Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Discussion about old sound cards, MIDI devices and sound related accessories.

Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby dogchainx » 2017-1-10 @ 01:17

I just called up Eye and I Productions regarding the copyright chip contents (I'm in Utah, so calling isn't an issue at all). Mark, the head honcho there, said he was open to a simple licensing agreement. We talked for about an hour, though mostly was about what happened back during the Gravis/AMD collaboration. ALSO...he thinks he has some early versions of those cards up in his attic!

Mark wasn't sure if he wanted to deal with per user, or tie the license per chip from whoever programs it with the kit, or go pure simple and just do a paypal payment per chip individually. I told him we would work on what we would want and works best for the project, then submit that offer to him so we can hammer out details. He did reiterate that cost per license wouldn't be much different than what he sells online through his website. So $15-20. I can work on that if everyone wants.

He has a LOT of information and history about what happened with Gravis, AMD, etc. It would be interesting to get his viewpoints on the history of Gravis and put it on the wiki. One of his colleagues went to work for Creative labs to work on their sound cards, and now works for Google. Interesting stuff!
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby Kodai » 2017-1-11 @ 00:13

Thats good news, and thanks for the effort. I'm currently of the opinion that the simple paypal per chip route is the way to go. I would hope that he would drop the price a little to something like $10.00, for the simple fact that the whole idea is to produce a GUS at a reasonable price point since the collectors market has driven the original cards to extreme prices. But if not, then so be it. At least we now have options for getting these roms other than ripping out roms from our own cards. See if you can get hime to join Vogons and regale us with the Gravis story.
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby shock__ » 2017-1-11 @ 13:30

First of all thanks for the effort. Would be cool to see some GUS/GUSPnP history being revealed as an extra for this project.

Kinda agree with Kodai - $20 doesn't seem like much at first, but would increase the current target price by 50%.
I'm also kinda interested how this would turn out - considering there's copyright markings by at least 3 parties (AMD, Eye & I, Immersion Computer Technologies) inside the IW78C21M1 chip.
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby dogchainx » 2017-1-11 @ 15:06

I did explain to Mark that if license costs were too much, the entire kit would be out of reach for many of the fans of the project, though I didn't want to offend him by telling him what he should charge. Building a rapport takes time, since the project is dealing with hard work on a copyrighted material from a creator, and he's had dealings in the past of others using his work without permission. Give credit where credit is due. I did say that the group would like to pay for a license, but charging more than $20 would kill the kit for most everyone, and he agreed. I'm betting we can get it to $10, knowing that this is a fan project. I think a group shout of appreciation for Mark's hard work would go a long way, and maybe even putting his name on the card as a "thank you". He seems quite the nostalgic person, which everyone here can relate. He's very passionate about ensuring the quality of his work.

I'll need some more details and opinions to hand off to Mark in order to work out the licensing purchases.
-Will the IW78C21M1 chip's (more than likely confirmed?) 29F800 replacement be programmed off-card, then mounted on the PCB without a socket?
-Who would program the 29F800? (Is it left to the user of the kit?) and who would distribute the ROM file?
-How would procurement of the entire complete kit and assembly ideally work? (all components come in the kit then assemble yourself?)
-Was there any further work accomplished on reprogramming the chip on-card?


From my point of view and ideally for simplicity sake the licensing would just be whoever wants a card goes to Eye & I's website and pays $10-15 for a license via Paypal. Once you have the license you're free to program the 29F800. Its mostly on the honor system. Though Mark may have a concern on how verification of the sold license would work. He doesn't want to sell one license and then the community has a free-for-all with just one sold copy (a valid concern). It could get a little complicated if Mark wants verification of each license sold by the kit maker/distributor, since having a master list of each kit tied to each purchased license has its own issues (who controls it, who is accountable, what if its lost or the person goes inactive in the community, etc).

As far as the AMD and Immersion Computer Technologies copyright markings, wouldn't the copyright be concerned with just the actual chip hardware?
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby shock__ » 2017-1-11 @ 15:53

Adding Mark to the PCB / documentation is one of my least concerns :) Even tho the opt-in phase for the first batch is long closed I'd be more than happy to add anyone who has valid input for pushing the project further.
$10 is what I'd consider a perfect compromise - it's cheap enough for a hobbyist project, yet doesn't rip him off.

About the implementation of the 29F800 the current approach is the one you named: chips get programmed outside of the card (using an USB Programmer with a solder-free socket) and then soldered onto the actual card.
Programming is either left to the user him-/herself or can be offered by me - due to the situation being unclear I'm currently leaning towards the first option, if things work out I'd gladly offer the cards with pre-programmed ROMs presoldered (adding just minor material costs).
Current plan about the assembly process is as follows: Offer blank PCBs with presoldered InterWaves (as those are a pain to solder without proper equipment) and leave the rest up to everyone him-/herself or the community to organize mass-orders. Hard to obtain parts (RAM slots, 16.9344MHz crystals) can be offered by me to a degree.
So far I'm still checking into programming the chip in circuit, but I haven't found a proper approach yet. There's one that has a certain potential (requiring only a DOS PC with a LPT port on the users end), but would need some prototyping and possibly the aid of a programmer.
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby dogchainx » 2017-1-11 @ 20:51

I'll shoot off an email to Mark with these ideas:

-ROM will be programmed by community (as for now, just for simplicity sake. community could either mean user, builder of the kit, or supplier of the kit)

-Before usage of the chip (actual usage, ie, after mounting and testing of the card), a fee is to be paid via Eye & I's website, with receipt of license purchase sent to the buyer's email for verification of license purchase.

