Sabriena's SNES Lives!

SNES Power Socket

As I wrote a while ago, powering a US SNES outside of the USA isn't entirely trivial, but last Friday I arranged to purchase the power supply of an Aussie MegaDrive II from a seller, and it came today. I ducked into Jaycar hoping to purchase a panel-mount 4mm barrel socket to fit it: as it turned out they didn't have any, so I bought a socket and plug pair in 5.5mm.

I came home, cut the plug off the adaptor and started soldering things up. I decided to wire the plug for positive tip, in case this one ever dies and I find another, and because I can just swap the polarity inside the box. I soldered it to the back side of the stock barrel plug, and tried it out without the lid on. I had a power light, but no picture. After a couple of times cycling the cart however, I got something, and after a few more times the game worked properly. Success!

But how to close the lid up? With the exception of the controller port faceplate, which has a fair bit of yellowing, this SNES is rather pristine. Drilling a hole in it for an extra socket seemed a damn shame. Running wires out the vents seemed rough as well. I started pondering on the idea of removing the RF modulator, and putting the barrel socket where its coaxial socket lives. This idea certainly had it's charms - the SNES will operate just fine without it's RF modulator if you're using the multi-AV plug. It's completely reversible, I just need to solder the four pins to put the RFU back in.

So I went ahead and did it. Removed the mainboard from the bottom of the case one more time, removed the heatsink, removed the extra screw from the RF mod, then started desoldering. I went pretty carefully so as not to burn out the pads, but it came off pretty easily. Put the barrel socket through the hole and tighten it up, then reassemble the whole thing.

SNES Power socketI'm pretty happy with the result. It'd have been nice to find a 4mm socket so I could have kept the MD PSU stock, but I don't actually care that much. I don't have a MegaDrive, and hopefully if I get one it'll be complete. My Game Gear is essentially non-functional at the moment, so the SNES is the only thing it'll be used for.

Unless something breaks, I can put the SNES back completely to stock with nothing but a soldering iron and a security driver. And after I cleaned up the connectors, all the games function perfectly. We have three US SNES pads (one is an aftermarket turbopad), and one Aussie one. The Aussie one works fine on the US one, but the reverse is not true, however it turns out an Aussie SNES is trivially moddable to support US pads, so that may be next on the list.

One other thing I need to do is look into replacing the save batteries in the games. Duncan and I played about an hour of Super Mario World before bed tonight, and had a really good time - it would suck to have our savegame go missing because a 20 year old 2032 cell died. So I've started researching sockets, to save the hassle of soldering them next time... but thus far haven't made any purchases.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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Horsham, VIC, Australia

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Copying Steam games.

GTA V is on sale apparently, and Sabriena and I have been looking for games we can play together, so we were wondering if her PC would run it. Easiest way to determine that? Copy the files over from my laptop, sign in on my Steam, and see how it plays.

So I decided to try the age-old trick of starting the download, pausing it, closing steam, copying the files across via SMB, then restarting Steam. First issue: Sabriena's laptop still won't join the Homegroup. What is going on? Troubleshooter is thoroughly unhelpful, as usually.

Tried restarting the services, and one failed with an error message. Mercifully, it was at least something unique enough that we could Google it. Found an article on a Microsoft forum that says to adjust some permissions on a directory. Sounds weird, but okay. Tried it, and it worked, we're back in luck and copying the files over.

No good, Steam doesn't pick the changes up any more. Fuck. Pity it took over an hour of copying to work that out?

While it was copying, we figured out a few things. First of all Sabriena's laptop doesn't have 802.11ac, which meant pretty slow copying speeds. Luckily, you can pause and resume the copies, so I plugged her into the ethernet cable and resumed the transfers - it turns out she's only got fast ethernet as well. In a laptop made in 2015!

Went and checked with iperf3 after it was done copying, and for some reason we can get close to wire speed on the fast ethernet connection, but 802.11n is only good for 40mbps, with her laptop about 10 feet from the router and nothing else using it.

