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 Post subject: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:51 pm 


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I'm looking for the "best", "most portable" solution for playing MAME on a CRT, consumer TV or arcade monitor or otherwise. I've settled on either building a small form-factor desktop machine with a mini-ITX motherboard and an ATI card, or buying an older small laptop with an ATI card in it, and throwing Windows 7 / GroovyMAME / CRT Emudriver on them — or getting a Raspberry Pi plus a PI2SCART or Gert VGA 666 to output a 15khz signal over SCART or VGA.

Has anyone tried both of these methods with a CRT and can comment on the experience? This gentleman has done both and claims there's a slight audio lag with the RPi setup, probably because it's not using PortAudio for sound. Little things like that I might be able to deal with, but most important to me is the ability to get the resolutions and refresh rates correct: GroovyMAME handles this for you, but the RPi setup requires setting up custom values for each game. How well does this work, and how much of a pain is it to configure?

Overall, GroovyMAME seems to be better, but the size and weight of the RPi are so small that I wonder if I could tolerate the deficiencies. I'd be okay with not being able to run 3D or recent 2D games, like Cave games, but if the system has trouble running, for example, R-Type with its 384x256 resolution at ~55Hz, I'd be pretty sad.

I may have left out some other good portable solution for pairing MAME with a CRT. Please let me know if so!


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:09 pm 


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Tried my luck with an old laptop (ATI X1700, XP 32), never succeeded. Might try again with 7 some day.
IIRC soft15khz worked once years ago, but I couldn't reproduce the experience later for some reason...
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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:39 pm 


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I've tested both. I was very happy to discover a few months ago that the Raspberry can deal with low resolutions, but after some testings i put it asside and keep my PC Win7 + Groovymame. In this moment GroovyMame is years ahead of Raspberry, and it's allways getting better and they still don't consider the job is done. Maybe in the future, with a new model, and firmware the Raspberry can become a good choice.


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:42 pm 



Joined: 02 Mar 2017
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I've played with a GroovyMame setup, and have 3x Raspberry Pi 3's setup with RGB boards outputting to my BVM/PVM's. I don't notice any lag - audio or otherwise on the Pi 3 - I'm mostly playing 2D MAME games though.

The Raspberry Pi 3 is a bit crippled with its limited pixel clock - so you'll never get the resolutions perfect like you can much better get on the GroovyMame setup. But for a lot of us we're playing these on a 15khz TV or PVM, so I'm assuming GroovyMame changes that khz to match the monitor? Here's some more info I posted about the pixel clock and how much work it is to setup something like the Pi2SCART or RetroTink (I HIGHLY suggest the RetroTink because of Mike's excellent customer support).

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=58994

I will say the Pi 3 is totally playable and looks amazing on a nice BVM or PVM. And for $35 for the computer + whichever RGB board you choose it's certainly cheap enough.


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:10 pm 


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I must admit that while the Pi3 is overall great, there are enough titles with which you'll run into performance issues. While I always hated the idea of building a rather large PC just to run GroovyMAME, I'm intrigued about the posting here viewtopic.php?p=1268168#p1268168 and seeing that the current version of CRTEmuDriver runs with those (rather) modern integrated R5/R7 graphics units, meaning that all you need is a $70 mobo along with a $30 CPU (and no extra video card) and you'll outperform any Pi3 setup while getting the 15khz output flexibility of CRTEmuDriver.


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:01 am 


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Overkill wrote:
I've tested both. I was very happy to discover a few months ago that the Raspberry can deal with low resolutions, but after some testings i put it asside and keep my PC Win7 + Groovymame. In this moment GroovyMame is years ahead of Raspberry, and it's allways getting better and they still don't consider the job is done.


What kind of results did your tests give you that you didn't like?

Dochartaigh wrote:
But for a lot of us we're playing these on a 15khz TV or PVM, so I'm assuming GroovyMame changes that khz to match the monitor?


