They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

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They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby xjas » 2018-4-13 @ 22:17

So I've had this cute Shuttle XPC SK41G for a couple years. I was in a local computer shop and the owner had it sitting on a shelf; he offered it to me for $5 when I asked about it, so I wasn't gonna pass that up. (I ended up getting it for $4 as that's all I had in change on me at the time, bonus!)

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I originally got it stripped down with no drives or power supply. I had it up and running with a standard ATX PSU hanging out the back like a club tail, so I knew everything worked, but as you can imagine that was ugly & really cumbersome, defeating the portability and tidy form factor of the machine. After trying to luck into the proper-sized PSU locally forever I finally bit the bullet and ordered one - well, three - off Ebay. Finally, time to get this ball rolling.

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^^ this is about as 'un-built' as it's going to get.

Now I have a specific use in mind for it, which I'll get to later on, but it also represents something I didn't have 'active' in my setup yet - an AMD system! Yeah, despite me being a hardcore AMD guy back in the day, just about everything I have in regular use now is running Intel (or IBM for that matter. And one Thinkpad with a Cyrix. And a couple VIA C3s. But never mind those.)

So this will fill the gap nicely, an Athlon XP 1700+ (1466MHz @ 11x133) with VIA KM266/8235 on a custom-designed Shuttle FX41 mainboard. The form factor is 'FlexATX' which is a standard, albeit a little-used one. I dug around and found a Maxtor 80GB HDD which is all I need in it, and a single stick of Hynix DDR400 (@266) will provide 512MB of RAM. (I had 1GB in it but I took a stick out, see below.)
Last edited by xjas on 2018-4-13 @ 22:51, edited 1 time in total.
selected (probably) unfinished build threads { The Hipster Way | Only One 'T' | In a Lunchbox | World's Ugliest Keyboard | IT IS THE NINETIES }
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby xjas » 2018-4-13 @ 22:21

With the new power supply installed there is a lot of excess cabling. Here's my attempt at cable management. Not bad from this side:

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Unfortunately, the other side isn't nearly as pretty:

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...and the top is a disaster. I had to loop the floppy cable over the fan block so it didn't obstruct anything because this was the only way to get it from the floppy port to the drive.

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You can sort of see it in the picture, the CPU cooler is just a metal block with three heat pipes that conduct up to a radiator behind that fan, so it needs good airflow there. The northbridge is right next to the CPU and also seems to generate a lot of heat (it has a fairly hefty conventional heat sink fitted.)

Originally I specifically wanted to use this box because of its front-panel firewire & optical audio out, but it doesn't have an onboard MIDI port so I decided to throw in this M-Audio card I had sitting around for some extra connectivity:

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It's a pretty small card but it's still really tight in there. Incidentally if you put a longer card in it will clear the drive cradle, but not by much - that little black rubber pad is there for it to rest against.

Not sure which audio I'll end up using, but it doesn't have to share my firewire MIDI interface with my Mac Mini now. Can't beat having it straight on the PCI bus.

I'm leaving the AGP slot empty, it has S3 ProSavage8 onboard with 32MB AGP memory, which is kind of interesting to me as I've never had a post-Virge S3 card before. Maybe I'll chuck Unreal on here and give Metal graphics & S3TC a try.

This actually supports 3.3V cards so you could run a Voodoo3 or something in it, but I can't imagine how hot & tight this would be with a graphics card shoved in there too.

No, you don't need to make a joke about 'hot & tight', Beavis.
selected (probably) unfinished build threads { The Hipster Way | Only One 'T' | In a Lunchbox | World's Ugliest Keyboard | IT IS THE NINETIES }
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby xjas » 2018-4-13 @ 22:30

Here's the back panel with it all closed up. I think it looks quite neat! The sound card poking out vertically reminds me of an Amiga 2000 with a video toaster. Not a bad thing to harken back to.

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You might have guessed where this was going for the OS already; I held my nose and installed Win98SE off this lovely pink-and-purple boot combo. I am not a Win9x fan, especially when I have to set it up myself, but it has its uses & will run well on this setup.

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Install driver, reboot, configure driver, reboot, install another driver, reboot, insert the Windows CD, insert the driver CD, reboot, BLAGHGSKAGSL. Eventually I got it set up though.

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Yep.
selected (probably) unfinished build threads { The Hipster Way | Only One 'T' | In a Lunchbox | World's Ugliest Keyboard | IT IS THE NINETIES }
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby xjas » 2018-4-14 @ 07:04

So now that I've got everything set up, what's the use case I was talking about? Well, I've got optical audio out & a very solid MIDI interface, so... it's a synth module! I've been having a ton of fun with the Yamaha S-YXG100 softsynth, you can actually see it snuck into some of the previous pics on my Thinkpad, playing MIDI while I worked on the XPC. It sounds awesome, likes a fast CPU, and it apparently doesn't play well with dual-core systems or NT-based Windows. Perfect fit!

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^^ It can play MIDIs in a playlist, like I'm doing up there, or it can hook into the MIDI mapper as a default device and get fed incoming external MIDI using something like Falcosoft's MIDI player or MIDI Yoke. At that point I'll basically have my own Yamaha XG module. It even looks a little like one of the later MU-series:

1200px-Yamaha_mu2000.jpg

...well, sort of.

Anyway I'll post up more when it's integrated into my music setup. I intend to use this for producing, not just playing game soundtracks (although it works great for that too.)

