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Author Topic: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???  (Read 1683 times)

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Zebra

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WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« on: December 30, 2019, 01:55:13 pm »
Has anyone got an explanation for how the Sega Menacer light gun is working on a LCD flatscreen in this Youtube video?



I know the Menacer and Superscope use an IR receiver to make them wireless but I always thought they used traditional light gun tech and only worked on CRT tv's...

I also noticed that there seems to be no white flash when the trigger is pulled and yet, even on dark games like T2, the user is able to move the crosshairs around the screen with the gun's motion and that crosshair is rock-steady. There's no flickering like on other light guns. Even the Guncon 2 can't do that...

So, what is going on? Is the Menacer more like an Aimtrak on the inside? I seem to remember my Menacer being accurate and only let down by it's hideous looks, poor library and ball-crunchingly low battery life.

Howard_Casto

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2019, 02:02:21 pm »
I think it uses ir tech, but I thought it counted scan-lines as well so I don't know.  I do know that the gun had to be constantly re-calibrated to have any degree of accuracy.

Titchgamer

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2019, 02:47:36 pm »
Nope puzzled by that one myself.
Been modified somehow maybe?

I still have a menacer.

Zebra

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2019, 03:01:06 pm »
Nope puzzled by that one myself.
Been modified somehow maybe?

I still have a menacer.

Would you mind trying it on an LCD to see if you can get it to work too?

Titchgamer

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2019, 03:03:20 pm »
Nope puzzled by that one myself.
Been modified somehow maybe?

I still have a menacer.

Would you mind trying it on an LCD to see if you can get it to work too?


If I can figure out a way to connect it to a LCD I will.

I only have SCART leads for my MD and my LCD only has HDMI inputs.

thet0ast3r

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2019, 03:12:17 pm »
Umm, guys, I don`t wanna spoil anything, but to me it looks like that isnt working.

The video clearly isn`t there to show lightgun gameplay, and contains special effects in the end. The menacer (what i picked up on google) looks to be an ordinary lightgun. I doubt they did anything special with it.

My thoughts why this is not legit:

1. Cursor moves awkwardly (not like a person controlling a light gun)
2. They show a tv briefly, but there doesn`t seem to be any kind of sensor bar or anything mounted
3. They never show the gun and the tv, just screencapped footage
4. The front of the gun looks awkward - although maybe thats how it originally looked?
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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2019, 09:01:38 pm »
I had a Menacer... wasnít much to play on it.  I recall it supported rudimentary continuous tracking but it was probably strobing the CRT and I didnít notice because early 90s.

This forum needs more threads about Arcade 1Up cabinets.

Zebra

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2019, 01:44:07 pm »
I had a Menacer... wasnít much to play on it.  I recall it supported rudimentary continuous tracking but it was probably strobing the CRT and I didnít notice because early 90s.

I have similar vague memories of my Menacer. It was so long ago that there's a lot I don't remember though. I can't recall if it flashed when you took a shot or how well it tracked etc.

If you take the Guncon 2, which is the best (or certainly one of the best) home light guns. It can only move a visible crosshair around the screen on the white or (beige) calibration screen. On full auto games like Crisis zone it looks like you're at a Japanese wedding with all the white flashes.

Similarly, my Happ guns on my PC with USB2Gun and my Act Labs guns can't move a crosshair around the screen unless it's white or the game has the strobe effect like on Operation Wolf. You'd have no chance on Terminator 2.

I can't see white flashing on any of the Menacer videos on YouTube. It's possible that the camera may just not pick it up though. If it does work in a different way to other light guns, I wouldn't mind giving it a try with my Titan Two Console Tuner with a Genesis to usb adapter.

Please can someone who still has one confirm if it flashes either when you pull the trigger or when you move the crosshairs?

2huwman

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2020, 07:42:43 am »
You've probably seen this video



I think it means CRT only but no flashing on firing or moving the cross hairs. Looks like an interesting system. Might have to get one!
« Last Edit: February 01, 2020, 08:04:28 am by 2huwman »

Zebra

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2020, 04:48:46 pm »
I had seen that video. I'm just not sure if he's just assuming it won't work on an LCD because that's what everyone says, or if he's actually tried it.

