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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:32 am 
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Hello. I have a front-loading US NES, and I figured it was about time to bring it into the modern age after a long hiatus.

I have been reading up on multiple modifications and upgrades one can perform on the system and have been planning a list of all that I want to do.... however, I am now starting to worry if they would conflict with each other or cause problems.

The modifications I wanted to do are:

    Install a Blinking Light Win (I can't see this causing any issues... except maybe my GameGenie fitting properly anymore)

    Expanded Audio Mod (Except using a rheostat instead of a fixed resistor.... though the only example I could found used a potentiometer instead and wired it up like a rheostat... any reason I can't just use a rheostat instead?)

    Stereo Sound Mod (Still deciding if I should go with raphnet's one-knob method, or one of retrofix's two-knob or no-knob methods)

    Disabling NES10 Lockout (With a switch to re-enable it just in case)

Has anyone by any chance already done all of the above mods to their front-loader? Would there be any issues or incompatibilities I would have to worry about with mixing so many mods together?

Furthermore:
Eventually, I plan to do the Hi-Def NES mod as well, but that won't be for a while.

Will the stereo mod cause any issues with the Hi-Def NES mod? I am guessing the Hi-Def NES mod gets the audio signal out of the system long before the stereo mod even touches it? Does the Hi-Def NES mod output any sort of stereo? Or at least just output the mono through both speakers?

I heard some places that "composite barely works" once the Hi-def NES mod is installed, but could not verify this. Is it true? Does the Hi-Def NES mod break or disable the composite output?

Any other concerns I should be worried about with tossing all of these mods and Hi-Def NES together that anyone can think of?

(Also, I was looking into the component mod, but the Hi-Def mod is already expensive enough, plus the component mod seems significantly more complicated since all you need to do for the Hi-Def mod is de-solder the 40 pin CPU and PPU and then solder them back on with a breakout board underneath... say, instead of soldering the CPU and PPU back onto the NES directly, would it be possible to solder the Hi-Def NES Pads to the NES's board with a socket and then just socket the CPU/PPU in place in case I break something and need to replace it? Has anyone ever done that? Could that cause any problems?)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:55 am 
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No reason not using a rheostat, but pots are so commonplace/versatile/popular you're just more likely to already have them in your parts drawer if you do a little hobby tinkering. Since it's audio, you probably want to use a nonlinear one.

You could also wait for infiniteNESlives' expansion port "dongle", which will readily provide all you want audio-side without needing to solder a bridge.

Opinion: Blinking light win can be a waste of time and money. Most often, you just need to clean your connectors. Disabling the lockout also has the side effect of letting the nes 'tolerate' a bit of dirt; often the game would play perfectly but the lockout is overly sensitive and says no. (The downside letting the nes accept dirty games is it'll take longer before you detect dirt/corrosion).

Moreover, there's no guarantee the win eventually not turning into a fail if its grip is too firm. Eventually, a too firm grip would wear down the gold plating on the contacts of your carts, making the connection permanently worse cart-side.

Thumb of rule: Only replace the cart connector if it is terribly bent and you can't even them out (which you can by using a couple of thin but reasonably rigid plates and one or two tweezers/pliers).


Edit: I'd put the jumper/switch for the lockout chip somewher inacessible so it can't be changed on the fly/when live. Better safe than sorry.

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Last edited by FrankenGraphics on Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:07 am 
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Make sure the pseudo stereo is easy to disable when you get tired of it. Maybe some people think it's a fun mod to do, but it's a really weird mod that isn't really useful for anything (because you only separate the two square channels from the triangle, noise and DPCM channels). It will most likely give very strange and random results in games and can't possibly be very useful for chiptunes either.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:12 am 
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Hypothetically for chiptunes playback, whole or partial stereo separation of the squares could be exploited for unison/close to unison-type of effects. But you'd need to 1)do the mod, and 2)write chiptunes meant specifically for that mod...

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:22 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
You could also wait for infiniteNESlives' expansion port "dongle", which will readily provide all you want audio-side without needing to solder a bridge.


