Gen1 x48 turned into x48mkII - and dead motherboard resolved

Discussion in 'TASCAM X-48 and X-48MKII' started by Neal, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. Neal

    Neal New Member

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    FYI to anyone out there still x48'ing (or thinking about one).

    It turns out, the way to go is to ditch that old iWill board altogether if you have a gen1 x48. If you don't mind getting out the Dremel, you can put in an Atom proc mini-ITX motherboard that's readily available from ebay, amazon, etc, and can load the Tascam x48mkII restore CD on it and with a little post load driver installs, it will work great! (make sure to go into mobo BIOS and set SATA port mode to IDE and not AHCI for doing the initial Tascam OS load - if you want, it is possible to change to AHCI post install by following standard procedures to change a Windows install from IDE to AHCI, but Tascam OS load won't work if set to AHCI)

    I've tested on both of these boards:
    Intel D2550MUD2
    Intel D525MW

    I'm going with the D2550 as that is newer generation Atom and has DVI video port. You can also add a mini pci-e USB 3.0 card to it and either mount USB 3.0 connectors where the firewire ports were on the back or get a USB 3.0 port addon to put in place of the DVD drive.

    I've done a ton of mods now to my gen1 x48 that I picked up for $400 with a blown iwill motherboard. It is now running mkII install, reports as mkII, and is completely SILENT. One other benefit of the Atom motherboard: passive heatsink cooling and very low wattage/heat cpu. I've changed the power supply to one that only runs the fan when temp or load is high (though load never gets high enough with the Atom board, so it will only run fan if temp of the PSU goes up).

    As far as I can tell, the system would do fine with no fans running, but I have added a couple low RPM fans (these are silent at low rpm) with a fan controller/USB 3 port device in the 5.25 drive bay.

    I did quite a lot of work on mods to the case, but now it's mkII, silent, USB 3.0, dual SSD, running on solid motherboard and PSU, and also can turn up fans if I were to be using the x48 in the field and concerned about ambient temps.

    If anyone is interested in details or pics, let me know.
    endresult and cmaffia like this.
  2. cmaffia

    cmaffia Moderator Staff Member

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    I love a successful hack story. This is awesome!
  3. Neal

    Neal New Member

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    Back cutout of gen1 x48. I cut an opening so standard atx power supply can be installed as well as cut out the rectangle so standard motherboard I/O shield can be installed.

    For setting the location where to cut the motherboard I/O shield rectangle, I used another standard atx case that had same height motherboard stand off mounts as the x48 and measured where the I/O shield rectangle is in relation to where the pci slot is. I wanted the pci slot to line up such that I could use the original x48 securing points for the SaneWave PCI card.

    On a gen1 x48 and putting in a miniITX Atom board, this essentially means the motherboard is moved one card slot distance towards the center of the case - but not exactly! The original gen1 board was not standard ATX, so you'll want to do some careful measuring. With the board location moving over, I had shave down one of the original motherboard mounts as well as drill 4 new holes in the case bottom for the new location of the motherboard standoff mounts.

    Fortune shined upon me on cutting day and turned out I got the measurements and location of the I/O shield just right so was able to remount the SaneWave PCI card pretty much just as it is mounted stock.

    The I/O shield pushes the motherboard back just slightly, so I put a washer between the SaneWave PCI card screw mounts and the back of the x48 case.

    I found a steady hand and a Dremel using cut off wheels was the best way to cut the rectangle for the I/O shield. Using the extension flex shaft with the Dremel helped a good bit to to get that cutoff wheel both going down straight and to get all the way to the corners of the rectangle.

    Oh, and we're cutting metal here with a spinning wheel. Remove ALL electronic components from the x48 before cutting. Remove the entire x48 front plate and all internals. You DON'T want metal shavings or metal dust getting into any electronics. I tore the whole thing down to nothing but just the case shell of the one piece of metal that makes the back, sides, and bottom. Keep track of those screws and note note all the case screws have the same types of threads, so note which screws go where. And of course location and orientation of all ribbon cable connectors, etc. Lots of pictures helps a lot!

