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Configuring a Standalone OasysPCI in a G4

Created by nick. Last edited by nick, 9 years and 268 days ago. Viewed 4,609 times. #7
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There's been some talk on the Korg OasysPCI mailing list about configuring a standalone computer purely as a host for an OasysPCI, so here are my experiences.

I recently bought a >>G4/AGP Graphics tower (codename "Sawtooth"), primarily as an OasysPCI host. I also wanted to run it without a monitor.

Installing MacOS 9 and the Oasys software is straightforward.

Ports and MIDI

I don't trust OMS with USB interfaces, so I went out and bought a >>Griffin G4Port. (As an aside, the original G4 tower, the G4/PCI Graphics, codename "Yikes", uses the older GPort, since the motherboard is similar to that in the blue-and-white G3.)

The G4Port replaces the built-in modem, and it appears as a "real" modem port. This contrasts with the >>MegaWolf serial port PCI card (which I also have installed in the machine), which appears as two (or more) special serial ports.

At this stage, OMS is go. I managed to run OMS with the G4Port, talking to my old Studio-4 interface as well as a simple 1-in, 3-out 16-channel interface. I also managed to connect the interfaces to the MegaWolf card, using the MegaWolf OMS driver. However, it isn't possible to use the G4Port and the MegaWolf in OMS at the same time. (The MegaWolf OMS driver conflicts with OMS's standard Modem/Printer driver.)

Turning to the OasysPCI, the editor can be configured to respond to the Modem or Printer port, and it does indeed work fine with the G4Port and a standard serial MIDI interface. The OasysPCI editor cannot be configured to work with the MegaWolf, since the card doesn't provide the standard Modem and Printer ports.

The route I took was: run the OasysPCI from the G4Port (with the editor driving the "Modem" serial port directly), and run OMS for the MegaWolf card (with the MegaWolf OMS driver, having removed the OMS Modem/Printer driver). So, I can host the OasysPCI on a dedicated interface, and also run OMS applications on two additional serial ports.

Video

I'm currently using the G4 via VNC. For a VNC "server" (what X Windows would refer to as a "client": the software generating the desktop image) I'm using OS9vnc (as well as OSXvnc) from >>Redstone. For a VNC "client" (for displaying on my TiBook) I'm using the amusingly-named >>Chicken of the VNC under OS X. It seems to work well enough (modulo the refresh delays one would expect with a networked desktop) and all the various command key modifiers are passed through OK. There are a couple of wrinkles with OS 9: double-clicking and dragging in the Finder can be iffy (I recommend turning off the folder auto-open stuff), and OS 9 AppleTalk kills VNC (so boot into OS X for any network file transfers). Other than that, I've found it workable and stable, if a little sluggish.

I'm still trying to resolve the headless-boot video problems: if I boot the G4 without a monitor attached (i.e. without the monitor ID sensing pins connected) I get an 800x600 desktop. There are some notes about this >>here, but every site I've found describing VGA pinouts has given conflicting information, and my experimentation with bits of wire has so far been fruitless. Watch this space.

Conclusion

If I can fix the video problem, then I'll have a standalone OasysPCI box. It's not quite as portable as the Pismo/Magma PCI Cage combination, but is probably more robust and less sensitive to mains power fluctuations.

And - hey - with the G4, Digital Performer doesn't crash-on-quit like it does with an OasysPCI in a Magma. I wonder what that's all about?

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