Roland MT-200

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

Re: Roland MT-200

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-6-07 @ 20:29

CrossBow777 wrote:
Ozzuneoj wrote:
CrossBow777 wrote:I actually know how to dump roms I just haven't a programmer to read them any longer. I had access to one in the late 90s and missed on the chance to own some very high end ones in the early 2000's when the company I worked from was in the middle of a large move and literally dumped about a half dozen eprom programmer kits to a local recycler. I wasn't happy about it but there wasn't anything I could about it either.

I also asked an acrcade pcb repair guy I know who live in the next state over if he could do it and he never got back with me about it.

But I tell you what, I do have another person I can ask about this and see what they have to say. As you said if I can find someone in the states to do it, it would just be a matter of pulling the chip, putting into some foam, put that into a small zip baggy, into a small box with lots of padding around it.

*UPDATE* Looks like this can happen after all. I've got a good contact in the next state over that shouldn't have a problem with dumping the eprom off it. So...I will see about extracting that 2.01 firmware chip from my MT-200 this weekend and get it ready. I've got the other MT-200 I can keep and use on hand in case there are any issues.

Would there even be a need or interest in the 2.0 version if I get the 2.01 dumped?


That would be fantastic if you could get that ROM dumped. Version 2.01 for sure would be useful. Getting 2.0 dumped probably wouldn't be necessary, unless it turned out there was some kind of compatibility issue or bug with 2.01. I still plan on trying to dump the ones I have, to have the older versions available.

Could you tell from the pics I posted (in this Google Photos gallery) of the internals whether there were any other differences between my original unit (with 1.00 firmware) and your newer ones? I'm hoping they didn't use different firmwares for slightly different internals.


Wanted to let you know that I shipped my 2.01 firmware chip to TX this afternoon. Should be in my contacts hands by Saturday. Once they've dumped it, I'm sure they will email me the raw BIN file and I will be more than happy to include it here.

BTW...that is a pretty large eprom they used in the MT-200. It is a 2meg eprom! Going price on the bay for such chips is about $20 + shipping and you would still have to erase them. And they would be slower than the original as the original eprom is a 120ns chip and the ones I've seen on the bay are 150ns.

Will keep you updated...

Awesome! I've been pretty busy so I haven't had a chance to do anything with the MT-200s since my previous post.

I'm a total ROM\EPROM newbie. Can anyone explain what my options would be for reading and writing ROMs like the ones used in the MT-200? Here's a picture of one of mine:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/Mvaoj5NVVDBzRPmJ3

I know there are ways to use old modems or NICs or even motherboards for dumping and flashing ROMs, but would these 2mbit 32-pin ROMs work with any of these methods? I'm sure there are different voltages and pinouts used on these things too. I also have an old ART EPP-1 EPROM Programmer but it only has a 28 pin socket and it only mentions being compatible with "2716-27513, 25XX and X2864" ROMs.

I'd like to get myself a nice programmer, but so far every time I've needed one it has been for a completely different kind of chip, so I'd need a rather large and flexible kit to cover all my bases... and that'd be quite expensive.
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby CrossBow777 » 2018-6-09 @ 16:44

Well...as promised...

BTW Ozzuuneoj....send me a PM for more info please.
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2.01 FW for Roland MT-200
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-6-10 @ 01:33

Awesome! Thank you Crossbow!

I have some spare BIOS chips I've harvested from old motherboards. I have one of these:
http://www.alphacron.de/download/hardware/39SF020.pdf

It is a 2Mbit ROM, the voltage is +5v and pinout seems to match the 27C020 used in the MT200... would it be as simple as flashing the image using either a motherboard BIOS hot swap or a NIC\Modem as a flashing device, then putting it in place of the one in the MT-200?

EDIT: ARGHH... I cannot find a DOS executable for Flashrom. Their site has tons of broken links, its like it hasn't been maintained at all. And yet I can't find any other application that does what it does. I have everything I need here to do this, except for the application to actually perform the flash. :dead:

Are there any DOS-based alternatives that will allow me to do a BIOS chip hot swap on an old board for flashing? I have dozens of boards of varying types at my disposal, so hardware shouldn't be an issue.
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby CrossBow777 » 2018-6-10 @ 02:57

Ozz...where you located at roughly..

