XRGB-mini FRAMEMEISTER

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Framemeister-logo.gif

Framemeister front
Framemeister back

The XRGB mini is the latest in the family of Micomsoft's XRGB upscalers and upscan converters for classic consoles. This wiki is a work in progress being fed by the community, so expect some annotations and placeholders within the article in the meanwhile.

Fudoh's Full review

http://retrogaming.hazard-city.de/framemeister.html

Getting started

The Framemeister is much easier to work with than previous scalers in the XRGB line, particularly when using modern displays. When first using the unit, you will need a suitable power adapter or step-down converter depending on your countries electricity supply and suitable cables to connect your games consoles to the unit. Finally, you will need a display with a DVI or HDMI connection and an appropriate HDMI or HDMI to DVI cable.

Important : about the supplied RGB-IN adapter

The mini uses a custom 8-pin mini-DIN connector for RGB input. Most users will want to connect either SCART or RGB21 style cables via an adapter. The Mini ships with a Mini-DIN to RGB21 adapter. Never directly use the European standard SCART cables with the RGB IN adapter that comes bundled with the Mini. Standard SCART is wired differently to the Japanese only RGB21 standard and regular SCART cables will not work with it.

How can I connect my retro consoles then ?

  • if you use RGB-21 cables then you can use the bundled adapter (note, if you're not sure what kind of cables you have, then you have Euro SCART not RGB21).
  • if you use SCART cables then you can buy a SCART to Mini adapter from e-bay, retro-access.com in the US and various other stockists.

I have a SCART cable that carries composite video or S-Video, can I use that with the RGB-IN on the Mini?

No, the RGB-IN accepts RGB inputs only. If your SCART cable is not wired for RGB, you will not get a picture.

Can I feed component video (YPBPR) into the RGB-IN on the Mini, like the GAME_IN on the XRGB3?

No, the RGB-IN accepts RGB inputs only.

Should I buy a SCART to Mini adapter with a sync stripper built in?

For some systems this may be necessary. On earlier versions of the Mini's firmware, there were several consoles that required sync strippers. On more recent firmware however, it is needed less often. Usually sync problems can be mitigated by adjusting the snyc level in the menus. If you do need a sync stripper built into your SCART to Mini adapter, it is recommended to use one with an external power connector (typically these piggy back the Mini's own DC in power connector). Many users have encountered issues using adapters with built in sync strippers due to the SCART cable alone not providing enough voltage to power the sync stripper.

Compatible power supplies

If you don't want to use a stepdown converter or plug adapter with the supplied Japanese power supply, the following adapters have been tested by other users and found to be compatible:

Does XRGB Mini add input lag ?

Until firmware 1.10, somewhere around 20ms of input lag is added. Need to measure again, as on each new firmware revision this is improved.

Is this in addition to the input lag already present on my display?

Yes, however you should note that without an upscaler like the XRGB Mini, all HDTVs will process 240p and 288p content as interlace. Since deinterlacing typically adds 2 or more frames of input lag, using the Mini will actually reduce input lag on many sets when dealing with 240p/288p sources (particularly newer sets with more sophisticated deinterlacing). Of course, it will also drastically improve the image quality.

Compatibility and special configuration

We encourage the community to add sections under each system instead of having an enormous table here. That way we can have more detailed and specific information on a per system basis, and here links to all the systems tested so far.

Home consoles

Computers

Arcade Boards

Televisions

Although most TVs are believed to work well with the Framemeister, some of the more problematic systems, with obscure refresh-rates, can cause stuttering on some TV-sets.

