MCE2VGA and Connecting a PCjr to a KVM

Hardware questions and modifications

MCE2VGA and Connecting a PCjr to a KVM

Postby Tempest » Thu Feb 18, 2021 2:08 pm

My recent experience with my PCjr monitor having issues (still having color purity issues, but a degausser should take care of that) made me see if there was a way I could hook my PCjr up to my regular DOS/Windows setup and avoid having to rely on proprietary PCjr parts. Right now I have my PCjr with its own setup while my DOS/Windows systems are all hooked into a KVM and Audio selector and a nice 20" Sony Trinitron monitor. I'm able to stack the PCs and save a lot of space by not having to have a separate monitor/mouse/keyboard for each one. If I could somehow integrate my PCjr into that setup, I could really save space in my too small game room.

Up until now, that hasn't been possible due to the PCjr needing a proprietary keyboard and monitor which also doubled as the speakers. However I stumbled across a device called the MCE2VGA which is supposed convert all the classic graphics modes into VGA. I'm not sure how well it works with the PCjr, but it's supposed to work with Tandy graphics in addition to CGA so I can't see why it wouldn't work. Another issue is the non-standard PCjr video plug, but that can be overcome by getting a CGA breakout board or by using a homemade adapter (more on that later). The audio I believe can be tapped from the RCA jack on the back of the system and routed to a pair of speakers. Thankfully I already have a PS/2 to PCjr keyboard adapter so that's not an issue. With all these parts I *think* can hook the PCjr up to my KVM, but I have some questions:

1. Has anyone actually used the MCE2VGA with the PCjr? How well does it work?

2. If I use a PCjr to CGA adapter, will I still be able to get the Tandy/PCjr modes with a device such as the MCE2VGA? I assume the adapter is just a pin converter.

3. Speaking of CGA adapters, in a box of PCjr junk I got a long long time ago I found what appears to be a homemade CGA adapter cable. It has standard 18 pin PCjr display port plug on one end (two rows of 9) and what appears to be a CGA plug on the other end (two rows, top is 5 pins bottom is 4). At first I thought maybe it was a serial adapter, but the PCjr serial port appears to only have 16 pins. I assume that such adapters were a common place thing back in the day, but is there a simple way to test this? I don't have a CGA monitor to try it with, so maybe doing some continuity testing?
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Re: MCE2VGA and Connecting a PCjr to a KVM

Postby jscrow » Thu Feb 18, 2021 8:00 pm

I've explored different options, basically due to my obessive-compulsive fear that my PCjr monitors will die someday...

I put together a Bit-C-128 Video DAC and GBS-8200 in a nice 3d printed case and I think it looks just fine on my VGA monitor, not perfect but satisfactory. I also bought a Monotech EternalCRT that uses the MCE2VGA FPGA configuration. I had high hopes for it but was disappointed as I had to adjust settings every power on and the picture didn't really look any better than the Gonbes unit. I also have been working with a CGA2RGBv2 to use with a SCART to HDMI converter but have not got it working yet...

Of course none of these options work as good as my beloved PCjr monitors ... which so far both work great!
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Re: MCE2VGA and Connecting a PCjr to a KVM

Postby Tempest » Fri Feb 19, 2021 4:49 am

jscrow wrote:I've explored different options, basically due to my obessive-compulsive fear that my PCjr monitors will die someday...

I put together a Bit-C-128 Video DAC and GBS-8200 in a nice 3d printed case and I think it looks just fine on my VGA monitor, not perfect but satisfactory. I also bought a Monotech EternalCRT that uses the MCE2VGA FPGA configuration. I had high hopes for it but was disappointed as I had to adjust settings every power on and the picture didn't really look any better than the Gonbes unit.


Bummer, I was hoping this was the ultimate solution. I guess at least it's a fallback if my monitor fails. Hopefully I can fix the color purity issues (I have a degaussing ring coming) and get my monitor 100% working again.

Can you go into more detail as to what it looked like? What didn't look correct? How bad was it? I know there are two versions of the firmware for the MCE2VGA and he fixed a few things in the second one.
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