Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Explosive Blaupunkt

A while ago I was given a massive Blaupunkt 82-108 C VT Multi PIP. It was pretty old (pre digital) and I was interested to see how it would perform as a MAME monitor. It sat in the hallway for weeks because it was too heavy for me to move by myself. Eventually, I got some help to move it into the lounge room and plugged it in. The screen came on and I saw snow (always a good sign!) However, a minute lately the back of the TV started sparking and something definitely "popped". Bummer.

The worse part was carrying the behemoth back down the stairs and taking it to the dump. My back (and my girlfriend's) will probably complain tomorrow!

Tight squeeze!
You know what they say: "big telly, big sticker."

eBay time!

For anyone interested, I have some nice SCART TVs on eBay at the moment. Each one comes with a pre-made VGA to SCART cable! Check them out here.

Grundig 70-270/8.IDTV for sale

Monday, 30 January 2012

Diamonds in the rough

So, on the way to the Op Shop to drop off a Loewe and Blaupunkt I happened to turn down a dead end alley and found a cluster of TVs! The best kind too! It was like finding diamonds in Minecraft... except that the diamonds fall into lava... these TVs had been there for a while, out in the rain and mud. Amongst them was a Grundig and a Siemens. Two of the best types for SCART gaming! Shame.

Alley stash
Siemens FS-271

Round 1

The TVs that had issues or weren't working at all were taken to this tip this afternoon. A very sad affair... I would have to love to have kept them for parts. Alas, no room!

Car boot loaded
Grundig as passenger

"The first step is admitting you have a problem..."

D-Day has come. Some TVs are gonna bite the dust! Either that or I'm gonna end up on the TV show Hoarders. To be honest, I'd love to be on TV! How ironic to earn a place on TV by collecting too many TVs?! Unfortunately, my girlfriend tells me that's not an option... So, instead, some TVs are staying, lots are going. Here's a picture of how my lounge room looks this morning:

My personal SCART television showroom!
More news after this messy operation is completed.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Nordmende anyone?!

Saw something interesting during my daily travels today: an old Nordmende Spectra-Stereo 8208 L television!
Made in West Germany! Oh yeah!
 This brand certainly isn't mainstay in Australia and I've only ever seen one other example before (also on the side of the street). Unfortunately, this particular unit was showing signs of having spent a lot of time out in the weather so I resisted the temptation to stuff into into the boot of the car. This TV had a really interesting look about it. Kind of grey/gold colour and a really cool little badge stuck on the front:

Spectra Color
I'd love to know if anyone has tried running using a TV by Nordmende for MAME purposes. Speak up!

Full frontal
Rear view
Filthy dirty SCART socket

Building a high-quality test cable

For a while now I've been wanting to build a high-quality VGA to SCART test cable that only has video and no audio. The reason for no audio is that I have a collection of SCART to RCA cables that have 6 individually shielded wires. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

I figured that since there are 6 RCAs that was just the right number to build a video only cable: red, green, blue, H-sync, V-sync and 5v to enable. Having the RGB lines individually shielded should theoretically provide better quality. Who knows... hard to tell in practice. Either way, I at least wanted to build an extra cable so I could try and get dual displays going and, hopefully, test TVs side-by-side. I took the opportunity to practice some neat heat shrinking work and generally make things as tidy and accurate as possible. Here's a few work in progress shots:

Composite sync circuit
Wires trimmed, shields heat shrunk, pins soldered
SCART plug fully loaded

 Completed VGA wiring
And... it worked! Street Fighter III in action.

Since this was the first time I'd actually bothered to systematically measure the lengths of each wire and accurately cut the heat shrink to length, it took me a LONG time to get things this neat! I have to say, after spending the best part of 3 hours on this exercise, I was mighty relieved when I hooked the cable up and it worked perfectly straight away!

Friday, 27 January 2012

SCART crimes

My girlfriend was riding her bike down a lane way the other night and saw something I might be interested in: a neat little Blaupunkt telly! She SMSed me and, of course, I checked it out ASAP. Unfortunately, this beauty had been treated rough. Too battered for me to be bothered with, I have to admit. I just can't love a CRT that has scratched glass right in the middle of the screen. This poor thing had been placed face down on the concrete... ouch!

It really kills me that people don't (if it works) a) donate their used TVs to charity stores or, b) sell them on eBay. And if it doesn't work, c) take it to the tip! It doesn't belong on the street, you pigs!

Back sticker

Face down, eating concrete

Look at those connections!

Ouch! My poor face!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Solder time!

I have a dream... that by selling off some of my SCART TVs on eBay (each with a pre-made VGA to SCART cable), other arcade game lovers will have the opportunity to experience the same thrill that I've gotten from playing MAME on an authentic looking CRT screen.

So, with that dream in mind, I set about soldering up some VGA to SCART cables this week. I had some cheap SCART cables that I bought on eBay in 2011 lying around and also some components I bought from a local electronics store waiting, ready-to-go...

Man, what a time consuming exercise! The concept is simple enough but wrangling all those fine pins, cables and components proves tricky in practice. Nevertheless, I soldered on and managed to get 3 cables finished, complete with 3.5mm audio jacks.

Hopefully the next batch will be much faster now that I've worked out some techniques and gotten hold of some better tools (especially a decent vice with rubber grips! That thing makes soldering SO much easier).

SCART workbench

Next post I'll show off some of the finished articles...

Monday, 16 January 2012

Found: 1 × Blaupunkt television!

I was driving to a coffee shop this morning when I spied a lovely looking TV on the nature strip, not far from where I live. Even though I was only able to quickly glance across the road (I was driving) I could tell from the black finish and stylish design that it wasn't your average Panasonic or Sony. I made a U-turn at the next available opportunity and took a look. To my astonishment it was Blaupunkt in tip-top condition! Along side it was a bag of cables (S-video, RCA, broken PlayStation controller, etc.) and an LG DVD player. I took the bag and machine with me and collected the TV on the way back from the cafe.

I always prepare myself for disappointment when I get a new TV. There are so many performance variables (colour, focus, stability, etc.) and capability variables (artifacts, refresh rates, lines, etc.) that often let a television down. This time, however, I got lucky! I've only done a quick test so far but the image is excellent and I have high hopes for the compatibility since it appears to be a Grundig chassis (based on what the OSD looks like).

Can't wait to polish it up and then put it through its paces!

Blaupunkt, LG DVD player and assorted cables

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Summer daze

So far there have been too many Aussie summertime activities getting in the way of geeking out with my TVs. Not to worry, the time for this blog flow freely will soon come. In the meantime, here's a picture I just found while I was cleaning up some files on my laptop. Looks like it's from a few months ago after a hard rubbish raid.

Hard at work

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Happy New Year!

So, it’s 2012 and I find myself here in the New Year with 17 (!) SCART equipped CRT televisions in my apartment. Some are good, some are bad, but one thing is for sure: I own far too many TVs! This predicament is the result of 6 months of chasing TVs online and on the street just so that I can experience late ’80s and early ’90s arcade games in their full glory.

In 2012, this blog will be a place for me to document what I have discovered up to this point and then beyond, detailing the specifics of each individual TV as I narrow down my collection through a process of monitor tests, A/B shoot-outs and, of course, play testing. ;)

Let the games begin!