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Thread: Emulation on CRT Monitor

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    Insert Coin (Level 0) CatTehBus's Avatar
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    Default Emulation on CRT Monitor

    I see a few topics in here about LCD vs Tube televisions and the picture quality of both types. Alot of people who run emulators on PC today use LCD monitors, I'm wondering would the picture quality from a CRT monitor on a modern PC be somewhat that of a tube television? Example you have a computer with a CRT monitor running and emulator with a USB SNES controller, would the picture quality compare to a SNES console and a tube television?

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    Cherry (Level 1) Jack_Burton_BYOAC's Avatar
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    As long as you have the proper setup it will look fantastic, far outclassing any LCD monitor.

    This is a very deep subject, and I encourage you to do some googling and reading, especially this site, and these:

    forum.arcadecontrols.com
    neo-geo.com
    http://shmups.system11.org/

    The key ideas to keep in mind are the following:

    Native resolution
    RGB video
    Dot pitch
    Sync to refresh

    But to answer your question in a more succinct manner, yes, a proper emulation setup can appear 99.9% identical in look and feel to running a real console (going only by the image on tv and controller in your hand). In some ways it can be considered superior. For example, the RGB output of an Nvidia graphics card does not suffer from the "jailbars" issue that RGB modded SNES's sometimes have.

    If composite video is your thing, that can also be arranged. No reason an emulator can't run on the same old TV's your classic systems are connected to.

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    Insert Coin (Level 0) CatTehBus's Avatar
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    awesome! I was thinking about building a bar top cabinet of sorts with controller ports. No idea what RGB is yet

    edit: ah RGB is component video, I'm going to stick to CRT monitor and VGA

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    Quote Originally Posted by CatTehBus View Post
    awesome! I was thinking about building a bar top cabinet of sorts with controller ports. No idea what RGB is yet

    edit: ah RGB is component video, I'm going to stick to CRT monitor and VGA
    While RGB is technically a form of component video, it is not what you are thinking of.

    Almost every CRT monitor ever made uses RGB video. All VGA-capable monitors use it.

    A bartop using a decased CRT PC monitor could be nice, but I would recommend searching for a 15khz only model. Most PC CRT monitors have a very fine dot pitch, and when they are used for native resolution emulation they take on a very heavily scanlined look.

    What size screen are you planning to put in this bartop?
    Last edited by Jack_Burton_BYOAC; 01-07-2013 at 11:42 PM.

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    the idea was to take an old PC I had laying around lay it down lengthwise and put a monitor on the top, then enclose everything and have controller ports on the front. It would be a little bulky but I plan to have it stationary. I want to keep the PC case intact and use the drive bays for controller ports, so in the future I could add more ports to the system and keep it uniform
    Last edited by CatTehBus; 01-08-2013 at 12:59 AM.

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    Pac-Man (Level 10) Rickstilwell1's Avatar
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    It looks nice but it does not look exactly like a tube TV or the original consoles.
    [quote name='Shidou Mariya' date='Nov 17 2010, 10:05 PM' post='4889940']
    I'm a collector, but only to a certain extent.
    Not as extreme as Rickstilwell though.[/quote]


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    drowning in medals Ed Oscuro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack_Burton_BYOAC View Post
    While RGB is technically a form of component video, it is not what you are thinking of.

    Almost every CRT monitor ever made uses RGB video. All VGA-capable monitors use it.
    And in turn, almost every CRT monitor (that is going to be widely available these days) uses the 31KHz scan rate (for higher resolutions), and is basically incompatible with the 15KHz of (most) old arcade tubes and televisions for classic consoles.

    There are a variety of attempts to bridge the gap, some more successful than others.

    The best approach towards preserving an arcade look without original game software and hardware would be to use a kind of 31KHz to 15KHz device and drivers to send the emulated images to an arcade monitor, like the Ultimarc (or similar; I don't know which ones are "best").
    Another might be to try to find a MultiSync-style kind of PC VGA CRT monitor that accepts a low resolution image, and just use special drivers or settings to output low resolution from the emulator. Some emulators should support the right timings, although the one I fuzzily remember reading about recently had some lag tradeoffs.
    Another approach would be something like HLSL or at least custom scanline masks. These look pretty good although HLSL seems to work very good on an LCD to give the illusion you are looking at an actual arcade monitor.

