Emulation Station: best way for all-in-one emulator device

Emulation Station: best way for all-in-one emulator device
by on (#27557)
This was brought up in my Yobo FC thread and I thought I should create another thread to flesh out this discussion more fully. Personally the method I am looking at is a very basic custom PC with just enough hardware to run NES, SNES, Genesis, and N64 (and maybe Turbografx, etc.) and then a composite output converter to play it on a standard definition TV (no expensive HD compatible stuff) the way it was meant to be played. The thread itself is to discuss the best way to accomplish this with a particular interest in minimal cost to achieve ~95% accuracy (tiny nuances in graphics and sound from cheaper hardware is acceptable). In other words, a free ROM version of Wii virtual console. Price estimates welcome and encouraged.

by on (#27560)
If you are comfortable with building hardware and working with Windows, you might want to check out what people have done with "NES PCs". Basically its a mini itx board inside a NES shell. All the ports go out the back, some people put the cd/dvd inside the cart area and wire the controller ports for USB. The itx boards almost always have composite video output. Typically the computers are underpowered for recent games (bad 3d acceleration), but work great for emulators. EPIA boards generally run ~$200, add maybe $100 in other parts. Definitely get tons of USB hubs so you never have to swap controllers!

Other than that, get a Mac Mini :)

by on (#27561)
Already done. GP2X.

by on (#27564)
Except the GP2X has no way to add controllers for multiplayer. Doesn't have N64 either but I don't know how well a super cheap pc will handle it either.

by on (#27565)
Well shoot, if I was going to go the GP2X route I would just use my N-Gage QD (which I do use already). I'm looking for extreme accuracy and authenticity at least for 16-bit and prior and pretty decent accuracy for N64. This would mean hardware acceleration is a must. What do you think about used PCs? you think I could find something suitable from a used computer store? I actually have a PC laptop thats 2 or 3 years old that runs N64 emulators fine, it just takes FOREVER to boot because it used to be my dad's and it has all of this auto-update shit that constantly runs and ties up the CPU. Do you think I could just reinstall Windows XP with a minimal install and it would boot in 1~2 minutes? My idea behind the custom PC is that it would boot almost instantly more like a console rather than a normal PC that can take minutes to turn on and off because of all of the software. Also I wanted the aesthetic appeal of knowing that the PC was purely for emulation.

by on (#27566)
Actually my OC'd PIII w/ 256MB of RAM & a TNT2m64 handled N64 emulation extremely well...built that PC out of spare parts practically...

by on (#27569)
What the the clock speed on your P3? The mini itx boards are in the 1.2GHz range now, but it is a cut down processor so it won't be directly comparable but will be generally the right range.

by on (#27575)
Let's see...it's a 133x4=533MHz CPU, & I had it set at...155x4=620MHz. (I know ~90MHz is nothing by today's standards, but remember the ratio; it's about a 1/7 raise in speed)

17daysold, if you want to use the laptop, format everything & install Win2K or ReactOS. If you install Win2K, disable all network services & be sure to install the latest DirectX 9.0C redistributable from Microsoft.com. Oh, & drivers, etc etc...

by on (#27576)
N64 on a 600 P3 is impressive, I would have guessed it would need lots more. Wonder how much of that is off loaded onto the graphics card.

You should be able to easily get fresh XP install down to 30 secs boot time. There are tons of services you can turn off. Finding a system that sleeps and wakes correctly would be faster, laptop should do that fine. Adding the composite output to a laptop is harder tho. The main issues with just used desktop PCs would be the size and noise. If its hidden or inside a cabinet that may not matter.

by on (#27582)
I remember playing N64 games using UltraHLE on a P3 500mhz with a voodoo3 card and it worked pretty good.

by on (#27584)
Corn ran Mario 64 fullspeed on a PII-233.

by on (#27586)
Just remember that Nintendo 64 emulation right now is pretty much one giant hack. When its properly emulated (emulating all the various CPUs and other hardware), the system requirements will probably go up vs what it is right now for the current "HLE" emulators.

by on (#27597)
For the NES, an inexpensive option would be to get an original Xbox and soft-mod it, which is free and doesn't require any mod-chip. Then install MednafenX-NES. It has better game compatibility than NOAC based clones, but it is still not as accurate as Nestopia... and definitely no replacement for a real NES.

by on (#27660)
when you guys undertake projects like this, do you use composite output from the PC to TV or use some high def cabling.

The reason I ask is that using composite with NTSC introduces some bad dot crawl, or is that part of the charm :)

by on (#27664)
I've seen programs that output composite through the VGA port. I wouldn't be surprised if there where ones that outputted S-video as well...

by on (#27667)
atari2600a wrote:
I've seen programs that output composite through the VGA port. I wouldn't be surprised if there where ones that outputted S-video as well...

How would someone do that? I thought you needed a video card with TV output (composite or/and s-video) for that...

by on (#27670)
In hardware: Some video cards don't have room for an RCA or Mini-DIN connector for composite or S-video. Instead, they send composite video through an adapter connected to the DE15 connector on the card.

In software: Reprogram the VGA to generate 15734 Hz (by setting the scanline width to double what it should be), set the number of scanlines to 240 out of 262, and then generate the composite signal on the green channel. But the VGA dot clock is either 7.04 or 7.92 times the NTSC color subcarrier, which could pose a problem.

by on (#27672)
tepples wrote:
In hardware: Some video cards don't have room for an RCA or Mini-DIN connector for composite or S-video. Instead, they send composite video through an adapter connected to the DE15 connector on the card.

This is not very interesting.

Quote:
In software: Reprogram the VGA to generate 15734 Hz (by setting the scanline width to double what it should be), set the number of scanlines to 240 out of 262, and then generate the composite signal on the green channel. But the VGA dot clock is either 7.04 or 7.92 times the NTSC color subcarrier, which could pose a problem.

This is very interesting, emulator-wise. If the color subcarrier problem can be worked around, emulators could try to produce more accurate images like this, no? Are there any other ports in a PC that could possibly be used to output composite signals?