VOGONS


Sound Blaster 16 Clones

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Reply 240 of 267, by Daniël Oosterhuis

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I've been curious, does anyone know of an ALS-100 based card with Yamaha OPL4 onboard? The design documents for the ALS-100 refer to a reference model with OPL4 support, but I can't find any examples of commercial ALS-100 cards with that.

I did however find old Gerber files for some of those reference cards, including this ALS-100M based design with SCSI CD-ROM and OPL3 as well as 4 support. Really interesting to see, but the old Gerber files are a bit difficult to work with.

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Reply 241 of 267, by TechieDude

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Daniël Oosterhuis wrote on 2020-05-26, 22:53:

I've been curious, does anyone know of an ALS-100 based card with Yamaha OPL4 onboard? The design documents for the ALS-100 refer to a reference model with OPL4 support, but I can't find any examples of commercial ALS-100 cards with that.

I did however find old Gerber files for some of those reference cards, including this ALS-100M based design with SCSI CD-ROM and OPL3 as well as 4 support. Really interesting to see, but the old Gerber files are a bit difficult to work with.

ALS100OPL4.png

Now THAT would have been a high quality ALS100 board! Hopefully it also isn't half as noisy as the majority of them. Sadly, these seem to be unobtanium, but not too hard to reproduce, if someone were to go through the trouble. After all, we have AWE64 Legacy, Snark Barker, BlasterBoard, ARGUS, Orpheus, Resound etc. so it would have been definitely possible! Dunno if that would have been worthwhile, though... Then again these things are niche anyway, but I digress.

Reply 242 of 267, by Daniël Oosterhuis

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TechieDude wrote on 2020-05-26, 23:35:

Now THAT would have been a high quality ALS100 board! Hopefully it also isn't half as noisy as the majority of them. Sadly, these seem to be unobtanium, but not too hard to reproduce, if someone were to go through the trouble. After all, we have AWE64 Legacy, Snark Barker, BlasterBoard, ARGUS, Orpheus, Resound etc. so it would have been definitely possible! Dunno if that would have been worthwhile, though... Then again these things are niche anyway, but I digress.

Yeah, it's a shame barely any ALS100 cards were made to the reference standard, but I suppose selling cheap ICs invites cheaper manufacturers. There's also Gerber files for a version with the Dream SAM9233 Wavetable synthesizer integrated onboard.

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Reply 243 of 267, by appiah4

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Daniël Oosterhuis wrote on 2020-05-26, 22:53:

I've been curious, does anyone know of an ALS-100 based card with Yamaha OPL4 onboard? The design documents for the ALS-100 refer to a reference model with OPL4 support, but I can't find any examples of commercial ALS-100 cards with that.

I did however find old Gerber files for some of those reference cards, including this ALS-100M based design with SCSI CD-ROM and OPL3 as well as 4 support. Really interesting to see, but the old Gerber files are a bit difficult to work with.

ALS100OPL4.png

Daniël Oosterhuis wrote on 2020-05-27, 08:55:
TechieDude wrote on 2020-05-26, 23:35:

Now THAT would have been a high quality ALS100 board! Hopefully it also isn't half as noisy as the majority of them. Sadly, these seem to be unobtanium, but not too hard to reproduce, if someone were to go through the trouble. After all, we have AWE64 Legacy, Snark Barker, BlasterBoard, ARGUS, Orpheus, Resound etc. so it would have been definitely possible! Dunno if that would have been worthwhile, though... Then again these things are niche anyway, but I digress.

Yeah, it's a shame barely any ALS100 cards were made to the reference standard, but I suppose selling cheap ICs invites cheaper manufacturers. There's also Gerber files for a version with the Dream SAM9233 Wavetable synthesizer integrated onboard.

ALS100SAM.png

I am immediately considering actually getting one of these printed and trying to build it (not sure which of OPL4/SAM chips is easier to obtain).. Alas, I only have a 100+ card I can pilfer and I don't know if that chip works with external OPL chips or not, even though it looks pin compatible..

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Reply 244 of 267, by Daniël Oosterhuis

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appiah4 wrote on 2020-05-27, 11:08:

I am immediately considering actually getting one of these printed and trying to build it (not sure which of OPL4/SAM chips is easier to obtain).. Alas, I only have a 100+ card I can pilfer and I don't know if that chip works with external OPL chips or not, even though it looks pin compatible..

The SAM one can be printed with the Gerber files as is, at least at OSHPark and PCBWay (JLCPCB won't take them, might inquire about it as they tend to be cheaper), the Gerber files for the OPL3/4 version will need some work to convert them from what I believe is RS-274D to 274X, which I'm not super knowledgable about. As for the 100+, from what I can see, they're not pin-compatible with the 100.

The OPL3/4 one technically needs an ALS-100M, the "Multi-CD" version that does SCSI and a few other CD standards, whereas the ALS-100 only does IDE, but I think they are pin compatible. The MCD just accomodates the extra CD-ROM bits, which I'm pretty sure won't be a problem to leave out of that card when using an ALS-100. Don't think most people still need the CD-ROM drive controller capabilities of a soundcard nowadays.

The ALS-100 version of the card that does OPL3/4 only has the .SCH and .LIB files, which I'm not sure what CAD software they're for. An old one for sure, given they date to 1995.

I'm currently trying to see if any of the Alibaba sellers for "ALS100" ICs (which is not clear if it's even the right chip, mind you) can sell me a small quantity of those. So far, I've gotten two quotations for $15 and $20 per IC respectively, at a quantity of 10. Bit pricey, but probably still cheaper than finding ALS100 cards to pillage, as most on eBay are the Plus versions.

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Reply 245 of 267, by appiah4

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If you start getting a batch of these printed and sourcing the ALS100s, I would be happy to pledge buying one PCB and one ALS100 from you, covering my shipping. I love building sound cards. I know a lot of other people on Vogons do as well.. (paging @root42 ..)

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Reply 246 of 267, by TechieDude

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You guys are getting my hopes up. It better not be for nothing 😜 Jokes aside, I would love to have one of those, especially the OPL4 one, though I couldn't care less for multiple CD connectors

Reply 247 of 267, by cyclone3d

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Daniël Oosterhuis wrote on 2020-05-26, 22:53:

I've been curious, does anyone know of an ALS-100 based card with Yamaha OPL4 onboard? The design documents for the ALS-100 refer to a reference model with OPL4 support, but I can't find any examples of commercial ALS-100 cards with that.

I did however find old Gerber files for some of those reference cards, including this ALS-100M based design with SCSI CD-ROM and OPL3 as well as 4 support. Really interesting to see, but the old Gerber files are a bit difficult to work with.

ALS100OPL4.png

Those Gerber files can be converted to a newer useful format just like I converted the old Gerber files for the SIMMCONN. It just takes 2-3 different programs to get them to where they are easily usable.

Would you be able to attach those Gerber files in a zip or provide a link to them?

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header
Epstein didn't kill himself

Reply 248 of 267, by Daniël Oosterhuis

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cyclone3d wrote on 2020-05-27, 15:55:

Those Gerber files can be converted to a newer useful format just like I converted the old Gerber files for the SIMMCONN. It just takes 2-3 different programs to get them to where they are easily usable.

Would you be able to attach those Gerber files in a zip or provide a link to them?

Sure, I'll upload it. I've just zipped up the entire folder I found on an FTP server. There's an index text file with what's what. Not everything has a gerber, some just .sch and .lib files, but I figure it might be of interest to some. Link to it here.

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Reply 249 of 267, by Daniël Oosterhuis

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I've also noticed UTSource claims to have ALS-100, OPL4 YMF278B-F, and the wavetable YRW801-M ROM for the OPL4 chips, so I'll fire up an inquiry to them as well, see what's possible. I'm mainly aiming to recreate the OPL4 ALS-100 card, as while the Dream SAM9233 was used on a few released ALS-100 cards, I have found no evidence of an OPL4 one so far. Even though it's not the most exciting thing, given it's just OPL3 FM + Wavetable built-in, I still think it's really cool to have an OPL4 soundcard without the need of a OPL4 wavetable module. I'll just wait until I can source the chips at the best price, and the gerbers have been converted to more modern ones so I can get some made. Not making any promises, but this might be an adventure worth trying. If so, I'll open a separate thread for it.