Plasma

LCD/LED

Settings

Pressing the Menu button on the XRGB Mini's remote, or on top of the unit will open the main menu of its OSD (on-screen display). Micomsoft provide a PDF that documents the entire menu heirarchy, but the top level options are listed here:-

  • Output Mode
  • HDMI Output
  • DVI Output
  • Image Mode
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Screen Set
  • Color Set
  • Visual Set
  • Zoom Set
  • Sync Set
  • HDMI Set
  • Video Set
  • Audio Set
  • Options
  • Special
  • Data
  • Status

Changing the Menu Language

1. Press Menu
2. Press down until you reach "special"

Xrgb-mini-change-language-step1.jpg

3. Press "OK"
4. Scroll down to the very bottom and select "Language"

Xrgb-mini-change-language-step2.jpg

5. Press "OK"
6. Choose desired language (with left and right)

Xrgb-mini-change-language-step3.jpg

7. Press "OK"
8. Power off XRGB mini (on the remote, don't need to unplug)
9. Power XRGB mini back on

Image Mode

Selecting IMAGE_MODE from the Framemeister's top menu presents the user with the choice of several processing modes. These modes affect deinterlacing and picture colour only, they don't change scaling.

Mode De-Interlacing Low-Pass Filter Notes
STANDARD Motion/Pixel Adaptive Yes Use NATURAL unless the source is extremely noisy
GAME1 Linear/Bob Yes Causes vertical trembling and doesn't reduce input lag
GAME2 Linear/Bob No "
MEISTER Linear/Bob Yes Obsolete as scanlines can now be enabled in any mode
ANIME Motion/Pixel Adaptive No Boosts saturation and contrast
MOVIE Motion/Pixel Adaptive No Minor colour differences
NATURAL Motion/Pixel Adaptive No Suitable for general interlaced sources
PICTURE 2:2 Pulldown No Suitable for general progressive sources and static images

WARNING: The low-pass filter incurs a severe loss of detail on analogue sources. Do not use modes that enable the filter unless absolutely necessary.

The field-based deinterlacing mode (Linear/Bob) causes noticeable vertical screen shake (the typical bobbing effect). This mode should have traded picture quality for reduced lag. In actual fact, tests have shown that the lag is exactly the same as the other deinterlacing modes.

The PICTURE mode is suitable for progressive sources. If used on interlaced sources, it will simply duplicate fields for every pair of frames, alternating between doubling odd and even fields. This method of de-interlacing is terrible for anything with motion but perfectly suitable for displaying static images, which is where the name of the mode stems from.

To summarize, NATURAL mode is generally recommended for interlaced sources and PICTURE mode for progressive sources.

Visual Set → Auto Scaler

Presets

Selecting VISUAL_SET from the menu will reveal an AUTO_SCALER setting. The available options here are OFF, GAME and VIDEO. If OFF is selected then the Framemeister will allow for the scaling to be manually adjusted across both axes via the H_SCALER and V_SCALER options. Otherwise, it applies the following presets:

 GAME: H_SCALER = 6, V_SCALER = 6
VIDEO: H_SCALER = 6, V_SCALER = 5

Hence, only the V_SCALER value varies between both presets. The GAME mode - which happens to be the default - is suitable for 240p sources. The VIDEO mode is best suited to 480i/480p sources. Failing to set V_SCALER to 5 in the latter case will result in highly inaccurate vertical scaling. Similarly, failing to set V_SCALER to 6 for 240p sources will result in uneven scaling (especially noticeable if scanlines are enabled). Bear this in mind if you choose to disable AUTO_SCALER.

Manual Adjustment

Setting H_SCALER to 6 works well for a variety of sources - especially 240p. However, it is not always the best option for 480i/480p. You can check the links in the compatibility section to see if there are any recommended settings for your console. Otherwise, the process for determining the best setting is straightforward. Start by setting V_SCALER to 5 - this is almost always the optimal setting. Next, set H_SCALER to 6 as a point of reference and look very closely at the image. Adjust the value in a particular direction - either by increasing or decreasing it. Eventually, the image will start to become noticeably blurry along the horizontal axis and may exhibit artifacts such as ghosting or ringing. When that happens, adjust the value in the other direction and keep going past 6. Again, the image quality will worsen beyond a certain threshold. Once these thresholds have been established then continue to sweep between them until you find the value that results in the sharpest picture and no scaling artifacts.

