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Thread: Paradise MGC II Video Card

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    Default Paradise MGC II Video Card

    I acquired a rather interesting video card the other day - a ~1985 Paradise "Modular Graphics Card" II CGA/Mono card. It is primarily a CGA card, and can output either RGB or composite, but in "Mono" mode it has the interesting feature that it can plug in to an IBM/Herc monochrome monitor yet still act as a CGA card, translating CGA modes to the mono display. It even looks like it is somehow managing grayscale.

    I know there are a few other cards that can do that, even with EGA, and good old SIMCGA basically made this card obsolete.

    This card is "modular" because it can connect two smaller piggyback boards, but mine did not come with those. As far as I can tell these would include memory expansion, a clock, and a parallel port.

    Anyway, not a lot of information out there about it. Stumbled across some tech info about it that listed some software driver file names. I did come across a partial copy of the manual, but no software drivers. Anyone got that?

    For typical operation, it does not require drivers. It uses an expansion ROM to do some of its magic. The manual does mention using the drivers to initialize the board on the first BIOS revision 5150 that did not recognize expansion ROMs. Some color programs also need an extra push running in mono mode, which apparently the software provides.

    Tried running 8088mph in both composite and mono mode. Composite was mostly trouble free, artifacting seemed similar to "new" mode, but the segments that were supposed to do more than 16 color all displayed without color. In mono mode, 8088mph ran, but those segments appeared as jumbled text modes.

    Some Tech specs that were hiding on one web site:
    Code:
                   MBF COMPANY CONFIDENTIAL FIELD INFORMATION BULLETIN
    
    SERVICE GROUP(S): MICRO                MFG: PARADISE
    
     NACS  TYPE(S): N006                   MFG. MODEL(S): GRAPHICS
    
    CATEGORY: PC ADD-IN BOARDS             DESC: MONO/CGA DRIVER
    
                       *** TABLE OF CONTENTS AS OF 12/20/90 ***
    FIB 00001.DESCRIPTION AND SWITCH SETTINGS.............................11/11/87
    FIB 00002.BACK PACK MODULE............................................11/11/87
    
    
    PC ADD-IN BOARDS-PARADISE-GRAPHICS------------------Table Of Contents Pg01 of 01
    FIB 00001                                                             11/11/87
    
                        *** DESCRIPTION AND SWITCH SETTINGS ***                  
    
                                        PC000442
    
    DESCRIPTION:
      The Paradise Systems Modular Graphics card is a video display adapter for
      IBM XT, AT and compatible computers. The MGC can support both monochrome and
      color monitors. The monochrome monitor appears to the system as a Color
      graphics adapter.
    
    RESTRICTIONS:
      Some early model PCs or compatible computers may require a device driver be
      installed on the BOOT disk if the card is to be used with the monochrome
      monitor. Early versions of the MGC board will also require the device driver
      be installed.
    
    CONNECTORS:
      J1    9 pin d-connector for video
      J2    System connector for BACK PACK module
      J3    25 pin Parallel port connector
      P3    4 pin connector for light pen attachment
      P4    3 pin connector for RF modulator/composite video
    
    SWITCHES:
      S1    Monochrome display selector switches 8 position
            DISPLAY BRAND   pos1 pos2 pos3 pos4 pos5        pos6,7,8 not used
            IBM             off  off  off  off  off
            Princeton MAX12 on   off  on   off  off
            Roland MB-122   off  on   off  on   off
            Roland MB-142   off  off  on   on   off
            Leading Edge    on   off  off  on   on
            Grandwood       off  off  off  off  off
            Amdek 310A      off  off  on   on   off
            ITT mono        off  on   on   on   on
    
            If your monitor is not listed, or if you experience problems with
            rolling screens, refer to appendix K in the manual to determine the
            correct switch settings.
    
      S2    Monitor select/parallel port selector 3 position
            pos 1 labeled for MONO or COLOR types of monitors
                    pos 2   pos 3
            disable off     off
            LPT2    on      off
            LPT3    off     on
                    NEVER set both switches on. If this is the only printer, DOS
                    will treat it as LPT1.
    
