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 Post subject: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 3:24 pm 



Joined: 05 Mar 2017
Posts: 22
Hey all, this is my first real post here, so apologies if a solution is staring me in the face.

I've recently converted my game consoles to RGB via SCART and (predictably) the results are fantastic. These run to a Sony CRT TV and, via a Framemeister, to a Vizio 4K LCD TV. Everything good so far.

I'm also in the process of assembling a PC that runs Windows 98SE and DOS for playing 90's era PC games. I'm looking for advice on how I might be able to display this on my LCD TV. My investigations have led to 2 possible solutions:

Behar Bros. Kenzei -> Framemeister
This device combines the sync signals from VGA and outputs via SCART. I would then run this through the Framemeister. I'm operating under the assumption that this will work similar to how the Toro handles the VGA to SCART conversion for Dreamcast. Will this work for both lower res 320x240 and higher res 640x480 PC resolutions?

XPC-4
This device claims to be geared toward handling signals from 80's and 90's era Japanese computers. I've read the XPC-4 thread here and Fudoh's review. It seems like I could run VGA -> DVI-A -> XPC-4. Will it similarly handle these different resolutions? I'm still not sure if this device will address my needs.

Are there any other solutions for this (preferably cheaper ones :)? Your collective wisdom is very much appreciated!


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 3:45 pm 


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The OSSC should work fine for this.


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 3:46 pm 



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A lot of DOS games ran at 70hz, and some Windows games too.

I don't know for sure, but I think very few LCD TVs support that.


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 5:17 pm 


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If I recall correctly I tried an old retro PC via my Framemeister and the results weren't good, couldn't get the post screen to even display. This was a while back though and I've not tried it much since. OSSC is a little bit overkill for this, I'd try a simple VGA to DVI/HDMI adapter. Any 70hz content either won't work or will be framerate converted. As for weird resolutions like QVGA I'm not sure, I guess you'd have to try it and see.
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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 5:45 pm 



Joined: 05 Mar 2017
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BuckoA51 wrote:
If I recall correctly I tried an old retro PC via my Framemeister and the results weren't good, couldn't get the post screen to even display. This was a while back though and I've not tried it much since. OSSC is a little bit overkill for this, I'd try a simple VGA to DVI/HDMI adapter. Any 70hz content either won't work or will be framerate converted. As for weird resolutions like QVGA I'm not sure, I guess you'd have to try it and see.


When you tried, did you combine sync before sending to the Framemeister? The reason I ask is that the Toro + Framemeister seems to handle both the 240p and 480p for the DC, which would seemingly have parity with QVGA and VGA respectively.


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 7:20 pm 


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as ZellSF stated, your main problem is that low-res dos games are not running at 320x240p60 but are instead running in a linedoubled 320x200p70 (-> 400p70) mode. And the same is true for bios/dos text modes which is 720x400p70.

Your HDMI display on the other hand is likely only able to display 60Hz at higher resolutions, so any upscaling would also mean a framerate conversion to 60Hz. There certainly are a lot of cheap VGA to HDMI converter boxes out which handle your connection dilemma, but it's unlikely that these will fix your refresh problem.

The OSSC can be used to convert your VGA source to DVI/HDMI, but it won't do any framerate conversion, so any compatibility would depend on your display.


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 8:03 pm 



Joined: 05 Mar 2017
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Thanks everyone for the responses.

I will definitely pick up an OSSC the next time they are available. (Partly for this, partly due to general interest. :)

In reviewing the documentation for the Toro, it has the functionality of a Kenzei built in, so I will give that a go in the next few days and report back on what I find.

If that comes up short, I'll grab a cheap VGA -> HDMI converter. I noticed a bunch of different ones on Amazon. Is there one in particular that tends to be better than the rest?

Thanks again for your help!


