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 Blue Line Code Shutterglass mode with E-Dim dongle 
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Sharp Eyed Eagle!
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Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:13 pm
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hi all,

I've recently found out by chance that my E-Dim dongle responds to iZ3D's Blue Line Coding (BLC). Don't get excited though because it's not "all that and a bag of chips". Note that there are other identically shaped dongles with other logos on them. Don't expect them to work. Your dongle should have the E-dimensional logo on it and I don't really know but maybe you need a recent model. I just know that mine works and I think yours probably will too because how often do they redesign them. Anyway test results have been just a little more convenient than simple shutterglass mode but first some clarity regarding framerates.


The basics:
the FPS-shutterglass connection (skip this if you know it already)

The framerate iZ3D shows is "game framerate". From each game-generated frame, 2 stereo frames are generated and should be displayed. So if you're like me with a CRT at a 60Hz refresh rate, that means that shutterglass mode should work if my computer can generate 30 FPS game-frames. So 60 display frames go to the screen with 30 going to each eye. Now for the problems. Realistically, framerate varies with the game so my game needs to never drop below 30 (momentary less can often be OK) FPS in order for me to never lose eye-sync. Below 30, the system starts dropping frames and each eye gets the wrong image. And yes, if you want a 120Hz refresh rate on your display, then your game FPS must be over 60. So, if you want to know if a game has a chance of working in shutterglass mode, go to a good complicated level with much action and long distances and check the framerates with the iZ3D driver loaded and in some stereo mode. I just did a little test and surprisingly, stereo mode only had about 16% fewer FPS than mono mode. Your results may be different but I suspect similar. Also surprisingly, stereo anaglyph cost more frames than stereo interlaced. If a game often has 50% more than your minimum, in an action scene, chances are good that you can use simple shutterglass mode with it although it still may lose sync during cutscenes. Then just use thee hotkey to swap eye-views and you're good to go. You really need that hotkey though. On to BLC...

Question: if my game creates over 90 FPS for a 60Hz display, shouldn't that cause sync loss too?
Answer: I actually don't know but It looks like the iZ3D driver locks the output at 1/2 the display refresh rate. I just tested 70 Hz and FPS maxed out at 35 instead of the usual 30, which brings us to a little quirk...

Shutterglass mode FPS quirk:
When you use shutterglass mode, the iZ3D FPS display doesn't show above 1/2 your display refresh rate. That's just how it is, so you can't really tell how powerful your system is when in shutterglass mode. You must use anaglyph or other to get that info.


Finally BLC mode:
So what's the difference between BLC and simple modes? Which one should you use? Well, now I think you might as well use BLC if you can for two reasons.

1) you don't need to use ED-Activator. The dongle just senses the BLC and starts the glasses shuttering and it stops them too when there's no more BLC. By the way, White Line Code (WLC) didn't work for me.

2) Once you set the eye-views correctly with the eye-sync-swapping hotkey, the glasses will always sync-up correctly, ie: you will never get stuck with the wrong eye view for each eye.

So what's the problem? Well, sorry to say, you still need sufficient framerates. What happens when you drop below your minimum is that you start to see through both lenses at the same time like they're both clear so you see the double image on the screen and then when the framerate goes up high enough, the glasses will start working with good sync again. So what's this good for? Well, some games are borderline usable in simple shutterglass mode where it works good 99% of the time. This helps push the playability over the border since it will always resync correctly unlike the simple mode where you would need to hit the eye-swapping hotkey each time.

Blue flashes, another problem?
When I first tested this, I played a game with lots of blue flashes on the bottom of the screen and it kept resetting the dongle's stereo function. Since then I've tested the same game and it just never happened so maybe it was just a one-time quirk. Anyway, beware games with blue flashes on the bottom. Maybe I should explain BLC more...

What is BLC or WLC?
The driver puts a blue (or white) line on the bottom of the screen and the length is different for each eye-view. So that's how the dongle is able to sync the shutterglasses correctly. It just looks for alternating frames with a long blue line, then a short blue line and that's it. You can close one eye at a time and see them. I used to think this was a crude method but now I like it. I may have to shell out another $50 for another license when my trial runs out.

A list of games that work in shutterglass mode:
This is sort of not practical because the list will be different for each computer based on it's power and the user's desired display refresh rate. So there are benefits to being satisfied with 60Hz.. you will be able to play more games that way. However some games are pretty simple and even modestly powered computers should be able to handle them in iZ3D's shutterglass mode... Halflife-2, Star Trek DAC is beautiful in 3d even though it's not a great game. Trine works well for me. Star Trek and Trine are basically 2d games in a 3d environment so they are not demanding games for computer power. I think I would like to see such a list and it should be fine as long as people stated their system stats. Also, you can get a 3GHz Athlon 64 X2 for like $60 now and that should be pretty good. Serious s3d'ers can put together a good system. 800Mhz Dual Channel mode ram is cheap too. etc.

Bottom line, if your trying shutterglass mode with an e-dim dongle, you might as well use BLC mode. You should also be able to put blue lines in your 3d videos and the dongle should sync to it if you play it back in fullscreen.

