Sega Dreamcast HDMI Adapter coming soon ..

Discussion in 'Sega Dreamcast Development and Research' started by Venatus Usque, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. Crystal Shyps

    Crystal Shyps Member

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    AFAIK apt-get is supposed to grab and install all the missing prereqs when installing for a given package. Although maybe it's the case that someone could have a package and not actually have all the correct prereqs listed? Not sure how stringent the requirements are.

    I actually tend to agree that development on Linux is easier since most libraries etc. are easier to build yourself out of the box compared to on Windows. While doing other day to day stuff works better on Windows, since 9 times out of 10 the software for any given application is more mature on Windows. I guess C/C++ cross-compatibility can be a bit tricky when you need something to behave consistently, but honestly I've had more issues with running on different hardware platforms causing issues than I have with OS differences (float precision, pls). The bigger problems I've had with OS differences start to come in when someone is using a platform specific library in their code, and then you have to try to find someone's working Windows implementation of a GNU library and ugh just ughhhh.
     
  2. Unseen

    Unseen Spirited Member

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    LOL, that would be half of the BRAM of my chip =) The ZPU already uses 16k for its program memory (code was a tiny bit over 8K and I was lazy), my current OSD needs 3K and some of the remaining BRAM is used to simplify the EDVI encoder logic.

    An external CPU is certainly useful to keep the FPGA requirements down, but I still had enough LUTs to spare and I suspect people wouldn't have liked it if I told them "Oops, the board you already bought and installed is now obsolete". It was close though, IIRC I'm at 97% slice utilization with GCVideo-DVI.

    Not available in the free version of the old synthesis tools (ISE) on the Xilinx side =( I think the new ones (Vivado) made that feature free, but Xilinx refuses to add support for anything but the newest chips to them.

    Are there any plans to release them?

    Interesting, compiling zpu-gcc "just worked" for me on a 64-bit Debian system - but maybe I just avoided some troubles without even thinking about it because it's not the first time I built a gcc for cross-compilation.

    Random fun fact: The pin pitch of the Dreamcast's video encoder chip is the same as the ribbon cable used for the old 80-pin IDE standard. But since you seem to be close to a release I guess I can remove those cables from my prepared-but-not-yet-FPGA-connected Dreamcast again. =)
     
  3. OzOnE

    OzOnE Site Supporter 2013

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    The 50KB on the Cyc III is a fair chunk I suppose, so the 16KB isn't too bad for the OSD, and should still leave plenty for the modem stuff etc., and possibly even the GD Emu stuff (if I ever get around to it), as those mainly just need some registers and maybe a 2KB sector buffer.

    Not sure about the PDF schematics tbh. That will be up to Mr [RDC].
    I will ask him, but I don't think he has any plans to release them just yet tbh.


    It might not have been the ZPU thing I was trying to compile when it said it didn't work for 64-bit Ubuntu, but yeah - I still had problems even getting ZPU to compile.

    I think it might have been another core which had the issue with 64-bit Linux, and I just didn't want the hassle of installing a 32-bit version on the VM, nor trying to get it to work under Cygwin.

    I'm really glad I went with using the ESP module tbh, as the SPI is really reliable, plenty fast enough for what we need, and just so much easier not to have to mess with annoying toolchain setups etc.

    I used to have a bit of a grudge against the Arduino IDE too, as I still don't like the way they mapped the original Arduino PORT names / numbers to different numbers etc. The original naming scheme was fine, and the entire point of grouping the PORTs together on the older AVR chips was so that you could send / receive entire bytes using only a few instructions (which meant that they are FAST).

    Also, the routines for handling the IO (eg. digitalWrite etc.) on the older Arduino boards is REALLY slow compared to "proper" direct-port manipulation in C or Assembly. lol


    But, the IO stuff doesn't really matter too much on the ESP8266 with the Arduino IDE, since it's MUCH faster than the older 8-bit Atmel stuff, plus it still has a fair few hardware peripherals.


    Yep - 0.635mm pitch on the DC DAC IIRC. Or is it 0.65?

    It took us a while to triple-check that before Mr [RDC] did the flex cable tbh. lol
    It's not easy to tell even with the digital calipers across all pins, and we wanted to be sure, of course.

