Ian Scott's PicoGUS 2.0 Turns a Raspberry Pi RP2040 Into a Range of Classic ISA Soundcards

Building on a design originally powered by a Raspberry Pi Pico, the new PicoGUS 2.0 puts an RP2040 directly onto the ISA card.

Gareth Halfacree
7 months agoMusic / Retro Tech / Gaming / HW101

Vintage computing enthusiast Ian Scott has released the PicoGUS 2.0, a modern ISA soundcard for classic computer systems capable of emulating a range of original hardware — powered by an onboard Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller.

"PicoGUS can emulate Gravis UltraSound, AdLib (OPL2), CMS/Game Blaster and Tandy 3-Voice, and supports MIDI output with MPU-401 intelligent mode emulation," Scott writes of his board's capabilities, ticking off the vast majority of audio output devices a classic gamer could hope to use. "You can also plug in a USB gamepad ([Microsoft] Xbox 360 & [Sony] DualShock 4 currently supported) and play DOS games with a modern controller!"

As the name suggests, the PicoGUS 2.0 is a twist on the original PicoGUS — built primarily to emulate the Gravis UltraSound, or GUS, soundcard, and requiring a full-size Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller board to be installed. The PicoGUS 2.0, by contrast, retains the name but ditches the Pico in favor of putting the Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller directly on the board.

Scott has also released the design files for the board under the CERN Open Hardware License v2 Permissive license — though has a warning for anyone looking to build their own. "PicoGUS 2.0 is designed from the ground up for automated assembly so making your own would be a major challenge," Scott says. "In the near future I will be releasing version 1.2 of the original PicoGUS design bringing some of the stability/manufacturing improvements from 2.0 to a more DIY-friendly board."

The PicoGUS 2.0 is now listed on the Polpo Electronics Tindie store at $45, though at the time of writing was showing as out-of-stock — Scott having exhausted his initial stock after just two hours. "I was not expecting that. I'm overwhelmed (in a good way) by this response," Scott writes. "For those that missed out, I'll be making another batch, don't worry."

The design files and firmware source code are available, meanwhile, on the project's GitHub repository.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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