Sep 112017
 

During my Hypersport’s repair I discovered a problem with the display of my Commodore 1084S monitor. Notice blue missing for “3 LONG HORSE” and “7 POLE VAULT”.

This will be the third time I’ve performed a repair on this old monitor which I’ve had since the early 90s for my Amiga 500 and 2000. At first I would suspect the AV7000 Supergun as the culprit. But subsequent tests would prove otherwise.

There’s definitely a better picture with composite or svideo from my c64 and Atari 8 bits but there seems to be a problem showing blue on the RGB input even though some blue is there ( turquoise , cyan.. etc ) in other images. Adjusting the blue gun and turning up the contrast just makes the backgrounds in Puzznic more blue. Where blue is supposed to be on the screen, it seems to not be present as though the signal were being cancelled out.  With no RGB signal to the monitor at all, it defaults to a blue screen instead of a white one.
Apologies for the sync bands.
I suspected the neck board transistors, so I pull out the one responsible for blue and tests with my multimeter show it’s fine. I even swap the transistors around to see if the problem would move to the other gun….  but it doesn’t.
I found this really good post on eab [ English Amiga Board ] by Loedown
IC502 TDA 3505 pins 12, 13, 14 are RGB in from Euro Connector /SCART, check voltages there to begin with when inputting a perfectly white screen. Then follow the voltages through to transistors TS604 – 606.
The schematic shows the analogue inputs go directly from the RGB connector to the Philips TDA3505 IC via some 100nf caps. Pins 12,13 & 14 are the input RGB signals. I measured 4.3v for red and green but 9.1v for blue. That seems a little too high for blue and the schematic indicates 4v for those signals.
I order some TDA3505s on eBay from atarifreakz and my package arrives a few weeks later.
 
Not wasting any time. I replace the chip and the picture is now perfect!
The Taito logo and blue shadow around the Puzznic logo is now visible. Notice the bricks and backgrounds are also showing up right compared with the previous screenshot.
 
I wonder if there will be a part 4 🙂
Aug 272017
 

In an attempt to help more people start using MAME’s fantastic ROMCMP utility I have made a simple GUI frontend for it.

Program can be found in the Downloads section under “PC Software”

 Posted by at 10:47 am
Jul 272017
 

Recently I’ve been working on some Windows based software to use the Data I/O 29 series programmers.
Its coming along well and I have a few people willing to test things out for me which has been great as its a pretty tedious task of trying things out and reporting back, rinse and repeat.
I captured a small video showing some progress.

The programmer itself isn’t all that hard to interface with as most of it is just issuing commands which are all outlined in the manual but there are a couple of things to deal with when it comes to uploading a file to the programmer.
I’ve also been collecting ID codes for programmers and modules so I can auto detect programmer and more importantly the module that is fitted. This allows me to auto populate a device list.
Ive tested this using a cheap USB to serial adapter and its been working fine.

 Posted by at 9:08 pm
Jul 212017
 

As many of us know (not only long term arcade collectors/enthusiasts) Toaplan manufactured few but excellent games.Some of them can be considered real masterpieces like Out Zone and Truxton for example.Going into technical details four of them are united by the fact the hardware uses a custom IC to handle inputs: the  ‘HK-1000’.I have partially covered this argument in my past repair log of Tatsujin Oh, you can read it here:

Tatsujin Oh repair log

As said in the above post, two revisions of the HK-1000 were made with same functionality but different package.The first one was ceramic hence very fragile.This is used on Truxton II/Tatsujin Oh and FixEight:

The second one is more robust and it’s adopted on Ghox and Pipis & Bibis :

If this custom goes bad (like it happens very often especially on first revision) you will be no longer able to fully control the two players and in the worst of cases the board will be stuck on a TILT message.The only option could be find a donor board but we are speaking of valuable PCBs even if faulty.So some kind of replacement was needed.

