c28f88e6bc295e.png

 

With Interference (NOTE: Interference has been exaggerated a bit for visibility, click for a better look at it)

image.thumb.png.e729623e65d4d1a8eddca84060c30303.png

 

 

So... what causes these lines? In short, it's the videocamera, no other device in my setup makes this mess on the screen. Without the videocamera plugged in and turned on there is no interference, both the Atari 2600 and 7800 are crystal clear and look amazing! With the videocamera plugged in and turned on, there are these terrible wavy lines.

 

So what gets rid of the lines? Any one of the following:

  • Turning off the videocamera
  • Unplugging the output of the videocamera at any point along the system: the HDMI connector on the camera, the HDMI connector on the capture device, the USB output on the game capture device, the USB cable from the powered hub
  • Unplugging the game capture device from the Framemeister
  • Disconnecting the HDMI output from the game capture device
  • Plugging the game capture device directly to the computer (bypassing POWERED USB Hub)
  • Plugging the camera capture device directly to the computer (bypassing POWERED USB Hub)
  • Plugging the camera power into another room/circuit

So what is the setup of my equipment?

 

ZeroPage Homebrew Video Setup:

Game: RGB Modded Atari 2600 Light-Sixer & SVideo Modded Atari 7800 -> Framemeister -> HD60S -> Powered Hub -> Computer

Video: Sony A7Sii (Main Cam) -> HD60 -> Powered Hub -> Computer USB Port

Video2: Logitech Brio (Cat Cam) -> Powered Hub -> Computer USB Port

Video3: Camlink 4K (Interviews) -> Computer USB Port

 

Other Equipment:

Audio: AKG C214 -> Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro -> Line In on Computer

Lighting: Dracast Led500 S-Series Daylight Led 3-Light Kit

 

 

SO... The solutions are:
 

1) Plug at least ONE of the USB data cables from either the camera capture device or the game capture device DIRECTLY into the computer

2) Power the video camera from another circuit in the house.

 

Does this indicated a possible power ground loop between the camera and all the other devices? I don't know enough about electronics to declare this the problem but it seems to point to it. I found something else that may be irrelevant but it seems that USB 3 cables can cause interference, but that wouldn't explain the problem going away when I plug the camera power into another electrical circuit.

 

Any help or troubleshooting would be greatly appreciated!!

 

- James

 

 

Edited by ZeroPage Homebrew

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I'd blame the power supply for the powered USB hub. Power supplies love being noisy.

 

What sort of HDMI cables are you using? Are they crossing any power cables?

 

If you haven't, you might trying an active HDMI cable. I've had very good results with these, especially for long runs.

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Is the interference static? Or does it change?

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21 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

I'd blame the power supply for the powered USB hub. Power supplies love being noisy.

I tried plugging the USB hub with an extension cable into another room but that didn't clear up the issue. I moved the power wire away from all other wires as well and that didn't clear it up.

 

21 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

What sort of HDMI cables are you using? Are they crossing any power cables?

If you haven't, you might trying an active HDMI cable. I've had very good results with these, especially for long runs.

Extremely cheap HDMI cables. I moved all the HDMI cables away from the other cables and it didn't affect the noise at all.

 

I don't think it's interference through the air because as soon as I plug one of the USB cables, either the camera or the video game capture device in, the noise comes back.

 

17 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Is the interference static? Or does it change?

The interference is band of wobbly noisy lines with sparkles of static about 1/5 of the screen high slowly moving up the screen.

 

 

UPDATE:

 

I tried running the camera on batteries and ALL THE INTERFERENCE WENT AWAY! This falls in line with me plugging the camera into another power circuit in the house and the noise going away as well. This strengthens my suspicion that the camera being plugged into the same power circuit as the rest of the equipment is introducing noise.

 

Looking through my notes on the power supply for the camera it appears that it's not an 'official' Sony power supply, the price difference being $25 for the one I bought vs $165 for the official one. The noise may be coming from a cheap knockoff power supply for the camera?

 

A couple of possibilities now:

 

1) Run the power for the camera from another room during the show as I've been doing. Not elegant but it's fairly easy to do.

2) Run the camera on batteries. This is a TERRIBLE solution as I'd have to changing batteries mid-show and then constantly charging them.

3) Buy an official Sony power supply for the camera and hope that it doesn't also cause interference. A possibly pointless and expensive purchase, I'd probably rather plug the one I have into the other room as I've been doing.

4) Find a solution to have the camera plugged in the studio and not interfere with the equipment in the room. I thought that buying the SS-6B Furman EMI/RFI filtration power strip would be enough but either it doesn't do what it says or I'm barking up the wrong tree in terms of the equipment, or quality of equipment, I need.

 

Thoughts?

 

- James

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24 minutes ago, ZeroPage Homebrew said:

Looking through my notes on the power supply for the camera it appears that it's not an 'official' Sony power supply, the price difference being $25 for the one I bought vs $165 for the official one. The noise may be coming from a cheap knockoff power supply for the camera?

This isn't likely to make much difference. As I told you on FB, I have the same issue with this in regards to audio from my Mic when using it plugged into the camera itself. And the only way I can avoid the loud electrical hum is to either use the camera on battery power or use my bluetooth mic setup that attaches to the accessory shoe at the top.

 

My camera is also a Sony and I'm using the official sony branded power supply it came with and have this buzzing in the audio.

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Posted (edited)
Quote

The noise may be coming from a cheap knockoff power supply for the camera?

Oh yea - a cheap switched mode power supply will generate a ton of RF interference.

 

The solution is to use a more expensive one OR just use a linear power supply instead (i.e. an old school wall wart - assuming you can find one with the correct voltage, polarity, etc).

 

Edited by Ben_Larson
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On 6/5/2021 at 6:13 PM, Ben_Larson said:

Oh yea - a cheap switched mode power supply will generate a ton of RF interference.

I'm almost certain that this is the case. I'll continue to run the power for the camera from another room as it's a free solution and works all the time. 🙂

 

- James

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New video intro and screen layout is done and ready for this Friday's return to broadcasting ZPH!

 

- James

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Well that was fun... 😞

 

Yesterday I was doing some troubleshooting on my DAS which was causing randoms bluescreens which led me down the garden path to updating my motherboard bios. After the update the BIOS wouldn't recognize my raid 0 dual m.2 boot drive and I gave up last night leaving my computer unbootable.

 

This morning I finally figured out the issue, reinstalled Windows and I'm back online again. The first website I go to is AtariAge of course.. ;-)  The problem is that my OS drive had to be formatted and I have to set EVERYTHING up again as all my settings have been lost for broadcasting. Luckily none of my data is lost but it'll be a close call getting it all set up again for Friday.

 

Wish me luck!

 

- James

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Great news, today I was able to reinstall all the drivers for the capture hardware, set up OBS and do a 2.5 hour recording of a game I'm beta testing and everything ran smoothly! We're on track for Friday's return broadcast, phew! I just need to set up OBS a tiny bit more and do a couple of tweaks but we're good to go, crisis averted.

 

- James

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We weren't able to use the third light in our broadcast lighting setup for the show yesterday because it started acting up again. It had been working for a few weeks without a problem but it wasn't turning on last night. It had already been a problem for months off and on. I'd turn the light on and the display on the back of the unit would flicker in and out and sometimes it would turn on and work if I smacked it, but not always.

 

So I was fed up with it and thought by opening it up I'd be able to easily see what the problem was. I didn't have high hopes as these things are not usually something I can diagnose easily. This time was different, I saw the problem right away! I was checking all the wiring going to the PCB and one of the black wires was not soldered to the board AT ALL (or was poorly soldered)! It was hanging loose and sometimes making contact. I plugged the light in and held the wire against the board and boom, turned on perfectly.

 

So I got out the soldering iron, soldered the wire and now it turns on every time. So easy I should have done it a long time ago! Of course it has a warning sticker on the back of the light that says the warranty is void if you open it up but it would have cost me probably $50 just for shipping let alone repairs if it was out of warranty.

 

Problem solved.

 

- James

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Issue: Poor capture on 30Hz flicker effects on the Atari 2600. This seems to have got worse since the recent computer crash but I may be wrong as I do remember the capture before the crash also flickered a fair amount. It'll be fine for 5-10+ seconds and then it'll start flickering. See below video for an example of the weird flicker, make sure to set it to 1080P60. If it's set to 30fps it'll just drop every second frame, which is also an interesting effect and shows when it actually flips frames to the "odd/even" frame.

 

Symptoms: Frames will be repeated/missed resulting in a 2-3 frame frozen-screen visual effect. This is easily seen when looking at the Harmony Cart menu which uses a 30Hz flicker effect for the text. It's also very visible in the bricks/animals in Zoo Keeper, which we played recently and prompted me to look into the issue.

