Steinberg Sound Works dongle circuit

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whyatmyage
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Steinberg Sound Works dongle circuit

Postby whyatmyage » Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:08 am

Whilst digging through my old Atari stuff I came acorss a copy of Steinberg Sound Works for the Ensoniq Mirage. It has that dongle but for some reason there is a problem with it. The software stops loading and hangs at the last moment, I assume waiting for the correct signals from the dongle, so now the whole package is unusable, the dustbin looms. No great shame as the program wasn't that good anyway and there are many better PC based Mirage editors available.

Before I suspected any probs I did an image of the Cart and program disk for use in Steem, interestingly the response by Steen was exactly the same as the real thing. So if anyone wants these images let me know.

So I opened up the cart and drew the circuit diagram in the hope it might help others. Yes I would have liked to have read the PAL's configuration but I suspect its now carbon not silicon.

Question, any reason to use a PAL and not a PROM in this application? Speed surely wasn't an issue.
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Re: Steinberg Sound Works dongle circuit

Postby Greenious » Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:07 am

Many programs, especially music related, used different dongles. Most, if not all, uses a PAL/GAL.

The reasons behind this was atleast 3.
PAL/GALs has read protection, you cannot extract the programming very easily.
Since they are logic chips, you can program them to give different output every time, even if the input is the same.
You can program them to co-exist with other dongles/cartridges, thus allowing the user to use more than 1 dongle and more than 1 program without restarting, inserting a different dongle, or having a midi expander or similar.

It does sound like your dongle is broken. I have no idea where you can get that fixed today, or if anyone cracked the dongle system so that you can make a new one.

It should not be impossible to crack the dongles, and there would probably be a market for it aswell, since the makers of cubase and other software using dongles don't want to support it anymore, and wants people to move on to Mac/PC and give them their hardearned money once again.
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Fujiyama
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Re: Steinberg Sound Works dongle circuit

Postby Fujiyama » Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:08 am

I hope you haven't damaged the dongle by opening it.
You should have tried to clean the dongle contacts before doing anything else as that's usually the biggest issue with any dongle:

1) use a pencil eraser/rubber (a clean one mind you!) to rub the grime and dirt off the dongle's contact pins (remember to do this for both sides).
The contacts should be clean and shiny.

2) If that doesn't give the desired results, get some isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol, rubbing alcohol etc.) and Q-tips (cotton swabs/cotton buds). Dip the Q-tips into the isopropyl and rub the electrical contacts of the dongle. This should remove the rest of the dirt.

3) Also be sure that the cartridge connector of the Atari ST is clean and the contacts are aligned (they're not bent too much outwards). If the latter is the case, take a small screwdriver (with the Atari ST turned off!!!) and very gently bend the pin(s) inwards. You may also gently clean the cartridge contacts with a Q-tip and isopropyl alcohol (be sure to use a clean Q-tip).

4) re-attach the dongle firmly into the cartridge slot and give it another go.
The cleaning and re-aligning should solve 95% of dongle-related problems, but if it still doesn't work -do you have other dongle-protected software you could try out? If you do, and they work then the dongle itself is probably at fault.

By the way, how did you manage to open the dongle? My experience is that most dongles are impossible to open without damaging the whole thing because of their epoxy fillings. I'd love to be able to see what's inside a Notator dongle, but alas I don't want to damage one for that.
Good luck and tell us how it goes!
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Re: Steinberg Sound Works dongle circuit

