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Good & reasonable HDMI scaler: Extron RGB-HDMI 300(A)


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Home sick today, so after mentioning this box last night in the Radius Pivot SE/30 BSOD thread i fiddled with it a bit. Can't get anything to display from the IIsi's built-in video, but I noticed something like a 75Hz setting while fiddling around in the onscreen menus, but not in PDF doc reading mood.

 

Macintosh IIsi

SuperMac Spec/8 SI

 

17 or 18 year old Olympus D-560 and terrible lighting conditions, but here's what I've got:

 

Fun pic shows 43" Toshiba 1080p .  .  .

 

Spec8SI-Portrait-Centered-42in1080p-03.thumb.JPG.baabc0fb1eb97ccdd625c3aa4d103925.JPG

 

.  .  .  and some tearing of some sort top & right.

 

Spec8SI-Portrait-Centered-42in1080p-00.thumb.JPG.eea6b81bd80d20cd7f23d099094d582e.JPG

 

Spec8SI-Portrait-Centered-42in1080p-01.thumb.JPG.0ed6d5cbd78806956c30644c5fc27bba.JPG

 

Spec8SI-Portrait-Centered-42in1080p-02.thumb.JPG.0754e77333ba6878750e6e7932c27524.JPG

 

The blank corners show, but there's a row or so of blank pixels above the menu bar that look much the same and tearout/whatever to the right. Once I hit the docs we;ll see what I can wring out of this cute lil' box. I had 1024x768 dialed in pretty well, but didn't think to document it. It's all going to depend on the portrait card's refresh rates I think. I've got Color Pivots for SE/30 and IIsi, but I need to fix my cable, oops!

 

This card appears to want to do a full two pages at 8-bit. But I only got this far with it. I wanted to concentrate on the Portrait/Pivot subject at hand.

 

Spec8SI-1152x870-Centered-42in1080p-02.thumb.JPG.501ff3b3374cdb17f640709958574c43.JPG

 

I think the banding here is from mismatched input/output settings. No problems apparent when I got 480x870 dialed in, looked like a clean gray background?

 

1152x870 I can just go ahead and test on the big 21" Radius CRT. [:D]

Edited by Trash80toHP_Mini
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I had everything half put away when I went back and read your instructions. Set everything up again and used the 'TOT PIXEL PHS' of 1456 you suggested and got to almost perfect, from this IIsi card no less! This is a vast improvement over the seat of the pants approach got me above. Desktop pattern is perfect with zero banding.

 

You're undoubtedly right about the inputs being video feed specific. There appear to also be adjustments for widths of front and back porches. With the proper scanline width set and properly divided as front porch + active area + back porch etc, I should be able to get the rounded corners set up correctly and hopefully fix the very slight tearout at the top.

 

Spec8SI-1152x870-Centered-42in1080p-03.thumb.JPG.a73e09f18e06d1f24e4e1fe1638f2483.JPG

 

This should work out very nicely for my SE/Radius TPD if this IIsi/SuperMac Spec/8 SI setup is any indication. We can probably nail down Portrait and Pivot scaling as well.

 

One day I'll read the docs, but not until I'm feeling better, playtime was just about right for today. :approve:

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13 hours ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

One day I'll read the docs, but not until I'm feeling better, playtime was just about right for today. :approve:

Yeah, it ... takes more fiddling-with than a PC-focussed scaler, but the results seem pretty nice.  I've been using it with my Q950's onboard video and it's been rock-solid.  The only thing I've had issues with with it so far are some of the weird older modes on my Acorns that are very low-resolution and have other weird and TV-like characteristics.  The documentation does have a table of PC modes and suggested settings for them, which is a good starting point.

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The "beat" pattern you see is typical when you don't have the sampling phase and rate perfectly adjusted. All analog to digital video convertors (including the one in LCD panels) have this problem. Most have an "auto" button to set this, but many rely on standardized VESA modes to look up the optimal settings. The Mac's default checkerboard background is actually the best thing to have on screen when adjusting for the correct timings. You'll know when you get it right because the background becomes pixel perfect. The Acorn likely uses TV-RGB (240p or 252p for 50Hz modes)....those take trial and error since there wasn't one "standard" for horizontal pixel clocks on them.

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9 hours ago, NJRoadfan said:

The "beat" pattern you see is typical when you don't have the sampling phase and rate perfectly adjusted

Yeah I certainly had to fiddle with the phase to make the background stop shimmering.  Did get it near-perfect, though.

 

9 hours ago, NJRoadfan said:

The Acorn likely uses TV-RGB (240p or 252p for 50Hz modes)....those take trial and error since there wasn't one "standard" for horizontal pixel clocks on them. 

Yup.  Fortunately you can tell them they're not talking to a TV-type monitor, and they get a lot better behaved :-)

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I got the SuperMac Spec/8 SI dialed in about as perfectly as it gets. Tweaking the horizontal and vertical start points I've got rounded corners all around the clock. I think I got it saved as one of three user defaults. Gotta take pics before I tear it down and try to get the Radius TPD in the SE dialed in.

 

No joy on the SE/30 Pivot card in the IIsi. Gotta test it for function on one of the BigAss CRTs to verify that it's working, but no energy for that today. Old card might not be compatible with the 20MHz IIsi bus, some cards weren't. If so it'll be SE/30 testing one day.

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  • 4 months later...

Hello all,

I bought an Extron 300 A, which is working but appears to have an older firmware.

I would like to employ the PC application to fine setup and save/load of configurations.

I contacted Extron italian representative (I reside in Italy), but they won't give any support for second hand devices...

this is bad news from a big company like Extron, or maybe just from italian support.

Maybe anybody was lucky and has these available for share?

 

Thanks

Andrea

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3 minutes ago, shadoooo said:

I bought an Extron 300 A, which is working but appears to have an older firmware.

 

What version of the firmware do you have?  I can check what I have when I get home, but I have no idea how to extract it from the device...

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm finding some exciting interest in this device and the price seems reasonable on eBay.  Was anyone successful in getting a modern firmware, and does it work across a variety of Macintosh video-out formats?

 

Thinking in terms of the built-in video of the Quadra 700, PowerMac 8500/8600, Macintosh LC/LCII.  It seems as though my old Dell Television from 2007 won't sync to the Macintosh LC no matter how I set the Sony MacSync jumpers. 

 

Thanks!

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7 hours ago, gogopuffs said:

Was anyone successful in getting a modern firmware

 

I'm just running whatever firmware mine came with; I believe the improvements are mostly about RS232 support, so unless you are trying to automate it, you can probably live without...

 

7 hours ago, gogopuffs said:

and does it work across a variety of Macintosh video-out formats?

 

I've tried it successfully with onboard video on LC II, LC III, IIsi, Q650, Q700, Q950, PM7100, and at one point a G3, and it worked fine with all of them, as well as with a couple of NuBus video cards.  It won't go down as far as old-school TV-style modes (like some of the older Acorns use) but I've not had issues throwing anything RGB from a Mac at it.

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10 hours ago, cheesestraws said:

 

I've tried it successfully with onboard video on LC II, LC III, IIsi, Q650, Q700, Q950, PM7100, and at one point a G3, and it worked fine with all of them, as well as with a couple of NuBus video cards.  It won't go down as far as old-school TV-style modes (like some of the older Acorns use) but I've not had issues throwing anything RGB from a Mac at it.

 

I've only dialed in the SuperMac Spec/8 SI setup above to nearly perfect so far, but had some fun with rough setups for several.  May have to start from scratch for my as the box has been sitting unplugged August.

 

Maybe we should start a sister thread with only the data on on setup info? List the numbers to plug in for specific Macs/other platforms and specific Vidcards? That would leave this thread clear for helping each other developing the results for that table?