I'm not sure what you mean here.

Dochartaigh wrote:
Here's some more info I posted about the pixel clock and how much work it is to setup something like the Pi2SCART or RetroTink (I HIGHLY suggest the RetroTink because of Mike's excellent customer support).

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=58994


I read through that thread before making my post, and it only made me more concerned about the feasibility of using an RPi. :wink: For example, you said:

Dochartaigh wrote:
I used this article as my base (I like the pixel perfect setting - especially for arcade) and I can switch back and forth from my consoles to the Pi 3, on the same game on the same level, and it's like ~90% identical


...but when I checked that article, I saw that the "pixel perfect" setting outputs the video without forcing it into a 4:3 ratio, meaning games with, say, a 256x224 resolution will be pillarboxed. That's not what I want.

And then you wrote:

Dochartaigh wrote:
I'm also confused as to whether you literally have to tweak the custom viewport settings (and save that setting) for EVERY SINGLE GAME ROM you play


Dochartaigh wrote:
I'm just still saddened that you need all this work to do one simple thing on the Raspberry Pi with the Pi2SCART: shrink the image about 15%. With the default 320x240 timings, and the "pixel perfect" settings from that linked article everything is perfect on my system except the image is ~15% larger than any one of my 5 or 6 RGB consoles so the edges are getting cut off.


That sounds like a lot of work to get an underwhelming result. What's it like setting up all the different resolutions and refresh rates before booting up an arcade title?


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:14 am 


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Fudoh wrote:
While I always hated the idea of building a rather large PC just to run GroovyMAME


Indeed — it feels like overkill.

Fudoh wrote:
I'm intrigued about the posting here viewtopic.php?p=1268168#p1268168 and seeing that the current version of CRTEmuDriver runs with those (rather) modern integrated R5/R7 graphics units, meaning that all you need is a $70 mobo along with a $30 CPU (and no extra video card) and you'll outperform any Pi3 setup while getting the 15khz output flexibility of CRTEmuDriver.


Now this is interesting. If by $30 you're talking about the A4-600, is that powerful enough to run more recent arcade titles? Over at the BYOAC forum, the favorite CPU for its performance and cost is the Intel G3258, which performs a lot better according to its PassMark score. Regarding the motherboard: unfortunately, that means I'll have to get a big and heavy power supply, right? Or can I use something more portable, like a typical laptop power brick?


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:27 am 



Joined: 02 Mar 2017
Posts: 180
schadenfreude wrote:
Dochartaigh wrote:
But for a lot of us we're playing these on a 15khz TV or PVM, so I'm assuming GroovyMame changes that khz to match the monitor?


I'm not sure what you mean here.

You initially posted about "R-Type with its 384x256 resolution at ~55Hz". 15khz sets are 60hz, right? (NTSC at least...this kind of stuff I'm nowhere near 100% on admittedly), so that game isn't going to run at exactly 55Hz through a Raspberry Pi to my knowledge – and I don't know if GroovyMame will do that either, or if you have the GroovyMame drivers setup so it knows the monitor is a 15khz/60hz and it'll only stick to resolutions/timings/etc. which it knows that monitor can display (which I know PVM's can do NTSC 60 and PAL 50, but don't know if it'll do 55hz for example).






schadenfreude wrote:
Dochartaigh wrote:
Here's some more info I posted about the pixel clock and how much work it is to setup something like the Pi2SCART or RetroTink (I HIGHLY suggest the RetroTink because of Mike's excellent customer support).

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=58994


I read through that thread before making my post, and it only made me more concerned about the feasibility of using an RPi. :wink: For example, you said:

Dochartaigh wrote:
I used this article as my base (I like the pixel perfect setting - especially for arcade) and I can switch back and forth from my consoles to the Pi 3, on the same game on the same level, and it's like ~90% identical


...but when I checked that article, I saw that the "pixel perfect" setting outputs the video without forcing it into a 4:3 ratio, meaning games with, say, a 256x224 resolution will be pillarboxed. That's not what I want.