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Reply 250 of 267, by TechieDude

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Daniël Oosterhuis wrote on 2020-05-30, 18:16:

I've also noticed UTSource claims to have ALS-100, OPL4 YMF278B-F, and the wavetable YRW801-M ROM for the OPL4 chips, so I'll fire up an inquiry to them as well, see what's possible. I'm mainly aiming to recreate the OPL4 ALS-100 card, as while the Dream SAM9233 was used on a few released ALS-100 cards, I have found no evidence of an OPL4 one so far. Even though it's not the most exciting thing, given it's just OPL3 FM + Wavetable built-in, I still think it's really cool to have an OPL4 soundcard without the need of a OPL4 wavetable module. I'll just wait until I can source the chips at the best price, and the gerbers have been converted to more modern ones so I can get some made. Not making any promises, but this might be an adventure worth trying. If so, I'll open a separate thread for it.

Please post link for the thread when you open it.

Reply 251 of 267, by appiah4

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Daniël Oosterhuis wrote on 2020-05-30, 18:16:

I've also noticed UTSource claims to have ALS-100, OPL4 YMF278B-F, and the wavetable YRW801-M ROM for the OPL4 chips, so I'll fire up an inquiry to them as well, see what's possible. I'm mainly aiming to recreate the OPL4 ALS-100 card, as while the Dream SAM9233 was used on a few released ALS-100 cards, I have found no evidence of an OPL4 one so far. Even though it's not the most exciting thing, given it's just OPL3 FM + Wavetable built-in, I still think it's really cool to have an OPL4 soundcard without the need of a OPL4 wavetable module. I'll just wait until I can source the chips at the best price, and the gerbers have been converted to more modern ones so I can get some made. Not making any promises, but this might be an adventure worth trying. If so, I'll open a separate thread for it.

Yes, please link to that thread when you do, if there is a small batch of PCBs and parts to order I would like to join..

Retronautics: A digital gallery of my retro computers, hardware and projects.

Reply 252 of 267, by appiah4

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Ok, so I did something today. I replaced the ESS ES1868 sound card in my MMX-200 1997 PC with a C-Media CMI8330. Now, could you fine gents please advise me as to what would be a good DOS game to try its SB16 compatibility vs SB Pro? A game that actually benefits from having SB16 over SBPro, so to speak?

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Reply 254 of 267, by carlostex

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appiah4 wrote on 2020-06-15, 20:42:

Ok, so I did something today. I replaced the ESS ES1868 sound card in my MMX-200 1997 PC with a C-Media CMI8330. Now, could you fine gents please advise me as to what would be a good DOS game to try its SB16 compatibility vs SB Pro? A game that actually benefits from having SB16 over SBPro, so to speak?

You can also try the DOS version of the adventure game "The Last Express". This game only supports 1 card and its the Sound Blaster 16. It refuses to run if High DMA is not found.

Reply 255 of 267, by mkarcher

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Oetker wrote on 2020-02-14, 07:48:

Also, has anyone tried using the SB16 Windows drivers and/or the Creative SB16 DOS mixer with an ALS100 card? Looking at the Linux driver source the card really should be 100% compatible - I'll see if ICU + SB16 mixerset.exe works.

I would not put high hopes in using Creative Labs original drivers on clone cards. Even if the clone cards implement all commands that are used to play back sound correctly, the Creative Drivers like to use some esoteric commands to make sure the sound card is a genuine Creative Labs card. One especially notorious example is the "put the command data byte through some strange ALU operations on the DSP and write it back using DMA" which is used to "fix" a jump table in some revisions of the original creative labs digital sound playback code.

In my oppinion, these drivers are dongle-protected software, where the dongle is the original Creative Labs card. The difference to typical dongle-protected software is that Creative Labs never made the dongle function of the Sound Blaster cards known - they just enjoyed their drivers crashing on "obviously inferior and incompatible" clone cards.

Reply 256 of 267, by darry

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mkarcher wrote on 2020-06-19, 22:12:
Oetker wrote on 2020-02-14, 07:48:

Also, has anyone tried using the SB16 Windows drivers and/or the Creative SB16 DOS mixer with an ALS100 card? Looking at the Linux driver source the card really should be 100% compatible - I'll see if ICU + SB16 mixerset.exe works.

I would not put high hopes in using Creative Labs original drivers on clone cards. Even if the clone cards implement all commands that are used to play back sound correctly, the Creative Drivers like to use some esoteric commands to make sure the sound card is a genuine Creative Labs card. One especially notorious example is the "put the command data byte through some strange ALU operations on the DSP and write it back using DMA" which is used to "fix" a jump table in some revisions of the original creative labs digital sound playback code.

In my oppinion, these drivers are dongle-protected software, where the dongle is the original Creative Labs card. The difference to typical dongle-protected software is that Creative Labs never made the dongle function of the Sound Blaster cards known - they just enjoyed their drivers crashing on "obviously inferior and incompatible" clone cards.

Do you know if this "creative" driver behaviour was specific to SB16 drivers or did SB Pro and earlier drivers also have such "features" ? Any difference, in that respect, between drivers provided by Microsoft with Windows versus those provided by Creative ?

Reply 257 of 267, by appiah4

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Original SB drivers by MS for Win3.1 work fine for clones. Pro and 16 drivers by Creative do not.

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Reply 258 of 267, by mkarcher

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darry wrote on 2020-06-20, 01:39:
mkarcher wrote on 2020-06-19, 22:12:

In my oppinion, these drivers are dongle-protected software, where the dongle is the original Creative Labs card. The difference to typical dongle-protected software is that Creative Labs never made the dongle function of the Sound Blaster cards known - they just enjoyed their drivers crashing on "obviously inferior and incompatible" clone cards.

Do you know if this "creative" driver behaviour was specific to SB16 drivers or did SB Pro and earlier drivers also have such "features" ? Any difference, in that respect, between drivers provided by Microsoft with Windows versus those provided by Creative ?

The notorious example I cited was already in the Creative Sound Blaster 1.0. Here is a reference from someone who reverse engineered the Sound Blaster 2.02 firmware: https://github.com/schlae/snark-barker/blob/m … rsion-group-0xe (I'm talking about the command with bit 1 set, that is command 0xE2). Proper emulation of that command is included in dosbox, see https://github.com/joncampbell123/dosbox-x/bl … aster.cpp#L1964.

Other seldomly-used commands are diagnostic commands like "trigger IRQ" or the SB16 commands that allow arbitrary read and write to the memory of the integrated microcontroller, see https://github.com/joncampbell123/dosbox-x/bl … aster.cpp#L2116. I would not be surprised if drivers of creative labs make use of these commands to make sure that your sound card works perfectly (and not just like a clone).

As already posted by appiah4, Microsoft drivers for Creative Soundblaster cards are most likely working fine, but original Creative Labs drivers might be troublesome on clones.

Reply 259 of 267, by darry

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mkarcher wrote on 2020-06-20, 07:19:
The notorious example I cited was already in the Creative Sound Blaster 1.0. Here is a reference from someone who reverse engin […]
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darry wrote on 2020-06-20, 01:39:
mkarcher wrote on 2020-06-19, 22:12:

In my oppinion, these drivers are dongle-protected software, where the dongle is the original Creative Labs card. The difference to typical dongle-protected software is that Creative Labs never made the dongle function of the Sound Blaster cards known - they just enjoyed their drivers crashing on "obviously inferior and incompatible" clone cards.

Do you know if this "creative" driver behaviour was specific to SB16 drivers or did SB Pro and earlier drivers also have such "features" ? Any difference, in that respect, between drivers provided by Microsoft with Windows versus those provided by Creative ?

The notorious example I cited was already in the Creative Sound Blaster 1.0. Here is a reference from someone who reverse engineered the Sound Blaster 2.02 firmware: https://github.com/schlae/snark-barker/blob/m … rsion-group-0xe (I'm talking about the command with bit 1 set, that is command 0xE2). Proper emulation of that command is included in dosbox, see https://github.com/joncampbell123/dosbox-x/bl … aster.cpp#L1964.

Other seldomly-used commands are diagnostic commands like "trigger IRQ" or the SB16 commands that allow arbitrary read and write to the memory of the integrated microcontroller, see https://github.com/joncampbell123/dosbox-x/bl … aster.cpp#L2116. I would not be surprised if drivers of creative labs make use of these commands to make sure that your sound card works perfectly (and not just like a clone).

As already posted by appiah4, Microsoft drivers for Creative Soundblaster cards are most likely working fine, but original Creative Labs drivers might be troublesome on clones.

Thank you . I somehow managed to never hear about this before now . Fascinating stuff .