A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

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Random_Hajile1980
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A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Random_Hajile1980 » Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:29 am

After a long hiatus from console gaming (caused by a stint restoring some old arcade cabinets for my game room), I decided to get back into modifying clone hardware. My current project is a Retron 3. It's a neat little system, but it appears to be a new version 3 which seems to combine the worst aspects of the two previous versions. Like the V1 Retron 3, this clone cannot play Castlevania 3, but like a version 2 has distorted SNES audio, most games sound....ok, but the Super Gameboy in particular sounds horrible.
I want to do the following mods:

Fix the distorted SNES audio,
wire in a SNES cic chip for SA-1 compatibility, although I figured out how to do this with the FC twin several years ago.
My FC twin had a spot on the motherboard for one, but the retron 3's board does not, so i must find the lines and do it directly.

So my question is has anybody tried modding one of these? if somebody has, can they point me in the proper direction to what components i need to replace or add to fix the sound? should i simply add/replace caps and resistors? or maybe add a dual op amp?

And a more generic question is what signals does the CIC chip really need for SA-1 games to operate? I can use a schematic and trace the pinouts/lines on a dead FC twin and a authentic SNES, do I have to hookup the CIC's reset lines? or can I get away with just attaching the 4 I/O cartridge port pins and power/ground?

Thanks in advance, if anybody has ideas....
Last edited by Random_Hajile1980 on Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

Ace_1
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:09 pm

Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Ace_1 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:02 pm

You've got the RetroN3 Version 3. I have one too; absolutely HATE the thing (worst RetroN3 hardware revision, if you ask me; it almost ranks on par with the FC3 Plus Version 1 which had A SLEW of compatibility issues with NES games, did not play Virtua Racing and did not play Master System games at all).

Now, for the mods, I can't help you with the lockout chip, but I can help you with the audio fix.

Near the Player 2 Super NES controller port, you should see 4 surface-mounted resistors labeled 272. These are 2.7Kohm resistors and are COMPLETELY inadequate for amplifying the audio without making a distorted high-pass filtered mess out of it. You should replace these with 33Kohm resistors. Simple as that.

Or, if you want to build a new audio amp to replace Hyperkin's amp, I can provide you with a schematic of a TL074-based amp I'm working on for all Super Famiclones to give the same sound as a real Super NES.

Random_Hajile1980
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 9:19 pm

Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Random_Hajile1980 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:42 am

Been a long Time Ace_1 :) I kinda had a feeling you might be the one to provide help on this.

UGH... the version 3 consoles, what a letdown. I was surprised when I got it because I was expecting the version 2 that was supposed to play Castlevania 3, when this one didn't I knew it was a V3. the audio on the SNES side is butchered even worse than a V2! i absolutely hate the power button, which I'm going to have to replace because it broke on day 1, why they cut such corners I will never understand. I would have been completely happy with it if not for these issues, Hyperkin was so close to perfection with this system.

The other thing i can't figure out is why, out of all my master system games, only After Burner doesn't work. every other game that i have does just not that one, even other 4 meg games work. Not a big deal just kinda funny.

I will try that resistor fix first, and if that isn't satisfactory I'll go with that amp that you are working on because I bet the sound will be so much better than what's there.

As far as the lockout chip is concerned, my attempts at getting that to work have been unsuccessful, it's not a huge deal because a friend of mine owns a retro game shop and can get me versions of the SA-1 games that work, but I just kinda wanted to make it work without all that cartridge testing. I really wish these cloners would keep the spot for the cic chip in their designs, but only some of them have it. I might get an ancient model 1 FC Twin or better yet one of the new portables that has the space for it and trace the lines to find the proper solder points, but really I'm unsure at this point if it's even worth it to me to bother.

thanks for sharing, if you have a schematic for that amp I would love to take a look at it when you finish it.

Ace_1
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:09 pm

Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Ace_1 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:22 am

Random_Hajile1980 wrote:Been a long Time Ace_1 :) I kinda had a feeling you might be the one to provide help on this.
That's what I'm here for. :mrgreen:
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:UGH... the version 3 consoles, what a letdown. I was surprised when I got it because I was expecting the version 2 that was supposed to play Castlevania 3, when this one didn't I knew it was a V3. the audio on the SNES side is butchered even worse than a V2! i absolutely hate the power button, which I'm going to have to replace because it broke on day 1, why they cut such corners I will never understand. I would have been completely happy with it if not for these issues, Hyperkin was so close to perfection with this system.
Oh dear, you had the EXACT problem I had with my RetroN3 Version 3. Power switch failed day one (weak spring); had to desolder the power switch out of a dead Genesis Model 2 and shorten it a bit as the plastic bit is far too long to fit in as-is.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:The other thing i can't figure out is why, out of all my master system games, only After Burner doesn't work. every other game that i have does just not that one, even other 4 meg games work. Not a big deal just kinda funny.
After Burner requires power-cycling if it refuses to boot on the first try, i.e. you will have to quickly power off and power on the console. It's not just a RetroN3 problem; other clones require this quick power-cycling, but this seems to be heavily dependent on the console/converter combination. Sometimes, two of the same system may give completely different results. You may have one RetroN3 play After Burner first shot while another RetroN3 (same hardware revision) will need power-cycling.

I also found a weird thing with the RetroN3 Version 3 where the Master System version of Altered Beast only plays speech. It may be my converter (a custom one I built myself out of a worthless MegaDrive import adapter that's nothing more than a pass-through), but the game literally behaves as if it found a YM2413 and is sending FM music to a non-existent YM2413.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I will try that resistor fix first, and if that isn't satisfactory I'll go with that amp that you are working on because I bet the sound will be so much better than what's there.
Yobo Gameware actually uses a simplified version of this amp for the FC3 Plus, but with the 2.7Kohm resistors replaced by 33Kohm resistors, and aside from the sound being garbled due to Mono mixing, the audio is VERY loud and very clear. I'm sure if the FC3 Plus had no such Mono mixing, the sound would be perfect (and even clearer than a real Super NES as there's no 10.2KHz low-pass filter like on the Super NES).

I prefer low-pass filtered sound (muffles the high frequencies, but gives better bass), so if you prefer this as well, I'll provide you with the schematic of my circuit once it's complete, which should be in about a few hours.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:As far as the lockout chip is concerned, my attempts at getting that to work have been unsuccessful, it's not a huge deal because a friend of mine owns a retro game shop and can get me versions of the SA-1 games that work, but I just kinda wanted to make it work without all that cartridge testing. I really wish these cloners would keep the spot for the cic chip in their designs, but only some of them have it. I might get an ancient model 1 FC Twin or better yet one of the new portables that has the space for it and trace the lines to find the proper solder points, but really I'm unsure at this point if it's even worth it to me to bother.
DON'T get the FC Twin Version 1, that thing is highly inaccurate (those are the ones with no Yobo Gameware branding). What you want is the FC Twin Version 2 (first revision with the Yobo Gameware branding on it), for which I can provide you two ways of finding one:

1) The year on the holographic sticker should say 2007
2) If you look through the NES cartridge slot, the NES motherboard should have a date that has the year 2006 on it

This will guarantee you an FC Twin Version 2. The later models, Version 3, Version 4A and Version 4B all have different boards as follows:

Version 3: NES board updated and simplified (year of this board is 2007), Super NES board has lockout chip solder spot replaced by the audio amp (the holographic sticker on these can be 2008, 2009 or 2010)
Version 4A: Same NES board, Super NES board updated for the new reduced-size TCT-970 chipset (the holographic sticker on these says 2011)
Version 4B: Both NES and Super NES boards are identical, power board simplified to only have one voltage regulator instead of two (the holographic sticker on these says 2012)

Random_Hajile1980
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 9:19 pm

Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Random_Hajile1980 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:01 am

Ace, have you ever considered making a resource website with all of these mods and discoveries for the different clones you have found? if you haven't, maybe you should, because you really know your stuff.
Oh dear, you had the EXACT problem I had with my RetroN3 Version 3. Power switch failed day one (weak spring); had to desolder the power switch out of a dead Genesis Model 2 and shorten it a bit as the plastic bit is far too long to fit in as-is.
I was also considering using a Genny 2 power switch to fix the issue, but I am trying to find a drop in high quality replacement switch so I don't have to track down a dead system. I am probably going to try Mouser or Digikey then I can provide people with a part number so they can fix it without having to guess what parts to buy.
I have heard that most if not all of the version 3 systems have that crummy power switch. Hyperkin really should not have accepted such a downgrade in quality on such a often used part of the system. This issue has been reported on amazon's review pages often lately and I'm sure it's turned away many potential buyers.
After Burner requires power-cycling if it refuses to boot on the first try, i.e. you will have to quickly power off and power on the console. It's not just a RetroN3 problem; other clones require this quick power-cycling, but this seems to be heavily dependent on the console/converter combination. Sometimes, two of the same system may give completely different results. You may have one RetroN3 play After Burner first shot while another RetroN3 (same hardware revision) will need power-cycling.

I also found a weird thing with the RetroN3 Version 3 where the Master System version of Altered Beast only plays speech. It may be my converter (a custom one I built myself out of a worthless MegaDrive import adapter that's nothing more than a pass-through), but the game literally behaves as if it found a YM2413 and is sending FM music to a non-existent YM2413.
You know what, after you mentioned this I gave your suggestion a try and After Burner booted perfectly, and it works every time. so there is another game I can play again, so thanks.
I also have a strange issue similar to yours on altered beast, If I boot Shinobi on my setup (I am using a official power base converter with a modified plastic case) it will not play sound at all, unless I hit reset, then all sounds play fine, it too seems to think there is a FM chip in the console.

It would be nice if we could set up some kind of master compatibility list for the different clones as well as any tricks to get problem games going. Trouble is that there have been some places that have already tried to do this, but with so many conflicting compatibility reports on the system, even among different consoles of the same revision, it's hard to know what actually works "out of the box" without actually trying the specific game, for example on Genesis everyone knows Virtua Racing doesn't work, (and probably never will) but I was told by someone that Genesis 6pak didn't work, but it runs fine. Some lists say Super FX games don't work, but that isn't true.
Ecco: Tides of time has also been reported to not work, I don't have it to test but I don't know why that one title wouldn't work unless it uses unusual circuitry.
Yobo Gameware actually uses a simplified version of this amp for the FC3 Plus, but with the 2.7Kohm resistors replaced by 33Kohm resistors, and aside from the sound being garbled due to Mono mixing, the audio is VERY loud and very clear. I'm sure if the FC3 Plus had no such Mono mixing, the sound would be perfect (and even clearer than a real Super NES as there's no 10.2KHz low-pass filter like on the Super NES).

I prefer low-pass filtered sound (muffles the high frequencies, but gives better bass), so if you prefer this as well, I'll provide you with the schematic of my circuit once it's complete, which should be in about a few hours.