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 11:02 pm 


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You might consider looking at specific solutions that were engineered to handle your specific issue--and adding a VGA to HDMI adapter to it. Toro and Framemeister weren't made to handle PC signals.
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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 12:25 am 


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It can be done. I'm sure there are prettier ways, but we are talking DOS games here.

Here's an Voodoo 3 Win98 > Extron VSC 300 > Extron DVC RGB HD A > Vizio 2016 D series

Booted to DOS mode
Spoiler: show
Image


Verified DOS signal at ~70Hz
Spoiler: show
Image


Frame rate conversion to 60Hz. Display reports signal at 60Hz.
Spoiler: show
Image


Ultima V EGA
Spoiler: show
Image


Ultima II CGA
Spoiler: show
Image
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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 6:10 am 


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That looks surprisingly good considering your step down to 480i due to the VSC unit. But speaking of it, is that step necessary at all ? I would assume that many processors, especially the professional ones accept Dos 70Hz anyway and would convert it to 60Hz by themselves without the need for a scan conversion to 15khz in the middle.


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 6:34 am 


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Fudoh wrote:
That looks surprisingly good considering your step down to 480i due to the VSC unit. But speaking of it, is that step necessary at all ? I would assume that many processors, especially the professional ones accept Dos 70Hz anyway and would convert it to 60Hz by themselves without the need for a scan conversion to 15khz in the middle.


The VSC 300 has the option to act as an upscaler or downscaler. As far as I know, no other Extron VSC unit had that ability. It's the reason I keep it around. Also, it's so easy to setup and use. :)

The Extron is outputting 720p. No 480i involved. It can also do VGA, XGA, and a useless "plasma" resolution. I'm not going to lie, the scaling is average, but the unit gladly accepts all kinds of obtuse signals--and outputs a signal I can use.

On the VGA HD15, it can upscale or downscale. On the svideo and composite, you are stuck with the 480i. The 480i output is mediocre at best--the VSC 500/700 series easily beats it. Then again, the VSC 500 and 700 only do 480i.

Manual and specs here:
http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=vsc300
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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 8:34 am 


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Quote:
The VSC 300 has the option to act as an upscaler or downscaler.

oh, ok. For progressive PC signals I would guess that the VSC300 is a similar performance as the other Extron scalers of that time. Maybe something like an Extron 204 plus a generic VGA to HDMI box would a quite cost-effective solution.


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 8:38 am 



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How does 70hz converted to 60hz look? I've never tried since I've always assumed it would look pretty bad (it definitely should).
BuckoA51 wrote:
I'd try a simple VGA to DVI/HDMI adapter. Any 70hz content either won't work or will be framerate converted.

With just a simple VGA to DVI/HDMI adapter without any custom horizontal and vertical zoom you'll also in addition to running into 70hz problems run into problems with the 640x400 resolution being displayed in the wrong aspect ratio on modern LCD TVs (I've had problems with modern LCD monitors, TVs should be worse).


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 8:47 am 


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Quote:
problems with the 640x400 resolution being displayed in the wrong aspect ratio on modern LCD TVs

really? How was it displayed? I would have stated the opposite. My experience is that even EGA as well as anything DOS is displayed pretty good on modern LCD monitors. 640x400 didn't have a 1:1 pixel ratio.

Quote:
How does 70hz converted to 60hz look?

bad, but it really depends on the game. In the 90s there have been some pretty ace DOS action games which had amazingly good scrolling. These won't display very well of course. But thanks to the ignorance of most users (DosBox without GSYNC) that's hardly mentioned.


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 9:21 am 



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Fudoh wrote:
Quote:
problems with the 640x400 resolution being displayed in the wrong aspect ratio on modern LCD TVs

really? How was it displayed? I would have stated the opposite. My experience is that even EGA as well as anything DOS is displayed pretty good on modern LCD monitors. 640x400 didn't have a 1:1 pixel ratio.

Maybe I've just had terrible monitors. They displayed DOS games at a 1:1 pixel ratio (so 16:10 aspect ratio for the image).


