'Tech Talk' & Technical Assistance Area

Started by Xious, February 09, 2011, 12:12:34 am

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It occurs to me that for new users, the Technical & Repair thread, weighing in at over 90-pages now, is a bit of a maze to navigate. In light f this, I suggest adding a specific section, like the Buy.Sell/Trade and Auction! Spotlight sections (best under them I guess) for Tech Talk and Technical Assistance.

That way, this sort of thread will be kept out of the main forum areas, but can still have individualized topics/threads of its own, rather than being fused together in one huge molten eugh, and that will make it easier for everybody to find what they want, and to avid cross-contamination in replies.

Many of the common questions can also be individual pin-up topics there too (e.g. the once-a-week power supply question). I'd be happy to contribute some stickies in such an area to cover the most common questions.

Thoughts from the staff?  :question:




This is something I've been intending to do, since that thread and the old Feedback thread are kind of unruly.  Since there are really only a couple of key questions in the thread that get answered over and over, it does make sense to answer each of those questions definitively. 

My goal was to comb through the thread and pull out the best answers, have those answers discussed and peer-reviewed, and ultimately create a number of proper articles for the site containing those answers.  I wouldn't be opposed to having a forum-based solution prior to (and/or in addition to) the site articles, however.

I'm not sure I want to create another subforum just for technical questions, simply because I'm not a fan of subforums.  If there's a enough staff/user demand for it, though, it could be done.


I think this would be nice so we could weed out a lot of the posters who come by once (and only once), just to ask a question that's been answered hundreds of times before.

I also think the site articles would be a good idea, since it's been awhile since the actual site has received any major updates.

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It'd also cover other technical discussions; hardware mods, custom games, how stuff works, dev projects, etc.: The kind of posts that are more esoteric.  :bomb:


I've scanned over the first 45 pages or so of the monster thread and these seem to be the common topics of discussion.  I'm gonna assume the remaining 45 pages are more of the same.  These are in no particular order.

  • Controller not working / How to replace a controller

  • What RF adapter can I use?

  • PAL problems (goes along with the above)

  • FDS Repair - belt replacement, disk head alignment, etc -- lots of these posts

  • Is my FDS disk no good?  How long should it take to load a game?

  • Audio buzzing (ie, player 2 controller mic problem)

  • Famicom or Famiclone?

  • AV Mod - is this modded? how to mod? why doesn't it work? my mod is better than your mod! etc

  • Games don't work / are glitchy, and other questions answered with "clean your filthy Famicom with rubbing alcohol"

  • I think I blew up my Famicom.  Here's a (blurry, low-lit) picture of the (wrong side of the) board, can it be fixed?

Looking through all those pages, though, I see a very common trend: "I just bought a FC/FDS and I can't get it to work."  I wonder if writing a guide to getting everything set up would make sense.  Like, determining whether it's a Famicom or a Famiclone, determine whether it's AV modded, using the right adapters, tuning into the right channel, making sure everything is clean, and on and on.  Just throwing that idea out there.


I'm still not really sold on having another board.  I don't think the Famicom board is cluttered enough to really warrant it.


Hmm.. This comes down to FAQ territory, and I can both see that working, and see the downside (maintenance). I understand your point that the discussion would be more narrow than other areas, but maybe I'm not understanding what makes adding a section for it a bad idea. is it a moderation of the section that is, having to monitor additional boards--where the problem stems?

The major problem with doing a big, long FAQ withing the forums is that the average person is just too lazy to read it; otherwise, they would have hit the 'search' button, and taken the five minutes required to find the answer. People seem to naturally believe that whatever problem that have is unique to their situation. That being the case, it's not as likely to clean the boards of repetitive W&SA than the way it is at present, which is why I think stickied topics to cover each major issue are a good idea, as its easier to spot them. The downside is that they take up a lot of space on whatever board to which they're pinned.

