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zuiko21

Sigma Designs' video card for SE/30

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Hi all,

 

The last days have been very good for my 68k collection... among a Mac II, a Colour Classic and a much lusted (for decades!) Apple Portrait Display, I got my second SE/30!

 

Looks great, boots fine (has 7.0 in a Quantum LPS40), sounds loud and clear so it may take some time before recapping is needed -- anyway the mobo could get some washing. But the main reason for the purchase (I'm still due to replace the 53C80 on my other SE/30) was that it came with a Sigma Designs video card inside!

 

That thing is connected via a DE-9 (!) port, but I don't know anything else about it. There is a Sigma Designs control panel in the HD, but I couldn't get it working, neither any utilities detected anything installed... obviosuly, no monitor was plugged.

 

Any light on this would be greatly appreciated. All the best,

Edited by Guest

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Try searching Google Books. That can sometimes turn up hits from old magazines with a clue or two. Also, search here, and at Applefritter.com, to see if it's been mentioned before.

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Nice board, thanks for sharing. If you can make a copy of the control panel and extensions to archive somewhere, maybe (MacDriver Museum?) someone else down the road may have a need for it.

 

Did you try attaching a monitor? Monitor control panel reported nothing?

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I briefly checked what wikipedia had to say about DE-9/DB-9 video. It mentioned a handful of IBM-compatible standards, such as Hercules, MDA, CGA, etc - but it warned that there are not electrically compatible, and that plugging in the wrong monitor can damage or kill the card or monitor.

 

I thought that was worth mentioning.

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Just to add more confusion (at least for me) Wikipedia also mentions the DE-9 and DB-9 designation commonly being mixed-up.

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Thanks for the advice! Unfortunately, my previous search attempts on Google, AppleFritter and this very site were unsuccessful :(

 

I'm aware of the plethora of video standards around the DE-9 connector... that's why I won't try to connect anything until I'm certain enough about the particular pinout of this card... Not sure if hooking a scope on every pin would allow me to detect the signals, though.

 

The utilities I tried were:

 

Monitors control panel = only one monitor shown, SE/30 internal video

TechTool 1.2.1

•Newer Technology Gauge Series Slot Info 1.0a

 

In the disk was the control panel Sigma Designs PageView 3.7, but outside the system folder. Maybe it has to be active in order to show up... or maybe the video is halted without a monitor and thus not visible for the system.

 

Re: The NuBus Video Card AD Scan Dump... that's great! I do remember the SuperMac Spectrum 24 card ad. I can't see any Copyright date on the card, but the manufacture date is 9034.

 

Funny that none of the crystals' (dot clock?) frequencies match the usual Apple specs: as you can see in the pic, they are 56.66 (close, but not equal to that of the Portrait Display and the 16"), 62.955 and 69.251 MHz

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What are the build dates on some of the ICs on the card? I'm guessing from the context of the period that it may have been mfr'd the 34th week of 1990, which would be about right for a 9 pin D shell connector VidCard.

 

You're on the right track with SlotInfo and TechTool, so that's strange. Those read the Card Id off the DeclROM. Is there a ROM (DeclarationROM) on the card? If it wasn't designed by Apple's guidelines and relied entirely upon drivers/inits/whatnots to kick start it . . .

. . . you're way up the wrong creek w/o a propulsion device! ::)

 

I've got a NuBus card like that, it doesn't show up under any SlotSnoopers readout either.. :p

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The datecode on the chips that I can see are in the range from 8911 (!) to 9032...

 

There is what looks like a declaration ROM: a pretty much standard 28-pin ceramic DIP EPROM (12.5 V programming) with a 'PVAS3 4.00' label covering the window. There are three more labeled chips, 20-pin plastic skinny-DIP -- I think they're PLA's or something like that, but the inscriptions only append '.PV3' to the chip location (U8, U15, U26)

 

The idea of a non-standard ROM content that doesn't show up without the proper software, makes a lot of sense. I could read off the ROM contents on my programmer, but really don't know what to expect inside (or not) :-/

 

I gave the supplied control panel a glance thru ResEdit, and definitely has a dialog box with lots of options, plus some INIT code (nearly 20 KiB)

 

More info: I found a list of Sigma Designs monitors with no less than three PageView versions... the GS seems to have the same specs of Apple's Portrait Display, but the 'plain' PageView is the only one with confirmed 9-pin connector -- the other models say nothing about it.

 

The same web has info about the pinout variety of the DE-9 connector, but none of them mentions the PageView monitor...

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Sorry, I forgot about the picture you linked, you should [img} it in the thread right about here now that we're discussing its itty-bits!

 

From all the unimplemented hardware on the card, I'd say the three versions probably use the same PCB Design.

 

The DeclROM spec is well documented, IIRC there's quite a bit about it in the Duo System DevNote. The PCI Architecture version of Designing Cards and Drivers for the Macintosh Family is available in electronic format, my guess is that the spec didn't change much, if at all.

 

Did the SE/30 come bundled with the APD? Nine pins ought to be plenty to run it.

 

Dunno, I'll check out the files for something to scan. :approve:

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Thanks for the scan! Now, looking at it, the SE/30 compatibility is only mentioned about the Power Portrait (accelerated monochrome); but then, the PV initials everywhere in my card suggests it's a PageView -- GS (grayscale) back then.

 

Anyway, that ad is from 1992, a bit earlier than my card... and the four VRAM chips on it (42C4064) are indeed 64K x 4 bits = 32 KiB each, for a total 128 KiB. Assuming a 640x870 screen like the APD, that would only allow 1 bit/pixel (monochrome, using about 68 KiB). Not sure if it's accelerated, though.

 

On the other hand, a copy of Designing Cards and Drivers for the Macintosh II and Macintosh SE is coming my way... I hope it throws some light on this!

 

The SE/30 didn't include the APD, that came from a previous purchase. No way the Monitor control panel show a different APD resolution choice because... I can't connect the APD to this card :p

 

I'll try to recognize the card (without any monitor attached!) via its control panel...

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The PowerPortrait is listed in that ad as "for the SE/30" because it's a SCSI interface.

Having the SE/30 card opens up a whole new can-0-worms. :o)

 

The PowerView GS seems to be a straight up APD replacement, whatever connection they chose to implement on the back of the monitor.

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Not sure if hooking a scope on every pin would allow me to detect the signals, though.

 

Well, a multimeter to work out which pins short to (ie, are) ground is probably a good start. That both reduces the number of pins to buzz, and might help prevent future experimental damage through short circuits.

 

Scoping the other pins for signals would depend on convincing the card to output an image though, I guess. If that can be done, your scope should help you detect which pins are carrying signals - even overlaid signals - and deduce the timings. From timing, you (we?) can probably have a stab at which signal is which.

 

Funny that none of the crystals' (dot clock?) frequencies match the usual Apple specs: as you can see in the pic, they are 56.66 (close, but not equal to that of the Portrait Display and the 16"), 62.955 and 69.251 MHz

Do integer divisions of any of those frequencies produce any familiar numbers?

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The PowerPortrait is listed in that ad as "for the SE/30" because it's a SCSI interface.

LOL. My bad! Didn't notice the SCSI part... :I

 

Well, a multimeter to work out which pins short to (ie, are) ground is probably a good start.

Good advice. Most of the "danger" of mistaken connections between the several DE-9 PC video ports should be related to applying a higher-than-expected frequency sync to a fixed resolution CRT, though.

 

Scoping the other pins for signals would depend on convincing the card to output an image though, I guess.

I'm afraid so... Apple's cards won't supply any output signal if no monitor is connected -- so I should know which are the sense pins, if any. :(

 

Do integer divisions of any of those frequencies produce any familiar numbers?

Doesn't seem so... again, 62.955 divided by four makes 15.73875 MHz, which is very close to the 15.6672 MHz of the Xtal on 68000 Macs -- incidentally, the dot clock of B&W compacts.

 

More experiments with my card: since the second SE/30 where the card came in is currently taken apart for cleaning, I attached it to my first SCSI-less SE/30, copying the PageView control panel on a diskette with System 6.0.7 -- couldn't find a (reliable) System 7 disk with enough space! While booting, an error message appears:

 

The PageView software can only be activated if the Sigma Designs PageView monitor has been properly installed.

Please use the Monitors Control Panel to check your configuration.

 

After clicking OK, the icon appears crossed. After that, everything seems normal -- the Monitors CP shows nothing out of the ordinary... I should really learn about the connector's sense pins :(

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Interesting error code, if the monitor must be installed, that lends credence to my theory that your card is seen as a system extension, NOT a PseudoSlot Address. I thing it was my ComputeEyes/Vision/whatever NuBus card that didn't show up under SlotInfo/TechTool.

 

Great project picking the particulars out of that puzzle, but not a very useable/useful card, nonetheless. :-/

 

Nobody has confirmed it yet, but the Radius ColorPivot II/IIsi Card ought to be much better suited to SE/30 expansion.

Snag one from macmetex and give'er a try! [;)]]'>

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