I don't know of any other (real) light gun that can move crosshairs around a dark screen (like the T2 game) without flashing. The Guncon 2 can only do it on a white or beige background. Light guns flash because they need that light bright screen to work.


2huwman

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2020, 05:57:05 pm »
Well, I found a reasonably price Menacer on eBay so I'll test it and let you know!

Zebra

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2020, 11:44:22 am »
Well, I found a reasonably price Menacer on eBay so I'll test it and let you know!

Thanks. And, if it's not too much hassle, please take a pic of the electronics inside.

2huwman

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2020, 06:12:37 am »
Ok, well I've tried the Menacer on my Pioneer PDP V402 plasma, and it doesn't really work. The cursor does respond when I point the Menacer at the screen - but it jumps around a lot. The cursor moves in a way somewhat related to where the gun is pointing, as in it will move upwards when I move the gun up, but it's jumping wildly around.

So I guess it does need a CRT - but it works well on that - no screen flashing and tracks reliably - so well suited for machine gun type games. I've played a bit of T2 with it and that worked well. Body Count seems cool too. And the Toejam & Earl minigame is decent. Partway between a traditional lightgun and a PS Move. Seems more response than the Move. Gonna play some more Body Count now! Think some of the Mega CD FMV games are compatible with it.

 

Titchgamer

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2020, 07:17:51 am »
Ok, well I've tried the Menacer on my Pioneer PDP V402 plasma, and it doesn't really work. The cursor does respond when I point the Menacer at the screen - but it jumps around a lot. The cursor moves in a way somewhat related to where the gun is pointing, as in it will move upwards when I move the gun up, but it's jumping wildly around.

So I guess it does need a CRT - but it works well on that - no screen flashing and tracks reliably - so well suited for machine gun type games. I've played a bit of T2 with it and that worked well. Body Count seems cool too. And the Toejam & Earl minigame is decent. Partway between a traditional lightgun and a PS Move. Seems more response than the Move. Gonna play some more Body Count now! Think some of the Mega CD FMV games are compatible with it.

Hmm interesting that it works at all really.

Out of interest did you try playing with the TVís brightness and contrast to see if that improved things?


2huwman

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2020, 01:06:46 pm »
Yeah, brightness and contrast didn't make any difference.

Zebra

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2020, 06:20:20 pm »
Yeah that is interesting. Real light guns do not respond at all if you're not using a crt because they work by using the way a crt updates one line at a time to find the aiming position.

What resolution are you using when you tried it on the plasma? One thing that stops light gun's working even on a crt is scaling to a different resolution or refresh rate to what the console is outputting. This makes testing on a flatscreen difficult immediately as almost all of them will scale to their native pitch.

Do you by chance have another type of flatscreen to try it on? Perhaps an LCD or Oled with a game mode that turns off unnecessary processing.

 Also, can you try standing further back to take into account the larger plasma screen size? If it works more like an Aimtrak, I would expect it to jump around if you stood too close.

pbj

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2020, 11:40:54 pm »
I am gonna laugh ---my bottom--- off if the damned Menacer, of all things, works reliably on a modern TV.

Keep testing.

This forum needs more threads about Arcade 1Up cabinets.

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2020, 12:34:17 am »
don't those things use a sensor that plugs into controller port #2?
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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2020, 10:07:35 am »
there is no way in a million years this works. modern flatscreens update the entire panel with a completed frame all at one time. there is no "drawing" like a CRT. so there is nothing to count to do the tracking with.

similar to the superscope, the only thing the "sensor" does is pick up the button presses and flash pulses transmitted by the gun like an IR remote control... otherwise it would have a cord.

this is why things like the Wii controllers went with camera tracking.

pbj

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2020, 11:51:14 am »
similar to the superscope, the only thing the "sensor" does is pick up the button presses and flash pulses transmitted by the gun like an IR remote control... otherwise it would have a cord.

