MegaLD Dumping Project

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Nemesis
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MegaLD Dumping Project

Post by Nemesis » Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:08 am

As everyone reading this thread probably knows already, games for the Pioneer LaserActive are currently undumped. I've got the hardware and setup to dump the digital contents of these disks. This dumping process uses a custom program loaded through the PAC-S1/S10 module to read the disk contents and stream them over the controller port to a computer. It's slow, fiddly, and there are a lot of manual steps right now, but I'll refine it as things go on.

I'm now ready to accept loans of LaserActive games for the purposes of dumping. The plan is, the disks will be shipped to me, I'll dump the digital content and rip the analog video, then ship the disks back when the process is complete. Once the dumping program is more mature, I'm planning to release it into the public domain so others with the necessary hardware can duplicate this dumping process. I will need to see more disks though before I can do this, I only own a single game myself.

One thing to note about this dumping effort: Several Japanese LaserActive games are pornographic in nature. I will not dumping these games. I don't want to see them, I don't want them in my house, and I don't want them around my kids. If I get sent any packages containing any of these games, I'll send the entire package straight back to the sender. I've marked which games I know to fall into this category on the list below. If anyone knows of any other games which are like this, let me know, and I'll update the list. Other people can, and probably will, dump these games later on, but I won't be doing it myself.

Here's the current dumping state of each known LaserActive game. I'll update this list as the project advances.
  • -3-D Museum (Japan) [SEGA]
    -3-D Museum (US) [SEGA]
    -3D Virtual Australia (Japan) [SEGA]
    -Akuma no Shinban (Demon's Judgment) (Japan) [NEC]
    -Angel Mate [NEC]
    -Back To The Edo (Japan) [SEGA]
    -Bi Ryojon Collection (Pretty Illusion - Minayo Watanabe) (Japan) [NEC]
    -Bi Ryojon Collection II (Pretty Illusion - Yuko Sakaki) (Japan) [NEC]
    -Don Quixote (US) [SEGA]
    -Dora Dora Paradise [NEC]
    -Dr. Paolo No Totteoki Video [NEC]
    -Ghost Rush! (Japan) [SEGA]
    -Ghost Rush! (US) [SEGA]
    -Goku (Japan) [NEC]
    -Goku (Japan) [SEGA]
    -Goku (US) [SEGA]
    -The Great Pyramid (Japan) [SEGA]
    -The Great Pyramid (US) [SEGA]
    -Hi-Roller Battle (Japan) [SEGA]
    -High Roller Battle (US) [SEGA]
    -Hyperion (Japan) [SEGA]
    -Hyperion (US) [SEGA]
    -I Will: The Story of London (Japan) [SEGA]
    -I Will: The Story of London (US) [SEGA]
    -J.B. Harold - Blue Chicago Blues (Japan) [SEGA]
    -J.B. Harold - Blue Chicago Blues (Japan) [NEC]
    -J.B. Harold - Blue Chicago Blues (US) [SEGA]
    -Melon Brains (Japan) [SEGA]
    -Melon Brains (US) [SEGA]
    -Myst 110 Prototype (US) [SEGA]
    -Myst 111 Prototype (US) [SEGA]
    -Pyramid Patrol (Japan) [SEGA]
    -Pyramid Patrol (US) [SEGA]
    -Quiz Econosaurus (Japan) [NEC]
    -Quiz Econosaurus (US) [NEC]
    -Road Blaster (Japan) [SEGA]
    -Road Prosecutor (US) [SEGA]
    -Rocket Coaster (Japan) [SEGA]
    -Rocket Coaster (US) [SEGA]
    -Space Berserker (Japan) [SEGA]
    -Space Berserker (US) [SEGA]
    -Time Gal (Japan) [SEGA]
    -Triad Stone (aka Strahl) [SEGA]
    -Vajra [NEC]
    -Vajra 2 [NEC]
    -Virtual Cameraman [SEGA]
    -Virtual Cameraman 2 [SEGA]
    -Zapping TV Satsui [NEC]
    -Zapping TV Satsui [SEGA]
Red: Wanted
Blue: Have disk, waiting for dumping.
Green: Dumped
Black: Pornographic, won't dump.