    OzOnE.
     
  4. Auction_Sniper

    Auction_Sniper Rapidly Rising Member

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    Probably a silly question to break up the tech talk, but will it be easy enough for most basic modders to install the HDMI board?
    How many connections need to be soldered, and will the cabling and board layout be aligned to make it easier?
     
  5. OzOnE

    OzOnE Site Supporter 2013

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    Hi,

    I wouldn't say it's the easiest for the average modder if you haven't done a great deal of fine soldering before, although the flex cable does make it far easier than soldering individual Kynar wires to the video DAC (like I've had to do for the prototype testing).

    The flex cable will work a bit like Marshall's one that he designed for his UltraHDMI board...

    http://cdn3.bigcommerce.com/s-c7bpm..._images/ultrahdmi_carousel_2.png?t=1453187916

    Our flex cable has a cutout that fits around the video DAC chip in the DC, and also has some sections which folder over and get soldered to the audio DAC, plus power (on a cap), plus another section which solders to the two "Cable Type" pins on the AV port.

    The flex cable will then fold back over the video DAC, then poke through the small gap in the metal shielding, then simply plug directly into the HDMI board.

    (we've shifted the HDMI board towards the PSU more now, as it makes more sense, allows space for the small microUSB board for programming the ESP module to sit between the HDMI board and the modem housing, and allows the header pins on the HDMI board to clear the GD drive PCB completely. You still need to remove the metal shield from the underside of the GD drive, but that's no big deal at all.)

    If you use the correct tip on the soldering iron, a dab of flux, and a decent temperature-controlled iron, then it's not too hard at all.

    I usually use a 2-3mm wide "chisel" tip on the iron, so it has good thermal contact, but you can also tilt it slightly to be able to solder the small stuff with the corner of the tip.

    We are already talking to a few installers in the US, UK, Europe atm, and will be looking to get some pre-modded DCs done as well.

    For connecting the ESP module to the HDMI board, I'm currently looking into whether it's worth doing a second flex cable design, as that would allow us to hook up to the (modded) modem as well, for the "WiFi" function.

    We won't have enough pins spare on the HDMI board to handle GD Emu stuff, but that will be a long while before I have that working anyway.

    I've also figured out how we can do firmware updates for the FPGA via the ESP module, so that will be a huge help in releasing the modem / WiFi stuff later on.

    For the moment, it will likely be the HDMI output functionality, and then we can offer the new (relatively cheap) flex cable and mod instructions for the "dial-up via WiFI" feature. (have to think of a better name for that. lol)

    I know somebody else is working on a "WiFi" adapter for the DC, but it makes sense for us to use the spare space on the FPGA for people who already have the HDMI board obviously, since it will also have the WiFi feature on the ESP module.

    Still testing. ;)

    Oh yeah, and it looks like those "missing" flex cables may still be on their way to me.
    The parcel apparently left Canadian customs in the end, and then left Chicago last Friday, so we're assuming they are now on the flight over to me in the UK.

    OzOnE.
     
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  6. Alessio

    Alessio Rising Member

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    If you need an installer in Italy,let me know, I'm a technicians and my job is repairing computers ,smartphones and I modded various consoles in the past. I'm in this business from 12 year. I can do professional soldering , I own an esd safe soldering\desoldering station
     
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  7. OzOnE

    OzOnE Site Supporter 2013

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    Thanks, Alessio. ;)

    We will certainly be looking for people to help do the installs for people.

    I literally just soldered my first proper flex cable a few days ago, and it was SO much easier than soldering the individual Kynar wires.

    There were a few minor teething problems (due to my own eagerness), but soldering the actual pins was a piece of cake once the flex was lined up.

    But, since Marcus released the GD Emu stuff as open-source, Mr RDC and I came to the conclusion that it would be better to delay the release of the board just a bit longer in order to release a new-new board...

    The new board will use a BGA package for both the FPGA and some added SDRAM.
    That will give us tons more IO pins to work with, so we'll be able to support not only the GD Emu, but perhaps the "dial-up via WiFi" thing as a future option.

