Sunday, 29 April 2012

Black Matrix tubes all the way

Today I upgraded my modified Blaupunkt IS 70-33 VTN with a Black Matrix Philips tube. Everything went according to plan (swapped yoke, aligned image, adjusted Focus and Screen controls, etc.) and the end result is very nice indeed!

This TV only has two niggles. There is a very slight "shimmering" in the bottom left corner. Most Grundig TVs I've tried exhibit this problem. Also, the corners aren't as sharp focus as some of the Loewes and Sonys I've seen. If those two issues weren't present, I'd end this ongoing SCART hunt right now. It looks that good!

Analogue chassis, black matrix tube, native resolution & refresh rate. Lovely!

In other news, I ditched a car load of parts today. Now that I figured out how to upgrade my analogue Grundig boards to the Black Matrix tubes, a whole bunch of stuff that I've hung onto "just in case" really didn't seem necessary any more.

Totally spent after lifting a pile of 26 inch tubes down the stairs, into the car and then into the ditch at the rubbish dump. Phew! Almost time to sit back an enjoy playing some games, I reckon...

Tubes, degauss coils, sawn up cases... ugh!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Old yoke, fresh tube

I've been wanting to try this for weeks now: transfer an old Philips yoke onto a new "black matrix" Philips tube. I love the look of the black matrix tubes but whenever I try to hook up older Grundig boards the image is too wide and the geometry is distorted. I figured that a full yoke swap might fix those issues...

I finally gave it a try today and it worked perfectly!

I used the Philips 28GR5775/30B (chassis G110) that I found recently as a guinea pig. The tube (A66EAK51X03) on that is an older type that looks quite grey. Contrast is nothing compared to the tubes used in brands like Loewe. So, I used a knife to slice through the silicon that holds the yoke steady and I unscrewed the clamp on the neck. The yoke slid straight off and I put it onto a newer tube (A66EAK71X01) that I kept from a non-working Blaupunkt. Fired it up... wow! So much more contrast and the colours were vivid. While the yoke was loose, I rotated it to line the picture up perfectly with the top of the shadow mask. Very cool.

Next, I tried the same trick on a black matrix Philips tube (A66EAK071X01) from a Loewe CT1170 television. After playing with the Screen and Focus pots I got the image looking superb. With this 1989 chassis and Philips tube circa 2000 I've got another great looking MAME TV! The Philips actually has a trimpot for vertical size and horizontal hold. I can resize for Street Fighter 2 (224 lines) and Mortal Kombat (256 lines) without any problems. Nice! Haven't nutted out the service menu yet. Either need better batteries for the original remote or the terminals need cleaning. There's some slight pincushion that prevents the image from being classed as perfect.

Can't wait to upgrade my customised Blaupunkt to a black matrix tube!

Philips G110 chassis in test position (i.e. the floor)
GroovyMAME running Willow

Monday, 23 April 2012

Philips with detachable speakers

While riding my bike to the train station last Monday morning I spotted a retro Philips TV on the curb. I made a mental note of where it was and picked it up in the car that night after work. Turned out to be in great condition with hardly a mark on the casing and the remote sitting neatly by its side. Nice! The only downer was that some scum bag had come along and snipped the power cord and also the speaker extension cables (this TV has a cool detachable speaker system). Grr! I hate these copper recyclers!

Tonight I got around to pulling the back casing off and attaching a new power cable. Fingers crossed as I powered on... static on the screen, check... press the channel button... green led, check... picture? Check!

The chassis is super clean (looks just like new) and the picture is quite good. It's an older style Philips tube but the focus is still very good. Colours are less vivid than the later Black Matrix tubes. Perhaps a tube swap in the future? We'll see...

I'll need to find out the code for the Service Menu (some pincushion effect present) but the signs are good for this TV! Smooth picture that's well suited to retro arcade games. Very stable image.

Looking forward to spending some more time with this one as Philips is a brand I'm not very familiar with in terms of SCART gaming. I've ticked off Grundig, Sony, Loewe on my journey and Philips has been an obvious omission. More photos to come after I spend some time tuning this one up...

Philips 28GR5775/30B (Made in Belgium)
Philips A66EAK51X03 tube (Made in France)
Altered Beast

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Loewe C9003 does 256 lines

Over the past weekend I found the time to revive a Loewe C9003 chassis that I had stored in a cardboard box. It needed a new power switch and I managed to salvage an identical replacement from a non-working Grundig CUC 2030 chassis that I found on Good Friday. The new power switch did the trick and chassis came to life!

This is the oldest Loewe chassis I've tried. The main menu system looks very different although the Service Menu is very similar to the E3000. The picture quality is very good. Quite a "classic" image. Less modern looking than the E3000 and none of the silly image artefacts that appeared on the later chassis types.

The best news is that the C9003 will happily display 256 lines (hello R-Type and Mortal Kombat!) The E3000 fails in this regard. So, the C9003 is now the Loewe chassis to look out for...

Loewe C9003 showing 256 vertical lines

Good Friday Scavenging (Part 3)

Slowly picking through all the junk that I collected around the Easter weekend...

This historic Philips has already gone to heaven (i.e. land fill) and I hadn't found time to post some pictures until now.

The chassis was full of old components that none of the newer TVs seem to use (different types of capacitors in the '80s?) Also, there were a bunch of small adjustment pots that I fiddled with but nothing seemed to change on screen. Oh well. This beast seemed promising at first but, as you can see, the picture was pretty dreadful!

I saved a bunch of the coloured wire for use in the future.

Where's the colour?!
Good ol' wood box

Thursday, 12 April 2012


Before I returned from my parents' house in the country today, I decided to stop by their local waste dump in case there were some TVs laying about. As you can see in the following pictures, yeah, they did have a few TVs kicking about...

Enough tubes to last several lifetimes! I didn't take any TVs but sliced off about five VGA cables to build VGA to SCART cables with. Nice score and amazing (if somewhat depressing) sight!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

VGA to SCART guide (preview)

Since I regularly have people email me to ask questions about building VGA to SCART cables, I figured I'd put together a step-by-step guide. It turns out that this is easier said than done... I drafted a guide a couple days ago and it took hours! I'm not entirely happy with the outcome yet so I'm going to revise a few things before I post the finished guide here.

In the meantime, here are some shots of the cable I made while writing the guide. It's based on the schematic found here and is built to withstand lots of plugging/unplugging (heatshrink used as strain relief throughout).

Complete cable (with split video and audio strands)
Top view of SCART plug
Bottom view of SCART plug

Lastly, for anyone thinking of building their own VGA to SCART cable, unless you really enjoy a bit of DIY, I'd highly recommend checking out the new UMSA - Ultimate SCART Adapter over at Arcade Forge. It looks amazing! It'd save you heaps of hassle and guarantee a great outcome...

... but if you have more time than money or simply love the thrill of making something with your own hands, stay tuned for my guide.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Ah... the TV museum!

Those were the days...

My SCART television museum (circa January 2012)

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The almighty Calida 5072

I have a love/hate relationship with the Loewe E3000 chassis. On one hand, the image is excellent: Loewes are well built and use quality components. On the other hand, they're so fickle: geometry distortion when below 60 Hz, missing vertical lines with 256 line games, etc.

I've persisted with the E3000 because it's just so hard to beat the look of a black matrix Philips tube hooked up to this chassis. My advice to MAME users: if you're a CPS1/2/3 and Neo Geo fanatic (and enjoy other 224 line games by Sega, et al), this is the chassis for you!

Observe the sharp focus and rich colours:

Street Fighter III 2nd Impact
The Last Blade 2
Rolling Thunder
Bubble Bobble
The image is crazy sharp, right to the edges! If you like a modern, clean image, this is about as good as it gets. Personally, I have a leaning towards the older, slightly milky look of analog chassis. There's just something about that type of image that is a little more "classic" and truer to the look of arcade monitors of '90s.

The Loewe Calidas also have great aesthetics:

Front... Lovely, simply styling!

You may or may not notice a slight anomaly with the geometry in the picture above... compare the left and right edges...

Philips A68ESF002X111
The tube A68ESF tube is slightly larger than those in my collection of A66EAK tubes. Also, it's flatter. The glass is high gloss and the blacks are BLACK! I love the look of these tubes! Colours are very rich and the contrast is excellent.

Calida 5027 (E3000 chassis, Super Flatline tube)
The Calida 5072 has proven to be quite rare in my experience. The later 80 - 84cm models are more common but feature shitty 100 Hz processing chassis types. Rubbish compared with the E3000! The larger tubes aren't as flat as the A68ESF either.

This particular specimen was dream come true: excellent condition and at a reasonable price. The internals look pretty much immaculate after a blast from the trusty air compressor:

Back cover removed
Overall, an excellent candidate for GroovyMAME usage (provided you don't care for Mortal Kombat or R-Type). My personal feeling is that the Philips A66EAK tends to have better geometry than the A68ESF. I could be wrong, but my experience with the ESF has been that there are always slight imperfections whereas I've seen EAKs that are dead on. That said, if size matters, go for the A68!

If you like what you see here, keep an eye out for the Loewe CT1170 or Contur 1470. Both feature the E3000 chassis and A66EAK tube type. A little easy to find than the Calida 5072 in my experience...

Good Friday Scavenging (Part 2)

No SCART here but this kind of thing warms my heart...

Free TV!

Good Friday Scavenging (Part 1)

My girlfriend decided to work on Good Friday (crazy... nobody works on this day!) so I took the opportunity to cruise the hard rubbish happening near her work. Of course, I'm always looking for analog chassis TVs these days but I've also been stockpiling VGA cables to build VGA-to-SCART leads for people who have requested them in the past.

I'm pleased to say that I found some pretty cool stuff on my travels! I'll have to detail this in instalments but check out this gem as a starter:

Front (note the glass cover is missing)
Back... I love the futuristic design!
Bang & Olufsen MX 4002
Bruised and battered but definitely useful for parts. In particular, the 51cm Philips tube will hopefully be transplanted into a 51cm Grundig (CUC 6300 chassis) that I also found yesterday. The Grundig works great but has nasty gravel rash in the middle of the Orion screen. Me thinks it was face down on a concrete slab at some point.

More to come...