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HDTV + CRT Dual-Screen Big Box Setup


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Thank you!

I almost did buy an arcade VGA, but I didn't like that I would have to use a legacy card. I wanted to be able to use a more modern card so that I could still enjoy games from later years as well as emulate more powerful systems, so I downloaded a hacked version of AMD drivers called CRT EmuDriver that allowed me to output lower resolutions. With it, I was able to output 15khz 480i and 240p. To connect it to my Sony Trinitron, I use DVI-to-VGA dongle for my Radeon R7, then the VGA cable goes to a VGA-to-Component transcoder box, and finally to my Trinitron's YPbPr inputs. Since even games on the same console platform can use varying resolutions, I am using super resolutions to compensate for the change of horizontal resolution different games may have. Using a super resolution also gives me the ability to adjust the width without introducing visible scaling artifacts. I use real console hardware and a Canon T3i on a stable tripod zoomed in to tweak and adjust the picture settings of the emulators I use phosphor-to-phosphor to match what the respective consoles output to a CRT. My goal is that when you play on an emulator on my CRT, it is a 1:1 match. In my SNES's case, the size of each phosphor won't match exactly what the original console outputs because I have the Model 1 SNES with the SHVC motherboard (which I prefer over any other SNES console revision for it's dedicated Sony soundchip) and it's RGB output has a slight blur to it, but RetroArch still comes REALLY close. I attached picture comparisons so you can see for yourself =)

SNES Model 1 SHVC-CPU-01 > RGB Scart to YPbPr transcoder > Component switchbox > CRT

snes phosphor.jpg

RetroArch with BSNES Balanced core via Radeon R7 > VGA to YPbPr transcoder > Component switchbox > CRT

retroarch phosphor.jpg
The color of the SNES is slightly different than what BSNES outputs, which is kind of puzzling because BSNES is supposed to be 100% accurate. It could be that I have to adjust the pots in my SCART-to-YPbPr transcoder to match the colors BSNES outputs, or it could be another variable. It also looks like the emulator is just slightly tilted, which I'll have to look more into as well. I know that for the Chrono Trigger comparison shot, my tripod shifted a bit because my dog ran through the room and my tripod is on carpet, so keep that in mind when looking at that comparison shot =p

Chrono Trigger Retroarch
Chrono_Trigger_RetroArch.thumb.JPG.ebfc77c5cb9606f522f10a7292d231ef.JPG

Chrono Trigger SNES
Chrono_Trigger_SNES.thumb.JPG.8662effae99905bf3a7d620a73cdfc19.JPG

Donkey Kong RetroArch
Donkey_Kong_RetroArch.thumb.JPG.a0f7a7f2b410989113d10b108abd1f8f.JPG

Donkey Kong SNES

Donkey_Kong_SNES.thumb.JPG.197257f71227684bf908011a7f1604c1.JPG
 

SM All-Stars RetroArch

Mario_RetroArch.thumb.JPG.afdd96b5d386c2c66147ce57c6365214.JPG


SM All-Stars SNES
Mario_SNES.thumb.JPG.45cebceb5e86c081d9de26ead6ba950a.JPG

Zombies RetroArch
Zombies_RetroArch.thumb.JPG.6165bce7c8f0cedaa0a334f60d6c11f6.JPG

Zombies SNES
Zombies_SNES.thumb.JPG.09261e9c5fb08b36e70a87043c1812f2.JPG
I also adjusted the picture to compensate for the overscan CRTs are well known for. In the SNES's case, the picture stops on the right side of the screen before it hits the end of the electron beam's field on my CRT. I simply adjusted the horizontal viewport in RetroArch.


RetroArch side shot
Side_RetroArch.thumb.JPG.ed1b7a9118fa17332aa15c13bdcb8acb.JPG

SNES side shot
Side_SNES.thumb.JPG.2b107e4c447c61fcdd14d9ee6052a50e.JPG


It's been a lot of fun trying to get the output of various emulators on RetroArch to match their console counterparts. So far I have worked on the NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, Game Boy Advance and the Super Game Boy 2. I've also worked on the Game Gear as well but I didn't go very analytical with that one since I don't have a way to output the original Game Gear on a CRT, so that was more of a guessing game. I will say that playing GBA games on a CRT with RetroArch is PHENOMENALLY better than playing on the Gamecube's GB Player. My Gamecube is hooked up via S-video which isn't much worse than YPbPr when playing on a CRT, but the color muckiness of the GB Player, along with the fact that it outputs 480i, makes playing it on RetroArch much more enjoyable.

Edited by Ya Dad
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Wow, thanks for the info!  That's amazing work you are doing.  I'm super curious because I have a friend putting together a system now and I think he's going to be inspired by your approach.  Two questions -- what are "super resolutions" and are you able to get MAME games working in proper resolution without the arcade VGA card?

