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Taking the yellow off my SNES via retrobright

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For many years even decades my SNES went yellow on the bottom half. I bought it the first year the SNES was available. I have been wanting to restore the color on my SNES. Finally, I have decided to do it. The SNES is known to yellow because of the fire retardant treatment that is on the plastic has a chemical reaction over time that causes the yellowing and breaks down the plastic making it brittle. While my SNES is not a 1 chip model it is my original SNES. As amazing as it has been running still, I want it to continue to run for a few more decades to come.

Retrobright is a formula figured out by others online. There have been also some discoveries in making your own and other products on the market already made that will achieve the desired results. This can be found at beauty supply stores. I bought and used Salon Care 40 Volume Creme Developer.

 

I first put the SNES out uncovered at first. The picture above is when I first put it out then an hour later and then 2 hours later. You can see what a change a few hours can make.

Then I flipped it over and wrapped it up. I checked on it each hour and mixed it up so that it would get even treatment.

 

There is before and after. The difference is amazing. Here is two another 20 plus years.

 

After that I went and picked out some controllers. I knew one in-particular I bought a few years back knowing I might be able to remove the yellowing. Well I did retrobright the controller but after I did the one yellow controller I noticed the other two could benefit. Here is a look at my PC Engine controllers.

Here is the yellow controller at the beginning ready to go.

Here is the finished results. I went back and retrobright my other controller because after the first one was done the other looked yellow. Now they both look next to new. This looks good and I’m not going to open up my Duo-R and retrobright that one. It looks good as it is. Although I’m sure if I opened my Duo-R open it would be a nightmare to see the epoxy and plastic bags that likely make up the mod work. Someday I will send it to Voltar to fix up. The controller on the bottom was the original yellow controller.

I learned a few things I would recommend. I recomend cleaning the parts well before and wrap in cling wrap to trap the creme in so it will not dry out in the sun and keep its effectiveness up. Also check every so ofter to avoid spots and unevenness. Also to help the sides get more UV light use a tin basket or tin foil to help reflect lights on the sides. Also the first run will be good but go back and run it again once more to address any unevenness and also finish it off.

 

All in all I am really glad I did this. I plan on trying out a few more controllers and I will think twice when buying old yellow video game consoles and controllers. Maybe next I will pickup a really yellow PC-Engine or Famicom.

 


Playing on real hardware instead of emulation

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I love emulation. I remember when I first saw and found out I could play all my old consoles on my mac was a great day. The challenges for me was getting the right controller and managing game saves. I could never get that to be 100% reliable. I love the ability to discover new games I missed growing up. I also enjoy revisiting old games I have nostalgia for.

However emulation is not perfect. There have been major advancements in emulation. Emulation has also contributed in enhancing the visual fidelity of older games. Sometimes emulation is not perfect. Still having all my old consoles I wanted to play these games on the original hardware when possible. This journey with RGB has aided in my going back and playing old consoles. Also I enjoy the feeling of the original controllers and authentic experience of playing on real hardware.

So the path I took is not the path most traveled to playing these old games but it is a path I’m very happy with. I took the long way round. For most people the best option to playing old games is to get a raspberry pie and make a retro pie out of it and just emulate all these games. The market for retro games has changed quickly and still continues to be harder to get into with the rapid rising costs of games. Having all my systems and games since I was young I have had a head start. Also picking up retro games here and there my whole life helps. I keep saying I wish I was more aggressive picking up older titles but I then remember that I never stopped picking up games for one system or another over the years.

Also a major catalyst in playing on original hardware was the discovery of flash cartridges. This was a dream as a kid having a cartridge that I could load up nearly any game for and play it. This was kind of reverse emulation. With emulation comes the access to the whole library of games for a system. With most Flash Carts you can get the benefit of playing nearly any game for the system the cart is for. Flash Carts seem like a nice way to play games on original hardware without emulation and enjoy hacks, homebrew and translations. You would think that getting a flash cart would replace seeking out original cartridges but it really helped formed buying decisions. I have really been enjoying more the hacks and translations these days.


Finding out about 240p

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Growing up I knew some about video resolution. There was always talk about HDTV when I was young. Reading about HDTVs is where I learned about resolution. That and using computers is where I first learned about resolution. I knew about how TVs in the US had a 480i resolution. Interlacing I had grouped with scanlines. HDTVs I read about had progressive signals like 720p and later 1080p. 480p was the DVD resolution I first associated it with. Game Consoles later provided 480p. I didn’t get to truly experience 480p until I had an HDTV and at that time there where HD resolutions to take advantage of. I only knew of 480i resolutions for my old consoles. I had no idea that they output a 240p signal. Progressive signals I first experienced with HDTVs and my computer. Knowing that these old systems output a 240p signal it was great when I was able to display and upscale that progressive resolution.


Journey into video connections.