This is completely false.  You clearly never used a Menacer. 

 :cheers:
This forum needs more threads about Arcade 1Up cabinets.

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2020, 12:02:30 pm »
similar to the superscope, the only thing the "sensor" does is pick up the button presses and flash pulses transmitted by the gun like an IR remote control... otherwise it would have a cord.

This is completely false.  You clearly never used a Menacer. 

 :cheers:

here... go nuts...


pbj

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2020, 12:05:25 pm »
It supported continuous tracking.  You could have easily confirmed this with a simple google search.

 :cheers:
This forum needs more threads about Arcade 1Up cabinets.

lilshawn

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2020, 12:10:05 pm »
yes...by repeatedly interleaving white frames with game frames. why do you think pest control had a "gray" background instead of black.

pbj

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #23 on: February 10, 2020, 12:19:29 pm »
Oh.

 :lol
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Zebra

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2020, 01:03:15 pm »
Thereís no need for guessing and making up theories when we have people who can just try it and open one up so we can see what hardware is inside.

Terminator 2 on the Genesis has large areas of all black on screen. Not gray. Deep, dark black.

Plus, if it was possible to make light guns track reliably by adding white frames that were undetectable to the human eye, why does every other light gun use a noticeable white flash? This includes Saturn and Dreamcast guns.

lilshawn

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #25 on: February 10, 2020, 01:51:40 pm »
I mean it's not going to be every other frame or anything... Maybe 1 out of every 4 frames or so. (15 samples a second)  wouldn't make the screen that obviously bright. This could be compensated for after by making sprites unreasonably dark.

But really... The patent is right there... It explains how it works.

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #26 on: February 10, 2020, 02:31:59 pm »
why does every other light gun use a noticeable white flash? This includes Saturn and Dreamcast guns.

sorry, i totally missed this question.

to put it simply, one of 2 things... to lower the processing required to determine gun position... (we only need to calculate position if you pull the trigger.) or the inability to take control of a data line on the controller port to send vertical refresh timing signals down to do it the way the Sega GENESIS does it.. (either hardware limited or no such signal exists outside of the video subsystem.)

the flash you see when you pull the trigger is often actually a pile of 7 to 10 separate white screens bundled together. (black white black white black white etc.) you throw out any weird readings high or low and take maybe 5 of the closest ones and average them to determine the position.

you can actually see this on the gun test screen of Big Buck Hunter Pro arcade. (which is also does continuous tracking)  if you pull the trigger and hold it down, you can see on the monitor ALL the samples it took, where they are, how many where used to calculate position.
EDIT:



i snapped a pic of a standard BBH pro cabinet gun test.... it's bad as the screen is strobing really bad to the camera (likely every other frame), but will give you the idea of how almost all optical guns operate...

here on the test screen it just appears as a medium white screen you can see there are several pixels showing approx. how many samples were taken (orange)...and how many where used (blue) to determine the gun position. the software also constantly updates and tells you how many scanline samples where taken (in this case it looks somewhere between 12 and 14 samples) and how many used (looks about 3 or 4)

in this case, the gun positioning is completely handled by the IO board of the cabinet and not by the game computer. the VGA comes out of the computer and into the the IO board and out to the monitor... it reads the vertical refresh pulses from the sync and then handles timing flashing the screen...counting the timing during refresh after the trigger pull...reading how long it takes for the opto to pick up the scanline... then reporting that to the computer. that way the game need not have to delay doing game stuff to figure out position.

most gun games work in this fashion.  with the exception being very early games that simply register hit/nohit (early atari, NES etc) and later camera guns (wii , namco camera guns, aimtrak)

the technology at the time of the menacer was just not available to have real time tracking. the genesis had an 7.6 mhz CPU, how much realtime ANYTHING could be done with 8mhz? around 1998 HOTD2 started using cameras on the DX cabs to track positioning but we were looking at a 50mhz sega model 2 board (with 3 other seperate CPU systems to handle graphics, sound and what nots so the CPU wasn't actually doing much else) at the time to do this. by 1999 Crisis zone deluxe cabinets where using a B/W camera and a weird infrared dot projector gun and a custom FPGA to do the heavy lifting of figuring out gun position. not going to happen with an 8mhz cpu having to do everything else too.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2020, 07:48:44 pm by lilshawn »

Zebra

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2020, 07:20:54 pm »
All the Big Buck Hunter Light gun versions I have seen (including pro) flash when you pull the trigger. This means they are regular light guns and we know how they work already.

