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 Post subject: Famicom : Worth buying ?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:37 am 
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All is in the title.
I am so much a fan of the console I hesitate to import it's "original" version. I'd like to know how it feels. The only problem is that apparently the only output is RF so I'd have to modify it to get AV.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:54 am 
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I dunno, there's nothing really special about it compared to a top loader.

The controllers are attached to it and the cords are like 2 feet long. Controller 2 has no start or select, instead a microphone with a volume switch. On mine the microphone was removed or something, but useful only in a few games anyway and otherwise just pipes unwanted noise into the system -- the mic plays back through your TV constantly, from what I understand. The buttons on controller 1 will probably be well worn.

If you need to do mods, it's a bit easier to get at than the NES. No RF shields, just one compact board to deal with, though I think a top loader is similar? (I only have a front loader.)


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:06 am 
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AV famicom is the best option supposedly. I dunno, that Super 8 NES board looks good too.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:42 pm 
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The volume slider on the 2nd controller is extremely prone to breakage. I've had 4 different Famicoms during my life, and 3 of those 4 had flaky sliders. I'm sure this is easily fixable (desoldering the old/soldering on a new one), but never took the time to figure it out. Other nuances/annoyances:

- Cartridge slot pins wear out over time (just like the front-loading NES does), since the plastic slot area is slightly too big for most cartridges, giving them room to wiggle (solution: stick pieces of paper or a thin piece of cardboard between the cartridge and the slot); my current Famicom has this problem and I would love to fix it
- Often difficult to find the proper AC adapter, as the unit is known to have some half-ass voltage regulators on it, so something that's even slightly high/low from what it expects can often blow the thing up. If you need exact readings from the AC adapter (the original), let me know as I have one
- Wires for controllers come out of the left side, rather than the top; makes for awkward holding (I tend to stick the wire between my index and middle fingers when gripping the controller)
- Many people have complained that the RF is weird and requires (at least on US TVs) to pick some insane numbered channel like 210 or 47 or something like that -- I've found this (consistently every time) to be utter nonsense. One thing to note is that the NES RF adapter can actually be used on the Famicom with success (that's how I use mine today, actually).
- Not really a negative, but: the Famicom does sound slightly different than the NES (and AV Famicom, which also sounds like the NES). It sounds like there's a low-pass filter somewhere in the audio path, and possibly a more strict (?) high-pass filter, but it's the low-pass filter I tend to notice. Some frequencies sound slightly "muffled" is the only way I can describe it. It doesn't bother me in the least, it's just a difference. :-)

Like 3gengames, I would also recommend the AV Famicom over the standard Famicom. However, finding an AV Famicom for a fair (or even slightly exaggerated) price is almost impossible. eBay sellers and similar assholes jack the prices of these things up so high so they can make a fortune, then you've got the dudes who probably have 10 AV Famicoms "just to hoard them"... yeah, great. Mots of the time I tend to find people who want US$200 or higher for an AV Famicom, which is just highway robbery for no justified reason.

So in summary: original Famicom worth buying? If you can find someone selling one for a reasonable (non-inflated) price, and you like having some classic things for nostalgia reasons, go ahead and get one. The reason I have mine is that I have actual Famicom carts and a Famicom Disk System as well, so sometimes it's nice to hook it up to my little 13" Trinitron and play.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:49 pm 
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koitsu wrote:
- Many people have complained that the RF is weird and requires (at least on US TVs) to pick some insane numbered channel like 210 or 47 or something like that -- I've found this (consistently every time) to be utter nonsense.

The Japanese analog TV band plan differed from that of U.S. analog TV. The Famicom outputs on Japanese channels 1 and 2 (90-96 and 96-102 MHz), which correspond to the FM radio band on the U.S. band plan or to U.S. cable TV channels 95 and 96 in the so-called "midband". Perhaps some TVs don't properly support these channels.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:06 pm 
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tepples wrote:
koitsu wrote:
- Many people have complained that the RF is weird and requires (at least on US TVs) to pick some insane numbered channel like 210 or 47 or something like that -- I've found this (consistently every time) to be utter nonsense.

The Japanese analog TV band plan differed from that of U.S. analog TV. The Famicom outputs on Japanese channels 1 and 2 (90-96 and 96-102 MHz), which correspond to the FM radio band on the U.S. band plan or to U.S. cable TV channels 95 and 96 in the so-called "midband". Perhaps some TVs don't properly support these channels.

Care then to explain to me how my Famicom works just fine on channel 3 or 4 on a US television (using the gray RF box that's for a NES)? That would indicate the Famicom itself isn't outputting anything at some specific frequency range, but rather the RF box is whats doing the signal-to-frequency conversion bit. If you don't believe me I'm happy to make a video. Otherwise what am I missing?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:20 pm 
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So it works on US TVs if you've modified the Famicom. Have people made the controller cords longer or detachable?

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:56 pm 
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My Famicom isn't modified, it's stock. Still waiting for someone to tell me what the deal is, or if I should just make a video proving it...?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:08 pm 
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My Famicom did not come with an RF adapter. I tried it with my NES RF adapter but it definitely did not output at channels 3 or 4; I have seen claims that an NES RF adapter on a Famicom will output channels 95/96 but both TVs in my apartment do not support these channels.

I just did the AV mod to it and it works great that way.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:01 pm 
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rainwarrior wrote:
I have seen claims that an NES RF adapter on a Famicom will output channels 95/96 but both TVs in my apartment do not support these channels.