TV Scaling

Naturally, the scaling of the Framemeister is very good. Unfortunately, it's possible for the quality of the scaling to be undone by the internal scaling performed by a TV, especially those with LCD/LED panels. Assuming that you are using a 1080p panel and you are running an NTSC source into the Framemeister, there are two rules that must be adhered to for the TV to yield good results. These are:

  • Rule 1: if set to output 1080p then the TV must not apply overscan
  • Rule 2: if set to output 720p or less then the TV should scale the image to occupy exactly 960 pixels vertically

Regarding the first rule, overscan is harmful because it prevents each pixel of a 1920x1080 image from being directly mapped to the corresponding display element in your panel. Instead, the TV will slightly enlarge the image in the course of rendering. This will cause two side effects. Firstly, the image quality will be reduced. Secondly, the border of the image will effectively overflow the visible area of your panel and thus, cannot be seen. Many televisions will allow overscan to be avoided. For instance, Sony TVs may have a "Full Pixel" option and Samsung TVs may have a "Just Scan" option.

Regarding the second rule, if the Mini is set to output 720p or lower then there is obviously no longer a 1:1 relationship between the number of pixels in the image and the number of pixels in a 1080p panel. Hence, the TV will have to perform some scaling. The danger here is that some televisions will stretch the vertical dimension to exactly 1080 pixels instead of 960 (which is a perfect multiple of the 480 lines in NTSC). If this happens, the quality of the scaling will be reduced. It is particularly noticeable when running 240p sources through the Framemeister and will completely ruin the appearance of scanlines, if enabled.

The scaling can be corrected in Sony Bravia televisions by going to Display > Screen from the main menu or crossbar and setting the Display Area to "+1" (as opposed to "0" or "-1"). Note that the exact location of the Screen options may vary slightly between Bravia models. Upon correction, the image won't quite fill the screen vertically, leaving a 60px gap at both the top and bottom. If you can observe these gaps then you will know that your TV is doing the right thing. Readers with other TVs are invited to report their experiences!

NOTE: You may be wondering what the point is in setting the Framemeister to output anything less than 1080p if it is connected to a 1080p panel. The reason is that it does not render scanlines correctly. Instead of darkening two out of every four lines, it darkens just one which results in the scanlines appearing unnaturally thin. If you like scanline emulation then 720p and 480p are the feasible output modes, with 720p generally being the best choice (the output at 480p is very soft by comparison). If you don't care about scanlines then feel free to set 1080p as the output mode but do be careful to observe the aforementioned first rule.

Sync Set → Sync Mode

This setting affects the output frame rate of the unit. When set to OFF, the Framemeister's output frame rate is converted to a standard NTSC output rate, regardless of the input frame rate. When set to AUTO the output frame rate more closely matches the input frame rate, even if this deviates from the official HDMI timings. On other video processors, this is called a framerate lock or output frame lock.

Ideally, it is best to leave this setting on AUTO. When input and output refresh rates are mismatched, picture stutter or judder can occur. However, many old games systems (particularly PAL systems that have been modded for 60hz output) have refresh rates that are too out of spec for some TV's to cope with. In this case you may need to set sync mode to OFF and just put up with the picture judder. For more information, see this page.

There's is currently a bug which doesn't always fully disable the sync lock even when this setting is set to OFF. This can cause problems with capture cards like the Blackmagic range.

HDMI Set → DeepColor

Selecting HDMI_SET from the menu will reveal DeepColor as one of the options, which can be set to either OFF (the default) or AUTO. The effect of choosing AUTO is that the Mini may choose to send the RGB colour data in a 12-bit colour space to your display, rather than standard 8-bit RGB. Some members of the community have reported that using 12-bit RGB has the effect of reducing the noise that one might otherwise see in solid colours, as emitted by the Mini. Still, there is no possible benefit unless your display supports this wider colour space. Therefore, it is tentatively recommended to set this to AUTO, provided that you are able to confirm that you have a supporting display. Some TVs will make it clear whether the 12-bit colour mode has been negotiated. For example, Bravia W9 series TVs will specifically report "12-bit", in addition to the resolution in their on-screen displays. If you unable to determine with absolute certainty that it is supported then leave it set to OFF.

