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CommodoreDecker

To mod or not to mod?

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(this might be a thread that, like the horse at the glue factory, has been whipped to death... my apologies if that's the case...)

 

As much as I adore the composite modification one can employ, assuming one removes all the proper resisters and solders in the new wires correctly (I still need to fix the audio disparity on mine between POKEY and TIA), does anyone still find charm in using the one official connection method it was designed with?  Grainy and fuzzy or not, it does soften the blocky edges. 

 

Even for other systems (SNES, etc), I find myself using composite or RF and not doing HDMI hackery as the end result may look sharper but is counterbalanced by looking worse and more blocky. Dithering too loses some luster.

 

That said, as the 2600 has 2 channel sound and modifying it accordingly has yielded some spectacular results in the stereo age. At least for many games bur before I meander even more, is there a mod for the 7800 that will separate TIA sound channels?  Could a mod that takes 4-channel POKEY sound and "stereo-ize" it be done? (Okay, that's probably too niche an idea...)

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The NTSC TIA still has 2 channels and yes you can seaparate them out. However, the Pokey only has 1 audio out channel pin on the IC chip. So while the Pokey may have 4 internal channels of sound or voices, they all come out of 1 pin only on the chip itself.

 

Some have done the standard 2600 stereo mod to separate the TIA audio and then hard pan the pokey output to either the left or the right. I personally have never been a fan of the stereo mod on the 2600/7800 consoles so I wire them up in dual mono to Left/Right outputs. The Pokey is able to be properly blended in this way as well just like it was to the original RF modulator.

 

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RF on both my 7800's is (was!) terrible. Fuzzy, prone to interference and just all-around gross. I put a UAV into my daily-driver and adore it. I don't like S-video generally for my retro-game systems so I just mounted a jack for composite video and mono audio - to me that gives me the best experience for my personal enjoyment. :) 

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Yeah, I thought I was going to be OK with the RF on the 7800. I mean, the RF on my Intellivision and on my heavy sixer are fine. But no, the RF on the 7800 is different in all sorts of shitty ways day to day. It's just garbage...which is exactly why I am having it modded soon for composite. I just can't deal with it anymore to be honest.

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7 minutes ago, eightbit said:

Yeah, I thought I was going to be OK with the RF on the 7800. I mean, the RF on my Intellivision and on my heavy sixer are fine. But no, the RF on the 7800 is different in all sorts of shitty ways day to day. It's just garbage...which is exactly why I am having it modded soon for composite. I just can't deal with it anymore to be honest.

 

You will notice a MAJOR improvement over RF even with a simple composite mod.

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Just now, Shawn said:

 

You will notice a MAJOR improvement over RF even with a simple composite mod.

I believe it. The 5200 you sold me that is composite modded is like the 5200 Gods came down from the skies and have given be sight beyond sight! If that is any indication of how things are I think a composite modded 7800 will blow me away ;)

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I don't remember. . . it's been a long time. . . but I think I replaced the stock RF cable on my old 7800 with a double-shielded coaxial cable running into a female coaxial adapter on the TV; that seemed to clear up image quality pretty well.  I noticed the 2600 was also very susceptible to this RF interference at times.  I seldom notice it on the 5200, but I think the stock cables for this system were a little thicker/better insulated.

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The UAV does S-Video right?  Can't one wire up an Atari XE/C64 style 5-pin DIN port with the UAV?  Then make use of the same cables as you might have for those computers.  Or would it have to be an 8-pin DIN?

Edited by Greg2600

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17 hours ago, Greg2600 said:

The UAV does S-Video right?  Can't one wire up an Atari XE/C64 style 5-pin DIN port with the UAV?  Then make use of the same cables as you might have for those computers.  Or would it have to be an 8-pin DIN?

The UAV provides three output signals, plus the ground. Composite, Chroma and Luma. You can wire up whatever output connector(s) you want: RCA jacks, S-video mini-DIN, 5-pin DIN, etc. The only complication is where you plan to install the connectors and how to run the wiring for whatever you choose.

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12 hours ago, DrVenkman said:

The UAV provides three output signals, plus the ground. Composite, Chroma and Luma. You can wire up whatever output connector(s) you want: RCA jacks, S-video mini-DIN, 5-pin DIN, etc. The only complication is where you plan to install the connectors and how to run the wiring for whatever you choose.