Did you try switching the TV's channel set from antenna to cable before trying channel 95? Or was the TV made before "cable ready" was commonplace?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:12 pm 
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They are both LCD TVs, maybe about 4 years old. One only supports a rather small set of tuner channels, the other supports a wide range but strangely does not allow channels from 91 to 99 (or something around that range, am not at home to test right now). In both cases I was quite surprised by this and investigated their settings thoroughly, and I am fairly certain I did not miss anything.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:43 pm 
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Edit: Video uploaded:

http://youtu.be/si1HZzZbHUM

As for the A/B switches on the Famicom and what they do, I found a clear/concise picture:

http://guide-images.ifixit.net/igi/4XBl ... rrS.medium

So in English: set the TV/GAME switch to GAME, and set the CH1/CH2 switch to CH1. Then use Channel 4 on your TV set. Done. End of story.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:09 am 
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When you said "Gray RF box" I thought you were talking about the internal part, not that thingy that hooks it up to coax.
Nintendo always referred to the gray thing as the RF Switch, so calling it by another name got me confused.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:45 am 
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koitsu wrote:
- Often difficult to find the proper AC adapter, as the unit is known to have some half-ass voltage regulators on it, so something that's even slightly high/low from what it expects can often blow the thing up. If you need exact readings from the AC adapter (the original), let me know as I have one

Yes please. There is no way I'd be able to use the original AC adapter because the voltage in my country is 230V.
Also I understand how you could blow the thing by applying a voltage too high, but too low ? This should just make the thing not functioning at the worst.


Quote:
- Wires for controllers come out of the left side, rather than the top; makes for awkward holding (I tend to stick the wire between my index and middle fingers when gripping the controller)

Oh this sound annoying. I think the controllers looked pretty but I never even figured this problem out... I guess they fixed this for a reason.
Quote:
The controllers are attached to it and the cords are like 2 feet long.

2 feet sounds really annoyingly short.
This would mean I'd definitely need one of those famous controllers who plugs itself in the expansion port and reads in bit 1 of $4016... but how common are such controllers ? Probably uncommon considering they're (supposedly) all 3rd party made and not compatible with any other system.
Quote:
- Many people have complained that the RF is weird and requires (at least on US TVs) to pick some insane numbered channel like 210 or 47 or something like that -- I've found this (consistently every time) to be utter nonsense. One thing to note is that the NES RF adapter can actually be used on the Famicom with success (that's how I use mine today, actually).

I think I'd have to AV-mod it in all cases. I prefectly remember I could only get the video from the RF output with my NTSC NES, but I would get white noise instead of audio which is, of course, not acceptable.

Quote:
- Not really a negative, but: the Famicom does sound slightly different than the NES (and AV Famicom, which also sounds like the NES). It sounds like there's a low-pass filter somewhere in the audio path, and possibly a more strict (?) high-pass filter, but it's the low-pass filter I tend to notice. Some frequencies sound slightly "muffled" is the only way I can describe it. It doesn't bother me in the least, it's just a difference. :-)

In fact this would be a very good reason to buy an original famicom. After all this is how games were originally intended to sound.

Quote:
Like 3gengames, I would also recommend the AV Famicom over the standard Famicom. However, finding an AV Famicom for a fair (or even slightly exaggerated) price is almost impossible. eBay sellers and similar assholes jack the prices of these things up so high so they can make a fortune, then you've got the dudes who probably have 10 AV Famicoms "just to hoard them"... yeah, great. Mots of the time I tend to find people who want US$200 or higher for an AV Famicom, which is just highway robbery for no justified reason.

It sounds complex... the problem is that, unless I travel to Japan, it's very unlikely I can find any alternative to eBay... And a travel to japan is certainly much more expensive that $200.
$200 for a 20 year old console based on a 30 year old architecture is definitely a steal. But the worst is those Sharp FC-Twin consoles, they won't go for under $300 no matter what.

Design-side I think both the AV Famicom and the original Famicom looks very pretty, much better than the NES. And the AV Famicom is compatible with all the controller we're used to here, which is a nice thing.

However it sound like the FDS is mechanically better compatible with the original Famicom. In all cases it can't be worse than using the FDS with a gyromite adapter in a top-loader, it works but it's really ugly, and inconvenient. Swapping the RAM adapter in and out the console is a total nightmare.

If I would really pick up something cheap perhaps I could look for some famiclone, so I get native 60-pin cartride compatibility (which is really waht I'm looking for), but if I'd go that way I'd definitely want one with swapped duty cycles :)


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:05 am 
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For an AC adapter, I just bought a cheap 9v 10V adapter from eBay. I had to reverse its polarity by switching the wires on it but it works perfectly fine.

I made a video a while back that shows what the controller looks like and how short the cables are. I think they are actually 3 feet long, but that's still insanely short. An adapter that plugs into the front to let you use NES controllers is fairly easy to build (also shown in this video). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXuxNjXNKkw

The cable coming out the left side of the controller (or right side on controller II) doesn't bother me at all, actually, but I agree it's poor design compared to having it come out the top.

As far as sound output goes, on my AV-modded famicom the sound is bright and unfiltered compared to the NES (which has a mild lowpass on the way to its built in AV-out). The balance of the noise/triangle/dmc to squares is different than my NES, though I find it varies from NES to NES anyway, not sure if there's a difference that's consistent for famicoms, or if it's just due to random resistor tolerances. If you use the RF out obviously there'll be a huge lowpass filter on it, but you should compare RF vs RF, or AV vs AV.

The FDS fits into the regular Famicom very cleanly.

What's the deal about duty cycles on clones?


Last edited by rainwarrior on Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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