NTSC vs. PAL Amigas?

WhyreByter

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So, I'm hoping that people can give me some advice:

I'm looking to get back into Amigas, building a system from scratch in the USA. I'm looking at either a 500, or a 1200, with a preference for the 1200. It looks like, however, that most of the 1200's I see are from Europe, and PAL.

The question: Is there any issue using PAL in the US, other than the obvious power supply issue? What are the gotchas to look out for? Is there a reason to go with one or the other? I think that a NTSC box would be better (most software I'll find here is NTSC, etc.), but just can't quite get a handle on it all...

Thanks for any insight you can share!

Cheers!
WhyreByter
 

Nathanieltolbert

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Actually from what I understand, most of the software to be found on here is usually PAL. If you are running a big box Amiga, like an A3000 or an A4000, they have jumpers to switch between PAL or NTSC. This can cause problems so be careful with that. If you are going for an A1200, A500, or A600, I believe you have to do some circuit changes to make them switch from NTSC to PAL and vice versa. You can always do the hold both mouse buttons down at boot and select either NTSC or PAL, but that can sometimes lead to mixed results as some programs will boot, and some won't. It basically depends on what you want to do with your Amiga.
 

ChrisUnionNJ

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You can always do the hold both mouse buttons down at boot and select either NTSC or PAL, but that can sometimes lead to mixed results as some programs will boot, and some won't. It basically depends on what you want to do with your Amiga.

I do this with my 1200 which is a Pal unit I just pick ntsc and it will play pal and ntsc games no problems...(y)

Chris :coffee:
 

Hell_Labs

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The only software that cares is games. In which case a pal one is better.
 

Mraccess

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I just got a pal 1200 and I think the image through my external Ambery scan doubler looks better than the image with my NTSC 600. On my 600 I see some faint vertical line which I don't have with the pal machine.

The only software that cares is games. In which case a pal one is better.
 

WhyreByter

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What about interfacing with the display? My goal (at this time) is to use S-Video or VGA to my LCD TV, or VGA -> DVI converter on a LCD monitor.

Thanks!
WhyreByter
 

desiv

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What about interfacing with the display? My goal (at this time) is to use S-Video or VGA to my LCD TV, or VGA -> DVI converter on a LCD monitor.

Aye, there's the rub! :(

I have 2 LCD TVs (both larger) and neither will handle PAL from my Amiga 1200 and s-video adapter.

I finally bought an s-video to VGA adapter which works and allowed me to use my A1200 on my VGA monitor. In order to go from NTSC/PAL, I just toggle the switch on the Amiga-svideo adapter.

But, to be honest, that's one of the reasons I just recently got a 1084S monitor. It's smaller, but the NTSC/PAL stuff is transparent.

desiv
 

WhyreByter

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I finally bought an s-video to VGA adapter which works and allowed me to use my A1200 on my VGA monitor. In order to go from NTSC/PAL, I just toggle the switch on the Amiga-svideo adapter.
desiv

How's the quality of the S-Video -> VGA compared to a 1084, etc?

Thanks!
 

Mraccess

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The Ambery external scan doubler just plugs into the my 23/15 adapter on the RGB port and then goes to my VGA LCD monitor. That worked great.

Using the composite port would be an issue. My results with the composite with a composite to VGA adapter were as follows:
In Pal mode via Composite - color display but a little blurry
In NTSC mode via double mouse button on startup, black and white but clear

I know that seems odd but that's what I saw using particular composite to VGA adapter box.

What about interfacing with the display? My goal (at this time) is to use S-Video or VGA to my LCD TV, or VGA -> DVI converter on a LCD monitor.

Thanks!
WhyreByter
 

desiv

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I think the quality was very very good. I know there are people comparing direct RGB to s-video and saying RGB is much better, but I didn't see that.

The s-video was very impressive.

The big advantage I saw with the VGA adapter was interlace. Virtually no flicker.
The 1084S flickers a LOT in interlace modes.. ;-) Although there are color schemes and such to lessen the flicker. I'll have to play with those now that I have the 1084S.
I don't know if he still is, but amigamaniac, who sells the Amiga-svideo adapter was also selling the better model (Better than the one I got) svideo to VGA adapter.

Where I get confused with the whole PAL/NTSC bit is that there are 2 different parts to it. There's the 50/60 hertz part of it which the Amiga 1200 can change on a reboot or in software.

But there's also a color encoding part of it, and I've always been a bit hazy on what a true PAL Amiga will do on NTSC equipment that accepts PAL ranges...

Some apparently work OK and some people say you get a rock solid monochrome screen...

The tech part of that goes a bit beyond me..

I know my Amiga with the s-video adapter and svideo to VGA adapter displayed PAL perfectly. But I'm not sure what would happen if my Amiga were actually PAL native???

desiv

p.s. Also, if you're patient and don't mind spending a bit, there's a product called the Indivision which is a flicker fixer that will allow you to hook your Ami up to a VGA monitor directly. People who have them love them. But the people who make them are out of them and they are making accelerators/RAM expansions for the the A1200/A600 currently. Rumor has it that when they are done with those, a new batch of indivisions will be in the queue.
 

Bootay

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I have an NTSC A4000 with the jumper set to PAL because most games are PAL anyway. And if the jumper is set to NTSC some games have audio skippage (Cannon Fodder) or the audio is out of sync or plays too fast. I was too lazy to always remember to hold down the mouse buttons. I haven't had any issues.

Nathanieltolbert: What issues are you referring to? Just curious because I haven't experienced any.
 

Nathanieltolbert

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An example that I have here that I can reproduce every time I use my A4000 is Lemmings. I have a PAL copy that unless the motherboard is jumpered to PAL even switching with the menu to PAL, the game will not boot at all. I have also run into problems with the game Agony. When the game starts if you boot to PAL from the menu and not the jumper the game stutters, the screen flickers, and the monsters become invulnerable. Just some strange issues. Productivity software I haven't had any problems with except for Toaster, which was specifically made for NTSC and will not output PAL without an adapter or by making board changes.

-Edit- I should mention that all of the strange issues I have had with games can be completely mitigated by using WHDLoad. Every game that wouldn't boot unless the board was jumpered a specific way or whatnot all went away with WHDLoad. My only problem is that I have like 15 games and WHDLoad is not exactly inexpensive. It's worth every penny, but I don't have enough games to justify purchasing a key for it as I'm poor. (And I am a lot poorer after paying out my own pocket for my last class for school. 2165 USD for 3 credit hours. This class better give me the freaking holy grail!)
 

rkauer

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The deal is: grab a monitor capable of Amiga frequencies (a true multisync) or a scandoubler and a CRT monitor.

You'll never see a black & white screen again and the image is absolutely crispy when using the RGB output.

An external unit is near perfect for people with more than one Amiga, internal scandoublers for people with one Amiga. Period.

A monitor capable of showing Amiga resolutions hooked via RGB is the holy, anyway. I grabbed a Fujilink A1901W (yes, widescreen) that I'm using with my Amigas all the time (but the A3000, that have a 17" CRT only for it).

With the monitor question solved, my strongest suggestion is grab a PAL unit or convert the one you'll buy to PAL (only need to move an Alice/Agnus through-hole/SMD resistor on the board). Ditch the RF modulator and use the space to add a S-Video port on the now available space.
 

Khyron

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Let me take a crack at this..

PAL or NTSC.. it's a matter of what display you'll be playing on. Like rkauer mentioned, if you're going to use a scandoubler, or amiga monitor, then you don't really care, and don't need to read the rest of this (except the power supply bit below)

before I get to the hardware side..

As far as games go. I've alwasy been on a big box amiga with a scandouble/video card so I never really checked the PAL/NTSC thing in the past. I just had a switch in the back of the amiga to change the mode when needed.., now that I've switched to an A1200 and TV.. I've been re-verifying everything.

I've got 100's of original NTSC games, and many more copies of NTSC games, all on floppy, and i've been downloading quite a bit off from the TOSEC releases (since I don't want to touch the originals). and from what I can see, by comparing the original to the copy, is that pretty much all the games pre 90-92ish you can find the ntsc version or what people assumed is the pal verision are the same as the released NTSC versions here.. they fit the screen, and play at the same speed.

It's only later games that start becomming PAL only like superfrog (can't see the bottom of some levels), or no one ever cracked/dumped the NTSC version like Agony. even then 90% of those are still playable on NTSC.. like cannonfodder the intro MOD dosn't play right, but the game plays just fine.. lemmings 3 has a bit cut off on the bottom, but it doesn't impead gameplay etc.. etc..




Now on the hardware side.. your display will pretty much determine what type of amiga you'll want. If you plan on using a TV then you'll need an NTSC amiga. If you're planning on using an amiga monitor, or some sort of scandoubler and a VGA monitor, then you don't care.

For the power supply, if you pick up a euro model, then you just need a step down transformer (220V to 110V). If you buy the 1200 from amigakit, they include a good quality one. If you buy one off ebay, make sure it's listed at 100W (they lie the 100W is actually around 25watts which is what you'll need. Those cheap 50Watt ones are actually about 10watts)

You can also look for a local 500/1200/600 power supply, but they're getting hard to find, or you could hack the 220V supply and cut the cable and just make your own supply from an AT or ATX power supply

Most A2000's (some early models can't), All 3000's and 4000's can be PAL/NTSC switched with a jumper (it's 99% compatible, because the main crystal frequency is slightly different from PAL to NTSC, but we're talking about 2 games that will have an issue)

Some A500's (Later AGNUS), All A1200 can be converted from PAL to NTSC, but require a bit of soldering

A500+/A600 are PAL or NTSC fixed and can't be modified (I figured a way to actually convert them, but it's a bit complicated to do)

From the A500/A1200 the 1200 has the advantage of the IDE, PCMCIA, and the better CPU, more ram, easily expandable etc..

So if you buy a PAL 1200, and want to use it on your TV, you'll need to change the crystal, and move a couple resistors/jumpers. This will give you a proper NTSC output with the correct colorburst. If you can't solder then you'll want to look for an NTSC model.

Lastly about TV's that support PAL in north america.. it's rare. I took my portable VCD player with me TV shopping with a couple PAL movies, and what I did find is that most new LCD/Plasma's will synch to 50hz, they don't understand the PAL color burst adn only show monochrome. Only the odd 1 or 2 really high end (really overpriced) TV's are able to display PAL properly.. and some of the really crappy no-name chinese stuff.. so it's not guarenteed that you can find a TV that supports PAL easily.

So, I'm hoping that people can give me some advice:

I'm looking to get back into Amigas, building a system from scratch in the USA. I'm looking at either a 500, or a 1200, with a preference for the 1200. It looks like, however, that most of the 1200's I see are from Europe, and PAL.

The question: Is there any issue using PAL in the US, other than the obvious power supply issue? What are the gotchas to look out for? Is there a reason to go with one or the other? I think that a NTSC box would be better (most software I'll find here is NTSC, etc.), but just can't quite get a handle on it all...

Thanks for any insight you can share!

Cheers!
WhyreByter
 

WhyreByter

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I'd pull a quote from Khyron, but it'd be the whole thing!

Thanks for the info! I'll either use a scandoubler, or a S-Video -> VGA for now, so either way, it looks like a PAL machine will be fine.

Now to find an A1200 that doesn't cost an arm and a leg to ship to me. Which means probably stateside. I'll fire up a thread in the "wanted" section.

Thanks, all!
 

ubermick

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Resurrecting this thread, because it's something I'd never thought about.

I'm living in the USA, but my Amiga days were spent on the proper side of the pond, in Ireland. I sold my A500+ many years ago, but gave my friend all my disks - which he still has (and am sure the majority are useless, but..)

So I'd want a PAL A1200 personally, but... outside of a Commodore monitor like a 1084S, are there any verified non-Commodore monitors that work? (I know the NEC 3D works... are there any more?)
 

ubermick

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The A1200 is hard enough to come by, but the oul' CRTs are even rougher, especially here in the States. And those that are available, seem to cost a mint, especially when postage is lashed on.

Other problem I have is space... really don't have a ton of room for a big CRT monitor, so think the better option would be to get something like a flickerfixer/scan doubler, and use it on a standard LCD monitor (I have an older 17" Dell Ultrasharp LCD 4:3 monitor). I'm assuming (probably incorrectly) that a FF/SD would let me use any "standard" monitor?
 

desiv

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I'm assuming (probably incorrectly) that a FF/SD would let me use any "standard" monitor?

If you throw in the word "any," I'm going to say no by default. ;-)

It can depend on the FF/SD you choose, screenmodes, monitors, etc...

However, in general... Basically...
LCDs in particular are designed for specific resolutions, so certain modes might work, but look bad on an LCD as it tries to scale it to it's preferred resolution.

The better SD/FFs can help that, all the way up to the Indivision AGA MKII.
The hardware is out, but they are still working on the software "cores" that will better support different display modes. But that device has the best possibility for supporting the most displays...

There are other options too..
If you're OK with soldering (or can get someone to make you a cable), the GBS-8200 (and GBS-8220) appear to be decent SD/FFs.... No case and you need a cable, but they are fairly inexpensive.
Then there's older SD/FFs which you can get used. Those are all designed for CRTs tho, so use on LCDs can vary greatly...

And, if you're really picky about your scrolling, the 50/60 hz (PAL/NTSC) issues comes in to play.
That's a bit beyond me, but I know it's there. In general, these SD/FFs output to one or the other (can't remember which now), so you can possibly have some issues.
(Another plus for the Indivision, as it's (and remember, software cores for it are still coming) got some things it is doing to help that..

desiv
 

ubermick

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*sniffles*

Ahh, I miss the days as a teenager when all I had to do was slap the SCART cable in the back of the portable TV.

I do have a Computer Recyclery down the road from where I live that (probably) has a stash of older monitors. Unlikely they'll have anything Commodore, but they should have an older CRT that (should) work with a FF/SD. I'm reasonably competent with a soldering iron (actually, not really, but can handle wires, although I'd be terrified about going around a motherboard) so will look into the homemade box.

Cheers for the advice, desiv - you might end up regretting helping me, since I'll probably want to pick your brain going forward to make sure I can get this to work! :picard
 
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