VOGONS


First post, by lemonlime

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Hi All,

Is anyone using one of the PC MIDI clone cards with a Pro Audio Spectrum 16 by chance?

Both cards work together fine, but only sometimes. There appears to be about a 50/50 chance that the PC MIDI card is functional once I boot up and get to the command prompt. In the situations where it doesn’t work, MQDIAG.EXE doesn’t find the PC MIDI card at IRQ2/port 330. It’s as if the card just isn’t there. If I do a soft reboot (CTRL+ALT+DEL), it remains in the broken state. If I power the system off and power it back up, there is a 50/50 chance it’ll work again. When it works, it seems to work great until I restart the system again.

I suspect it has something to do with a conflict of the onboard MPU on the PAS16. There is no jumper to disable it via hardware and it has to be done during MVSOUND.SYS driver initialization in config.sys. It is correctly disabled (m:0) via software, but I’m not sure what’s happening behind the scenes before this during boot-up. Does the PAS16’s MPU default to enabled with IRQ2/330 until the driver tells it otherwise? Considering how random it is, I’m thinking the two cards are fighting over IRQ 2/330 during startup, and whichever gets it first is the winner. Or do software configured cards like this not consume any resources on the system at all until initialized? I'm not very knowledgable in this area, unfortunately.

This problem happens on two different systems I've tried, including the 486 its in now. I don’t seem to have this problem when using a SB16 with its onboard MPU disabled via jumper, but will need more reboots to confirm 😀

Any suggestions for troubleshooting?

Thanks!

Reply 1 of 10, by keropi

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Damn, I have no PAS cards or experience with them so I cannot comment on their resources... But just to make sure, pcmidi alone never has an issue, right?

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , Orpheus , Action Rewind , Megacard and MK8330 soundcard website

Reply 2 of 10, by Arvid

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I have a 486 system with a PAS, Aztech sound blaster clone and a PCMIDI card. This setup has always worked great for me. I don´t have access to this system at the moment to check any specifics in the config or anything like that but at least this should work.

Reply 4 of 10, by lemonlime

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keropi wrote on 2022-02-01, 21:28:

Damn, I have no PAS cards or experience with them so I cannot comment on their resources... But just to make sure, pcmidi alone never has an issue, right?

Thanks keropi - yeah, when I remove the PAS16 card from the system, it appears to work fine every time. I did ten power off/power ons in a row to double check 😀

Reply 5 of 10, by lemonlime

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Arvid wrote on 2022-02-01, 21:58:

I have a 486 system with a PAS, Aztech sound blaster clone and a PCMIDI card. This setup has always worked great for me. I don´t have access to this system at the moment to check any specifics in the config or anything like that but at least this should work.

Good to know that someone else was able to get the combo working well. That is encouraging, thanks!

Is your card a PAS16 or the original PAS? If it was a PAS16, do you remember if it had the Trantor SCSI interface?

Reply 6 of 10, by lemonlime

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Plasma wrote on 2022-02-02, 00:28:

Make sure nothing is using IRQ9. Some older video cards have this option.

Yeah I was wondering about IRQ9 as well since 9 and 2 are cascaded. My video card is a VLB Powergraph C33 (Western Digital paradise chip). I don't see any jumpers for IRQ assignment, but since the PC MIDI card works fine without the PAS16 installed, I think that probably rules it out.

Reply 7 of 10, by Arvid

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lemonlime wrote on 2022-02-02, 18:24:

Good to know that someone else was able to get the combo working well. That is encouraging, thanks!

Is your card a PAS16 or the original PAS? If it was a PAS16, do you remember if it had the Trantor SCSI interface?

It´s a PAS16, pretty sure it has a SCSI interface but I´m not able to check that right now.

Reply 8 of 10, by lemonlime

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I spent a bit more time troubleshooting this morning. I thought the PC MIDI card just wasn't working at bootup, but in actual fact, even when it did work it wouldn't work for very long. I just wasn't testing it for long enough. After about ~10 minutes of MIDI operation, the card would just stop working with some nasty hanging notes. If I run MQDIAG.EXE after this happens, the card isn't found again. The system would also be all laggy until a reboot.

Interestingly, I tried a newer Trantor SCSI and CDROM driver to use with the PAS16 and it seemed to resolve this issue. I still have the issue where it sometimes isn't found after a cold-boot, but at least the card works properly for long periods of time now. Maybe I'm onto something with the SCSI interface on the PAS16.
EDIT: Looks like it was just a buggy game causing this, see next post for more detail.

The Trantor driver documentation seems to indicate that there is no IRQ used by the PAS16 for SCSI - only an address range. I'll do some testing without loading the SCSI drivers. There is also a jumper for I/O address range blocks on the PAS16. I may give that a try as well as a troubleshooting step.

I have a Plextor 6x caddy load SCSI CDROM in this system and really love the PAS16, so I'm hoping I can make it work reliably.

Last edited by lemonlime on 2022-02-02, 20:39. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 9 of 10, by lemonlime

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Good news! I think I may have fixed it. I thought I was running the latest version of MVSOUND.SYS (3.23) but there is actually a newer 3.26 version floating around. As soon as I swapped the file out, the problem appears to have disappeared. I hard rebooted no fewer than 13 times to test, and MQDIAG.EXE detected the PC MIDI card just fine every time. Prior to this, I'd never get more than 4-5 reboots in before it'd be in the broken state. I don't want to call it yet, but this is a good sign.

Also, ignore my last post about the Trantor CDROM drivers, I was wrong. It looks like the shareware version of Hocus Pocus that I was using to test with has a buggy general midi implementation or something. Doom and other games have reliable MIDI output for long periods of time. It had nothing to do with the SCSI drivers.

If this is indeed fixed, I'm really happy because I can use the PAS16, SCSI CDROM and an awesome MPU-401 card!

Thanks all.