Sparky Dietpi Roon Bridge McFifo Mc DualXO HDMI LVDS Module I2S Streamer

(Tapatrick) #1


I’m setting up a Sparky Network Streamer with Dietpi & Roon Bridge connected to McFifo & Mc DualXO isolator & reclocker Boards and then to a HDMI LVDS Module to output I2S to my PS Audio Junior DAC. Sparky is showing up okay in Roon server but can’t get any music to play.

The attached shields and Dac do not come up as options under the audio settings in Dietpi. Sound card just says none and under the audio settings there are options for Allo piano dac, Allo cheapo, and USB Dac but no sign of my connected boards (I am not using USB but an I2S input to my DAC). Can anyone help which of these options I need to choose or how to get my shields to show up?

(Tapatrick) #2

I have just tried running the USB output on my sparky and it sees my DAC under Roon network setup. There were 4 options to enable devices which are related to the Sparky but only the bottom one that showed my DAC works to stream music. This shows that the Dietpi/Roon/Sparky is working okay but not clear yet why my shields are not showing. Anyone got any ideas how to get the shields to show up?


disclaimer: i do not have such hats on my own (i am using armature hecate usb isolator&reclocker card with rpi3) so i am mostly guessing here…

in the fisrt place you need to make sure alsa can see your audio card , on rpi this is done via config.txt where you need to define dtoverlay (for e.g. for allo digi one you have to add: dtoverlay=allo-digione into the config.txt). this will be applied during the rpi boot process and will allow alsa to see the hat you specify.

so i assume something similar is required also for your hat, however I’m not sure how sparky gets boot configuration, nor the dtoverlay name for your hat…

to test if alsa can see your hat as audio device you need to issue following command in the dietpi: aplay -l

(Tapatrick) #4

Thank you sir! will give this a try tomorrow…

(Tapatrick) #5

@maniac I have managed to add 2 lines to the etc/modules as suggested by Sudeep @dietpi and this shows up in the dietpi audio settings

“To enable sparky I2S for generic dacs , include below lines to the /etc/modules file and restart , this option available v159 or above versions.

when I run aplay -l I get this list but still no music out…:(, I will keep trying…

**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: atm7059link [atm7059_link], device 0: ATC2603C PCM atc2603c-dai-0 []
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: atm7059link [atm7059_link], device 1: HDMI PCM atm7059-hdmi-dai-1 []
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: atm7059link [atm7059_link], device 2: SPDIF PCM atm7059-spdif-dai-2 []
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 1: HifiDAC [HifiDAC], device 0: HifiDAC pcm5102a-hifi-0 []
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0


Hi Patrick, this is good progress, how does your dietpi available audio outputs looks now in the Roon? There should be new device HifiDAC showing along with the atm7059_link devices and once you enable it in the Roon you should be able to play via it

EDIT: does McFifo have any indication it’s receiving audio? Can you maybe share some link to this devices? For example my Hecate board does have 3 LEDs : power, audio playing and DSD. In my case I when I had no music but Hecate LEDs indicated play is in progress I knew that I have problem with I2S LVDS output module (had flaky connection on on cable).

Also is your McFifo + Mc Dual recloker + Isolator compatible with PS Audio DAC? I mean that DS DAC is not using MCLK from external source, but it’s using own clocks and also there are few different HDMI I2S wiring standards (GD Audio I2S module uses compatible one with PS Audio)…

(Tapatrick) #7

@maniac yes I did feel I had a good day… :slight_smile: and made some headway - linux is not easy for beginners…:slight_smile:

Here is the roon panel now and yes the HifiDac shows up but no music through this yet.

There is a red LED on the McFifo input side which I found out means there is no music stream present yet. Agree that LVDS output module is a concern and I know those little cables are a pig. All other wires between boards have hard connectors but for the LVDS module I had to cut the end off 3 ufl cables and join them to the tiny brittle module wires, so I’m concerned they are not making good connections plus I wasn’t totally sure how to deal with the shields/grounds.

“Also is your McFifo + Mc Dual recloker + Isolator compatible with PS Audio DAC? I mean that DS DAC is not using MCLK from external source, but it’s using own clocks and also there are few different HDMI I2S wiring standards”
Regarding whether the McFifo + Mc DualXO are compatible - I’m not sure but I’m hoping they will work. I had the LVDS module work before with my PS Audio Junior DAC when I ran I2S from my WaveIO board and it worked a treat. Thats what set off down this crazy route…:slight_smile:

I’m pursuing the theory that connections are not correct. Are you able to confirm with a pic how the I2S cables from your RPi look to your HAT?

Also do you think the ‘dtoverlay=???’ needs to be correct? Maybe there is a naming specific to the McFifo etc?

Thanks very much for your help!

(Tapatrick) #8


Hi Dan, I’m trying to set up a Sparky/Dietpi/Roon streamer with McFifo & McDualXO shields outputting I2S to a HDMI LVDS module. I’ve added 2 lines as suggested by Sudeep to the etc/modules and now HifiDac shows up in Roon network options. So far so good, but there is still no music stream from the sparky to the McFifo board and onwards.

Do you have any suggestions on what other adjustments/additions I might have to make in dietpi to get I2S to output to the connected boards?

