Repairing the audio on a Pac-Man arcade board

I got this knockoff JAMMA Ms Pac-Man arcade board many years back.  It’s got two ROMs instead of the authentic board’s 6 (9 for Ms Pac), and is substantially smaller than the “real thing”.  The only issue is that the audio is poor… REALLY poor.  It makes sounds but they’re… wrong and noisy.

I took over some desk space at Interlock and got to work.  (I should note that the beverages you can see here are other people’s, not mine. ;)

I traced the audio circuit on a real Pac-Man schematic (seen on my laptop’s monitor), and buzzed it out on the Yenox board to try to corrolate the two.

I had to trace four similar paths from a quad flip-flop, through a quad bidirecional switch, to the audio output.  It got really confusing at times, and took me probably a bit longer than it should have.  For the most part, they were pin-for-pin correct as far as how they were wired.  These chips have the same device (eg, a flip flop, or a logic gate) repeated 4 or 6 times.  In some cases here, the Yenox board had a different one of these devices hooked up, which added to the confusion.

This portion of the circuit uses 8 resistors to make a digital-to-analog converter. These generally work by having different resistance levels, usually something like multiples of eachother, eg,  10k ohm, 22k ohm, 47k ohm then 100kohm.  I traced out all of the lines on the Yenox board and I found out that not only were the resistors in the wrong order on the board, but they were also wildly wrong (47 ohm instead of 4.7k ohm), which you can see in this table I made:

 

You can see these resistors here on the Yenox board, right next to the JAMMA connector.  They start from the left with R1 (my notation.)  The printing on the board completely matched the resistance values that sat on them, so it’s obvious that the engineer who made this board seriously screwed it up in the design stage.

I replaced resistors R3 – R7.  I put them in with the gold band closer to the JAMMA connector, rather than the other way around.

And now it sounds near-perfect.  There’s a little bit of popping left, but I was getting tired and decided to head home for the night.  I’ll hook it up to an oscilloscope at some point and see if i can figure out which line is causing problems.

For what it’s worth, I also did the same as this on the video path DAC, seen in the above picture as the next three groups of resistors.  In the above, the group of four and then the group of five are for audio, then the next group of three is for the “red”, next three for “green”, next two for “blue”, and the remaining two are for the sync.  Again, there were some 47 ohm resistors mixed in, and notice two of the three in the “green” section are identical (red-red-brown)… which is surely wrong.  Color is now perfect on the board too!

from on February 12th, 2014Comments0 Comments

Updating my JAMMA test rig

Many years back, I hooked up a spare JAMMA harness to an old PC power supply, a monitor and some repurposed joystick pads.  (JAMMA is a standard connector size and pinout to hook up arcade game boards into arcade cabinets.  Most of my arcade game boards are either natively Jamma (Mortal Kombat, Klax, Block-out) or I have adapters to hook them up using JAMMA.  (Dig-Dug, Pac-Man, etc)).  One board that I’ve been using with it recently is a knockoff Ms. Pac-Man board, seen in these photos.

Being that I’ve been wanting to work on arcadey projects recently at Interlock, I decided to make this thing a lot less janky.

The harness/rig I have was always kind of a hack.  The video and audio wires terminated in a small box with some knobs which were meant to attenuate the signal but never really worked right.  The power switch was on this cord that came out and was weirdly fastened to the side of the power supply.  I decided to clean this up while at Interlock for open night.

 It turns out that I happened to have the right 6 pin DIN connector for this old RGB monitor (basically a Commodore Amiga 1084 clone).   So I wired up Red, Green, Blue, and Ground directly to the correct pins on it.  JAMMA spits out composite video, but this monitor takes in Horizontal and Vertical sync.  I knew that some monitors would take in composite sync on their Vertical Sync line, so I tried that… and it worked! Huzzah.

