A while ago, I put together the awesome gbs-control scaler to allow me to scale up low-resolution signals from my old consoles, like the NES, SNES and PS1, to my modern TV. Well, the gbs-control isn’t only an upscaler; it can maintain or even downscale input signals so that you can connect modern consoles to old 240p or 480i dipslays like CRTs. On top of that, the gbs-control features an experimental option that makes it output a YPbPr (aka “component”) signal instead of RGB on its DB15 output connector. This is particularly interesting for me because my CRT has a component input, but no RGB input, so with the gbs-control, I should be able to connect my RGB-modded consoles to my CRT and enjoy the much higher quality signal. In this post, I go over how I made a cheap, custom cable to do exactly that.
I recently restored my childhood SNES, and although I was able to use a custom cable I made to output RGB, I knew that the video quality was not optimal. The reason for this is that my SNES is an older “2-chip” model, which produces a lower quality signal as compared to the later “1CHIP” models (see this page and this one for more details on the differences). Thankfully, there is a lesser-known mod to improve the 2-chip’s video quality which I successfully installed and share in this post.
A few months ago, I wrote about how I made a custom cable to hook up my N64 to my gbs-control. Although the VGA + Audio end worked out fine, I wasn’t super happy with the multiout end. I had made a bunch of mistakes:
I bought a NES for $20 on Marketplace. The seller said it wasn’t working well. I tested it, and sure enough I got the blinking screen most of the time. But with some fiddling, I managed to get a game working, so I knew it just needed a good cleaning and restoration. In this post, I go over the process of restoring this NES.
Recently in the modding community, there’s been a lot of buzz around a really cool mod by @webhdx known as PicoBoot. This project uses the inexpensive Rasberry Pi Pico as a mod chip for the GameCube, allowing one to run games and homebrew from media such as an SD card. In this post, I cover how I restored a GameCube that I bought on Marketplace, installed a custom SD adapter to make up for the lack of a serial port 2 on this model, and finally, how I installed this awesome PicoBoot mod.
This is yet another post on a BlueRetro adapter I made, this time for the N64. This adapter is almost certainly the easiest one to make, as there are only three wires per controller, and the voltage matches that of the ESP32 (3V3).
As much as I love retro consoles, I am not a fan of wired controllers, and have been gradually updating my retro gaming setup to use only Bluetooth controllers. To that end, a while back I purchased four 8BitDo NES controller Mod Kits along with four of their NES Retro Receivers to plug into my NES Four Score for some fun four-player action (translation: to play Micro Mages with my wife and kids). Sadly, I found out the hard way that four Retro Receivers running at the same time resulted in lots of input lag on some of the controllers. I suspect the problem is that having four Bluetooth receivers in such close proximity causes some kind of interference.
In this post, I’ll go over how I RGB-modded my N64, and how I built a custom cable to connect it to my gbs-control.
After building a BlueRetro adapter for my PS1, I decided to build a second one for my PS2 so that I wouldn’t have to disconnect and reconnect the adapter between the two consoles. Normally I wouldn’t bother writing about this, as it should have been the same process as the first, but I ran into a surprising snag that I thought worth sharing. I also improved on the wiring by connecting pins that I had ignored in my first build.
After modding my PS1 and improving its output, the last thing I wanted to fix was having to deal with the annoying controller cables. As much as I love old consoles, I do not love having to sit close, or untangle a bunch of cables. I considered buying an 8bitdo wireless controller, but then I heard about a really cool project named BlueRetro by darthcloud64.
I’ve already posted about the very first NES repro cart I made of the game Shatterhand. Since then, I’ve made many more repro carts, and my electronics skills have improved quite a bit since then. In this post, I’ll show how I made a repro cart of the game Felix the Cat, which at the time of this post, sells for about $130 USD loose to $4000 USD complete in box according to PriceCharting.
Back in January 2020, I made my first Genesis Vectrex controller mod. As it was my first, and my electronics skills were still in development, it wasn’t the cleanest job. In September 2021, I decided to make a second one. This one went much better.
A while ago, I modded my PS1 with the PsNee, which was really great, but one thing that I wanted to improve was the video output quality when playing on my modern TV. The PS1 natively outputs composite video by default, and can output RGB, but you need to buy an expensive cable to access it. At some point, I stumbled upon this blog post by Wesk that describes how he modded his PS1 to output 15Khz RGBHV via a DE-15 VGA-style connector. This would be perfect for me as the gbs-control scaler I built can accept such a signal.
I’ve been playing most of my retro consoles on my 20” CRT, which has been great, but there are times - like when playing four-player Micro Mages on the NES - when you really want to play on a big screen. Unfortunately, older consoles like the NES output a 240p image, and newer TVs like my 70” 4K don’t accept this low resolution signal. The fix is to use a scaler, like the RetroTINK or OSSC to scale up the resolution to at least 480p, but these always seemed a bit expensive. Then I watched this video from Voultar where he shows how to build a scaler for about $35 USD.
I bought a used but unmodified PlayStation 1 a couple years ago for about $20. Unlike many PS1s of the era, it didn’t have a modchip installed, so it wouldn’t play games burned to CDs. I looked around and found this very cool project called PsNee. What’s neat about this project is that you get to build your own modchip using an Arduino board, and the code that it runs is open-source!
I’ve owned my Vectrex since I was a kid, and it’s an awesome system, but it only came with one built-in controller, so I could never play two-player games. I looked into buying a second controller, but it turns out it’s extremely expensive, costing anywhere from $150 to $400 USD, at least on eBay! Another option is to buy a VecAdapt, which can be used to connect a Genesis controller without alteration to the Vectrex. This looks like an excellent product, but it would cost me around $45 USD, which isn’t that bad, but I figured it would be way more fun to make my own.
There are a few games that I really want for my NES, but they are just too expensive. Shatterhand is one of these games, and it easily sells for anywhere between $60 to $130 USD. I knew about reproduction carts, and that they sold for less, so I started wondering whether I could just make my own. I stumbled upon this great guide by The Poor Student Hobbyist, and decided to go for it.
For Halloween, we bought our son a toy bow to complete his Legolas costume. The bow cost around $6 at a local thrift store, so I didn’t expect much in terms of quality, and sure enough, after firing a few arrows with it, it cracked:
One of the NES controllers I received in an eBay lot was defective. It seemed none of the buttons worked, except for the “A” button, which behaved like “Start”. At first, I thought maybe the contacts were dirty, as I had read online that this could happen sometimes. But after attempting to clean, and even sand the contacts on the board, I realized this wasn’t the issue. With a little more searching online, I learned that sometimes the shift register chip becomes faulty, and needs replacing.
As part of an eBay lot I purchased, I received an RF adapter for the Nintendo Entertainment System that wasn’t quite working. When connected to my TV, the picture quality was terrible (sadly, I didn’t take a picture of that). I looked up online what could be the problem with it, and found a few people saying that the problem was typically a break in the coaxial cable. As I have a bunch of old coax cables, I decided to replace it.
Over the past summer, I started watching a bunch of The 8-bit Guy videos, and became particularly interested in his many restoration projects. I also started following a few more YouTubers who do a great job at showcasing electronics and repairs, such as My Mate Vince, RetroRepairs, and Odd Tinkering.
I recently announced on Twitter that I got hired by Google!
Welcome to my new blog! I wanted to try out this Jekyll thing, and I must say, it’s really cool! If you’re a programmer looking to host a blog, Jekyll’s awesome - especially given that GitHub natively supports it.
(NOTE: I first wrote this post on Blogspot before moving it here)
A good friend of mine, Ken, has been giving interviews at his work, and expressed how many candidates struggled with basic questions about object-oriented programming in C++. He said they would be able to explain concepts like inheritance and polymorphism, but would choke when asked, for instance, “Why is the virtual keyword necessary? Why aren’t all functions automatically virtual?”.
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