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Growing up I had access to many different video cable types. Each one an improvement from the previous. When I was young I hooked up my Sega Genesis/Sega CD to my GameGear through the TV turner. I was so excited that I figured this out. This was not the ideal setup but the TV in the hotel room didn’t have composite connection and I didn’t have an RF adaptor nor did I want one. Also convincing everyone to let me monopolize the TV in the room seemed like another challenge not worth it. Also just not being able to connect via composite to the TV made that conversation null and void. My dad had a similar interest in gadgets. While he was not interested at all in video games he enjoyed watching movies. Well this moment of accomplishment was very short lived playing my Sega CD on a GameGear. My dad’s reaction was of surprise that I owned a GameGear. This lead to my end of playing video games until college. After the trip I had to pack everything up and not get to play them at all. The reason was I had to many.

Still I used my knowledge of video cables and helped wire the house and home stereo. At the time S-Video was the best that was available to me. We had an SVHS player with S-Video and later a LaserDisc player late in its lifespan because it was also a karaoke player. I was happy to find out the nearby Blockbuster rented LaserDiscs. The first TV I had a composite connection and I used that with my NES. I could see the difference then over RF. Later I upgraded to a TV with S-Video. Then the last CRT I bought had Component. I first learned out when DVD players first came out. So even from an early age I was aware of differences in video cables and could see the benefits like lack of color bleed and accurate colors.

VGA, DVI and HDMI was the next round in video connections. This was a short race to HDMI. These days HDMI is the standard. Only that there have been upgrades to the format with 3D and 4k signals going through HDMI. HDMI is digital so this is simple that it carries the signal digitally and it is just 1s and 0s. I know not cables are the same but HDMI made things simpler.

Another thing with all these different video cables also has another part to it. That is not all video cables are equal. There are varying degrees of quality in analog video cables. Running cables through the house I learned more about this with signal degradation and shielding. Having some experience I really looked at not just getting to certain cable types but quality cables with shielding and quality components in cables. Gold tips and thicker video cables with shielding became the desired features of cables.

SCART is a format I have learned about over the past few years. This format carries an RGB signal. The benefit is that it separates out the different components of the video signal. The separation provides the more RAW and complete signal an analog format can provide. While all the consoles are digital they convert the image to analog. There have been some great developments in tapping into that digital signal and converting that to HDMI these days I kind of jumped in prior to these options to be available.

Looking at Component you see the video cable go from one single cable to three color coded red, green and blue. Playing DVDs and PS2 was my first experience with an RGB format. My love for movies and DVD really drove home this desire for component. VGA was also some kind of RGB signal but I never had a VGA monitor with my mac so I never used it. SCART is also an RGB format. Used primarily in Europe and JP21 used in Japan is the newest video format I learned about next. Knowing the principles of different video cables and the more the signal was broken into the different components providing better picture quality this made since to me. It wasn’t until I really saw a side by side comparison did I really appreciate the cable. I had been using component prior to going HDMI. Knowing that my old consoles had a component type signal coming out of most of them straight out of the box was an exciting discovery. I learned out this when researching upscalers.

For the most part I have gone RGB when possible. My systems cables are using SCART, S-video(N64), Component and HDMI these days.

I have been chasing this better video signal my whole life. I’m very happy with where I am with all this these days. Only one console I have uses S-Video and that is my N64. I’m not too interested in getting it RGB or HDMI modded currently. Maybe I will change that but these days that mod scene is active in developing and I am not in a hurry and will wait till some of this settles down.


Retro gaming the RGB era

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I keep thinking about what to write. This one topic keeps coming back up in my head. This will be my journey into RGB. I would say mid 2000s is when I got my consoles out of storage and play them again. I had picked up other consoles along the way but these where the consoles I had before college. Well connecting them to my first HDTV it was fun but not the same or great experience. I thought the fix would be a receiver that would upscale like some DVD players out there. I still have my old now CRT. I plugged the systems into that and it works great at the time. My last CRT I bought has component inputs and I really enjoyed that. Well I even looked online for a solution. I came across a website that talked all about this stuff but at the time I just didn’t understand how to digest this information. Many of the devices where out of production. There was one at the end of the list. It was the Framemeister. I was looking at this. I couldn’t at the time really understand the problems that these scalers attempt to solve. Two major challenges upscalers attempt to resolve is accurate scaling and low latency in doing so. Lag is the invisible enemy in gaming. Growing up this was not a thing and it wasn’t until TVs went digital.

So chances are if you know what the Framemeister is then this is nothing new to you and we both having been going on similar adventures in retro gaming. There was some confusion about the Framemeister for me. I couldn’t really see the lag that was talked about online. Also I could recognize not all the inputs to this device. Having looked for component cables for the Gamecube in the past I had run across the D-Teminal. Once I saw the Component cable to D-Terminal I understood how I could use it. The RGB port was a mystery. It seemed important but the cables that it used where foreign to me. I knew the Framemeister was the best upscaler on the market at the time. I started to understand the evolution of these scalers. Then thanks to My Life in Gaming’s YouTube channel for demystifying this elusive RGB port. This was a nice clear visual explanation of the benefit of RGB and how it can be used. I understood Component so RGB was not a big stretch to comprehend. After that first video I now understood why the Framemeister was the king of upscalers. Then I started to review the information I had found earlier but know with a better understanding of what was being discussed.

