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Ridge Racer System 22 repairs...

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Category: Technical
Forum Name: Tech, Maintenance & Repairs
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URL: http://www.ukvac.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=371438
Printed Date: 11 Aug 2020 at 4:46am


Topic: Ridge Racer System 22 repairs...
Posted By: rotunda
Subject: Ridge Racer System 22 repairs...
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2019 at 12:55pm
Hey all

It's been a while since i've posted here. Hope you are all doing well. 

I just wondered if any progress had been made on repairing System 22 boards, specifically Ridge Racer after Namco officially dropped support for them? 

Did anyone figure anything out or are they still pretty much a loss at this point if the no 3D issue occurs.

Thinking of buying another RR upright but the prospect of having a potentially very large paperweight if something goes wrong is putting me off a bit.





Replies:
Posted By: Brettster
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2019 at 1:02pm
Still no progress as far as I've heard



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Posted By: rotunda
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2019 at 1:06pm
Damn, that's a shame. 

Really scary to think that once they fail it's pretty much game over... literally.

Damn you Namco and your custom IC's. Cry 

I wonder if someone gives Namco a call we could get some more information on the issue and a possible fix? 


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Posted By: John Bennett
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2019 at 2:21pm
Obsolescence affects almost everything we enjoy to some extent. I doubt the game would have been possible without custom chips.
Buy a spare boardset or two as the best option and get bits swapped over. Look at emulated solutions too - they're all a WIP.
Of course, if you can haggle the ASIC designs out of Namco for free, so we can do them 1:1 in an FPGA, then that'd be somewhat incredible, if unlikely.


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Posted By: rotunda
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2019 at 2:48pm
True.. I just find it such a shame that these things are now at risk at becoming extinct so to speak. 

I've been a massive fan of RR since 1996 and as the current WR holder for the arcade, full scale and PS1 port versions of the game I want to see this game live on for many, many more years.

Like you say though... obsolescence comes eventually. I just wish I had the knowledge and ability to keep them going for that little bit longer. I'd be more than willing to put in the time and effort if i knew where to start. I recall hearing that the traces on the boards were really fine and not to usual spec leading to problems as well as the custom chips failing. 

I also remember this video of someone saving a board set by replacing one of the smaller board sets on the side of the PCB stack. He states this is the GFX board which isn't the custom chips ROM board on the other side so maybe it's more related to the secondary GFX PCB. If this is the case surely this should be something we could replicate or repair??

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kB9bJ0bbiFs" rel="nofollow - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kB9bJ0bbiFs  

To think a couple of years ago i had x2 RR boardsets, x1 RR 2 boardset and x3 Rave Racer boardsets... Man, should of kept hold of them. Cry I currently have nothing as i sold my cab after Namco dropped support for the PCB's and i was worried about mine dying and being left with a paperweight as PCB's seem pretty rare now.

Wish i could figure all this out and make a fix, i really do. 


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Posted By: robotech
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2019 at 3:40pm
Short term thrills buy a generic upright driving cab or broken ridge racer upright cab and pad hack a ps2 into it

I had one for a while great fun
The stand up ridge racer cabs had the same happ mech and shifter fitted as a generic driver so felt the same to play to me all of the ps1 ps2 ridge racer /rave racer games ,or2 , crazy taxi ,v.r racing ect


Lots of enjoyment for the money envolved

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Daytonaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa lets go away


Posted By: rotunda
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2019 at 3:57pm
Indeed this is an option for sure but for me, I need to use real hardware as I like to improve on my records on Ridge Racer 1/2 and I can only do that on original hardware.

I guess this is one of the reasons i have a big interest in keeping the original stuff going. MAME is great but I want the real thing which sadly is becoming harder and harder to get hold of these days.


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Posted By: ZedEx48K
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2019 at 4:05pm
With boards like that the only long term solution is always going to be a PC/emulators, and if you do a good job, most will never know any different, or you buy every working board set you see :D

Personally as long as I get to play a game I like, what's inside the cab doesn't bother me, and it's the only way some people will ever get to see some games.


Posted By: robotech
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2019 at 4:15pm
I can see your issue with improving times on real hardware

But as more boards die with namco not doing repairs the price of the still working boardsets will climb
Now,s the time to buy one if you want original

Or go to arcade club and practice on there one :)

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Daytonaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa lets go away


Posted By: John Bennett
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2019 at 7:18pm
What are the emulators like for input latency? I’d imagine to some, a frame difference is a big deal.

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Posted By: rotunda
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2019 at 7:37pm
Quote Or go to arcade club and practice on there one :)

Already done :) Though I'm from the south west so sadly it's a long trip for me else I would be there most days haha! 


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Posted By: IanH
Date Posted: 10 Jul 2019 at 3:13am
I'd love to know were the rr and rr2 went from work when they got auctioned off when Pleasure island closed.


