VOGONS


Reply 600 of 772, by 43purism

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Hello guys, my first message here. Thanks for the author and everyone involved in this awesome project. I can’t wait to build my weeCee too.

First I have to say that the weeCee ticks many of the boxes of what I see as the perfect retro gaming board. I understand that this forum is mainly about reliving the authentic feeling with old games but I am interested in new ways of enjoying old games using modern technology too. I have been lurking here on this forum for quite some time now and as far as I can see, I’m in the minority of people wanting to get pixel perfect images from DOS machines. Of course I can get a cheap monitor with VGA input or a solution like OSSC that converts VGA signal to HDMI or DP but none of these options are satisfactory in my opinion. Monitors with VGA input nowadays are old technology, often the picture quality is not pleasant to the eye and almost always is the viewing angle inferior compared to monitors with an IPS or VA panel for example. Besides, getting a VGA monitor solely for playing DOS games is a bit unnecessary if you already have a modern monitor that’s miles ahead in terms of picture quality and whatnot.

Converter solutions are not perfect either. In none of the examples I have seen was the signal converted perfectly to digital and looked undistinguishable from the original, even with the most sophisticated and expensive gear. There is always distortion, warping, blurring etc. involved when converting an analog signal to digital signal.

So I’m exploring ways of getting digital image out of the weeCee. The datasheet of SOM304RD-52VINE1 mentions that the module outputs a digital signal (DVO) meant for LCD displays. You can use a (proprietary?) 44-pin box header connector to connect an LCD screen. This signal can be converted to LVDS using a converter ICOP sells on their website. I was wondering if that LVDS signal could in turn be converted to HDMI or DP for getting a pixel-perfect image. That way you would have the best of both worlds: retro computing on authentic hardware + the advantages emulators like DOSBox have regarding pixel-perfect picture quality.

Reply 601 of 772, by SScorpio

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43purism wrote on 2022-12-04, 13:22:

So I’m exploring ways of getting digital image out of the weeCee. The datasheet of SOM304RD-52VINE1 mentions that the module outputs a digital signal (DVO) meant for LCD displays. You can use a (proprietary?) 44-pin box header connector to connect an LCD screen. This signal can be converted to LVDS using a converter ICOP sells on their website. I was wondering if that LVDS signal could in turn be converted to HDMI or DP for getting a pixel-perfect image. That way you would have the best of both worlds: retro computing on authentic hardware + the advantages emulators like DOSBox have regarding pixel-perfect picture quality.

It's possible there are others, but I've only seen the Geekworm adapter doing LVDS to HDMI. It also is hit or miss, as it doesn't work on every device people, have tried. People use them with the 3/4 scale Arcade1Up cabinets so they can upgrade the LCD panels while still using the original internals which has an onboard LVDS output.

https://geekworm.com/products/lvds-to-hdmi-ad … with-lvds-cable

Reply 602 of 772, by Duffman

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Vridek wrote on 2022-12-04, 13:04:

My hardware is SOM304RD52VINE1 and it's not working.

Can you give some more information please? IDE or XGI driver?
If IDE, is it giving an error message at boot? or in device manager?
If XGI, do you get a display output? does 3D work?

MB: ASRock B550 Steel Legend
CPU: Ryzen 9 5950X
RAM: Corsair 64GB Kit (4x16GB) DDR4 Veng LPX C18 4000MHz
SSDs: 2x Crucial MX500 1TB SATA + 1x Samsung 980 (non-pro) 1TB NVMe SSD
OSs: Win 11 Pro (NVMe) + WinXP Pro SP3 (SATA)
GPU: RTX2070 (11) GT730 (XP)

Reply 603 of 772, by Vridek

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Duffman wrote on 2022-12-04, 14:05:
Can you give some more information please? IDE or XGI driver? If IDE, is it giving an error message at boot? or in device manage […]
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Vridek wrote on 2022-12-04, 13:04:

My hardware is SOM304RD52VINE1 and it's not working.

Can you give some more information please? IDE or XGI driver?
If IDE, is it giving an error message at boot? or in device manager?
If XGI, do you get a display output? does 3D work?

I'll describe in detail what I did.

1. I downloaded TBPLUS and WeeCee3D.
2. I copied the TBPLUS files to C:/Windows and ran the install.bat file.
3. I restarted the computer.
4. I entered the BIOS to set the IDE from Legacy to Native mod. I saved it and rebooted.
5. I installed the XGI driver via the XGIRun.exe file which took about 20 minutes.
6. After installation, the computer rebooted and searched for drivers.
7. No error or error message occurred.
8. I tried 3D Mark but it reported that I did not have supported hardware. Just no 3D support.
9. The drivers only changed version but no display output in 3D.

