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Say "Hi!" to the Renovation SSI-2001!

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First post, by Benedikt

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You probably already guessed it: This is another clone card.

To everyone that has been following the developments on this forum and knows this thread it is reasonably obvious that this is to a substantial degree based on a combination of picture-based reverse engineering, other people's picture-based reverse engineering and picture-based reverse engineering of a replica based on picture-based reverse engineering of the original card.

One implication is that this cannot be a simple replica but has to add significant value, because it would otherwise inevitably be perceived as a copycat project.
Furthermore, this latecomer has to be the card that Fagear's SSI-2001 from a couple of years ago is not -- and in as many ways as possible. A replica, but somehow different.

And the design goals for this card were a bit different, indeed, because (a) PCB prototyping has become even more affordable, so shrinking the board would only save a few cents, and (b) SID chips have become even less affordable, so the interest in cheap alternatives has grown significantly.
Point (a) makes an accurate replica feasible, while point (b) screams for a microcontroller-based solution. The Renovation SSI-2001 tries to be both.
It tries to mimic the original Innovation SSI-2001 as closely as feasible; modifications and additions have to be as unobtrusive as possible.

The modifications and additions are:

  • A voltage regulator to provide 9 Volts for MOS 8580 compatibility
  • The possibility to use two NE556 dual timers instead of a single NE558 quad timer for the joystick interface
  • The option to omit the expensive SID chips, entirely, and to use an STM32, instead

A card with the aforementioned changes can obviously only look like a reasonably accurate replica if these changes are somehow "invisible".
The Renovation SSI-2001 achieves this by hiding all additional footprints and most additional traces right where the vintage components normally go, so that they indeed become nearly invisible if vintage components are used.

Alright, enough of the rambling!

Here it is: The preliminary design of the Renovation SSI-2001 -- An Innovation SSI-2001 replica that can be built without vintage components

renovation_ssi_2001_front_tht.png
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3D view of the (almost) fully assembled card. DIP sockets would hide the additional traces even better.
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renovation_ssi_2001_front_smd.png
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Same card, only SMD components populated
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renovation_ssi_2001_back.png
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Back side. There are only four additional traces and a bunch of tiny VIAs.
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The STM32-based version could omit the clock divider and IO delay circuitry and thereby save four ICs.
As an added bonus, the STM32 with its ARM Cortex-M3 running at 71.5909 MHz (5x 14.31818MHz) might be fast enough to bit-bang S/PDIF using its internal DMA peripherals, but that is pure speculation.

Github: https://github.com/roybaer/renovation_ssi_2001

Reply 1 of 126, by Jo22

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I like this idea. I would rate this with 5 stars or a thumb up if I could. 😀
The use of a SID substitute would also avoid possible anger of the other vintage fans who fear of
their beloved vintage gear being ripped apart for the SIDs (which isn't exactly true, since many SIDs are defective since ages, anyway).
That's why I think that development of a quality SID chip is neat and should be supported.
As long as the original hardware is functioning, community members can keep on improving a replacement.

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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 2 of 126, by matze79

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What emulation core does it run ?

I did the same Thing few weeks ago but did not order the PCB yet..
but without The Game Port circuit.

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Reply 3 of 126, by Benedikt

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matze79 wrote on 2020-02-17, 11:18:

What emulation core does it run ?

There is no emulation core for it, yet, but I found this project that uses the same chip (the cheap and near-ubiquitous STM32F103C8T6) to play back SID music from its internal flash memory or an SD card. And if the chip is fast enough for 6502 emulation plus SID emulation, it is certainly fast enough for SID emulation on an ISA bus.

matze79 wrote on 2020-02-17, 11:18:

I did the same Thing few weeks ago but did not order the PCB yet..
but without The Game Port circuit.

Really? How does your card look, then? I haven't ordered PCBs, either, so there's still time for refinements or corrections to the design.
Shall we compare schematics to see if there are any inconsistencies?

Reply 4 of 126, by matze79

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Is not fully finished, i send you a PM.
I was busy with Tandy Stuff and other Builds 😀

You know ArmSID ?
http://dzi.n.cz/8bit/armsid/index_en.php

http://dzi.n.cz/8bit/armsid/imgs/ARMSIDschema.pdf

But its not OpenSource.

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Reply 5 of 126, by derSammler

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What's the reason for the card if you omit the original SID? For the few games that supported the card natively, no one would care, as these games all sounded better with Adlib anyway. The only reason imo to own a replica is to be able to play SID files on it using a real SID instead of SID emulation. That's what I use my card for as well and I'm loving it.

With an emulated SID (it *is* emulation, no idea why you say it isn't), you don't need the card at all. Software SID emulation on a fast PC is also way better than these ARM-based replacements, because these are made for usage in a C64 and are hence limited in size and power consumption.

Reply 6 of 126, by Benedikt

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derSammler wrote on 2020-02-17, 18:28:

What's the reason for the card if you omit the original SID? For the few games that supported the card natively, no one would care, as these games all sounded better with Adlib anyway. The only reason imo to own a replica is to be able to play SID files on it using a real SID instead of SID emulation. That's what I use my card for as well and I'm loving it.

Well, first of all you don't have to omit the original SID, you can even use both types of SID and you will get a card that looks almost like the real thing. The most noticeable difference will be the manufacturing process, followed by the slightly different RCA and DA15 connectors.
Secondly, working SID chips are getting ridiculously expensive and, as Jo22 pointed out, there is an ever-growing risk of working C64s being gutted for their SID chips, which is not exactly desirable.
Thirdly, the average 1980s PC cannot emulate a SID by itself, so even without a real SID you have to outsource the emulation and something that mimics a SID-based sound card really lends itself to the task.
And lastly, an emulation-based card can technically emulate everything and anything: This card could technically emulate the Lo-tech Tandy sound card at e.g. port 2c0h or 2e0h, the CMS/Gameblaster on a non-standard port (or even a standard port if you replace the port jumper with a test lead), the Covox Sound Master in direct-drive mode and even an Adlib, albeit on a non-standard port like 288h/289h instead of 388h/389h, all using just one ISA slot and ideally switchable in software.

derSammler wrote on 2020-02-17, 18:28:

With an emulated SID (it *is* emulation, no idea why you say it isn't), you don't need the card at all. Software SID emulation on a fast PC is also way better than these ARM-based replacements, because these are made for usage in a C64 and are hence limited in size and power consumption.

Of course it is emulation. Nobody said that it isn't. I explicitly mentioned the term "SID emulation" just three posts back.
And this card would be significantly cheaper than a replica without the hidden SMD footprints combined with a SwinSID. You should be able to get the components for a functional sound card for as little as 15 Euros (assuming a batch size of 10-20 pieces).
You would however still be able to use a SwinSID – or any real SID for that matter – on an appropriately populated board and a board with MOS 8580 would still look like the real thing, because the voltage regulator is hidden.
The whole purpose of this design is specifically to serve people with different priorities.

Reply 7 of 126, by matze79

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I don`t care about emulation at all.
Some others maybe also do so.
As long the Software will run properly i don`t care about original SID.
The ArmSID sounds as good that even SID Veterans don`t hear any difference.
I know it. i showed my C64 off with ArmSID inside.
No one could hear it wasnt a original chip.
its at least equal.

if i where benedikt i would go one step further and remove the sid stuff 100% and only keep emulation core.
a mockup IC on top of the Emulation Core can be added to hide the magic.
To protect C64s from SID Scavengers.
i hate this people destroying c64s to get some stupid midi boxes to run.

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Reply 8 of 126, by Benedikt

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matze79 wrote on 2020-02-17, 21:49:

if i where benedikt i would go one step further and remove the sid stuff 100% and only keep emulation core.
a mockup IC on top of the Emulation Core can be added to hide the magic.
To protect C64s from SID Scavengers.

