Author Topic: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator  (Read 4317 times)

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Offline dexters_lab

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Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« on: June 05, 2019, 09:44:05 pm »
During many of the videos i have made  about my DPB-7001 Quantel Paintbox i have been asked several times if there is an emulator for one and of course the answer is always no. However i was contacted by a MAME developer recently about starting work on an implementation. This is a hobby project for both of us and Ryan (Holtz) will be doing 99.99% of the work so it is dependant on his free time to work on it.

Ryan has been working through the service manual and has made great progress so far, the CPU1, 2 and Disk Sequencer cards have largely been implemented enough that the software is beginning to boot. There is still a huge amount of work he needs to do and i'll be very soon needing to go through my hardware and make dumps of various PROMs and also truth tables for any PAL/GAL devices we find on the large number of cards in the system.

We have also learned that there could be the possibility of a dump of an old DPB hard disk that is held at a museum which could solve the issue of not having a working Brush Master disk which contains the master brush files that are loaded during system initialisation.

If we do complete this and get a working emulation then of course it will help me get my physical DPB working also, which has always been my goal.

I am going to use this thread as a news area so as things progress i'll post up here!

Offline Ampera

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2019, 06:19:08 pm »
Always nice to hear about new emulation ventures, especially within the realm of more niche hardware. I'll keep an eye on this one.
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Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2019, 09:44:16 pm »
Progress so far....

The Computer 1 and Computer 2 cards are done as is some of the Disk Sequencer and Store Address cards. We are getting console messages so it is beginning to boot.

Ryan is working on the floppy drive at the moment which is actually accessed through the SMD bus with an interface board which is also being included in the emulator.

I am working through all the programmed devices which are mostly OTP PROMs with a few PAL logic devices. They are mostly small 512 byte in either 8 or 4 bit arrangements so i have been making adaptors to read them in my TL866.


Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2019, 12:24:23 pm »
Status as of 17th June

Ryan has made great progress on the emulator now so there are parts of the CPU, Disk Sequencer, Store Address and Output Timing cards working, this gets us as far as the machine attempting to initialise cards and also look for the brush master files off the hard disk (although there is no emulated storage at the moment). It's still very early days but it's good solid progress IMO. There's a few snapshots of the console output attached if you are interested in seeing them. During his work the disk sequencer code was disassembled and has been placed on github: https://gist.github.com/MooglyGuy/bf5af82d5b9219f7a36d16f2c881c8b6

I am continuing to dump images of the PROMs and the combinatorial PALs within the system without too much issue. Though we have spotted a few PALs with registered outputs so i really don't know yet how we're going to work out their internal programming.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 12:30:37 pm by dexters_lab »
 

Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2019, 12:37:20 pm »
Status at July 22nd

work continued slowly since the last update though i had held things up a bit after it took me a while to deal with a PAL20L10 device. I have been imaging more of the PALs and PROMs contained in the Paintbox so far i have dumps for 35 of them and a little collection of hard wired adaptors and a re-wireable one to allow me to read them as EPROMs like the 2716 or 27C512.

Hopefully as these get incorporated into the emulator i will have more to show...


Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2020, 07:54:01 am »
Emulator status as of 26th August 2020

It's been a while since i posted in the thread but things have been progressing

The mame emulator is now booting the Paintbox from a floppy disk image i made of the brush master disk.

Originally the brush master was thought to be badly corrupted but in fact the data was just encoded in an odd way, it meant you could see what looked like the system brushes and the system font but was mangled. Once this was sorted the system loaded the brushes into the brush store card. Also on the brush master is the system font, which also meant the menus displayed albeit with the text inverted in this pic.


Once that was up we wanted access to the engineering/diagnostics menu, after failing to get the serial port working (will have to look into that later) we realised we can access it using the operators keyboard but to get that working we had to look at the tablet too.

The keyboard plugs into an interface board inside the tablet which takes the tablet XY coordinates and merges it into the keyboard data along with the pen pressure and outputs packets over a RS422 link to the paintbox.

The keyboard was a fairly easy, it simply outputs ASCII over a TTL link

Quantel's interface board which is mounted inside the tablet along with the tablet driver board was also pretty simple. We are just working on how the tablet tracks the pen and emulating the actual tablet.

There is still a lot to do, the machine still has no hard disk attached as it's going to require emulating that too, we also have no idea how well the painting functions work which is down to the other cards like the Combiner and Filter which do a lot of the graphical functions.


Offline jfjuk

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2020, 09:16:45 am »
Excited to have found this post... I've been searching for a method of reliving my 1990's past without having to fill the spare room with one of the original machines for sale on eBay.

Is there an update on progress?

Also, a few years ago I came across the Quantel Compass initiative which offered the software to run on PC hardware, for training.  Does that still exist anywhere?

many thanks!
 

Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2020, 07:22:31 am »
Excited to have found this post... I've been searching for a method of reliving my 1990's past without having to fill the spare room with one of the original machines for sale on eBay.

Is there an update on progress?

Also, a few years ago I came across the Quantel Compass initiative which offered the software to run on PC hardware, for training.  Does that still exist anywhere?

many thanks!