    The SDRAM also means being able to do better de-interlacing for 480i / 576i, but even better is that it will let us runs many many retro FPGA cores like the Minimig (Amiga), MSX, NES, Game Boy, Speccy, Beeb, C64, and even the Genesis core. :eek:

    So, it will essentially be able to play all the same stuff as boards like the MiST can, but all running on the HDMI board while it's inside the Dreamcast etc. :p

    We thought it would be better to go with the new design so we could offer the GD stuff mainly, but the SDRAM stuff will be astounding. We'd rather do that than release the current design which barely has enough spare pins for the GD Emu, plus we didn't want to release this board to early-adopters and then end up disappointing lots of people by releasing the new-new board soon after.

    So, Mr [RDC] has very nearly finished the layout for the new board, and will be sending off for a few prototype very soon.

    The board will also use FPC ZIF connectors for most of the hookups, which will make it a lot easier to do the installs etc.

    Lots more news soon.


    This is the business end of the current flex cable (don't want to give the whole design away).

    It looks like it's not aligned too well, but that's mainly due to the angle of the pins.
    It only takes seconds to flow the solder once it's aligned.

    The photo below that is the current test setup with the ESP module hooked up.
    The HDMI board will be slightly closer to the PSU side, then there will be a small board next to the HDMI board with the microUSB connector for programming the ESP...

    As I say, the new-new board will use FPC ZIF connectors instead of the 1.27mm headers...

    http://imgur.com/a/sK1Yf

    OzOnE.
     
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  8. Anthony817

    Anthony817 Familiar Face

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    Wow! That flex cable makes it look really clean.
     
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  9. OzOnE

    OzOnE Site Supporter 2013

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    It would probably be even cleaner if I didn't screw it up slightly on the first attempt. lol

    The new-new flex will look even nicer though, as it will just be a flat FPC that plugs straight into the board.
    The tallest part on the board will then just be the miniHDMI socket, so there will be no risk of anything hitting the GD board. ;)

    Basically, when the manufacturer made the current, they didn't leave it as per the design, so there's no solder mask on the underside of the pins.

    (the extra bit hanging off the end is no longer needed either - all the required signals actually fit onto the side port. It was just me being pedantic again and asking RDC to add a few extra signals from the DC that we really don't need. lol)

    The DC has some vias right next to the video DAC along the left-hand side, so it's necessary with these prototype cables to put a small slither of Kapton tape on the board first, just in case the vias make contact with the flex pads.

    But, I stupidly put the tape on the flex itself, and a little too close to the edge of the pads, which made it really hard for the solder to flow onto the DAC pins. lol

    I also managed to rip one of the pads off the flex for the I2S audio DAC signals, as I neglected to pre-bend the flex slightly to fit the audio DAC pins more neatly.

    I did expect these few issues though, but now that I know how to do it, it's really easy. ;)

    I should have soldered the 1.27mm header first too, and pre-bend parts of the flex cable into position.
    It really is quite easy to flow the solder onto the DAC pins though. It's also not too hard to poke the flex through the gap in the metal shielding.

    The flex cables are stronger than they might look too - the whole thing has a Ground plane, and they are fairly hard to tear etc.

    We will be recommending a bit of that foam tape around the shielding though, just to protect the flex.

    The new-new board won't have the separate power wires, as the power will go directly into the same FPC connector too (on a few pins each for +5V and Ground).


    The flex for the GD Emu will simply plug directly into the HDMI board and then the G1 port.

    But, I reckon we could also do a flex which hooked up to the test pads on the GD drive board itself, and then the user would have the choice of enabling the real GD drive or the GD emu (by holding the GD drive in /Reset, which will hopefully tri-state the data bus).

    The GD Emu stuff may have to wait until the new HDMI boards are released though, and then we can concentrate on making sure the GD stuff works 100% reliably.

    If it proves to be a bit of a pain getting everything running from the ESP module, then we can always switch back to the AVR core instead. It would be nice to use the ESP though, as it makes it so much easier to mess with the code and debug etc.

    Either way, it will have the option to select the GD image via the OSD.

    The "dial-up via WiFi" option will have to take a back-seat to the GDE atm.
    I know that Luke Benstead is working on hooking up a Pi Zero directly to the G2 port though, which will get rid of the external USB modem and Rasp Pi for DreamPi.