While I fully understand the motive, I'm not going to artificially cripple the card.
A mock-up IC won't be necessary, because the DIP socket is always populated, either as socket for a SID chip or as programming port for the STM32.
If you want to hide the STM32 and voltage regulator, a simple sticker is therefore all you need .
You could however go the extra mile and take an old UV EPROM, rip the die out, put the empty DIP package in the socket and put a "MOS 6581" sticker on top.

Reply 9 of 126, by Benedikt

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matze79 wrote on 2020-02-17, 18:11:
You know ArmSID ? http://dzi.n.cz/8bit/armsid/index_en.php […]
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You know ArmSID ?
http://dzi.n.cz/8bit/armsid/index_en.php

http://dzi.n.cz/8bit/armsid/imgs/ARMSIDschema.pdf

But its not OpenSource.

I had heard about it but did not take a closer look until today.
The pinout of the chip itself would be similar enough for a layout that supports both, the pin mapping ArmSID uses is totally different, though.
Unfortunately, I cannot use that pin mapping, because virtually everything has to stay on the front layer of the board and it cannot be adjusted in software, because the software is not open source.
On the other hand, the 71.6MHz clock frequency should result in 10 to 11 bits of precision for PWM audio generation, which should be fully sufficient for a sound card without bypass capacitors.

Reply 10 of 126, by Jo22

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derSammler wrote on 2020-02-17, 18:28:

With an emulated SID (it *is* emulation, no idea why you say it isn't), you don't need the card at all.
Software SID emulation on a fast PC is also way better than these ARM-based replacements,
because these are made for usage in a C64 and are hence limited in size and power consumption.

Well, your points are absolutely valid I think.
Though personally, I would simply like the idea to be able to enjoy a SID compatible card in my vintage PC.
For the same reason that I'm interested in running Munt on a Raspberry Pi at some time (I've got a real MT-32 and CM64, too).
It's simply fun and makes you want to write your own little DOS programs/games for the SID.

Speaking of fast PCs, an SSI-2001 interface card (PC-Bus/ISA) that connects to a C64/SID emulator
running on an RPi or modern PC would also be interesting indeed! 😀
That way, you could enjoy the atmosphere of a true PC DOS environment,
have access to your your old PC's MIDI keyboards etc.

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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 11 of 126, by derSammler

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Jo22 wrote on 2020-02-23, 08:04:

Though personally, I would simply like the idea to be able to enjoy a SID compatible card in my vintage PC.

Fully agree. I have one of Fagear's SSI-2001 replicas and built a system around it just (ok, mainly) for listening to the HVSC using a real SID. But that's the point: we have Fagear's SSI-2001 replica already and that is using a real SID. Why spend time creating something worse? If SIDs get sparse, you can put a SID replica on Fagear's card as well.

Reply 12 of 126, by root42

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I love the idea of the card. Is the header at the top for programming the STM32?

Whenever this goes into production, I would take a kit, I think. Regarding brackets: is there a plan to make a variant compatible with a standard bracket, such as this?

https://www.keyelco.com/product.cfm/product_id/2500

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Reply 13 of 126, by Benedikt

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derSammler wrote on 2020-02-23, 08:50:

Fully agree. I have one of Fagear's SSI-2001 replicas and built a system around it just (ok, mainly) for listening to the HVSC using a real SID. But that's the point: we have Fagear's SSI-2001 replica already and that is using a real SID. Why spend time creating something worse? If SIDs get sparse, you can put a SID replica on Fagear's card as well.

As I indicated in the first post: The Renovation card is supposed to be the card that Fagear's SSI-2001, that has been around for more than five years, is not.
The rationale is that there are only two groups of people with potential interest in another Innovation SSI-2001 clone: Those to whom his SSI-2001 is not enough of a replica and those who cannot afford it.
If you don't belong to either group and his SSI-2001 is the perfect clone card for you, that's fine. In that case move along, there's nothing to see here.

The Renovation SSI-2001 is designed to fill the two remaining gaps: The gap above in terms of accurately replicating the original, both, visually and acoustically and the gap below when it comes to the price of a cheap working solution. One in SID configuration, the other in STM32 configuration, but reusing the same PCB layout.
Taking one of Fagear's layout PNGs and redrawing it in an EDA program would have been easier, but would also be cheating and, besides, nobody would want the resulting card.

root42 wrote on 2020-02-23, 09:21:

I love the idea of the card. Is the header at the top for programming the STM32?