I'll be releasing all dumps publicly once I'm satisfied the dumps are good, I have no interest in hoarding them. If someone has some truly special or unusual disks, IE, like prototypes, which they don't want to be released publicly right away, get in touch with me and we can discuss it. I'd rather see these games preserved, even privately for now, than disappear forever.

Note that some of these games may have had more than one release, IE, to fix bugs and the like. If you have one or more item that's on the wanted list, and you also have a game that's already been recieved or dumped, please consider sending the already dumped games in as well, so that we can dump your disk too to check for different versions. This will also help the video ripping effort. If one disk has some minor issues with video in particular frames or sections, combining two or more video streams together can be used to cancel out errors in individual disks. This is important, since Laserdisc video is analog, not digital, and there's no error correction, so just slightly incorrect video results from even a minor issue on the surface of the disk.

In addition to the games, I'm also interested in several peices of hardware, for the purposes of emulation. In particular, the NEC PC-Engine PAC module, to allow emulation of this system too in the future. The bios needs to be dumped (which I have the hardware for), and I want to do some basic testing and documentation of the hardware, including taking high-res board shots. There are also some other hardware modules for the LaserActive that I'd like to take a look at, and dump firmware or document the hardware. If you have any module listed in red here, or a module listed in green that has a different bios version to what's reported in brackets, I'm interested in it:
  • -PAC-K1
    -PAC-S1 (1.02, 1.05)
    -PAC-S10 (1.02, 1.04)
    -PAC-N1
    -PAC-N10
    -PAC-PC1
    -PAC-PC1
    -GOL-1 (3D Goggles)
    -ADP-1 (3D goggles adapter)
Red: Wanted
Green: Have

So, let's get this project moving! Contact me via PM if you have something you're willing to lend for the purposes of dumping. I'll update these lists as the project progresses.
Last edited by Nemesis on Mon May 26, 2014 11:31 pm, edited 5 times in total.

Braintrash
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Post by Braintrash » Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:24 am

I'm willing to do the porn LDs. ^^

ICEknight
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Re: MegaLD Dumping Project

Post by ICEknight » Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:57 pm

Nemesis wrote:If one disk has some minor issues with video in particular frames or sections, combining two or more video streams together can be used to cancel out errors in individual disks. This is important, since Laserdisc video is analog, not digital, and there's no error correction, so just slightly incorrect video results from even a minor issue on the surface of the disk.
I think it could be useful to emphasize a distinction between "dumped" and "verified" statuses, just so people don't just skip over the "dumped" ones by default... Not only with these, but ideally with every other media dump.

Regarding the analogue data dumping, I guess it would be useless to use microscopes like it's being done after decapping certain chips?

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Post by TmEE co.(TM) » Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:26 pm

In theory one can hook up a capture system with at least 6MHz bandwidth to the laser output and store it. At least 12MB of data per second.
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Post by kubilus1 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 3:34 am

I would love to eventually get to play JB Harold Blue Chicago Blue. AFAIK, the MegaLD version is the only english version of this.

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Nemesis
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Post by Nemesis » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:01 am

TmEE co.(TM) wrote:In theory one can hook up a capture system with at least 6MHz bandwidth to the laser output and store it. At least 12MB of data per second.
I hadn't done the frequency calculations, thanks for that. So in theory, a digital oscilloscope that supports continuous streaming should be able to rip the entire disk. All it'll require is around 20GB of storage per disk, per side, for a CLV disk at least. A CAV disk could be double that, so 80GB for a full double sided CAV disk. You'd really absolutely never ever have to rip the disk ever again though. I might see how much it costs to pick up an oscilloscope that can support this, 6MHz isn't very high at all really. Could be an interesting experiment. I wonder what kind of bit resolution you'd need per sample to get a good result.....

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Nemesis
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Re: MegaLD Dumping Project

Post by Nemesis » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:06 am

ICEknight wrote:I think it could be useful to emphasize a distinction between "dumped" and "verified" statuses, just so people don't just skip over the "dumped" ones by default... Not only with these, but ideally with every other media dump.
Good point, I'll do this for sure.

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Post by TmEE co.(TM) » Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:08 am

6MHz is the absolute top bandwidth of a composhit video signal. I imagine color will suffer if the sample rate is not high enough, but the luminance part should not have problems. I also have no idea what kind of bit depth is adequate. Most high speed ADCs are not 16bit bit something less, like 12.
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LAPProject
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Post by LAPProject » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:24 pm

I just got your email! It got picked up by Google's spam filter.

In my personal collection, I have 5 games, which I would love to contribute.

Pyramid Patrol
Hyperion
Rocket Coaster
3D Museum
Triad Stone

I also have worked with a couple of people who own some rare games like Don Quixote, Goku, and Ghost Rush that I could get in contact with. I will immediately run a feature on this at http://laseractive.wordpress.com

EDIT: Also, I don't know if this helps, but there is a 3rd party alternative to the 3D goggles and adapter. If you're interested in them just for collecting purposes, then obviously you'll want the real McCoy, but these work just as well from personal experience.

http://www.ultimate3dheaven.com/3dshthfortwo1.html

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Post by LAPProject » Fri Jan 10, 2014 7:51 pm

Oh, a couple of corrections I'd like to make to your list before we start:

-Steel Driver was never released. Chop it off your list.
-The Myst Mega-LD prototype exists (at varying stages of completion), and I know someone who has it. However, I will make no promises whether or not that person will be willing to lend it, for collector's reasons. Still, you may want to add it to your list, for completion's sake.
-Many games on your list have identical releases in the US and Japan, since Mega-LDs are region free and often bilingual.

I have a full list of region differences on the LaserActive Release Database on my site, as well as publisher information/serial numbers and 3D glasses compatibility. In addition, some games were released both on Mega-LD and LD-ROM^2 format. Maybe this list will help.

http://laseractive.wordpress.com/lasera ... -database/

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Post by Chilly Willy » Fri Jan 10, 2014 8:27 pm

TmEE co.(TM) wrote:6MHz is the absolute top bandwidth of a composhit video signal. I imagine color will suffer if the sample rate is not high enough, but the luminance part should not have problems. I also have no idea what kind of bit depth is adequate. Most high speed ADCs are not 16bit bit something less, like 12.
Actually, luminance CAN go well past 6MHz from a source, but the broadcast standard (in the US) limits TV channels to a max of 6MHz. To be technical, US TV standard broadcast is vestigial side-band, with the lower band being filtered to 1.5MHz, and the upper band being filtered to 4.5MHz, keeping the total bandwidth for the channel to 6MHz. So the luminance is actually going to be no more than 4.5MHz from most sources.

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Post by LAPProject » Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:01 am

Willy, keep in mind that ALL Mega-LD and LD-ROM^2 discs, regardless of region, are encoded in NTSC-J. This means IRE black levels of 0.0 instead of the NTSC-U standard of 7.5, among other things. Not sure if it's relevant to the discussion, but just clarifying for future reference.

Also, to Nemesis and anyone concerned, I have an EXCELLENT NTSC capture box (Canopus ADVC110, hooks up over Firewire so make sure you have a FW400 or FW800 port available) that can do NTSC-J settings and encodes in crystal-clear DV codec (outputs a largely uncompressed AVI). They'd be good masters, but their file size is so big that we'd have to create compressed versions from them in order to keep download sizes managable for everyone else. (Not like we'd do something naughty like redistribute ROM files, right? :p Wink wink.)

The only issue on my end is that my only LD player is the CLD-A100 itself, and currently I don't think it's possible for me to play the disc back like a standard movie... with a PAC in, it runs the game (of course), and with no PAC inserted, it tells me to insert the PAC. Is there a way to get the CLD-A100 to override that error message and play the video back straight? Or would you have to do it? If so, we may want to work something out regarding my capture box, if you need to use it.