    SOFTWARE:
      PARADISE.COM
      SCREEN.COM
      AUTOSYS.COM
      SOFTBOOT.COM
      PARADISE.SYS  Device Driver for Monochrome monitors
      MONITOR.COM
      INSTALL.BAT   Installation batch file
      NOPARMS.TXT
      CLSET.EUR     Clock-Calendar support
      SPOOL.COM     Print spooling program
    
    PC ADD-IN BOARDS-PARADISE-GRAPHICS------------------FIB001 Pg001
    
    
      RAMDISK.SYS   Memory disk device driver
    
    DIAGNOSTICS:
      Use IBM or Sorbus diagnostics.
      When using a color monitor, use standard procedures.
      When using a monochrome, use the following procedures:
      STEP 1 - Insert the supplied Paradise Systems diskette in A: and boot.
      STEP 2 - When presented with a choice of Diagnostics startup or DOS startup,
            insert your Diagnostic diskette in A: and type a 2.
      Executing Diagnostics without this procedure can cause the Diagnostics to
      return a 501 error when using the monochrome display.
    
    
    ORIGINATOR: JOHN HILL
    
    
    PC ADD-IN BOARDS-PARADISE-GRAPHICS------------------FIB001 Pg002
    
    
    FIB 00002                                                             11/11/87
    
                                *** BACK PACK MODULE ***
    
                                        PC000586                                 
    
    DESCRIPTION:
      A multi-function piggy-back module for the MODULAR GRAPHICS CARD. The module
      adds the following functions to the MGC:
      Up to 384K of system memory
      2nd parallel port
      Serial RS-232 port
      Clock/calendar
    
    CONNECTORS:
      System connector      Plugs into the MGC
      Parallel connector    Cable to 25 pin parallel port
      Serial connector      Cable to 25 pin serial port
    
    SWITCHES AND JUMPERS:
      CLOCK interrupt jumper - Normally set to D for disable. Other positions
                            require special software.
      SWITCH 1 - 10 position
                    pos1 pos2 pos3 pos4 pos5 pos6 pos7 pos8 pos9 pos10
      LPT1          off  off
      LPT2          on   off
      LPT3          off  on
      disable       on   on
      COM1                    off
      COM2                    on
     Banks installed
      none                         off  off  off
      0                            on   off  off
      0,1                          off  on   off                                 
      0,1,2                        on   on   off
      0,1,2,3                      off  off  on
      0,1,2,3,4                    on   off  on
      ALL                          off  on   on
     Starting memory addr.
      64KB                                        on   off  off  off
      128KB                                       off  on   off  off
      192KB                                       on   on   off  off
      256KB                                       off  off  on   off
      320KB                                       on   off  on   off             
      384KB                                       off  on   on   off
      448KB                                       on   on   on   off
      512KB                                       off  off  off  on
      576KB                                       on   off  off  on
    
    RAM BANK LOCATIONS:
      With board laid flat, component side up and system connector to the right:
      BANK 0 is rightmost with Parity at the top followed by bit 0 to 7 (bottom).
    
    NOTE: Early versions of the MGC may not accept the piggy back board.
    ORIGINATOR: JOHN HILL
    
    
    PC ADD-IN BOARDS-PARADISE-GRAPHICS------------------FIB002 Pg001

  2. #2

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    I've got this card as well. I found a post where someone had the software, but I tried leaving a message for the guy to see if he'd archive it, and I never got a response.

    Does your card have an RCA connected to the composite? Or did you connect directly to the header? I don't think mine has an RCA. And I've got a big opening where the modular stuff would be, because mine also doesn't have any of the options.

    Here is what I saw: http://21stdigitalhome.blogspot.com/...stems-mgc.html

    And here is a PDF of the manual, showing the floppy on the last page: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oqi...rfq_GQSjX/view

  3. #3
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    Default

    Mine does not have an RCA composite out, only the header. But the manual does say it can output composite on Pin 7 of the RGB port when composite mode is selected.

  4. #4
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    Fascinating stuff; reminds me of the Quadcolor card, which also could take a daughtercard to add more memory (and color planes, as a result).

    I thought that the early ATI Small Wonder cards could also emulate CGA out of an MDA/monochrome port, no?
    Offering a bounty for:
    - A working Sanyo MBC-775, Olivetti M24, or Logabax 1600
    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)

  5. #5
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    BTW, here are a couple of photos of the board. And the expansion ROM area visible to the computer. Unfortunately I can't read the ROMs directly as they are soldered on the board. I expect the second ROM chip is just a character generator.
    Paradise MGC II - Front.jpgParadise MGC II - Back.jpgRomc000.zip

  6. #6

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    I just bought a bigger one of these dip clips because I keep running into the same issue with ROM soldered on.

    EF9A6958-08E5-4CEA-809F-1E04252F6C2A.jpeg

  7. #7

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    4AE4C3E7-4FC5-4923-954E-DACD01A79859.jpeg

    So I just tried this and of course it didnít work. The programmer got an over current error, which totally makes sense because with the chip in circuit itís probably trying to power the whole board.

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