Haven't heard of this thing. I looked it up (I wasn't aware that the expansion port was physically there if you broke off the plastic piece covering it, back then I always wondered why there was a plastic cover that covered.... nothing... in a place that looked like it should have been some sort of expansion port) .... isn't it basically just the equivalent of soldering a rheostat like I planned to do? When you described it I thought it had other functions or provided you with a working expansion port or something. Does it do anything other than bridge a rheostat between those two pins? I noticed there are a small amount of additional components, but I can't tell what they would be for.

Looking at the forum post where it was announced, it seems that the intention was to include a super-cheap addon that someone who is making a homebrew cart could include with their game for cheap if they wanted their game to use the extra audio, since they can't expect everyone who buys their game to open up their NES and perform a solder mod.

Quote:
Opinion: Blinking light win can be a waste of time and money. Most often, you just need to clean your connectors.


I remember last I used it (which was years ago) I could almost never get this thing to work anymore no matter how much I cleaned both the carts and connectors. It's not just an issue of dirt, the port gets permanently damaged over time due to their design.

Quote:
Disabling the lockout also has the side effect of letting the nes 'tolerate' a bit of dirt; often the game would play perfectly but the lockout is overly sensitive and says no. (The downside letting the nes accept dirty games is it'll take longer before you detect dirt/corrosion).


Yes, I know that by disabling the lockout chip, which was super-sensative, that this means a game that normally would be prevented from running due to a poor connection would run, and this means it would be more likely a game can boot up glitched.... but just cleaning the cart can fix that. After all, this was not an issue with either the Famicon or top-loader, both of which did not have the lockout chip. I don't see how it would take it longer for me to detect dirt though, if the dirt is enough to cause a poor connection the game would be glitchy, if it isn't then the game play play fine.

Quote:
Moreover, there's no guarantee the win eventually not turning into a fail if its grip is too firm. Eventually, a too firm grip would wear down the gold plating on the contacts of your carts, making the connection permanently worse cart-side.


Tight grip seems to be a common issue with newly produced homebrew carts or cart accessories for 20-30 year old systems. I remember seeing posts about people arguing that homebrew carts were difficult to remove/insert because the board was "too thick", but the boards were the same size, it's just that decades of inserting and removing carts had taken their toll on the ports.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:23 am 
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Pokun wrote:
Make sure the pseudo stereo is easy to disable when you get tired of it. Maybe some people think it's a fun mod to do, but it's a really weird mod that isn't really useful for anything (because you only separate the two square channels from the triangle, noise and DPCM channels). It will most likely give very strange and random results in games and can't possibly be very useful for chiptunes either.


Don't those mods give you completely seperate RCA jacks to use for audio over the standard mono one? Can't I just plug the original mono one back in if I wanted to disable it? Or would the mods mess with the way the original mono one outputs audio too? Or even mess with the way hi-def NES would output it?


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:51 am 
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Quote:
the port gets permanently damaged over time due to their design

The "permanently" part is not necessarily true, which was what i was getting at. It's fairly simple to bend the connector back into shape if you have/can borrow tools.

1) unscrew and remove the casing of a cart so it won't be in the way.
2) Insert it into your bad connector. It will provide both an even surface to push against, and a reference for how much pressure you should apply.
3) preferrably, fit a thin sheet of metal on top and on the pottom (the outsides) of the female connector.

4)from here, use any means you have:
a)Best option: two vices and maybe even a micrometer
b)two pliers/tweezers

5) Ever so gently vice/squeeze/sandwich the connector into shape in small increments. Be careful to squeeze it evenly.

6) Test connection and grip. If not satisfactory, Goto (5). Rinse and repeat.

You could also, if you can spot one or two individually uneven connector pins and suspect they are the culprit, adjust them manually with tweezers (still, keep a cart inside).

The only time i'd change it is if it has somehow become hopelessly corroded or twisted beyond repair.