Yeah I have heard the FC3 and if it were not for the mono mixing it would have really great sound. it's too bad they chose to mix the sound in such a unusual way. It's an puzzling choice when you consider most televisions are now stereo unlike the old days.
DON'T get the FC Twin Version 1, that thing is highly inaccurate (those are the ones with no Yobo Gameware branding). What you want is the FC Twin Version 2 (first revision with the Yobo Gameware branding on it), for which I can provide you two ways of finding one:

1) The year on the holographic sticker should say 2007
2) If you look through the NES cartridge slot, the NES motherboard should have a date that has the year 2006 on it

This will guarantee you an FC Twin Version 2. The later models, Version 3, Version 4A and Version 4B all have different boards as follows:

Version 3: NES board updated and simplified (year of this board is 2007), Super NES board has lockout chip solder spot replaced by the audio amp (the holographic sticker on these can be 2008, 2009 or 2010)
Version 4A: Same NES board, Super NES board updated for the new reduced-size TCT-970 chipset (the holographic sticker on these says 2011)
Version 4B: Both NES and Super NES boards are identical, power board simplified to only have one voltage regulator instead of two (the holographic sticker on these says 2012)
I was mainly going to use the version 1 FC twin specifically BECAUSE it's a piece of junk :) , it would only be used to be torn apart so I can use a logic probe on it and find the proper connection points for the lockout. If i destroyed a nicer one I might feel guilty :wink:
I am still undecided as to whether or not to dig into this mod, If I do I might actually use yobo's FC16 go as a test subject because it uses the same TCT-97x chipset that the Retron uses AND it has the lockout chip solder space, I actually wish someone could figure out how to use the newer "super cic" on a clone because that would be a great mod, I might try to do that instead if i can figure out all of the places to connect to.

Ace_1
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:09 pm

Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Ace_1 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:46 am

Random_Hajile1980 wrote:Ace, have you ever considered making a resource website with all of these mods and discoveries for the different clones you have found? if you haven't, maybe you should, because you really know your stuff.
As a matter of fact, yes. I have considering putting together a website which will be a big database of all the clone systems I've tested over the years. If you know how to go about doing such a thing, let me know.

Although, I will need a new Gen-X and GN Twin as those were some of the earliest clones I tested and wasn't really serious into clone console testing at the time as I was out and about trying to mod both consoles and ended up killing them both (the Gen-X is completely dead and the GN Twin's GOAC was overvolted due to a reversed 7805... :( )
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:Hyperkin really should not have accepted such a downgrade in quality on such a often used part of the system. This issue has been reported on amazon's review pages often lately and I'm sure it's turned away many potential buyers.
The only RetroN3 I saw with a faulty power switch like mine was a Version 1 system. Talk about complete failure of Hyperkin's quality control.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I also have a strange issue similar to yours on altered beast, If I boot Shinobi on my setup (I am using a official power base converter with a modified plastic case) it will not play sound at all, unless I hit reset, then all sounds play fine, it too seems to think there is a FM chip in the console.
Unlike Shinobi, though, Altered Beast does not play anything other than speech no matter what I do. Something's weird with the RetroN3 Version 3 in that regard, yet it still uses the TCT-6801 GOAC. I don't get it.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:It would be nice if we could set up some kind of master compatibility list for the different clones as well as any tricks to get problem games going. Trouble is that there have been some places that have already tried to do this, but with so many conflicting compatibility reports on the system, even among different consoles of the same revision, it's hard to know what actually works "out of the box" without actually trying the specific game, for example on Genesis everyone knows Virtua Racing doesn't work, (and probably never will) but I was told by someone that Genesis 6pak didn't work, but it runs fine. Some lists say Super FX games don't work, but that isn't true.
Ecco: Tides of time has also been reported to not work, I don't have it to test but I don't know why that one title wouldn't work unless it uses unusual circuitry.
There's a lot of BS concerning clone consoles out there. So many people always say how the emulation of a certain clone is a certain way, which drives me absolutely friggin' crazy. People always seem to assume these clone systems are like software emulation you download onto your computer, phone, etc.

NO

These clones are completely different beasts than what you get on a computer. It's pure hardware; not perfect, but these are either single-chip clones with all the original components on that one chip or clones that still use discrete components like Super Famiclones. Unless a clone console has the AtGames logo on it, it's not software emulation. People don't seem to get that.

Virtua Racing not working is total crap. I've had it working fine on 3 clones, the Gen-X, the GN Twin and the FC3 Plus Version 2 (not sure if newer hardware revisions of these clones are lacking this). You could even force it to work on an FC3 Plus Version 1 by linking two pins on the cartridge slot, something which fails to work on anything with the TCT-6801, which includes the RetroN3 and the RetroGen Adapter (which, by the way, is quite a good clone-in-a-Super-NES-cartridge type thing minus some video sync issues due to a capacitor that shouldn't be in the video circuit).