    Attached Files:

  4. Neal

    Neal New Member

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    Oh and some fun back story on this one:

    Before I figured out that I could get the x48 code to run on a different motherboard, I did do surgery on the original Iwill board. Like many, I picked up this x48 with an Iwill motherboard that would not power on because caps were toast. So I painstakingly removed and recapped the Iwill board. And astonishingly enough, I got the caps on okay (eventually) and the thing booted up and ran fine after that. For a while. I recorded a live show and everything. So then I decided I needed to do something about the noise of the x48 as it's next destination was to be in my home studio where the recorder and mixer are in the same room as what's being recorded. I had already done SSD and changed the power supply, but still was a lot of noise from the cpu fan and the PSU fan. So I started working on changing fans and even tried a liquid cooler on the Iwill board CPU. After about 2 months of working with all that and making some case mods to accommodate the change in cooling, I finally had it all put together and ready to go. And when I went to power it on: "POP!! spark!! FLAME!!!" One of the voltage regulators near the CPU literally caught fire producing about a 3/4" flame right on the board! Man, I thought it was all over for this x48 on that one. I've never seen a motherboard literally burst into flames before. That Iwill board really is something special - way to go on that one, Tascam. LOL And given that it is a total lame duck physical size wise, I wasn't hopeful for the future of this x48.

    But then when I came to learn that the x48 code can be made to run on another board, I got back in there. And it turns out you could probably get any board that has WinXP support to work - software wise. And if you go Atom in miniITX and same chipset as mkII stock Atom board, it's really quite easy to get the code to load, so then it's just a matter of modding the case to make it fit and mount.

    Bottom line - my recommendation to anyone out there with a gen1 x48 and a dead Iwill board - don't bother trying to recap or fix the board. Just mod out the case and go with an Atom miniITX board and mkII code. Actually, even if I had a working gen1 unit, I'd probably do the same. Way easier to make the Atom setup silent than the gen1 Celeron. The Atom CPU uses so much less power and produces so much less heat. Passive cooling is really an option. Or very low speed fans if it would be in a warm environment or you worry about fully passive fanless setup.
  5. Scott Baker

    Scott Baker New Member

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    This is awesome. Thanks for the info.
  6. Neal

    Neal New Member

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    Any chance you know what should show up in the windows device manager on the x48 for the MIDI ports device?

    Seemed like I had everything working on the x48 rebuild, but today I went to connect the MIDI - I want to use MMC input for transport control and track arming, and then I want to use MTC output to send timecode to my Mackie d8b.

    But it looks like nothing is happening in or out on the x48 MIDI ports.

    Thanks!
  7. Scott Baker

    Scott Baker New Member

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    I have yet to use my X48 with my d8b, so I am of no help so far... If I get some time, I can fire mine up and see what it looks like on my end, if you are still fighting this. I just saw this and I know some time has passed so you may be sussed out already.
  8. Neal

    Neal New Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I've verified there is no issue with the d8b on this one. It looks like the x48 is just not doing anything with its MIDI ports. I confirmed the d8b is sending MMC and receiving MTC as usual - tested with the JLCooper ADAT sync box and my ADAT.

    Issue seems to be all x48. On the x48 - I see zero MIDI out when connected to a MIDI signal detector and the incoming MIDI light on the x48 never shows anything when I send MIDI in from another device.

    I was able to verify that SMPTE time in/out IS working on the x48 however. I guess if I had to, I could get a SMPTE to MTC converter box for time code x48 -> d8b and then also a MMC to sony 9-pin converter box to MMC control d8b -> x48. But, that's a lot of extra pieces, so obviously would rather go native MIDI. I think MTC is higher resolution timecode than SMPTE LTC also, right?

    Are you able to get into the Windows device manager on your x48? I'd like to see what devices show up in Windows for the MIDI interface.

    Also, is your x48 a gen 1 or mkII? I have BIOS config info for gen 1 but nothing on BIOS settings for mkII. I'm wondering if it would make a difference what I have enabled/disabled in the BIOS on the mkII - i.e. motherboard serial ports, parallel port, motherboard audio, etc. Or any other BIOS settings that could be the issue?

