Thunder IV GX Cards Q&A


Editor's note: Most of the Q&A's in this article also pertain to the Radius Thunder/24 GT card. Only those Q&A's which reference the PhotoEngine daughtercard and DSP image-processing acceleration are exclusive to the Thunder IV GX cards.

Q: Are the Thunder IVGX and the Thunder24/GT cards compatible with OS/8?

A: Yes. Note that when installing System 7.5.3 or higher, Virtual Memory is turned on by default. Users of ThunderIV GX cards will need to disable Virtual Memory to take avantage of the DSP acceleration provided by the PhotoEngine daughtercard.

Q: When I connect a display to my Thunder IV GX card, instead of getting a usable picture, I get a distorted, scrambled image. I know the monitor is compatible with this card - what else must I do?

A: Radius cards must often be configured for the specific display to which they are connected. If you move the card to a different slot in your Mac, connect a different monitor, or zap your Mac's PRAM, you may need to reconfigure the card to output the timing required by your display. To reconfigure your card, hold down your keyboard's "T" key at startup. Continue to hold down the "T" key until the configuration cycle begins. When you see an image that is clear, centered, and at the resolution you want to use, release the "T" key. The computer will restart, and the card should be properly configured.

If your cable uses Apple's "cable sense" codes, you won't need to use the "T" key method - the Thunder IV GX card will automatically configure itself for the resolution specified by the sense code in the cable. If your monitor supports multiple resolutions, you may use the Dynamic Desktop control panel or the pop-up bit-depth changer to change the resolution after you first get a readable image.

Q: Why does the T-key method not work when I try to configure my Thunder IV GX card?

A: The T-key or U-key configuration method described in the manual may not work if the boot blocks on your hard drive are corrupted. A workaround is to start your computer from a "Disk Tools" floppy disk while holding down the T-key or U-key. Since the boot blocks will likely not be damaged on the floppy, the configuration process will proceed normally and the T-key will lock in the monitor configuration. You should then use a hard disk utility to repair your drive or perform a "clean install" of the system software.

Q: Do Thunder IV GX cards require a cable sense adapter for the T-key configuration to work?

A: No. Unlike the older PrecisionColor cards, Thunder IV GX cards do not require a cable sense code to be present in order for the T-key configuration method to work. Therefore, Thunder IV GX cards can be used with many SuperMac monitors with no additional cable adapter required. If your SuperMac monitor shipped with cable of part number 0006939-0001 or 0009344-0001 then you don't need to buy a new cable (as long as the monitor is not a model STD9455, STD9445, STD9436, or STD9437).

Q: How can I disable the video output from my Thunder IV GX card without removing it from the computer? I want to temporary use a second graphics card which is already installed on my computer.

A: Shut down your computer, then disconnect the video cable attached to the Thunder card. When you power up your computer, the monitor attached to your second graphics card will be used for display. If you want to move the menu bar between two monitors, you may move the menu bar between displays in the Monitors control panel or in the Displays section of the Dynamic Desktop control panel.

Q: Do Thunder IV GX cards support on-the-fly resolution switching?

A: Yes, Radius Thunder cards support "on-the-fly" resolution switching through the Monitors control panel (press the Options button), and with the pop-up bit-depth changer of Dynamic Desktop.

Q: What software is required for the Thunder IV GX cards, and what are the latest versions?

A: There are four items inteded for use with the Radius Thunder IV GX cards. With the exception of the PhotoEngine software, the items listed below are also for use with Radius Thunder 24/GT cards. All four items listed below can be downloaded invidually or en masse from Radius' software libraries on America Online, CompuServe, AppleLink, eWorld, the Radius Online BBS (408/541-6190), or via internet at ftp.radius.com or www.radius.com.

PowerSaver 1.3 (control panel - a simple DPMS or EnergyStar controller; not actually required)

Dynamic Desktop 3.3 (control panel - controls resolution switching & color mode)

QuickColor 3.3 (control panel - toggles QuickDraw acceleration)

PhotoEngine 1.2 (includes RadiusDSP extension 2.2 and PhotoEngine plug-in 1.2)

Q: Are the Thunder IV GX cards compatible with System 7.5.1?

A: Yes. However, as with all system software upgrades, some users report problems if they don't perform a "clean install" of system software (by holding down the Command-Shift-K keys when using Apple's installer) when upgrading to System 7.5.1. After you verify that your computer operates correctly with the new system software, you may throw away the older copy of your system software.

Thunder IV GX cards are compatible with System 7.1, 7.1.1, 7.1.2, 7.5, and 7.5.1. Thunder IV GX cards are not supported under System 7.5.2 because this version of system software is intended for use only with PCI-based Power Macintosh computers, and Thunder IV GX cards are designed to work only in computers with true NuBus slots.

Q: Do Thunder IV GX cards provide hardware pan and zoom features?

A: Yes, the Thunder IV GX cards provide 200%, 400%, and 800% hardware-based zooming, virtual desktops up to 1600 x 1200 resolution, and hardware-based panning when zooming or virtual desktops are used.

Q: Why don't I get any QuickDraw acceleration with my Thunder IV GX card?

A: You need to install the Dynamic Desktop and QuickColor control panels and make sure that acceleration is turned on within the QuickColor control panel in order to obtain QuickDraw acceleration. You may test the QuickDraw acceleration feature of your card by configuring QuickColor to only turn on acceleration when the Caps Lock key is in the up position. To turn on this feature, hold down the Command and Option keys after the QuickColor control panel has been opened. A third button marked "When Caps Lock Key is Up" will appear, and it should be selected to enable this feature. The best way to test QuickDraw acceleration is scroll through a graphic image in Photoshop while in 24-bit mode. If you see a difference when scrolling with the Caps Lock Key in the up versus the down positions, then your graphics card is working correctly and is providing QuickDraw acceleration. If you don't own Photoshop, you may also perform the same scrolling test in the Finder by scrolling through a list of files within a folder on your desktop or by scrolling through a document in a word processing application.

Q: Why don't I see as much QuickDraw acceleration with my Thunder IV GX card in CAD programs, Freehand, or Illustrator as I do with Photoshop and most other applications?

A: CAD programs, Freehand, and Illustrator do not benefit as much from QuickDraw acceleration because very little of the time you spend waiting in these applications is spent waiting for the screen to redraw. CAD programs must spend a significant portion of their time updating vectors in memory, and Freehand and Illustrator perform Postscript calculations which require more processing time prior to redrawing the screen. While these applications don't benefit as much from QuickDraw acceleration, customers may find a significant benefit to using the 200%, 400%, or 800% pan-and-zoom feature of the Thunder IV GX cards instead of using the software-based zoom features of many applications. Because it is built into the hardware of the cards, hardware-based zooming is instantaneous. Unrestricted panning across the entire displayed image can also be done while zoomed in by moving the cursor to the edge of the screen in the direction in which panning is desired.

Q: Do Thunder IV GX cards support the SuperMac STD9445 or STD9455 60Hz monitors?

A: No. These older displays are designed for a fixed-frequency resolution of 1024 x 768 with a vertical frequency of 60Hz and a horizontal frequency of 48.78khz, and this timing is not built into the Thunder IV GX cards. These monitors are supported by the following Radius graphics cards:

PrecisionColor 8XJ (model 0369) at 8-bit (256 colors)

PrecisionColor Pro 24XK (model 0430) at 24-bit (millions of colors)

PrecisionColor Pro 24X (model 0429) at 24-bit (millions of colors)

Please see the PrecisionColor Q&A document, #3020, for more information on this subject.

Q: Do Thunder IV GX cards have removable ROMs so that they can be updated in the future?

A: The Thunder IV GX ROM is not removable, but it is an updatable FlashROM. FlashROM technology enables one to simply download a software update which reprogram the FlashROM chip with updated firmware code, thus avoiding the cost and shipping delays of traditional ROM upgrade methods.

Q: What is the difference between Thunder or ThunderColor PCI cards and Thunder IV cards?

A: Thunder & ThunderColor PCI cards are designed to work with Apple's implementation of the PCI slot; Thunder IV GX cards are designed to work with Apple's implementation of the Nubus slot.

Q: Can additional VRAM be added to Thunder IV GX cards?

A: No, each card already contains the maximum amount of VRAM which it can use.

Q: Are Thunder IV GX cards supported on Power Macintosh systems containing PCI slots?

A: No. No Radius Nubus products are supported in PCI systems under any circumstances.

Q: Why do I get a green screen when attaching my Thunder IV card to an NEC monitor?

A: NEC monitors are compatible with Thunder IV GX cards, but the following steps must be followed to resolve the green screen issue.

1) Newer NEC monitors ship with a DB15-to-HD15 cable. (A DB15 connection is fifteen pins in two rows; an HD15 connection is fifteen pins in three rows.) These monitors also have both HD15 and DB15 connectors on the back of the display. When using the monitor with a Thunder IV GX card, you must connect the DB15 end of the cable to the Thunder IV GX card (this is the only end of the cable which will fit) and the HD15 end to the back of the display. The standard NEC cable contains a multisync "cable sense" code, so no cable adapter is required.

2) The sync switch on the back of the display must be in the OFF position when using a Thunder card.

Q: What changes were made to ROM version 1.2.3 on the Thunder IV GX graphics cards?

A: FlashROM update 1.2.3 fixes a rarely-observed problem in which some Thunder IV GX cards left stray pixels in various locations on the screen. If you see this problem with your card, we suggest that you download and update your card's FlashROM to version 1.2.3. If your board was built after February 1995, it already has the updated FlashROM.

Q: How and where can I obtain the Thunder IV GX version 1.2.3 FlashROM updater?

A: The Thunder IV 1.2.3 Update can be downloaded from this page or from any of Radius' public software libraries on America Online (at keyword: Radius), CompuServe (in Macintosh Vendor Forum B, or MACBVEN), eWorld (at shortcut: Radius), AppleLink (in the Third Parties P-Z folder), the Radius Online BBS (at 408/541-6190), and on the internet at (ftp.radius.com and www.radius.com).

Q: How can I determine which version of FlashROM is installed on my Thunder IV GX card?

A: The ROM version number displayed within Dynamic Desktop does not correctly reflect the version of the ROM on the Thunder IV GX card. If the serial number on your Thunder IV GX card starts with the number "506" or higher, then it was built after February 1st, 1995 and it already has FlashROM version 1.2.3. If not, you may download the Thunder IV ROM 1.2.3 updater and attempt to update the FlashROM on your board. If the Mr.Flash application reports that your card is already updated, then you already have at least ROM version 1.2.3. You may also click on the "Custom" button in the Mr.Flash application in order to see the FlashROM version number.

Q: Why does the desktop not redraw properly after dialog boxes go away? Also, I sometimes see transparent windows or dialog boxes in 24-bit mode with System 7.5 and 7.5.1. Can the desktop pattern I select affect how images are displayed on the screen?

A: The deskop pattern you select in the Desktop Patterns control panel under System 7.5 and 7.5.1 and the size of a custom desktop pattern can adversely affect the Finder's ability to redraw the screen in 24-bit mode. This is not a Radius problem; it can occur even if there are no Radius products installed, we have observed this problem with Apple built in video as well. Custom desktop patterns which are larger than 32K in size often cause redraw problems, along with some of the standard patterns available in the Desktop Patterns control panel (such as number 62 of 64). The problem goes away if the bit depth is reduced to less than 24-bit, or if you select a different pattern which is not larger than 32K. If this problem continues even when these steps have been taken, you may want to remove all of your other extensions and control panels to determine if they are contributing to this problem. If problems still continue, you may need to perform a "clean install" of system software, as it may be corrupted.

Q: When I use the Letraset Envelope plug-in within Adobe Illustrator 5.5, my computer locks up. Does Radius have a fix to this problem?

A: Yes. Updated software (Dynamic Desktop 3.3 and QuickColor 3.3, specifically) fixes this problem.

Q: Do all Thunder IV GX cards support 1360 x 1024 resolution?

A: No. Thunder/24 GT and Thunder IV GX 1152 graphics cards do not support this resolution.

Q: How can I identify a Thunder IV GX card?

A: Thunder/24 GT and Thunder IV GX cards are best identified by assembly number:

Thunder IV GX 1600 (model 0513) assembly number 0010375-000x

Thunder IV GX 1360 (model 0446) assembly number 630-0556-0x

Thunder IV GX 1152 (model 0485) assembly number 0010397-000x

Thunder/24 GT (model 0491) assembly number 0010420-000x

Q: Why do I see slow performance results when testing the QuickDraw performance of my Thunder IV GX card with Norton Utilities or other performance testing applications?

A: These applications are not optimized for testing Thunder IV GX cards and high-resolution, 24-bit color, so their results don't reflect the true performance of these cards. Technical Support recommends using MacBench 1.1 for performance testing because this application's test weighting scheme is correct with regard to the suite of tests it performs.

Q: Why does my Thunder IV GX card fail the Apple diagnostics hardware test program?

A: This program is not designed for testing any products other than those manufactured by Apple, therefore it will always report that the VRAM is defective on your card. This test always fails on third party graphics cards even if the card is working perfectly. If there really was a VRAM problem with your card, you would see some visible sign of the problem on the screen. VRAM failures generally result in one or more vertical lines of garbage or distortion being displayed on the screen. If you reduce the resolution of the image or reduce the bit depth from 24-bit to 8-bit and see some change to these lines, the VRAM probably is defective and the board should be replaced. If you don't see any problems with vertical lines on the screen in any bit depth or resolution, then your card is working correctly.

Q: I see one or more vertical lines on my screen when using my Thunder IV GX card in 24-bit mode. Is there a problem with my card?

A: If these lines go away or change in some way when you change to a lower bit depth (such as 8-bit or black & white mode), then the VRAM on your graphics card is probably defective and the card should be replaced. This problem is not specific to Thunder IV GX cards, it can happen with any graphics card or even built in video on Macintosh computer systems.

Q: I installed a new Thunder IV GX card in my computer. Why do I only get a black screen?

A: The following troubleshooting steps will help you resolve this type of problem:

1) Check to make sure that one end of your monitor cable is attached to your Thunder IV GX card and that the other end is attached to your monitor. Make sure your monitor is plugged in and turned on.

2) Make certain that your monitor is compatible with the card by comparing the monitor's specifications to the timings listed in the back of the Thunder IV GX user's manual.

3) Configure the card by holding down the T-key at startup.

4) Clear PRAM by holding down the Command, Option, P, and R keys simultaneously when you start up your computer. Allow your computer to restart three times, then release these four keys.

5) Shut down your computer, disconnect your monitor's video cable, and move the card into another NuBus slot. When you move the card into another slot, check to make certain that none of the Nubus pins on the card are bent or broken off. If a pin is bent, you can straighten it and test it again.

6) Reconnect your video cable to the card and test it again by configuring with the T-key. If problems continue, then test the card in each slot of your computer.

If the card still does not appear to operate, test it in the NuBus slot of another computer. If the card works in another computer then you will need to contact your Apple dealer in order to get your computer repaired.

NOTE: If you are installing the card in a Macintosh II computer (just Mac II, not IIx, IIcx, IIfx, or IIci), make certain that you have Revision B or C ROMs on your logic board. All graphics cards made today require that a Macintosh II have Revision B or C ROMs in order to operate correctly. Contact your Apple dealer for upgrade details if you have Revision A ROMs on the logic board.)

Q: Are Thunder IV GX cards compatible with the Scitex Resolute hardware/software?

A: Radius engineering has worked closely with Scitex to resolve an incompatibility with Scitex software. If you are having a problem with Scitex software, please contact your Scitex representative for updated software to resolve this issue.

Q: Why do the colors on my PressView 21*T display change in an unusual manner when I change resolutions on my Thunder IV GX card?

A: This problem with the Color Lookup Table (CLUT) was fixed some time ago with new PressView software. Please upgrade your PressView software to version 1.6.1 or later. It is generally a good idea to update one's calibrator software at the same time. ProSense 1.6.1 and later can be used with the SuperMatch Calibrator Pro that originally shipped with the SuperMatch PressView 21*T. Both the PressView and ProSense software are posted in Radius' public software libraries on America Online (at keyword: Radius), CompuServe (in Macintosh Vendor Forum B, or MACBVEN), eWorld (at shortcut: Radius), AppleLink (in the Third Parties P-Z folder), the Radius Online BBS (at 408/541-6190), and on the internet at (ftp.radius.com and www.radius.com).

Q: Why do the colors on my PressView 21*T display change in an unusual manner when I edit gamma and color curves, perform a threshold command, or use the replace color command in Photoshop with my Thunder IV GX card?

A: Please see the answer immediately preceding this question - the information is the same.

Q: Why does the Bezier Pen tool operate slowly when creating paths in Photoshop 3.0.1 with my Thunder IV GX card installed in a Power Macintosh 6100, 7100, or 8100?

A: This problem is due to the design of the Power Macintosh system software in that it reduces the performance of some types of data transfers across the NuBus path. Adobe solved this problem with the Direct Bits 3.0.2 plug-in, which ships with Photoshop 3.0.3 and later. After you upgrade your Direct Bits plug-in, we recommend that you throw away the Photoshop preferences file located inside the Preferences Folder within the System Folder. You may obtain an updated version of the Direct Bits plug-in by contacting Adobe or by upgrading to Photoshop 3.0.3 or later.

Q: Which cable should I use with my Thunder IV GX card and older Radius display?

A: Please refer to the Radius Cable Guide, #1260, for info on cables used with Radius displays.

Q: Why are the buttons of Apple's Color Picker missing from the Color Picker window after I installed my Thunder IV GX card?

A: A repeatable-yet-irregular bug exists with Dynamic Desktop 3.3 when used with Apple's Color Picker in that one can open the Color Picker dialog box and fail to get the Okay or Cancel buttons at the bottom of the box. Although the box is cut off above the point where the buttons would be drawn, the Return and Enter keys on the keyboard still function as default "Okay" selectors, so this should serve as a functional workaround.

Q: Why does my Thunder IV GX card not fit inside my Power Macintosh 6100 computer after I installed a Quantum or Seagate hard drive?

A: The original versions of Thunder/24 GT, Thunder IV GX*1152, and Thunder IV GX*1360 cards were slightly too long to fit with the longer Quantum and Seagate hard drives, but they were exactly the right length to work with the slightly shorter IBM hard drives. Later revisions of these cards were designed to be shorter in order to allow them to fit in the computer with Quantum and Seagate hard drives. All revisions of the Thunder IV GX*1600 card are short enough to fit with all types of hard drives which Apple has used in the Power Macintosh 6100 systems. The following revision numbers show the card revisions required for use with the slightly longer Quantum and Seagate drives:

Thunder IV GX 1360 (model 0446) assembly # 630-0556-05

Thunder IV GX 1152 (model 0485) assembly # 0010397-0005

Thunder/24 GT (model 0491) assembly # 0010420-0005

The revision level is the number which follows the dash mark after the assembly number. Thunder IV GX*1360 cards with Revision -05 (or later), and Thunder IV GX•1152 and Thunder/24 GT cards with Revision -0005 (or later) are compatible with the longer Seagate and Quantum drives.

Q: I have found that colors change in an unusual manner on my screen when I calibrate with Color Composer installed on my Power Macintosh 8100. What can I do about this?

A: The quickest solution is to throw away the MonitorHardware-SMmn-MNhw file in the SuperMac folder within the Preferences Folder within the System Folder. If this color change happens continuously, then the ColorComposer software may need to removed. There is no updated version available which will permanently address this issue.

Q: Why does my screen look washed out after moving the menu bar to built in video and restarting with Color Composer installed on my Power Macintosh 8100?

A: Please see the answer immediately preceding this question - the information is the same.

Q: Can I use my Thunder IV GX card in a Power Macintosh 7200, 7500, 8500, or 9500?

A: No; these new Power Macs only have PCI slots, and Thunder IV GX cards only work in Nubus systems. No upgrades or trade-ups are available.

Q: I bought a Thunder/24 GT card, can I upgrade the card to add Photoshop filter and CMYK acceleration to my board?

A: Yes, you just need to order a PhotoEngine daughtercard (part# 0482) from your Radius reseller in order to obtain the image-processing acceleration provided by this board. PhotoEngine accelerates selected Photoshop filters and CMYK display mode in Photoshop.

Q: Are Thunder IV GX cards compatible with Daystar 601 accelerators?

A: Yes, Thunder IV GX cards are compatible with Daystar 601 accelerators, but the PhotoEngine software is incompatible. A Thunder IV GX card can be installed in a computer containing a Daystar 601 accelerator, but the PhotoEngine software will not load and should therefore be removed.

Q: Are Thunder IV GX cards compatible with Power Computing Mac OS compatible computers?

A: Yes, Thunder IV GX cards and their attached PhotoEngine cards are compatible with Power Computing Mac OS compatible computers which contain Nubus slots.

Q: Will I have problems with my Thunder IV GX card if I remove the VRAM or AV card from the PDS slot in my Power Macintosh 7100 or 8100 computer?

A: Apple states that Power Macintosh 7100 & 8100 computers must either have a VRAM card, AV card, or PDS terminator installed in the PDS slot on the motherboard of Power Macintosh computers. If the PDS slot is empty, the motherboard itself is not terminated and may be damaged. Thunder IV GX cards may not operate correctly if the PDS slot is empty, and the user may experience random system crashes even if the Thunder IV GX card is not installed.

Q: What if I have a problem with my Thunder IV GX card which is not listed in this Q&A document?

A: We recommend that you complete as many of the following general purpose troubleshooting steps as possible before calling Technical Support:

1) Has anything changed or been installed on this computer recently or since the card last worked correctly? Was the system software upgraded? Have any new Extensions or Control Panels been added? If so, try removing whatever was added and see if the problem goes away.

2) Make certain that you have the latest ROM and software for your Radius product. Some ROM upgrades are FlashROMs which can be downloaded with the software for the card from online services.

3) Remove all Extensions and Control Panels and test again. If the problem goes away, then one of the items which was removed may be outdated or incompatible.

4) Does the problem only occur with one application? If so, then throw away the preferences file for that application (Preference files are located in the Preferences Folder within the System Folder.) Does the problem go away after reinstalling the application? Do you have the latest version of the application?

5) If the problem occurs with multiple applications, clear PRAM (by holding down the Command, Option, P, and R keys simultaneously when you start up your computer). Allow the computer to restart three times, then release these keys.

6) Perform a "clean install" of system software. You may do this by holding down the Command-Shift-K keys when using Apple's installer program to install System 7.5 or later. To perform a clean install of system software with System 7.1, 7.1.1, or 7.1.2, you must start your computer from a Disk Tools disk or CD-ROM, put the System Folder in the Trash, and then run the Apple installer application.

7) If the Radius product is a card, test it in he other slots of the computer. Does the problem only occur in one slot? If so, then that slot may be defective. If the card does not work in any of the slots, then you need to consider the possibility that all of the slots in the computer are faulty.

8) If the Radius product is a card or monitor, test it with another computer. If the problem only occurs with one computer, then there may be a hardware or software problem with that particular computer which is causing the problem. Is there different hardware or software installed inside or attached to the computer where the problem is observed?


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