Quote:
isn't it basically just the equivalent of soldering a rheostat like I planned to do? When you described it I thought it had other functions or provided you with a working expansion port or something


Yes, but less messy, quick, and easy to reverse. You already have a working expansion port on the nes, so you don't need anything for that except removing the lid. But currently, there's very little use for it. It has been used to tweet in a one-off project using a much more powerful middleman circuit. EDIT: Or so i thought, but it seems to use controller port 2. Well, someone made an ethernet connection from the expansion port, don't remember where i saw it, though.

AFAIK the dongle is mainly for playing famicom games (and chiptunes) on your NES, but with the added bonus of opening up the possibility for homebrewers aswell. Nesdev is largely a homebrewing community with technically oriented users, so focus tends to land there in threads.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:21 am 
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Everything I have seen from people with a bad connector seems to have said that it just will get worse again, there are those who have gone through several.

I get it, you're not a fan of the BLW, I honestly am not a fan of the carts not having to be pushed down, but I kinda disagree on it's uselessness, but really, that is the LEAST intrusive of the mods I was talking about as well as the one that is least likely to cause issues with anything else, so it's the one I am least worried about anyway.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:29 am 
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I didn't say it was useless... i'm merely saying you have the option of saving a bit of money (and time) with a quick tweak if you have or can borrow the tools needed. Of course, it could cost you a bit of time, too, if it's beyond repair.

Plus, i like to play nes with my friends, and a mod like that'd make me just a little nervous they'd try to push the cart anyway in a moment of forgetfulness, potentially damaging one end or the other. Really, they should revise it with a protecting anti-push barrier just under the cart.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:39 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
Really, they should revise it with a protecting anti-push barrier just under the cart.


Now THAT I fully agree with. I have seen some people put stickers in there telling the user that a BLW is installed and to not push down. But it really should have been made so it can't be pushed down.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:31 am 
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Pokun wrote:
<snip>
and can't possibly be very useful for chiptunes either.

I use a NES for live music performances and I disagree... but with a caveat.
I have my NES modded to have individual "stereo" outputs as well as a 3rd output for the expansion audio fed from the powerpak.
The catch is I feed everything into an external mixer. The setup gives me flexibility to, say, boost the bass and drums for a given song, or have parts that bounce back and forth between the left and right channel (I usually pan the 2a03 pulses slightly left, and the expansion audio slightly right) while keeping the rhythm parts centered.

For general use and gaming, though? Yeah, I don't see a point to the "stereo" mod either.

As a side note, the blinking light win is great for chiptune users too - with the BLW installed, the carts are gripped so tightly that even an accidental fall from a table to a tile floor during a live show didn't disrupt it. I'd like to see an unmodified NES survive that without stopping. :P


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:43 am 
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For live music and touring, you might even want to install chock absorbing spacers/washers and/or coil suspension internally, and possibly glue rubber mat feet to the bottom.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:26 am 
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Cyber Akuma wrote:
(Except using a rheostat instead of a fixed resistor.... though the only example I could found used a potentiometer instead and wired it up like a rheostat... any reason I can't just use a rheostat instead?)
In general, "rheostat" is used to mean a 2-terminal device that is specifically intended to limit the current that can flow it. Since that's a more specific term, and one of reduced utility, it's not really used any more ... which is why everyone calls for a potentiometer instead.

But you're right that they're mostly interchangeable.

Quote:
Disabling NES10 Lockout (With a switch to re-enable it just in case)
There's genuinely no utility in re-enabling the CIC lock. There's exactly two games—one US and extremely rare, one European and not particularly common—that rely on a functioning CIC.

Quote:
Will the stereo mod cause any issues with the Hi-Def NES mod? I am guessing the Hi-Def NES mod gets the audio signal out of the system long before the stereo mod even touches it?
The Hi-def NES completely ignores the NES CPU's original audio and resynthesizes it from scratch. Your NES CPU could be entirely missing pins 1 and 2 and you'd still hear audio via the HDMI output.

