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Thread: Testing a PAL > NTSC converter with a US console & PAL game

  1. #1
    Raging in the Streets goldenband's Avatar
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    Default Testing a PAL > NTSC converter with a US console & PAL game

    I recently bought a PAL > NTSC conversion box and want to test it out with one of my consoles on my NTSC CRT. I know from experience that booting certain PAL games on certain consoles will at the very least cause screen roll on a NTSC console, e.g.:

    Atari 2600 - just about any PAL-exclusive game
    Genesis - Brian Lara/Shane Warne Cricket
    PlayStation - the PAL version of Irem Arcade Classics

    What I don't know, however, is what kind of signal my console would be putting out when it hits the converter, and whether the box will be able to make sense of what it's receiving. For example, I don't think the Atari 2600 puts out a PAL-compliant color subcarrier if it doesn't have the right crystal on the motherboard, and I think the same is true of the Genesis. Not sure about the PlayStation, though I have a blue dev unit that should in principle run anything.

    Basically, I'm asking what kind of results I can expect to see when running PAL games on the NTSC hardware I've mentioned, and what might be a good way to test out the converter with a PAL-compliant signal without buying Euro hardware.

    I guess the Atari 2600 is out of the running, though, since I don't have an AV-modded VCS. And for the moment the Genesis is out of the running too since I haven't done a region mod (so it'll be sending a 60Hz signal no matter what), though I eventually want to be able to play Euro games that work at 50Hz but not at 60Hz. So the PlayStation would be the best test case, I guess...?

    And more generally, can I expect to play those games that roll the screen, and if so will the extra scanlines be truncated? Or will the picture be shrunk vertically? Since the converter was relatively cheap, I think I should expect that it'll drop every sixth line.

  2. #2
    Raging in the Streets goldenband's Avatar
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    Update: I tried running Brian Lara Cricket on the Genesis, but as I expected the converter couldn't handle the combination of 625 lines and 60Hz, and the screen rolled endlessly. I'd need a region mod for that, I think.

    Then I tried the PAL version of Irem Arcade Classics on my blue dev PlayStation, and was able to get a stable picture (it normally rolls). But it was mostly in the lower half of the screen and was in black-and-white, which I'm guessing is because it's expecting a PAL color subcarrier and getting a NTSC one.

  3. #3
    Road Rasher Bibin's Avatar
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    Any NTSC Genesis/Megadrive will roll if the system is put into 240-line mode (as opposed to the normal 224-line mode) as it seems to break the counter used for generating VSync. If you can find that write and edit it out, you may fix the game.

  4. #4
    Raging in the Streets goldenband's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bibin View Post
    Any NTSC Genesis/Megadrive will roll if the system is put into 240-line mode (as opposed to the normal 224-line mode) as it seems to break the counter used for generating VSync. If you can find that write and edit it out, you may fix the game.
    Aha, good to know! So even if I install a region switch and use a PAL > NTSC converter (in this case an Atlona, though in this case not the CDM-660), it still will roll on my CRT, then?

    And: is there any US console that can put out a 100% compliant PAL/50Hz signal?

    If I install a region switch, at least I might be able to play the 224-line PAL games that eventually crash at 60Hz, e.g. Smurfs 2.

  5. #5
    urusei yatsura Master of Shinobi lumclaw's Avatar
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    If you set the Genesis to 50hz without using RGB, a PAL 32X, or a replacement color crystal, it'll still attempt to encode the color in NTSC.
    NTSC at 50hz is non-standard so there's no telling what TVs may accept it.

  6. #6
    Raging in the Streets goldenband's Avatar
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    I ended up getting a model of CD-i that happens to have a PAL/NTSC switch, so I finally got the chance to properly test out my weird Atlona that the Internet doesn't seem to have heard of (the Atlona CDM-600).

    It works quite well, especially given the super-cheap price I paid for this unit (well under $20 shipped). The picture converted from PAL certainly isn't as crisp as the NTSC signal straight from the CD-i, but it's more than adequate for my purposes.

    Now the only problem is, if I want to play Genesis or PlayStation games at 50Hz, I have to buy a whole different console. Ah, well.
    Last edited by goldenband; 08-28-2017 at 10:11 PM.

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