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 2:17 pm 


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Kramer had some computer graphics switchers and scalers that would probably do a better job with frame rate conversion. Unfortunately, Kramer rebrands other scalers, so their product line gets confusing. (The Pontiac of video equipment.)

I think the ones for this use case were developed in house by Kramer and are branded with "K-Storm" processing--versus the other licensed (rebranded) HQV, Corio, or TVOne solutions.

I'll give it a try when I get a moment. Naturally, it won't be perfection. For that, OP will need a monitor.
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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 5:43 pm 



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Thanks all for the replies. Since there doesn't seem to be a defacto solution, I've done and will continue to do some more experimentation until I can find a good result.

Toro + Framemeister
This didn't work for DOS text mode with my Vizio P series TV. No signal was displayed.

Sewell Manta
I had read a few threads on VOGONS where a couple of folks had success with this device. Functionally, it mostly works. DOS text mode, Windows, Doom in 320x200 (both in DOS and with Doom 95) all work. Oddly, Doom in higher res modes on Windows does not. A super distorted/compressed/low color image is displayed. The image is blurry at all resolutions - I couldn't get crisp pixels anywhere. The Vizio also treated the content as wide screen, which I could not override. The PC is newly set up so I will be testing more games in the near future.

Manta + Framemeister
I was hoping this might help with the clarity. I'm not done testing, but I haven't been successful. If anyone has ideas or pointers on this, I am open to them. The one benefit of the Framemeister is that I can force 4:3 so at least the image is not stretched.

I am pleased that I have a mostly functional solution, but I plan to keep examining alternatives. A few that I have identified are below. (If anyone has experience with any of these let me know.)

- Sewell Hammerhead: a few people have said this works, even though it doesn't have an upscaler. I'm skeptical it will produce results different than the Manta.
- Atlona AT-HD500: a few people use this in tandem with a capture card. It is discontinued but looks like it can be found on eBay for less than $50.
- OSSC: I can't get one in the near future, but my impression is that it won't address the refresh rate problem.
- Gefen VGA to DVI Scaler: also discontinued, but some people also use this in capture scenarios.
- KanexPro: I don't plan to test this one. People complain of significant input lag.
- MNXO: I don't plan to test this one either. It doesn't support DOS text mode.

Has anyone tested the XPC4 in these scenarios?

Thanks,
Steve


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 6:26 pm 


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Quote:
Gefen VGA to DVI Scaler: also discontinued, but some people also use this in capture scenarios.

pretty good all around. Requires a good cable for 1080p output otherwise you might get sparkles, but you should have no problems with any PC input timings.


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 11:32 pm 



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Fudoh wrote:
Quote:
Gefen VGA to DVI Scaler: also discontinued, but some people also use this in capture scenarios.

pretty good all around. Requires a good cable for 1080p output otherwise you might get sparkles, but you should have no problems with any PC input timings.


Have you (or anyone else) tried the Gefen VGA to HDMI Scaler/Converter?


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 1:18 am 


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as far as I know 100% identical to the DVI one. It just adds audio embedding.


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 2:50 pm 


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I had cause to try this for myself today as I was messing with a Windows 98 box, here's what I tried.

PC direct to TV via VGA - Worked at 70hz, but picture very poor (wobbly/sync instability). Of course most modern TVs don't have VGA in anyway so it's moot (this is an old Sony set KDL-40Z4500)

PC->OSSC->TV HDMI - Didn't work at all at 70hz, unsupported signal. Interesting since the TV obviously supports 70hz via VGA.

PC->OSSC->DVDO VP50 Pro->TV HDMI - Didn't work at all at 70hz, unsupported signal. I wanted to try via the VP50's RGBHV input but it was too much hassle to pull it out of my setup to get to the connectors.

