Retro Gaming vs Modern Televisions

Sync fixers, Scalers and Scan Line Generators

Now we come on to the clever stuff. That is, making the lowest resolution consoles, in my case anything running at 240p, look awesome on a modern panel TV.

Back in the day, one way of making Laserdisc look awesome was a device called a Line Doubler. It took your signal, de-interlaced it (turned it into 240p) then it generated lines between the lines of the frame. Essentially outputting a higher resolution 480p image to high end CRT projectors and the like. These were cripplingly expensive.

The technology these days however is pretty commonplace, just the name has changed, they're now called scalers. Indeed, most panel TVs will have one built in for when you feed it a low resolution image so it can scale it up to the panel's native resolution.

So why have an external scaler? Well for the first part, my TV doesn't like some of my better RGB leads. If it did, I'd have probably not gone down this route and just put up with the image. Indeed I could put a Sync Blaster between that cables and the TV and that'd be it. However, I managed to snag something much better...

Another reason is to put a Scan Line Generator into the equation that needs to go between the scaler and the TV. What I've bought is an SLG-In a Box. It's actually 3 separate units in one enclosure.

So my signal comes out of my console via RGB SCART and first hits the sync fixer (which strips video signal from the sync it is riding along with). This then sends the signal into a scaler. This scaler was designed for fitting computer monitors into arcade cabinets so it outputs 480p VGA, that then goes into a Scan Line Generator. Which adds the pseudo scanlines to the image. The whole unit then outputs that as VGA signal to a Neet VGA-HDMI converter, which then hits the TV in the same manner my DC-Hanzo-Neet box does. Amusingly the image then gets scaled again internally in the TV to 1080p and we have an image!

It's basically going through a whole chunk of processing to give at the end, an image on a 43" panel TV that looks like an old CRT. The reason being that the CRT is how the console is supposed to look.

Not having a video capture card, I've stolen this image from the internet to demonstrate the effect

As with all processing, there will be an element of lag to this. But as long as it's very low, you shouldn't notice it.

Now you can really go to town on these scaler boxes. I was very lucky in that I scored the SLG-In a Box on eBay for sensible money. If you want the dogs bollocks though, you're looking at a Micomsoft XRGB-Mini Framemeister. It apparently takes all other scalers (in this particular application), and wees upon them from a great height. But it comes at a cost. You're looking at north of 300 to get one.

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