-Fee is $5-10 per license (per chip, not user). I've told Mark that the main goal of this is to make Gravis-compatible cards inexpensive for the retro enthusiasts. Having the fee more than $20 is detrimental to the project. I'll try to hit that idea home and get the fee at $15 or below.

Any other ideas?

Also, do we have a count, or estimate, on how many cards will be manufactured? Just to give him a very, *very*, rough estimate on licenses sold total over the few years this project goes on.
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby shock__ » 2017-1-12 @ 00:06

Current estimate for the first batch is 100 cards (~40 people involved, most taking 2 - with a per person limit of 3).
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby jarreboum » 2017-1-12 @ 01:05

There are quite a few people who couldn't get on the waiting list for the first batch who are interested in getting one of those cards, like myself. I believe the interest will grow even more once the object actually exists and is available to the public; there are several retro video games forums out there that haven't heard of this project (especially non-english enthusiasts), or if they did it was years ago. It's all about getting the word out. Doing an estimate of these would be difficult though.
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby Scali » 2017-1-12 @ 08:22

shock__ wrote:Current estimate for the first batch is 100 cards (~40 people involved, most taking 2 - with a per person limit of 3).


Do you sell them pre-assembled, in kit form, or both?
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby Batyra » 2017-1-12 @ 09:44

I think I also missed something... Is there a list? What is the price?
I would be also interested in one card.
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby shock__ » 2017-1-12 @ 10:01

Price is 100 billion dollars.
Read the thread, I've answered this at least 20 times.
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby Batyra » 2017-1-12 @ 11:28

shock__ wrote:Price is 100 billion dollars.
Read the thread, I've answered this at least 20 times.


Yeah... on page 41 there is about prices and pcb colors, on page 34 you mention about 20Eur, on page 32 you write how much each element cost, on page 31 you mention 12-20Eur or 11-23Eur and theres a donor list... and so on...
and so on... an in the link in your footer to lifejournal last entry is almoast from a year ago...

I just want to support this this project because I think It's great idea, and yes I would like to buy that card also.
There's no need to be sarcastic...
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby elianda » 2017-1-12 @ 11:49

It is still in development, so there is no fixed final price. There was one prototype built and the license fee for the ROM is also not yet fixed.
In the very first post of this thread is an estimated price of $30 that was set as a rough target at the start of the project.
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby Batyra » 2017-1-12 @ 12:08

Thanks! So in this case I am definitely interested.
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby shock__ » 2017-1-12 @ 13:10

Reason for the sarcasm is quite easy (even tho Elianda's answer is more than sufficient already).

Til last night there was 1 working prototype in existence, with a second I built earlier that day being unstable as hell (sometimes would init, sometimes would crash before init, sometimes would run for 30 seconds [enough to start a test program] and then crash the whole system). Having no scope at hand badly reproduceable errors like that are hell - even with a scope.

But fear not ... said second prototype is now running stable, after lifting a pin and soldering an airwire.
There are still a few scenarios that might happen where it turns out the ARGUS may not be fully compatible with the GUS PnP - that's something I want to make absolutely sure that it's not the case before doing a production run.

Long story short - I largely appreciate your feedback, enthusiam, support and interest for the project, but at this point it's anything but final even with 2 cards working as of now. Also keep in mind this is largely a single person project (the schematic, layout, assembly was all done by me so far, with a bit of help with reading out the ROM by marmes and wbc, alien^pdx desiging the PCB art and hard1k supplying the silkscreen logo), with a few giving technical input/ideas and moral support behind the scenes and 2 coders being involved which will come to fame at a later point.
While I announced that a second batch might be a possibility (at unknown conditions as of now), my focus is currently on the first batch - so to keep things short: If your name is not on the Prototype PCB - better hold your horses and wait :) Afterall this was originally an opt-in project (and still is) either by donations to fund the prototyping and acquisition of the ~190 InterWaves or by adding input to the project in one way or another (technical research, pcb art, code, etc.).
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby Evert » 2017-1-12 @ 13:59

shock___ : Could you perhaps place a link in your signature to a PayPal account or something. I don't have the money to buy a full working prototype, but I would love to donate a little bit of money to help you out. Thank you for doing this and I love following the project.
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby Batyra » 2017-1-12 @ 14:08

Thanks! Now I understand it clear.

After reading like 10th question similar to mine, I was worried I missed something and it is allready too late... let us call it "group panic"
Now I follow this topic on a regular basis.

If there's such possibility I can and I would really like to support the product. (I mentioned that before) I'm a graphic designer and I can offer my support in box design or some other kind of artwork / design works.

EDIT: I join @Evert request
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby anthony » 2017-1-12 @ 15:42

elianda wrote:In the very first post of this thread is an estimated price of $30 that was set as a rough target at the start of the project.

i'd say $30 is unreal price. imho price should be about $150
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Re: Newly made Gravis Ultrasound compatible cards ... what's the degree of interest?

Postby shock__ » 2017-1-12 @ 16:21

Anthony: I'd love to see your calculation on that :)
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