gcvideo - Open source GameCube component cable solution

Discussion in 'Modding and Hacking - Consoles and Electronics' started by darcagn, Aug 31, 2014.

  1. SnoopKatt

    SnoopKatt Rapidly Rising Member

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    I’m the guy that happy_bunny was talking about, and I’m pleased to say that the board is working quite nicely!

    I received a populated board (minus the FPGA since you need a special license to ship them abroad) along with a 3D-printed case. The case is a nice touch, and makes it much safer to have than having a bare board stick out of the console. You can either choose the cheaper xc3S50a (which only does 480i), or spend an extra $10 for the xc3S200a (which allows for bob de-interlacing of 480i games if your TV can’t handle 480i). I’d say the xc3S200a is a no brainer, as a lot of TVs apparently cannot do 480i, and while bob de-interlacing isn’t always pretty, it has much lower latency compared to what your TV might do. Make sure you obtain one from a legitimate seller (DigiKey, Mouser, Farnell, etc.), as the ones on AliExpress and eBay tend to not have a traceable procurement procedure, which means you don’t know if the chips were properly stored, or if they are even real!

    Install:

    Installation is a lot trickier than your typical mod for two reasons: the FPGA soldering requires a fine-point soldering iron (or a reflow oven/hot air with solder paste), and getting the original digital port out is no easy task, as it requires either a good vacuum desoldering station, or a soldering iron with high thermal capacity paired with desoldering braid (Unseen mentioned ChipQuick - a low temperature solder alloy that'll keep the solder liquid for a while so parts can be removed easier - should work too!). There are tons of ground pins on a thick ground plane, which makes this a lot tougher than getting mask ROMs off of NES cartridges :p

    To tackle the FPGA soldering, I used a Metcal iron (at my university) paired with a fine-pitch tip to attach the FPGA on the board. No sweat; just check your connections!

    But then came the digital port removal, which was definitely the toughest part, and where I ran into the most problems (disclaimer: I’m not a professional modder and I don’t sell what I’ve soldered!). If you’re going to take it off with a vacuum tool, be warned that the pin diameter is a bit smaller than a typical through-hole pin, so generic tools may have some difficulty. I have the RadioShack desoldering iron, and the tips for those are too wide for this. So, my first thought was to add more solder and flux to the pins so the vacuum would have more to suck up, but what ended up actually happening was the solder was pushed into the pins I already worked on! It also stressed the board too much and ripped some traces on the GC PCB :(

    So what I ended up doing was turning my Weller iron up to 350C and using some desoldering braid to get the rest of the port out. That took care of it without any further casualties, and then I used some AWG 30 wire to bridge the connections to the digital chip. That seemed to fix it, but that was a mess!

    Going back to the pin thickness issue, there is actually no commercially-available pin header that will fit where the digital port connector was. What I did was use some breadboard jumper wire heads (by happy_bunny’s suggestion), line up a couple connections to make sure the board was evenly lined up, and solder away. It’s a little tricky at first, but not impossible.

    The most important thing to do is check your connections and that you have no shorts! Goes without saying, but it’s a bit more important in this case, as 12V is one of the connections used, and shorting that anywhere on the FPGA or GC data lines will probably fry one, the other, or both.

    That’s a bit of a long write-up for the install, but it’s important if you’re thinking about installing this yourself. Make sure you understand the problems aforementioned and that you know how to avoid them (e.g. don’t repeat my mistakes :p )

    Results:

    Having never seen a GC in 480p, I am blown away! Metroid Prime looks much crisper, and especially since my TV has terrible de-interlacing, the onboard de-interlacing is a nice touch. My TV also has bad input latency for composite inputs, so this was a breath of fresh air. Definitely going to be playing more GameCube once I’m done with school :)

    Suggested Improvements:

    The most obvious issue that I think is worth noting is the board sticks out a fair bit (as other have mentioned), which means the GC needs to be handled a little more carefully when being moved around to not stress the PCB. Not much can be done about that since the FPGA and HDMI port take up 2/3rds of the length, but what I saw that could help is that the digital port has extra ground pins along the sides for added stability, which the Shuriken board could probably benefit from. However, happy_bunny mentioned he glued the case to the GC PCB to add a bit of stability, so that is a valid option too! If you’re willing to modify the GC case, you could add corner braces as well to make it a bit sturdier. What may be the best choice is to use a two-board solution: one board to bring the digital port pins further into the GC, and then use essentially the same board to make the HDMI connector flush with the output. But that’s a whole other thing to work out :p

    This wasn’t really a big deal, but I would move the CONN6 pin closer to the digital port pin-header. This would keep the install a little neater, but then again the case hides it!

    A big thanks to happy_bunny for all the help and guidance throughout the install process, as well as the parts!
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 9, 2016
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  2. Unseen

    Unseen Spirited Member

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    There are special low-temperature solder alloys on the market that are primarily meant for desoldering - you flood the pins with the alloy at your standard soldering temperature so it mixes with the regular solder on the pins and the mixture will stay liquid much longer than standard solder because even after mixing it's melting point is around 100°C or so. ChipQuick has a full kit that includes a small length of such solder alloy, special flux for it (extremely sticky stuff) and some alcohol wipes (to remove that horrible flux) as "SMD1" - despite the name it also works well on through-hole parts like the digital video port, but it's quite expensive.

    A single (unplanned) experiment has shown that shorting 12V to an adjacent signal kills both FPGA and GC. ;)
     
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  3. SnoopKatt

    SnoopKatt Rapidly Rising Member

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    I forgot all about ChipQuick! That probably would've helped :p
     
  4. swp

    swp Newly Registered

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    How's the progress on the potential Wii mod going? I'm trying to decide between waiting for that or getting one of those cheap HDMI adapters. Do you have any idea if the mod would look noticeably better than an adapter? Thanks for your hard work.
     
  5. Unseen

    Unseen Spirited Member

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    You mean this?
    [​IMG]

    Which was barely good enough to capture this?
    [​IMG]

    If you look closely, you can see that the resolution popup was flickering between two values - I don't know yet if this is due to signal quality problems or if the code misdetects the Wii's resolution. I'll know more once I've built a more reliable connection between the Wii and the FPGA board.

    A cheap HDMI adapter has a few advantages - it's cheap, it's available right now and it's a plug-and-play solution. Wiring GCVideo to the Wii's internal video bus requires some rather fiddly soldering either on a set of microvias or on the 0.5mm-pitch pins of the AV encoder.

    I have never used any of these adapters, so I don't know about their quality.
     
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  6. OnePunch

    OnePunch Newly Registered

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    Hi unseen, I'm a huge fan of what you've accomplished, I just finished installing gcvideo on my gamecube, and was hoping to move it to the wii, like you have already. Would you be able to solve the signal confusion problems by cutting up a gamecube motherboard for the digital output and existing AVE chip, and attach that to the inputs of the wii's AVE chip? I have been having trouble finding schematics on the input sides of these chips, but I thought you might have some insight into how similar they are. Thanks -OnePunch

    [GALLERY=media, 977]Gamecube-motherboard-pins-edited by OnePunch posted Jun 30, 2016 at 7:09 PM[/GALLERY]
     
  7. Unseen

    Unseen Spirited Member

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    No.

    The Wii's encoder chip handles both audio and video and has some configuration registers that can be set from the Wii's CPU - I don't know what they are actually used for, ignoring them and just processing video and audio data blindly seems to work fine on my test setup.
     
  8. OnePunch

    OnePunch Newly Registered

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    So you were able to get the GUI from the FPGA board working as well? I am interested in this as a way to get Project M lag-less on an HD tv. If you have any other ideas I would love to hear those too. Thanks for the insight
     
  9. Unseen

    Unseen Spirited Member

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    Yes

    But is your HD tv lag-less with 480p input signals over HDMI?
     
  10. OnePunch

    OnePunch Newly Registered

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    That's great to hear! Is there a diagram out there yet for matching the wii outputs to the FPGA?
    It has 5ms of lag advertised, and the game is 60fps, so it's underneath one frame of lag. I have melee running with the FPGA board and none of the top players in my area say it plays any differently.
     
  11. Informationator

    Informationator Member

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    The various gcvideo projects in flight look very promising. I've seen one that utilizes HDMI and another that utilizes the Wii component cable but... ...is anyone aware of a project that decodes what I'm assuming is the YCbCr back into RGB so that the RGB pins on the multi-out connector can be reconnected? That would be my ideal solution since it'd let me use a SCART cable and I'm really hoping someone goes this route so I can have NES/SNES/N64/Gamecube all running through the same SCART switch. Thank you!
     
  12. Lum

    Lum Officer at Arms

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    A YPbPr to RGB circuit is doable of course (you'd also want some kind of switch to keep the component).
    It's unlikely there's a project to convert the Wii digital video into RGB.
     
  13. Unseen

    Unseen Spirited Member

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    GCVideo-Lite, the very first version I released that only outputs analog video and SPDIF audio, can be set to output either RGB or YPbPr (*) with a single jumper.

    That should work fine if you don't need 480p. If you do, you'll have to use the CSync output from the GCVideo lite board because the outputs of the original AV encoder shut down when the Gamecube is in 480p mode. For 15kHz modes the existing sync-carrying signals on the analog AV port are fine, so connecting just the RGB lines is sufficient.

    (*) Nitpicker here: YCbCr is a digital signal, YPbPr is analog

    I don't see much need for it since all non-mini Wiis are RGB-capable when the system is set to PAL mode, but if someone really feels a dire need for an FPGA-based RGB output for his Wii and doesn't mind a bit of challenging solder work involving 0.5mm TQFP pins this can easily be arranged.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  14. djelaba

    djelaba Benzin !, Site Supporter 2013

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    Buy a PAL Wii for RGB output, it would be easier.
     
  15. Bad_Ad84

    Bad_Ad84 The Tick

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    Or just softmod a NTSC wii and region change it. Its all done based on software. You can force RGB PAL in some homebrew (loaders etc) or region change the whole console and it will work in RGB.
     
  16. citrus3000psi

    citrus3000psi Housekeeping, you want towel?

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    Anybody know the creator of this design? Daniel Kraak? Video Game Perfection has made a few tweets about it in the last week or so.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    @happy_bunny site seems to down? Does anybody have the zip downloaded? I can view part of the site on way back, but the programming files are not their. I do have version 3 schematics downloaded previously
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2016
  17. happy_bunny

    happy_bunny Rising Member

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  18. Mobius_trip

    Mobius_trip Rapidly Rising Member

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    does anyone have one of these as a purchasable package yet? im very interested.

    am i correct that the V3 Shuriken board/latest firmware supports audio over hdmi? i would be interested in purchasing a v3 built and flashed if anyone happens to be building them. i wouldnt mind buying from badassconsoles, but they seem to not have anything of interest actually for sale right now.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
  19. citrus3000psi

    citrus3000psi Housekeeping, you want towel?

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    I'm currently building a proto. This is going to use an HDMI mini socket. It will fit above the digital port. I should have boards in a week or so. This will support hdmi and toslink audio.

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Mobius_trip

    Mobius_trip Rapidly Rising Member

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    i would be interested in picking one up once youve got it all sorted and working, lmk
     

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