Quote:
I heard some places that "composite barely works" once the Hi-def NES mod is installed, but could not verify this. Is it true? Does the Hi-Def NES mod break or disable the composite output?
Composite will not work as intended while the HDMI cable is plugged in. (The HDNES has to re-purpose it as a digital signal in order to work)

Quote:
would it be possible to solder the Hi-Def NES Pads to the NES's board with a socket and then just socket the CPU/PPU in place in case I break something and need to replace it?
Sockets are somewhat famous for having their contents shaken loose by only-slightly-rough handling. Nothing will be permanently damaged, but you might find yourself occasionally needing to open it again to reseat everything.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:57 am 
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Quote:
Sockets are somewhat famous for having their contents shaken loose

I believe this is to be taken with a pinch of salt, though? I've only got anecdotes to show for it, but i've socketed plenty of stuff with practically for free flimsy looking new old stock parts, aswell as expensive, sturdy looking parts, and i've yet to see one of either category fail after a transport.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:54 pm 
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lidnariq wrote:
In general, "rheostat" is used to mean a 2-terminal device that is specifically intended to limit the current that can flow it. Since that's a more specific term, and one of reduced utility, it's not really used any more ... which is why everyone calls for a potentiometer instead.

But you're right that they're mostly interchangeable.


I was confused at first since I was looking up pootentiometers and saw some people mention rheostats, I didn't know if they were different devices or not so I looked it up, and apparently they are.

From what I understand, a potentiometer is basically a rheostat with an extra fixed output (From what I read, a rheostat would have two connections would a potentiometer would have 3), that I would need to do some extra work to bridge to basically make it work as a rheostat instead.

I was just asking if there was any particular reason I was not aware of that one would have used a potentiometer instead of a rheostat because a rheostat would not have worked for whatever reason. I am not that knowledgeable about electronics I admit.

Quote:
There's genuinely no utility in re-enabling the CIC lock. There's exactly two games—one US and extremely rare, one European and not particularly common—that rely on a functioning CIC.


It's really more of a "nice to have just in extreme cases" thing, I was more concerned if it would cause any issues to do it. This is going to partially also be a learning experience for me (No, I am not just going to blindly solder onto my NES without a lot of practice on junk first) hence why I wanted to do it, I just like having the potential option.

Also, I heard some talk that you might need to disable it to get extended audio to work without a hd-def NES, but I don't know if that's true. Keep in mind that I won't be able to get my hands on a hi-Def NES for a while, but I can perform all the other mods with the tools I already have.

Quote:
The Hi-def NES completely ignores the NES CPU's original audio and resynthesizes it from scratch. Your NES CPU could be entirely missing pins 1 and 2 and you'd still hear audio via the HDMI output.


Ok, good to hear. So then basically no audio mod I do could run the risk of causing issues with the hi-def NES?

Come to think of it, I recall seeing some of the schematics recommend putting capacitors if you were going to do the mod to help prevent feedback from the RCA inputs.... would there be any point in adding diodes there too to prevent feedback? Or am I completely misunderstanding what diodes are for?

Quote:
Composite will not work as intended while the HDMI cable is plugged in. (The HDNES has to re-purpose it as a digital signal in order to work)


Looking back, I am starting to believe I mis-read that part earlier. I don't mind having to unplug the HDMI cable to get composite working, as long as composite will work fine with a Hd-NES installed (as long as I unplug the HDMI cable). Is that the case? I just have to unplug the HDMI cable from the back of the NES to get composite working again?

Quote:
Sockets are somewhat famous for having their contents shaken loose by only-slightly-rough handling. Nothing will be permanently damaged, but you might find yourself occasionally needing to open it again to reseat everything.


Seems this might have been another screw-up of mine by reading a different installation guide.

In reading this one:
https://www.game-tech.us/hi-def-nes-ins ... terposers/
https://www.game-tech.us/hi-def-nes-ins ... -assembly/

It seems that nothing gets permanently soldered in? From what I understand, you solder header pins in place of the CPU/PPU (which from what I understand, would be similar to a socket and are not a permanent connection?) and then a socket to the interposers of the Hd-DEF NES to socket the CPU and PPU in? From what I understand, this means that neither the interposers of the hi-Def NES that sit between the CPU/PPU, nor the CPU/PPU themselves get permanently soldered to anything can can be easily removed? Did I get it right this time or did I still screw up understanding how this works?


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