Let's just say that since I was getting it dumped for archival anyway, that I had 2 copies made as well...

Just to be sure. And one of them is for you. PM your contact info...
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-6-10 @ 03:23

CrossBow777 wrote:Ozz...where you located at roughly..

Let's just say that since I was getting it dumped for archival anyway, that I had 2 copies made as well...

Just to be sure. And one of them is for you. PM your contact info...

Thanks!

I'm still struggling with trying to flash a copy of it myself. I found the application uniflash and I did get it to flash the image, but when I then saved it again (using uniflash) I checked the binary contents of the file and it was completely different than the original you uploaded. Uniflash must be doing something other than simply flashing the entire image to the chip, so it doesn't appear to be suitable for this situation, unless I'm missing something.
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-6-10 @ 04:07

Woohoo! I got it to flash!

I had to tell uniflash to flash the image WITHOUT the boot block, and that was it! I just flashed the image to an old 2mbit motherboard BIOS chip (using the hot swap method with an old PC Chips M810 SIS board), then I saved the contents to a backup, then compared that with the file CrossBow777 uploaded. Two different programs (WinDiff and VBin_Diff) are reporting that they are identical!

I thought it'd be way more complicated than this with the way things have been going tonight (one problem after another just trying to get to this point).

Tomorrow I'll tear down one of my MT-200s and try out the updated ROM.

I sure hope it works! :)

EDIT: By the way, here is where I found uniflash. I'll also attach it here since it is somewhat hard to find, due to the name being very common for other things.
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby CrossBow777 » 2018-6-10 @ 15:23

Wait..let me get this straight. You are flashing the rom by using a bios update utility on an old mobo? I had not idea this was even possible?!
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-6-10 @ 17:57

CrossBow777 wrote:Wait..let me get this straight. You are flashing the rom by using a bios update utility on an old mobo? I had not idea this was even possible?!

Yeah, I've read about people doing this for a while now, though there doesn't appear to be a lot of information out there about it. Some people use old network cards too. I think uniflash supports flashing to PCI devices as well but I think many are limited to flashing smaller images.
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-6-10 @ 20:26

Okay, well, the newly flashed chip sort of "works" in that the MT-200 does turn on and when I check the firmware version it says 2.01, but things aren't working properly on either of my machines that originally came with 1.12. That's for sure.

For one, when I start up the device it says "Sequencer Sound Module" rather than Roland MT-200, which is probably intentional but seems odd. When I run the RAM and BATTERY self test it immediately says "Battery Ok. BU o SRAM OK. DRAM NG". With the original ROM installed it says "Battery OK. BU o SRAM OK. DRAM OK" after a few seconds. I'm also having problems with the devices freezing up in certain places and saying that the data format is unreadable on a disk full of .mid files.

All these problems go away with the original 1.12 firmware installed.

I'm thinking there have to be differences in the hardware somewhere else in the device, or I guess there's a slight possibility the ROM flash or source ROM was bad, but its hard to say. I'll try burning another one using the uniflash hot swap method, but I doubt that's it, since the file dumped from it was 100% identical to the 2.01 ROM posted here.

Here's a question for you CrossBow777...

Does your MT-200 show that the RAM is OK? If so, how many of the "4256DRAM" sockets near the front right corner of the main board are populated on yours? Mine has two SHARP LH604256D-10A chips in the right most sockets, with the other two sockets unpopulated. Maybe the later version is expecting there to be more RAM?
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-6-10 @ 20:44

Hah! My suspicions are confirmed!

At around 11:40 in your video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib1qC7y ... e=youtu.be

Its clear there are 4 RAM chips on the board (from that angle they're in the left rear corner of the main board).

Would it be possible for you to take some detailed pictures of your board to see if there are any other differences? Specifically, anything related to the DRAM. On mine it appears that everything else is there, just no RAM. Though I'm a bit suspicious of the small green wire on mine. Here's a few pictures.