SuperFX games not working is total crap as well, though I've seen some RetroDuo Portable v2.0s fail to run any game with extra hardware in the cartridge, particularly the SuperFX and CX4. Mine works fine with both (although the on-board controls malfunction after 20 minutes of playtime), as does one that's used at a demo model at my local flea market (this one runs MegaMan X2 every day for at least 7 hours non-stop).
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:Yeah I have heard the FC3 and if it were not for the mono mixing it would have really great sound. it's too bad they chose to mix the sound in such a unusual way. It's an puzzling choice when you consider most televisions are now stereo unlike the old days.
Wanna know something even more stupid? Hyperkin pulled the same crap with the RetroN2. Its Super NES audio output is in dual Mono. I had one for a day, absolutely hated it and exchanged it for a RetroDuo v3.0. MUCH better choice despite the NES audio being much worse than the RetroN2 (the RetroDuo v3.0's audio is distorted on nearly everything while the RetroN2's is distorted due to excessive amplification, which means only loud games or games with a lot of sounds going on at once will sound bad).
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I was mainly going to use the version 1 FC twin specifically BECAUSE it's a piece of junk :) , it would only be used to be torn apart so I can use a logic probe on it and find the proper connection points for the lockout. If i destroyed a nicer one I might feel guilty :wink:
I am still undecided as to whether or not to dig into this mod, If I do I might actually use yobo's FC16 go as a test subject because it uses the same TCT-97x chipset that the Retron uses AND it has the lockout chip solder space, I actually wish someone could figure out how to use the newer "super cic" on a clone because that would be a great mod, I might try to do that instead if i can figure out all of the places to connect to.
Oh, I see.

And I should be getting an FC16 Go Version 2 and maybe even another FC Twin Version 2 in a few days. I'll be sure to retrace the solder spot for you as I don't have any idea where my non-working FC Twin Version 2's Super NES board is.

Right now, I need to fix an FC Game Console Version 1 that's been giving me hell since I got it. What should have been a simple fix consisting of a 7805 replacement (which wasn't even necessary) ended up turning into an IMMENSELY tedious mess with the Player 1 controller port malfunctioning and the Reset signal getting stuck. I cannot figure out the former (even bypassing supposedly weak traces fixed nothing), but the later is DEFINITELY due to a weak trace (I had that problem with the RetroN3 Version 3 as well when I accidentally desoldered the Reset button rather than the Power switch).

Random_Hajile1980
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 9:19 pm

Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Random_Hajile1980 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:26 am

As a matter of fact, yes. I have considering putting together a website which will be a big database of all the clone systems I've tested over the years. If you know how to go about doing such a thing, let me know.
I think the most challenging thing about running a website is actually getting a domain to use, because most are paid (and pricey). Actually designing a html page isn't too hard unless you get really fancy, I ran a simple web site for a club i was in when I was in high school and even with the tools available way back then It was pretty easy to figure out. My suggestion is to maybe start with something at a free website provider first and move up to something paid if it looks like it is getting popular enough to give you a return of some kind, most internet reviewers use an ad based system where ads pay for the domain and that's an option.
Or maybe someone may even offer to host it if it winds up being something people enjoy using, I have seen that happen often.
Unlike Shinobi, though, Altered Beast does not play anything other than speech no matter what I do. Something's weird with the RetroN3 Version 3 in that regard, yet it still uses the TCT-6801 GOAC. I don't get it.
I don't even know where to begin looking at it, I do notice the Retron 3 seems to be letterboxing the master system games almost like they are running on a game gear so it is definitely doing some odd stuff with the master system modes.
I wonder how many other Master System games exhibit odd behavior.
There's a lot of BS concerning clone consoles out there. So many people always say how the emulation of a certain clone is a certain way, which drives me absolutely friggin' crazy. People always seem to assume these clone systems are like software emulation you download onto your computer, phone, etc.
Oh geez! I hate that too I hear people throw the "emulation" word around ALL THE TIME with these clone systems and It is irritating explaining to them the difference, reverse engineered hardware and software based emulation are two totally different beasts.
After having explained it a million times, I feel your pain.
Wanna know something even more stupid? Hyperkin pulled the same crap with the RetroN2. Its Super NES audio output is in dual Mono. I had one for a day, absolutely hated it and exchanged it for a RetroDuo v3.0. MUCH better choice despite the NES audio being much worse than the RetroN2 (the RetroDuo v3.0's audio is distorted on nearly everything while the RetroN2's is distorted due to excessive amplification, which means only loud games or games with a lot of sounds going on at once will sound bad).
I haven't had the opportunity to mess with a Retron 2 yet but I find that asinine. why do these companies, Hyperkin in particular, hire these factories that can't get the audio amps even passable? more importantly WHO IS DESIGNING these audio circuits?

At least you can mostly fix the Retro Duo's Nes sound distortion.
And I should be getting an FC16 Go Version 2 and maybe even another FC Twin Version 2 in a few days. I'll be sure to retrace the solder spot for you as I don't have any idea where my non-working FC Twin Version 2's Super NES board is.

Right now, I need to fix an FC Game Console Version 1 that's been giving me hell since I got it. What should have been a simple fix consisting of a 7805 replacement (which wasn't even necessary) ended up turning into an IMMENSELY tedious mess with the Player 1 controller port malfunctioning and the Reset signal getting stuck. I cannot figure out the former (even bypassing supposedly weak traces fixed nothing), but the later is DEFINITELY due to a weak trace (I had that problem with the RetroN3 Version 3 as well when I accidentally desoldered the Reset button rather than the Power switch).
I appreciate all the assistance you are offering with this project of mine. hopefully if you do get around to tracing the pinout for the cic on a FC16 Go, and I can find a way to get it working on a Retron 3, we should be able to figure out how to install one in any TCT-97X chipset based clone. in fact I may buy an extra Retron just to experiment with, just so I don't blow up my personal console.

I have seen controller issues on the Yobo FC consoles before.
I fix and mod consoles for the friend that has that retro game shop on a semi regular basis (great way to get free games) after he had most of one order come back to the store I got the task of fixing them, at least 5 had controller problems I was lucky on the first few as it was just a broken ribbon cable connection. but on 2 of the consoles, I never was able to repair the problem, all I could think from my time working with them is it seemed they had some sort of static electricity damage. If that is the case I think replacement is the only option.

