Need help repairing a Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4!

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

Need help repairing a Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4!

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-10-02 @ 01:02

So, I happened upon one of these recently. I paid a fair amount for the opportunity to find out if it was salvageable, and it was pretty filthy when I received it, but after cleaning it up it looks quite nice and it cost me a lot less than the average price of one on eBay. I'm happy to have saved it from being scrapped.
1001182015 (1920x1440).jpg


1001182015b (1920x1440).jpg



I did notice that the trimmer at R88 in the center of the board is missing however. There are just three fairly clean pins sticking out where it should be. What is the purpose of this component on this board?I can't seem to find any mention of it online, despite being something that was apparently put there to allow for adjustments. Will the card function at all with it missing? Is it possible to replace it with a standard resistor just to get the card working? Edit: Also realized the crystal by the GF1 socket is missing on mine. If anyone has a GUS classic, I'd appreciate knowing what markings are on this crystal.

1001182015a (1920x1440).jpg


Also, I know these cards are kind of an unusual beast. If I want to get started playing with one, are there any serious quirks or limitations that I should know about?

*Is it picky about how modern\fast the host system is?
*Any odd power supply requirements?
*I downloaded all of the Ultrasound drivers from the Vogons Driver archive, but what would be the best option?
*What would be the best way to hear the card in action?
*Is it useful or noticeable to add more memory to the card?
Last edited by Ozzuneoj on 2018-10-03 @ 04:32, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Need help with my first GUS! A Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4

Postby Rawit » 2018-10-02 @ 07:54

*Is it picky about how modern\fast the host system is?
In some systems it can be. From what I've read Quake is one game to test as it seems to reveal speed sensitivity issues with the GUS. But it also depends how well your machine will run Quake. Games that fully use the GUS like Epic Pinball and One Must Fall 2097 are also games to test. For software, try Fast Tracker 2.

My ACE runs without issues in a system without adjusted recovery times. My Extreme used to run in a fast machine under pure DOS without tweaking.

*Any odd power supply requirements?
No.

*I downloaded all of the Ultrasound drivers from the Vogons Driver archive, but what would be the best option?
I assume that is version 4.11? That's the latest and greatest. Try to use the installer; it can be finicky, but it will help you with all the settings. Only copy and manual config when the installer has issues finding the card etc.

*What would be the best way to hear the card in action?
Epic Pinball, One Must Fall, Impulse Tracker, Fast Tracker, Heretic.

*Is it useful or noticeable to add more memory to the card?
Yes. Especially if you use it as a MIDI like device in games like Doom or Heretic. Such games often come with a config for certain memory sizes. More memory = higher quality samples & higher variety of samples.
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Re: Need help with my first GUS! A Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4

Postby Scali » 2018-10-02 @ 08:01

Rawit wrote:*What would be the best way to hear the card in action?
Epic Pinball, One Must Fall, Impulse Tracker, Fast Tracker, Heretic.


Impulse Tracker and Fast Tracker already indicate the true home ground of the GUS: the demoscene.
There are tons of demos from the early to mid 90s that sound great on the GUS. Especially classics such as Second Reality or Crystal Dream 2.

In fact, the GUS was so popular at some point, that various demos had GUS as the only sound option. So, no GUS, no sound. Some demos don't even run at all if you don't have a GUS.
There is a separate category for these demos on pouet.net:
http://www.pouet.net/prodlist.php?platf ... rder=views
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Re: Need help with my first GUS! A Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4

Postby dionb » 2018-10-02 @ 10:37

Rawit wrote:*Is it picky about how modern\fast the host system is?
In some systems it can be. From what I've read Quake is one game to test as it seems to reveal speed sensitivity issues with the GUS. But it also depends how well your machine will run Quake. Games that fully use the GUS like Epic Pinball and One Must Fall 2097 are also games to test. For software, try Fast Tracker 2.

OMF2097 certainly is speed sensitive - downright unplayably fast on my P100 / RageIIC system when L2 is enabled. GUS (Classic) sound is fine though.
*I downloaded all of the Ultrasound drivers from the Vogons Driver archive, but what would be the best option?
I assume that is version 4.11? That's the latest and greatest. Try to use the installer; it can be finicky, but it will help you with all the settings. Only copy and manual config when the installer has issues finding the card etc.

Iirc there were issues with DMA detection - you would always get a conflict reported, even if DMA was free. Just set to a known-free DMA (you can use the same for playback & record) and you should be good.
*What would be the best way to hear the card in action?
Epic Pinball, One Must Fall, Impulse Tracker, Fast Tracker, Heretic.

OMF is by no means the best sound a GUS can make, but it's one of the clearest demonstrations of the difference vs alternative options.
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Re: Need help with my first GUS! A Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4

Postby cyclone3d » 2018-10-02 @ 13:49

So you are the one that won that auction. I had my eye on but it went for more than I wanted to pay for that really sad looking lot of cards except for that GUS.

Really glad it works though.
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Re: Need help with my first GUS! A Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-10-02 @ 15:56

I will agree with (and add to) the comments about memory expansion. If you plan to use a GF1 card for MIDI playback, there really isn't much of an option; you need the full 1 MiB for it to do a respectable job. Lack of memory may lead to missing instruments, or sometimes worse, instrument substitution. In the latter case, the instrument called for is replaced with another based on a substitution table for the amount of memory you have. Sometimes the substitution isn't terrible, but in some cases, it sticks out like a sore thumb, sounds bad and makes the GUS look like an inferior hack-job compared to any other respectable card available. Try it before upgrading, if you're curious, just to see how much better it is after the upgrade.

You may also want to explore the alternative instrument sets that were available. The Pro Patches Lite set was quite an improvement over the classic GUS set in some cases, and was free, as far as I'm aware.
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Re: Need help with my first GUS! A Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-10-02 @ 20:48

Thanks for the tips guys. Any ideas about the missing trimmer I mentioned in the OP?

EDIT: DOH! I also just noticed that the crystal at Y1 next to the GF1 socket is missing.

If anyone has one of these cards, could you please get the numbers from that crystal? I have a bunch of them laying around here so there's a chance I have a replacement already.
Last edited by Ozzuneoj on 2018-10-02 @ 23:02, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Need help with my first GUS! A Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-10-02 @ 22:35

cyclone3d wrote:So you are the one that won that auction. I had my eye on but it went for more than I wanted to pay for that really sad looking lot of cards except for that GUS.

Really glad it works though.

Did you get the seller's other lot? It had an AMD Interwave card and several old VGA cards in it... it went for a pittance... I was so mad at myself for missing it. The auction ended 3 hours before the other ones and I didn't realize it. :dead:
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Re: Need help with my first GUS! A Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4

Postby cyclone3d » 2018-10-03 @ 00:44

Ozzuneoj wrote:
cyclone3d wrote:So you are the one that won that auction. I had my eye on but it went for more than I wanted to pay for that really sad looking lot of cards except for that GUS.

Really glad it works though.

Did you get the seller's other lot? It had an AMD Interwave card and several old VGA cards in it... it went for a pittance... I was so mad at myself for missing it. The auction ended 3 hours before the other ones and I didn't realize it. :dead:


Nope, didn't get that one either.
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Re: Need help with my first GUS! A Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4

Postby MJay99 » 2018-10-06 @ 21:21

Ozzuneoj wrote:Thanks for the tips guys. Any ideas about the missing trimmer I mentioned in the OP?

EDIT: DOH! I also just noticed that the crystal at Y1 next to the GF1 socket is missing.

If anyone has one of these cards, could you please get the numbers from that crystal? I have a bunch of them laying around here so there's a chance I have a replacement already.


Opened one of my systems for you:

The Crystal on mine (Rev 2.4) is very difficult to read, because the print is mostly hidden by the socket. From what I could make out: 19.7568 MHz / ECX-1689 / ECLIPTEK
The Trimmer: Bourns 3296 / Costa Rica - W 201 / 235C

btw. C42 is missing on my card also.
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Re: Need help with my first GUS! A Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-10-07 @ 00:41

MJay99 wrote:
Ozzuneoj wrote:Thanks for the tips guys. Any ideas about the missing trimmer I mentioned in the OP?

EDIT: DOH! I also just noticed that the crystal at Y1 next to the GF1 socket is missing.

If anyone has one of these cards, could you please get the numbers from that crystal? I have a bunch of them laying around here so there's a chance I have a replacement already.


Opened one of my systems for you:

The Crystal on mine (Rev 2.4) is very difficult to read, because the print is mostly hidden by the socket. From what I could make out: 19.7568 MHz / ECX-1689 / ECLIPTEK
The Trimmer: Bourns 3296 / Costa Rica - W 201 / 235C

btw. C42 is missing on my card also.


Thank you so much! For bonus points, do you have any idea what the trimmer controls? Is it possible to measure the resistance across such a part in circuit so I could get a ballpark figure of where to set mine when I replace it?

Also, C42 seems to be missing on every one of these I've seen pictures of online. It's strange because it has legs coming out the back, so the component was removed from every card after being soldered on.
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Re: Need help repairing a Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4!

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-10-07 @ 04:28

Yikes, the Ecliptek 19.7568 Mhz crystal is proving to be quite hard to find. I searched through my collection of harvested crystals as well as a bunch of my intact cards and haven't found a match. I thought I'd found them on an i750 video decoder card but they turned out to be ~13 and ~17 Mhz crystals from Ecliptek. I have more cards I can check tomorrow, and you can bet that I'd harvest a crystal from almost anything to get my first GUS working.

Online searches have turned up nothing, aside from a single site that charges a $10 minimum PER SKU plus nearly $10 shipping. I'm not paying $20 for one 25 year old crystal, even for a GUS. If there were several people that needed them I'd consider doing a group buy or something but otherwise I'd rather just wait to find one eventually. I got the card from a scrap heap anyway... I have no idea if it will even work.
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Re: Need help repairing a Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4!

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-10-07 @ 13:21

Just to see if it will work, you should be able to get away with any crystal of the same clock speed and package type, preferably with similar requirements for capacitance; it doesn't have to be an Ecliptek.
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Re: Need help repairing a Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4!

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-10-07 @ 17:42

640K!enough wrote:Just to see if it will work, you should be able to get away with any crystal of the same clock speed and package type, preferably with similar requirements for capacitance; it doesn't have to be an Ecliptek.

I haven't found a single one that was 19.xxxx Mhz. The closest I've seen is 20Mhz. Any chance this would be close enough for testing?
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Re: Need help repairing a Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4!

Postby shock__ » 2018-10-07 @ 21:47

You could go with a 4,9152MHz crystal and double the clock twice, leading to 19,6608MHz ... assuming whatever is clocked by that crystal accepts TTL levels.
Personally I'd give 20MHz a try, just to check if the card might still be working, chances are low you'd additionally damage the card ... might still not help confirming there's life left in the card tho due to the variance.

That's one odd frequency indeed.
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Re: Need help repairing a Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4!

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-10-07 @ 21:57

The problem here is that, if that connects to the GF1 directly, a different clock rate will likely affect the frame timing. Since I have never heard of anyone tinkering with this, it is unclear how much variation would be acceptable without causing the chip to behave incorrectly. For the most useful test, it might be best to choose the closest frequency you can find inexpensively from a source like Digi-Key (or your nearest, most convenient competitor), and try that. With a slight variation, the sound may be slightly off, but the chip should still work.

EDIT: One suggestion could be to try using crystals for a slightly lower and higher clock rate. If the chip appears to be alive and workable with either of those, then consider creating a solution to provide the appropriate clock signal. As shock__ mentioned, if it will accept a TTL clock signal, you should be able to put something together with an appropriate crystal and a programmable clock generator IC.
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Re: Need help with my first GUS! A Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4

Postby MJay99 » 2018-10-10 @ 19:46

Ozzuneoj wrote:Thank you so much! For bonus points, do you have any idea what the trimmer controls? Is it possible to measure the resistance across such a part in circuit so I could get a ballpark figure of where to set mine when I replace it?


Sorry for taking my time, but the card was already back inside its system and wired up again. My in-place measurement across the device also might not be the best or correct answer, but it's delivering a 60 Ohm result.
Hope you can find a good replacement for the crystal!
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Re: Need help repairing a Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4!

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-10-15 @ 23:30

Okay, I've gotten the card partially working. I bought some new old stock Bournes trimmers like the one that is missing and installed one along with a 20Mhz crystal I had laying around (close, but not an exact match).

With a bunch of messing around I managed to get sound from the left channel, but I do not get anything from the right channel. I'm thinking maybe there is an issue with the caps on the board or something. It is the same on both the speaker output and the line output. I also noticed when I put the jack partially into either output I get a crazy squeeling sound that starts out high pitched and drops very slowly to a lower pitch. I'm wondering if this is another symptom of whatever is causing the right channel to be silent.

I also get no music when trying to do a music test in a game's sound setup application. I've tried Descent and Nascar Racing. I noticed that in those games' setup programs I get an error about the driver not being loaded if I don't configure the autoexec properly (or if I don't run the gravis setup completely), but with the driver properly installed that error goes away and the music "plays" but I can't hear anything. Is there something special I need to do to get the music working? Do I need to load a sound font or something? There was a bad solder joint on one of the populated RAM sockets so I reflowed that and it now passes the DRAM test (I found that application in one of the GUS complete packs on vogons drivers), so it shouldn't be a memory issue.

I'll keep tinkering with it, but what do you guys suggest?
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Re: Need help repairing a Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4!

Postby Rawit » 2018-10-16 @ 07:32

Do you have an Ultrasnd folder with PAT files? This needs to be present as the application will load the PAT files into the GUS RAM and uses it as instruments to play music. Sometimes Ultramid is needed. Nascar racing has CD music right?
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Re: Need help repairing a Gravis Ultrasound Classic 2.4!

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-10-17 @ 21:58

Rawit wrote:Do you have an Ultrasnd folder with PAT files? This needs to be present as the application will load the PAT files into the GUS RAM and uses it as instruments to play music. Sometimes Ultramid is needed. Nascar racing has CD music right?

I ran the 4.11 installer and I do have an ultrasnd folder but it doesn't appear to have any .pat files in it. I have the complete pack of GUS files, I'm sure there are .pat files somewhere, but where do I put them and do I need a program to select which one\ones are used? Seems odd that the installer doesn't install the files required to play music.
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