Anyway, back to the task at hand, tried to use a USB hard drive and Steam's "backup" feature, which promptly froze my laptop to the point of unresponsiveness. I reboot, and take a quick look with task manager, and I'm pretty sure Windows Defender is the culprit. Why is it running? I have anti-virus software, I don't need two. Could this be to blame for the sluggish performance I've had from time to time?

I turn this thing off, but it has the nasty habit of turning itself back on. Found a potential registry key on superuser.com to disable it permanently:

reg add  "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Real-Time Protection" /v DisableRealtimeMonitoring /t REG_DWORD /d 1

We'll see if that will stay put or if Windows Update blows it away again. Really unimpressed with Windows these days.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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Horsham, VIC, Australia

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Indicator switch arrived - Fixed!

For the last couple of weeks, our car's been making this annoying rapid ticking sound when the indicators are off. I had my theories as to what caused this, but searching some forums confirmed it - the indicator stalk has got excess play. I reckon the problem is that the flasher module is activated without it being connected to either side indicator circuit, so you get the rapid flashing like you do when a lamp is out.

Anyway, last Friday I purchased a replacement on eBay - $22AUD, cheap enough for a gamble. It arrived today just after lunch, and I braved the heat to install it, which is a rather painless job if you know what you're doing (removing the steering column cover is not intuitive whatsoever).

Drop the steering wheel, squeeze the front (closest to the steering wheel) of the top half together and it pops right off. Undo the phillips head screw in the bottom, slide the bottom half forward until it falls off. The indicator stalk itself has two tabs on the top and bottom, simply squeeze them and pull it out. Undo the two plugs, and the third plug for the cruise control (if fitted), then replace doing the opposite of the removal procedure.

I turned the key on, the ticking is gone, and the indicator action itself is much more positive. It feels so nice that if we had more money to burn, I'd contemplate replacing the windshield wiper stalk too.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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Playing with the Dash cam

For about the last year now, it's been one of the side goals of my dabbling with my ELM327 OBDII reader to build a datalogger, which I can then feed to a set of virtual gauges and then overlay it on top of a dash cam video. The original plan was to use one of the myriad gauge controls in a C# application, on top of a background that's a solid colour suitable for chromakeying, and then record a screencast of it, and merge the two using something like Sony Vegas.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I found someone else using a piece of software made by a company that's now owned by GoPro, called DashWare... which purports to do exactly what I was looking for. They support data in .CSV format, the gauges look lovely, what could go wrong?

Windows 10, apparently. DashWare doesn't want to import videos after a recent Windows 10 update, because one of the video processing DLLs got updated, and the app doesn't ship with it's own one. The worst part is, because GoPro are looking to integrate this stuff in a future camera at some point, it doesn't look like the software will receive another update. After several hours of mucking about with it before discovering this, I went in search of an alternative.

I found another piece of software called RaceRender. The free version of it limits you to three minutes, and has a massive logo in the top corner - but I can live with those limitations. RaceRender also has the rather annoying behaviour of being super-picky about the encoding of the CSV file - I have to open the file in Sublime Text, save it again in DOS encoding, then import it. At present, instead of writing the file myself, I'm dumping it to the console and then capturing it with the > operator in Powershell, which seems to write a file in an encoding that RaceRender doesn't like (it supposedly works with UTF-8 too, which is what I thought powershell would output).

Anyway, I have a console C# project which imports a C# library I'm writing to support the ELM327 (eventually to be used in a GUI application that's also open source), which currently polls three PIDs at approximately 1Hz. This is too slow for a satisfactory throttle gauge, and will frequently miss peaks on the tachometer, but it's acceptable for a first try. There's plenty of ways to improve the polling rate, which shouldn't take very long to implement.

I'm pretty happy with the results though:

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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Horsham, VIC, Australia

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