Sorry for the slow reply!

Yes there has been some progress.

So after the keyboard was emulated we obviously needed to tackle the tablet, a much more complex affair.

The tablet is by TDS, the tablet was customised by quantel to take the output datastream from the tablet and merge it with the keyboard data and then squirt it all out over RS422 to the paintbox. The interface board sits inside the tablet case with cables interconnecting them.

The keyboard connected to the quantel interface board with a 5v TTL serial link as i mentioned before, the tablet used a similar arrangement.

Now as Ryan is emulating the tablet electronics we needed to push data into it so we can emulate pen position/pressure so we needed to understand the exact method the tablet used to track the pen.

This really did slow us down a bit, the X & Y of the tablet is tracked with a fine and coarse  value, these values are generated by phase offsets between whats transmitted by the tablet coils and what comes back. These 4 values are multiplexed together and pushed into an ADC and sampled by an MCU.

Never heard of Quantel Compass. Unfortunately as these machines were used by so few people in a very specialised area, very very little information and hardware has survived

Offline jfjuk

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2020, 08:42:03 am »
Working in TV broadcast these machines and their offspring were ubiquitous in the 90s, until AutoDesk Flame came along and ruined their party.


I found a download of the Compass software on an old drive.  It's for Windows, and since I only have Macs I've never opened it.  Take a look and let me know what you find in it....

https://we.tl/t-SCW8TaROvo


I can't find much about it online anymore, other than this:

https://www.studiodaily.com/2007/09/quantel-compass-helps-hd-freelancers-find-work/
 
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Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2020, 01:12:23 pm »
Downloading now, i will let you know what i find!

Offline nightwalks

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2020, 11:32:50 am »
Interesting topic, I've used the original PaintBox at a Post production studio for a number of years, also a HAL and a HAL TFX.  With the Paintbox, we had to bash the pen onto the tabled to have it register a click, that thing was made of metal.
I Downloaded the Compass, installed it but it needs a license to run.
 

Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2020, 01:47:04 pm »
Interesting topic, I've used the original PaintBox at a Post production studio for a number of years, also a HAL and a HAL TFX.  With the Paintbox, we had to bash the pen onto the tabled to have it register a click, that thing was made of metal.
I Downloaded the Compass, installed it but it needs a license to run.

yes i had the same issue, license needed...

Great to see another user of the old paintbox here! What years did you use it and when did you switch to the newer systems like HAL?

Offline nightwalks

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2020, 09:24:15 pm »
I worked at a number of post production studio as a 3D animator in Australia from 1996.  At the first company, I used an Original HAL for 2D animation, mainly for TV commercials, and vfx for tv productions.  I remember, there came an update for the system, and the someone from the UK came to show some of the new features, and give us some tips with using the system.  This young lady was the same who is on all the HAL tutorial VHS tapes.  Our young camera operator guy had a fling with this girl while she was staying in Brisbane to show us the system, after a night of drinkin.  The next morning the guy came to work late, with a huge hangover, and a big grin on his face.  Anyway, later the company was acquired by another studio.  This other studio had an original Paintbox, quite outdated by then, had the wired pen(metal), old software, very slow but still somewhat useful.  Our HAL was upgraded to TFX, with lots of clip space. 
I loved the Quantel systems, the menu was incredibly simple, intuitive for most TV work.  We were drooling over the Henry and Domino systems, dreaming that one day we may be able to have on of those. 
I very much appreciate your efforts on repairing these machines, and trying to get the emulator up and running.  It is a huge amount of work and I applaud your effort and patience.
 

Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2020, 11:32:14 pm »
I worked at a number of post production studio as a 3D animator in Australia from 1996.  At the first company, I used an Original HAL for 2D animation, mainly for TV commercials, and vfx for tv productions.  I remember, there came an update for the system, and the someone from the UK came to show some of the new features, and give us some tips with using the system.  This young lady was the same who is on all the HAL tutorial VHS tapes.  Our young camera operator guy had a fling with this girl while she was staying in Brisbane to show us the system, after a night of drinkin.  The next morning the guy came to work late, with a huge hangover, and a big grin on his face.  Anyway, later the company was acquired by another studio.  This other studio had an original Paintbox, quite outdated by then, had the wired pen(metal), old software, very slow but still somewhat useful.  Our HAL was upgraded to TFX, with lots of clip space. 
I loved the Quantel systems, the menu was incredibly simple, intuitive for most TV work.  We were drooling over the Henry and Domino systems, dreaming that one day we may be able to have on of those.

I have a video featuring TFX (TransformFX):


I have had a quick play with a HAL Express with TFX, i also have TFX on my Paintbox. It does allow some very neat effects to me made!

Quote
I very much appreciate your efforts on repairing these machines, and trying to get the emulator up and running.  It is a huge amount of work and I applaud your effort and patience.

thank you, there's a growing number of people involved in saving these machines and working hard on things like the emulator. There's been a couple of occasions that i have saved significant bits of Quantels heritage which it seems started the ball rolling in terms of recognising them as important things in vintage computing. I wish i could do more but i just don't have the space.

