New arrivals 10/07/14

Namco Tekken 4 & System 246

Slightly beat up but nicely boxed System 246/Tekken 4 kit.

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Examu ex-BOARD

Examu ex-BOARD arcade systemThe Examu ex-BOARD was released in 2008 and as Taito’s Type X2 it was based on Windows XP Embedded. Only four games were ever released for the ex-BOARD:

  • Arcana Heart 2 (March 2008)
  • Suggoi Arcana Heart 2 (October 2008)
  • Daemon Bride (July 2009)
  • Arcana Heart 3 (December 2009)

A fifth title was planned but never saw the daylight: Monster Ancient Cline.

The rise and fall

Examu pushed the ex-BOARD as their own proprietary arcade platform under the slogan “For the future of arcade games.”. The system had many similarities with Taito’s Type X2 system. On certain points it was more well designed; fanless (quiet), no PSU (quiet), cartridges (instead of hard drives and USB dongles), a well thought through case (easy to work with). The Type X2, released the year before) on the other hand already had better specs than the ex-BOARD.

The ex-BOARD relied on copy protection built into the motherboard (as opposed to Type X2’s dongles). This would sadly become the downfall of the ex-BOARD. The protection was way too weak and with Arcana Heart 3 being cracked within days after initial release Examu decided to retire the ex-BOARD and move future releases to Taito’s Type X2 and NESiCAxLive platform.

WP_20140512_19_59_25_Pro
ex-BOARD unit
The I/O PCB
The I/O PCB
The motherboard
The motherboard
The parts
The parts
Daemon Bride
Daemon Bride kit box

Specifications

  • CPU: fanless Via C7 NanoBGA2 (X86)
  • Chipset: Via CN700, VT8237R Plus
  • Memory: 1GB DDR2 SDRAM (with VRAM sharing)
  • Video: Integrated S3 UniChrome Pro AGP graphics with MPEG-2 decoding acceleration
  • Audio: VIA VT1618Cidec 192kHz/32bit 8 channel AC’97
  • Network: 10 or 100 Mbit/s Ethernet
  • Video I/O: JAMMA, 2 x VGA, composite and S-video
  • Sound I/O: JAMMA and 2 x stereo (RCA)
  • Input: JAMMA (joysticks and buttons 1 – 4) plus buttons 5 and 6 via separate molex connector
  • USB: Two USB 2.0 ports
  • Power: JAMMA supply 12V 5A or special power supply adaptor with AC 100-240 V, 50/60 Hz, 1.7 A
  • Size: 317.8 mm x 250mm x 104.2mm
  • Weight: 4 kg
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Embedded
  • Flash Disk: 512MB/1GB/2GB

Links

Sega Net City HD – part III

Going wide

In my previous attempt on an HD cabinet I was planning on using an Atomiswave SD cabinet. This proved to have more than one drawback. It could only house a 26″ monitor and the tilt of the screen was too large for providing a decent viewing angle. In the Naomi/New Net City we can squeeze in a 27″ wide screen monitor (which is much easier to come by) and it’s also more upright and since viewing angles are an issue with LCD/LED monitors this is preferred. Apart from the usual criteria when selecting a monitor; low input lag and response time, we also had the following:

  • Case (frame) had to be possible to remove.
  • Centered VESA mount directly on the panel (since the case has to go).
  • Easily detachable control panel.
  • Fast switching between 16:9 and 4:3 screen formats.

The big issue of course was how to know what the panels looked like on the inside without taking them apart? Luckily an acquaintance works for a company repairing monitors and he was able to help us in our search. In the end we let go of the fast format switching and decided on a Philips 273E3LHSB. DSC09610 As you can see from the picture above the monitor will fill up the space entirely. There’s gonna be a lot of sawing in both the bezel and the front cover! In the pictures below you can see the bare panel and how it fits behind the front cover. Notice I had to cut away the bezel entirely on the sides – maximized monitor area 😀

Part of the front cover also had to go for allowing space for the monitor.

To test the mounting and rotation I used a plywood board I had lying around. There’s plenty of space between the back and the front cover and I ended up constructing a riser for the monitor mount. I feared the monitor would become wobbly but no. It sits sturdily behind the front cover. There’s enough room around the monitor for housing the front, center and surround speakers without getting in the way when rotating the monitor. Speaking of the speakers…at the moment we’re looking at the Logitech Z-906 system. Plenty of good sound and the satellites are small enough. Only issue is how to house the sub-woofer. But more on that later.

Next up: a new lamp cover.

