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[widgets_on_pages]There are lots of articles on the web concerning this neat little bit of kit and plenty of reviews, so I’ll keep the introduction short. The SLG3000 is a fun little gadget that adds scanlines to modern displays. At the most basic level this gives games a retro look and feel. It can also improve the image by hiding the imperfections in the output of many modern scalers, which tend to be optimised for video and not videogames. I’m sure you’ve all seen the screenshots and the videos, so you know if you like the scanline look or not.
What I wanted to do on this page was not review the SLG3000 again, but talk a little bit about how to use it. The SLG3000 accepts a 31khz VGA signal, and outputs the same signal but with scanlines. The initial problem of course, is that only the Dreamcast and the Xbox 360 natively output 31khz VGA. You might also be using a TV that has no VGA input, or a scaler that only outputs HDMI. To get the most out of the hardware a little planning may be required.
Where to put your SLG3000 in the chain
When planning your setup with the SLG3000, keep in mind that it will work better if it’s placed before any initial scaling. The exception to this, of course, is for 15khz sources (i.e Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis/Megadrive etc). If you feed the SLG3000 a 15khz signal, the scanlines will be double width. What you should definitely try to avoid doing is putting the SLG3000 after upscaling from 480p/640×480 to 1080p or your panels native resolution. Let’s consider a few typical cases.
Megadrive/Genesis, Super Nintendo, Playstation 1, Sega Saturn and any console with 15khz RGB output:- If you are trying to connect an older games console to the SLG3000 then you will need to first linedouble/upscale the machines 240p output into 480p. The exception to this is interlace content which is a whole article in itself. Interlace is most common on the PS2 and on PAL Gamecube games. It can and should usually be avoided altogether on Xbox 1 and any console that came afterwards.
Of course, if you’re plugging your games console directly into the TV, your TV will be taking care of upscaling (and invariably doing a bad job of it, unless its a CRT). What you need is an external upscaler. More on those later.
Gamecube, Xbox 1, Wii and any console with component out:- If you can get progressive scan output from your component video console then all you need to do is convert component into VGA to feed into the SLG3000. There are a number of component to VGA transcoders on the market, from the super expensive but great quality Curtpalme models to more affordable models available on E-bay. Whichever one you choose, it’s the same principle, component video in and then VGA out, to your SLG3000.
Xbox 360, PS3, PC and future consoles:- While you can use the Xbox 360 VGA cable to output VGA, you might prefer to use HDMI with your 360 for improved picture quality on modern games that you don’t particularly want to scanline. The PS3 of course, cannot output VGA at all. The best solution for modern, HDMI connected equipment is to use a simple 1×2 HDMI splitter. This device will take one HDMI input and give two identical HDMI outputs. From there, you feed one output into your TV or processor as normal and then take the other output and feed it into a suitable HD-Fury device, which converts a HDMI signal into VGA. You can then feed the output signal of the HD-Fury into the SLG3000 and then into your TV or processor. Now, when you want scanlines simply change channel from HDMI to VGA and scanline to your hearts content. You will probably want to turn your console/PC’s output resolution down to either 480p or 720p for best results and remember the HD-Fury 2 is not compatible without some other device (e.g an Extron RGB interface) to change the sync polarity.
A note on higher resolutions
You should always aim to feed 480p signals into your SLG3000. If you feed in say, 720p, the unit will still work, but the scanlines won’t be properly, authentically aligned with the pixels. It can still look nice, depending on the game and your own preferences, of course.
If you need an external scaling device for your setup, there are a number to consider.
The CGA2VGA Scaler PCB:- This popular affordable scaler takes a 15khz RGB input and outputs a 31Khz VGA signal. To use it with classic consoles you simply connect them to a sync stripper (such as the Sync Strike) and then feed the output of that into the scaler. In this situation, you would attach the SLG3000 to the output of the scaler. For best results, set the scaler to scale to 640×480 and then let your TV/Monitor upscale the rest of the way.
XRGB2/3:- Although the XRGB series include scanline generators of their own, they only work with 240/288p content. Adding a SLG3000 to the output of your XRGB3 means you can now add scanlines to 480p and even 480i material too. For instance, you can route your Gamecube, Xbox, PS2, Wii and anything that ouputs component video through your XRGB3, which will then transcode the signal into VGA and make it compatible with the SLG3000. In B1 mode you can even scanline interlace content, though of course you get considerable screen flickering.
DVDO Edge, or similar scaler with HDMI output:- In this setup, integrating the SLG3000 is a little tricky. You will need to convert the output of the scaler into VGA. A HDFury device is required for this. Care must be taken however, since the HDFury 2 model is not compatible with the SLG3000 without some device to change the sync polarity. Again, you are better off setting the DVDO to output 480p (or 720p if you want to try scanlines on a HD game) before adding the scanlines then letting your display scale the rest of the way.
What about if you have no VGA input on your TV? One of the best solutions is the Gefen VGA to DVI scaler plus. If you can find one cheaply, snap it up.
Here’s one easy way to add the SLG3000 to your 15khz and component video consoles. Using the XRGB3 you can easily convert component video into VGA, and convert 15khz RGB into VGA too of course. The illustration below shows how to hook it all up. In a real life scenario you may need additional switches, but you should get the basic idea.
More complex setups
When integrating the SLG3000 into more complex setups, keep in mind that it requires a RGBHV signal and won’t add scanlines if you feed it a RGBs signal. If you’re using an Extron RGB interface to provide RGBs, you can put the SLG3000 behind the Extron interface, but make sure you hook up both horizontal and vertical sync lines. On the output from the SLG3000, connect only the horizontal sync. Sounds confusing I know, but experiment and you’ll get there!
I guess my setup is pretty complex, thanks to the SLG3000 I can add scanlines to pretty much anything I please. I have a 2 way VGA switch, one input is the XRGB3 and the other is the HDFury 2 (the switch does sync polarity changing). The output of that is then fed into the SLG3000, and from there into the DVDO Edge. Xbox 360 and PS3 are fed into their own 2 way HDMI splitters. From there one output is fed into the DVDO Edge while the other is fed into the HDFury 2 which converts their input into VGA and then from there I can add scanlines. Bonkers, but lots of fun!