    Ultimately, playing games on a fast LCD monitor via emulation hasn't bothered me. In fact the newer display technology helps with eyestrain. Without some work, a CRT's ability to give a "classic" image won't give you much back in visual performance. It should improve responsiveness slightly (depending on how slow the LCD screen it replaces is), although gaming emulators are always laggier than the original hardware.

    What I've been more interested in is getting the responsiveness of a CRT monitor for gaming, without worrying about picture quality. For that end I use a XRGB connected to a VGA PC CRT monitor, and the XRGB upscales images from the arcade board for the VGA monitor. There is some lag involved but it is very slight.

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    what is the easiest way to find the Khz Rate on a television?

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    drowning in medals Ed Oscuro's Avatar
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    Well, that's really just some technical background and you needn't worry about it unless you want that information.

    A classic tube television will be 15KHz. Will it accept an RGB source? Judging from the ongoing CRT television survey of local thrift stores, you're lucky to get composite input (the yellow RCA jack). The problem is that the RGB you get out of an arcade game or out of a (perhaps modified) classic system is simply not going to be accepted by most televisions' or monitors' inputs. Ditto any arcade-quality output from an emulator - most televisions just have composite input, S-Video if you're really lucky. Component can probably be used as well, depending on the system or output (I've heard that many video cards no longer make component output easy - in days past many video cards came with component outputs for use on televisions).

    One thing I should mention is this: PC video cards and displays like to use "stock" refresh rates, but classic systems and especially arcade games can be all over the place with funny refresh rates. MAME should make it relatively easy to deal with this so long as the graphics card can be made to output at the right rate, though.

    If you DO have a classic CRT television, or monitor, something like the Ultimarc (or JROK maybe? Forget what that one does exactly) is going to be a good bet. You may need some special drivers to enable low resolution output and the right display timings (some people have made these). Jack Burton's mentioned good sites to research this at. The names of the equipment change all the time, but you basically would just search for - or ask for - something that will allow you to view an emulator's output on a CRT, perhaps a television.
    Last edited by Ed Oscuro; 01-08-2013 at 02:47 AM.

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    Cherry (Level 1) Jack_Burton_BYOAC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Oscuro View Post
    And in turn, almost every CRT monitor (that is going to be widely available these days) uses the 31KHz scan rate (for higher resolutions), and is basically incompatible with the 15KHz of (most) old arcade tubes and televisions for classic consoles.

    There are a variety of attempts to bridge the gap, some more successful than others.

    The best approach towards preserving an arcade look without original game software and hardware would be to use a kind of 31KHz to 15KHz device and drivers to send the emulated images to an arcade monitor, like the Ultimarc (or similar; I don't know which ones are "best").
    Another might be to try to find a MultiSync-style kind of PC VGA CRT monitor that accepts a low resolution image, and just use special drivers or settings to output low resolution from the emulator. Some emulators should support the right timings, although the one I fuzzily remember reading about recently had some lag tradeoffs.
    Another approach would be something like HLSL or at least custom scanline masks. These look pretty good although HLSL seems to work very good on an LCD to give the illusion you are looking at an actual arcade monitor.
    Did you know there is a lesser-known trick to get most PC CRT monitors to display in low resolutions? If you double the refresh rate for most low-res modelines you will have no problem getting a variety of modern 31khz and up CRT's to accept the low resolution. So you'll end up playing 240p/120hz.

    Now, as you know, if your monitor is fairly large and has a very fine dot pitch this will result in an overly scanlined image. Luckily, the smaller and crappier monitors like your run of the mill Dell branded CRT's look better. Or any older model from the mid to late 90s or so. I use a Hitcachi Superscan Elite 20. It has a dot pitch of .28mm and it looks great.

    I have no idea of it would work on a modern high-res arcade monitor. Some of them will sync up to XGA, so maybe?

    A question to the OP: Do you have a Wii or Gamecube? Have you ever tried the homebrew channel?
    Last edited by Jack_Burton_BYOAC; 01-08-2013 at 12:21 PM.

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    ServBot (Level 11) kedawa's Avatar
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    Whole number scaling doesn't make the image look any worse, either.

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