Separate to the Retro vs Modern TV blog (which is really out of date at the moment) I thought I'd document the gear I've got, what I've done to it and why. Just because there's so little here that's standard and it might prove interesting / useful.
Please note; being in the UK, we mostly mod-chip consoles to allow us to play US and Japanese titles. As we're the poor cousins of the two video game giants, we tend to miss out on a lot of things. Mainly English translated Japanese titles that get a release in the States, but not here. But also some of the quirkier Japanese titles that don't even make it out of the country. Now I accept that mod-chips have the side effect of being able to play non-original media. But I'm in no way advocating that. Likewise things like flash drives and mods that allow you to write games to SD/HDD, which I have many of. This is mostly for convenience, but also to allow the play of homebrew and fan translated material.
The Atari was last seen with a bodge it in composite mod in RvMTV blog. I wasn't 100% happy with that, so bought a Ultimate Atari Video (UAV) board from one of the guys on Atari Age. Well that didn't go well and I ended up coming to the conclusion that there was something quite wrong with my 2600. So Cleggy bought one also, and we built one working VCS out of the pair of them. Now annoyingly this thing has the greatest picture I've ever seen come out of a VCS ever (running S-Video from the UAV). It's annoying because that machine is now his as I went on to buy a 7800. Bah! Anyhow it got a re-cap, and we replaced the awful button strip with some proper buttons. It's pretty much perfect.
Update: Finally bagged another 2600jr, UAV modded it and this one works perfectly and gives a staggeringly good picture.
I bought this while trying to snag another 2600 for buttons. One of the beauties of being able to restore kit ourselves means that we tend to target broken or shabby looking old consoles/computers and restore them. Well this 7800 was shonky alright! It was also £30, so I can't really complain.
It was however rusty as hell, to the point that the RF shielding just went into the bin, there was no saving that. The board then got a serious de-rusting and cleaning. The rust had sadly leached into a lot of things, it needed replacement buttons jacks and switches. Luckily I had jacks and switches from the broken VCS that were in really good condition, and I managed to get the buttons new. The regulator was hanging on by a whisker so that got replaced also. Along with fitting a more useful PSU jack. While it was apart it got re-capped and was fitted with a UAV board outputting Luma + Chroma that my Commodore 1702 monitor chews on.
All up it's now not too shabby, works really well, and though not quite as nice a picture as the 2600, it isn't a million miles away. It'll do.
The Jaguar is pretty standard. I fitted a 50/60hz switch on it as even though it's a region free console, the PAL standard does slow things down a little. I also modded a couple of controllers with spinners especially for Tempest 2000 and Rebooteroids. It's plugged in via RGB using a cable from Retro Computer Cables.
Binatone Colour TV Game
A 5 year old Juan and his 11 year old brother got one of these back in 1977. It was only a matter of time before I got my hands on the first console I ever had; the venerable Binatone Colour TV Game Model 01/4931. Catchy name, and it works on 'any size... any brand... colour OR black & white TV's!'.
These were very popular back in the day available from your local Woolworth's for £12.95 (they've held their value, worth about that now...), it's a pong machine on a chip (AY-3-8500 manufactured by General Instruments Corporation) that was used in just about everything at the time. Ours was the Colour TV Game model in drab beige, the B&W only one was bright orange and despite being the first one, was called the MkIV. The pong IC itself doesn't output colour, that was all done with some analogue jiggery pokery afterwards. Which wasn't working, nor was the sound. To be expected on a 41 year old made in Hong Kong machine.
The sound turned out to be some broken cables and some old dodgy solder joints (there were a few of those). The colour I decided to bypass completely. I'm not sure I ever even played ours back in the day on a colour tv anyhow. I *think* the player 2 bat is black and the background is green. Otherwise it's the same... Something like that. I actually prefer the traditional white on black for Pong as that's what I'm used to. Fettling was still required because it's not composite (turns out the next chip they did was, which would have been really handy). So, we've removed the modulator, disconnected all the colour circuitry, ran the 4 picture outputs (player one bat, player two bat, ball and score & playfield) each through a diode, then combined the sync out through a 20k resistor into a simple buffer circuit to get something resembling composite video out of it. It took a bit of experimentation, but in the end it's got a really solid and great picture. Way, way better than back in the day.
It's still as simple and addictive as ever.
The OG Xbox is pretty much just that. It's got a hard mod and a big HDD, but is otherwise as you would expect. Currently plugged in via component, and the only console I've got left plugged in that way!
Microsoft Xbox 360 Slim
NEC PC-Engine Duo
The Duo's are notorious for having bad caps. To the point that, a cap job is mandatory and I just happened to luck on a pre-modded one. A very nice job the fella made of it too. It's re-capped, RGB modded and de-jailbarred. It produces a lovely picture and looks pretty damned solid.
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
A bit of an odd beast this, another pre-modded eBay special. A UK console with a region free mod and 50/60hz switch. Works well with just about everything so quite happy with that. Runs RGB as standard through a nice Retro Gaming Cables SCART lead. I also technically have an NTSC one also, but I ended up giving that to Cleggy and keeping the UK one. The US one probably gives a slightly nicer picture, but there's not a lot in it.
Nintendo 64 (Japanese with 240V PSU)
I had so much bother with this it's untrue. I started out with a UK model and I just couldn't get it to play nice with my TV. RGB modded it and the works, to the point that with PAL material it was stunning, but still had problems with NTSC stuff. Eventually I just bit the bullet and bought another, this time a Japanese console, jammed a UK PSU in the back (nice and easy on an N64) and RGB modded it (also much easier on a Japanese/US console). Which seems to have fixed everything.
One thing I am running now is a Raphnet Gamecube to N64 gamepad adapter. Because I just hate N64 controllers. Until the RetroFighters pad comes out, this is the only way to play.