The only video issue now is that the game boards put out video that’s slightly too hot/too high a voltage, so I should put attenuation resistors inside the din connector or something…

Even though the JAMMA interface spits out amplified audio, I decided to hook up an RCA plug on the audio lines anyway, to plug it into the line-level in on the monitor.  As long as I’m careful it will be fine.

And here it is being driven by my Yenox Ms Pac-Man board with the “Horizontal Ms Pac” rom hack.  You can see the power switch sticking out of the side of the power supply there.  It’s not the most optimal thing ever, but it’s substantially cleaner than before.  Perhaps I’ll replace that switch with a nice carling switch in the future.  I’ll need this test rig for the next task, which is fixing the audio on this board.  It sounds horrid…

from on January 30th, 2014Comments0 Comments

11 Digit, 7 Segment Display

An early test result, showing text and millseconds since power-on.

About a year ago, I bought a few 11 digit, 7 segment red LED displays from Active Surplus up on Queen Street in Toronto. (Excellent store.  If you’re into hacking stuff at all, it’s well worth the trip. Look for the monkey on Queen street to find their entrance.)

This past week, I wasn’t sure what to do at Interlock on Tuesday night, but I had recently re-found these displays, so I figured I would finally get them working.  I hit Radio Shack to get a Seeed Studio Arduino Shield ($10 with a mess of components, probably the best deal in all of Radio Shack.)

The display with a header soldered on, and the shield with its assorted parts.

I was all set to figure out how to reverse-engineer the pinout on the bottom of the display; I googled for the LED module, and found specs on those, and then on a whim, decided to check on the entire module board, a Rohm LU-3011, and found the jackpot, this post about figuring out the pinout.  It suddenly became very easy to do this project.

The two key things gleaned from that above post, which I have mirrored here, are this table of enables for each of the 11 digits:

Digit 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Pin 1 2 3 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18

and this image, showing the pin mappings of the segments:

Mapping of the segments to the pins on the header.

The basic way these displays work is that all of the 7 segments (plus one decimal point) are all tied together to the pins specified above.  Then the anodes for each of the displays are broken out to the pins in the table above.  So to draw a ’7′, you would set all of the segments to LOW, except for pins 11, 19, and 7 which you set HIGH.  Then to turn on a specific digit, let’s say digit 11 (rightmost), you set the digit enable pin 18 to be an output, and set it LOW.  Set all of the other digit enables to be inputs (tri-state, not low or high), and only position 11 will show a “7″.  You repeat this for all of the 11 digits in the display, and you can display 11 full digits from just those 19 pins.

In my code (available below) I start at digit 1, and work down to digit 11, enabling each one, in turn, showing its segments, waiting 1 millisecond, then disable that digit, move on to the next one.

I soldered a pin header on the display, and built up a shield to plug it into.

All of the digit enables wired up.  The top ones are a bit messy. Sorry about that.

I wired it up such that the digit enables and segments are wired directly to IO lines on my Arduino.  This used all of the IO lines, minus the D13 pin, which has an on-board LED.

The code that I wrote (available below) lets you do arbitrary digits per character, so that i can do (primitive) alphanumerics, or do animation patterns, etc.  I also store the decimal point as a separate character going in to the display code, so “3.141″ is five ascii characters going in, but a flag is set on the ’3′ position saying that this digit should also display its decimal point, so it only consumes four digits in the display.

just testing out all of the segments and digits

For now, it displays a nice clock and some animations on my desk, but I plan on changing it around a little in the near future.  I want to use the D13 line as one of the segment enables (probably decimal point) and move the segment enables off of the Serial Receive line.  That way i will be able to control it via serial to display patterns, animations or text content.  Since the hardware serial port is hardwired to 0 and 1, and I will be using the TX line for the LED displays, I’ll have to instead use the Software Serial, with only its Receive line mapped to an IO pin, and its Transmit line mapped to junk. I’ve done this before and it works well.

The code for this project is available in my Geodesic Sphere github repository.

This post is also available on my personal project blog thing.

from on May 17th, 2013Comments0 Comments