There is very few info and documentation about this custom but it seems Toaplan engineers embedded on a single IC (the HK-1000, indeed)  all the circutry they used to  handle inputs (but also coin counters/lockouts) on previous PCBs  (Wardner, Out Zone, Rally Bike and others too).I took inspiration from an Out Zone PCB to study the design:

As you can see from the above picture, I highlighted two sections of PCB : the blue one concerns the circuitry for coin counters/lockouts handling, the red one is for inputs (players direction and buttons, TEST, SERVICE, TILT).With this knowledge I started my tests.As testing platform I used a Pipis & Bibis PCB (the cheapest one which carries the HK-1000).I removed the custom and mapped some inputs following the above mentioned design:

This was successful so I started to draw and route schematics for a real replacement.I voluntarily omitted from my design the circuitry for coin counters/lockouts as it’s not a vital part (although I figured it out so I can implement it in a later moment)

 

I sent the layout to a manufacturer and after few days I received the bare PCBs:

Very few components are needed to populate the PCB :

  • Three 74LS240 in SOIC20 package
  • Three 100nF ceramic by-pass capacitors in ‘0805’ package
  • Three (two 9 pins and one 8 pins) 4.7Kohm SIL bussed resistor networks for inputs pull-up (I opted for thru-hole ones to keep cost down, they can be salveaged from arcade PCBs)
  • Two strips of 24 pins male rounded machine-tooled pin header with 2.54mm of pitch.The corresponding female ones must be used on the arcade PCB.

Here is final result after 5 minutes of soldering:

A comparison with original custom:

Testing on the Pipis & Bibis PCB was successful, all inputs of both players were correctly mapped and working as well as TEST, TILT and SERVICE ones:

As said, this is not a 1:1 reproduction of original part since coin counters/lockouts handling has been not implemented for now but it’s enough to salveage your faulty boards from uselessness.Stay tuned for the next reproduction project!

 Posted by at 4:01 pm
Jul 092017
 

In this log I fix the sprite’s incorrect colors as discovered in part 1. To review the problem see the image below. Note that the colors for the weightlifter are incorrect, the runner also has red shadow instead of black and the colors for the area in between the flags on the right are also incorrect.

 

Initially, I thought the area between the flags were actually made up of background tiles. These are actually sprite objects used as background graphics. I used my test rom to confirm this.

 

The bipolar proms I ordered finally came but were all faulty! So that was a complete waste of time and money. The good news is after checking the palette prom [ several times over ] it appears to be good and I must have been reading it incorrectly with my TopMax in part 1 of the repair log.

I thought about this for awhile and had an idea that would help me troubleshoot. Firstly, I looked at the color palette for Hypersports in MAME and took down some notes.

 

After comparing the colors of the sprites from images online [ google images was a good starting point ] with colors from the table above, my suspicions were that there was a stuck bit somewhere. Black [ color 0 ] is being displayed instead white [ color 1 ].

For black [ color 0 ] to be displayed instead of white, bit 0 would have to be stuck low. Color 2 is also being shown instead of color 3 and the only way this could happen is if bit 0 was stuck low. The athlete’s shadow is also being shown as red instead of black for the same reason which results in color 8 being shown instead of color 9.

 

The backgrounds and sprite data appear to be combined at the LS157 at A4 which then form the signals OUT0-OUT4 at the LS174 A2. These 5 signals represent the color of a single pixel on the screen [ 32 possible colours ]. But I’m more interested in the signals OCOL0-OCOL3 [ object/sprite colors ] so I begin poking around at the inputs and outputs of the LS157 at C17 first. I generally choose the multiplexers to troubleshoot first whenever it’s relevant because these seem to get worked fairly hard [ especially in the video circuit ] and exhibit higher failure rates in these areas.

 

Pin 4 [ 1Y ] output of C17 appears to be stuck low, exactly what I was looking for. This was later confirmed after testing the chip out of circuit.

 

The Fujitsu in C17 is a temporary measure, I promise. It’s a working pull from my Gyruss and I didn’t have any other spares on hand.

 

The colors seem right although I seem to be missing overall color from the CRT.

 

 

 

 

Changing it over to my LCD just to confirm that my 1084 probably needs an adjustment of some sort.