That was actually a bad post to link to - that was before I got the wonderful 1600px tweak fully working (which I'm extremely happy with now).

For pillarboxing, I can't think of a single game (talking about MAME here - that's all I really play on my Pi anymore) which is pillarboxed on the left and right. The only problem I currently have with my RetroPie setup is the image getting cut off by approximately 8 pixels on the top and 8 pixels on the bottom (which I believe is only because of how my monitor's are adjusted) - I'll get more into this below.



schadenfreude wrote:
That sounds like a lot of work to get an underwhelming result. What's it like setting up all the different resolutions and refresh rates before booting up an arcade title?


There is no setting up all the different resolutions before booting up an individual game. The Pi's resolution is in the /boot/config.txt file, and that is set in stone. Only way to change it is to manually edit that boot file, then reboot the entire system. This is the BIGGEST drawback of the Pi in my opinion - it can't adjust that on the fly whereas I'm pretty positive GroovyMame (with the graphic card being able to adjust the pixel clock and all these settings/timings/etc on the fly) CAN adjust that for every single game. That's why they say GroovyMame adjusts each and every game to the correct (pixel perfect?) resolution for every game.

Basically, what I’m doing on my Pi is setting it to 320x240, using those pixel perfect settings so there’s little to zero artifacts and such. When that’s done I basically have two vertical resolutions to deal with: 224 and 240 (scaling horizontally seems to be fine without introducing artifacts so that's nothing to worry about in my experience). Since I can’t adjust the Pi’s settings on the fly (without rebooting before playing every single game) I choose to have 224 fill the screen, and 240 cut off the top 8 pixels on the top and bottom. No other way to do it (besides go the opposite and have 240 fill the screen top-to-bottom, then have 224 have black bars on the top and bottom which isn’t acceptable to me). The latter also isn’t acceptable to me since my monitor’s H/V Size/Centering/Phase (through the service menu) is setup for the video game consoles I most commonly play which is NES and SNES, so I didn’t want to have to go into those service menu settings every time I switch from my consoles to the Pi, so that was the best course of action to me.

Right now I can switch from any one of my 6 consoles (NES, SNES, Genesis, PS1, PS2, Xbox) where the image on my monitors is decently centered with just a little bit of overscan on most/all of the systems (well, the best it can be with all those varied resolutions), and immediately switch to the Raspberry Pi 3 running RetroPie. 224 is pretty perfect. 240 is cut off a little bit, with the option to shift the image up or down quickly (to not cut off a life meter or whatnot) - and you only tweak that once and save the setting and it'll be like that the next time you play it. (hope the above makes sense...this hurts my head and I literally tried it SO many different ways that once I finally got it running, I left it like that months ago and haven't touched it - and hope I've explained it how I actually have my system setup like now).


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:04 am 


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Quote:
Now this is interesting. If by $30 you're talking about the A4-600, is that powerful enough to run more recent arcade titles?

you can go higher if required. If you choose an AM4 socket instead you can go for a A6-9500 which is the strongest Dual Core CPU with the required GPU. It's only very slightly more expensive.

Quote:
Regarding the motherboard: unfortunately, that means I'll have to get a big and heavy power supply, right? Or can I use something more portable, like a typical laptop power brick?

you can use a small external one as well. Currently my favorite MiniATX case with integrated PSU is this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ab0U-eJOpfg&t=291s (Inwin Chopin). Compared to any other MiniATX which (which would allow you to integrate an additional video card, it's really small.


Last edited by Fudoh on Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:05 am 


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Quote:
For pillarboxing, I can't think of a single game (talking about MAME here - that's all I really play on my Pi anymore) which is pillarboxed on the left and right.

Pillarboxing is just a problem if you use the actual 320px wide output. If you use the 1600px tweak it's no longer a problem.