 

I've been busy with other things in the meantime, but will get back to the IIsi Vampire Video setup on a smaller panel combined with the SuperMac card on the TV in the near future. This box will be incredibly useful to me once I've nailed down setups for various Macs the hutch I use for hacking. With the oddball settings positioned at the lower right corner of the big flat panel it can work as a second screen or even a primary, single screen setup.

 

Thinking about picking up the "A" version which handles audio and will add third screen capability to the setup.

 

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2 hours ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Maybe we should start a sister thread with only the data on on setup info? List the numbers to plug in for specific Macs/other platforms and specific Vidcards? That would leave this thread clear for helping each other developing the results for that table?

 

That sounds like a good idea to me!

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20 hours ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

How about jump starting that thread by posting the setup parameters for the crappy IIsi Vampire Video setup? I could use that sometime very soon now! [:D]

 

I meant to do this today but I haven't felt well enough to do stuff really aside from work.  I'll try to get it working the next couple of days.  If you don't hear from me by the end of the weekend, remind me?

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  • 3 months later...

Doesn't the supported refresh rate matter?

 

I have Micron Xceed Color 30HR and Xceed MacroColor 30HR PDS video cards for the SE/30:

640x480 @67Hz (vertical refresh), 35kHz Horizontal, 30.24MHz Bandwidth

 

@Trash80toHP_Mini I've seen you talk about your experiences with LCDs on other threads.  Have you kept an eye on the vertical & horizontal refresh rates at your chosen output resolution to see if that has a bearing on the video quality you see on your connected LCD panels?

 

I can only assume there would be something a bit off if I were to connect my Xceed at 640x480, 67Hz to an LCD that supports 640x480 only at only 60Hz (or something other than 67Hz).  As such, I'm curious what everyone's testing has revealed on that topic.

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Not sure about your question?

 

IIRC, the Extron Scaler outputs a 1080p signal at 60Hz that syncs with any available 1080p display. Including the bog standard, 60Hz ONLY 42" Toshiba TV that does triple duty swinging/pivoting over to Main Workstation on left or Hackstation on right or serving up movies from DVD/BD straight at the bed from the TelCo Rack sitting between the two and almost directly at the headboard in my bedroom.

 

You'd be setting up the output specs for any given VidCard as the input specs for the Extron Scaler. It then starts throwing however many pixels the card outputs at 1:1 onto an area set within the Scaler's baseline 1080p output window. In the case of the HackStation, that'd be the lower right corner of the flat screen TV. Haven't set any Classic Macs with oddball outputs to show up over on the main WorkStation. The MultiSyncs there do what needs to be done for just about any modular Mac.

 

The Extron Scaler's strong suit for me is getting my early single-bit FPD and TPD Radius Card resolutions up and onto any display at all. That it's target display is any old 60Hz rotgut 1080p panel available is just icing on the cake. It's soooo much easier than what I went through to get the TPD card to work on MultiSyncs without Scaling.

 

I'm tired, anything left uncovered?

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@Trash80toHP_Mini

Thank you for your reply.

 

I understand the OUTPUT is a fixed 60Hz on the Extron, but I am curious about your personal experiences in feeding the INPUT with unsupported refresh frequencies.  You see, the Extron 300A specifications say that a 640x480 input resolution must have a 50, 60 or 75Hz vertical refresh rate. No mention of 67Hz.  If you feed it 640x480 @67Hz, what happens?

 

The refresh frequency mismatch seems to cause banding on some LCDs which is why I ask.  Also, finding a way to display 640x480 on a modern LCD with sharp pixels is challenging. Native 640x480 LCD monitors are few in number that I can see. Finding compatible "MultiSync" LCD monitors you mentioned is also challenging.  When checking specs, whenever I come across a Multisync LCD that supports 640x480 @67Hz, it is nowhere to be found for sale on EBAY, Amazon, etc.

 

Simply put, I'm trying to figure out how to display the 640x480 output of Micron Xceed video cards for the SE/30 on an LCD that is 12" to 15" in size.  17" is rather big,  but I suppose I could live with it. The Xceed cards support higher resolutions too, but it's not clear from the Xceed manual or even the Control Panel settings what the output fresh frequency is.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, JDW said:

I understand the OUTPUT is a fixed 60Hz on the Extron

 

The output is not a fixed 60Hz on the Extron.  Nor is it fixed at 1080p.  The spec sheet says, under "video output" (here):

 

 

639801063_ScreenShot2021-05-08at09_39_08.png.48177beed254a1056a44f377a00a8997.png

 

There is a menu to select between these.

 

3 hours ago, JDW said:

You see, the Extron 300A specifications say that a 640x480 input resolution must have a 50, 60 or 75Hz vertical refresh rate. No mention of 67Hz

 

Where are you getting this from?  Are you confusing the "list of settings for PC resolutions" with the actual supported spec?  (edit: Oh, are you looking at the screenshot I posted above?  If so, that's the output modes, not the input modes)  If so, I would note that I regularly run mine at 1152x864, which is a resolution not on that list at all.  I've also had luck with some of the Acorn video modes that are more difficult for modern LCDs to lock onto.  Again, the spec sheet says:

 

673698428_ScreenShot2021-05-08at09_41_31.png.dc1ab2672af1d9f67db3a3d8beef5972.png

 

So it would likely work with your micron cards, though as I have neither, obviously there is no guarantee.

 

They do mean those specs, though; I've tried feeding both 15 kHz and 20ish kHz hsync frequencies in and had no luck.  There's very little wiggle room around them.

Edited by cheesestraws
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@cheesestraws

I apologize for the confusion regarding OUTPUT of the Extron, as I was replying to @Trash80toHP_Mini based on the following sentence.  But I have noted your correction.

4 hours ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

IIRC, the Extron Scaler outputs a 1080p signal at 60Hz that syncs with any available 1080p display.

 

To answer your question, I got the info from this web page, in the Specifications tab.  What I wrote matches your "scaled resolutions" screenshot, which I now see affects OUTPUT only.

 

You are speculating on what should work, but the only reason for me to even ponder the Extron is the fact that what should work on LCD monitors often doesn't work, or at least doesn't work well.  I will now demonstrate what I mean by that.

 

I tested on very old Logitec LCD we use at the office:

 

17" SXGA 1280x1024

Sync Horizontal: 30 KHz to 82 KHz 
Sync Vertical: 56 Hz to 77 Hz 

 

I think it was purchased around 2004 because that model was discontinued in 2005.  

 

Below is a photo of the display, output from my Xceed Color 30HR card in an SE/30.  The photo below shows 640x480 output. Note that it is perfectly centered vertically and horizontally, fills the screen, and shows no banding.  The only down side is the pixels are a tad fuzzy because 640x480 isn't the native resolution of this 17" LCD display.  This monitor seems to support 67Hz vertical refresh at 640x480.

 

IMG_1502.jpg

 

The next photo shows how 1024x768 looks at 16 colors (which are the max colors for the Xceed Color 30HR). Note how it is shifted to the left and up too much on the display. This display is very fiddly when it comes to manually centering, and then if I switch back to 640x480, that too will be off center, which isn't desirable. Note also the vertical banding (light vs. dark vertical stripes in the gray background). Not sure what the Xceed video card's output refresh is because the Micron manual makes no mention at that resolution, and the Control Panel gives no refresh info for resolutions above 800x600.

 

1024x768.jpg

 

And here's a photo of 832x624 at 16 colors. This time it is shifted up and to the right too much, and the vertical banding in the gray background also exists.

 

832x624.jpg

 

That is the only 4:3 LCD I have to test, and I cannot use that monitor privately because we use it at the office.  I desire a solution for home use.

 

I basically want to buy a reasonably priced 4:3 color LCD that is VGA compatible, that isn't huge (i.e., 12-15" is ideal, but I could endure up to 17"), and that will work without banding, will properly center the display content, and ideal would have sharper pixels than the screen photos above.  

 

Currently, there is a 4:3 Dell E1715S 17" refurb selling on Amazon Japan for only US$58 equivalent, but the Manual says 640x480 is only available with a vertical refresh of 60Hz or 75Hz.  So it's kind of a shot in the dark as to what would or wouldn't work well.  It may end up being the same or worse as the Logitec.  I am assuming that if the LCD doesn't accept the exact refresh rate that the video card outputs at a given resolution that the oddball effects show in the above screen photos will be the end result.  I am speculating the same to be true of the Extron, because it too lacks the 67Hz vertical refresh compatibility for a 640x480 resolution.  And I have no idea what to expect for the higher resolutions of the Xceed.

 

Any kind suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you for your time!

 

 

 

 

Edited by JDW
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3 minutes ago, JDW said:

What I wrote matches your "scaled resolutions" screenshot.

 

Yes.  Then those are the resolutions it will output after processing, not the resolutions it supports going in.  I made the same mistake the first time I read that spec sheet until I went back and read it more carefully.  It's not very clear.

 

5 minutes ago, JDW said:

You are speculating on what should work, but the only reason for me to even ponder the Extron is the fact that what should work on LCD monitors often doesn't work, or at least doesn't work well

 

Well.  I can tell you that I have run mine with a number of weird refresh rates and resolutions and the results have always been good for me.  So when I say 'it should work', I am doing so from a position of having thrown pretty much every Mac I have, every Acorn I have and every video card I have, and each time getting perfectly serviceable results.  The fact that I have not tried your specific video card is unavoidable, due to the simple fact I haven't got one, but I would be very surprised if it actually did not work, though some fiddling with settings may be required.  The only things I've thrown at it that it didn't like are resolutions outside the specced range or hsync/vsync/pixel clocks outside the specced range.  I've been extremely pleased at how well it deals with the non-standard Mac resolutions and refresh rates in general.

 

Note, though, that this isn't a "hand-holding" type device; especially for some of the odder resolutions, I have had to hand-tweak the video input settings to get the best results.  You have quite a lot of control about how the scaler samples the incoming video signal, and especially for video signals with non-standard front and back porches, you might need them.  It is a different class of scaler entirely from the ones built into LCD screens, which is why it's so useful, but at the same time, it is not necessarily as easy as 'plug it in, press button'.  You're unlikely to run into this with 640x480, and even if you did, it's not difficult, it just requires patience and a willingness to fiddle with controls a bit.

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4 minutes ago, cheesestraws said:

...I have had to hand-tweak the video input settings to get the best results.  You have quite a lot of control about how the scaler samples the incoming video signal, and especially for video signals with non-standard front and back porches, you might need them.  It is a different class of scaler entirely from the ones built into LCD screens, which is why it's so useful, but at the same time, it is not necessarily as easy as 'plug it in, press button'.  You're unlikely to run into this with 640x480, and even if you did, it's not difficult, it just requires patience and a willingness to fiddle with controls a bit.

 

Thank you for the information!  

You appear to be speaking about tweaking the Extron 300A, correct?  (You are not talking about merely tweaking the LCD settings only, right?)

 

By the way, I am using the following adapter so as to be compatible with VGA...

 

UnimacFly.jpg

 

UnimacFly_Settings.jpg

 

And this is from the MacroColor 30 guide:

 

MacroColor30HR_DB-15_to_VGA.png

 

All said, the cheapest solution would be for me to just by that Dell 17" on Amazon Japan.  But the specs look a lot like the old Logitec, so I would probably get the same banding and oddball centering issues at resolutions higher than 640x480.  And the fact the pixels aren't very sharp would probably also be true of the Dell as well.

 

It seems you are suggesting that adding the Extron 300A between the Xceed video card output and the VGA LCD input would yield a better result if I tweak the Extron settings; but based on prices I am seeing on EBAY, that would be a US$200 purchase for me (with shipping to Japan) — more than 3x the cost of the Dell refurb I mentioned.  With no guarantee it would make the display look better, I'm not sure it is the most prudent purchase for me.  Hmmm...

 

 

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