HDMI Set → Ouput Color

Selecting HDMI_SET from the menu will reveal OUTPUT_COLOR as one of the options, which can be set to either RGB or AUTO (the default). Changing this can affect the choice of colour space. In other words, it can affect the way in which colour information is encoded before being sent to your display via the HDMI OUT port. The Mini supports both the RGB and YCbCr colour spaces. Selecting RGB should result in the Mini being forced to use the RGB colour space for its output, whereas selecting AUTO will allow it to choose YCbCr as an alternative. All other things being equal, RGB can be considered as superior. Even so, it makes sense to avoid situations in which the colour data is unnecessarily transcoded because it could end up reducing picture quality. Of all the input ports that the Mini has, if you use the RGB IN port exclusively then try selecting RGB. Otherwise, leave it set to AUTO.

HDMI Set → Output Range

Overview

Selecting HDMI_SET from the menu will reveal OUTPUT_RANGE as one of the options, which can be set to either FULL (the default) or LIMITED. Choosing the right option here can be critical. To understand why, we must first understand that RGB in the digital domain is normally represented as three 8-bit numbers, one for each colour channel. For those not versed in binary, an 8-bit number is an integer that can range from 0-255. In an ideal world, a collective value of 0 would be taken to mean absolute black and a value of 255 would be taken to mean absolute white. We can consider this to be FULL range RGB in that it makes use of that entire scale and there are no unused numbers. Unfortunately, and for reasons beyond the scope of this article, video content intended for TV employs a different scale. Instead of using the largest possible scale, a scale of 16-235 is used instead. So, 16 becomes the representation of absolute black, and 235 becomes the representation of absolute white. This is what is known as LIMITED range RGB.

Therefore, it is very important that both the XRGB-Mini and the display to which it is attached are in agreement. Don't just blindly go with FULL because it reads as though it's the better option! If the Mini chooses to output limited range RGB then the display must also be expecting content quantised to the same range. Conversely, if the Mini chooses to output full range RGB then the display must be expecting such as its input. The problems arise if there is a mismatch. If your output is set to be in limited range but the input is taken to be in full range, the colours will appear to be washed out, with blacks becoming dark greys. If, on the other hand, the output is set to be full range but the input is taken to be in limited range, colours may artificially appear to be more vibrant but dark areas of the image will appear too dark and completely lacking in detail - a phenomenon commonly referred to as black crush.

Manual device configuration

One might reasonably expect for HDMI to take care of these details and to automatically do the right thing. In fact, the HDMI spec does allow for the device sending the video signal to set an RGB quantisation flag, theoretically allowing for the display to react accordingly. In reality, it's not quite so simple because:

  • some devices might not set the flag correctly for their outputs (see the warning below)
  • some displays support only one range or the other (TVs always support limited range, not always full; computer monitors sometimes only support full)
  • some displays may disregard the flag or simply not be able to support the specified range
  • TV/monitor UIs differ greatly and it's not always obvious how to discern or configure the range

As mentioned, all LCD TVs should support limited range RGB. As a general rule of thumb, those manufactured from around 2014 onwards usually support both limited and full range and allow for either to be selected for a given input port. Unless you have specifically modified these settings on your TV, it is typical that each input will default to expecting limited range RGB, assuming that the TV isn't otherwise able to negotiate the range with the connected device. In summary, if you are using a TV with its default settings, then selecting LIMITED on the Mini side should be the correct thing to do and you probably have nothing to worry about.

That said, if you are willing to tweak a little further, you will be able to get slightly better results if you set your TV to expect full range input and configure the Mini to use FULL. Alas, due to the sheer range of TVs and monitors out there, there is no single set of instructions that can be given that would apply to them all. In any case, here is an example of how to do it for Sony BRAVIA series televisions, as tested on a KDL-55W905A.

  1. Press the HOME button
  2. Navigate to Settings → Display → Video Input Settings → Dynamic Range
  3. In the screen that appears, select the HDMI input you are using for your Mini and change its value to Full
  4. Set the OUTPUT_RANGE to FULL for the Mini

WARNING! FirebrandX has reported that, as of firmware version 2.04, the Mini always outputs limited range RGB, even where the FULL option is selected! User of this firmware should pretend that FULL isn't even an option and configure both Mini and display to use limited range RGB. Better still would be to downgrade to version 2.03a, which is unaffected by this bug.

Recommended settings

In latest firmwares, the default settings is good enough for almost all sources. Rule of thumb is to change the resolution to match your TV resolution and avoid TV internal interlacing.

for 240p sources

  • IMAGE_MODE = PICTURE
  • AUTO_SCALER = GAME
  • SHARPNESS = 0 or 1 (0 recommended)
  • Set output resolution to 720p or 1080p (if your TV supports it)

See the Compatibility and Special Configuration section above for any console specific recommendations.

for 480i sources

  • IMAGE_MODE = NATURAL
  • AUTO_SCALER = VIDEO
  • SHARPNESS = 0 or 1 (0 recommended)

See the Compatibility and Special Configuration section above for any console specific recommendations.

for 480p sources

The mini's scaling of 480p can be a little fiddly to get right, you basically have two choices. Use the Smart x2 mode which basically just doubles the resolution (which means the picture does not fill the screen without another scaler to zoom it in). If you want to try this, use the following scaler settings:-

  • IMAGE_MODE = PICTURE
  • AUTO_SCALER = OFF
  • H_SCALER = 6 or 7
  • V_SCALER = 6
  • SHARPNESS = 0 or 1

If you don't want to use Smart x2 mode, the other choice is to use a normal aspect ratio with the following settings:-

  • H_SCALER = 7
  • V_SCALER = 5
  • SHARPNESS = 0 or 1 (0 recommended)

See the Compatibility and Special Configuration section above for any console specific recommendations. The Sega Dreamcast page contains some screenshot comparisons.

For Component video inputs

The default picture settings for component video are not great. If you find the picture colours look over-saturated, try the settings below:-

Color_Set:

  • Brightness: 32
  • Gamma: 15
  • Black: 0
  • Hue: 46
  • Saturation: 24

Special:

  • A/D_Level: 131

Further adjustment for your specific display may of course be required.

Firmware

Downloads

Version Release Date Quality Language Download URL Checksum (SHA-1)
2.03a 17/05/2016 Stable English http://www.micomsoft.co.jp/XRGBminiV2.03aE.zip 95660955ae30b5ac4beea1c1d717f191c649318c
Japanese http://www.micomsoft.co.jp/XRGBminiV2.03aJ.zip d62a95220fd0ed3ebc43ad9535d46422630bf10c
2.04 17/01/2019 Beta English http://www.micomsoft.co.jp/xrgb-mini/XRGBminiV2.04E.zip e9221ed080edd734a1afbc5ed6090c8eda858587
Japanese http://www.micomsoft.co.jp/xrgb-mini/XRGBminiV2.04J.zip 6b0dca78993952975d4aaca35352a8ad2bcb05ed

How to verify the download?

Micomsoft provides no method for determining the authenticity of any of the files downloaded from its website. Also, its website doesn't support HTTPS which technically makes it possible to fall victim to a man-in-the-middle attack, although the chances of this ever happening are exceedingly slim. Still, we provide SHA-1 checksums above for those that want some assurance that they have the correct content. These checksums were last calculated on 28th November 2020.

If you are a Windows user, HashCheck is a useful utility. After installing, open the Properties of the downloaded file, then go to the Checksums tab. An SHA-1 checksum will be shown, which should match the one shown above. Linux users may use the sha1sum utility from a terminal instead. Here is an example of how:

$ cd ~/Downloads
$ sha1sum XRGBminiV2.03aE.zip 
95660955ae30b5ac4beea1c1d717f191c649318c  XRGBminiV2.03aE.zip

For macOS, the process is almost the same as for Linux, only the sha1sum command should be replaced with shasum -a1.

How to upgrade/downgrade the firmware?

The XRGB Mini doesn't support SDXC SD Cards. You need an older SDSC, which are lower than 32 GB. Your best bet is to use one lower than 16GB for compatibility when updating the firmware.

  1. Download the desired firmware from the links above.
  2. Unzip and put the XRGBMini FOLDER on the MicroSD card. You must put the FOLDER on the ROOT of your SD card, not the contents of the folder, the actual FOLDER.
  3. Unplug the Mini from the DC adapter.
  4. Insert SD Card into Mini.
  5. Plug DC adapter into the Mini.
  6. Green lights will flash alternately then pulse.
  7. The Process is complete when the red power light is the only light on, and pulses slowly on and off.
  8. Remove SD card and power the Mini back on.
  • Note : You may downgrade or upgrade to any version.

