Archamedis.NET - The Code Strikes Back!
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PC for Video Input

Awhile ago a client brought in a Compaq Presario 6000 Midtower PC to get his information off the old failing IDE hard drives. After transferring his data to DVD's he told me to wipe the hard drives and I did. He also told me to keep or trash the PC. I figured why would I want this POS but I kept it around just in case. Fast forward to earlier today, I'm sorta glad I did... sorta.


My whole purpose was to be able to view the Commodore 64 video on my computer monitor instead of using a old TV. Also I figured I could record the input for whimsical and proof purposes. Testing old NES/SNES/Genesis etc systems would work as well all without a TV or a bunch of adapters. My main PC has a Blackmagic Intensity Pro for HD input but it does not support the above setup.

This thing errr PC has a AMD Athlon XP 2000+ cpu at 1.6Ghz, 512mb DDR ram, a 60gb IDE hard drive, and 2 DVD-ROM drives. I put my old Encore ENLTV-FM PCI card in and proceeded to install Windows XP. I had to find all the chipset, audio, network drivers not to mention a working driver link for the TV input card. After about 2 hours of installing, rebooting, and configuring I fired up the Tv card's software with a Commodore 64 attached to the Composite input.


Eureka I said! It works beatifully I said!

Then I did something stupid. I forgot to do a backup image of the system in its perfectly running state before I starting fucking with it. I have a 1512 adapter that hooks up to the PC's parallel port and to the commodore serial cable. While installing software to be able to use the commodore disk drive it wiped some very important DLL's from the system! XP would no longer boot! I tried going into safe mode... no go. I tried expanding dll's and putting them into Windows/System32 and re-registering them... nope. I tried the sfc /scannow utility... nope! I said ok screw this, I'm going to linux.

I used the tv input card in some flavor of linux before and I remembered tvtime for watching and mencoder for recording. I said, ok, this should work out better as I can install fluxbox, tvtime, mplayer, and a few other utilities and have better performance than windows XP.

I was right of course, the system flew thru the debian stretch install and the kernel immediately detected the tv input card. One slight problem! The graphics card in this thing... errr PC is a old S3 Pro Savage DDR. It's bad enough its stealing up to 32mb of precious memory but the X server's s3-savage driver doesn't support hardware overlay! Tvtime is out! I then tried mplayer with the x11 video output driver and the video output is sluggish as hell with some serious artifacts. Barely good enough for testing a system has video output, barely enough for typing, and certainly not for gaming!

Now I am considering *downgrading* to a older version of the distro when the hardware overlay was working with the s3 savage card/driver. Or *downgrading* to Windows XP and this time save a backup image once I get all the drivers setup again. Or *finding* a PCI or AGP video card in my stash that linux supports hardware overlay (ya right...) All of this to save some bucks for an adapter to go from Composite to VGA and another one to go from RF to composite/VGA.

To be continued...