MiSTer with Pandora's Box case

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Newsdee
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MiSTer with Pandora's Box case

Postby Newsdee » Sat May 04, 2019 12:18 pm

So I finally took the plunge and got myself a model of the Pandora's Box arcade machines from a local shop. I got one that comes in a nice metal case, and features a foldable built-in screen, and (what actually made me get it) allows external HDMI input.

I plan to use it in some fashion with my MiSTer, but haven't yet decided how. Replacing the innards is easily doable, but I'd want to reuse the case openings and make it sturdy. For now, I started documenting the internals for anybody interested (I was wondering that myself for a while).

First interesting observation, using the HDMI input with MiSTer gives a much sharper image than the built-in board. It accepts 1080p fine but the LCD panel resolution is smaller (WXGA, 1366×768). Using the HDMI input like this lacks sound unfortunately, but I can use the machine as external monitor as planned. Screen seems very responsive, I shall try custom video modes soon.

Opening the case I found these components:
  • 14" LCD screen used for laptops, 5D10K81099
  • LCD controller board with HDMI and VGA inputs, TS-RM313A
  • Pandora's Box PCB (v7 I think?) marked SKY1_MB v02.1 1904
  • wiring harness for the arcade controls to the Pandora PCB
  • a DB25 PCB linked to for harness (for Player 2 controls)
  • a custom mini PCB converting a VGA input into two Molex connectors (for devices with two screens)
  • a tiny laptop speaker

Now it's clear why the HDMI input is crispier: it turns out the Pandora is wired to the LCD PCB via VGA, and the HDMI is only used for external input. It's a shame we couldn't get sound out of HDMI, but I suppose it was cheaper to do things this way.

One disappointment is that power is 12V since I was hoping to directly piggyback power for the MiSTer. But I think the LCD encoder PCB has a 5V pin. Time for some exploration with a multimeter.

I did not make up my mind yet as to whether I should fully replace the internals, or keep it a system that can use the Pandora and a MiSTer. A first easy step would be to solder the buttons to a USB controller board, so I can use it as game controller for an external MiSTer while keeping the Pandora mode intact.

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Re: MiSTer with Pandora's Box case

Postby amadama » Sat May 04, 2019 12:29 pm

Newsdee,
Do you mind posting some pics of this thing (particularly the internals?).
Do you think an HDMI audio extractor might be of use here?
https://www.amazon.com/J-Tech-Digital-P ... B00BIQER0E

Thanks!

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Re: MiSTer with Pandora's Box case

Postby Newsdee » Sat May 04, 2019 12:48 pm

Here's a first batch, first the whole machine:
20190504_183822_resize_16.jpg

This is the Pandora PCB, the case has holes for each of the connectors:
20190504_203721_compress_93.jpg

The LCD encoder board:
20190504_201235_resize_72_compress_73.jpg


I didn't take a pic of the inside with all wiring, will do it when I open it up again.

I figure the internals are the same for those "Galloping Ghost" arcade machines with two LCD panels, but they must have an extra LCD controller board:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/2017-Ne ... 54056.html
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Re: MiSTer with Pandora's Box case

Postby bort » Sun May 05, 2019 1:22 am

That foldable screen is really nice. How much did it cost? Are they available for purchase online?

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Re: MiSTer with Pandora's Box case

Postby Newsdee » Sun May 05, 2019 5:55 am

It was about 240 USD, but I haven't yet found it online except for some local Facebook marketplace posts (I live in Hong Kong). AliExpress has an smaller older model with a 10" screen, and also bigger bartops, which probably have the similar innards.

Attached is a picture (not mine) from a similar model to mine in black. I preferred the white one with an abstarct design for the control panel backdrop.
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Re: MiSTer with Pandora's Box case

Postby Sorgelig » Sun May 05, 2019 8:20 am

but how screen is folded while stick is protruding?

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Re: MiSTer with Pandora's Box case

Postby bazza12 » Sun May 05, 2019 10:26 am

Sorgelig wrote:but how screen is folded while stick is protruding?


the stick unscrews and goes in a hole on the front of the case when closed.. pretty neat idea :cheers:

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Re: MiSTer with Pandora's Box case

Postby Newsdee » Sun May 05, 2019 12:10 pm

For now I decided to rewire the joystick into USB so I can use the screen and stick with my MiSTer. It demotes the Pandora's box to an expensive power supply pcb (for both 12V and 5V), but it should do for now...

Here is the original wiring:
20190505_185849_resize_26_compress_11.jpg


I replaced buttons by a few Sanwa spares I had (using the Sanwas feel so much nicer) and rewired with an USB encoder board:

20190505_185922_resize_37_compress_13.jpg


Here is the box runnig with the MiSTer outside. I am thinking of getting another DE10 Nano but first I want to decide how I will handle the power supply (screen needs 12V).

20190505_185812_resize_31_compress_72.jpg


And a final close up shot:

20190505_190001_resize_36_compress_89.jpg
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Re: MiSTer with Pandora's Box case

Postby Sorgelig » Sun May 05, 2019 1:25 pm

some IDE/SATA to USB case-less adapters have external PSU with both 5V and 12V.
So it's good candidate to adapt to your construction.

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Re: MiSTer with Pandora's Box case

Postby Newsdee » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:29 am

Alright, massive progress since my last post. It took me a while to get some extra parts from AliExpress:

Sorgelig, that was a great suggestion - I found (randomly) an adapter that came with a separate cable... taking in 12V from a power supply and outputing an IDE Molex connector. Then I also found a Molex extension that included a breakout cable for the 12V line... which was perfect to power the LCD controller. I fixed the cable with Sugru inside the case, and it's a bit bulky, but it works great.

I bought a little PCB from AliExpress that allows controlling the LCD settings... this allowed me to crank up the contrast and make colors stand out a lot (which is a bit extreme but I like it this way). I don't plan to place the LCD controls outside, but they fit quite snugly inside the case if I want to adjust settings. In any case it's already a huge improvement form default settings, so it was worth the buy.

I then used my old USB board to power USB peripherals. It fit quite nicely in the end! I am still missing a way to extract the audio though (so I have no audio yet). I ordered a tiny HDMI audio extractor box (to 3.5mm jack) which should still fit in the limited space. Ideally I would have wanted an HDMI splitter as well, but I'm not sure that is going to fit.

MiSterBox_inside.jpg


Updated all the system to latest settings, and it's looking great!

MiSterBox.jpg
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Re: MiSTer with Pandora's Box case

Postby drj3rk » Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:48 pm

That is really cool! Nice work!


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