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:35 am 


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Dochartaigh wrote:
There is no setting up all the different resolutions before booting up an individual game. The Pi's resolution is in the /boot/config.txt file, and that is set in stone. Only way to change it is to manually edit that boot file, then reboot the entire system.



Wrong. People have been able to make a custom version of Recalbox which switches the resolution and refresh rates on the fly.

https://forum.recalbox.com/topic/3475/r ... en-rgb/108

Besides, you can use AdvMAME on the Pi which does the same thing.


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:29 pm 



Joined: 02 Mar 2017
Posts: 180
donluca wrote:
Dochartaigh wrote:
There is no setting up all the different resolutions before booting up an individual game. The Pi's resolution is in the /boot/config.txt file, and that is set in stone. Only way to change it is to manually edit that boot file, then reboot the entire system.



Wrong. People have been able to make a custom version of Recalbox which switches the resolution and refresh rates on the fly.

https://forum.recalbox.com/topic/3475/r ... en-rgb/108

Besides, you can use AdvMAME on the Pi which does the same thing.


Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like that topic you linked to (translated from French by Google Chrome), is talking about the same kind of 1600 tweak I've been talking about, and which I use in RetroPie (I personally don't use Recalbox...and in fact haven't ever met anybody in real life in 3x gaming clubs I'm in who uses Recalbox either...). I honestly don't have hours to read all 683 posts....but did read about 50 down and skipped to the end...

That 1600px tweak looks to use the same runcommand-onstart.sh and runcommand-onend.sh scripts to change the resolution – so you are correct in that we're technically changing the resolution, but it's moreso only on the vertical so we can put up absolutely huge margins from that 1600px number to more easily be able to do things like center the image on a per-emulator and per-ROM basis. ...but what I've been more so talking about is the static height of the image, which usually tends to be the same exact horizontal 240 number as the /boot/config.txt (even if the horizontal is 1600px with HUGE margins) - and this 240 number is good so you don't get funky artifacts showing up on screen (which happens whenever I change that number away from the 224 or 240 or whatever base-resolution of that particular ROM/game).

Besides that, even if they hacked Recalbox (which would be cool, awesome for them!), you would STILL be stuck with literally only 6 or so hdmi_timings the Raspberry Pi 3's limited pixel clock can produce. That is a hardware limitation you can't touch no matter what. If my memory serves only THREE of those actually hold any relevant use for ~240p/480i retro gaming we've been talking about....which again, is where GroovyMame with it's special 15khz drivers really shines with it's much more flexible hardware.



And on a side note, I REALLY hope I'm not coming across as an expert on this at all (which I'm not, whatsoever) - it took me 3x tries to get the 1600px tweak to work and quasi-perfected (ok, probably more like 4+ tries lol), and I'm certainly not up to date on everything everybody is doing - all I know is this 1600px tweak I've been talking about, and seem to have really good results with (or at least acceptable to my picky self), is the same tweak that all the Pi2SCART and RetroTINK guys seem to be using (those are the two most popular RGB outputting boards for the Pi 3). Like this Raspberry Pi and MAME is all that I've been playing for months now on my CRT's I love it so much! (bought 4x fightsticks for 4-player games even!)


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:53 pm 


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Dochartaigh wrote:
You initially posted about "R-Type with its 384x256 resolution at ~55Hz". 15khz sets are 60hz, right? (NTSC at least...this kind of stuff I'm nowhere near 100% on admittedly), so that game isn't going to run at exactly 55Hz through a Raspberry Pi to my knowledge – and I don't know if GroovyMame will do that either, or if you have the GroovyMame drivers setup so it knows the monitor is a 15khz/60hz and it'll only stick to resolutions/timings/etc. which it knows that monitor can display (which I know PVM's can do NTSC 60 and PAL 50, but don't know if it'll do 55hz for example).


