Getting Started with G.I.M.I.C

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What can I do with G.I.M.I.C? Which parts do I need?

--- Here we'll answer these basic questions.

What is G.I.M.I.C?

The G.I.M.I.C is a modular chiptune sound generating system: It can be loaded with various modules with sound chips that were employed in home computers and arcade games through the 80s and 90s.*1

By exchanging modules, it can emulate a range of chiptune sound systems. Currently, OPN3-L, OPNA, OPM, and OPL3 are available as sound chip modules.

The G.I.M.I.C sound modules come with their respective sound chips already mounted, so you don't have to look elsewhere (or "scavenge") for them!

GMC-MB2.jpg

What is it good for?

G.I.M.I.C can be used either as a song file player, or as a hardware synthesizer.

  • As a song file player

G.I.M.I.C can playback song files in a microSD card inserted to its card slot. Below are the file formats that G.I.M.I.C can handle.

  • VGM (.vgm)
  • S98 (.s98)
  • MXDRV (.mdx ; the format used by the MXDRV FM sound driver for SHARP X68000)
  • PMD (.m, .m2, .mz ; the format used by the PMD FM sound driver for NEC PC-88/PC-98)
  • FMP (.opi, .ovi, .ozi ; the format used by the FMP FM sound driver for NEC PC-98)
  • As a hardware synthesizer

When connected to a PC through USB, G.I.M.I.C can be used as an external sound source by software emulators and song file players. This enables G.I.M.I.C to play songs in formats that it can't process on its own.

Where can I get it?

http://www.3-get.com online store ships our products overseas. Search G.I.M.I.C to see our products.
The site is currently in Japanese, but they say they are working on English pages, so check back often!

Things to Prepare Before Acquiring Your G.I.M.I.C

USB Micro-B cable

To connect G.I.M.I.C to your PC. G.I.M.I.C also draws power from USB.
A low-quality cable may cause signal degradation or power loss, which in turn can lead to unexpected malfunctions.
Use a cable that can fast-charge a smartphone to avoid such troubles.

For reference, below are the cables we employed during the development.

Straight
Motorola ECOMOTO : SKN6378A

Right angled
Sony Ericsson : EC600L

Note that some cables shipped with smartphones or tablets are "charge-only", i.e. unable to transfer data.
Make sure that your cable offers data transfer too.

A microSD card (if you use the "Standalone" G.I.M.I.C firmware)

From which G.I.M.I.C reads song files.
G.I.M.I.C can handle SD/SDHC cards with up to 8GB capacity (SDXC cards are unsupported).

We have confirmed that UHS-I cards can be used, but they will function in compatibility mode, since G.I.M.I.C doesn't support UHS-104.

For reference, below are the cards we employed during the development.

SanDisk MobileUltra microSDHC UHS-I 8GB : SDSDQY-008G-J35A
SanDisk Extreme Pro microSDHC UHS-I 8GB : SDSDQXP-008G-J35

An AC adaptor (for GMC-MB2PRO only; optional)

Drawing power from an external supply, you can avail yourself of G.I.M.I.C's full potential.
Use an AC adaptor with an output voltage of 5V, a currency of 1000mA (or above), connector type of EIAJ-02.

Do not use an AC adaptor with an output valtage exceeding 5.2V, as it can cause permanent damage to G.I.M.I.C.

For reference, below is the AC adaptor we employed during the development.

AC adaptor for SONY PSP1000/2000/3000 series: PSP-100

G.I.M.I.C Modules: Primary

To play any sound with the G.I.M.I.C, you need a motherboard and at least one sound chip module (Lite motherboard can be used without any sound chip modules). Below are short descriptions of these primary modules. Click the names to see detailed descriptions.

GMC-MB2: Motherboard

The heart and core of the G.I.M.I.C, the motherboard controls the sound chip modules with its 32-bit, 72 MHz ARM processor. It's also equipped with a microSD card slot to read data from, and a 3.5mm stereo jack for audio output.

GMC-OPN3L: OPN3-L Module

OPN3-L (YMF288) is the sound chip employed in NEC PC-9821 in its later years.

The chip is in some degree compatible with OPN (YM2203) and OPNA (YM2608), the sound chips of PC-6601SR, PC-8001mkIISR, PC-8801mkIISR (and the later models of the series), PC-9801 series, PC-9821 series, FUJITSU FM77AV series, SHARP MZ-2500 and so on. *2

GMC-OPNA: OPNA Module

A module mounted with an OPNA (YM2608) sound chip mentioned above.

Just as SoundBoard II of PC-8801 series, this modules has a DRAM exclusively alloted for ADPCM synthesis, which makes possible an exact reproduction of PC-88 sounds.

It also has a variable FM/SSG mix balance, which can be utilized to emulate sound systems of both PC-88 and PC-98 (86 SoundBoard).

GMC-OPM: OPM Module

OPM (YM2151) is the FM sound chip of SHARP X1TurboZ and X68000, employed also in arcade game systems of 80s and 90s.*3

GMC-OPL3: OPL3 Module

A module mounted with an OPL3 (YMF262-M) sound chip, the FM LSI used by Adlib GOLD 1000, Creative Sound Blaster Pro 2.0, VIBRA 16 and Sound Blaster 16. This module can be used to reproduce the sounds of IBM PC compatibles in their MS-DOS era.

Connect one of these sound chip modules to the motherboard, and your G.I.M.I.C is ready to play!

G.I.M.I.C Modules: Secondary

Here is a list of optional modules to expand and enhance your G.I.M.I.C.

GMC-OPT02: Digital Output Module for OPN3-L

This module enables direct digital output from OPN3-L. You can feed the signal into any external DAC of your choice and pursue the best end results.

Ten-key

You can connect a ten-key to the USB Standard-A port of the motherboard and use it as an external controller to play/pause and choose tracks.

We are not offering ten-keys themselves, so please acquire one (if necessary) through your preferred vendor.

Future Projects

We at the G.I.M.I.C. Project are planning further development, both hardware and software-wise. Some of the projects are listed below.

High-Spec Motherboard

A motherboad that can be loaded with multiple sound chip modules and control them simultaneously.

The G.I.M.I.C with this motherboard will be able to handle up to 4 sound chips at the same time.

Control with MIDI

Controllability from an external MIDI input, with which the G.I.M.I.C will be able to act as a hardware synthesizer.

Inter-G.I.M.I.C Syncability

Ability for chain-connected G.I.M.I.Cs to be synced to each other to form an ensemble.

Optimizations for Live DJ'ing

DJ-oriented features that will enhance live use, such as a CUE monitoring function.


*1 The currently available version of the motherboard can be mounted with only one sound chip module at a time. A variation with an ability to handle multiple sound chips simultaneously is currently under development.
*2 The compatibility is only partial. For example, OPN3-L has no ADPCM synthesis, which on the other hand OPNA does. Also, OPN3-L's FM/SSG mix balance is not changeable.
*3 OPP (YM2164) sound chip in YAMAHA FB-01, DX21, DX27, DX100 and KORG DS-8, 707 etc. is compatible OPM.

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Last-modified: 2014-03-13 (木) 12:49:11 (870d)