    Oh, forgot to mention that we will be able to offer a larger FPGA on the new board as an option as well.
    The larger chip will have 25,000 Logic Elements instead of 10,000 that we're using now (and not too much more expensive), so that means it will be able to handle the Genesis and Minimig cores. :)

    The Genesis core still needs the YM audio core to be trimmed down though - somebody wrote the YM core later on, but it was made WAY over-precise, so you can barely fit one FM channel alongside the Gen core itself. lol

    Anywho, it's all fun and games atm.

    Mr [RDC] has just e-mailed me a pic of the new BGA board, and it's looking stunning so far.
    He's practically finished the main layout, and is now just choosing some nicer voltage regs etc.

    We will be sticking with the proper HDMI Tx chip though, as it's the only way to guarantee that the board will work with 99.9% of TVs / monitors, and basically make it "standards compliant". It also reduces the amount of logic needed inside the FPGA so it can be used for other cool stuff.

    The board also has ESD protection on the HDMI port, plus a separate voltage reg for the +5V output on the HDMI port, which will help prevent damage to the board and DC if something bad should happen to someone's HDMI cable or TV etc.


    I must try to test Marcus' GD Emu code in the next few days (using the dev board).
    Once it's running, I can get a sense of what will be needed on the ESP to make it all play nice together, and test the game selection via the menu etc.

    OzOnE.
     
  10. Alessio

    Alessio Rising Member

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    I Can only say shut up and take my money :D . One is sold for sure, I didn't bought any console after Xbox ,the first model, and for me the last good console on the market . I can't wait, all those stuff it's like a Dreamcast 2 release. Yesterday I was thinking about retroconsole emulation would be cool if possible and to write you that feature request for a future upgrade , but you just anticipated me,and it's great. Another great but don't know if i viable feature ,could be adding video reproduction. I'm also interested in Dreamcast motherboard redesign with integrated new hardware, if you can get Naomi and all its derivates arcade board games running on Dreamcast we finally will get the Dreamcast 2 :D:D
    Edit: another feature to investigate could be wireless controller possibility, Bluetooth joypad like ipega ones are cheap and good quality
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
  11. ouegamer

    ouegamer Newly Registered

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    If you are looking for more people to test, and do installs. The pictures don't look any worse than the PS2? I'm in Washington state, and would be happy to help out. I'm trying to move all my game systems to HDMI, since its hard to find receivers that upscale from RCA/component anymore.


     
  12. Providencial

    Providencial Member

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    This is my favourite thread on the internet.
     
  13. Esppiral

    Esppiral Enthusiastic Member

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    This is incredible and I can't wait to have it on my Dreamcast.

    By the way, afaik, the Dreamcast renders at native 24bit color, and from that source it compresses the image to 16 bit, and that is what we see on screen, a dithered 16 bit color image, but looking at the various videos posted here I don't see dithering, like at all.

    It is just because of youtube horrible compression? or it does actually get rid of the dithering by outputing the native 24 bit color?
     
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  14. Pa0l0ne

    Pa0l0ne Member

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    I have maked gcvideo and shuriken myself, professional installed n64 ultrahdmi, modding console and arcade hardware for 20years, reballing service and other hardware service. if you need modding service pm me, i have a lot of reference in this job...naturally i will make it for free for this kind of super project.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016
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  15. simbin

    simbin Spirited Member

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    New HDMI board looks nice. :) Any progress on Naomi board?
     
  16. truemaster1

    truemaster1 Enthusiastic Member

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    now that i can finaly have a gdemu im looking forward to this. my tv is good but it doesnt have a vga input so an hdmi is the only solution
     
  17. truemaster1

    truemaster1 Enthusiastic Member

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    ok how to order??
     
  18. moonchilde

    moonchilde Papa Claw & Paw

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    @OzOnE any update on this?
     
  19. Teddy Rogers

    Teddy Rogers Spirited Member

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    I am interested to know too, when we can expect these final designs. My wallet wants to give you money...

    Ted.
     
  20. WarRen22

    WarRen22 Robust Member

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    Sorry if this an bad question, but what will be the difference between this board Vs the Akura HDMI box posted here too?
     

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