Sega Net City HD – part II

Cutting it down

Our plan is to make a sit-down cabinet, much like the New Net City. So the first step in order to get a feeling for the profile of the finished cabinet was to cut the legs down.

DSC09591

I shortened the legs by 338 mm. Easiest way to get the holes correct was to start with the holes for the two bolts on the base. Then mount the legs and mark up the holes for the three remaining bolts.

DSC09592

With the legs in place it was time to get a glimpse of the future. Since my donor cabinet used to be a Wild Riders I had to find both a control panel surround and bucket. Luckily Johan, who sold me the cab, also had a surround and moshpit over at AO had a spare bucket lying around – et voilà – meet the Net City HD – the WIP version 😉

NCDH-WIP

The looks

Stompp and I have been throwing ideas back and forth for a long time. This is one of the mock-ups we’re working on at the moment.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Base color of the cab is going to be gun metal gray, the bezel will be modified to fit a 27″ wide screen LED monitor and get covered with a carbon fiber vinyl (looks awesome and will be much easier to apply than an A-grade paint job).

Left, right and center speakers goes below the bezel and the VMU cover gets replaced by black speaker grid. The surround speakers will be placed where light cover is and the cover also gets replaced by a speaker grid.

The notch between the bezel and the surround speakers will get a new lamp cover and house a blue LED strip.

No Wild Rider part were harmed in the process!
No Wild Rider parts were harmed in the process!

Stompp took pity for the Wild Rider parts and some day, hopefully, they’ll go Vrooom!! again.

Next up: the monitor

Taito Type X²

The Taito Type X² was released in 2007 and is a PC/Windows XP based arcade system.

Taito Type X2 unit
Taito Type X²

The game list is quite extensive and boasts a number of high profile titles from franchises like Street Fighter, Blazblue and King of Fighters. Since the system runs on Windows XP Embedded games are generally built on Direct X.

Basic specifications

CPU Intel Core 2 Duo E6400/Pentium 4 651/Celeron D 352
Chipset Intel Q965 + ICH8
Memory 512 MB or 1 GB DDR2 667 MHz (upgradable to 4 GB DDR2 800 MHz)
GPU PCI Express x16 based cards
ATI Radeon X1600Pro/X1300LE
nVidia GeForce 7900GS/7600GS/7300GS
(also supports newer Radeon and GeForce cards)
Audio Onboard HD audio codec support 7.1ch sound (also supports other sound cards)
LAN Onboard 10/100/1000 BASE-T/TX
I/O ports JVS, 4 x USB 2.0 (up to 8), parallel, serial, 2 x PS/2, 2 x SATA
Expansion slots PCI Express x16 (used by graphic card)
PCI Express x4, 2 x PCI
PSU Built-in (input power 110/240V 50/60Hz)
OS MS Windows XP Embedded SP2 (adapted by Taito)
Dimensions 309 mm x 296 mm x 130 mm
325 mm x 251 mm x 130 mm
Weight Approx. 7 kg (15.4 lbs)

Hardware revisions

REV.00B
CPU Pentium 4 3.4 GHz
Memory 512 MB PC2-5300U DDR
GPU GeForce 7900GS
REV.01B
CPU Pentium Core 2 Duo 2.13 GHz
Memory 2 GB PC2-5300U DDR
GPU GeForce 9800GT SP
TEM100-01B (satellite terminal)
CPU Pentium 4 3.4 GHz
Memory 512 MB PC2-5300U DDR
GPU ATI X1600Pro

My system is a model 208A. It has the Pentium 4 CPU, 512 MB RAM and a GeForce 7900GS (Elsa Gladiac 979 GS) GPU.

DIP switches

On the I/O board there are 5 DIP switches. Switches 1, 3 and 5 apparently doesn’t do anything.

  • DIP #2 controls the video output. Set to off enables 480p output for use with 31 kHz monitors. Set to on enables 720p output for higher resolution (LCD) monitors)
  • DIP #4 enables and disables the automatic update system. If set to on the unit will try to contact an update server over the network.

Error codes

  • 203 HDD error. Probable solution is to connect the HDD to another Windows XP system and running chkdisk.
  • 900: USB security dongle missing. Most games won’t start without the USB-dongle. A few games don’t use a dongle.
  • 901: USB bus/security dongle error. Sadly this usually means that the USB dongle is corrupt. Not much can be done other than trying to find another dongle.

Related links

Sega Chihiro

Sega Chihiro unit

The Sega Chihiro was introduced in 2003. It is based on an early version of Microsoft’s Xbox console.

