Cloning the GameCube component cable

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Unseen
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Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by Unseen » Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:27 pm

Hi!

I think the original Gamecube component cable is overpriced, so I cloned it. =) Github repository here. Some random factlets because I'm too lazy to write a coherent post after typing all the READMEs in the repo:

The project linked above is basically a clone of the original component cable using only information that is already available on the net and some of my own observations on a logic analyzer. The board can output analog RGB (both CSync and HV-Sync available) or Component video. While I haven't calculated an actual BOM cost for the parts, it should be MUCH cheaper to manufacture than the current price for the original cable. The downside is that as far as I know there is no source for the original plug, so it has to be mounted internally in the Gamecube.

No, I won't be selling this. Build your own or find someone who builds it for you - it's an open source project after all. I made the mistake of offering kits for another of my projects once and that required far more of my time than I'm willing to spend. Fully-assembled boards aren't an option at all for me as the local laws require a lot of paperwork, certifications and money when you want to bring your own electronic devices into the hands of end-users.

HDMI is possible and works on my devboard, but that version currently suffers from featuritis and lack of motivation (and maybe skills) to design a PCB for it. If anyone can locate (or provide) a source for simple, cheap Spartan 6 FPGA boards with an HDMI output connector on them I can probably port the code to it.

The board does not handle audio at the moment, although the pins for it are connected to the FPGA. Fun fact: At least the PAL Gamecube I have hear uses the wrong audio sampling rate. The correct rate would be 54MHz divided by 1125 (48000 Hz), but I measure exactly 48042.8Hz or 54MHz divided by 1124. The difference is not noticable on the analog outputs, but I suspect that the SPDIF mod the GC that uses an external 12.288MHz crystal for its SPDIF chip has faint clicks in its output (or slight distortions).

Based on a few preliminary measurements, the Wii seems to use the same video data format internally, but with 1.8V levels instead of 3.3V. Since the Wii already has a component output, connecting this board to it probably isn't worth the hassle unless you've fried our video output. It also seems that the Wii internally transports audio using I2S, so why isn't there an SPDIF mod for it yet?

If you look at the board another way, it's an FPGA with a few input lines (12 on the connector plus a few pads with spare pins) and a video DAC. This means that is someone writes the code for it, it could also be used to generate RGB or component output signals for other consoles that use 3.3V digital video signals internally. The one that I'm thinking of is the N64 - but this is only a "possible in theory, but someone needs to do it first" situation.

Linedoubling would be possible with a larger FPGA (available with the same footprint, about 2-3 USD more expensive), but I'm not sure if it's worth it since most non-progressive Gamecube games are 480i/576i and the memory in the FPGA is only big enough to hold a single line, not a complete field that you would need to do at least half-proper deinterlacing. (and I also haven't figured out a way to generate "good" 480p timing from a 480i input yet)

Yes, this comes from an account with no posts before this one, which will probably be enough for some people to cry "Fake!". I don't care, I'm better known in some circles for another project anyway. =)

-ik
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Ashen
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by Ashen » Sun Aug 31, 2014 3:00 pm

Holy shit.... This sounds fantastic. Welcome to the forums. :D
tueidj
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by tueidj » Sun Aug 31, 2014 4:19 pm

The gamecube SDK does note that the audio output rate is 48043Hz so developers can create properly synching videos (for general gameplay it's not really an issue).
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iamdablasta
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by iamdablasta » Sun Aug 31, 2014 6:14 pm

This looks pretty legit to me, especially since it's open source.
Welcome, and thanks for contributing!

And when it comes to the internal soldering, we could always buy connectors so the gamecube has its own rgb ports etc, which makes it even more attractive in my opinion (more work, but I love diy).

Edit: Also, would it be too much to ask for an image of the board?
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by Unseen » Sun Aug 31, 2014 9:29 pm

iamdablasta wrote:Edit: Also, would it be too much to ask for an image of the board?
Sure - the assembled (but not well-cleaned) prototype:
Image

and the view in KiCAD including dimensions (spoilered because the image is a bit large):
Spoiler: show
Image
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keropi
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by keropi » Mon Sep 01, 2014 6:34 am

awesome!
I can imagine a certain someone building stuff that use it :D
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by tesla246 » Mon Sep 01, 2014 11:38 am

:shock: So this is what perfection looks like. It's beautiful! :D
Dream mod: RAM expansion for serial port 2 with wifi, bluetooth and usb port :shock:
Favourite mod: Wasp fusion autoboot with flashed swiss. :D
Eagerly awaiting a normal, form-factor wise, wireless controller with rumble. :)
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by Unseen » Mon Sep 01, 2014 11:43 am

tesla246 wrote::shock: So this is what perfection looks like. It's beautiful! :D
No, perfection would be the DVI version. ;)
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by public-pervert » Mon Sep 01, 2014 12:27 pm

That's pretty awesome! Would you mind make a video showing this little beauty working?

Fantastic work!
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by tesla246 » Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:10 pm

Unseen wrote:
tesla246 wrote::shock: So this is what perfection looks like. It's beautiful! :D
No, perfection would be the DVI version. ;)
Or HDMI? ;) Digital Audio would be SICK!
Dream mod: RAM expansion for serial port 2 with wifi, bluetooth and usb port :shock:
Favourite mod: Wasp fusion autoboot with flashed swiss. :D
Eagerly awaiting a normal, form-factor wise, wireless controller with rumble. :)
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by Unseen » Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:36 pm

Sample video: Coming soon, maybe this evening.
tesla246 wrote:Or HDMI? ;) Digital Audio would be SICK!
HDMI is... problematic. It requires licensing to use or to just read the specs unless you have a leaked copy from the web. HDMI would make some things easier as it can actually specify the format of the video data that the source is sending and some sinks (e.g. the XRGB Mini) behave a bit weird with straight DVI signals that don't carry the additional HDMI signalling and don't conform to standard computer video timings.

On the implementation side for a project like GCVideo the changes between DVI and HDMI would be limited to the contents of the FPGA - to turn a DVI signal into an HDMI signal you "only" need to send info frames during the non-video part of the frame which specify more details about the current signal and also carry the audio data. I suspect the encoding of these frames (TERC4) is patented and thus the basis for requiring additional licensing for HDMI, the "entry fee" is a mere $10000 USD per year (or $5K plus $1 per device). Of course if a DVI version of the interface becomes reality, I certainly won't be able to stop other people from adding HDMI signalling to it and publishing the code somewhere, but I would not add it to the master repository.
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tesla246
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by tesla246 » Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:45 pm

Ah, didnt know about the HDMI licensing fee and all the hurdles that come with it. So is there any chance you will design a gamecube DVI version with optical audio? Your N64 version looks amazing and you're knowledge of designing those boards is quite sufficient, to say the least.
Dream mod: RAM expansion for serial port 2 with wifi, bluetooth and usb port :shock:
Favourite mod: Wasp fusion autoboot with flashed swiss. :D
Eagerly awaiting a normal, form-factor wise, wireless controller with rumble. :)
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by theclaw » Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:55 pm

It's a ways off, DVI or HDMI without linedoubling isn't ready for the mainstream. On many TVs you'd only get to play games with 480p.
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by Unseen » Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:59 pm

tesla246 wrote:So is there any chance you will design a gamecube DVI version with optical audio? Your N64 version looks amazing and you're knowledge of designing those boards is quite sufficient, to say the least.
You must mistake me for someone else, I did not do anything to an N64 (yet).
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by tesla246 » Mon Sep 01, 2014 4:02 pm

Haha, ok sorry m8, i mistook you for the guy in this thread: http://retroactive.be/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=7 working on this project: http://retroactive.be/tech_n64_hdmi.php.
My bad and welcome to the forums!
Dream mod: RAM expansion for serial port 2 with wifi, bluetooth and usb port :shock:
Favourite mod: Wasp fusion autoboot with flashed swiss. :D
Eagerly awaiting a normal, form-factor wise, wireless controller with rumble. :)
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by Unseen » Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:40 pm

...and two quick video captures:

Twilight Princess via GCVideo in component mode, scaled to 1080p60 and converted to HDMI using a Gefen HD Mate (reduces capture problems when the video mode changes) and captured with an Elgato Game Capture HD: Youtube video

Same game, GCVideo in RGB mode, scaled to 1080p60 with an XRGB Mini (because the Gefen has decided that any signal on its VGA input must be displayed in some bright shade of purple?!), same capture device, might be a bit too dark because I forgot to check the settings on the Mini: Youtube video
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by StarkNebula » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:24 pm

You win internet. :L

Awesome! You've become the hero of many, many people here. :P
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by badsector » Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:08 pm

Somehow the framerate seems a little bit low (even at the GameCube logo). Is this a problem with your capture setup, or am I just making up things?

Anyhow: Very nice results :3
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by Xesxen » Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:13 pm

This looks very promising. Getting rid of that proprietary chip is a hell of a good idea. I can't wait to see what you'll do with the cube next :)
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by Dragoon » Tue Sep 02, 2014 12:46 am

This is amazing, I hope I can get one of them made soon :D
Unseen wrote:...and two quick video captures:

Twilight Princess via GCVideo in component mode, scaled to 1080p60 and converted to HDMI using a Gefen HD Mate (reduces capture problems when the video mode changes) and captured with an Elgato Game Capture HD: Youtube video

Same game, GCVideo in RGB mode, scaled to 1080p60 with an XRGB Mini (because the Gefen has decided that any signal on its VGA input must be displayed in some bright shade of purple?!), same capture device, might be a bit too dark because I forgot to check the settings on the Mini: Youtube video
This looks great, however it is very aliased, I guess you just see them better when using high quality video.
Think you get some anti aliasing on the board too? Or would this have to be done via WiiRD/AR codes on the GameCube itself?
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by bobrocks95 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:33 am

Dragoon wrote:Think you get some anti aliasing on the board too?
The FPGA on this board isn't rendering anything, it's taking the digital render from the Gamecube and outputting it in a format that's recognizable to a TV (in this case using a DAC to get component)...
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by Unseen » Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:43 am

badsector wrote:Somehow the framerate seems a little bit low (even at the GameCube logo). Is this a problem with your capture setup, or am I just making up things?
This could be caused by my setup - it's a PAL cube (so the boot logo is in 50Hz) but the scaler was set to output 60Hz all the time to simplify the video capture.
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by megalomaniac » Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:32 am

@Unseen, thanks for your contribution..
im interested in seeing how this performs...




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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by keropi » Tue Sep 02, 2014 12:17 pm

^ I knew that the certain individual would deliver :D
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Re: Cloning the GameCube component cable

Post by LOCtronicz » Tue Sep 02, 2014 2:19 pm

Holy crap!!! This is some awesome shit!!! Time to make some of these for myself. Thank you so much for sharing all your files and info. :D

Could you also make a pic of the back of the board? Just to get a clear image of what the total setup looks like.
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