Thanks!  I did extensive googling yesterday (same conclusion) mainly to see what's out there in terms of DIN ports.  My preference would be a socketed port that has a ring to lock into place through whatever hole I make.  Kinda makes more sense for me personally to wire to an 8-pin since I've already got s-video cables for the Commodore 64.  However, there's not much selection on those, far more on the 5-pin perhaps due to it's usage as a MIDI port.  That would match up to the Atari XE, though I'd have to get another cable.

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I just use a standard 4-pin s-video panel mount jack on my 7800 s-video installs. The cable can be had easily and converted easily as well. But I can understand wanting to use an output jack that matches the 8-bit line if you already have cables in place for that.

 

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So I have a composite modded and a standard 7800...oddly (compared to community reaction) I always found the RF on my 7800 very GOOD (better than any other RF system I own, including Coleco, Intellivision, and my 2600) and while composite does make some games look a lot nicer....part of me really misses some of the ghosting when playing Joust.

 

There is just something about playing Joust on RF in the dark while that ostrich arcs across the black screen, leaving a phosphorescent trails behind it. Those trails remind me of being a kid...for multiple reasons!

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I always go mod myself. Not sure if the Tim Worthington component/RGB mod works on the 7800, but it’s the cleanest output I’ve ever seen come out of an Atari home console.

 

I detest RF in any form. My eyes always tell my brain that the colors are dull and the pixels are not sharp enough.

 

Ofcourse I also like current games at 2560x1440 at 165hz. So I have a problem with things needing to look good and run as smooth as possible.

 

 

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Pimp that 7800 out like it owes you money! :grin:
 


Depending on how far you push it with mods you can owe some money. I remember when I had my first 7800 Svideo modded by Joe at Electronicsentimentalities a few years ago. I was amazed at the difference.

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RF on my Heavy and Light Sixer are both great; RF on my 4-port 5200 was excellent as well. But my 7800's, my 2-port 5200 and all my 4-switch 2600's are not good at all. The 7800's are (were!) the worst of the lot. Zero qualms here about the mods I've done on any of them. :)

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18 hours ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

I just use a standard 4-pin s-video panel mount jack on my 7800 s-video installs. The cable can be had easily and converted easily as well. But I can understand wanting to use an output jack that matches the 8-bit line if you already have cables in place for that.

 

definitely doable, idk, it's a personal peeve that i simply cannot have a console that uses more than one AV jack!  damn you 3DO!  my RF stuff was modded to use a TRRS single jack for composite.

5 hours ago, GoldenWheels said:

So I have a composite modded and a standard 7800...oddly (compared to community reaction) I always found the RF on my 7800 very GOOD (better than any other RF system I own, including Coleco, Intellivision, and my 2600) and while composite does make some games look a lot nicer....part of me really misses some of the ghosting when playing Joust.

 

There is just something about playing Joust on RF in the dark while that ostrich arcs across the black screen, leaving a phosphorescent trails behind it. Those trails remind me of being a kid...for multiple reasons!

same here, most of my old systems have pretty good RF, and my Trinitron seems to display the signals well.  my beef with RF though is that you'll never get the richness of the colors, and the audio IMO suffers.

3 hours ago, adamchevy said:

I always go mod myself. Not sure if the Tim Worthington component/RGB mod works on the 7800, but it’s the cleanest output I’ve ever seen come out of an Atari home console.

 

I detest RF in any form. My eyes always tell my brain that the colors are dull and the pixels are not sharp enough.

 

Ofcourse I also like current games at 2560x1440 at 165hz. So I have a problem with things needing to look good and run as smooth as possible.

 

 

Unfortunately no, Tim's 2600 board does not work on the 7800.  I heard he might do one for it, but that was years ago and nothing since. 

 

My lone reason to even do the S-video mod is that my long-ago AV modded 7800 I have discovered is prone to significant color artifacting, rendering the wrong colors in 320 mode.  It also renders colors in standard and 2600 modes with the wrong tints, and honestly I'm just not happy with it.

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18 minutes ago, Greg2600 said:

definitely doable, idk, it's a personal peeve that i simply cannot have a console that uses more than one AV jack!  damn you 3DO!  my RF stuff was modded to use a TRRS single jack for composite.

same here, most of my old systems have pretty good RF, and my Trinitron seems to display the signals well.  my beef with RF though is that you'll never get the richness of the colors, and the audio IMO suffers.

Unfortunately no, Tim's 2600 board does not work on the 7800.  I heard he might do one for it, but that was years ago and nothing since. 