Oh okay, I see what you're saying. I'm guessing the RPi forces everything to ~60Hz to stick with the NTSC standard. Can you try out R-Type for me? Perhaps you have the PCB handy so you can compare resolution and speed with the real deal? :P I'm going to guess the game is sped up slightly on the RPi.

Dochartaigh wrote:
Basically, what I’m doing on my Pi is setting it to 320x240


What happens when you play a game in MAME that's, say, 256x224? Are you saying that everything is forced into 320x240 to give it a 4:3 aspect ratio on the screen?

Dochartaigh wrote:
Right now I can switch from any one of my 6 consoles (NES, SNES, Genesis, PS1, PS2, Xbox) where the image on my monitors is decently centered with just a little bit of overscan on most/all of the systems (well, the best it can be with all those varied resolutions), and immediately switch to the Raspberry Pi 3 running RetroPie. 224 is pretty perfect. 240 is cut off a little bit, with the option to shift the image up or down quickly (to not cut off a life meter or whatnot) - and you only tweak that once and save the setting and it'll be like that the next time you play it.


I get slightly different image centering with my consoles on my PVM too, and from what I've read about GroovyMAME, I don't think you can configure your monitor to get perfect image centering across all arcade games. I read there's some software solution you can do to tweak things on an individual game basis. Really, I've never concerned myself with these things because I tend to play at most two games at a time, meaning I don't mind having to tweak the picture slightly on the PVM if I switch from, say, a Super Famicom to a Mega Drive game. I know this isn't very exciting when you have friends over who want to plow through several games, and I imagine that's why you live with the cut-off image.


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:00 pm 


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Fudoh wrote:
you can use a small external one as well. Currently my favorite MiniATX case with integrated PSU is this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ab0U-eJOpfg&t=291s (Inwin Chopin). Compared to any other MiniATX which (which would allow you to integrate an additional video card, it's really small.


Wow, that's a really compact and slick case, but the cost is pretty high. I was thinking about something more ghetto but portable like this: https://linustechtips.com/main/topic/26 ... nt-3560366. I also wish AMD made boards similar to Intel's Thin Mini-ITX, which have a lower Z-height and an on-board power supply adapter.


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:03 pm 


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Dochartaigh wrote:
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like that topic you linked to (translated from French by Google Chrome), is talking about the same kind of 1600 tweak I've been talking about, and which I use in RetroPie (I personally don't use Recalbox...and in fact haven't ever met anybody in real life in 3x gaming clubs I'm in who uses Recalbox either...). I honestly don't have hours to read all 683 posts....but did read about 50 down and skipped to the end...


I remember I read through the entire topic (yes, I had a couple of slow days at work) and IIRC they managed to defeat the issue and use perfect resolutions. Someone made a custom JAMMA adapter based upon this work here: http://www.neo-arcadia.com/forum/viewto ... 14&t=54733

Another similar project aimed at CRT users based upon the discoveries of that thread here: http://www.rgb-pi.com/

When I have time I'll go through that entire thread (again) and point out where they managed to get perfect resolution output.


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 Post subject: Re: GroovyMAME vs. Raspberry Pi on a CRT
PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:10 pm 



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donluca wrote:
When I have time I'll go through that entire thread (again) and point out where they managed to get perfect resolution output.


That would be great - please let me know! I'm always down to learn a better way to do things.

And you can get near perfect 1:1 resolution on most any system or game you want, pretty easily actually - the trick is how to get that on all these different games and all these different systems - easily, and quickly (i.e. no having to write files and reboot in-between).

You also have to be aware that there's ALWAYS still going to be the Raspberry Pi 3's pixel clock limitation - which no matter what programming tricks those guys have, no matter what hacks of the software, you simply can't bypass that hardware limitation no matter what you can do. Like I still don't think it's possible to get an exact horizontal frequency of 15.734khz, and a vertical frequency 59.939Hz to the NTSC standard with the Pi's built-in hardware (close, but never absolutely perfect).


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