 

What I've Tried:

- The Atari 2600 RGB/Component signal goes through the Framemeister and into the Elgato HD60S into OBS via USB3 for capturing/compressing/streaming. The output directly from the Framemeister via HDMI to the TV and also through the passthrough port on the Elgato to the TV look absolutely perfect when we play games, no dropped/repeated frames at all. This eliminates the 2600 and Framemeister from being the problem.

- I've also checked the capture output with the software that comes with the Elgato and it also displays the same visual issue as I see on OBS, so that eliminates OBS as the issue.

- I've tried my two other Elgato devices, the HD60 and the CamLink 4K and both exhibit the exact same flicker issue. This points to either an Elgato issue or a computer/driver issue.

- I have all the most up to date drivers and PLENTY of overhead on the CPU/GPU. I've tried multiple USB3 ports on the computer as well, all show the same issue.

- I've tried it on my laptop and it shows the exact same issue as well, which points to an Elgato issue. 😕

 

Notes: Capturing footage from an Atari 2600 is not easy, in fact I bet it's one of the hardest systems to capture video from since the console can completely control the video output resulting in a non-standard display (many classic 2600 games violate the recommended standards in the Stella Programmers Guide). Also, capture devices are not expecting 30Hz 'interlace type' output trickery like what is happening on the Atari 2600 and the system was really meant to be hooked up to a CRT with phosphor die-off etc. The 30Hz flicker is also a fairly unique thing (yes, a similar thing does happen on other consoles like the NES when there aren't enough sprites) and these capture devices are geared more toward XBox/PSX's with full screen, full motion graphics where a repeated frame here would be incredibly hard to notice.

 

Given all that, the Framemeister is doing an incredible job massaging the output into a very steady 1080P60 signal that is displayed perfectly on a relatively new 46" LCD TV without any issues. It's only once it gets into the video capture hardware is when the issues start happening.

 

The problem, is that I don't have a non-Elgato video capture device on hand to test my hypothesis and decent new ones are in the $300+ range. Luckily/ironically Game Sack just did a 36min episode on game capture devices. Of course they didn't feature capturing video output from an Atari 2600, only a handful of us are foolish enough to try to do that! 🙂 I may have to bite the bullet and buy ANOTHER capture device that I didn't expect to buy as this is driving me crazy.

 

- James

 

(SET TO 1080P60FPS!)

 

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Do you have any idea why this is happening? Maybe because 262 lines are not 100% identical to a NTSC signal? It has 525 lines interlaced, with 29,97Hz frames per seconds.

 

Also it would be interesting to find out if this can be fixed by software. E.g. the length of the VSYNC signal created.

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On 7/8/2021 at 10:30 PM, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Do you have any idea why this is happening? Maybe because 262 lines are not 100% identical to a NTSC signal? It has 525 lines interlaced, with 29,97Hz frames per seconds.

 

Also it would be interesting to find out if this can be fixed by software. E.g. the length of the VSYNC signal created.

 

I'm not sure why it's happening, the Framemeister outputs a very solid upscaled 1080P60 signal and it looks absolutely great on my LCD screen with zero flicker issues. The Harmony Encore menu and Zoo Keeper look incredible with no visual problems.

 

It's definitely something either in the capture hardware and/or capture software as I've eliminated all other possibilities through my troubleshooting above. I'll probably end up buying an additional capture device just to try to get rid of it. It's super annoying and would make the stream look so much better without the issue.

 

It's just such a specific use case with the Atari 2600 where the hardware has to precisely capture 60 individual distinct full frames of video. Most software, hardware and video compression is geared towards detecting changes between the frames of video.

 

- James

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Hooray, I got notification that my RetroTINK 5X-Pro shipped yesterday! They must have heard me talking about it on the stream last night. ;-) I'm REALLY hoping that this solves the issue of having to reset the hardware video encoder with the Atari 7800 (don't have to do it with the 2600) every time I turn it off and on to switch games.

 

- James

 

image.thumb.png.1ff8e5cca1e2cd97af7acd61032613a6.png

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My RetroTINK 5X-Pro is now on the move! The ETA is about two weeks away... very exciting! I know this likely won't solve the intermittent 30Hz flickering issue (there's a low chance that it might) but it should at least solve the reset issue. Once that is out of the way I can move on to getting a better video encoder to work on the flickering issue.

 

- James

 

image.thumb.png.1a42352a4820c575f1dbb11a8d07438a.png

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Atari XEGS update...

