T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

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

Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby Tiido » 2018-7-30 @ 17:42

That has more to do with the fact that one side of the board is up in the air due to the connector and closer to camera than anything else.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby Tiido » 2018-8-02 @ 21:32

I have a bit of an update, pretty significant one actually. The original plan of selling the prototypes and then quickly doing the next run will not work out, things took long enough that the money that was supposed to fund the next batch got eaten up by real life pretty much plus it came out I can no longer get money out of PayPal to the bank account due to support Estonian banks being dropped for some reason... Anyway this means this whole thing is shelved for now, I will get a dayjob in near future and eventually (next year perhaps) I'll have enough dorrals to buy parts etc. and if there are a number commited buyers I'll make a batch.

Currently there's 3 cards left, 1 card without YMF721 and 2 cards with YMF721. I also no longer have any brackets to supply with the cards so the last ones will come without brackets.

I will still continue to work on SETYMF as bugs arise etc.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby keropi » 2018-8-03 @ 21:12

sad news.... I hope all these troubles go away soon!
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-8-04 @ 04:21

This "real life" business has a bad habit of getting in the way of interesting/fun stuff. Hopefully, things go according to plan for you.

The delay may benefit me somewhat, however. By the time you're ready to start thinking about ordering a batch next time, I might actually be able to spare the cash to pick one up (hopefully!).
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby Tiido » 2018-8-04 @ 08:52

One can always hope, I'll stay optimistic haha. With a day job in place (once that happens), the cards needing to be some sort of source to fund other projects becomes less important and I can think of those other projects sooner.

With this one with one card in my main machine working nicely I have reached the personal accomplisments too.

I would like to hear reports on SETYMF though, it works on any random YMF71x card and is a big improvement over existing solutions.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby firage » 2018-8-04 @ 10:59

I think good reviews and third party comparisons of the prototypes will raise the profile of the project some going forward. Would love to see this finished as a fully polished product for all to purchase.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-8-05 @ 05:33

Tiido wrote:I would like to hear reports on SETYMF though, it works on any random YMF71x card and is a big improvement over existing solutions.

I'm actually just as interested in your software. Would you mind describing how you put the design together? What tools do you prefer for DOS work? If I can find something cheap enough, I might pick up a card just to try your configuration tools.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby Tiido » 2018-8-05 @ 09:23

I categorized each thing the software must do, such as setting resource configurations and mixers stuff and came up with an easy no fuzz way to adjust them. How to talk to hardware itself came from the datashits of Yamaha, datasheets of Analog Devices and Crystal (to get WSS side going) and various SB and MIDI docs I have found. Yamaha's stuff is very poor and doesn't give a lot of info, but at least you know what exists and what you got to poke to get somewhere, rest was experimentation very much. Sound Blaster and MPU-401 sides were easy, lot of documentation on them and things work exactly as expected.
For example the PnP EEPROM reading and writing took a while to figure out totally. Apparently you can only read the EEPROM as part of PnP dance, while you can write it anytime, however the write mechanism is actually write only with no sort of busy state check etc. possible so I had to create a time waster between writes that worked on 286 to my C2D without hampering both ends too much. The card and software should work even on a 8086 as the software uses no instructions above the 8086 and the card will work in 8bit ISA slots also (but DMA0 and IRQ10 and 11 are unavailable then). I actually discovered that using a DMA that the hardware doesn't have or manually disconnecting the signals causes the card to fail in some way, it absolutely doesn't like floating DMA ACK inputs and it seems to interfere with the initialization process and normal operation.
Software is written in QB 4.5, very easy to write and debug and I'm one of those people who absolutely cannot stand C and likenesses and some of the functions are written in assembly such as interrupt handlers and few DOS specific things that QB cannot provide on its own. My life would have been lot easier if there was means to get segment/offset of labels or functions in QB but that's not gonna happen lol. My first choice would have been FreeBASIC but it can only do pmode and I think it generates code that won't work on any 386 or 486, only Pentium and up.

There currently is one card for really cheap on the one known auction site.

firage wrote:I think good reviews and third party comparisons of the prototypes will raise the profile of the project some going forward. Would love to see this finished as a fully polished product for all to purchase.

I haven't done a whole lot to create awareness, that's something that could have been improved.
The design is now pretty much finalized with the exception of IO ports placement and type due to bracket difficulties. It is a problem that continues to haunt with other stuff too like the video card I want to make.

There's still the 486 bug that I have not managed to figure out either, I spent a month on it and got pretty demotivated for a while which delayed the unveil for quite a bit. It happens with -some- random YMF71x cards also, but I haven't managed to make my card not fail or those functional cards fail, moving chips doesn't move the problem, nor does changing ISA speed or wait states. Even removing all the custom stuff from the card doesn't make a difference. If I had an actual logic analyzer perhaps only then I can get somewhere, but such a thing is in the to buy list and there's time until I can.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-8-05 @ 17:54

Tiido wrote:I'm one of those people who absolutely cannot stand C and likenesses

That's interesting; I was actually expecting you to say that you are an expert C programmer, and the whole thing was 100% C. Is there something in particular that you dislike about C-derived languages? You're obviously not alone, as I have known programmers who couldn't stand C either, but they are usually less common than those who hate assembly language.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby Tiido » 2018-8-05 @ 18:27

Assembly is nice and easy mostly, some CPUs are better than others though. If PC had 68K in it or this card was for Amiga or some other 68K based machine the whole program would be in assembly instead haha. I'm fluent in Z80, 68K, SH-x, AVR, C5x DSPs and x86. I'm pretty sure ARM will be pretty nice to work with also, it has pretty much made AVR and PIC stuff obsolete in both price and performance.
As far as C goes, ";" is the thing that bugs me the most probably, newline should be enough and you don't usually have many things piled onto single line which is the only case one should need it as it is in QB/FB and probably most other BASIC dialects. All sorts of "begin" equivalents are almost always unnecessary too as the syntax already makes it 100% clear that a new thing is happening, "{" shouldn't exist in most cases. Strings related things are a PITA too. Lot of those things do make sense given the limitations of the time and goals set then. Perhaps one day I'll write some sort of preprocessor/translator that turns "nice C" into "real C" so I can write things without headaches etc. since C, for better or worse, is usually the only option for many things.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby Tiido » 2018-8-06 @ 10:52

Update, only one card is left available now. Serial number 6, card with YMF719 only. If someone is really desperate and has a card with donor YMF704/721 I can go through the trouble to add back all the missing parts for supporting the MIDI chip.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-8-06 @ 20:28

Tiido wrote:I'm pretty sure ARM will be pretty nice to work with also, it has pretty much made AVR and PIC stuff obsolete in both price and performance.

Interesting that you would mention that now. I have been looking at MCU prices for another potential project, and still find AVR to be quite competitive when performance requirements are modest. My first choice would have been to opt for 68SEC000, but prices have become ridiculous, and more external hardware is required. ColdFire V1 isn't even price-competitive, and all other parts (V2 and onwards) are not 5V-tolerant. For 5V parts, there are some ARM variants that are quite competitive, but documentation is somewhat poor, and it isn't clear what sort of programmer would be needed. So, it will likely be AVR, with the software written (mostly, if not completely) in C.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby Tiido » 2018-8-06 @ 20:47

I have only seen AVR and PIC to be competitive only on the lowest end chips that don't have much flash and RAM (and speed will still be lot slower on AVR and PIC). NXP makes several actual 5V ARM parts and STMicro has quite a few 5V tolerant parts, some which are very high performance things compared to AVR and co (STM32F407).
Programming and debuggingwise, there's a thing called J-Link that supports all the different things there are, but for specific manufacturers they got their own dongles, ST has the STlink and you can buy really cheap clones of it off ebay with ease or get a devboard which has such stuff in it already and you can use it to program other chips with a little bit of effort. I have a devboard with STlink that I'll be using to program the 407 mentioned earlier in one sound related thing I'm working on now. For just uploading code into the flash you can use UART bootloader built into most of the MCUs. I'm right now most familiar with STM parts, most friends recommend those over all the others due to good documentation and support.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-8-07 @ 14:41

You have me curious about the other "sound related thing" that you're developing. Now I'll be watching around here for your new thread, just in case you give a few hints.

You make an interesting point about the ARM parts, and some are relatively inexpensive for what they offer. If they're good and well-supported, something like Zilog's ZNEO32! line looks like it might eat Microchip's lunch. Thanks for pointing that out.

In addition to the fancy programmer/debugger devices like the SEGGER and P&E Micro units, one can also use SWD with many ARM parts (without vendor lock-in), and there are a number of ways to get an appropriate device at a hobbyist-friendly price; USBDM is one possible choice.

For my upcoming experiment, however, I really don't think I need ARM power, and will likely be fine with AVR. Best of all, I already have the programmer and some spare parts left over that I can use, including an old DIP ATmega644P and wire-wrapping sockets. The 644P likely still has more memory than I will need, and adequate performance. Anyhow, I shouldn't de-rail your thread any further.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby Tiido » 2018-8-08 @ 09:02

Nothing related to PC stuff and something that may not see light of day at all so no need to be vigliant haha. But it is something that will get dorrals in my pocket so I'll be happy.

It is nice to have the extra, especially for any feature creep hahahaha.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-8-09 @ 20:51

My recent reading led to an interesting question, since you seem to be regarded as a bit of an audio purist. Does your design use a separate DAC? Did you use Yamaha parts? I have seen a few claims that the UDA1330A or similar parts can deliver cleaner sound with less noise. Did you consider any alternate parts?

If I'm not mistaken, almost any I2S DAC that supports the right bit layout, sampling resolution and sampling frequency should be nearly a drop-in replacement, correct (assuming same pin ordering)?
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby Tiido » 2018-8-09 @ 22:55

Purist might be a bit too much but if I can do something really well/properly I will haha. I'm no audiophool though, measurement matter more than anything else.
Unfortunately YMF71x has no i2s output, if it did I would have stuck some very nice DAC on it. There is an i2s input but it goes into an internal DAC that is shared by OPL3 and thus you effectively lose the OPL3 output, and you gain nothing either. Luckily the DAC and ADC in the YMF71x are about as good as it gets as far as retro card chipsets go, performance and features are very satisfactory. Some days ago I set up a test machine at my HiFi and I was actually quite impressed, there was no hiss or other annoyances audible until volume levels exceeded about 90db.
Yamaha's own dedicated DACs are usually garbage, very noisy from my experience and distortion performance isn't stellar either and mostly because they lifted the floating point idea from FM chips DACs that allowed them to make really cheap stuff. There's massive precision loss when the signal gets louder with those types of DACs.

For YMF721/704 I use a R2R type DAC but I could have used anything there as the output is standard i2s without any shenanigans. Main motivation was to use up the stuff in my stash and since the performance of the chip is satisfactory there was no point getting something modern and very high performance there especially if the gains get swamped by a noisy WB card and/or the YMF71x chip itself. There aren't gonna be any drop in replacements though due to pinout related factors, some work will be needed to use a different DAC, especially if the DAC is current output like many tend to be. There's a need for an I/V conversion stage on such DACs before you can use the output.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-8-11 @ 04:43

Do you know if the YMF721/704 are fully OPL4 compatible? It would be interesting to dump its address space (meaning ROM) and see just how close its contents really are to the YRW801. They claim it contains the same samples, but, obviously, some compromises had to be made to get 2 MiB worth of data into a 1 MiB ROM. Compression? Reduction in bit depth or sample rate? Are the PCM synthesis registers even still accessible, or is everything done through the MPU-401 interface?

I had a look on eBay, and the only cards I could find were not particularly inexpensive and excluded the 704/721, so trying your software will probably have to wait until you do a production run and I can afford one of yours.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby Tiido » 2018-8-11 @ 11:46

It is fully OPL4 compatible as ar as sound generation stuff goes. CPU can be turned off and you can directly access the registers and make sound that way but the sample ROM is completely different beast without any similarity to YRW801 that most YMF278 things use. Almost all samples are 8 bit (there's one 12bit sample IIRC), while YRW801 has lot of 12bit ones and more multisampling going on, the samples do come from same library and many sounds you'll recognize on Yamaha's high end products also. Sample ROM is identical on the entire family it seems and sound output seems to be identical too with same sort of tuning difficulties and occasional clicks on some instruments. Only differences are in CPU code and seem to relate to power management. I have not found means to dump the CPU ROM though but I haven't tried hard. There's means to differentiate a non existing CPU command from one that does something, the way you're supposed to talk to the CPU will deadlock the code on a command that doesn't exist and it is in my todo list to eventually go through all the possible commands and see if there's any that are undocumented.

Most existing cards with YMF721/704 do not expose the register interface as they use the chip via MPU-401 of YMF719 exclusively (just a MIDI expansion), no OPL3/4 accesses are possible. If a bus transceiver chip is installed then OPL3/4 access should be possible but there certainly won't be a new address decoder so only single OPL3 is accessible even if the card uses a dedicated DAC for YMF704/721. Software will hide all YMF704/721 specific things for cards that are not mine, there's nothing to special to do.
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Re: T-04YBSC-A, new YMF71x based sound card + SETYMF utility

Postby badmojo » 2018-8-11 @ 22:02

Not sure how I missed this very interesting project! All the best with getting on top of your Real Life challenges Tiido.

One of my my main complaints with the cheap OPLSAx cards I’ve played with is the software so I’m really looking forward to trying out your SETYMF util, thanks very much!
If it's broke, then fix it!
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