Ace_1
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:09 pm

Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Ace_1 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:01 pm

Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I think the most challenging thing about running a website is actually getting a domain to use, because most are paid (and pricey). Actually designing a html page isn't too hard unless you get really fancy, I ran a simple web site for a club i was in when I was in high school and even with the tools available way back then It was pretty easy to figure out. My suggestion is to maybe start with something at a free website provider first and move up to something paid if it looks like it is getting popular enough to give you a return of some kind, most internet reviewers use an ad based system where ads pay for the domain and that's an option.
Or maybe someone may even offer to host it if it winds up being something people enjoy using, I have seen that happen often.
I'll think about this. I'm all about the quality of what I do, so I would like to put a rather elaborate site together and not something that's overly simplistic.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I don't even know where to begin looking at it, I do notice the Retron 3 seems to be letterboxing the master system games almost like they are running on a game gear so it is definitely doing some odd stuff with the master system modes.
All GOACs that are not made by Sega seem to completely mask all vertical overscan, and the Master System has a lot of it. One example I can think of is After Burner's title screen, which is completely blue, but on a RetroN3 or any other GOAC-based clone, the screen appears letterboxed as the excess blue is part of the vertical overscan area. Take a look at this video of my RetroN3 V2 vs. Original Hardware series of videos to see the difference:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbZOuWdGOx0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Master System games with memory paging chips in them also seem to exhibit graphical glitches, though I'm not entirely sure if it's a GOAC or Master System converter issue. I get the glitches on all non-Sega GOACs.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:Oh geez! I hate that too I hear people throw the "emulation" word around ALL THE TIME with these clone systems and It is irritating explaining to them the difference, reverse engineered hardware and software based emulation are two totally different beasts.
After having explained it a million times, I feel your pain.
It's like trying to explain to certain people that information about the Genesis 3 lacking a Z80 is complete nonsense. A Genesis NEEDS a Z80 to function correctly; the real reason behind the Genesis 3's compatibility problems is missing signals on the cartridge slot which are present on the GOAC (some are completely missing on the later 315-6123 GOAC, however), but not actually linked to the cartridge slot. Some people, to this day, still throw this crap around even though it's been proved wrong time and time again.

GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT BEFORE THROWING OUT THIS CRAP! Don't just assume things; do your own research and get your information from a known trustworthy source.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I haven't had the opportunity to mess with a Retron 2 yet but I find that asinine. why do these companies, Hyperkin in particular, hire these factories that can't get the audio amps even passable? more importantly WHO IS DESIGNING these audio circuits?
I think it's someone at Shenzen Qi Sheng Long, which seems to be the company nearly every single clone console manufacturer in North America gets their clone hardware from. They are responsible for all these clones:

-Yobo Gameware FC Game Console
-RetroBit Retro Entertainment System
-Hyperkin RetroN1
-Yobo Gameware Factor-5
-Yobo Gameware FC Twin
-Tomee C2
-RetroBit Gen-X
-Yobo Gameware GN Twin (except the GN Twin plays NES and Genesis games rather than Super NES and Genesis games)
-Yobo Gameware FC3 Plus
-Hyperkin RetroN3

That accounts for almost every single legal clone console released since the FC Game Console in 2005 (and if I remember correctly, it was THE first legal Famiclone ever to be released). Qi Sheng Long needs to hire new engineers.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:At least you can mostly fix the Retro Duo's Nes sound distortion.
At least. Still stupid for RetroBit to omit a low-pass filter and biasing resistor.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I appreciate all the assistance you are offering with this project of mine. hopefully if you do get around to tracing the pinout for the cic on a FC16 Go, and I can find a way to get it working on a Retron 3, we should be able to figure out how to install one in any TCT-97X chipset based clone. in fact I may buy an extra Retron just to experiment with, just so I don't blow up my personal console.
You know, I'm not entirely sure the smaller TCT-970 chipset will have the same pinout as the original full-size chipset. Not to mention, if soldering straight to the pins is required, it will be EXTREMELY difficult to do so on the reduced-size TCT-970 chipset due to the pins being absolutely tiny.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I have seen controller issues on the Yobo FC consoles before.
I fix and mod consoles for the friend that has that retro game shop on a semi regular basis (great way to get free games) after he had most of one order come back to the store I got the task of fixing them, at least 5 had controller problems I was lucky on the first few as it was just a broken ribbon cable connection. but on 2 of the consoles, I never was able to repair the problem, all I could think from my time working with them is it seemed they had some sort of static electricity damage. If that is the case I think replacement is the only option.
This appears to be a case of a failing NOAC as the Clock line for Player 1's controller port ALWAYS malfunctions no matter what I do and Player 2's controller port is completely screwed up (registers all buttons at once when no controller is plugged in, presses the wrong buttons when you try to actually use a controller). I've given up on it; I spent 3 days trying to fix the controller ports to no avail.

But I did discover something interesting: the two most commonly omitted signals on NOACs, CIRAM /CE and /A13, both exist on the FC Game Console Version 1, but are linked together by a jumper rather than soldered to their respective pins on the cartridge slot. This dumb move breaks Castlevania III, Rad Racer II and After Burner, but if you remove the jumper, cut a trace linking those two pins on the cartridge slot and solder the wires to the appropriate place, those 3 games work perfectly fine.

