Earth Command isn’t my favourite game. It makes for some fun for a while, to tamper with the various settings and eventually watch the world burn, but it never got me hooked for a long time.
Then the reports of some people caught my attention. Some had trouble starting the game, as the screen just turned black after the intro, while others had no problems with the game at all. There was no common denominator to pin down the problem, as all the CD-i players they’ve used were of different revisions and generations.
There is always a need for a serial terminal (VT100 compatible) to debug Philips CD-i players and other old units with a serial port. Even though an old laptop with Windows 98 and HyperTerminal works fine, I was looking for something more portable. The Atari Portfolio with Serial Interface add-on is a good choice.
First of all we need to transfer the terminal software to the Portfolio. It is possible via the serial port, but I had to backup some data too from the old memory cards, so I hooked up the Atari Card Drive HPC-301:
Recently I found a CDI 220/00 with Mini MMC mainboard. It’s a heavy and bulky unit that contains lot of PCBs, wires, screws and metal parts. It’s one of the first consumer CD-i players, later models have all components on one single mainboard (Mono).
Chapter 5 of the Philips CDI 220 service manual (the manual that helped finding the right spots for the 60 Hz modification) deals with the built-in service software:
5 SERVICE SOFTWARE
In the set there are 3 different testsoftware available:
1. FTD-display/keyboard test
2. Low Level test
3. Service Shell
I’m going to cite the instructions for 1. and 3. and add pictures or comments if needed (I’m not going to cover 2. as it requires an extra service pcb and/or terminal). Note: The service manual is valid for the Philips CD-i players CDI 220/20 220/25 220/39 (PAL) and CDI 220/31 220/37 (NTSC). On other players/models the test instructions should be similar if not the same.Continue reading Philips CDI 220 Service Software / Self-Test→
Before messing with the timekeeper chip or exchanging the battery it is very important to backup game saves you don’t want to lose from the NVRAM. With a null-modem cable hooked up to a PC there are two options to communicate with the CD-i player:
When looking for a modification to improve the video size/quality of DVC games on my PAL CD-i player I’ve found that two tutorials only are covering that kind of modification (here / here and here). The modification enables PAL player to display full screen video without the black bars on top and bottom. NTSC players benefit from this modification too as there are PAL exclusive software titles that already have full screen video (e.g. De Zaak van Sam) – without the modification parts of the screen are cut off.
Unfortunately the mainboard of my CD-i 220 differs to those used in the tutorials, so I had to get a service manual to figure it out myself. The service manual I found is valid for the Philips CD-i players CDI 220/20 220/25 220/39 (PAL) and CDI 220/31 220/37 (NTSC). It says there is an unimplemented connector 1201 in square C6 of the mainboard: