SwinSID Ultimate

April 24, 2016


I’ve written about the need and importance of having a proper replacement for the SID sound chip few times before. So I won’t repeat myself on that, as this is going to be a lengthy article anyway.

Because what we have here is big news on this front.

A duo from Hungary, Máté “CodeKiller” Sebők and Mihály “Hermit” Horváth have been working on improving SwinSID, originally developed by Swinkels.

What they have come up with is a highly modified and expanded version of the Nano SwinSID, now called SwinSID Ultimate. The enhanced hardware is mostly developed by CodeKiller, and Hermit has rewritten a new sound engine almost from scratch. The aim has been to make a more compatible, more capable SID replacement than what the Nano SwinSID already was.

At least the list of improvements is impressive: Read the rest of this entry »

SwinSID Evolution

April 17, 2016

SwinSID lineup

Since it’s initial release in 2010, the Micro SwinSID from Swinkels has gone through some improvements over the years. These improvements have come in form of both hardware and firmware updates.

Most obvious improvement was the change of form factor from the Micro SwinSID to the more familiar Nano SwinSID. Initially the Micro SwinSID was based on DIL-packaged ATmega processor making the board that housed also a full-size crystal oscillator and couple of trough-hole components almost twice as wide as the SID socket. Some time later a redesign appeared that was based on surface mount components, squeezing all the same components into a small PCB that’s no larger than a real SID chip. Or at least as long as only area is considered. Pin headers, components and jumpers make the board somewhat thicker.

Micro SwinSID and Nano SwinSID side by side

Micro SwinSID and Nano SwinSID side by side. Both designs have the same components and features, except for the additional filter jumper in Nano.

During the first few years since the introduction, there was couple of official firmware updates. These firmware updates improved the sound emulation and compatibility with the behavior of a real SID chip, reducing the number of cases where Nano SwinSID would not sound or act ‘right’. Down the line there was also a feature update that made it possible to select the filter emulation between 8580 or 6581-like behavior using a jumper.

These refinements have improved Nano SwinSID, making it more feasible SID replacement with each improvement. Sadly there hasn’t been a new official, or publicly available firmware for the Nano SwinSID since 2012. As if SwinSID had reached its maximum potential with some of its flaws to remain.

This changed in 2014 when Máté ‘CodeKiller’ Sebők stepped up with a new firmware. Read the rest of this entry »

Graphics with old C64 colors and how to view them

April 9, 2016


Continuing presenting some of the graphics I’ve done for the Commodore 64, this article revolves around my latest picture and how to view it – in technical sense.

This picture is a bit different, since it’s made for old PAL C64 with so called “old lumas”, which I covered in my previous post. In other words I’m making use of the slightly different color palette found in early C64s. And not only the palette, I’m also exploiting the color bleeding introduced by the PAL color encoding. The result is that the picture appears to be more colorful than one might expect from the 16-color palette of a C64.

This picture requires a specific hardware setup. Namely a PAL C64 with early 6569R1 VIC-II chip. A real C64 is needed, or alternatively, an emulator or viewer that can simulate the effect of PAL color encoding/decoding while supporting the old lumas. The reason is that with this picture I’m exploiting color bleeding together with the different color palette.

Orbital Impaler micro64 screen shot

Screenshot taken using an emulator with old luma settings and PAL video encoding emulation.


Work process

Working on this piece started on Excel. I wanted to have a proper palette for the old luma colors, so I ran the same calculations that Philip “Pepto” Timmermann has made, but using the old luminance values. This way I got an old luma version of the so called pepto palette. A link to palette at the end of the post. Read the rest of this entry »

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