    And then what might really help -- if anyone out there knows the Tascam coding -- how does the Tascam software connect to the MIDI device? Like what device name/address/etc is it looking for?

    Thanks!
  9. Scott Baker

    Scott Baker New Member

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    I will have to get my rig out and set it up. I fixed the X48 and then promptly sat in the corner of the studio. I have on going mix projects on an HDR that have prevented me from making the switch. I will try to hook it all up in the next day or two and see if I can get to the windows you are interested in.

    Mine is a gen I fyi. Are you sure the MIDI card is good? compatible with the MB you swapped in? I am just thinking out loud here. I think you are on to something with your last statement, that is where I would thuink your issues are.
  10. Scott Baker

    Scott Baker New Member

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    I can't figure out how to access the Windows device manager on this end.
  11. Neal

    Neal New Member

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    Yep, I had to do some trickery to get to all Windows things - like device manager.
    Basically, I took the x48 boot disk to another computer and then from what would be the x48 windows directory (<x48bootdrive:\WINXPE) copy explorer.exe to the x48 data drive partition.

    This then lets you launch windows explorer from the x48 launch external application menu. :)
  12. Neal

    Neal New Member

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    Update:

    I got MIDI working on the x48.

    Turned out that with the Gen3 Atom motherboard (Intel D2550MUD2) I tried to use, the Tascam MIDI device just doesn't work. Something about the drivers in the Tascam build just don't seem to see it as a viable MIDI device under that motherboard.

    I got everything else working with that motherboard, but no go for MIDI.

    I switched out motherboards to the Intel D525MW board (Gen2 Atom) which would then be the exact same Atom processor and chipset as what the stock Tascam x48 mkII uses, and voila! MIDI started working and Windows sound control panel shows a viable MIDI device.

    So lesson here: don't try to get fancy with your x48 motherboard change. I thought the gen3 Atom would be nice because it had DVI video out and it's a newer Atom proc (and uses a bit less wattage - i.e. less heat), but you definitely have to do more driver tweaking work to get it to work at all vs. the gen2 D525 Atom and, at least with the Intel D2550MUD2, no MIDI.

    Looks like I got everything rocking fine now on the Intel D525MW board. MIDI is working between x48 and d8b. That board is also fanless on the proc, so sound levels still silent. I do still have an extra exhaust fan I added that blows air near the mobo's CPU heatsink just to be safe, but on very low RPM so is pretty much inaudible. And I put a fan controller on it, so if I'd happen to be using the x48 in a hot environment, I can crank up the fan.

    With that Gen2 Atom board, the Intel D525MW, I was able to load the Tascam OEM x48 mkII recovery CD and then only driver I had to install manually/tweek was ethernet card.

    NOTE: Motherboard SATA controller must be set to IDE mode and NOT AHCI mode for the Tascam OEM recovery CD to load.

    After doing the OEM recovery CD load, on first boot, it will be a bit out of whack on hardware drivers and USB may not work (best to have a PS2 keyboard and mouse handy). But just do a reboot after it fully finishes booting up the first time (wait a bit as Windows is reconfiguring drivers in the background) and on that 2nd boot, all should work with only exception being Ethernet driver. And the Ethernet adapter is actually the same as what's on the stock tascam board, but it just needs the driver reinstalled - maybe pci slot address change or something. So you can run through the Windows new device found dialog boxes and just browse to "C:\Program Files\Realtek\Realtek GbE ...." to find the driver and let windows reinstall it.
  13. manji24

    manji24 New Member

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    I am sorry to jump in on this and bump and old subject, but I followed this post as best I could. I got a Intel D525MW board, 2x2gb ram and didn't touch any other parts, so still the same harddrive and fan. I've got the case cut, everything mounted and put back together. I can load up the bootcd and get into the X48 MKII OS just fine.

    Everything went exactly like you said - first boot no usb, 2nd boot had to install the Realtek LAN manually, but then I get prompts for 2 more manual hardware installations.