I actually think the RetroN3 Version 2 and FC Game Console Version 1 share the exact same NOAC as the video is the same (save for lower brightness on the RetroN3 Version 2), they have the same poor-quality DPCM, reversed duty cycles and the same compatibility (except the RetroN3 Version 2 has a stupid wiring error where CIRAM /CE and /A13 are tied to the cartridge slot, but are linked together, which causes graphical errors in After Burner).

Random_Hajile1980
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Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Random_Hajile1980 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:18 pm

I understand that, you certainly don't want it to look cheesy, but you can actually still get fairly elaborate in website design before you start getting really complex and hard to program, what I would do if it were me, is look into getting some nice HTML software and just start playing around, If you design it and get it looking the way you want even before you have a place to upload it, one of the most difficult issues is taken care of. But of course that depends how deep into this you want to go.
It's like trying to explain to certain people that information about the Genesis 3 lacking a Z80 is complete nonsense. A Genesis NEEDS a Z80 to function correctly; the real reason behind the Genesis 3's compatibility problems is missing signals on the cartridge slot which are present on the GOAC (some are completely missing on the later 315-6123 GOAC, however), but not actually linked to the cartridge slot. Some people, to this day, still throw this crap around even though it's been proved wrong time and time again.

GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT BEFORE THROWING OUT THIS CRAP! Don't just assume things; do your own research and get your information from a known trustworthy source.
I have seen this at so many message boards and even youtube comments talking about a "missing Z80" I don't know where people got the information in the first place, but reading and talking to people really takes care of most misconceptions on reasonable people.
You know, I'm not entirely sure the smaller TCT-970 chipset will have the same pinout as the original full-size chipset. Not to mention, if soldering straight to the pins is required, it will be EXTREMELY difficult to do so on the reduced-size TCT-970 chipset due to the pins being absolutely tiny.


which Is one reason I haven't picked up the FC twin to tear down, because as I recall it used the GF-69xx chipset so like you pointed out may have a totally different pinout. which is why if we can trace the FC16 we would have a better chance at figuring it out. But as you also pointed out if you have to solder to the pins directly, it may not be worth the trouble.
But I did discover something interesting: the two most commonly omitted signals on NOACs, CIRAM /CE and /A13, both exist on the FC Game Console Version 1, but are linked together by a jumper rather than soldered to their respective pins on the cartridge slot. This dumb move breaks Castlevania III, Rad Racer II and After Burner, but if you remove the jumper, cut a trace linking those two pins on the cartridge slot and solder the wires to the appropriate place, those 3 games work perfectly fine.

I actually think the RetroN3 Version 2 and FC Game Console Version 1 share the exact same NOAC as the video is the same (save for lower brightness on the RetroN3 Version 2), they have the same poor-quality DPCM, reversed duty cycles and the same compatibility (except the RetroN3 Version 2 has a stupid wiring error where CIRAM /CE and /A13 are tied to the cartridge slot, but are linked together, which causes graphical errors in After Burner).
I have two of the titles you mentioned, Tengen Afterburner and Castlevania III, both will play fine if I use the old Super 8 converter through the SNES slot but on the NOAC in the retron both boot but neither really works at all, Afterburner has no title screen graphics or backgrounds but it plays and castlevania III has messed up graphics and crashes when stage 1 begins.
I imagine that's due to one of the problems you mentioned in the design.
I have read of a fix for CV3 on some NOACs using a inverter IC, and come to think of it that might have even been you that found the fix, but I for the life of me forget what website I saw that on.

Ace_1
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Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Ace_1 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:23 pm

Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I understand that, you certainly don't want it to look cheesy, but you can actually still get fairly elaborate in website design before you start getting really complex and hard to program, what I would do if it were me, is look into getting some nice HTML software and just start playing around, If you design it and get it looking the way you want even before you have a place to upload it, one of the most difficult issues is taken care of. But of course that depends how deep into this you want to go.
I'm the kind of person that if I have a lot of interest in a certain subject, I want to go REALLY deep into it. Clone console testing is one of those things.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I have seen this at so many message boards and even youtube comments talking about a "missing Z80" I don't know where people got the information in the first place, but reading and talking to people really takes care of most misconceptions on reasonable people.
The problem is when the BS information hasn't been destroyed. People see it and think to themselves that it's true without even giving it a second thought. It happens all too often.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:which Is one reason I haven't picked up the FC twin to tear down, because as I recall it used the GF-69xx chipset so like you pointed out may have a totally different pinout. which is why if we can trace the FC16 we would have a better chance at figuring it out. But as you also pointed out if you have to solder to the pins directly, it may not be worth the trouble.
Actually, the GF-6790 chipset follows the same pinout at the TCT-970 chipset as the FC Twin Version 1 and FC Twin Version 2 share the same Super NES board, but with different chipsets (from what I remember, anyways). Hailrazer had some images of the FC Twin Version 1's internals, but they seem to be gone, so don't take my word for it. I've never owned an FC Twin Version 1.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I have two of the titles you mentioned, Tengen Afterburner and Castlevania III, both will play fine if I use the old Super 8 converter through the SNES slot but on the NOAC in the retron both boot but neither really works at all, Afterburner has no title screen graphics or backgrounds but it plays and castlevania III has messed up graphics and crashes when stage 1 begins.
I imagine that's due to one of the problems you mentioned in the design.
It's a missing CIRAM /CE signal causing this. If the signal is missing, there is no way you can make After Burner display the graphics correctly. It just won't work.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I have read of a fix for CV3 on some NOACs using a inverter IC, and come to think of it that might have even been you that found the fix, but I for the life of me forget what website I saw that on.
That is my fix, though it was actually a collaborative effort between myself and YouTube user SatoshiMatrix1. I had looked up an NOAC that was used on a certain Famiclone (can't remember which) and noticed that both CIRAM /CE and /A13 were completely missing. CIRAM /CE cannot be faked as that's an enable line for the CIRAM in an NES, but /A13 can be faked by passing it through a 74xx04 or 74xx00. With this in mind, I had a theory that Castlevania III may have issues with those particular clones due to a missing /A13, so I took a 74xx00, passed A13 through it to generate /A13... the game worked perfectly. Well, almost, as after extensive testing on my GN Twin, I noticed one stage had graphical errors. Still, the game itself was perfectly playable.