 

So last night on the show we played three Atari 8-Bit games including a homebrew called RGB which relied HEAVILY on colours to determine which robots you shoot. We were having quite a bit of trouble figuring out the colour combinations in the game and it wasn't until afterwards that it was pointed out in the forum that my XEGS was outputting extremely different colours than it should be!

 

Here is the title screen in the Altirra emulator (left) and a screencap of the title screen on my XEGS (right). You can clearly see that the RGB are not Red Green and Blue on my system, more like PMG, Pink Mustard Green!

 

image.png.f5a2b6b51a0e3b9dc81f4cef45ecc34e.thumb.png.346bfece3bcb5b7cde3e7aedd6f74d2a.png  before.thumb.png.5f446df2e2cbfe6b90f89f98516028fe.png

 

 

So I opened up my XEGS and adjusted the colour potentiometer (circled in red).

 

PXL_20210815_040934889.thumb.jpg.f005763a23e4581732f49f5012c61064.jpg image.thumb.png.55f772adf82fbb142a44317b86a97c11.png

 

 

I turned the potentiometer until the colours matched what I was seeing with the Altirra emulator (left) to what I was seeing on screen (right) for a colour bar generator program I found. Well, as close as I could get them, everything was a touch off but what can you expect from composite out and one dial to work with.

 

colourbars-altirra.thumb.jpg.bcbb7d4696ee31c489511f65344b0cbe.jpg  colourbars-xegs.thumb.jpg.a40f493d9ddeae92f0860622200e5638.jpg

 

 

I then loaded back up the RGB game that started the whole journey of fixing the colours. Here are the comparison results of Altirra (left) and my newly adjusted XEGS (right). The green is a touch lighter than in emulation but the red and blue are spot on, perfection will have to wait until the video mod upgrade! Now I can play XEGS with at least the correct colours, phew! Even the "PAL" version of Bosconian I played after RGB on the show looks correct, yellow alert was showing up as pink and now it shows up as yellow! It looks so good!

 

- James

 

image.png.f5a2b6b51a0e3b9dc81f4cef45ecc34e.thumb.png.346bfece3bcb5b7cde3e7aedd6f74d2a.png  rgb-xegs-after.thumb.jpg.a39c6d3863f121a69640107905d3ac34.jpg

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Ugh bad news for my XEGS! 😞

 

No description available.

 

No matter what cart I put in, it only boots to the Memory Test and gives a failing grade to the ROM in the machine! 😞 I've read a number of threads about this and they all say that the ROM needs to be either reseated (if it's socketed and there was a comment that they were NOT socketed on the XEGS) or replaced. I do not have the skills or tools (or ROM) to replace the bad ROM on the XEGS.

 

That's terrible news for 8-bit gaming on the stream for the next little while unless it magically corrects itself.

 

- James

 

EDIT: Looking at the photos I took while adjusting the colour on my XEGS, the ROM/OS chip (if this is the problem chip) looks to be soldered on the board for sure. Best Electronics sells this chip for $12 but it's definitely beyond my abilities to replace it.

 

image.thumb.png.00471e9c2b29a7e4c3ee87c852e9d501.png

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So to follow up with my bad news for the XEGS... I now have an Atari 800XL and an Atari 65XE!!! Also, the Atari 800XL already has a UAV s-video upgrade installed and I've ordered a 5-pin s-video/composite/audio output cable and a 5V USB power cable as well for it. It already looks quite nice just on the composite output.

 

They both work great and I've discovered that it *WAS* my XEGS that was the problem with A.D.A.M. Is Me playthrough the other week. I also got a FujiNet adapter with the bundle and have configured it for my network, what a great device. I was planning on ordering one eventually but no need now!

 

So on Tuesday's show we'll be using my new 800XL for the stream as I love the top loading cart slot on it. Hooray!

 

image.thumb.png.d30fefaee4ddb31747ed4d523b2ccfef.png

 

- James

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On 8/30/2021 at 3:23 AM, ZeroPage Homebrew said:

...it's definitely beyond my abilities to replace it.

No one around who might help you? The XEGS looks so much cooler than the 8-Bit (Pixel will agree here).

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch
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4 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

No one around who might help you? The XEGS looks so much cooler than the 8-Bit (Pixel will agree here).

I found someone locally who will be able to help me out with it! 🙂  I do like the look of the XEGS and I'm going to order a keyboard extender as well so it'll probably work out better in the end if I use the XEGS for gaming on the show if I can get it successfully repaired and then upgraded with the SOPHIA 2 DVI mod.

 

- James

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