Gaming on the Sega Omega Drive & the PC Engine SD

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Just a few shots of the Sega Omega Drive playing the very excellent Contra: Hard Corps! I played with an Everdrive as the game has reached a rediculous price-tag, but I gotta say – It’s almost worth a slapped wallet.

The video output is a 640×480 VGA signal from an SLG-in-a-Box by Arcade Forge converting SCART RGB signal from a Genesis 2 board and pushing it through a scanline generator.

Hooking up the PC Engine SD via SCART to the Sega Omega Drive to play one of the best versions of R-Type, the grimey Alien Crush and the excellent Bonk!

The video output does not go through the SLG-in-a-box, but rather a scanline generator to SCART/HD converter. This allows both the Genesis board and external console to play in parallel, with a secondary monitor.

Good Times.

The Sega Omega Drive

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After building a few all-in-one systems like the STARFORCE PI and STARFORCE NEO I realized that I wanted to do something really special with the console that I grew up with and had the fondest childhood memories: The Sega Mega Drive. Additionally, I wanted to be able to connect other oldschool consoles to it, making a central game feature with a true arcade edge! After nearly a year of testing my girlfriend’s patience I finished it: The Sega Omega Drive Dedicated Oldschool Entertainment System (DOES).

Built inside a 1987 Sega AfterBurner arcade bezel imported from the US, this system features an original Sega Genesis 2 motherboard which means the games aren’t emulated and play supremely well via one of the two dedicated systems inside, that collectively support all the popular high-quality analog and digital video inputs. The 4:3 aspect ratio 19″ LCD screen fits snugly into the bezel, and the black matte exterior houses a 5 Watt dual stereo speaker system by Logitech, delivering an impressive deep sound, with the option to connect external audio capture devices or headphones through the 3.5mm audio jack.

The Genesis cartridge slot blends neatly into the bezel, supporting the entire library of Mega Drive/Genesis and Master System (via adapter) games, and brings thrilling 2-player arcade action with two essential Genesis compatible controller input ports. The real power lies behind the control panel, which houses an array of video input options, all needed to play those classic video game systems. SCART, VGA, RGB, YPbPr and even HDMI inputs run through internal scanline generators to pump out an awesome arcade experience. Two faders allows for a greater control of the stereo sound from the Genesis, SCART or RCA audio input, while an additional HDMI-output allows this system to run the Genesis in parallel to a connected second console on a second screen! A power port at the side means any console can just be plugged into a video input port, and powered by the system itself – no extension cords needed.

Rubber grips are able to hold a Sega cartridge case firmly above the cartridge slot, between the fully functional blazing red AfterBurner lights, giving the gamer an interchangeable marquee and a satisfying arcade environment, every time. The transparant backpanel keeps the internals shielded, while allowing the lights to emit ambient background lighting.

The PC Engine SD

This was a little sideproject while I was waiting for parts to finish the Omega Drive, but I think it turned out pretty neat! You can read more on the PC Engine SD in my previous post, but as you can see I made it to fit nicely with the look of the Omega Drive.

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The Sega Omega Drive Dedicated Oldschool Entertainment System cost roughly the same as the STARFORCE NEO to build, around €600, coming mostly from the upscaler/scanline generator setups and bezel. However, it was considerably more time consuming to construct due to the size and the rather complicated wiring. Nevertheless, the end result is very exciting and unique.

Marcel J. de Haan
SFP Development Team

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SPECS:

  • Authentic Sega Genesis Model 2 hardware
  • JAP|US|EU Mega Drive/Genesis Cartride Compatible
  • 2x Genesis Controller Inputs (Player 1 & 2)
  • Integrated 19” 720p LCD Screen (4:3)
  • Video Input: HDMI, VGA, RGB, YPbPr & SCART. Output: HDMI
  • Vid1: ArcadeForge’s SLG-in-a-Box (scaler board, Sync Strike and SLG3000 in one)
  • Vid2: ArcadeForge’s Scanline Generator + HD video converter
  • Audio Input: Left/Right stereo RCA
  • Logitech Z130 Internal 5 Watt Stereo Speakers
  • 3.5mm Headphone Stereo Jack
  • Fully Functional Arcade Lighting through 12v cold cathode tubes
  • Extra power output port for additional console (230v)
  • Classic 1987 Sega AfterBurner Converted Bezel
  • Dimensions: 80 x 60 x 30 cm, Weight: damn heavy

The PC Engine SD

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Building a gaming console to commercial standard production is tough work. It comes with lots of trial and error and a dependence on outside help, expertise and collaboration. With little money, this process is glacial, but with dedication and tenacity, at least some of you will enjoy portable arcade gaming with the STARFORCE PI in the future! Until that time, I continue my quest to reinvent old consoles and bring them into the future. My latest creation: the PC Engine SD

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Built inside a converted 1990 Amstrad GX4000 case, the system features an original first-model PC Engine motherboard which means the games aren’t emulated, the best RGB analog audio/video signal through component, composite or SCART output, full compatibility with PC Engine peripherals such as controllers and multitaps, and an SD-to-HuCard reader using the Turbo Everdrive V2.5 supporting all PC Engine and TurboGrafx-16 games. The SD card simply slots in the front, together with the controller (or controllers via a multitap), and the system is ready to be used. No load times – Plug’n’Play!

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Relative to my other builds, like the STARFORCE NEO or the upcoming Sega Omega Drive, this was a relatively fast and straightforward build. It took 2 months in total to finish, and cost about €225 to build, including controllers, SCART cable, adapter, and multitap. I would’ve liked to collect for this system, but I noticed prices for PC engine games were just becoming ridiculous, and because I don’t have a childhood connection to the system, I had no problem simply switching to SD cards.

It turned out rather nice! Very simple, still quite compact and attractive, and with a really 1990s edge to the look.

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About PC Engine:
It it one of the lesser-known 4th generation video gaming consoles but it was in fact the first released in the era of 16-bit systems. Known as the TurboGrafx-16 in the US, it went after the video gaming juggernaut Nintendo and their 8-bit entertainment system, but ended up competing with the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) and the SNES in the Console Wars of the early 90s. Sadly, its tiny 8-bit CPU and limited success outside Japan was no match, and faded away by the mid-90s. But it’s a great system and deserves some retrogaming love!

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PC Engine SD SPECS:

  • Authentic NEC PC Engine Model 1 Hardware
  • PC Engine & TurboGrafx-16 Compatible
  • 1x PC Engine Controller Input (Compatible with 5 Player Multitap)
  • Composite/Component/SCART RGB Audio/Video Output
  • SD-to-HuCard Conversion via Turbo EverDrive 2.5
  • Standard SD Card Compatible (Up to 32GB)
  • Vintage 1990 Amstrad GX4000 Converted Case
  • Dimensions: 25 x 4.4 x 18.4 cm, Weight: 0.9kg (2lbs)

All roads lead to China

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My Fellow Retronions

It has been a bit radio silent for a while over here at Chez SFP, so for those who want the quick-fire update and skip the entire story, check it:

  • The rough CAD designs were finished by our Serbian development team, and look good!
  • The engineer and I are working on extra features of the SFP Arcade Shield SFP
  • A new connection for case production has been established with a French-Chinese science team
  • This connection will:
    • Use a prototype, mockups and CAD design to give us a cost estimate
    • Develop soft-molding tools to produce 100 cases
    • Produce packaging with original artwork
    • Manage assembly and testing of the units (cost-permitting)

The pre-order announcement date is still not known, it will be announced when the complete per-unit cost has been estimated.

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The Life Fantastic
So, what’s been going on? I haven’t been posting a lot because my personal life has gotten very busy indeed. We got a little boy this summer named Dax and parenthood is pretty heavy. Not difficult per se, but very time-intensive. Additionally, I’ve entered the last half year of my PhD and things are speeding up – deadlines are mounting and the pressure to publish is increasing. Many of my friends have abandoned a career in academia, going into technology startups and I gotta tell you… it’s tempting. Anyway, that’s not the point; you wanna know what’s happening with the STARFORCE PI, right?!

The STARFORCE PI
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts & blogs, the difficulty lies in finding a good solution to produce 100 cases. For 1 case you can go the route of 3D-printing, for 1000+ cases you can go the route of injection molding tools intended for mass-production. Of course the first is good for prototyping, and the latter is our final goal, but in the meantime we were left finding a good solution, and this was tough.

But! We were able to find a producer in Shenzhen, China. We got in touch with a French-Chinese tech collective over there, and they were very interested!

We should be able to present some concept structure of the case design soon. In parallel, I’ve been discussing with our engineer to see if we can include some cool options discovered on arcade & engineering forums, and if these ideas can be implemented by our engineer in a cost-effective Arcade Shield PCB, we’ll have a very merry X-mas indeed. SO! We’ve been quiet, but we’ve not been sitting still – hang in there folks. Additionally, I’ve been working on a new console build after the STARFORCE NEO… it’s a good one.

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The Sega Omega Drive
My latest console creation is gonna be a killer, built around my childhood console, the Sega Genesis. It’s not completely wired up yet and it still looks rough, but it should be impressive! I’ve been working on it for quite a few months, so as a teaser I’ll share the control panel. It’s made to accept pretty much every video feed, so all consoles can pretty much work on this monster system.

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Q&A
You’ve got questions? Totally understandable, drop us a line at info@starforcepi.com under the header ‘Q&A’ and I’ll be sure to get back soon. Alternatively, the blog, twitter and facebook are good options. Game On!

 

Console & Arcade Gaming!

let’s see what this baby can do… 

Now with an upgraded magnification window, making your 5″ VGA screen near 7″ of monstrous arcade gameplay! Let’s see how some of my favorite Konami, Capcom and SNK classics respond to premium Seimitsu button mashing with razersharp videoplayback!

After the top video featuring Arcade-only Games, we cover Console Gaming on the STARFORCE PI! With 23 games from different consoles that look great on the large magnified window,and work flawlessly with different controllers, in 2 player mode, and even on an HD monitor!

That’ll be the last teaser video I make on the STARFORCE PI – the next video will be on pre-ordering and producing details, so stay tuned!

Feedback Matters…

…and listening benefits us greatly!

The fresnel lens window was something that I had all but abandoned in the last SFP video, but you guys really encouraged me to find another solution, and so here we are with a really awesome huge screen, covering almost the entire window! It’s also made me revisit the Arcade Shield (the connectivity board between the RasPi and controls/power/video/etc) to jam more arcade-true features into it. A video comparing the latest SFP videoplayback and emulation with the SFNeo is on its way, but for the time being: check out the significant video playback upgrade in pictures.

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I know it’s slow-going, sorry for that, we’re all working full-time jobs and have families. We want to make sure we get all the important parts right and have very clear production agreements before we take pre-orders. This particular unit is being shipped to the production company in Serbia we’re working with for a design update and a new rough CAD design which will be used for the production estimate. Once we have this final estimate, we will calculate the per-unit production price, negotiate contracts with vendors and start the pre-order campaign.