I communicated this information to SatoshiMatrix1 who then applied the mod to the RetroPort provided with the RetroDuo Portable v1.0, and sure enough, it worked, but he was the first to actually show the mod working (albeit only partially).

By the way, I have a few different variants of my username on other forums and YouTube, namely Ace and Ace9921 (this originates from YouTube, actually). If you see those names, it's me.

Also, figured you'd be interested in this: I got an FC16 Go Version 2 today. Decent portable Super Famiclone, but it has issues:

-The screen is crap (poor response time, light flickering)
-Video output is bright, but dull and EXTREMELY blurry
-Audio output is weird. All audio output is controlled from the volume dial, and can make the sound either perfectly clean or heavily distorted, and at the same time, the higher the volume, the louder the bass. WTF?
-DUAL MONO AUDIO OUTPUT! Yobo Gameware said there was Stereo sound out of the FC16 Go Version 2, but all they did was to add a second speaker and second audio output. LIARS!!!

I will take a look at the motherboard in the coming days to figure out how a lockout chip would work on the console.

Random_Hajile1980
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Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Random_Hajile1980 » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:51 am

I am actually subscribed to both you (I had a feeling it was you at least, now I know for sure) and satoshimatrix on youtube, many of the videos you both have produced about these systems have had a direct impact as to which clones I decide to tinker with, If I see one that looks serviceable I will go to youtube and see if you have any info on them, I tend to do my homework on a purchase before I actually plunk down the money I read EVERYTHING and watch EVERYTHING and then make up my mind, and funny enough I did view your comparison videos for the Retron before ordering one, It actually was part of why I thought it might just be good enough to tinker with, there were just enough things to fix....
Actually, the GF-6790 chipset follows the same pinout at the TCT-970 chipset as the FC Twin Version 1 and FC Twin Version 2 share the same Super NES board, but with different chipsets (from what I remember, anyways). Hailrazer had some images of the FC Twin Version 1's internals, but they seem to be gone, so don't take my word for it. I've never owned an FC Twin Version 1.
Funny enough, I happened to be talking with my friend at the game shop and mentioned wanting an early FC twin to rip apart. he actually had one in the back room in a parts box torn apart by somebody he knew who tried making a portable out of it and failed. He gave it to me to use, It has no cart slot or other boards with it. I still don't know if it will really help add a chip to the retron 3 but maybe between this dead system and your new FC 16 Go we may be able to figure out what is different and what would need to be done. I have taken photos of it for reference but I don't know what service to use to upload them photobucket? Imageshack? suggestions?
That is my fix, though it was actually a collaborative effort between myself and YouTube user SatoshiMatrix1. I had looked up an NOAC that was used on a certain Famiclone (can't remember which) and noticed that both CIRAM /CE and /A13 were completely missing. CIRAM /CE cannot be faked as that's an enable line for the CIRAM in an NES, but /A13 can be faked by passing it through a 74xx04 or 74xx00. With this in mind, I had a theory that Castlevania III may have issues with those particular clones due to a missing /A13, so I took a 74xx00, passed A13 through it to generate /A13... the game worked perfectly. Well, almost, as after extensive testing on my GN Twin, I noticed one stage had graphical errors. Still, the game itself was perfectly playable.

I communicated this information to SatoshiMatrix1 who then applied the mod to the RetroPort provided with the RetroDuo Portable v1.0, and sure enough, it worked, but he was the first to actually show the mod working (albeit only partially).
Do you think this fix could be applied to the retron 3? if you think it might, then I may as well attempt this when I tear it down to fix everything else, pulling out the Super 8 every time I want to play CV3 is a pain in the rear.
Also, figured you'd be interested in this: I got an FC16 Go Version 2 today. Decent portable Super Famiclone, but it has issues:

-The screen is crap (poor response time, light flickering)
-Video output is bright, but dull and EXTREMELY blurry
-Audio output is weird. All audio output is controlled from the volume dial, and can make the sound either perfectly clean or heavily distorted, and at the same time, the higher the volume, the louder the bass. WTF?
-DUAL MONO AUDIO OUTPUT! Yobo Gameware said there was Stereo sound out of the FC16 Go Version 2, but all they did was to add a second speaker and second audio output. LIARS!!!
How disappointing, I wonder if SNES clones are just getting worse as we go along, kinda seems like it to me.

Ace_1
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:09 pm

Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Ace_1 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:50 am

Random_Hajile1980 wrote:I am actually subscribed to both you (I had a feeling it was you at least, now I know for sure) and satoshimatrix on youtube, many of the videos you both have produced about these systems have had a direct impact as to which clones I decide to tinker with, If I see one that looks serviceable I will go to youtube and see if you have any info on them, I tend to do my homework on a purchase before I actually plunk down the money I read EVERYTHING and watch EVERYTHING and then make up my mind, and funny enough I did view your comparison videos for the Retron before ordering one, It actually was part of why I thought it might just be good enough to tinker with, there were just enough things to fix....
I tend to blindly purchase clone consoles because I have a lot of interest in what goes on inside of them, not to mention, using one clone system will give a different experience than another clone. The most recent one I blindly purchased is the RetroN2, as there was absolutely no information on it even when the console was about one month old. I was probably one of the first to put up information on the console online at DigitPress.
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:Funny enough, I happened to be talking with my friend at the game shop and mentioned wanting an early FC twin to rip apart. he actually had one in the back room in a parts box torn apart by somebody he knew who tried making a portable out of it and failed. He gave it to me to use, It has no cart slot or other boards with it. I still don't know if it will really help add a chip to the retron 3 but maybe between this dead system and your new FC 16 Go we may be able to figure out what is different and what would need to be done. I have taken photos of it for reference but I don't know what service to use to upload them photobucket? Imageshack? suggestions?
I personally use ImageShack. Upload the images there and I'll take a look at them.

Now I want to get myself an FC Twin Version 1 and see how much different it is from the later Version 2, Version 3, Version 4A and Version 4B, mainly when it comes to the GF-6970 chipset's color problems. I will be getting another Version 2 today, by the way (the FC Twin Version 2 was the very first Famiclone I ever owned back in 2007 when I bought a faulty Super NES Mini and was royally pissed off, so I bought an FC Twin to replace it and absolutely loved the damn thing... except I made an unusable mess out of it).
Random_Hajile1980 wrote:Do you think this fix could be applied to the retron 3? if you think it might, then I may as well attempt this when I tear it down to fix everything else, pulling out the Super 8 every time I want to play CV3 is a pain in the rear.
This will work on all Famiclones with completely non-existent CIRAM /CE and /A13 signals. The RetroN3 Version 3, though, requires a trace cut as although CIRAM /CE and /A13 are non-existent on the RetroN3 Version 3's NOAC, there's a trace that links those two pins together at the cartridge slot. You will have to break that trace.

How disappointing, I wonder if SNES clones are just getting worse as we go along, kinda seems like it to me.[/quote]

Random_Hajile1980
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Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Random_Hajile1980 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:44 pm

I tend to blindly purchase clone consoles because I have a lot of interest in what goes on inside of them, not to mention, using one clone system will give a different experience than another clone. The most recent one I blindly purchased is the RetroN2, as there was absolutely no information on it even when the console was about one month old. I was probably one of the first to put up information on the console online at DigitPress.
And I'm glad there are people like you out there who give these clones a shot and do such in depth reviews and teardowns.
I personally use ImageShack. Upload the images there and I'll take a look at them.

Now I want to get myself an FC Twin Version 1 and see how much different it is from the later Version 2, Version 3, Version 4A and Version 4B, mainly when it comes to the GF-6970 chipset's color problems. I will be getting another Version 2 today, by the way (the FC Twin Version 2 was the very first Famiclone I ever owned back in 2007 when I bought a faulty Super NES Mini and was royally pissed off, so I bought an FC Twin to replace it and absolutely loved the damn thing... except I made an unusable mess out of it).
I went with your suggestion of Imageshack, and I've started uploading images of both the dead FC Twin and the Retron 3, I've included links to the pertinent images of the FC twin below I haven't re sized them so I will post the link instead:

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/81 ... 31000.jpg/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/54 ... 00536.jpg/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I believe this is a model one FC twin, It has had a socket for a CIC chip fitted, and I have traced some of the lines but so far only from the CIC itself to the cartridge slot, which is four lines. I loved my FC twin as well, mine was a model one like this one and even though the video was a bit muddy. :)
This will work on all Famiclones with completely non-existent CIRAM /CE and /A13 signals. The RetroN3 Version 3, though, requires a trace cut as although CIRAM /CE and /A13 are non-existent on the RetroN3 Version 3's NOAC, there's a trace that links those two pins together at the cartridge slot. You will have to break that trace.
So I will go ahead and add this fix while I am repairing the sound and the power button, I need to look at my old junk electronics and see if i have an inverter in any of them I can use. incidentally I found what I think may be good replacement power switches at amazon, I haven't got the parts in the mail so I don't want to provide the link yet as I cannot guarantee the quality of the part. I will provide it though if anyone wants to take a chance on it anyway.

Random_Hajile1980
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Castlevania III

Post by Random_Hajile1980 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:10 pm

Update: Castlevania III is now running on the Retron 3 V3 system. Although I am still awaiting the parts to repair the power button and the resistors for the SNES audio fix, I did find a 7404 Inverter in an old computer I had in the junk box and after "borrowing" the chip I installed it and the result is.....

Image

So Ace, Thanks to the work that you and Satoshimatrix1 put into discovering this fix, another famiclone now plays CVIII.

Ace_1
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Re: A Retron 3 project, and a few queries...

Post by Ace_1 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:31 am

Good work.

Now, for the lockout chip, I've got a bit of information which will simplify the task of figuring out what goes where on the lockout chip. I had a look at the solder spot inside my FC16 Go Version 2's motherboard and found several floating pins, namely pins 5, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15. Pin 4 is also tied to VCC to make the lockout chip work as the lock.

Pin 16 is also tied to VCC, which powers the chip, and pin 8 is Ground. So that leaves us with figuring out where pins 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9 and 10 go.

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