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Television Standards Converters, Modulators etc Standards converters, modulators anything else for providing signals to vintage televisions.

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Old 16th Jul 2006, 5:57 pm   #1
Ghostuser
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Default Aurora - nice surprise

I am in process of rebuilding a Pye V4 - my first 'Old' TV. Electrolytics re-formed, wax caps and moldseals replaced and components which had been robbed replaced. I have a dull but visible raster, but ht volts and current are low, so new valves on the way. However, I had bought an Aurora standards converter in anticipation of success and decided to plug it in, just to generate a synchronised raster. Tune in, sync came on and WOW!!! Test Card C appeared. I had no idea that this was pre-programmed into Aurora's flash memory, but what a nice surprise and how useful for the rest of the testing and setting-up. Thanks Darryl Hock - Mr Aurora.
Cheers
Nigel
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Old 17th Jul 2006, 1:36 am   #2
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

Hi Nigel,
I always try to put an appropriate test image into the units during final test and setup. I use Test Card C for the 405 units, the RCA Indian Head Test Pattern for 441 and 343, and the French 819 test pattern for 819. For the other couple of types I've sent out, I usually resort to TCC.
This helps in a couple of ways. It allows me to visually check the output after going through the normal test procedure, and the end user then has a useful image in the unit right out of the box. This can be helpful for setting up a television your working on as you found, and is just nice to have displayed when no video signal is being sent to the converter.

Enjoy!
Darryl
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Old 17th Jul 2006, 8:06 am   #3
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

I confess to omitting this in my recent review. I said that it was possible to store a test pattern but not that units would come pre-programmed. My excuse is that the review unit did not come pre-programmed. In any case it's a very useful feature.

A very few early units are programmed to go into standby after an hour or so with no input signal. This is a possible inconvenience. If you have one of these and want it reprogrammed then I can do this for you in the UK. We would need to make arrangments to get the unit to my lab or it might be possible to do at October Harpenden. Please contact me and we'll sort something out.
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Old 17th Jul 2006, 11:48 am   #4
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

Thanks Darryl - nice one!
Jeffrey, thanks for the interest. I only obtained my Aurora recently, so am not sure yet what standard it is programmed to. It does have a switch for a 'sleep' mode which I currently have disabled. If I do need any help with re-programming, I may take up your kind offer. For the moment, there are enough snags on the set to keep me busy!
Regards
igel
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Old 17th Jul 2006, 12:01 pm   #5
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

Nigel, it's only about 5 of the earliest units that were affected. I know about 2 of them that I will definitely be reprogramming. Yours certainly isn't affected.

Darryl and I discussed the options for sleep mode in some detail. I felt the sleep mode wasn't needed but he wanted to keep it if possible. There was a spare DIP switch so he made it switchable. If some new development arises that needs a DIP switch then the sleep mode will probably be abandoned altogether.
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Old 17th Jul 2006, 6:22 pm   #6
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

Andi - maybe. You'd have to ask Darryl. Alternatively leave it switched on without an input and if the output disappears after an hour or so then yours is one of those early ones. If that causes you a problem I'm happy to reprogram it, if it doesn't then it's not worth the effort.
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Old 17th Jul 2006, 6:29 pm   #7
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

I had thought about serializing the units, but didn't think that would be necessary. The firmware programmed into the unit is listed on the bottom label, so it's easy to see what features you have, or don't have. The complete list of firmware releases and their changes is shown at the end of the user manual. Firmware 1.6 and above has this above discussed feature.

This particular feature to disable the Sleep mode came out of a suggestion from a couple of people who want to use the converter as a stand alone test pattern generator. The unit as designed will go to sleep, blanking all the outputs in an hour if no inputs are detected. For the normal user, this is fine since they will mostly have a video source connected to the converter. In the unique case of wanting the unit to output the default screen for more than an hour, you need to have the later firmware, or just cycle the power on the unit when it goes to sleep.

Firmware verion 1.4 was the last major release, and there is really no reason for anyone to update their unit with a later version, except for this Sleep Mode disable if they actually require it. All other changes to the firmware were to add test modes and other changes to help me during inital setup of the units, and have no impact on normal operation.

Hope this helps clarify,
Darryl
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Old 17th Jul 2006, 10:04 pm   #8
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

No, I am very happy with it as it is, The only thing I would comment on is this :-

Once you have overwritten the flash Test Card C, there is no way of getting it back in, maybe there would have been enough memory or slightly larger chip available to have meant you could have had either 2 pics available, the factory and the user OR have just the one viewable but with a factory reset option.

Andi
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Old 17th Jul 2006, 10:13 pm   #9
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

When Darryl and I were discussing aspects of the design I made similar comments. It was one of the features that suffered in the drive to keep the cost down. The bigger flash memory would have cost more and been in a bigger package which means a bigger PCB which also costs more.

I can bring a 625 line Test Card C generator to Harpenden in October if anyone wants to put it back in their Aurora. Ditto if anyone can visit me in North London. Several other members also have TCC generators and might be willing to help.
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Old 17th Jul 2006, 11:14 pm   #10
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

Hi Andi,
As Jeff mentioned, this was just one of the aspects of the design that went through a lengthy discussion before settling on the current solution. Originally I had not intended to have the image flash on this converter at all for cost reasons. It would have required a relatively expensive flash memory, a larger board size and a larger (more expesive) fpga to interface to all the pins on the memory. This was thought to be not a good trade off.