I understood that getting the Framemeister would turn out to be the beginning of a new adventure in retro gaming. Once I got the Framemeister I started ordering SCART cables. Short story there are two ways you can go with this RGB SCART or JP21. They look identical and junction the same. The difference is the pin layout. SCART is used in Europe and JP21 is used in Japan. This was sort of like choosing a camera and then getting locked into lenses. I choose SCART because it seemed it would provide the most options for cables since an entire continent had been using them. Even though most of these consoles came from Japan. Video format is bigger than video games alone. Also knowing about PAL video signals and finding out that SCART can transmit NTSC signals with out an issue.

As I started to order one set of SCART cables after another I was also looking at what consoles didn’t support RGB out of the box. I quickly pickedup my first RGB modded console. there was always one console that I played growing up but didn’t have that I really wanted to play more. It was a console that had huge success in Japan and many great japan only games. One game I wanted to play since I first heard about it in game magazines at the time was Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. This was the driving force to get a TurboDuo. I got my TurboDuo a few years prior but hadn’t picked up this game yet. Well I quickly picked this game up shortly after getting the Framemeister. So I turned around and picked up a PC Engine Duo-R RGB modded.

After picking up more SCART cables for my consoles I really fell back into retro gaming more than modern gaming. The NES was the next console that can’t support RGB out without modding. Learning about the journey to getting RGB out of an NES I found interesting. It seemed to at one point was to use the Arcade PlayChoice systems to mod to an NES was a method. Time Worthington’s NESRGB mod seemed to really set the standard for getting RGB out of NES. I still have my original NES. Playing most of my other old consoles in RGB going to the NES really pointed out the low quality of the composite signal. Well it seemed complicated to find a modder and send out a system and wait a month or more and get your system back. That doesn’t seem so challenging these days. I knew about the difference in appearance the Japanese and European consoles compared to the US versions. The NES in Japan came out there in a very different way. For starters it is called the Family Computer. There was a keyboard and a floppy drive for it. Learning about the extra sound channels and the Famicom Disk System games had me leaning to getting an AV Famicom with an RGB mod. I thought if I’m going to buy another NES why not get something different and have the option to play Japanese NES games. With a simple cartridge adaptor I can play my NES games. I couldn’t see a downside. I’m really happy with this decision. NES with RGB has really provided a clean image that makes it for me even more enjoyable.

The next system that I needed to get an adaptor to work with my Framemeister was my Dreamcast. The Dreamcast supports VGA. VGA is another type of RGB signal. The Dreamcast can output a 480p signal through VGA. Many games support VGA on the Dreamcast and some can also be forced. Not all VGA adaptors are equal. This is what I was learning about while researching. A wrinkle about VGA and the Framemeister is that the Framemeister doesn’t support VGA. I found a solution to this problem. The Toro made by the BeHaro Bros solves this problem while also being a great VGA adaptor as well. This device cleverly takes the VGA signal and remaps the wiring to output 480p through SCART as well as VGA. This was great. This was another console that uses SCART.

Two years after getting the Framemiester the consoles that I am using SCART has grown. Now there is a pile of cables I’m swapping out into my Framemeister. The next thing for my Setup was to attempt to tackle cable management with Switchers. I have used Switchers since the 16 bit generation when I had my NES, SNES and Genesis hooked up to my TV through Composite then S-Video and later Component switchers. I think I looked at SCART switchers for about a year. Looking at switchers confirmed to me I made a good decision early to go with SCART over JP21. I finally pickedup a SCART Switcher. The gSCARTsw is what I now have. It has 8 inputs and 2 outputs.

The more I ventured into Getting RGB cables for my consoles to hook up with my Framemeister the more I kept seeing more about PVMs and BVMs. I am still looking into utilizing the component input of my CRT with an SCART adaptor or flirting with getting HD retrovision’s component cables. It wasn’t until I saw a PVM playing retro games with the same SCART cables to an RGB BNC adaptor that I remembered about these monitors. I had seen these before in High School TV and film class in the editing station. The PVM looks great and with RGB connections it handles the clean signal great. I had been looking online for them for about a year off and on. Stalking Craigslist for them. Recently I got my first PVM. Now I can play on the HDTV or on my PVM.

Well that is a long and also condensed version of my journey into RGB gaming. I plan to revisit and expand on some of these and talk more about what I didn’t cover here in the future. I feel in some way I have gone full circle.


Welcome to Nostalgic Pixel!

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This is the first post. I thought I would write a little post about what I’m thinking about posting on this site. I plan to write about video games and sometimes movies and art. I’m thinking about sharing my journey in playing video games and focus on retro games. I still play everything so new games maybe talked about. I also hope to share stories I found around the web with you. Videos also are something I want to put together and share here. I hope an added benefit is a outlet to write.

Well the YouTube channel has begun and it is about time to get this off the ground. Twitter is the place I have been the most active. I will tweet out my posts from there. I also have a Facebook page where if I remember to post there I will. I also think that I can work out ideas here before I make them a video. Some ideas don’t need to be videos as well.

I know this first post will not be perfect and this site will be in a state of change but it is time to get this up and fill it with content.