    The first prompt is for "PCI Device", and this is where I get stuck. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what driver I'm supposed to put there, but if I point the installer at anywhere on the C:, or if I point it at extravted versions of the MKII OS ISO, it fails. I simply cannot figure out what file it is looking for.

    The second prompt is for the Sanewave card. When I do the manual install for that, it sees the right driver and says it installs, but device manager still lists it and PCI Device with the yellow question mark.

    If I record anything on the x48, the minute I hit stop it has runtime errors and the program quits to just the x48 splash page. I can post exactly what it says if need be.

    If anyone could please point me in the right direction here, I would greatly appreciate it. I got my X48 for super cheap knowing it was going to have some problems, and it worked just long enough for me to really start to like it, so I need to get this fixed. Thanks.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  14. pdeber

    pdeber New Member

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    DM-4800 / X48 / TA1-VP
    To access or check some few Windows settings, you can go to menu / file then disk management (click yes then ok).

    then you select C:/ drive then menu / action / all tasks / explore (sometime it freeze the computer a while then it's ok, so just wait).

    then in the left list you have Control Panels, inside you have administrative tools, fonts, network connections and printers and faxes.

    down on the list you have My network places -> Workgroup. (the internet connection and sharing doesn't works on my x48, probably i'll try to reinstall everything).

    You can check whatever you want (windows embedded is very limited) , then go back to desktop and relaunch X48 program or other (companion...)

    if you just quit the program the X48 will shut down.
  15. Scott Baker

    Scott Baker New Member

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    Hey Neal, so this many years later I dragged the X48 out and lo and behold it won't power up. I am guessing the recap on the craptastic IWill (not) motherboard has failed, or some other part on there. Reading your above info, you ended up going with the IntelD525MW. To my eyes, this physically looks like it would be a direct drop in physically, can you concur or are you too cutup and modified to tell at this point? You went big guns on this and I can respect that but I am just looking to get this thing to power back up and be semi reliable. It can stay a Gen I for all I care. I am not nearly as versed in this stuff as you appear to be but I ain't scared to get in there, hell I have been in there before. It's amazing what you can fix with brute force and ignorance... Hope you are still out there.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  16. ometz.fa

    ometz.fa New Member

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    Hi Guys!
    We have a X-48 in our studio in Amsterdam.
    Some weeks ago the Iwill motherboard passed away, but we would like to restore the machine since it is pretty decent.
    My main question is: Are the Intel D2550MUD2/Intel D525MW working fine?
    Because actually we placed into the case another kind of Intel motherboard, but the SaneWave PCI driver which comes with the restore CD from the first version and MK2 simply doesn't work.
    We tried both installing the Windows Embedded version and Windows XP Pro SP2 by installing every single driver manually, but I think we have the same problem as Manji24 had (the yellow question mark into the drivers list in Windows).
    Basically we just miss the driver working with the motherboard, and actually I think it is a sort of incompatibility/protection.
    There is a work around?
    Thanks to all :)
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
  17. Shannon

    Shannon New Member

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    X-48 MK-I
    It seem this is literally the only place on the entire internet where the handful of us with X-48's can support each other. My Gen1 has died just like everyone elses - popped caps. I'm done recording and had pulled the unit from storage to prep it for selling.

    Apart from the board the unit is in perfect condition. Anyone here have advice - should I fix and sell it as a working unit, or is there a big enough community for me to part it out? I can't even figure out what sort of sell price I could expect if I got it running as a MKii as you guys outline here.

    Thanks for the comments!
  18. Scott Baker

    Scott Baker New Member

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    It's hard to say what you should do, There just are not many users out there near as I can tell. I just replaced the power supply in mine and will replace the motherboard I guess if the IWill gives up, that has been recapped to bring it back to life as well. I have seen these go anywhere from $700.00ish to $1500.00ish depending on what cards are in it and if it's working.
  19. RustyRafters

    RustyRafters New Member

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    I want to know if an lga775 socket would work. ... I just got a x-48. .. You are saying i can turn it into an x-48 MKII?......................