PC->Gefen DVI to VGA scaler plus->TV HDMI - Works great. A little slow to sync to 70hz modes which means you can miss the "Press x key to enter setup" prompt, but otherwise fine.

Obviously you're still going to get stutter in 70hz modes so you should choose another screen mode if your game supports it.
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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 11:34 pm 



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It looks like the discontinued Scaler Plus has a few features they've since removed from the current DVI/HDMI output models. According to their documentation, the Scaler Plus can both accept component video and separately can output DVI-A at the scaled resolution. This might be interesting to allow you to play arcade boards or consoles on a VGA monitor. Has anyone done this? How are the results?

Going the DVI route, what's the optimal device to integrate audio with the DVI-D into HDMI? I see a bunch on eBay, but they are more expensive than I was expecting.


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 7:26 am 


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component on the input looks really bad. You'll never use that.


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 3:22 pm 



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Fudoh wrote:
component on the input looks really bad. You'll never use that.


That's good to know. Can it handle RGB with combined sync?

I've read your review of the XPC-4 and it appears generally versatile. Can it handle these DOS resolutions / frequencies? If you haven't tried, has anyone else?


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 8:11 pm 


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Use a scaler that was designed to handle computer graphics. It's cheaper and easier.

Buy a Kramer vp-719ds and a cheap Chinese VGA to HDMI box. It outputs 720p right out of the box and that's fine. It does custom outputs and it has the raw power to do 1080p. Just key in the timings as a custom output resolution.

Don't spend more than $25 usd (with shipping included) for the Kramer. You can get a cheap converter for $10.

The Kramer was designed to do the job. The Kramer has only one frame of lag. The Kramer has user friendly menus. The Kramer will accept anything an old PC can output. The Kramer has an auto adjust that will have you gaming in minutes. The Kramer's frame rate conversion is just as good as anything else you're going to find.

It's cheap. It's easy. It's fast. It's compatible.

For many displays, the VGA to HDMI will embed audio. If that doesn't work, wire audio separately.
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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 9:32 pm 



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orange808 wrote:
Buy a Kramer vp-719ds and a cheap Chinese VGA to HDMI box. It outputs 720p right out of the box and that's fine. It does custom outputs and it has the raw power to do 1080p. Just key in the timings as a custom output resolution.


Will the newer Kramer XL models work (for example the vp-719xl)? Or the 720/723ds?


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 10:07 pm 


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strygo wrote:
orange808 wrote:
Buy a Kramer vp-719ds and a cheap Chinese VGA to HDMI box. It outputs 720p right out of the box and that's fine. It does custom outputs and it has the raw power to do 1080p. Just key in the timings as a custom output resolution.


Will the newer Kramer XL models work (for example the vp-719xl)? Or the 720/723ds?


Yes. Should be fine. The 719 was the low end model without picture in picture support (a feature gamers don't want/need).

The "xl" means phoenix connectors for audio--versus consumer grade RCA plugs on "ds" models.

You can probably just bypass the video processor--and wire audio directly from the computer to your amp, pc speakers, or the vga to hdmi box.

Just think cheap. Offer about $25 usd with fairly local shipping included in the cost. There isn't much demand for what you're doing and you don't need to pay premium money. If you are patient, you can get one at a very reasonable cost.

That doesn't mean it's a worthless machine. It's just good at something that isn't in high demand. :)
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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 5:31 am 



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Thanks for your help. I will track one down and let you know how it goes.


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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 7:23 am 


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Out of curiosity what hdmi input are you guys using on your vizios? Hdmi 1-4 is Lot more friendly with pc resolutions. Worth a shot...

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 Post subject: Re: 90's Era PC to HDMI
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 5:18 pm 



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Bahn Yuki wrote:
Out of curiosity what hdmi input are you guys using on your vizios? Hdmi 1-4 is Lot more friendly with pc resolutions. Worth a shot...


Interesting. I'll have to check, but I think I may have been testing with the HDMI 5 port.


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