 

My lone reason to even do the S-video mod is that my long-ago AV modded 7800 I have discovered is prone to significant color artifacting, rendering the wrong colors in 320 mode.  It also renders colors in standard and 2600 modes with the wrong tints, and honestly I'm just not happy with it.

Not sure which mod you have, but even with the UAV there is some differences in the way the colors look. Tower Toppler is the worst offender as even through composite, the colors on tower toppler are not correct and the invert jumper that can be used for the 5200 and 8-bits will not work when used on a 7800 and I would presume a 2600 either. So that is one strong reason for keeping the RF intact when doing these and thankfully the UAV makes that easy since nothing has to be removed to use it.

 

I think the reason for the slight color variants on some games has more to do with the more pure signal the UAV is able to generate vs what the build in RF was doing. And naturally with s-video you loose artifacting completely and that can be jarring on the games that really used it if you aren't used to seeing them that way.

 

 

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2 hours ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

Not sure which mod you have, but even with the UAV there is some differences in the way the colors look. Tower Toppler is the worst offender as even through composite, the colors on tower toppler are not correct and the invert jumper that can be used for the 5200 and 8-bits will not work when used on a 7800 and I would presume a 2600 either. So that is one strong reason for keeping the RF intact when doing these and thankfully the UAV makes that easy since nothing has to be removed to use it.

 

I think the reason for the slight color variants on some games has more to do with the more pure signal the UAV is able to generate vs what the build in RF was doing. And naturally with s-video you loose artifacting completely and that can be jarring on the games that really used it if you aren't used to seeing them that way.

 

 

Supposedly, S-video on a 2600 usually gives you some slight bars in the appearance. I assume you don't normally get this with 2600 games on a UAV S-video modded 7800?

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29 minutes ago, Swami said:

Supposedly, S-video on a 2600 usually gives you some slight bars in the appearance. I assume you don't normally get this with 2600 games on a UAV S-video modded 7800?

Do you have some examples of what you are talking about and the games that produced them? Be curious to see what I get on my system and let you know.

 

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2 hours ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

Do you have some examples of what you are talking about and the games that produced them? Be curious to see what I get on my system and let you know.

 

It's been three years, which is a long time, haha, but for the 2600, the info was from you. I found this while thinking about getting an S-video 2600, had to hunt around to find it again. I have a UAV modded 7800 with composite out, but was thinking of maybe changing it to S-video and was wondering if the 2600 games would be free of this bar effect but have the S-video sharpness on a 7800. However, it sounds like, reading your post again, that the 7800 may also have these bars. It may be why I settled for composite on the 7800 with the UAV at the time a couple of years ago.

 

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Interesting...

 

I only remember having some issues with this being visible on a few games. Pitfall is one game that sometimes will show a jail bar like vertical effect that can be seen most easily in the green along the top. But I've also found this to vary from 7800 to 7800 and from TV to TV. The odd thing is that there is something in the games that can cause this also...yes...the games. Because one of the earlier builds of Knight Guy was giving me jail bars and I thought something was wrong with my 7800 and UAV setup and actually cracked it open to check things out. Found nothing, and found that it was only Knight Guy doing this? The like 2 builds later the jailbars were gone? No idea on that one and it was the first time I'd seen it. 

 

But the jail bars shouldn't really be noticeable in most cases. It does help to run a separate ground to the s-video back to the UAV. So I will use a single ground for both chroma and luma outputs back to the ground pin next to them on the UAV and then will tie the grounds of the composite and audio back to the ground pin on the opposite side of the outputs on the UAV. Technically shouldn't matter since they are electrically connected anyway. Also it helps to not have both composite and s-video plugged in at the same time to the console. The 5200 is the worst on this as having both connected will exhibit jail bars on the s-video output side until you unplug the composite. Or at least that is what happens on my AV setup here if I have both outputs connected up at the same time.

 

Aside from that and as many here will be able to tell you, the s-video output on the 7800 and 5200 is a big leap over the composite in terms of dot crawl elimination and color bleeding issues to say nothing about the increase in overall sharpness of the image. Naturally on a CRT this isn't seen as much but on my AV setup on my flatpanel it is quite a difference.

 

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My 7800 has composite and rf out, just flip the channel select switch to choose. I bought it here, so don't know what kind of mod was done. Most of the time, I use RF- but it's nice to have the option. 

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I haven't done the video mod (yet) on my 7800, but I did wire up an external reset so that I could use a ROM emulator with it (the ROM emulator will reset the target when it's finished dumping the binary into the device).

 

 

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