Philips FW380i Mini System Repair Part 1

The Philips FW380i Mini System landed unexpectedly on my repair table last August. I never intended to get one of these models because the CD-i part is at the lowest end of CD-i hardware (very similar to the Roboco mainboard of CDI450 etc.) and also the build quality of FW mini system is not something I would have bought or used in the 90s. However, this particular CD-i mainboard was only used for this model and has some very unique features such as a separated servo board, a connector for communication with the FW part and even some unused connectors for a disc changer – which unfortunately never saw the light of day. Long story short: this model was never properly analysed, which is why it piqued my interest.

In this article I will show you how I carried out the disassembly and basic cleaning last year. I will follow up about diagnosis, repair and possibly modifications at a later point. The exact model/version I’m taking apart here is an FW380i/20 – which means that a 22ER9956/20 DVC mini cartridge was installed at the factory.

Continue reading Philips FW380i Mini System Repair Part 1

Pippin Atmark Troubleshooting and Repair Information

A collection of technical information to assist in troubleshooting and the repair of Pippin Atmark consoles. You can use it side by side with the disassembly guide in my Pippin Atmark PA-82001-S Monitoring Unit article from 2019.

You will find details about the FFC of the control buttons, the Matsushita CR-504-L optical disc drive and the VOLTEK SPEC7188B power supply unit. The information applies to both “monitoring” and retail units.

Control buttons FFC

These are the control buttons on the top of the Pippin and what they look like on the back. When you open the case of a Pippin, pay special attention to the FFC (flexible flat cable). Otherwise you could damage the control buttons, the FFC or even the ZIF connector on the mainboard.

Continue reading Pippin Atmark Troubleshooting and Repair Information

MSDEXP and Clamshell Case for Terraonion MegaSD

This is a follow-up on the Terraonion MegaSD Cartridge article from 2019. In the past two years, I managed to find an MSDEXP adapter and a clamshell case for my MegaSD cartridge.


Thanks to Mobius Strip Tech, I was able to source an MSDEXP. I can now finally play Mega-CD 32X games with the MegaSD.

The housing from Retro Frog is a high-quality print with a matte look. Inside there are two connectors, some passive components and a lot of tracks:

Continue reading MSDEXP and Clamshell Case for Terraonion MegaSD

NEC PC-FXGA, PC-FXGA DOS/V, and its Breakout Box

A spontaneous article about the NEC PC-FXGA: The PC-FX Game Accelerator Board for PC-98 and DOS/V. It emerged from the search for a replacement breakout box for the PC-FXGA DOS/V card in the PC-FX Fan Club Discord server. The details of the breakout box are in the second half of the article, and before that some information and photos.

There are already many resources about PC-FX(GA) (see list at the end of this article), so I won’t go into too much detail here. Basically, it’s a PC-FX on a card for your PC, with a special feature. Game Accelerator means that it also contains the 3D chip Huc6273 (Aurora) that is not present in the normal PC-FX. There are two versions of these cards: PC-FXGA, a C-Bus card for use with NEC PC-9800 series computers and PC-FXGA DOS/V, an ISA card for use with IBM PC-compatible computers running DOS/V.

Continue reading NEC PC-FXGA, PC-FXGA DOS/V, and its Breakout Box

Nintendo AV Famicom With Switchless NESRGB Maintenance

My Nintendo AV Famicom that I equipped with a switchless NESRGB solution in 2016 is spending most of its days on a shelf as a backup console. It still needs some maintenance, which I will cover in this article: cleaning, securing the NESRGB, placing the LED and repairing the expansion port cover.

Last week, I just wanted to quickly test some Famicom carts and realised that the console wasn’t outputting any picture or sound. There was still a reaction on the TV though: black picture and a crackling sound when I switched it off. Fearing the worst, I opened it up and saw my favourite insulation tape. However, as I’ve learned in the past, this stuff disintegrates over the years and sticks to everything, so now I was apparently in for not only a repair but also a clean. I opened the console and plugged it in again. When I removed some of the insulating tape, graphics rubbish suddenly appeared on the TV. On closer inspection, I realised that the NESRGB board was tilted slightly backwards. It must have come loose at some point.