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Post by McKie1 » Sat Jan 11, 2014 5:29 am

Once this project moves a bit further along, maybe you could pop down to Melbourne as we have (barring the Myst prototype and 3D Virtual Australia) all other titles on one format or the other. Not sure how heavy or difficult to move your 'dubbing' equipment.

We also have all the PAC's, goggles, etc.

We are about to set-up our HT and have both the CLD-A100 and HLD-X0 connected to a Crystalio II VPS-3300. This has a 3D/2D 5 line adaptive comb filter.

We have been advised that the X0 can output the best picture of all LD players and in conjunction with the Crystalio is supposedly the definitive way to watch LD's. Not sure if this could be used in the equation.

Otherwise, the CLD-A100 via the Crystalio should output a very good picture with audio (either composite or optical). The Crystalio also has HDMI output.

Again not sure if any of the above hardware can assist but once we have our PJ installed we will test a couple of LA titles to see if they can just play in the X0.

Keep us all informed on the progress as it sounds great.

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Data Donation

Post by tommyptr » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:34 pm

Hey Guys... I own the Myst 110. There is a 111 out there which is a superior version. One tidbit most people probley wouldnt know is that MYST is double sided with an 'identical' version on both sides... I havent found any differences between the Top or Bottom... but perhaps a dump would confirm that. (I assume this is just the test nature...if released I am sure it would have been only one sided.) If the dumping method was made available i'd give the data. I guess V Austrilllia is the only one left then... the only person I know with it has a sealed copy, so thats out. Lucky Bum he is.

Also, BCB regardless of region is in english, saw a couple posts up someone though the Jap version wasnt. Only subtitles/controls are in Jap, but language can be changed... all voices are english. Being a later game, the PAC version determins which is the default, and could confuse a lot of people (at first) especialy if they have the cheaper N-1 units.

-Tom

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LAPProject
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Post by LAPProject » Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:28 am

McKie1 wrote:Once this project moves a bit further along, maybe you could pop down to Melbourne as we have (barring the Myst prototype and 3D Virtual Australia) all other titles on one format or the other. Not sure how heavy or difficult to move your 'dubbing' equipment.

We also have all the PAC's, goggles, etc.

We are about to set-up our HT and have both the CLD-A100 and HLD-X0 connected to a Crystalio II VPS-3300. This has a 3D/2D 5 line adaptive comb filter.

We have been advised that the X0 can output the best picture of all LD players and in conjunction with the Crystalio is supposedly the definitive way to watch LD's. Not sure if this could be used in the equation.

Otherwise, the CLD-A100 via the Crystalio should output a very good picture with audio (either composite or optical). The Crystalio also has HDMI output.

Again not sure if any of the above hardware can assist but once we have our PJ installed we will test a couple of LA titles to see if they can just play in the X0.

Keep us all informed on the progress as it sounds great.
One thing I wanna bring up is the method that many Mega LD games use to store video on the Laserdisc. It's not your typical encoding. Since the max resolution of the Mega Drive hardware is ~320x240 (320x224 to be exact) without jumping into Interlace mode (which they chose not to use for a reason beyond my understanding, probably some scaling issues when they laid it on top of the LD video), the LD does NOT display its full 525 lines (480i). Instead, it breaks down the 480i signal into two progressive scan fields at around 240p, and only displays one of them at a time. This allowed certain discs (Zapping TV Satsui being a prominent example) to have seamless scene transitions on command - instead of actually seeking through the disc, it would just swap whichever of the two 240p fields was visible at the time. How it managed the audio is something I'm not quite sure about, but Mega-LDs have two FM Audio tracks like a standard LD (the PCM area of the disc normally used to store CD-quality audio is used to store the ROM data), so perhaps they just swap the audio channel being played.

Keep in mind that NOT EVERY Mega-LD game does this, and the only real way to know all of the ones that do will be trial and error testing. With this in mind, I can imagine playing back the signal at 480i on a normal player will look and sound like an unintelligible mess.

Anybody have a proposed solution to this issue?

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