Through much successive engineering, I was able to find a 4Mb flash that was fast enough (70ns versus the normal 120-150ns), that did not increase the board size (VSOP32 package), was low cost and was able to hold one entire frame. Through even more head scratching, I was finally able to interface this memory to the smallest package fpga, and fit the required firmware into it's limited resources. This meant the total cost for the image flash feature was just the cost of the chip itself. This now seemed like a good trade off.

While doubling the size of this memory to 8Mb would add only one additional address pin, and almost no additional resurces in the fpga, the smallest one is in a TSOP48 package at almost three times the physical size and three times the cost. Also, since much of the engineering of this unit went into fitting all the current functionality into the low pin count fpga, there are no pins left. This means that something else would have to go, or the design would have to move to a larger fpga, meaning a larger PCB and higher cost.

I put the original image into the units during final test from the output of a computer video card. I realize that most people will not have access to such a device, or a pattern generator as Jeff has so kindly offered, so the best way to get this type of image back into the unit if it is overwritten is from a DVD. Test pattern DVD's are readily available, or can be made at home with a computer that has a DVD burner.

While I would have liked to include more frames of flash memory in the unit, I hope this helps illustrate the logic behind the present design. As always, feedback is encouraged as it's the only way I have of knowing what was a good decision and what wasn't, so that it can possibly be updated as with the Sleep Mode disable feature.

Darryl
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Old 18th Jul 2006, 8:20 am   #11
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

Hi Darryl and Jeff.

A fair and great response and I agree completely. The price and size are two great factors of this unit. Maybe you could offer a Test Card DVD as an extra item?

Like I aid tho, perfectly happy with mine and the wavy line BBC Test Transmission card

Thanks Darryl for agreat piece of kit

Andi
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Old 18th Jul 2006, 9:08 am   #12
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarl Ayari
Maybe you could offer a Test Card DVD as an extra item?
A test card is just data and could be made available at no cost from a web site. Perhaps the BVWS or Paul Stenning could offer this. Many of us now have DVD burners (I don't yet but I'm sure I will have soon, they are now under £20). With video outout from many PC graphics cards there is not even a requirement to burn to DVD though the video from PCs may have interpolation artefacts.
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Old 18th Jul 2006, 3:41 pm   #13
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

Hello Darryl.

If you look for test cards or test patterns on ebay you'll find that there are a couple of people that sell them. They have a variety of patterns on them such as TCC and TCD along with a good few others. I have one of them myself and it's very good. However it does show up the fact that not all dvd players are correctly set up for horizontal shift. I know that's not quite what you meant by test pattern dvd but I thought I'd mention it.

Cheers,

Tas
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Old 18th Jul 2006, 4:20 pm   #14
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

Quote:
Originally Posted by ppppenguin
Maybe I shouldn't lead Darryl into temptation
Too late! It's already done.

Just kidding ;-) That would make a useful device. There are many PICs with USB built in now, so that part should be straight forward.

Darryl
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Old 18th Jul 2006, 4:25 pm   #15
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tazman1966
Hello Darryl.

If you look for test cards or test patterns on flea bay you'll find that there are a couple of people that sell them. They have a variety of patterns on them such as TCC and TCD along with a good few others. I have one of them myself and it's very good. However it does show up the fact that not all dvd players are correctly set up for horizontal shift. I know that's not quite what you meant by test pattern dvd but I thought I'd mention it.

Cheers,

Tas
Thanks Tas. I have seen these but have no experience with them. It seems from your experience they are of good quality and quite usefull. The comment about the output from a DVD player is interesting, and I imagine they are not all up to spec, but I guess would work adequately for this purpose.

Darryl
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Old 19th Jul 2006, 1:55 pm   #16
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

Hi,

For test card generation I've used FML Test Card Maker. Using a graphics card with TV output in a Windows box this should be able to produce full-screen test cards on 625 and 525-line composite; though I've never used it like this myself. (I save the generated test card images then use them on my Linux system.)

There's quite a few test card definition files which can be downloaded seperately, of which the most interesting is possibly the UK test cards. I did have to tweak the odd test card definition slightly, some didn't have the frequency gratings defined as frequency gratings, so were incorrect. I seem to recall I also made a 4:3 version of the 5:4 TCC definition file, along with a 625-line version with appropriate frequency gratings. It's quite a nifty bit of software.

This could be of use for those wishing to load their Aurora with alternate test cards

Regards, Kat

Last edited by Kat Manton; 19th Jul 2006 at 2:01 pm.
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Old 19th Jul 2006, 2:22 pm   #17
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

I too have used the TML test card software and found it very good though a bit inflexible. You can even stipulate the number of scanning lines for the frequency gratings! So guess what I made mine!

You can then save it as a bmp file then convert it to jpeg.
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Old 19th Jul 2006, 2:25 pm   #18
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Default Re: Aurora - nice surprise

Wow, thanks for the link Kat! That is one nice program. With a DVD burner or a graphics card with a video output, just about every test pattern you can think of is readily available. This should be a huge time saver.

Darryl
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