Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

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

Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby keropi » 2015-6-23 @ 21:17

Hiya!

there are workings in making clone cards of the Music Quest PC MIDI CARD IH9MQ9 MPU. I have posted many info about the card here.
Basically this little 8bit MPU is fully compatible with the Roland "intelligent mpu" standard, so all games are running fine - even demanding ones. :blush:

Image

This is still a research phase, mainly in costs for a small production run of 20 cards (it seems such a small card but all that damned obsolete parts add up in the end...) but a rough estimate would be ~70eur per card, fully assembled with breakout cable and a professional pcb.

Sooo.... anyone interested in getting one? :lol:
Last edited by keropi on 2015-6-23 @ 21:34, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby Stojke » 2015-6-23 @ 21:18

You managed to crack the PAL chip?
70$ is too deluxe for me, so I cant say for sure.
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby keropi » 2015-6-23 @ 21:23

yeah, PAL code is no longer a problem - I sent the chip to a cracker-company in the far east LOL
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby vetz » 2015-6-23 @ 21:26

Could be interested in one yes :)

I have two 386's and one slow 486 where SoftMPU doesnt really cut it due to performance hit and memory footprint. Two of these machines have a MM-401 and a Music Quest MQX-32 respectively (yes I know they aren't fully compatible, but I just load SoftMPU for the Wing Commander on the Music Quest card to get it working and the same for the Legend games on the MM-401.) So need a card for the last machine :)
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby Stojke » 2015-6-23 @ 21:36

What is the company in question? Was it hard for them to analyze it?
Can any other sum be of aid to you besides the total PCB cost? What are the components that will be used, old chips or new alternative?
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby alexanrs » 2015-6-23 @ 21:45

I can see this being extremely useful for slow 8088/286 machines where SoftMPU might slow things down too much. Once I get my first 8088 machine I'll certainly want one of these.
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby keropi » 2015-6-23 @ 21:52

No idea how hard was for them to analyze , I got the code back yesterday and it works with a GAL16V8. Waiting to get the original chip via EMS atm.
Components are new to my knowledge, not recycled. But when getting some 1988 Z8s you can never be 100% sure. No need for any other sums.
It would be cool to port the whole card to a newer platform but I doubt there is anyone around fluent in Z8 "mini computers" so he can analyze the z8/sram/rom combo and port it to something newer and way cheaper. I am not even sure a Z8 is more powerfull than a beefy PIC for example LOL
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby Marmes » 2015-6-23 @ 22:05

If it's like what is said on pointed thread, it could be a good alternative if not the only hardware alternative for "smart midi" features for fast and slow computers.
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby Stojke » 2015-6-23 @ 22:07

keropi wrote:No idea how hard was for them to analyze , I got the code back yesterday and it works with a GAL16V8. Waiting to get the original chip via EMS atm.<br abp="651">Components are new to my knowledge, not recycled. But when getting some 1988 Z8s you can never be 100% sure. No need for any other sums. <br abp="652">It would be cool to port the whole card to a newer platform but I doubt there is anyone around fluent in Z8 "mini computers" so he can analyze the z8/sram/rom combo and port it to something newer and way cheaper. I am not even sure a Z8 is more powerfull than a beefy PIC for example LOL


I accept the idea that the entire midi processor can fit onto one micro controller. If some one could engineer it that would reduce costs massively by my understanding.
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby Marmes » 2015-6-23 @ 22:14

Stojke wrote:
keropi wrote:No idea how hard was for them to analyze , I got the code back yesterday and it works with a GAL16V8. Waiting to get the original chip via EMS atm.<br abp="651">Components are new to my knowledge, not recycled. But when getting some 1988 Z8s you can never be 100% sure. No need for any other sums. <br abp="652">It would be cool to port the whole card to a newer platform but I doubt there is anyone around fluent in Z8 "mini computers" so he can analyze the z8/sram/rom combo and port it to something newer and way cheaper. I am not even sure a Z8 is more powerfull than a beefy PIC for example LOL


I accept the idea that the entire midi processor can fit onto one micro controller. If some one could engineer it that would reduce costs massively by my understanding.