Sega Chihiro with GD-ROM drive
Sega Chihiro with GD-ROM drive

The Chihiro uses an nVidia MCPX2 instead of the MCPX3 found on the Xbox. It also has 128 MB (the Xbox has 64 MB) memory and an LCP connector directly on the board. Instead of a DVD drive, the Chihiro (like the Naomi and the Triforce) uses Sega’s own GD-ROM drive. Games can also be loaded from a network server. The games are stored in RAM on the media board (DIMM board).

There’s two versions of the Chihiro; Type 1 and Type 3. The main difference being Type 3 having the media board integrated whereas Type 1 uses a regular DIMM board like the Naomi.

Even though the list of Chihiro games is quite short it boasts a number of popular titles like Outrun 2, Ghost Squad, Virtua Cop 3 and Crazy Taxi High Roller. There’s also a number of Chihiro Satellite Terminal games that are widely spread in Asia but never really found their way to the rest of the world; the MJ (mahjong), Sangokushi Taisen and Sega Golf Club franchises to mention a few. The satellite terminal games use regular Chihiro units linked together over a LAN connection.

Japanese players getting instructions on how to play Sangokushi Taisen 3 (famitsu.com)
Japanese players getting instructions on how to play Sangokushi Taisen 3 (famitsu.com)

The Chihiro Type 3 consists of two units. The lower unit contains the Xbox and system boards and the upper contains the media, network and security key boards and a battery for keeping the loaded game in memory when the system is turned off.

Top Unit

Sega Chihiro top unitIn the upper unit of the Chihiro we find the media board (bottom) and the network board (top). The media board holds the RAM modules; either 512 MB or 1 GB. Most games are available in two versions. One for 512 MB units and one with (usually) higher definition graphics for 1 GB units.

The RAM on the media board is not directly accessible from the Xbox board. It acts like a solid state drive for storing the game data after it has been loaded from the GD-ROM drive or a network server. The Xbox board accesses the media board like an IDE drive. This serves three purposes:

  • After the game data is loaded the GD-ROM can power down and hence will not wear out as fast as otherwise. The game stays in memory for up to 72 hours while powered off.
  • Faster boot up time once the game data is loaded.
  • Enables netbooting. Without storing the game data on the media board the Chihiro would have to constantly read from a game server. While possible the system would have to have been adapted to this. With the media (DIMM) board the hardware/technology  was already in place.

The small vertical board to the right is for the security key and to the lower left you can spot the battery.

The Chihiro won’t operate without a battery installed. The battery is needed for holding the game in memory during reboots and while the system is turned off.

Jumpers on the media board.On the media board you find a set of jumpers. The ones you have to pay attention to are jumpers 5, 8, 9, and 10. Jumper 5 controls the amount of RAM used and should match the amount of memory installed. Jumpers 8 – 10 switches between GD-ROM and network boot.

Jumper Settings
Jumper 1 – 2 2 – 3
5 1 GB (two DIMM modules) 512 MB (one DIMM module)
8 Always on 2 – 3
9 GD-ROM Network
10 Always on 1 – 2

Bottom Unit

Opened Chihiro system revealing the bottom unit.Lifting off the top unit reveals the system board. The battery on the system board is for keeping system settings and needs to be changed every now and then. It’s a normal 3V CR2032 button cell.

Removing the system board takes several steps:

  1. Remove the filter board. Unscrew the five remaining screws and carefully push the board out.
  2. Loosen the two bolts by the VGA connector. In fact it’s advisable to remove the plate around the VGA and USB connectors entirely.
  3. Disconnect the three power cables on the side of the board.
  4. Sega Chihiro system boardUnscrew the five screws that keep the board in place.
  5. Push the holder (upper right corner of the board in the picture above) aside to release the board.
  6. Gently lift up the board and disconnect the four cables connecting the system board to the Xbox board.

Lifting up the system board reveals the Xbox main board at the bottom. The main thing you have to observe on the Xbox board are the electrolyte capacitors. They are prone to leaking (bad/cheap components) and if they do they might corrode and damage the Xbox board beyond repair.

Sega Chihiro - Xbox boardThere’s at least two different versions of the Xbox board; one with three capacitors next to the GPU and one with five. The board in the picture is the three cap version and as you can see they have started to leak and need to be replaced.

Test Drive

Testing the Sega Chihiro units.

I had two units over for check up and testing. Since all Chihiro games require special type controls (steering wheels, guns etc) and most of them won’t even boot up on anything but JVS hardware and I only have a JAMMA cabinet it took a little trial and error until I found out Ghost Squad version: A indeed boots fine without it’s gun controls or a JVS I/O card.