Many thanks Patrick


@Patrick i am using USB connection to my i2s reclocker so unfortunately can not show the pics of i2s connections…

I am pulling I2S out of Hecate board towards the Audio HD I2S HDMI output board - i am attaching the marked I2S pins from Hecate I am sending out to I2S module…

(Tapatrick) #10

Thanks @maniac That correlates with how I have connected similar pins on Sparky and confirms my researching. Do you know if it matters which ground is connected?


it should not matter, all grounds should be the same.
what might matter is that I2S is very sensitive to EMI/RFI so I would give it a try to shield it in metallic case, or just some steel dish just for test :slight_smile: . but i would think you would get music with some glitches in case of EMI/RFI rather than no sound…
is it somehow possible to test your hats without i2s output (like SPDIF output) just to be sure HATS are detected&working properly in linux?

(Tapatrick) #12

Thanks @maniac The McFifo & McDualXO are I2S only so I can’t test them any other way. The connectors between Sparky and HDMI module look okay so I am going to work on the assumption that the HDMI module is not connected properly, therefore this is hindering the connection to my DAC. Once I eliminate whether this is the problem or not then I can move on…

(Tapatrick) #13

I think I might have found the problem. LT3045 3.3v input to HDMI module seems to be faulty. I have ordered a couple of new ones from Alexey at LDVOR. Fingers crossed…

(Tapatrick) #14

More glitches with my Sparky I2S project, the Audio gd HDMI module is faulty too so I ordered another one from Audiophonics fr. They sent me a bag of screws by mistake! Can you believe it.


@Patrick_Bryson feeling with you :frowning: I haven’t had any issue with Audiophonics so I hope you will get it soon up and running, fingers crossed

(Tapatrick) #16

Thanks maniac :), I’ve had a similar issue before with them. They had the wrong picture on the web of a product and they sent me a cable I didn’t want twice before they sorted it out. This time I ordered a second HDMI module and received a bag of brass fixtures! (The first one had very brittle flimsy cables glued to the inputs but the picture had a a pin header which I wanted to give more reliable connections.)
It takes a few weeks each time to come from France and shipping is very expensive too. I get stuff from China quicker and cheaper but they do some good stuff that is not available anywhere else. Hoping to have this sorted in next few weeks, so I can find out if my I2S chain will work… Cheers Patrick

(Tapatrick) #17

For anyone following this project I am now waiting for a HDMI module from Audio GD in china. The modules from Audiophonics in france do not look like the photos they have on their website which show pin headers. The ones they sell only have the tiny brittle bare wires glued to the inputs and are not suitable for my project which need to be connected to U.fl coax cables that carry the I2S signals.

I have not been impressed with Audiophonics, their website has often the incorrect photos and they do not answer questions very well which has resulted in lots of delays. They sent me a bag of brass fixtures instead of the HDMI module I ordered which when it finally arrived it turned out to be the wrong one! Now waiting for a HDMI module from Audio GD.


good to hear you have been able to get it directly from China - during my journey 1-2 years back I tried also to order from China directly, but they told me they are not producing it anymore or selling directly (can not remember now). So i have gone via the Audiophonics route. I have red somewhere that they are sometimes shipping units with header and sometimes with glued cable (this was also my case).
I guess it should not be very much complicated to get the glue ripped away and cables desoldered and pin header soldered). Anyways good to hear you will have it directly from Audio GD at the end.

I am just wondering how you will connect the U.fl coax cables - i guess i will anyways have to remove the pin header first and then solder the cables to module - or will you solder U.fl coax connectors on the module board?

(Tapatrick) #19

Hi Maniac, regarding the connections for the HDMI module, I did take the input wires off the board but the board is very delicate and I damaged one of the pads when soldering my own wires, so I wanted the header pin version to make sure I have solid connections. I will be using one of Ian’s RPi SMT connectors, see pic.

Then the chain is: U.fl cables from McDualXO board>Ian’s SMT connector board> then the rainbow coloured cables supplied with the McFifo kit to connect to the pin header. I did try cutting the U.fl coax cables from the McDualXO board and soldering straight to the HDMI module but those wires are too fine for me, so I’m accepting these extra connections which is not ideal in lieu of good solid connections.

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(Tapatrick) #20

Good news. I managed to work out the problems I have been having in setting up my Sparky Roon I2S streamer. It is a complex chain and it has now been running continuously for a few days.

My new streamer chain is: Sparky Roon end point (network connected running customised Dietpi software with Roon bridge on a 4 GB micro card) I2S outputs connected to Ian Canadas McFifo Isolator board, then connected to his McDualXO reclocking board with upgraded Crystek CCHD-957-25-45.1584 & CCHD-957-25-49.152 clocks, then to an Audio gd HDMI module to I2S input on my PS Audio Junior DAC. Everything is running superbly and sound is stunning.

I have Dietpi running well, which was the goal and even MQA from Tidal plays without any downsampling. Now I will concentrate on optimising the cables, EMI shielding etc and housing it all in a metal box…

The SQ now beats my previous best - the Bluewave USB to SPDIF chain. The difference is subtle, but distinctly sweeter with all the detail, air and with tight muscular bass. Voices are very natural and lovely sounding, everything is harmonious and united yet full of detail and space

For anyone interested I will detail the build soon. Its really worth pursuing this route if you want to make a Roon streamer to use the I2S input to your PS Audio DAC