I totally agree with you. But we would have to get someone interest in this, that really understands what's going on. I don't know if he would do this for free. I see there is no much market on this, just us a few people, so I think the price is ok, for such hardware. How much does it cost a hardware alternative like this?
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby shock__ » 2015-6-24 @ 08:28

Seeing both layers of the card combined ... I'd definitely change the way the load for the crystal is realized. It seems to rely on parasitic capacity of the signal lines (see those "snailhouse"-style traces) instead of proper capacitors.
It might possibly/probably work, but isn't exactly a good practice.
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby keropi » 2015-6-24 @ 09:05

^ hah! when I was explained the use of the "snail lines" I was blown away tbh... didn't think this would ever be possible. Penny-pinching to the max?

a good mpu nowdays IMHO is somewhere from a lucky 30-40$ to 100$+ on eBay... roland ones can go higher ofcourse
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby DonutKing » 2015-6-24 @ 10:00

Nice work keropi!

I would be interested but I don't have any external MIDI modules any longer.

One question I have is will this card still require an external dongle to break out the D-Sub connector into the 5 pin DIN connectors?

What I'd like to see one day is an MPU401AT clone card that can run external modules and also has an internal Waveblaster header :)
Of course that would be a much bigger project as you'd have to include audio circuitry...

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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby keropi » 2015-6-24 @ 10:40

Yeah, this still needs a breakout cable... One problem is the metal bracket, atm a bog standard serial bracket for mobos is used, cost-wise it is a no-brainer... Along with a handmade cable LOL
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby PeterLI » 2015-6-24 @ 11:40

I would be interested. I think this is a really cool initiative. And you can always list them on AmiBay / eBay and you will sell quite a few (over time) to recover the cost of a batch of 20 (or more). :happy:
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby alexanrs » 2015-6-24 @ 11:45

As a VERY quick and dirty alternative, you could probably use PS/2 jacks (6-pin mini-DIM) with AT to PS/2 keyboard adapter cables to get you the DIN-5 jacks.
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby shock__ » 2015-6-24 @ 12:22

alexanrs wrote:As a VERY quick and dirty alternative, you could probably use PS/2 jacks (6-pin mini-DIM) with AT to PS/2 keyboard adapter cables to get you the DIN-5 jacks.
But no backplanes for both jacks.
I think their approach with hijacking ordinary vga/serial brackets is certainly the way to go. Whoever can solder such a card can also solder the breakout adapter with ease.

EDIT: Maybe adding a header for the midi i/o would be slightly helpful - that way a wider spectrum of backplanes can be used instead of 1 specific one.
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby keropi » 2015-6-24 @ 12:33

^ true, the main obstacle is the bracket...
2xPS2 ports is easy to add but it would also mean the bracket type must change to a blank pcb-mount one and having holes drilled to it. I remember that a bracket just adds to the costs another ~4eur on top or something... not counting holes and how they would look LOL
this is already getting expensive, no need to help it skyrocket IMHO

remember, this is still a reasearch on it to help determine the minimum quantity needed... ofcourse the more the cheaper but I don't see it getting to that point tbh , prices are for the minimum number of pcbs one can get.
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby alexanrs » 2015-6-24 @ 12:44

Couldn't a simple ATX form card backplane (those with 1 PS/2, 1 IR and 2 USB) be used? The IR port cutout is exactly the same as a PS/2 one. The USB cutouts would be unused, though...
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Re: Music Quest MPU clone cards, anyone interested in them?

Postby shock__ » 2015-6-24 @ 14:11

If you need brackets let me know ... I should still have 10-15 lying around from old scrapped VGA cards.

ATX backplane ... how'd you mount that on an ISA card? :P
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