Sega Chihiro running Ghost Squad

On the filter board there is a green and a red status LED. Only the green should be on for normal operation. If they both blink something’s wrong with the unit.

Sega Chihiro filter board.

Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoyed the post. Let me know what you think.

Links

CAVE Conversions

Espgaluda, Ketsui and DoDonPachi Dai-Ou-Jou Black Label as cartridges? Why not, as long as they’re 100% true to their originals.

IGS/PGM conversions of Cave titles
IGS/PGM conversions of Cave titles

Yes, you can always claim that “They’re not original!” but if they behave as well as their bare PCB counterparts I for one do like the concept of a cartridge version of my favorite CAVE shmups; better protection and easier storage being two of the pros.

On the flip side unfortunately another game has to be sacrificed as always when making a conversion. In many cases this was the the way for instance when older CPS-II games were to be retired and replaced by newer titles. The older games were returned and the hardware reused in order to lower production costs. Conversions remain a grey area among gaming enthusiasts. Some consider them legit and some write them off as bootlegs. For me it all depends on the game in question and the source of the game. Certain CPS-II games, like Progear, I consider ok since Capcom did them themselves, but the PGM conversions, IMO, are bootlegs. Even if the hardware used is similar to the original these games were never officially released on the PGM platform nor has CAVE ever licenced them for the PGM.

That aside, these conversions are top of the line. They perform (in some cases even outperform) as their original counterparts. Nonetheless it’s a grey zone – they are bootlegs.

Pros

  • Cartridge instead of bare PCB
  • No battery on the PCB
  • Brighter sound than the originals
  • Cartridges can be stored in shock boxes

Cons

  • Bootleg
  • A PGM game needs to act as donor
  • Arrange ROM’s for Ketsui and DDP DOJ cannot be played
  • DDP DOJ Black Label doesn’t have the Vanilla version

Donor games

The following games can act as donors for the conversions.

DoDonPachi Dai-Ou-Jou Black Label

  • Night of Valour Super Heroes

Ketsui and Espgaluda

  • Knight of Valour 2
  • Demon Front
  • Dodonpachi 2 Bee Storm
  • Martial Master
  • Gladiator
  • Killing Blade

Ketsui conversion

As you can see from the pictures below the conversions are kind of messy and not easy to do.

Pictures by Monouchi

Links

Naomi Pi

Netbooting your Naomi is about to get Raspberry flavored. Naomi Pi 1 For a while now I’ve been thinking about different ways to netboot the Naomi. Yes, it’s quite handy being able to load games from your nearest computer but why not take it further?

How about doing it from your arcade machine? Pretty handy, no?

I had a Raspberry Pi lying around I didn’t know what to do with so I thought what if it had a display and some way to control it? After some search I found an expansion board with a 20 x 4 LCD display and some buttons from BitWizard. The Naomi Pi was born.

The general idea is to hook it up with keyboard and monitor for some easy config (setting up IP addresses the mounting NFS volume etc) and then setting it up inside the cabinet for easy loading of games.

Stay tuned for updates 😉

The NVS-4000-01 PSU

The NVS-4000 Power Supply Unit found in some New Astro City cabinets (and perhaps others as well) are considered the Rolls Royce of PSU’s by some.

While it does lack a -5V output it is a behemoth boasting numerous inputs and outputs and the capacity to deliver enough power to drive a full NAOMI set up with JVS/JAMMA adapter and GD-ROM. It also has a built in stereo sound amplifier.

NVS-4000-01

I’m not going dive deep into the hard data in this post. For now I’m just posting the pictures I took when I opened it up a couple of days ago for a clean up and a bit of troubleshooting regarding the wiring of the mono sound output.

PSU

NVS-4000-01 (PSU PCB)
NVS-4000-01

The PSU with the cover and front/back panels removed.

NVS-4000-01
NVS-4000-01
NVS-4000-01
NVS-4000-01

Top view of the PSU with cooling plate removed.

NVS-4000-01
NVS-4000-01

Stereo apmlifier

Sega Model 3 Stereo Amplifier
Sega Model 3 Stereo Amplifier

The amplifier (a Sega Model 3 Stereo Amplifier  is mounted upside-down below the PSU in the NVS-4000-01.

Top view
Top view
Sega Model 3 Stereo Amplifier
Bottom view

Lastly a picture of my now labelled loom from inside the PSU.

NVS-4000-01 loom
NVS-4000-01 loom