Whenever this goes into production, I would take a kit, I think. Regarding brackets: is there a plan to make a variant compatible with a standard bracket, such as this?

https://www.keyelco.com/product.cfm/product_id/2500

Are you referring to the joystick sensitivity jumper? I did not add any headers. The STM32 will be programmed via the 28-pin DIP socket that would hold the SID in SID configuration. It already exposes GND, VDD, NRST and both SWD lines.

The choice of bracket is a compromise: You would have to take Keystone ISA bracket No. 9202, drill three 10mm holes and join two of them to an obround cutout for the DA15 socket.
The obround shape would be good enough, because the Innovation SSI-2001 did not use hex screws on its DA15 socket.

Reply 14 of 126, by Benedikt

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By the way: The RCA jack that is not present in the rendered pictures is a KLPX-0848A-2-B by Kycon.

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It is very similar to the RCA jack on the original card and at the same time the cheapest 90° RCA jack Mouser has on offer, which makes it perfect for this build.

Reply 15 of 126, by root42

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Benedikt wrote on 2020-02-23, 15:19:
Are you referring to the joystick sensitivity jumper? I did not add any headers. The STM32 will be programmed via the 28-pin DIP […]
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root42 wrote on 2020-02-23, 09:21:

I love the idea of the card. Is the header at the top for programming the STM32?

Whenever this goes into production, I would take a kit, I think. Regarding brackets: is there a plan to make a variant compatible with a standard bracket, such as this?

https://www.keyelco.com/product.cfm/product_id/2500

Are you referring to the joystick sensitivity jumper? I did not add any headers. The STM32 will be programmed via the 28-pin DIP socket that would hold the SID in SID configuration. It already exposes GND, VDD, NRST and both SWD lines.

The choice of bracket is a compromise: You would have to take Keystone ISA bracket No. 9202, drill three 10mm holes and join two of them to an obround cutout for the DA15 socket.
The obround shape would be good enough, because the Innovation SSI-2001 did not use hex screws on its DA15 socket.

Okay, interesting way of programming the STM32 😀

Regarding the bracket: Having not to drill would be a nice option. I did drill a bunch of blank Keystone brackets for the Adlib clone, but having a standard bracket would be even cooler. Any chance of supporting the above 9204 bracket?

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Reply 16 of 126, by Benedikt

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root42 wrote on 2020-03-07, 19:40:

Okay, interesting way of programming the STM32 😀

Regarding the bracket: Having not to drill would be a nice option. I did drill a bunch of blank Keystone brackets for the Adlib clone, but having a standard bracket would be even cooler. Any chance of supporting the above 9204 bracket?

Yeah, but reusing the DIP socket would also simplify debugging via logic analyzer.

As far as the bracket is concerned, no matching standard bracket appears to exist.
Even if I abandon RCA in favor of a 3.5mm jack, which would not be ideal, because I still hope that the STM32 can bitbang S/PDIF, there is still the problem that the 9204 appears to be a PCI bracket, which means that everything including the DA15 cutout and the mounting hole is effectively upside down.

Of course, one can still improvise a bracket using e.g. thick paper and aluminum tape, if drilling is too complicated.

Reply 17 of 126, by root42

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Nah, I‘d rather use a 3D printed bracket then. SPDIF would require RCA, I get that. Or a custom cable I guess. Was just wondering, since getting nice brackets has always been a problem with previous cards.

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Reply 18 of 126, by Benedikt

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After some rearrangements of the SMD passives I have found enough space for a bypass capacitor for the 12V line.
These rearrangements also allowed me to further minimize the visible differences.
There's still four additional traces on the back side of the board, but they are now much shorter and do not shift other traces anymore.

Reply 19 of 126, by matze79

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i`m really interested into the software part, a opensource sid emulation core for stm32 would be really great 😀

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