I haven't tried any 3D games. I relied on programs like 3D MARK.

Reply 604 of 772, by Vridek

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43purism wrote on 2022-12-04, 13:22:
Hello guys, my first message here. Thanks for the author and everyone involved in this awesome project. I can’t wait to build my […]
Show full quote

Hello guys, my first message here. Thanks for the author and everyone involved in this awesome project. I can’t wait to build my weeCee too.

First I have to say that the weeCee ticks many of the boxes of what I see as the perfect retro gaming board. I understand that this forum is mainly about reliving the authentic feeling with old games but I am interested in new ways of enjoying old games using modern technology too. I have been lurking here on this forum for quite some time now and as far as I can see, I’m in the minority of people wanting to get pixel perfect images from DOS machines. Of course I can get a cheap monitor with VGA input or a solution like OSSC that converts VGA signal to HDMI or DP but none of these options are satisfactory in my opinion. Monitors with VGA input nowadays are old technology, often the picture quality is not pleasant to the eye and almost always is the viewing angle inferior compared to monitors with an IPS or VA panel for example. Besides, getting a VGA monitor solely for playing DOS games is a bit unnecessary if you already have a modern monitor that’s miles ahead in terms of picture quality and whatnot.

Converter solutions are not perfect either. In none of the examples I have seen was the signal converted perfectly to digital and looked undistinguishable from the original, even with the most sophisticated and expensive gear. There is always distortion, warping, blurring etc. involved when converting an analog signal to digital signal.

So I’m exploring ways of getting digital image out of the weeCee. The datasheet of SOM304RD-52VINE1 mentions that the module outputs a digital signal (DVO) meant for LCD displays. You can use a (proprietary?) 44-pin box header connector to connect an LCD screen. This signal can be converted to LVDS using a converter ICOP sells on their website. I was wondering if that LVDS signal could in turn be converted to HDMI or DP for getting a pixel-perfect image. That way you would have the best of both worlds: retro computing on authentic hardware + the advantages emulators like DOSBox have regarding pixel-perfect picture quality.

New monitors have a problem with Win98. I had a Samsung monitor here that supported VGA but required Full HD from Win98 and wouldn't boot because of it. So I bought a Dell E1715S 17" monitor which has no problem if Win98 goes to 800x600 resolution.

Reply 605 of 772, by Duffman

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Vridek wrote on 2022-12-04, 13:04:
I'll describe in detail what I did. […]
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I'll describe in detail what I did.

1. I downloaded TBPLUS and WeeCee3D.
2. I copied the TBPLUS files to C:/Windows and ran the install.bat file.
3. I restarted the computer.
4. I entered the BIOS to set the IDE from Legacy to Native mod. I saved it and rebooted.
5. I installed the XGI driver via the XGIRun.exe file which took about 20 minutes.
6. After installation, the computer rebooted and searched for drivers.
7. No error or error message occurred.
8. I tried 3D Mark but it reported that I did not have supported hardware. Just no 3D support.
9. The drivers only changed version but no display output in 3D.

I haven't tried any 3D games. I relied on programs like 3D MARK.

Just to be sure the IDE driver installed properly run INSTALL.BAT from within the TBPLUS directory and not the WINDOWS directory - it should say TBPLUS PATCHES INSTALLED SUCCESSFULLY when it's finished.
Then check in device manager if the Standard PCI IDE Controller has a yellow exclamation mark next to it or not.

Thanks for trying the modded XGI driver, it seems there is no 3D on this chip, I'll be able to confirm this myself when I get my WeeCee soon. perhaps I missed something.

MB: ASRock B550 Steel Legend
CPU: Ryzen 9 5950X
RAM: Corsair 64GB Kit (4x16GB) DDR4 Veng LPX C18 4000MHz
SSDs: 2x Crucial MX500 1TB SATA + 1x Samsung 980 (non-pro) 1TB NVMe SSD
OSs: Win 11 Pro (NVMe) + WinXP Pro SP3 (SATA)
GPU: RTX2070 (11) GT730 (XP)

Reply 606 of 772, by 43purism

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SScorpio wrote on 2022-12-04, 13:57:

It's possible there are others, but I've only seen the Geekworm adapter doing LVDS to HDMI. It also is hit or miss, as it doesn't work on every device people, have tried. People use them with the 3/4 scale Arcade1Up cabinets so they can upgrade the LCD panels while still using the original internals which has an onboard LVDS output.
https://geekworm.com/products/lvds-to-hdmi-ad … with-lvds-cable

Interesting. We have to make sure a solution like that supports resolutions that are typical in a DOS setup like 320x200, 640x400, 700x400 etc. And let's add 70 or even 85 hertz to that.
Don't forget that 70 hertz already is going to pose a problem for IPS monitors. Some kind of 'reverse frame interpolation' solution that converts 70hz image to 60hz. That would require some FPGA implementation I think.
Anyway, the first goal is to get the 60hz refresh rate to work of course, 70hz can be considered later. I'll take a look around and see if there's any existing solution that supports lower resolutions.

Vridek wrote on 2022-12-04, 21:52:

New monitors have a problem with Win98. I had a Samsung monitor here that supported VGA but required Full HD from Win98 and wouldn't boot because of it. So I bought a Dell E1715S 17" monitor which has no problem if Win98 goes to 800x600 resolution.

Are you sure this is an OS problem and not related to not supporting lower resolutions due to scaling issues etc. ?

Reply 607 of 772, by NachtRave

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So we finally fixed SN11! It turns out it was a bridged pin on a completely different part of the SOM header, not even related to the ISA bus. You could just barely see it but as we were tilting it at an extreme angle we were able to spot it. Once fixed, the Crystal chip programmed fine -- leading to the aged old vantage: IT'S (ALMOST) ALWAYS A SOLDERING ISSUE.

Anyways, we cleaned it up and finished putting it all together, and now have it up on eBay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/334657135663

We have 8 we're putting up for sale, starting with SN11, then SN15-SN21.

We're sending SN13 to The 8-Bit Guy and SN14 to Adrian's Digital Basement for YT review. Give them first dibs on each, else we'll put those on eBay when we get them back (might be a year+ wait time though they both heavily warned).

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Reply 608 of 772, by NachtRave

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43purism wrote on 2022-12-04, 13:22:
Hello guys, my first message here. Thanks for the author and everyone involved in this awesome project. I can’t wait to build my […]
Show full quote

Hello guys, my first message here. Thanks for the author and everyone involved in this awesome project. I can’t wait to build my weeCee too.

First I have to say that the weeCee ticks many of the boxes of what I see as the perfect retro gaming board. I understand that this forum is mainly about reliving the authentic feeling with old games but I am interested in new ways of enjoying old games using modern technology too. I have been lurking here on this forum for quite some time now and as far as I can see, I’m in the minority of people wanting to get pixel perfect images from DOS machines. Of course I can get a cheap monitor with VGA input or a solution like OSSC that converts VGA signal to HDMI or DP but none of these options are satisfactory in my opinion. Monitors with VGA input nowadays are old technology, often the picture quality is not pleasant to the eye and almost always is the viewing angle inferior compared to monitors with an IPS or VA panel for example. Besides, getting a VGA monitor solely for playing DOS games is a bit unnecessary if you already have a modern monitor that’s miles ahead in terms of picture quality and whatnot.

Converter solutions are not perfect either. In none of the examples I have seen was the signal converted perfectly to digital and looked undistinguishable from the original, even with the most sophisticated and expensive gear. There is always distortion, warping, blurring etc. involved when converting an analog signal to digital signal.

So I’m exploring ways of getting digital image out of the weeCee. The datasheet of SOM304RD-52VINE1 mentions that the module outputs a digital signal (DVO) meant for LCD displays. You can use a (proprietary?) 44-pin box header connector to connect an LCD screen. This signal can be converted to LVDS using a converter ICOP sells on their website. I was wondering if that LVDS signal could in turn be converted to HDMI or DP for getting a pixel-perfect image. That way you would have the best of both worlds: retro computing on authentic hardware + the advantages emulators like DOSBox have regarding pixel-perfect picture quality.

You're actually not the only one! I find myself in that boat too! And the fun thing is that I believe rasteri has looked into it as well (although I'll let him speak to his own experiences). I am def on board with that idea - for right now though, the VGA output allows us to use the ISA version of the SOM, which I think is the limiting factor. I think the PCI version has a DVI-like part of it (maybe? hopefully?), but that would mean you'd have to redesign the sound board to be PCI and the whole reason we have ISA is for the SoundBlaster compatibility (good 'ol port 0x220).