EDIT: I saw a more clear picture in your video and it doesn't appear that anything is different except for the additional RAM chips and the lack of a little green wire (as shown in my pics). I poked around a bit with my DMM and didn't find anything too surprising. I decided to throw caution to the wind and I dropped in a couple of DRAM chips who's data sheets seemed basically compatible with the existing ones. There was no smoke, fire or overheating chips, but it also made no difference. Obviously, without soldering them in (there are just holes that are sealed on the bottom which continuity with the DRAM legs) I can't be 100% sure of what's going on, but I'm wondering if that little wire is somehow bypassing the unpopulated DRAM sockets. I'm a bit apprehensive about removing that until I learn a bit more.
Attachments
IMG_20180610_164128 (1920x1440).jpg
IMG_20180610_164108 (1440x1920).jpg
IMG_20180610_163946 (1440x1920).jpg
Last edited by Ozzuneoj on 2018-6-11 @ 02:24, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-6-10 @ 21:43

So, I just tested my MT-200s with their 1.12 firmware and I still get the hanging notes and other weirdness when starting, stopping or changing MIDI tracks played by a PC, exactly like I did with the original v1.00 model I already had. Since the v2.01 firmware doesn't seem to be fully compatible (likely due to the newer model having more RAM) I can't test that at the moment. The problem doesn't occur on my SC-55.

I just realized something though CrossBow. In your video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx-N2Py31NU

The Descent sound setup program you have has completely different music and sounds totally different than mine, played on either an MT-200 or SC-55. At the top of the setup screen in mine it says "Descent Registered/Commercial v1.0 Setup" . Yours says Descent Setup v1.4 . I'll try making an audio recording of what mine does when I start and stop the music playback on my MT-200.

EDIT: Here it is. The recording actually came out pretty okay considering I don't normally do this kind of thing.

If I turn off the MT-200 it fully resets and makes all the hanging notes and errors go away, so the beginning of this mp3 is what it sounds like fresh when I hit "Test Music Card" in Descent v1.0 setup using General MIDI, running directly from a Midiman MM-401 ISA card with no software or drivers interfering. When I stop playback and start it again a couple times you'll start to hear the sound change, as if notes aren't being told to turn off. As mentioned, no other device I have does this. I can pull the MIDI cable out of my MT-200 and swap it over to my SC-55 and I can start and stop the playback dozens of times in any pattern and it always sounds exactly the same every time with no lingering notes.
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mt200_112_D1_sndtst.mp3
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby CrossBow777 » 2018-6-11 @ 04:21

Well..the original rom hasn't gotten back to me yet so I can't test this with my 2.01 MT-200. However, I do have a second MT-200 and it contains FW 2.00. BTW...both of mine start up saying Sequencer Sound Module so I thought that was normal? The 2.00 version unit looks and sounds exactly the same inside and out and I do have quite a few pics of that unit as I was planning on putting it up on the 'bay soon once I get the FW chips back for the main module.

20180306_205300.jpg


Eitherway..let me try and get a recording with this other module...

Okay I uploaded the entire test song from the setup as it sounds through my ver 2.00 MT-200 and also did my own start and stop testing through the setup program. As you can see the MT-200 seems to reset properly between each start so I don't have any oddness taking place. However, yes all four ram chips are populated with some OKI ram modules it would appear.

I say you desolder that green wire and see what happens personally. Easy enough to solder it back into place right?
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00 mt200_descent_fw200_stopstarttest.mp3
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby yawetaG » 2018-6-11 @ 05:35

Probably there are two different motherboard revisions here with different layouts. It's better to check for other differences before you guys go any further.

I found something similar with my Kawai K1r synth module (not GM-compatible!). It has the front of the ver.1 K1r and the back of the ver.2 K1r (multiple outs), but the motherboard is fully ver.2 with different ROM chips and layout from what's in the ver. 1 service manual. What the (US!) sources apparently don't know is that there are three versions of the K1r:
- original K1r,
- K1r II with more outputs,
- and a version that appears to have only been released outside the US in Europe and Japan that is called "K1r" on the front like the original US version, has the K1r II rear outputs and motherboard, and a completely different soundset.
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-6-13 @ 20:47

Holy crap... guys. I did it.