Continue reading Nintendo AV Famicom With Switchless NESRGB Maintenance

DVS VE-200 NVRAM Backup and Battery Replacement

The DVS VE-200 CD-Interactive Player is a CD-i player manufactured by LG. Like other CD-i players, it contains a battery-backed NVRAM and real-time clock.
In this article, I will take a look inside and show how the battery can be replaced while making sure that the NVRAM data won’t get lost in the process.

DVS VE-200 CD-Interactive Player
DVS VE-200 CD-Interactive Player

The player is one of four known very similar models that make use of the GoldStar / LG mainboard (midi-size). The other three models are: GoldStar / LG GDI-700M, GDI-S710 and Knowlogy K2000-MSS. What makes them special in terms of NVRAM and RTC is that they don’t have a Timekeeper or SmartWatch socket, but a different solution:

Continue reading DVS VE-200 NVRAM Backup and Battery Replacement

10 Years of

10 years ago, I started this blog to record what I was tinkering with in my spare time. It was initially meant to be some sort of diary and also include everything that I bought related to retro- and game consoles (see category New Arrival), but that turned out to be way too much work, so I focused on technical articles. Over the years, I had so many projects that not everything could be properly documented and put in an article. The backlog is huge and I’m always trying to review and improve old articles as well.

For the 10th anniversary, I took a trip down memory lane and selected one or more articles that were important to me. Be it because they are about a favourite device or an important discovery or milestone in research.

Continue reading 10 Years of

Philips 22ER9021 and TecnoPlus TP520 CD-i Gamepads

Last year, I asked myself whether or not all Philips 22ER9021 CD-i Gamepads are the same and answered with probably. Since then, I have had a look at some more gamepads of different production dates, including an unbranded 22ER9021 and a TecnoPlus TP520 CD-i Control Pad. Let’s revisit and elaborate on what has been discovered last year:

  • The production number on the label contains the year and calendar week (example: 1A 00 9447). This applies to almost all Philips CD-i players and accessories. So far, only the white mice for the professional players didn’t follow the year code.
    A full production number has 8 or 9 digits and an additional 5-6-digit serial number at the end. But most accessories are only labelled with simple 8-digit production numbers and that’s why you find so many accessories with the very same data on the labels.
  • Inside, all 22ER9021 gamepads have the same PCB with these markings:
    This is still the case after checking some more, even uncommon variants. Also, they all have the same Philips PCA84C122AT/071 8-bit microcontroller for remote control transmitters.
Continue reading Philips 22ER9021 and TecnoPlus TP520 CD-i Gamepads

Atari Portfolio PC Card Drive HPC-301

The PC Card Drive HPC-301 is still the only way to read and write Atari Portfolio memory (Bee) cards on a PC. Make that an old PC with an ISA slot for the interface card and DOS. The driver can be found here and here. In the PofoWiki (German), there’s more information about its usage and what needs to be considered when you have Windows 9x. For me, the DOS mode worked fine and I had less trouble accessing the card reader after loading the driver without parameters, e.g. DEVICE=C:\CD.SYS.

There seems to be another way to access the card drive: A software called Portfolio RAM-Card Reader by Digital Data Deicke (now Pentagon GmbH) is mentioned in the Atari-Home.DE forums here and here. It is reported to work even under Windows XP via Direct I/O.

Today, we’re only going to have a look at the hardware. Just look at this massive cable with 37-pin D-sub connectors that connects the card drive with the interface card:

Continue reading Atari Portfolio PC Card Drive HPC-301

CD-MIDI on Amiga CD³² – MIDI Out + Keyboard Adapter

While the Amiga CD³² can play CD-MIDI discs, it lacks a MIDI out port to hand over the data to a MIDI playback device. I’m going to build an adapter with a keyboard pass-through for its AUX port.

CD-MIDI (or CD+MIDI) is an extension of the Red Book Audio CD that allows MIDI data to be stored in the subcode channels, just like CD+G and CD-Text does it with graphics and text data. Only very few devices are known to be able to make use of that information: CD³², CDTV and WonderMega. Even though the Green Book describes a MIDI extension, the Philips CD-i is not among these devices, and so far, no CD-i hardware or software that made use of MIDI has surfaced.

Compact Disc Digital Audio +Graphics +MIDI
Compact Disc Digital Audio +Graphics +MIDI
Continue reading CD-MIDI on Amiga CD³² – MIDI Out + Keyboard Adapter

exploring retro game consoles and other technology