The question is about how the Menacer differs. None of the others can move a crosshair over a black screen (or any dark color). The Menacer apparently can.

Anyway, if there is a patent for the Menacer, that means there must be something new to the design. You don't patent products unless there is a new invention or a new and unique way of using an old one. The Menacer certainly wasn't the first light gun.

I'll take a look at the patent doc but it's only going to answer the question if it describes a new tracking mechanism. I wouldn't be surprised if Sega patented that hideous two lens scope as they were under the impression it was a good idea that may get copied...,





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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #28 on: February 10, 2020, 08:16:55 pm »
All the Big Buck Hunter Light gun versions I have seen (including pro) flash when you pull the trigger. This means they are regular light guns and we know how they work already.

precisely. the reason for the flash is because it's far easier to see the difference between dark and light if the screen is always dark. bat as i updated my post... BBH also does realtime tracking with the same gun.

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #29 on: February 11, 2020, 03:34:05 am »
Regardless, it obviously doesn't work with lcd screens or else sega would still be using it.  They are the king of light gun games in the arcades these days and yet they use a different system.... there has to be a reason for that. 

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #30 on: February 12, 2020, 01:22:41 pm »
Regardless, it obviously doesn't work with lcd screens or else sega would still be using it.  They are the king of light gun games in the arcades these days and yet they use a different system.... there has to be a reason for that. 

That's a bit of a leap. Sega couldn't even be bothered to support the Menacer at the time. Their home light gun support has hardly been record-shattering since either. And, they no longer make hardware. It's not like they released a new HD compatible home gun. Hard to say what they might have done. I doubt anyone there is looking to bring back the Menacer though.

They've been using the type 2 guns in the arcade since House of the Dead 2 - long before they had to due to the end of CRTs. I can't pretend to understand all of Sega's decisions but anyone who has tried playing HOD 1 on one of their "deluxe" cabs will have a fairly good idea why.

I've put money in HOD 1 cabs a number of times but I've never actually been able to play a proper game in the wild. Their light guns never worked very well on the rear projection screens, especially on EGA and above games. Namco solved the issue with those amplified light gun sensor boards and limiting shooters to 480i. Sega obviously went a different route.

To be clear, I don't expect the light gun part of a Menacer to work on an LCD. I'm wondering if it also has an accelerometer for games like T2 as the original coin-op used positional guns. Either way, it doesn't work like the Saturn Stunner or the Dreamcast hair dryer. Curiosity makes me one know why.

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Re: WTF - Sega Menacer working on an LCD flatscreen... How???
« Reply #31 on: February 12, 2020, 02:43:22 pm »

To be clear, I don't expect the light gun part of a Menacer to work on an LCD. I'm wondering if it also has an accelerometer for games like T2 as the original coin-op used positional guns. Either way, it doesn't work like the Saturn Stunner or the Dreamcast hair dryer. Curiosity makes me one know why.

an accelerometer? really? still? we are talking 1992 here. 19...92. 28 years ago. about the extent of an accelerometer in commercial products was a mercury or ball bearing tilt type switch. the patent even says the aim of the menacer was to keep cost down. so if they did incorporate one despite the cost of such technology at the time... it would have been stupid expensive. even Nintendo almost couldn't justify spending the cost on them with the wiimotes...and that was like 2006 - 14 years after?

the full schematic is right in the patent. i'm telling you, it's an optical light gun... nothing more. the only reason it has real time tracking is because of the ridiculously low overhead of getting tracking information.