A project log for Novasaur Retrocomputer

Retrocomputer with serial and video built from late 70's TTL logic

Alastair HewittAlastair Hewitt 09/20/2020 at 22:010 Comments

After video came the audio testing. There was a known issue with a nasty 60Hz buzz breaking through in the audio channel. The last value in the glyph register shows up in the audio channel when the blanking period starts. This was assumed to be the cause of the buzz and the correct blanking during the front porch should take care of it. It turned out there was more to the issue than this...

The audio DAC gets the full video signal during the active part of the video line. A sample and hold circuit is used to sample only the audio level during the horizontal blanking. However, there appears to be a significant parasitic capacitance associated with the DAC. This capacitance is charged up during the active video and then takes significantly longer than the front porch time to discharge. The result is an echo of the video signal in the audio channel, resulting in a periodic waveform at the frame rate of 60Hz.

The solution was to add a muting circuit to the DAC. This is just a transistor that shorts the output of the DAC to ground during the active video.

This worked so well that the sample and hold circuit was removed. The DAC now feeds the raw PCM pulses directly to the second-order low-pass filter section. The filter will need to be redesigned slightly to help filter out the increased high frequency harmonics and amplify the lower RMS level of the PCM signal. The following shows the current output of the DAC for an 880Hz sine wave:

Note that the pulses come in groups of 4. The audio value is calculated once per virtual process cycle, but output once per line. The SVGA timing shown here has 4 lines per process cycle. The output wave (shown in blue) is via the existing filter design.