As you may have noticed in the headline image, the beautiful black glass fiber backplate has a “small” change. My friends testing the Ironclad have been play… erm… working hard to ensure it fully delivers, and they found out that while the output of the Ironclad is consistent, there were a lot of inconsistencies and differently made MDII cables out there with different electronics inside, and that was affecting image brightness in some of their CRTs while in others there was no difference no matter the electronics inside the cable, which has been my case.
This can be fixed by bridging some resistors inside the scart side of the MDII cable, but that’s not what i call user friendly. I cannot level the analog video out signal of the MiSTer for very differently made MDII/Genesis cables, as they can be too different one from another, and expect consistent video output levels from all of them, so i took a drastic decision; replacing the MDII/Genesis II A/V output with a SNES/N64/GC style one!. We have found out while testing that, while there are differently made RGB SNES cables out there, they are far more consistent between them as the SNES/N64/GC consoles did not need as many external video attenuation as the MD/Genesis did, and if there is someone experiencing dark image with their SNES cable, one just needs a scissors to cut out 3 resistors, or remove 3 caps depending of region of the cable, inside the scart side. Easy fix doable by anyone, but there is not much that can be done to overcome this regional cable differences, i will be making some proper instructions on how to do it when the time comes. So the Mini-ITX Ironclad will go from the start with the SNES style connector. This is translating in a lot of work and testing been done this days, sorry if i still have e-mails to answer, but there will be no noticeable delay in launch date. Who cares about sleeping and having social life anyway? 😉
UPDATE: I have been receiving a lot of feedback about this decision, people definitely prefer the Mega Drive II / Genesis II port instead of the SNES one for various reasons, and i always appreciate the feedback and take it into account, so I went the extra mile and had a conversation with my analog electronics teacher from when i was a student, and we found the best solution!. Mega Drive II A/V out port IS BACK and fully certified working, but you need a properly done cable to have the correct image output, for example; official Sega cables and Packapunch are properly done cables, there are many more, most reputable brands make them correctly. If you have a cheap cable and your image is too bright or too dark or too noisy, don’t blame the Ironclad please 😉
As i am already at that, and due to the recent news, i thought of doing nice addition to the board, because it’s better to be safe than sorry:
Basic support for dual SDRAM modules.
If you are reading this, you are probably aware of the amazing job @FPGAzumSpass is doing in his PlayStation core. In in his latest news he posted a video running the first commercial games and stated that at first there will be a version without sound working with a single SDRAM module, and that later he will try to do his best to make the sound fit into the DE10-nano DDR3 onboard, so there is still some probability that dual SDRAM modules are required to have 100% accuracy in his PlayStation core.
Doing a single I/O board supporting analog outputs and dual SDRAM modules at the same time cannot be done if budget has some importance, but having some degree of basic dual SDRAM support is possible with some little changes to what i already have. Disconnecting the GPIO1 bridge to use another SDRAM module in there disables the leds, all the analog outputs, optical audio, the Usr, Reset, and OSD buttons, etc. So i updated the design to be able to, at least, normally turn on/off the system and having some visual feedback (leds) from your m-ITX case while playing using dual SDRAM modules . That will also be ready for launch, and with that, the feature set is closed for good and no more improvements are planned.
That’s all for this update, thank you for reading, more great news coming, i’ll keep you posted!