A guide would work as a main article, but only if it covers the main major issues in very basic detail. I'd stick to these:
  • PSU

  • Getting (NTSC) systes working via RF

  • Cleaning the cartridges and slot

  • Why does (controller/FDS) not work? (But not how to fix them, which should be a separate issue)

  • What causes buzzing sound (repair is also a separate issue).

All of those could fit in a FAQ without cluttering it to the point of new users just giving up and asking questions straight away. The entire FAQ should be no ore than a couple pages in length (printed) and needs internal hyperlinks to the sub-topical sections. it also can't assume any technical expertise from the reader; take it from a technical writer, this is essential.

This is why I believe that a tech area would be a general improvement to the forums; especially as there is no English-language tech area for the FC on any forum, anywhere that I have seen. The one on NESDev is JP-language specific, and few of the NESDev crowd own FC stuff, so it isn't a major interest over there. It may not be overly popular, but it would be nice to have it. There are also many topics outside the scope of even a decent FAQ. FW isn't a charity, and can't constantly walk people by the hand to do technical procedures that are not within their general knowledge. Questions on how to repair or if something can be repaired are rather too wide a category to fir into such a document, and honestly, FDS repair isn't a task that the average consumer will ever want to attempt. Once you get into stuff like spindle alignment, you're way outside the scope of a single article that covers the most basic questions.

What I see, more often than anything else is questions about power supplies: Misconceptions of basic stuff, like the laughable idea that a power strip is a low-cost step-down transformer (thrice in the last month so far), or that non-Japanese adapters don't work (and other similar misconceptions), or what voltages and amperage are usable.

I also see a lot about dirty systems, Famiclones, and RF (NTSC & PAL) issues constantly. It's easy to cover most of this in a FAQ, but some of the rest is better-suited for individual articles. You can cover what causes certain problems easily, but in order for it to be short and simple enough for Mister Average to actually read it, delving into how to rectify those problems is probably not a good idea for one long write-up. Just fixing the mic and general controller maintenance is probably due its own article alone. There is also good stuff like how to restore the buttons (without replacing the pads) that is well and truly beyond the scope of a single webpage.

Determining if a system is a clone is actually the opposite: Determining if the system is a genuine Famicom, as anything that is not, is obviously a clone. A spotters' guide with photos and details of every system is what's needed for that... I plan to eventually do that on my own time anyway. The trouble here is that no-matter how well-written something is, there will always be somebody that comes back with a post like this: "I read that write-up about how FDS disks work and I got a drive and all, and now I'm trying to get it to work with my Yobo clone, but I don't understand how to turn the screws inside to do that adjustment thingie and I'm afraid to break something.'

Sure, it may sound silly, but I hear stuff like this all the time; especially from people who, after reading some guide on-line, think the process is a cake-walk. The difficult should be stressed in the write-ups, for each task, as should any level of 'unknown' information. With each issue as a separate, stickied (unlocked) topic, people can post about their problems in a topical manner, which will allow not only people to answer them without a lot of confusion, but also avoid rehashing, as the question will be answered or other people to view withing much smaller and ore orderly threads.

Another topic that I am frequently asked is 'Can I use the PowerPak work on a Famicom?' along with the usual gab about adapters, and which adapters work properly, plus how to do the audio modifications. Things like this are asked a lot, both here and elsewhere, and frequently re-asked and re-answered unto Ragnarok.  The A/V mod thing also doesn't have a single, definitive answer. I could sell my kits to people all day, and that wouldn't solve the problem for the DIY crowd, and the mod is different depending on whether you use an NPN or PNP transistor, and is exacerbate if you want to go for something wild like RGB, or stereo sound, etc..

Anyhow, take it or leave it, these are my thoughts. I've been thinking for a long while to do a FC HW site for some of this but tie hasn't been on my side of late, and it goes undone: Coming up with a pretty layout, writing all the code, and then actually doing the articles is a three-step procedure that will have to wait. I can help with some of the stuff here if needed though, as that is the simplest part of the process. In any event, the two main issues that could use stickies are the PSU issue and the dirty system/games issue. Those alone would save countless posts from one-time visitors and keep the database cleaner.  :bomb: