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jt's Random Questions Thread

markyb86

Well-known member
Q8: Is there a version out there with a built-in modem or a PCB that looks like it may have been set up for one that went unimplemented?
I've only seen in pictures, but the G4 Digital Audio version of the silver and blue tower, has a 9 pin connector in the modem hole. They all do from what I can tell..... My G4 (AGPGraphics) had a RJ45 jack and a modem card.

Maybe a similar suspect?

 
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NJRoadfan

Well-known member
The cover for the modem on the personality card is just a knock out plate. Just pop it out and install the modem. I have a 56k CS II Global Village modem from a 6500 I stripped years ago. It appears to be the same unit that went into the beige G3s. I never bothered to try installing it, because I wanted to keep the knockout plate in place.

 

rsolberg

Well-known member
Trash, I opened up my G3 desktop to snap a few pictures of the Whisper card and found this horror:

P_20170724_192914-01.jpeg

P_20170724_193744-01.jpeg

(It was promptly removed)

Here's the Whisper personality card:

P_20170724_193404-01.jpeg

P_20170724_193421-01.jpeg

P_20170724_193517-01.jpeg

P_20170724_193443-01.jpeg

This board doesn't seem to have any provision for a phone jack connector adjacent to the knockout. It doesn't appear very many traces go to the Modem connector. My guess is that it's limited to audio, power, and serial. I'm pretty sure that the serial lines to this slot are shared with the logic board serial port, like on Comm slot equipped Macs.

I've seen the prototype personality cards with USB Cory mentioned in photos of the PowerExpress/Manhattan prototype/DVT machines.

 

CC_333

Well-known member
You know, someone should reverse engineer this PERCH slot thing. It would open up all sorts of interesting possibilities!

c

 

Trash80toHP_Mini

NIGHT STALKER
I'd like to see that too, but it's effectively a flexible extension of the motherboard. That's probably why Apple didn't document it for outside development. At the minimum, the sound system ASIC would need to be made available or its innermost secrets documented. Apple don' give away ice in the winter when, even back when they published DCaDftMF for NuBus card development they never gave a complete example of a useful card, just the "SCSI test card" IIRC. Forget about the mess they (intentionally?) made of the mish-mash of incompatible PDS and Cache Slot implementations, that's a horror show by comparison.

I was going to say that hacking Whisper to support a NIC seems like the only thing possible and for all practical purposes it probably is. But given a recasing, there's the possibility of designing a "riser" for Whisper that could make use of the A/V system's interrupt.

The only thing that strikes me as interesting offhand would be a 5.1 surround sound card for the PERCH slot with a driver that would support system sound as the Sound Blaster Live does for its four channel output.

Too narrow a niche for the bother. In another few years we'll have hackers building NuBus, PDS and PCI cards for out toys. bbraun was working on NuBus before he dropped out of the game to spend his time IRL.

I'd love to see someone build a NuBus prototyping card for Rpi coprocessor development. Seems like that infrastructure is about ready to slip into DSP/ASIC role for retro development playtime. It appears to have been a fairly easy jump to get a NuBus card down to the PDS level after a design was proven. It just wasn't worthwhile for developers to bother doing so for the most part. Other than NICs, very few folks upgraded low end systems and NuBus was the fastest general purpose interface standard available until the VESA Local Bus materialized.

speed of common technologies


 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
I don't remember if it got released officially or if it is only a prototype, but there was also a personality card referred to as Bordeaux with DVD decoding hardware on it. I believe it was a Wings with additional hardware. I don't know if it had SCSI/IDE on it or if it was just the decompression hardware for MPEG-2 video.

Given that every beige G3 board that ended up being built had three normal PCI slots on it, I don't think Apple meant for the personality card slot to be available for more third party development. They could have used it for their own purposes, especially if (I'd have to go look at my G3 tower, too) the whole thing has its own back-plating, but really, I think the whole idea was to make manufacturing A/V and non-A/V configurations of Power Macintoshes easier. Basically, to avoid the situation Apple was in in some markets, selling the 7300/200 and 7600/200 alongside one another, one with and one without a/v functionality.

Hypothetically Apple could have taken it further and built, say, a video input card that didn't have outputs, for like a video conferencing configuration (like the 7500) but even though the slot was almost certainly technically capable of it, I don't think Apple wanted to over-extend itself too much by building different options.

One side-note, I keep seeing things about the Whisper and the comm slot, but the Wings also had it - so you can have your dial-up and your A/V too. That may have been mentioned.

As a totally wild hypothetical, if I was giving Apple advice on what to build, an interesting personality card would have been a card to add the blue-and-white G3's USB ports to a beige, and perhaps a 16-meg Rage128, to essentially update a beige G3 to most of what was important for OS X. Not that you can't install a Rage128 and a USB card in a beige, but it would have been an intriguing way to shift one of those machines away from hardware not totally friendly to OS X (the Wings a/v card in particular) to hardware that will work better, and possibly retain some more compatibility with, say, Mac OS X 10.3 and 10.4.

 

jimjimx

Well-known member
I thought the Rage 128 did the decoding on an expansion board..

I did get a G3 DT to play DVDs without it, in 10.2, but not OS 9.

There's some discussions at the Apple site

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/1449934?start=0&tstart=0

and

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/1449934?start=0&tstart=0

There's 13 days left to bid on this, if it's the one you're looking for..

http://www.ebay.com/itm/APPLE-805-1632-A-video-card-/172786216398?hash=item283adc6dce:g:Xa0AAOSwA4pZa~Ft

...And  I did get a modem from a 6290 to work in the slot, but it disabled the serial modem port....

 

Trash80toHP_Mini

NIGHT STALKER
Yes, both my Rage 128s are PCI Card/DVD daughtercard combos. Haven't played with a DVD yet, but they work great as graphics cards.

Interesting discussion, I knew the Bordeaux was much sought after, but its DVD playback never clicked because I've never been interested in using built in video. I think the only time I've ever made use of it to drive a primary display (FatMac and SE excluded) was the Quadra 630 and the DuoDock at work. The Dock+ at home had a  high end NuBus VidCard and the 6360 was almost immediately hacked to use a full length PCI card.

Thanks for linking that discussion, never noticed that the BG3s could be upgraded with a usable amount of VRAM. Sounds like 6MB was borderline adequate Bordeaux to decode DVDs. Driving a TPD at 24 bit from the BG3 mobo must have been a first (only?) for a Mac system board?

That's the card I have already, I'd trade it for a Whisper card in a heartbeat because the A/V functions are useless ascompared to dedicated PCI VidCap and making cutouts for them in my plexi BG3DT hack's backplane is a friggin' nightmare. ::)

 

Bolle

Well-known member
Pretty sure a GeForce 4 Ti does this. Mine runs 1920x1080 on my 24" screens but *1200 should probably be possible as well.

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Q9: Anybody know offhand of G4/OS9 compatible vidcards that support 1920 x 1200 @ 24bit?
All stock PCI and AGP video cards from the blue-and-white G3 and newer (so, 16-meg Rage128 and better) will do this.

I thought the Rage 128 did the decoding on an expansion board..

I did get a G3 DT to play DVDs without it, in 10.2, but not OS 9.
Rage128 is another option, it likely had the hardware onboard. The Bordaux card is something different. It's a lot like the PowerBook G3's DVD Decoder card in that it was Apple's attempt to build DVD playback without requiring a dedicated PCI card or a new PCI video card. (Except of course in the case of the PowerBook, the DVD card was dedicated, but in a Bordeaux desktop situation you just swap the personality card.)

Mac OS X, in my experience, is generally willing to attempt to do the decoding work in the CPU, so if you have a really good CPU installed, it'll be fine in OS X. I had no trouble playing DVDs in OS X on my PowerBook G3@500MHz, for example.

That's the card I have already, I'd trade it for a Whisper card in a heartbeat because the A/V functions are useless ascompared to dedicated PCI VidCap and making cutouts for them in my plexi BG3DT hack's backplane is a friggin' nightmare. : :)
Useless in what sense? Are you hooking betacam SR VTRs up with SDI or is there some noticeable quality difference on average 240-line TV and video capture or is there not enough compression hardware for a G3-era disk to make it useful for recording or is it just that you're looking for OS X and the Wings functionality doesn't work in OS X?

EDIT: I have a beige G3, with its stock disk and a Wings even, but I haven't had an opportunity to try it so I really don't know what it's like, what the video it produces is like, etc.

My main experience with video capture on a Mac has been the 840, which was just too slow without some kind of add-on disk array or compression card (or a replacement for the whole video system, such as with a spigot) to use. The suggested work-around was to get a VTR that has timecode and serial control so Premiere can capture until it drops a frame, then rewind to just before that frame and start capturing again. (DV systems did this too, but by like 1999 disks were bigger and faster and DV had a relatively predictable data rate and was itself pretty highly compressed even on the tape.)

 
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Trash80toHP_Mini

NIGHT STALKER
It's useless in terms of basic function to me, being neither here nor there in terms of convenience/power/flexibility. Not as much fun as VideoVision Studio NuBus playtime or PCI pro level gear OS9 playtime either. Seems to me to be a hugely updated version of the revolutionary Quadra 630 A/V card.

If I can get my mits on a Whisper card, I only need to drill two holes in the backplanes of the BG3DT PlexiBoxen alternates. For A/V you need Ponoco or a higher order level of "appearance challenge" tolerance than I possess.

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
One possible alternative for mounting the card is to drill one large hole for the entire space the card will occupy, unless you plan to remove the back plating of the card. I believe that's how they appear as mounted in the Beige G3 systems, instead of Apple building two different plastic back-plates for the system, or different cover plates as the 7200-7600 had.

The other point of flexibility there being that if Apple had built some sort of hypothetical card with, as I mentioned a Rage128 and some USB connectors, they wouldn't need to build a special replacement bezel for it.

Also, thank you for the clarification on "useless". I'll make an opportunity to test it out at some point. It makes sense to switch to Whisper if you're never going to use the A/V functionality and the Whisper card will be easier to mount in a custom case.

It is probably an update on the video system from the 8500 and 8600, but moved out onto a card for more flexibility. That seems more likely than that Apple took a part from several generations earlier.

 

Trash80toHP_Mini

NIGHT STALKER
One possible alternative for mounting the card is to drill one large hole for the entire space the card will occupy, unless you plan to remove the back plating of the card.
That'd be the "appearance challenged" aspect, been there done that, broke it, not looking forward (too much  [}:)] ]'> ) taking a second crack at a Ponoco production thickness acrylic.

Let's say the Personality Card quirk of the BG3s hearkens back to plug and play video playtime on a standard Mac offering that first appeared in the Quadra 630. [:)] ]'>

 

Trash80toHP_Mini

NIGHT STALKER
Q11: when I pull the Video ROM on my SE/30, its mobo video a Slot ID $E disappears from the Slot Manager. What are the odds on hijacking that Slot ID successfully for further video expansion? [}:)] ]'>

 
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joethezombie

Well-known member
Q10: when you run the MICRON internal grayscale lashup on the SE/30, is pulling the Video ROM part of the setup process?
Nope.  Just plug the card in to the PDS, pull out the old neckboard, put in the new, and it just works.  I have to say, the Micron software is quite slick.  The pan-able virtual desktop feature is silky smooth.

 
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