This is actually one of my original GameCubes, and one of the few old consoles I never sold on. I went through a lot back in the day because I Qoob modded them at the time and finding one that'd work properly with the mod and multi-disk games was a complete crap-shoot. I got there in the end. You tend to find we're not shy about modding consoles here, because we've always had to do it. The plus side of all this is that the UK has been working multi-region for eons, so all our TVs are, and our consoles also tend to run RGB as standard. So it's not all bad.
The main thing with the GameCube is the video output options. I've regressed in that respect as I used to run it using the insanely expensive (I had it from back in the day so it wasn't for me thankfully) component video lead. I've gone into the whys and wherefores of that in the retro vs modern TVs blog. As I've gone back to CRT with my GameCube, I'm now running it on a standard UK RGB lead. Which has a little bit of crosstalk interference, but it's hardly noticeable.
There's also a Gameboy Player plugged into the bottom of it, because it's awesome.
Almost bought this one by accident, it was just so cheap. Never really wanted one as I thought it was all just dance bollocks and what have you. Turns out it's actually one of the best consoles ever made, and once hacked, possibly THE best. When it comes to emulating old stuff this thing is unsurpassed, especially as most things output 240p. Couple that to a lovely RGB output to a CRT and it's just a perfect thing.
Nintendo Wii U
The unloved Nintendo. With a few very good reasons; it was bloody expensive, as were the accessories, and you needed a load of them. Shame really as the games on it were really rather brilliant. Indeed they've redeemed themselves on the Nintendo Switch as very few people had a Wii U so don't realise they're just ports.
For the U though, that big ass controller has piss poor battery life. You can get a bigger battery from Nintendo. It should have come with it as standard given the cost of the thing. It didn't and it needs it if you plan to play Xenoblade for the sorts of lengths of time that I did. Of course, it's expensive. It also doesn't have a network port on the back, there's an adapter, it's expensive (my WiFi doesn't get to it...). Then there's the matter of the controllers if you want to use it for Wii backwards compatibility. So... many... controllers... All of which cost a bloody fortune.
All that said, I love the thing. I really think it had so many strong games on it, and it's one of my favourite consoles. Sadly I can't see the prices of any of it coming down soon given how few of them sold.
Sega Megadrive (Asian 240V)
Ah Sega's definition of Asian being anything west of Japan and east of Europe. So I guess this might be a Hong Kong model given it's got a 240V PSU, but it's standard system is PAL-I. Either way, it's got a region switch on the back to flip between PAL at 50hz, NTSC/J and NTSC/U at 60hz. Another idiosyncrasy of the Megadrive is that though it's RGB on board, if you get a standard RGB lead, the sound will be in mono. If you want stereo you need one that has a break out lead to go to the stereo headphone jack on the front of the console. Retro Gaming Cables to the rescue.
Sega Saturn (Asian 240V)
Another Asian Sega. Same deal as above in that it's 240V, but this one outputs NTSC/J. I went a bit to town on this as it's got both a mod chip and a region switch. The latter of which I really didn't need to do as later I bought an Action Replay cartridge that does that for you. It was an easy mod anyhow, so it's no biggy.
The other console that I never sold. Though unlike the GameCube this is my original Dreamcast and my favourite console of all time. This has seen a lot of use and had gone a particularly nasty shade of yellow. I re-cased it with a US box with a view to retrobriting my original case at some point. Though I like the red swirl so I might not do that.
It's also not escaped the soldering iron. One of the annoying things with the Dreamcast is that as standard it'll play copied games, but it won't play other region originals. Something I wanted to be able to do. So it's now got a region free bios in there, which is a chip swap and a couple of wires. While in there I swapped out the rechargeable battery for a socketed rechargeable. It still doesn't keep the date and time particularly long, but it's better than it was. Finally mine was starting to sound like a tornado, so I got a Noctua fan and a friend 3D printed me a new fan cowl and switch mechanism to fit it in there.
Your basic mod-chipped PSX. Plays anything you stick in it. Video via RGB from the usual place.
Sony Playstation 2 Slim
A mod-chipped PS2. I'm not entirely sure why I did this other than the chip was £5 and it looked a challenge to fit (it was). It also runs FreeMcBoot (soft mod) and will essentially play anything. Though it doesn't like PSX games, this model was annoyingly known for frying it's laser trying. It's an odd bug, that I could have fixed had I not installed the mod chip where the fix needs doing. Not that I'm bothered as I have the PSX and the following:
Sony Playstation 2 Debug Station
Again, I'm not really sure why given I'd just mod-chipped the Slim. It's cool I suppose... This one is ex-Rockstar games and was allegedly used in the development of GTA San Andreas, which is funky. It'll also play just about anything you put into it. PS2 originals from any region, but it only behaves with PSX games from the UK. Down to it not switching standard when running NTSC material (if you get an NTSC Debug Station, it doesn't switch to PAL either, it's a feature...). My plans of replacing all my PS2/PSX with this were a bit scuppered by that. Shame.
What it did allow me to do was fit a HDD, which is particularly useful for running games that have become so stupidly expensive that they're not worth buying.
Sony Playstation 3 slim
1TB HDD, otherwise standard.
Sony Playstation 4 slim
2TB internal and 2TB external HDDs (that's modern consoles for you...), otherwise standard.
SNK Neo Geo CDZ (Japan)
More fun and games with this one. The laser was out of alignment when I got it, thankfully a small tweak got that going no probs. It's no biggy on this anyhow as it's a fairly standard mechanism to swap out. Other than that I swapped the battery and fitted a region switch that goes between US and Jap. Like the Megadrive, when you get multi-region games, that also changes the language of the OSD.
I also made a homebrew joystick using arcade parts, because these really should be played on a stick, and because I can.
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