Incidentally I would absolutely love to get some kind of front panel display going on to show what S-YXG is doing. I don't care if I block off the DVD & floppy bay as I don't really need them anymore. Looking into this...
selected (probably) unfinished build threads { The Hipster Way | Only One 'T' | In a Lunchbox | World's Ugliest Keyboard | IT IS THE NINETIES }
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby chinny22 » 2018-4-19 @ 13:55

You'll have to paly ROTT on it with a title like that!
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby Dominus » 2018-4-19 @ 15:08

I gutted such one for my Kryflux setup ;)
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby JidaiGeki » 2018-4-20 @ 13:48

My main computer for years was an XPC... still have it, just slightly upgraded. I dreamed of one day polishing it like this:
http://metku.net/index.html?path=mods/s ... index_eng3
But ended up with the Shuttle black cover instead.
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby xjas » 2018-4-23 @ 03:41

chinny22 wrote:You'll have to paly ROTT on it with a title like that!


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Luckily it runs ROTT quite well. :) Even has Sound Blaster sound through the onboard VIA AC'97 under Win98. I have the game on a CD of utils and stuff I made for setting up new DOS/Win9x machines, so it finds its way onto a lot of my PCs.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to pipe the music from DOS stuff to the Yamaha XG softsynth yet, which is something I really want to do. ROTT's music in particular sounds stunning through the synth and really shows off how good of a composer Lee Jackson is. I wish he'd stuck around in the industry and done a few more soundtracks.

Have a listen: ROTT - CCCool rendered on the Yamaha S-YXG100. Crank it & wait for those horns. :)

Of course playing games isn't really what I built this thing for, I was looking to run an old-school MIDI sequencer and make tunes on it. Turns out Yamaha themselves provided one in the form of XGworks.

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I "procured" a copy and have been playing around with it - it's a little fiddly & awkward to use, but no more so than any other sequencer from that era (Cakewalk, Cubase, etc.) Plus, it has a built in XG editor and support for the softsynth & other XG instruments. It'll do nicely.

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It also supports multiple MIDI devices and can work with hardware (like my shiny new FB-01 up there) and software alike, which is standard these days but pretty advanced for 2002 when this came out.

Just for fun, here's ROTT - Goin' Down the Fast Way played through the S-YXG100 with the FB-01 providing some phat FM bass love. Sorry for the crappy phone video and the difference in MIDI latency between the two devices, I literally took five minutes setting this up just to see if it would work. (Also I'm sure there's a better bass patch for the FB-01 than the one I used.) Definitely something I'll play around with more in the future.

(Yes, I do have better speakers, this is just a temporary setup while I tweak it. Also I still haven't figured out how to add 1360x768 as a supported resolution, hence pillarboxed 1024 for now.)
selected (probably) unfinished build threads { The Hipster Way | Only One 'T' | In a Lunchbox | World's Ugliest Keyboard | IT IS THE NINETIES }
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby xjas » 2018-4-23 @ 03:49

JidaiGeki wrote:My main computer for years was an XPC... still have it, just slightly upgraded. I dreamed of one day polishing it like this:
http://metku.net/index.html?path=mods/s ... index_eng3
But ended up with the Shuttle black cover instead.


There is NO WAY I could live with that, every time I touched it I'd have to buff off the fingerprints. I'll keep my boring, functional matte painted finish. :P That looks amazing though.
selected (probably) unfinished build threads { The Hipster Way | Only One 'T' | In a Lunchbox | World's Ugliest Keyboard | IT IS THE NINETIES }
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby xjas » 2018-4-29 @ 00:39

The little Shuttle is now nicely integrated into my MIDI setup. :) Direct optical audio out from the front panel jack to the main mixer (all digital signal path.) Works great!

midistack.jpg

Here's a video of it acting as a MIDI module for the DOS machine next to it, via Falcosoft's MIDI player. (Excuse the poor recording quality, and gameplay!) Unfortunately there's a little more MIDI latency than I'd like, but that doesn't affect using it for background music as shown here. Looking into a way to solve that. For a single-threaded, 32-bit program, the Yamaha softsynth does require a bit of horsepower.

Some GM stuff sounds fantastic on it, others are hit & miss, I think it really depends on what the music was composed on (moreso than, say, a Roland Sound Canvas which seems to do a better job of being generic.) If anyone's interested I can do some recordings.
selected (probably) unfinished build threads { The Hipster Way | Only One 'T' | In a Lunchbox | World's Ugliest Keyboard | IT IS THE NINETIES }
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby Bloxicon » 2018-7-15 @ 06:23

Oooh, is that a JV-1010? I've been eyeing them on ebay for a while now.

I used to play Disney's Toontown Online when I was younger (I still play the fan-made versions) and I was wondering if you'd like to take one of the game's MIDIs and play it on your JV-1010.
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby xjas » 2018-7-15 @ 07:32

^^ sure, I can do that! Attach it here or post a link. :)

The 1010 is a great general MIDI box, but it does so much more than "just" GM - highly recommended little synth.
selected (probably) unfinished build threads { The Hipster Way | Only One 'T' | In a Lunchbox | World's Ugliest Keyboard | IT IS THE NINETIES }
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby Bloxicon » 2018-7-15 @ 08:16

I wish I could, but it won't allow me to post .mid files for some reason. :/
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby xjas » 2018-7-15 @ 09:41

Zip it?
selected (probably) unfinished build threads { The Hipster Way | Only One 'T' | In a Lunchbox | World's Ugliest Keyboard | IT IS THE NINETIES }
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Re: They'll bury you in a lunchbox! - Shuttle XPC 'build'

Postby Bloxicon » 2018-7-15 @ 17:48

Here you go! :blush:
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