I noticed that my other MT-200 didn't have a green wire like the one shown in the pics, in fact they looked identical to the pic CrossBow777 posted, aside from the memory chips. There's a good chance the wire was just a repair... it actually looks like there's a ding in the PCB right under the wire. The more I thought about how memory worked during this era, the more I thought it was worth it to just try upgrading one of these. Afterall, most ISA cards with expandable memory just required the chips to be inserted without other parts needing to be altered.

I had an old Trident TVGA 8900B ISA card with a blown tantalum and a couple of socketed 256k DRAM chips that exceeded the specs of the ones used in the MT-200 (my MT-200s have 100 and 80 ns memory, these were 70).

Long story short, I took out the mainboard of the MT-200 (I chose the one with the small green wire), used some desoldering braid to remove the solder from the pads on the back of the two DRAM spaces, soldered in the two DRAMs harvested from the Trident card. I inserted the v2.01 firmware I burned using an old motherboard and UNIFLASH and then turned on the unit... and was presented with some garbled text that was partially readable! But... the beat light was blinking! It wasn't frozen! I turned the unit off, checked to make sure no chips were hot, and it seemed fine. I turned it on again and it started up normally! It was sitting here partially assembled, so the garbled text could have been from anything. I restarted it in the diagnostic mode and the DRAM now checks out as OK!!!!

I did a factory reset, hooked it up to the same PC I used for the recording above, ran the Descent 1.0 sound setup, ran the Music Card Test and... it fixed it.

THE HANGING NOTES ARE GONE!

I've started and stopped playback dozens of times and it is perfect, exactly the same every time! Just the way it was on the SC55! A nice bonus is that a factory reset to default settings is actually all it needs to handle PC MIDI playback. It no longer requires the user to play with a bunch of weird settings to use it this way. This makes it an extremely simple device for getting Sound Canvas music out of a PC.

What all of this means is that with an updated firmware and a couple of 256k DRAM chips, even an older revision of the MT200 can be used for old games the same way an SC55 would (minus the mixer) while also being a MIDI jukebox with tempo and sound controls (very fun to play with).

Now, I just need to get some more RAM chips so I can update my other two MT-200s.

After two years, I'm so happy that I fixed this. CrossBow777, thank you for taking the time to get that firmware uploaded!!!

EDIT: Also worth noting, I only saw garbled text on two screens before resetting to factory defaults. Since then, its been perfect.
Last edited by Ozzuneoj on 2018-6-13 @ 20:59, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby cyclone3d » 2018-6-13 @ 20:57

Now I am going to have to pull out my MT-200 at some point in the near future to see what version it is.

Great to see that adding those RAM chips fixed the issue with 2.01.
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby CrossBow777 » 2018-6-13 @ 21:09

You can see the version if you start the MT-200 up in diag mode. It displays it on the first screen that comes up along with the date of the FW. Far as we know, the 2.01 is the latest version that was made for the MT-200s. At least until someone finds one that is newer and knows to come here to tell us! LOL.

Glad the hanging notes issue is corrected with two additional ICs and updated firmware to address them. Makes you wonder why they even had models that didn't come fully populated if the spots are on the silkscreen for them? That would mean they had at least two different skus they were offering at the time, but what would have been the difference functionally besides what we have found when using it connected to a PC?
Wait..I just figured it out. Yours was likely repaired and instead of replacing the two DRAMs, they just removed them and put in the bodge wire to bypass those two sockets is my guess?!

Anyway, you guys have the firmware file so feel free to start grabbing up the MT-200s and updating them and selling them for big $$$$ on the 'bay...LOL
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2018-6-13 @ 22:43

CrossBow777 wrote:Glad the hanging notes issue is corrected with two additional ICs and updated firmware to address them. Makes you wonder why they even had models that didn't come fully populated if the spots are on the silkscreen for them? That would mean they had at least two different skus they were offering at the time, but what would have been the difference functionally besides what we have found when using it connected to a PC?
Wait..I just figured it out. Yours was likely repaired and instead of replacing the two DRAMs, they just removed them and put in the bodge wire to bypass those two sockets is my guess?!

