I got this scaler from eBay for “about $25” (see my cost breakdown, HA!), because I saw a video that instantly convinced me that I should take on an electronics project. I thought it was a project that I could manage, and I thought the output looked great. Turns out all of that was true – I really had fun doing this. As you’ll see below, I did have some issues getting the scaler together, but that’s because I didn’t know too much. I used this project to learn a bit. For what it’s worth, I went into this project willing to mess something up catastrophically, and throw everything away. That’s a big reason that I’m really happy with how it turned out.
One of the things that I relearned in building the scaler was / is soldering. I need to take on another project. I’ve been getting better as the project went on, and none of the solder joints are cold, but they could be better, and I could do each joint more quickly (applying less heat to the connections, saving the device from any heat related issues)..
Underside of the device
Here’s the underside of the finished product. I attached some fuzzy circles to the bottom to prevent screws from scratching anything. It looks neat enough for me; it certainly works well enough in my initial testing. I wrapped the sync stripper circuit in heat shrink to insulate it. Should I have used so much glue? Eh, it does no harm, and it looks more/less the way I want it to, so why not.
My test monitor has some colors that are a bit blown out, and this is a picture that was taken with a cell phone. That said, you can / should be able to see right way that the picture is fantastic. The thing that’s funny about this is that the Gonbes series of scalers are considered to be “low end”. If this is low end RGB, well, I’m impressed!
First wiring job
This was my first (working) attempt at getting things wired up with the Sync Stripper. A Sync Stripper takes a composite video signal and cleans it up to only have the sync signal. This makes it easier for scalers to use the signal that comes out of a game system.
Finally ‘roughed in’
I ordered a SCART connector from the UK, and it wasn’t here by the time I had everything else. That said, I’m impatient and I really wanted to test out what I built. So using the rough wiring that I put together, I plugged in to check it out.
Plugged into the Saturn
Here is Red, Green, Blue, Sync, and Ground manually plugged in to the Saturn.
This is a test shot using my projector; the projector was scaling the image as well as the device. Still, you should be able to see right away how much of a difference RGB makes over even a good (SVideo) connection.
My efforts weren’t without issue
My manual was in Chinese, so when games did this, I had no idea what to do. Turns out, it was pretty straightforward – press the down button for a few seconds and let go! I had other issues throughout the build as well, like a wiring job that could be better (noise due to the 5v power cable not being soldered firmly), and a slight misunderstanding of which signal to feed into the device (pure sync versus composite video, which to use?). Some help from faginrs500 and Reddit got me settled straight away.
Wire clean up
Here’s another in progress picture. The final assembly was actually the smoothest part of the process. I was really wanting to make things a bit more compact, so I used some hot glue and shrink wrap. Ta da.
Another “Glamor Shot”
So, I don’t have a lot of pictures of me putting the plexiglass on, but the process was pretty simple – machine screws, bolts used as spacers, and liberal use of a Dremel. Funny, my 10+ year old Dremel bit the dust, and this was an excuse to buy a new one. HA! This $25 project cost much more in the final analysis, but it doesn’t HAVE to cost that much. I overpaid for literally everything. $32 on the scaler (after shipping) $8 for wires (jeez – I literally had none in the house) $8 for the LM 1881 stripper chip $5 for the capacitors (30 of em, I needed TWO) $4 for the resistor (100 of em, I needed ONE) $6 for the prototyping board (jeez! Could have bought for half the price at Radio Shack) $9 for a 5V, 3A power supply (I feel like I overpaid) $10.50 for the SCART header. The pins were bent on arrival, and it was a wall mount version. It’s not meant for soldering, it’s meant to have blade connections attached. It still worked though. Here’s some unnecessary expenses – $6 for a DIN header that didn’t even fit to the Genesis as the top two pins were aligned slightly differently *facepalm* I bought this because I thought I would create my own “semi-permanent” wiring harness for the Genesis and Master System, with blade style ends on one side – I thought it could save me $20 on a SCART cable. Nope.) $7 for VGA header crimp pins that I figured would make it easier to test these wires. Turns out that the crimp pins didn’t actually fit into anything. UGH. Plexiglass – $10. I could have just wired up the thing and not put it into a box. I like it better this way though. Nuts and bolts – $1. Both the plexi and the bolts were fairly priced at least! Dremel – $60 – LOL, hey, it was an excuse to buy a tool.