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It's another way of saying "Ultra-wide" resolution, if I'm not mistaken. For instance, the Super Nintendo has a resolution of 256x224, but that can change depending on the game and would introduce scaling artifacts if I alter the horizontal resolution from within RetroArch. Therefore, I use a resolution of 3840x224 and manually adjust it to look like a real SNES's video output.

As far as getting MAME games to work, the short answer is yes. The monitor you see on the right in that video is a 15khz RGB TV, which I use exclusively for MAME =)

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I use actual consoles for my retro gaming, I have rom collections just for fun - but let me tell you that your setup here is my fav so far. Genius idea to play the games on the CRT instead of just using filters and shaders!

Which Sony is that? I have the 36FS120 so pretty close (course..they're popular and easy to find). Of course, yours is a newer version (XBR maybe?)

 

Edited by newyears1978
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17 hours ago, newyears1978 said:

I use actual consoles for my retro gaming

Same! In fact for awhile I gamed exclusively on native hardware, but having spent such a big amount of time with this emulator setup, it's more fun for me to play on that instead for the time being. There's just something fufilling about being able to finally enjoy all of the hard work one has put into something!

 

17 hours ago, newyears1978 said:

but let me tell you that your setup here is my fav so far. Genius idea to play the games on the CRT instead of just using filters and shaders!

Thank you! There is actually someone else on this forum who posted their setup before I posted mine. He also uses an HDTV for the launcher and games on the CRT, using very similar methods. I didn't see his thread until after I had posted mine. It was kind of surreal to me that someone else not only tried this method, but posted around the same time as I did and using the same forum and frontend lol

 

17 hours ago, newyears1978 said:

Which Sony is that? I have the 36FS120 so pretty close (course..they're popular and easy to find). Of course, yours is a newer version (XBR maybe?)

Actually I think yours is the newer model. The FS series is supposed to be the cream of the crop for the later model Trinitrons if I remember right. I have the KV-36FV26, which is the premium version of the four models that came out in that series. It retailed for $1,699.99 when it came out in the early 2000's, but nowadays with HDTVs being everywhere, people just straight up give away their CRTS. I found mine at Goodwill for $20, with the original stand!

consoles.jpg

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The FV310 is the better one with the better filter on it or what not - but it's impossible to find. All the FS120 are REALLY easy to find, I see them daily on FB trading sites..for anywhere from free-60 bucks. Not too bad. Too bad the geometry is always jacked on them..I still have not gotten mine right.

Pretty sure the FS is the earlier model, followed by the FV's and then later the XBRs? I got mine free on Craigslist, can't complain... (I could be wrong, I have never researched it except that I know the FV310 is the best one)

Such a cool setup, I need to post mine when I get home later! Course..that's a little of the original top..but hey, we all enjoy that :)
I WANTED to try to run my computer through my CRT but once I saw all the stuff required I just felt too lazy to do it, especially since I have the real consoles with SD Carts and such...but I dunno..I am intrigued.

Edited by newyears1978
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/15/2017 at 2:30 PM, Ya Dad said:

Thank you! There is actually someone else on this forum who posted their setup before I posted mine. He also uses an HDTV for the launcher and games on the CRT, using very similar methods. I didn't see his thread until after I had posted mine. It was kind of surreal to me that someone else not only tried this method, but posted around the same time as I did and using the same forum and frontend lol

Hey that's me! Beautiful setup you have here I am glad to see more people out here doing this! Interesting how you matched it to your own consoles even down to the overscan, I always thought part of the benefit of this was that it made it easier to get your overscan perfect so every console can fill the entire screen but I understand the appeal of getting that extra last bit of authenticity.

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15 hours ago, screwball69 said:

I've been considering doing something similar for my office where I dont have room for my consoles, I've been curious though when down scaling do you get any latency like when upscalling?

The point of this is you are actually avoiding externally scaling your signal. When you send it say 320x240@60 it gives you a desktop that is actually 320x240 resolution so whatever type of signal you pick is exactly what you're sending. You might have to convert color space from RGB to YPbPr but whatever amount of lag that introduces should be pretty negligable. The only place there will be that much lag to cut back on is the software overhead

Edited by Abwezi
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On 1/24/2018 at 10:13 AM, nathanddrews said:

Very nice. Which AMD graphics card are you using? R7 what?

 

R7 360

Thanks for all of the positive feedback, everyone =)

EDIT: I have released a trailer for my next video which will go deep into analyzing the pros and cons between playing on emulators and playing on genuine hardware. Of course, RetroArch and Launchbox will be extensively covered as that is my setup of choice for emulators =)

Follow the discussion on it's dedicated thread:

 

Edited by Ya Dad
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