Version history

2.04

  • Improved compatibility with 4k TVs
  • Improved scanline functions (including vertical scanlines)
  • Display adjustment for the NEC PC–8801
  • Addition of a "dot clock" adjustment function for RGB consoles

WARNING! 2.04 can be considered as a beta quality release, at best. It is strongly recommend to use version 2.03a instead. These are among the reported issues:-

  • 5x scale scanlines are no longer usable for 240p content (in the 1080p output mode)
  • The HDMI Output Range is always set to LIMITED, even after selecting FULL
  • The remote control doesn't behave as expected

See this discussion thread for futher details.

2.03(a)

  • New OSD navigation, see this diagram;
  • Better support for the new Micomsoft D-Sub15 pin cable.
  • Improved the reproducibility of the color of RGB input.
  • New "Video Settings" entry on the main menu, effective only to composite video and S-video.
  • Added support to "VIDEO_FORMAT" in the "Video Settings" to change between STD mode (NTSC and PAL B/G/I/H) - and EXT (NTSC443, PAL M/N/60).
  • Added "PEDESTAL_LV (pedestal level)" to the "video settings" intended to change the black reference level (not the gamma function).
  • Added "C_SHARP_LV" in the "Video Settings" to adjust the changes in the A / D converter of the chroma signal (color signal).
  • Added "MANUAL_Y_FILTER" in the "Video Settings" to select the Y signal filter width of the A / D converter.
  • Added "FILTER _LEVEL" to adjust the setting of "MANUAL_Y_FILTER" if above is set to "MANUAL".

2.00

  • New OSD navigation, see this diagram;
  • Configuration presets via SAVE/LOAD functionality (requires SD Card);
  • Scanline improvements;
  • New Overlay/Cellophane mode (possibly to emulate the so-called screen overlays used for monochrome consoles and arcade cabinets)
  • Faster mode switching

1.10

  • Picture zooming improved;
  • HDMI pass-through mode.

1.07

  • English language support fixed;
  • Improves handling of systems with out of spec video clocks (e.g Neo Geo);
  • Addition of various zoom modes and special effects.

1.06

  • Preliminary PAL support is added in firmware 1.06, though the English language option is broken in this firmware.

Known issues

The following issues are understood to apply to the 1.07 release. To whoever added this list: please check against 2.03a to see what has been fixed since then.

  • Slow switching between processing modes - On games that switch between interlace and progressive (e.g Resident Evil on N64, Pinball Illusions on Amiga) the mini is very slow to switch processing modes, leaving the player with a blank screen for too long and interrupting game play.
  • If the Mini is set to 480p or 576p output and the signal changes from 240p or 288p to 480i or 576i, the picture on the mini becomes unstable and will not return to normal until the user opens the VISUAL_SET menu and manually adjusts the H_POS setting.
  • Changing from a 576i to 240p screen mode can cause the Mini to blank the screen. To work around this you can change the input channel on the Mini and then change it back again.
  • Scanlines do not work correctly on 1080p output mode (because only 1 instead of 2 in every 4 lines are darkened, which doesn't look good).
  • Scanlines do not work correctly for 288p (PAL) material unless the Mini's output is set to 576p.
  • Over-saturated colours when using 480p output with scanlines - When set to 480p output and using scanlines, some sources have a strange over-saturated picture (see [1] for an example).
  • Adjusting H_WIDTH or V_WIDTH when the Mini is set to 480p or 576p output mode can cause it to display a blank picture, requiring a settings reset.
  • Adjusting H_WIDTH or V_WIDTH causes the screen to blank momentarily, making it fiddly to adjust. Other scalers can adjust picture width and height without blanking the screen at all.
  • Aspect ratio controls are reversed, selecting 4:3 aspect ratio actually enables 16:9 aspect and vice versa.

Links

Official Website : http://www.micomsoft.co.jp/xrgb-mini.htm

Current Discussion : http://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=33450

Where to buy :