One more hint to mention: frame ahead rendering
Nvidia cards/drivers should have a place called "Additional Direct3D Settings" where you can find a setting called "Max frames to render ahead". Normally this is set to 3 but if you set it to 6, it can help with those borderline games that only lose sync when distances are long. I think this is a nice little hint. It's not a big help but it's a little help. You can set it to one and then see your game lose sync like crazy in simple shutterglass mode. I tried values greater than 6 but it didn't seem to help much. Triple-buffering should help too and I think v-sync is probably on via iZ3D's driver.

OK that's it. God, I talk too much. Good luck with your own tests. I'm outta here.

--- iondrive ---

PS: just figured something out regarding this quote:
"What happens when you drop below your minimum is that you start to see through both lenses at the same time like they're both clear so you see the double image on the screen"

What happens is that the framerate is so low that there are no longer alternating blue lines of differing lengths and so the dongle thinks BLC mode is over and drops out of that mode temporarily allowing you to see through both lenses. I'm telling you that the fault is in the design of the electronics inside the dongle and iZ3D can't really do anything to fix that. Shucks. We just need a better dongle, that's all. One that doesn't drop out of BLC mode so easily.

Also noticed that if you have to turn up brightness and contrast alot in order to play a dark game, you might lose BLC shuttering. But that's if you turn things way up and you probably wouldn't want to play it that way anyway. Normally you should be fine turning up brightness and contrast. (in-game brightness, not monitor hardware brightness)

_________________
System specs:
OS: 32-bit WinXP Home SP3
CPU: 3.2GHz Athlon 64 X2 6400
RAM: 800MHz 4GB dual channel mode
Video: geForce 8800GTS PCI-e, 640MB ram, driver 196.21


Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:14 am
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Two Eyed Hopeful

Joined: Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:04 pm
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Do you know if the X-FORCE 3d dongle supports BLC mode ?
It comes with its own "activator/drivers" that support interlaced/pageflip and more modes, and you can also use the ED activator/drivers to activate interlaced mode...so i guess the line codes on the top, are compatible with edim dongle...
However when i did try to run a game in BLC mode, the glasses didnt shutter.
So maybe this mode needs to be activated first, anyone know how ?

Regarding the game fps dependency, if iz3d chooses to implement BLC mode (as opposed to only bitcauldron shutterglasses supprot) using the hardware assisted d3d flipping mode that will come with 10.3 ati drivers, that problem will go away and you will have perfect shuttering irregardless of framerate.

I've opened my dongle up, and it's a PIC microcontroller by microchip, so, in the worst case, i could reflash it with edim firmware or something like that


Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:46 pm
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Sharp Eyed Eagle!
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Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:13 pm
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hmmm, interesting post, especially the reflashing idea but I would be leery of that since I have no experience with it. Can you backup the old flash before the new?

In short, no I don't know of any way to use the X-Force dongle with BLC.

I have some X-Force dongles and always thought that they only operate from the in-line wired hardware control module switch and buttons. I'll test it to see if it responds to ED-Activator and BLC. Oh I see you already did, then I don't have to. I'll do something else instead. :)

I don't know about that ATI driver stuff so I'll just take your word on it. Meanwhile I figured something else out if iZ3D implements upscaling from game res to arbitrary desktop res. Using TriDef's driver I could use over/under sync-doubling mode and get perfect sync even if game fps was below 5 (Ultimate Spiderman looking at zoomed out map view) but TriDef has no gap control so that's a no go. I mention upscaling because I used a custom desktop res of 800x1200 and a game res of 800x600 so no res was "lost" in the sync-doubling. This also works if you just use 1600x1200 instead of the custom res.

A shutterglassable gamelist:
I am planning on starting a thread like this and just use a "reference/baseline" system of 3GHz, 2GB ram, geForce 8800 or above. I think it will be useful to people.


--- iondrive ---


Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:08 pm
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Sharp Eyed Eagle!
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Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:13 pm
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Hi all,

Regarding how to tell which dongles will work with BLC:
Previously I thought that if a dongle had the E-dimensional logo, then it will probably work but I've chatted with someone recently who has such a dongle but BLC code doesn't work for him. I bought mine last year (2009) in order to try the LCD mode which just delays the shutter signal by 3/4 of one screen-refresh, it doesn't help by the way, and found that BLC works with it and I've been very happy with it since then. So anyway, now I don't know of any way to tell just by looking at it if your E-Dim dongle will work. You just have to try it and see. There's no serial number or anything on it. It just looks like there was some point in time when they decided to include the BLC capability and before that, they didn't have it. So right now it seems we can only say that E-Dim dongles newer than 2008 will probably work with BLC mode. If yours is 2008 or older, you just have to try it and see for yourself. Please report your info here so we can nail this number down. I guess we could write E-Dim and ask them. Maybe I'll do that now but I've heard their customer support isn't that good. We'll see.

--- iondrive ---


Sat Apr 17, 2010 4:13 am
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One Eyed Hopeful

Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:04 pm
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Ion,

I think it might be a good idea to throw together a list of dongles and their response to this specific situation. Hopefully we can create some kind of scale so that the rating are more than just a yes or no and we can decipher which devices might be fun to modify a bit. What do you think of this idea? My master plan is to get a cloud server going where we can all have access to accurate documentation, etc. I just need a little more education first according to the people in IT staffing.


Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:10 pm
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