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Edge of '94 Midwest

Request your input : Use of FPGA Consoles in tournaments

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Image result for mega sg

 

In recent years, the retro community has benefited greatly by FPGA products that hardware simulate(not emulate) consoles like the original NES, Super NES, and Sega Genesis. 

For NES there is the Analogue NT/NT, and the more affordable Retro USB AVS.

For SNES there is the Super NT.

For Genesis there is the Mega SG.

All of these items have something in common.... native high definition output(no cheap scalers), true hardware simulation(no emulation/system on a chip), meaning no latency on the console side.  The image quality is pixel sharp, as there is no video noise to speak of(Genesis is notorious for having terrible composite video quality), and when paired with a low latency display like a modern computer monitor, the user experience is top notch.

 

For now, CRT's are available in high numbers, and we plan on continuing to use them for our tournaments.  However, for streaming purposes, they leave a lot to be desired, as we scale analogue signals.  While SCART to RGB is certainly an option, it's an extremely expensive, and complex option.  Items like scalers/line doublers, signal splitters + plus praying for compatibility with capture cards creates more problems that it solves sometimes.  These FPGA consoles provide plug and play options that just work, look amazing, and would be 100 times better than any experience of any Hypkerkin HDMI clone, or simply plugging in a Genesis to an LCD via composite.

What we want to accomplish is to have our main stream station using a low latency computer monitor, paired with the Mega SG.  every other tournament console station would utilize a CRT.

We started a poll on our Edge of 94 Midwest Facebook page, and would like some feedback on this. 

 

Please share your thoughts here, and on our Facebook Poll.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I voted for CRT on original hardware because  any other alternative that I've tried in the past (upscalers, LCDs, emulators, etc) simply did not function the same way as console+CRT.  I have not tried Mega SG, and I understand everything you said above, but until I actually play on one of these devices, it will be difficult for me to say "ok" to the switch.

I also haven't found any of the streams to be impacted by this, or anyone complain that the game video is poor.

The only benefit I can see is reducing the needs to lug around many CRTs to events.  On that same note though, I have found that when the TV is TOO large (28-32"), you need to sit way back, otherwise it's uncomfortable.  

Anyway, I look forward to trying this out one day, but until then, I can't vote on switching.  

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56 minutes ago, kingraph said:

I voted for CRT on original hardware because  any other alternative that I've tried in the past (upscalers, LCDs, emulators, etc) simply did not function the same way as console+CRT.  I have not tried Mega SG, and I understand everything you said above, but until I actually play on one of these devices, it will be difficult for me to say "ok" to the switch.

I also haven't found any of the streams to be impacted by this, or anyone complain that the game video is poor.

The only benefit I can see is reducing the needs to lug around many CRTs to events.  On that same note though, I have found that when the TV is TOO large (28-32"), you need to sit way back, otherwise it's uncomfortable.  

Anyway, I look forward to trying this out one day, but until then, I can't vote on switching.  

Well, with the exception of this single station, every other station would be CRT based, so the back breaking isn't really spared here haha.  I hope you'll get your hands on one.  I'm giving two fatigued NHL94 thumbs up for the Mega SG.  You can give the same two thumbs up for the RetroUSB AVS which I also own.  I'm hoping to get the Super NT in the not too distant future.

Replacing each console with a high definition display isn't a reasonable affordable approach to this, as a single setup would run upwards of $400 or more between the console, controllers, game copy,  and monitor involved.

The key word in your experience is "scaler".  This is not scaled internally or externally whatsoever.  The signal coming out of the Mega SG is native HD, no matter the specified resolution.  Even the revered Framemeister has scaling latency.  The only external device I've used, with analog video signals, that I have experience with, that didn't add lag, was the OSSC.  It is a line doubler(not a scaler), but I couldn't get past 480p before capture cards started freaking out with the out of spec HDMI signal.  Unfortunately that device bit the dust, as is something of a home brew product.  I am not shelling out $200 for another one when you can get another console for that.

In seeing the poll results so far, it seems the world is split on this issue.  I love that so many people love their CRTs, and we have no plans to remove them from usage.

To your point regarding stream quality, let me grab a couple different streams as an example.

Now, this will be showing streamed NES content, but the idea is the same.  One shows emulator quality video uninhibited by any additional video noise.  The other shows an original console that gets its 240p signal interlaced as a 480i signal, which makes it look bleh.

Ignore the content of the layout, and just look at footage in the game play window.  This was done with an emulator, some scanlines were added to give the retro effect.

 

Now look at this footage from a live tournament where real console footage was grabbed.

https://www.twitch.tv/videos/263975952?t=00h01m54s

We do think this will not also benefit the stream watcher, but also the players playing the game, as all that video junk goes out the window.

 

I'll try to work on some HDMI captures of the actual console playing NHL94 for more examples.

 

Thanks @kingraph for your feedback.  I don't blame your position one bit.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Edge of '94 Midwest

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If you're telling me I'm not going to notice a difference in game play then I think it's a no brainer decision if it helps the tournament organizer and streaming audience.

 

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I'd like to buy a MEGA SG but for the money I can get 2 or 3 SNES / Gennys. But if you really can't tell the difference then I can't see why not. The RetroRGB cables are good enough for me I don't have to bother with scalers or SCART to RGB. I love CRT TV's though and at the rate I'm going I'll probably need to rent storage just for monitors. 

If I can shoehorn in a question: does anyone know if the EA, 4-Way- Play adapter fits properly on the Mega SG?

Edit: @Edge of '94 Midwest

Was curious as to what I could find in the way of reviews and this is promising:

 

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7 hours ago, clockwise said:

I'd like to buy a MEGA SG but for the money I can get 2 or 3 SNES / Gennys. But if you really can't tell the difference then I can't see why not. The RetroRGB cables are good enough for me I don't have to bother with scalers or SCART to RGB. I love CRT TV's though and at the rate I'm going I'll probably need to rent storage just for monitors. 

If I can shoehorn in a question: does anyone know if the EA, 4-Way- Play adapter fits properly on the Mega SG?

Edit: @Edge of '94 Midwest

Was curious as to what I could find in the way of reviews and this is promising:

 

I have SCART and Component hookups for my standard consoles, but they don't provide a native digital signal which defeats the purpose.  They are really designed to be used on a CRT that has component hookups.

I am exploring options that will allow me to get a lagless conversion to an analog computer CRT monitor from the Mega SG.  I already own the SG, it's just a matter if people will complain if we utilize this with a modern LCD monitor for our stream station.

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Every LCD screen provides some kind of lag, regardless of the input it receives. Many TVs input lag have been tested and well documented.

Here's a site that does a tremendous job testing input lag of panels as well as other tests - RTINGS

Realize too, many of these TVs have different refresh rates (60Hz, 120Hz, 240Hz, etc). The system is outputting a 60Hz signal. So on some TVs that have a native refresh rate other than 60Hz, there is extra processing involved, and the input lag changes depending on the refresh rate of the video signal. And as we are entering the age of 4k native resolution TVs, that 1080p signal now has to be upscaled to 4k as well.

You'll also see a yuge difference between game mode on TVs (that have them) and all other modes.

 

IMO, I really dont care much about playing on the MegaSG, but those clone ASIC units (Hyperkin, Retron, Gamerztek, etc) I wouldn't go near.

Also, never use a bluetooth controller if you are sensitive to input lag. Wireless controllers are better (using 2.4GHz receivers or the like).

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So the great news is that we can have a CRT and LCD at the same time.  I posted a side by side comparison video of the two.  The only time you can notice something is if you freeze frame during the  action.  

This was taken from the comments.  It took the fast moving puck frame capture to reveal a difference of just a few pixels between the two.  In either case, both displays will be on hand come tournament time.

Image may contain: screen

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