However, on the flip side, there are VGA+Audio->HDMI in-line converters (such as https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32692452101.html -- which also handles DOS resolutions) that are readily available, and since they have minimal distance the analog signal needs to travel you can really limit a lot of the noise that makes analog video less refined than digital. Especially helps if you add a ferrite ring, which is typically installed on all analog VGA cords, but yeah, there's inherently nothing that is going to compare to digital image quality.

Still tho, idea for Super weeCee PC: HDMI output.

Reply 609 of 772, by sofakng

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I'm glad to see the interest in the HDMI (or DVI) output since I have also looked into this and considered the LVDS->HDMI adapter but it would require a board redesign (weeCee) to provide the connector and then the additional hardware to convert it.

I've also looked into other options for scaling the video to 1440p but there isn't a definitive solution there either. The OSSC can scale it up to 1080p (?) but my current solution is using the DExx video adapter. (DE10-Nano + DExx board; basically an OSSC Pro "Lite"). It can scale up to 1920 x 1440p and also keep 70 Hz (with my FreeSync monitor) but it's not always stable since it's pushing the DE10-Nano beyond it's limit.

Regardless, there seems to be two different issues (for lack of a better word) with these older systems. First you must convert analog to digital (not ideal) and then upscale to 1080 / 1440, etc.

I'd like to hear if rasteri (or anybody else) has researched this topic as well.

Reply 610 of 772, by Duffman

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Would we still have to use the Volari Z9? or can we look at using a different GPU for this?

MB: ASRock B550 Steel Legend
CPU: Ryzen 9 5950X
RAM: Corsair 64GB Kit (4x16GB) DDR4 Veng LPX C18 4000MHz
SSDs: 2x Crucial MX500 1TB SATA + 1x Samsung 980 (non-pro) 1TB NVMe SSD
OSs: Win 11 Pro (NVMe) + WinXP Pro SP3 (SATA)
GPU: RTX2070 (11) GT730 (XP)

Reply 611 of 772, by rasteri

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I don't really have much to contribute really. I always use a VGA monitor with my weecee...

I know some cards based on the Z9s support DVI, I have no idea if the SOM-304 has the neccesary signals routed out though

Reply 612 of 772, by Duffman

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@rasteri

Just out of curiosity - Do you know where the Volari Z9 BIOS is located on the board? and if so what size the ROM chip is?
If it's 32KB they wont fit but if it's 64KB in size I think it should be possible to flash a Volari V5 BIOS or an SiS Xabre BIOS onto it to possibly get some 3D acceleration going as the drivers are all very similar to one another.

MB: ASRock B550 Steel Legend
CPU: Ryzen 9 5950X
RAM: Corsair 64GB Kit (4x16GB) DDR4 Veng LPX C18 4000MHz
SSDs: 2x Crucial MX500 1TB SATA + 1x Samsung 980 (non-pro) 1TB NVMe SSD
OSs: Win 11 Pro (NVMe) + WinXP Pro SP3 (SATA)
GPU: RTX2070 (11) GT730 (XP)

Reply 613 of 772, by Paul_V

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VGA, LAN and floppy emulation ROMs are integrated into SoC BIOS.
It's 32KB in size, but in theory can be swapped for a larger one.

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Reply 614 of 772, by Duffman

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@Paul_V

Oh OK, I thought the VGA BIOS would be on it's own chip.

So you think there is enough spare room on the SoC BIOS for the 64KB Volari BIOS?

MB: ASRock B550 Steel Legend
CPU: Ryzen 9 5950X
RAM: Corsair 64GB Kit (4x16GB) DDR4 Veng LPX C18 4000MHz
SSDs: 2x Crucial MX500 1TB SATA + 1x Samsung 980 (non-pro) 1TB NVMe SSD
OSs: Win 11 Pro (NVMe) + WinXP Pro SP3 (SATA)
GPU: RTX2070 (11) GT730 (XP)

Reply 615 of 772, by Paul_V

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Duffman wrote on 2022-12-08, 08:52:

@Paul_V

Oh OK, I thought the VGA BIOS would be on it's own chip.

So you think there is enough spare room on the SoC BIOS for the 64KB Volari BIOS?

It depends. Dummy 64KB file with random data does not fit (almost zero compression), while a 64KB ROM from a random card did fit with a fair compression ratio.
I don't have V5 BIOS to test, but I seriously doubt swapping the BIOS would work.

Reply 616 of 772, by Duffman

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@Paul_V

I have got a Volari GPU BIOS - I'm not sure if it's a V5 or V8? (maybe they're interchangeable?)

will this fit?