Postby simbo_backdoor » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:31 am

the dongle chip may use its own clock or resonator
this is a component used to generate its timing clock pulses
over time they start to drift and this causes the chip to not respond at the right times
or to stop working altogether {a common falut in old cartridge games}
simply remove the crystal or resonator and turn it round or better replace it
it maybe to far gone for the turn around trick
you see the drift is caused by impurities that get dragged accross the resonator or crystal by atomic migrations
and replacement of this part is sometimes needed
turning it round {they have 2 pins crystal or three pins resonator } simply drags the crap the other way
and if its too far gone to drag then its stops and the internal chip to the cartrige gets no clocks signals
so stops working and hence the problem
many things go to the grave becouse its clock stops
much like humans
much likened to a bipass operations
when a clock drifts its viens suffer

so as a last ditch try that look for this part and turn it round

if there is no clock of the chip
more often its the thru plateing of the board {rarely the actual chip goes wrong}
you need to carefully find and clear any holes that just connect thru the board to another track
bare top and bottom copper
feed a thin strand of wire thru and solder top and bottom
if you find this hard
please take some hi res photos of the top and bottom of the exposed dongle board
and post them
maybe as usualy pictures speek louder than words
i have chips made pre 1970 that work fine and will work fine for maybe 30 more years or more of use
this i see is an 8 bit data hum i remember something about 8 bit dongle's on later than stf machines ill look in my book

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Re: Steinberg Sound Works dongle circuit

Postby Fujiyama » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:51 am

That's interesting, but also scary as I have many dongle-protected programs.

So if the resonator changes its value and needs to be adjusted/replaced the biggest question is really: how do I open those epoxy dipped dongles without breaking everything?
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Re: Steinberg Sound Works dongle circuit

Postby simbo_backdoor » Mon Jan 28, 2008 3:34 am

i think if its epoxy potted then best forget trying to repair it like this
most 8 bit data types use the ataris stobe clocks
some controller based types use there own
so mostly games cartrige and 8 bit dongles use the strobe or there own clocks
really there is no solution becouse chips suffer the same fait eventualy
internally there connections weeken as materials migrate
not just clocks migrate all atoms do
so.. its indemic to electronics in general

and crystals seem to be affected faster than ic's as they are more crytical .... and are made of different atoms

you cant adjust a resonator only turn it round or replace it
crystals can be adjusted but mostly need turned round also

its a slippery slop once it starts to drift it just drifts quicker

unless you turn round the crystal and round and round till the frequency becomes a sliding scale

taking an atari ste and replacing all its crystals with new ones and setting the clocks with a frequency counter
the 16mhz clock and video clocks are the only two that can be adjusted in say an ste and there are two more crystals in an atari ste
so most ste are atleast 15 years or so old will give a 30 -40 % reliability increase
games work smoother and dont crash so often the machine is fluid instead of a bit cranky
even if you check everything it can be just one chip that has weekened further becouse of its process in making it
causes the issue and makes it glitchy
in electronics this is called chipset glitch and is effectored by time and clockings of the micro processor and support chips
everything must happen at exactly the right time
and a few crystal changes can make a big differance
if you callibrate the clocks in an atari then check it 1hr later
they will have moved they move with heat and moisture and age
so take out age and moisture and leave it switched on all the time will make it very stable
and is infact recomended and what many users of pc like goverments do

so basicaly you need to wait till they reach an even tempreture to calibrate them

then they remain set at your norm

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Re: Steinberg Sound Works dongle circuit

Postby whyatmyage » Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:40 am

What's all this stuff about xtals!?? It's a PAL!!

Anyway, here is the actual Soundworks disk that runs under Steem. I have included a "copy" of the cart but I don't think it is valid.

Try and open the file ROM.DAT it aways closes all my programs so there is something unusual about it.
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Re: Steinberg Sound Works dongle circuit

Postby stimpy » Thu Jan 31, 2008 3:55 pm

PAL/GAL are used because it is possible to send a sequence in the correct order and receive some kind of code back. A logic analyser triggered off the ROM3 signal would capture the sequence.

OR, can Steem capture events on the cartridge port?
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Re: Steinberg Sound Works dongle circuit

Postby MasterOfGizmo » Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:09 pm

whyatmyage wrote:So I opened up the cart and drew the circuit diagram in the hope it might help others.


The Cubase2 dongle has the same schematics. And it's a PAL16R8. And it can be reverse engineered just like the Cubase 2 dongle.
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