Actually, all of my MT-200s have only two RAM chips and they have clean, unused but fully connected solder pads. The one with the green wire was most likely just a repair since there was a small gouge in the PCB right where the wire is. I left it in place, and I doubt I'll ever know for sure what its for.

If I had to guess as to why the device had problems with PC playback, I would say that it was originally intended solely for use with MIDI instruments, with the SC55 being intended for PC music. As to skimping on the RAM, perhaps they designed it to be "future proof" but back in 1991 it probably saved enough money to use half the RAM, and it didn't make any difference for the device's intended purpose at that time, so the penny pinchers decided not to add the second pair of chips. But perhaps there were issues with more complex or longer songs, so they started adding more RAM to them once the cost came down (2.01 firmware is dated 1994). At the same time, they probably were taking this opportunity to patch up the firmware, so the PC playback was brought up to par with the SC55. Maybe the added features of the newer firmware absolutely required additional RAM so they couldn't skimp any longer. I guess we should just be glad they originally built them with future expandability in mind.

CrossBow777 wrote:Anyway, you guys have the firmware file so feel free to start grabbing up the MT-200s and updating them and selling them for big $$$$ on the 'bay...LOL


I doubt the price will skyrocket any time soon, but I'm sure investing all the time and energy to make these things more useful will also make them more valuable eventually.

Not too many people looking for a floppy-based MIDI jukebox, but to get one that also doubles as an SC55 is pretty sweet. :)
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby CrossBow777 » 2018-6-13 @ 23:03

Ozzuneoj wrote:Not too many people looking for a floppy-based MIDI jukebox, but to get one that also doubles as an SC55 is pretty sweet. :)


Exactly! BTW the other MT-200 I have is a 2.00 FW. Any interest in getting it dumped? I don't know what difference there actually is as I can't tell a difference in their options or functions. I suspect the 2.01 was a bugfix of some sort. But..more importantly is that the date on the 2.00 FW is only a few months older than the 2.01.

Still curious how long these were offered and if they did release them around '91 that would actually predate them to the SC-55 wouldn't they? Anyone have any real idea how much these cost originally or for how long they were sold?

Also curious what differences if any the MT-120 and later units might have and if the MT-80 - 90 series can also be used as sound modules? I seem to recall on the MT-80 the port was marked Midi-in and possible Piano midi-in.
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby cyclone3d » 2018-6-14 @ 03:31

Just checked mine and it has version 1.12.

Took the cover off and it also has that green wire and of course only two RAM chips.

I'll have to do the upgrade at some point.

All of the MT modules should be able to be used as sound modules. You can look up their specs through a simple google search.

I've also got an MT-100 and an MT-300s.

The 300s capabilities per the specifications put it somewhere in between an SC-55 and an SC-88 as far as what sounds it has.

The nice thing about it is that it can be used as a stand-alone midi player as it has built in stereo speakers.
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Re: Roland MT-200

Postby CrossBow777 » 2018-6-14 @ 13:06

Well, I may have finally found a game that the MT-200 can't quite handle. I've played a bunch of old DOS games with this module and not experienced any issues. But last night while playing Dune2...that wasn't the case.

Now I'm still using the module that has the 2.00 FW in it for the time being. So I'm playing Dune2 and the intro sounds correct and plays with no issues. Start the game and a mission and everything seems fine. Then right when the enemy first starts to show up and the music switches tempo I start to notice that the music is missing beats and instruments occasionally. I look at the module and sure enough it has the error "Midi Buffer Overflow" on it. I've seen this happen before when I play Midi type 1 files that are just too much for the thing to handle, but this is the first time I've seen a game cause this issue.

The settings I used were:

Sound Played from - Sound Canvas
Sound Effects from - Sound Canvas
Digital Sounds - SB Pro

So you might give that game a go and see if you get similar results. I could swear I played this game before on the other MT-200 with the 2.01 and didn't experience this issue but maybe I didn't play it enough. I do know that I had been playing Doom_SE and some other games prior and didn't experience any issues with those games. Only when I fired up Dune 2.
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