Posted By: rotunda
Date Posted: 10 Jul 2019 at 3:53pm
I contacted Namco as I wanted to see if they had any information which could help us or maybe even some NOS, test equipment we could maybe buy or anything.

The reply was not good...

Quote We have not been able to repair the system 22 boards for quite a few years, due to the unavailability of components and the general age of these boards.

 

We no longer have any repair information or test rigs for these, the last few of these we repaired some years ago we had to send to our Japanese side of the company to fix, but they no longer repair these either.

 

Sorry I cannot be of any more help.


So they don't even have the test rig anymore! And not even Japan repairs them either anymore.


That's extremely depressing... I won't be buying another cab now way too much risk. Very sad news. Cry



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Posted By: John Bennett
Date Posted: 10 Jul 2019 at 5:17pm
That just makes it like every other arcade game now - was quite amazing they were even fixing them this decade.
They’re not exactly rare either, which is good.

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http://www.philwip.com" rel="nofollow - http://www.philwip.com -sibling 'fix-off' (I’m losing by miles).


Posted By: rotunda
Date Posted: 10 Jul 2019 at 5:44pm
Quote That just makes it like every other arcade game now - was quite amazing they were even fixing them this decade.
They’re not exactly rare either, which is good.

Good point i guess.. It was amazing to think they were still going it 25+ years after release. Props to Namco really.

Not rare? The PCB's you mean? I hope so as that's the only option now. Cry


Posted By: Arcman
Date Posted: 10 Jul 2019 at 11:39pm
I find this reply from Namco quite staggering to be honest

"We no longer have any repair information or test rigs for these, the last few of these we repaired some years ago we had to send to our Japanese side of the company to fix, but they no longer repair these either."

Surely any brand benefits from longevity and the ability to be used. No longer to have any repair information is ludicrous ! Why not just hand it over to a dedicated community with a not for profit license. Would Namco delete the PS1 source code for ridgeracer.

I have a dlx cab when purchasing I was aware of the board issues acknowledging the cab boardset I was buying was faulty the aim was and still is to get another board set to use original hardware. The problem even with this stance I could buy a working board set for £300. The next day it could evidence the graphics glitches and then back to square one.

However I want to use the thing so I am nearly finished making it Mame convertible (i.e I can interchange in five minutes between original board and pc) using all the original parts, no wires cut, and utilising groovymame and an uhid.

Whilst this is not suited to the professional player it is the closest thing I can do for the moment and in my eyes is certainly playable.

Once I'm finally happy with it, I'll post a restoration thread and a video of it so you can see how it plays. Still a few weeks off yet.

Whilst my background is more suited to software, happy to assist if I can in any restoration attempts for the original board sets.


Posted By: rotunda
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 10:06am
Further information from Namco. 

Quote We moved premises around 8 months ago, to a bigger more modern building and quite a lot of bits that had not been used for a while, and possibly wasn’t going to be used again got scrapped.

 

I would assume everything relating to the system 22 boards was scrapped then, although I think they had been scrapped a number of years before as I didn’t see anything to do with these getting scrapped, and there definitely is nothing relating to these in the new building.


So even the System 22 test rig and harness were scrapped... Without this you are completely at a loss at fixing these boards. To think such a valuable item just chucked away and is now in landfill somewhere is just awful.


Still you can't blame them, they supported System 22 for longer than most would so props to them. No angry pitch forks toward them please. Just a shame we are pretty much doomed now when it comes to Ridge/Rave Racer PCB's. Without repair info or the actual diagnostic equipment available they literally cannot fix them nor provide information to those who wish to keep these going. But even with that information without the custom chips, replacement GFX boards or any other number of things which can go wrong you can't do much even with that information/equipment. So... yeah... For those who have broken boards.. it really is a MAME job at this point.


For those who have working boards... pray they keep going! Unhappy My advice to anyone with a working PCB is add another fan of the same model to the top left side of the PCB stack as I'm pretty sure heat is a contributor to failure.



Posted By: Brettster
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 1:10pm
Namco uk Never had a Test Rig, it was just a wiring harness so that could test it on a bench, they told me this when I sent them my RR pcb for repair



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Posted By: John Bennett
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 1:31pm
Yeah, I was thinking any ‘test rig’ just simplified the diagnosis of which chip has failed, which people can often work out by other means.

The issue is the lack of a bucket of spare custom ICs.

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Posted By: bobbydilley
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 1:38pm
@rotunda - there is a rave racer at the timewarp arcade in bridgewater, which is in the south west :)

Can someone explain this:

The reason that the boards are hard to repair etc. is that the chips are custom namco ICs right?

Ridge Racer is currently working emulated isn't it?