Offline nightwalks

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2020, 11:45:11 pm »
Yep, that's the lady from the video.  Thank you for sharing.  I've seen this video on VHS a ton of times.  I hope eventually, as more people get involved with emulation, we can preserve these in digital form.  Looking at the SGI emulation in MAME, I think it is possible.
There are very few of these systems, at least on Ebay.  I am constantly on a lookout, but no luck so far.
 

Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2020, 11:57:04 pm »
Interestingly the guy working on the DPB emulator also works on the sgi indy emulation in MAME

I have a worldwide ebay search setup, the last 1990s machine i saw was three years ago! Weirdly it was 10 mins down the road from me. But i haven't seen anything since  :(

Offline nightwalks

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2020, 08:59:52 pm »
I searched for some info about Compass:

https://web.archive.org/web/20110704173253/http://www.quantel.com/page.php?u=e7213c2afd6d9fdbcc419f921ea31039

It seems that only requirement was to register on the quantelcompass.com website, and the download link and demo activation code could be found in the forums.  I wonder if anyone has a demo code for this package?
 

Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2020, 03:47:04 pm »
I searched for some info about Compass:

https://web.archive.org/web/20110704173253/http://www.quantel.com/page.php?u=e7213c2afd6d9fdbcc419f921ea31039

It seems that only requirement was to register on the quantelcompass.com website, and the download link and demo activation code could be found in the forums.  I wonder if anyone has a demo code for this package?

it's possible, if you ask around you might be able to find one?

Offline jfjuk

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2021, 09:04:27 am »
Been scouring my hard drive for a code - I was sure I'd registered despite not running the correct OS, but no luck.

Any updates to progress on the emulator?
 

Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2021, 09:16:51 am »
Been scouring my hard drive for a code - I was sure I'd registered despite not running the correct OS, but no luck.

Any updates to progress on the emulator?

Nothing new on the emulator front, i'm afraid... Ryan has work commitments at the moment.

Although there is good news on the real hardware, there has been significant progress getting it working. I have been busy getting the machine into the lab and have spent many hours on it so far, fixing the PSU and getting the Computer cards working. I am about to make my third update video on it.

it's all over on my channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdokYg51aL3FGA4-k4jCAoQ

I am posting a fair bit on twitter too as i work on it:
https://twitter.com/DextersTechLab

Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Quantel DPB-7001 Paintbox MAME Emulator
« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2021, 08:15:05 am »
Bumping this to bring you all up to date:

Work on the emulator has been progressing of late, there was a period of little activity due to TheMogMiner having other commitments and a technical road-block which has now been worked around so he is back making progress! So lets talk about that now...

So of course the Paintbox doesn't just consist of the DPB itself it is made up of various parts which also all need to be emulated if we're going to do this properly. These parts are:

DPB-7001 - The main machine of course

Tablet - The tablet operated by the user. This is made up of the TDS tablet electronics and a Quantel interface :

TDS Tablet electronics (using 8681 CPU)
This processes the analog data from the tablet pickup coils and converts them into serial data which is sent to the ID20 interface.

Quantel ID20 TDS Tablet interface (using 6803 CPU)
The ID20 interface lives inside the tablet enclosure and connects to the original TDS hardware, it takes the serial data from the tablet and merges in the RAT buttons, pen pressure data and the keyboard then outputs packets of data to the DPB over an RS422 serial link. This means there is only one single link between the tablet and the DPB allowing the DPB to sit in a remote rack. So the keyboard and RAT both plug into the back of the tablet.

Keyboard - (using 8039 CPU)
The keyboard is a simple affair and simply outputs ASCII codes over RS232 to the ID20 interface.

All of these peripherals have to be included into the emulator. It was during the emulation of the TDS Tablet controller there were issues working out the analog data from the RF coils that get sent to an ADC so the TDS interface can work out where the pen is. At the moment to get the project moving it was decided to simply push the right serial data out of the TDS part into the ID20 interface. It means we have a working tablet but it's not an actual emulation of the original TDS one.

Once these elements were put together we then had a user input into the DPB emulator and we can interact with it.

These images here are the current status of the emulator, to explain what your seeing... The image is broken into 4 quadrants, the top left is the VDU diagnostics video output which is from the Computer part of the DPB. The top right is Framestore 2 with an additional overlay which shows the brush store in the bottom left of that, bottom left is Framestore 1. With the bottom right being a visual representation of some of the internal registers over the video period.

So to be clear this is not video output from the DPB yet!

The main video output is normally generated by the Combiner card, it takes data from the framestores and creates the final video data which is then passed to the Output Proc card which generates the actual analog video output card. Combiner also adds on the cursor and stencil overlay if it's turned on by the user.

Right now the combiner is not emulated at all which is why we are looking at the data stored in the framestores as just a big bitmap.

So in the images below we can see we have the paintbox palette visible:
[attachimg=2]

Of course there is still a LOT of work to do, but it is excellent progress! I will post up more as it happens.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2021, 08:16:50 am by dexters_lab »
 


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