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MB: ASRock B550 Steel Legend
CPU: Ryzen 9 5950X
RAM: Corsair 64GB Kit (4x16GB) DDR4 Veng LPX C18 4000MHz
SSDs: 2x Crucial MX500 1TB SATA + 1x Samsung 980 (non-pro) 1TB NVMe SSD
OSs: Win 11 Pro (NVMe) + WinXP Pro SP3 (SATA)
GPU: RTX2070 (11) GT730 (XP)

Reply 617 of 772, by Paul_V

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Duffman wrote on 2022-12-08, 10:50:

@Paul_V

I have got a Volari GPU BIOS - I'm not sure if it's a V5 or V8? (maybe they're interchangeable?)

will this fit?

The ROM header does not have the exact model mentioned other that "Volari GPU"
It appears to be 6 years older, than the original DMP V9s ROM.
It can be swapped, but I had to remove LAN ROM for it to fit, as the standard BIOS image is only 256KB in size.
Vortex86DX internal SPI flash however (which contains the BIOS) is 2MB. I think it is quite plausible to increase the BIOS ROM to 512KB or larger manually.

Unfortunately, I'm unable to test this further ATM. The motherboard which I modified to boot from external flash and could be safely tested has different video IC (SMI712).

Reply 618 of 772, by NachtRave

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Hey everyone, I put together a full cost breakdown on manufacturing one of the weeCee's, similiar to how I do mine, and the results are in: weeCee Cost Breakdown Google Spreadsheet

Excluding costs of things like solder/flux, equipment, education/knowledge/skill, the raw material costs of building a single weeCee is about $690, while doing a group build of about 10x of them allows you to get away with material costs around $440, due to quantity discounts (especially over shipping). That is about a $250 cost difference between getting or not getting any quantity discount.

As a result, I would like to RE-ITERATE that if you'd like to get one off of me, I have 8 going up for sale. Now is the time to get one if you wanted one. SN11 is first one up: https://www.ebay.com/itm/334657135663 -- I recently lowered the starting bid to $500 and buy now to $800 due to all the complaints I got on price. This unit works really well and is of good quality, albeit some superficial scratches around the Crystal chip (no impact to functionality or longevity - I just have sharp probes for tiny little pins).

Anyways, I'm still working on SN15, and so far it's gone together really well. Especially top-notch work. I was hoping to spend the majority of today working on finishing it, but I really wanted to get that cost analysis out there. SN15 will probably go up either Sunday or Monday, I haven't figured out which yet.

Props to all those now chiming in looking at various images and other things. I have no idea what some of the discussion has gone to. I am excited that Duffman is getting his weeCee "Soon!" - once AU post get their backlog under control (was recently flooding blocking logistic lines).

Reply 619 of 772, by Vridek

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NachtRave wrote on 2022-12-09, 17:19:
Hey everyone, I put together a full cost breakdown on manufacturing one of the weeCee's, similiar to how I do mine, and the resu […]
Show full quote

Hey everyone, I put together a full cost breakdown on manufacturing one of the weeCee's, similiar to how I do mine, and the results are in: weeCee Cost Breakdown Google Spreadsheet

Excluding costs of things like solder/flux, equipment, education/knowledge/skill, the raw material costs of building a single weeCee is about $690, while doing a group build of about 10x of them allows you to get away with material costs around $440, due to quantity discounts (especially over shipping). That is about a $250 cost difference between getting or not getting any quantity discount.

As a result, I would like to RE-ITERATE that if you'd like to get one off of me, I have 8 going up for sale. Now is the time to get one if you wanted one. SN11 is first one up: https://www.ebay.com/itm/334657135663 -- I recently lowered the starting bid to $500 and buy now to $800 due to all the complaints I got on price. This unit works really well and is of good quality, albeit some superficial scratches around the Crystal chip (no impact to functionality or longevity - I just have sharp probes for tiny little pins).

Anyways, I'm still working on SN15, and so far it's gone together really well. Especially top-notch work. I was hoping to spend the majority of today working on finishing it, but I really wanted to get that cost analysis out there. SN15 will probably go up either Sunday or Monday, I haven't figured out which yet.

Props to all those now chiming in looking at various images and other things. I have no idea what some of the discussion has gone to. I am excited that Duffman is getting his weeCee "Soon!" - once AU post get their backlog under control (was recently flooding blocking logistic lines).

I'm from Europe but you got some dumping prices. You don't have to pay duty and VAT?