Does that not mean that we must know what the custom ICs do, and could just remake on in an FPGA?


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https://dilley.uk/arcade


Posted By: rotunda
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 1:59pm
Quote Namco uk Never had a Test Rig, it was just a wiring harness so that could test it on a bench, they told me this when I sent them my RR pcb for repair

I was told similar but they had a main diagnostics machine which the harness went into and from what they told me even this machine is gone which would effect System 1, 21, 22 and so on. 

Quote Yeah, I was thinking any ‘test rig’ just simplified the diagnosis of which chip has failed, which people can often work out by other means.
The issue is the lack of a bucket of spare custom ICs.

True, perhaps my thoughts are a little drastic in the past post but i know Namco had to use this machine to diagnose faults otherwise it was a huge guessing game. Faults can be custom IC's, GPU RAM failure, traces worn out, the via's are also prone to failure. You also have 4 board to work with the primary CPU, primary GPU, custom ROM board and the second GPU board so fault finding without that diagnostic equipment would be a pretty long job.

Quote @rotunda - there is a rave racer at the timewarp arcade in bridgewater, which is in the south west :)

They sure do! I know the owner of the arcade and I've set many Rave Racer Twin Galaxies records on that very machine.

Quote Can someone explain this:

The reason that the boards are hard to repair etc. is that the chips are custom namco ICs right?

Ridge Racer is currently working emulated isn't it?

Does that not mean that we must know what the custom ICs do, and could just remake on in an FPGA?

Very interesting point... I'm not too clued up on emulation apart from actually running MAME but if you are right... that would be amazing!! I think i heard that the custom IC's are encrypted though so that is why replicating them is very hard.


Posted By: John Bennett
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 2:02pm
Originally posted by bobbydilley bobbydilley wrote:

@rotunda - there is a rave racer at the timewarp arcade in bridgewater, which is in the south west :)

Can someone explain this:

The reason that the boards are hard to repair etc. is that the chips are custom namco ICs right?

Ridge Racer is currently working emulated isn't it?

Does that not mean that we must know what the custom ICs do, and could just remake on in an FPGA?


Sadly not.
Graphics emulation is almost always at a high-level. Someone will have emulated the processor and how it interacts with memory etc, but then it kinda stops at where the processor puts stuff in memory for the graphics system.
People then work out ( clever guessing) what these codes mean and do their best interpretation of how to draw stuff on the screen with their own homemade graphics routines (that’s how some emulators can use direct3D and run at higher resolutions - they’re very ‘high level’ interpretations)
So it might look very similar if done well, but it’s using different methods and a long way from the timing/function perfect stuff you’d need to do it in an FPGA, should you be able to get something 5V compatible and powerful enough to do the job and then find a way to interface it to the original chip location and pinout.

Better off getting emulation as good as possible.


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Posted By: bobbydilley
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 2:23pm
Ah thank you for explaining that, that does make sense. I'm so impressed that they can guess what to do from just a bunch of data in memory! That does make sense though, I was always confused when looking at emulator projects how they just have the cpu emulator code and none of the other chips seem to be there. Do you know if there are any arcade emulator projects where they emulate all the way down to the raw hardware level?

I suppose if you really wanted, you could get a logic probe on an IC and watch what data goes in and out and try to figure out what the IC was doing with it? But I guess with so many ICs it would take ages and probably isn't worth it for the 1 frame or whatever of difference you get between that and soft emulation.


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https://dilley.uk/arcade


Posted By: Bods
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 2:30pm
It's not a driving game I've played apart from a couple of goes when it was first out
 
Would like to be playing it on my mame driving cabs, still need to do some work on them yet to get working good.
 
What sort of spec PC do you need to get them running decent and what Emulators best
 
Its a real shame the boards are an issue to keep the original machines running, nothing worse than not being able to use proper hardware in Arcade Cabs.
 
Just reading a little about it, fact another company Evans & Sutherland were also involved in the GFX side isn't going to help
 
http://www.es.com/" rel="nofollow - http://www.es.com/  
 
Is it worth asking them for info too
 
Don't know if you could 100% believe them when they say they don't have anything or info for these boards now, they will say anything to get rid of people at most places. I know most aren't interested in things that don't make them money
 
Is a real shame if they don't show any interest in their past products, If I had a company that you could be proud of what you've achieved over the years I certainly would want to see people still using them, surely they could have some of these chips reproduced and sell them if it made money still
 
 


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WANTED! Buggy Boy Junior Rear Seat. Continental Circus Cockpit Lower Rear Light Plexi and more space


Posted By: yoganuggy
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 2:33pm
Originally posted by Arcman Arcman wrote:

I am nearly finished making it Mame convertible (i.e I can interchange in five minutes between original board and pc) using all the original parts, no wires cut, and utilising groovymame and an uhid.


Looking forward to reading this Arcman. I've a rave racer cab and am starting to look into making it PC/groovymame compatible but plug-and-play so it can be easily switched back to the RaveRacer PCB


Posted By: Arcman
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 4:38pm
Looking forward to reading this Arcman. I've a rave racer cab and am starting to look into making it PC/groovymame compatible but plug-and-play so it can be easily switched back to the RaveRacer PCB
[/QUOTE]

Cheers, getting there slowly, it does require both rear casings to come off, the top to change the hantarex input source, and obviously the bottom casing to remove the original PCB stack and connect up to the Molex connectors (steering, gearbox etc etc) but it's doable in 5-10 mins. 

It's a birds nest of wires in there at the moment, but working, need to get the Topper back on and wired up and calibrate the monitor output a little better then I'll be sure to post back on here. 


Posted By: John Bennett
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 4:56pm
Originally posted by bobbydilley bobbydilley wrote:

Ah thank you for explaining that, that does make sense. I'm so impressed that they can guess what to do from just a bunch of data in memory! That does make sense though, I was always confused when looking at emulator projects how they just have the cpu emulator code and none of the other chips seem to be there. Do you know if there are any arcade emulator projects where they emulate all the way down to the raw hardware level?

I suppose if you really wanted, you could get a logic probe on an IC and watch what data goes in and out and try to figure out what the IC was doing with it? But I guess with so many ICs it would take ages and probably isn't worth it for the 1 frame or whatever of difference you get between that and soft emulation.


Some of the last major games without custom ICs were Double Dragon and Ghouls and Ghosts and I think someone has used the schematics to clone Ghouls and Ghosts down to the IC level in an FPGA. Great experiment, although I bet most wouldn’t spot the difference in the game.

With these graphics ICs, it’s along the lines of 3D instructions in and video out, so all you ever see is a black box, no matter what you probe. But because 3D (like 2D) tends to have common routines/techniques/algorithms, you can get it damn close with a bit of effort, despite not knowing the circuit. Ridge Racer is also far more basic than things like Sega Hikaru, which isn’t emulated so well.

However, even if you knew the contents of the chips, there’s problems in replicating them:
A run of custom ASICs is in the £millions territory, rather than £1000’s
FPGAs won’t have the same pinout
5V FPGAs are obsolete.
Plus it’s all lots of effort to port stuff.

Ultimately, if emulation can be spot-on, down to the milliseconds for input timing, then that’s the route as you’re fighting a losing battle to ‘frankenboard’ games of such complexity, I believe.

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Posted By: lix
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 5:29pm
I figured out a bit of the 3D rendering on the System 22 boards a while back while trying to diagnose the lack of 3D on one of my boardsets, the textures aren't rendered to a framebuffer but gouraud shaded polygons which represent the texture co-ordinates are, as well as the colour attributes and texture index into every pixel. The framebuffer is then read out on the next frame into the address lines of the texture roms which is where the lookup occurs and then gets fed into the palette ram. There are two identical banks of texture roms which handle odd and even horizontal pixels, I guess due to the speed of rom access. This is why on certain boards with texture faults you can get very fine vertical lines on specific textures, as they're running through Fujitsu mask roms and they do like to die.

What I didn't figure out was how the DSP geometry processing circuitry works, which is where I think the fault specific to these boards with no 3D lies. However the Texas Instruments 320C25 is fairly well documented so creation of an FPGA core for that shouldn't be too hard, and the 680x0 for the main CPU already exists. It is all just fixed point maths and rendering textured polygons. Making a System 22 has been on my todo list for a while, got Sega Model 2 on that list also.

As for the information about repairs and diagnostics being unavailable, it doesn't really surprise me. I've worked at plenty of hardware and software tech companies to know that it's generally seen as a 'Not in our best interests' sort of thing. A lot of companies won't release stuff, even old generation, because it's full of 'commercially sensitive' secrets. Reasons such as "yeah, we stole that idea / system / IP, and don't want to be sued", or "we're a bit embarrassed about that code", plus the legal department would have a fit. So it's easier just to throw it away.

I worked for a games developer once, we worked on converting some arcade games to various consoles and a publisher once sent us a hard drive with the original source code for these machines to us. The developer closed down and I moved on. Couple of jobs down the line and I end up working for the same publisher again, so we put in a request for the source code of the game we're meant to be converting and they tell us that the source code was lost a couple of years back. Oh, so that hard drive that I once had access to was the only copy? Oh well, there you go.


Posted By: rotunda
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2019 at 1:52am
Lix, your post is extremely interesting! It's great to see people with such great knowledge are actively working on this stuff.

Is there any way i can help with your research? Maybe we should assemble a team of members to really dig into this stuff and see if we can keep the dream alive



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