Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

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

Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby assasincz » 2019-4-11 @ 08:34

Hi guys,

Some time ago, I got hold of Sound Blaster AWE32 CT3670 for a small fee, and some SIMM modules for it as well (1+1MB) → I thought it would be a great addition to my 486 build.
At a glance, the card seemsed to be spotless, no visible damage that I could find, even with magnifying glass. There are neither broken or corroded traces that I can see, nor bulged or blown caps.

Needless to say the card appears to be non-funcitonal - in the 486 (Shuttle HOT-419 DZ R2 mobo), I suspected IRQ conflicts and tried when I could think of (removing and swapping components, different I/O cards and settings etc.), but CTCM does not see the card.
I tried plugging in the card into few newer MB systems (VEXTREC GMB-486SPS, and PcChips M560 rev 3) that show detected PnP cards in boot-up screen reliably, but the CT3670 does not show up in either of the systems.

So I came to terms that the card may be actually broken, but I do not want to give up on it just yet - maybe this is a common issue some of your experienced that could be easily diangosed and repaired? One thing that gives me hope is that after being plugged to a system that is turned on, some of the onboard chips grow noticeably warm to the touch (observation I made wihtout noticing any specifics, yet) - can anyone here suggest what I can try to do to bring the card to life?

I would reserve recapping and/or oven baking as last ditch effort...
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby Cyrix200+ » 2019-4-11 @ 09:35

Did you also try it with diagnose.exe / aweutil / mixerset? Still doesn't explain the card not showing up in the PnP list though.

There is another thread with a similar problem (not the same). viewtopic.php?t=57407&p=634645
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby The Serpent Rider » 2019-4-13 @ 05:42

Corrupted EEPROM most likely. Can be reflashed to AWE64 with Dell utility. It seems to be very common problem with CT3670. The card might work under Windows XP though.
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby assasincz » 2019-4-13 @ 09:36

The Serpent Rider wrote:Corrupted EEPROM most likely. Can be reflashed to AWE64 with Dell utility.


Following discussion in this thread https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=59042 I ran that eeprom flash utility with my CT3670 plugged in the PcChips + Pentium 166 system a moment ago.
The results being that the flashing utility wrote: "No PnP card detected, operation aborted"....
I tried removing RAM chips and swapping the ISA slot for the other were the card would go without colliding with the CPU cooler, and the same.

I am tinking about trying again on a different MB, but I suspect the result will be the same...

UPDATE

So I whipped out my cheap multimeter and got cracking. I checked all traces that appear the tiniest bit susiptious (slighthly scratched, for example) and it was all good. Then I checked the capacitors and found after some fiddling that maybe 8 caps of overall 31 are dead, or poorly charging. So I desoldered them, and Im gonna get replacements on Monday.

Stay tuned, maybe that will bring the old CT3670 back to life....

UPDATE 14/04/2019 dreary evening

Ok so in preparation for the repair of my AWE32 CT3670, I got and mapped out the caps on the PCB, see picture below. Getting to buy full stock for the board tommorow and repair it through the week's evenings...
awe32 kolaz.jpg
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby assasincz » 2019-4-15 @ 20:11

assasincz wrote:Stay tuned, maybe that will bring the old CT3670 back to life


Replacing bad capacitors did not help, thinking about what to try text ...
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby cyclone3d » 2019-4-15 @ 20:56

Have you tried cleaning the edge connector with a pencil eraser? Could be that there is just too much oxidation or other contaminants for it to get a good connection.
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby assasincz » 2019-4-16 @ 08:32

cyclone3d wrote:Have you tried cleaning the edge connector


Oh yes, I cleaned them and ruled the edge connectors out as being the soruce of the issue....
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2019-4-19 @ 17:41

Make sure none of the legs on the AWE chip are bent and touching each other. If any look even slightly "off" try poking them gently to see if the leg has broken free of the solder pad. This happens fairly easily.

Also, get a high powered magnifier and check the solder joints on the back of the card. If any look like the pin has separated from the solder, it will need reflowed.

Just to check... if you retest the capacitors on the board that you checked before, do you get the expected result? If you're still get strange readings there could be another failed component on the board (or measuring them in circuit may have given some false readings in the first place).
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby assasincz » 2019-4-24 @ 20:10

Ok guys, great news,

Thinking about next troubleshooting steps for a while, I turned to baking the CT3670 in the oven to reflow the solder - starting from room temp, I let the temperature rise to cca 200°C and once the thermostat cut in, I'd let the card sit for few more minutes and then let it cool back.
Now the computer successfully detects the card - Creative SB32 PnP !! :cool:
kol2.jpg

One downside is that I won't be able to use MIC IN or LINE IN anytime soon :blush: but I think I'm gonna be able to replace these
kol1.jpg

I am chuffed to bits!
The card sounds fine and seems to be fully functional
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2019-4-25 @ 02:35

Wow! That's one way to do it!

:lol:
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby Thermalwrong » 2019-4-27 @ 13:10

Awesome, that's great you got it working again :)

I'm sure you can replace the ports with some from a less good card?

Thanks for making this thread - I'd forgotten about it, but before I bought my CT3620, I bought a CT3670 and I am actually seeing the same problem. There's not much on the card to go wrong, so reflowing the solder is my next option too... This should be fun :D
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby rasz_pl » 2019-4-27 @ 14:11

Ozzuneoj wrote:Wow! That's one way to do it!

:lol:


most likely temporarily healed capacitors, plus electrolytics dried in the process, I give that card few weeks of life :)
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby Thermalwrong » 2019-4-27 @ 15:35

I've just got my non-detected CT3670 back to detecting in Windows by hand resoldering the main chip, but it's still not working 100% correctly. The PC locks up when it tries to do AWE-related things, so I've removed the RAM sockets and 3.5mm jacks and put it into the oven to see if that gets it going.

While removing the RAM sockets, I noticed that the solder on the board behaved more like lead-free stuff when de-soldering. Adding a bit of quality leaded solder made it much easier to remove.

Swapped out the good RAM sockets from this CT3670 onto my CT3620 with broken RAM sockets, so it's already been a useful way to spend the afternoon :)
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby rasz_pl » 2019-4-27 @ 16:08

Thermalwrong wrote:I've just got my non-detected CT3670 back to detecting in Windows by hand resoldering the main chip,

While removing the RAM sockets, I noticed that the solder on the board behaved more like lead-free stuff when de-soldering. Adding a bit of quality leaded solder made it much easier to remove.


interesting, so its the solder after all, low quality + oxidation, either came apart with age (electromigration, cracked) or whiskers
use flux to refresh solder joints, makes a world of difference
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby assasincz » 2019-4-27 @ 23:08

rasz_pl wrote: I give that card few weeks of life :)


I will be giving updates on the status of the card and how it holds up. It is now installed in my MMX 200Mhz build, replacing SB Live card, works fine so far and it will be used well as a primary sound driver for my retro gaming.
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby Thermalwrong » 2019-4-27 @ 23:49

Ovening my CT3670 card (and recapping after) did not help - it detects now, but the AWE parts don't work and the 16-bit audio plays with some weird noise. It was worth a go :D
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Re: Bringing CT3670 AWE32 back to life?

Postby assasincz » 2019-4-28 @ 21:59

Thermalwrong wrote: It was worth a go :D


One problem at a time...detected and somewhat working card is detaily better than a dead card.
What did you do already apart from oven baking and recaping?
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