VOGONS


First post, by Prez

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Hi all !

I'm glad to have a little spare time to do what i intended to do some weeks ago : add a true soundcard into this little and cheap thin client the HP T5710, which uses a VIA SoundBlaster compatible chipset.
The VIA chipset does some almost neat soundblaster effects, but FM synthesis is not very accurate. So, lets try to do something better for this side !

First, i did buy a flexible PCI extension ribbon, like this one :

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Then, a very cheap CMI soundcard that i did modify to remove the useless bracket :

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This $5 soundcard doesn't works well for SoundBlaster effects, but does for FM synthesis very well (OPL3 compatible).

Once you add the PCI extension ribbon on the machine, you still have a tiny place where you can try to fit the small soundcard :

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So, lets try to put here the soundcard : it fits !

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It leaves even enough room to place back the metal plate with the small speaker on it !

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The CPU is left alone so heat is okay for this part. The Radeon chipset is a little bit obstructed, but hey, this is useful under DOS games, so it will not work too much here 😉
For the sound output of the soundcard, we have the choice : First, i will try to redirect the sound output into the MIC input of the Thin Client and see if its works like this.
If not, i'm going to dissasemble the motherboard to connect the soundcard output directly here. We'll see.

But first, this evening, i will test the system using CMI drivers to obtain real FM synthesis and soundblaster effects through the VIA chipset. This should work !

Next phase will be to add a soundblaster + fm compatible PCI soundcard like an ALS4000 or maybe, if we find enough place, a real Yamaha with a true OPL3 sound ! 😀

Best regards,
Philippe Dubois

Old computers and videogames freak
President of french association https://mo5.com
Get better, get old ! 😁

Reply 1 of 8, by Prez

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Okay !
It works when i used SBVIACFG on the HP for SB sounds, no VIA FM emulation of course, then i take the sound output from the HP into the CMI soundcard (Line In).
The final sound output is taken from the CMI soundcard.
As for the SETAUDIO utility for CMI tries to use a SB mode also, i just said it to use another adress, 240. I adjusted the volume for Line In, and voila !

Now i have to things to try :
- Try to fit an ALS4000 which should be a better choice for both SB and FM and very compatible with DOS games
- Or modify the sound output internally of the HP to both use the CMI line in and the speaker output (should be easy).

For now, lets try the ALS4000 !

Best regards
Philippe Dubois

Last edited by Prez on 2020-06-03, 21:05. Edited 3 times in total.

Old computers and videogames freak
President of french association https://mo5.com
Get better, get old ! 😁

Reply 2 of 8, by Prez

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Back !
The results are far better with the ALS4000, as intended.
I believe the CMI still uses some kind of cpu power to produce FM synthesis. Its not clear, but i got slowness inside Descent, very strange.
Of course its not happening with the ALS4000.
Still, the soundcard is larger, so it asked a bit more imagination to fit in into the small HP thin client, so, its all way around now !

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Still, there is enough place for it and it should not pose a threat to the metal plate either. Looks great !

Now that my choice is made, its gonna be the ALS4000, i have to open the motherboard open and see how can i output sound from the ALS4000 using the native HP output plug on the motherboard.
Ah, as far as i know, Line In is not activated on the VIA soundcard, but maybe we can do something, lets see later.

Best regards,
Philippe Dubois

Old computers and videogames freak
President of french association https://mo5.com
Get better, get old ! 😁

Reply 4 of 8, by Prez

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chrismeyer6 wrote on 2020-06-03, 20:57:

Nice job and very clever solution with the ribbon cable extender. These thin clients are quite nice and worth the time investment to turn into a retro gamer.

Thanks !
I think i found a solution to have either the VIA chipset sound, or the ALS4000 sound, and why not, a mix of all of them.
I will try to use the VIA output and inject it into the ALS4000, so if i need sometimes to use VIA sound instead, i will have the choice.
Having the choice is always the most important thing, don't you think ? 😉

I also found a crystal solution soundcard a cs4280 which might sounds great and still fit into the thin client. I will run some tests...

Best regards
Philippe Dubois

Old computers and videogames freak
President of french association https://mo5.com
Get better, get old ! 😁

Reply 5 of 8, by Prez

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Hi all !

I succeeded this evening to fully implement the ALS4000 soundcard into the HP5710. Here are some pictures and videos !

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First, there is not so much place to bypass the sound output, so i found the sound pins below the motherboard, directly connected to the HP output plug, and i decided to solder an audio cable here :

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But the output sound level was terribly low using this simple trick. It was a problem, so i decided to use the Mic entry instead ! And it was a nice choice this time, sound levels are okay !

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Using a small hole in the motherboard fixing the miniIDE DOM, not useful, i did manage to bring the audio cable on the upside of the motherboard, so i can solder it directly to the ALS4000 soundcard. You can see the ALS4000 soundcard on the top with the sound cable :

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Now, use some tricks to try to fix things inside the little HP and put back the plastic case (no luck finally with the metal plate, maybe i'll do better next time).
Now, i have an HP T5710 able to use either the VIA chipset sound, or the ALS4000 soundcard sound, plugin my audio cable either in the common HP plug, or the in MIC plug and activating the good driver, of course !

Last, a first video (FM sound has some levels problem, i need to check that) and Monley Island 2 did bug in the end 😉
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqAkuRMlnu4

Best regards
Philippe Dubois

Old computers and videogames freak
President of french association https://mo5.com
Get better, get old ! 😁

Reply 7 of 8, by Prez

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Apolonius wrote on 2020-06-09, 19:13:

Are you working on this client with native DOS?, this is too interesting.

Regards.

Yes of course 😀

Old computers and videogames freak
President of french association https://mo5.com
Get better, get old ! 😁

Reply 8 of 8, by tomsie1000

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Thanks to Prez for the driver pack which included the IDE patch that Phil's doesn't which was giving me a real headache.

I can confirm this mostly works for the T5000 (with the PCI ATI Rage XL GPU). I found:

  • The model I have does not have a PS2 port, only USB. This is a problem for the "U98seusb.exe" patch - after you install and reboot Windows wants you to click buttons to "search" for the driver, but it looks like the USB controller is not available at that point, so no keyboard or mouse will work at all. I installed the "Nusb36e.exe" patch which works without any issues.
  • The FM TSR fails to load from DOSSTART.BAT with a "CODEC not ready yet" error, but works fine if you boot straight to command prompt rather than through Windows.