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UltraScope SFF Portable Computer -- My System Specs

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Steve Harley
UltraScope SFF Portable Computer -- My System Specs
on Sep 3, 2009 at 12:59:56 am

In case anyone's interested -- here's what I did to build my portable UltraScope computer:

My goal was an inexpensive, cool-running, whisper-quiet and portable computer to host this dedicated application.
I wanted a scope that I could use in my own studio, that I could easly move within a facility -- and that I could bring to remote sessions.

I settled on a Shuttle Computer, which is a SFF platform I've used before and found to be dependable.
How big is it? Well, it's 12.79" long x 8.66" wide x 8.26" high -- and weighs less than 10lbs fully loaded.
Frankly, I couldn't find anything smaller as the 2-PCIe slot requirement, and a power supply suitable for the graphics card, eliminated the other options.

In terms of configuration, I generally aimed low -- fufilling Black Magic's minimum UltraScope specs in order to keep heat, noise and costs down.
I'm not running anything else on this machine, except for TrueRTA Spectrum software -- so there was no reason to beef it up.
However, I did spring for a 1GB - 9800 GT with OpenGL 3.0 support -- instead of a lesser card -- just for the sake of never having latency regrets.
And, I ditched the traditional hard drive and went with a small capacity SSD to eliminnate unecessary heat, mechanical noise and associated ventilation noise.

Although it's not running XP Embedded, it's about as much of an "appliance" as I could make it.
I put the "Ultrascope.exe" in the "Start Up" folder -- and when I press the Shuttle's power button -- I'm done.

The SSD boots very fast (30 seconds from POST to "Welcome"), is silent, generates no heat and allows me to move the Shuttle around while it's running.
And, the tiny footprint of this machine allows me to easily move it between studios -- and bring it to remote sesions in a Shuttle carrying case.
When traveling to remote sessions, I avoid lugging a monitor by simply plugging the DVI output into the studio's computer monitor's "B" side input. Easy.

I keep only a small Adesso EasyCat Touch Pad to the right of my keyborad to control the UltraScope -- it's the only thing I need -- very clean.
And, if I travel, I also take along a mini keyboard that is no larger than the Shuttle footprint...just in case

These are the components I used (These are just my links -- you can buy these components anywhere you want):

Shuttle SX38P2 PRO Barebones -- $220
Note: Purchased directly from Shuttle -- look for recertified units for the best price.
Supported Hardware List:
Driver Download Page:
Acceptible Card Sizes: (See "P/P2 series" in middle of page)

Intel E6750 Core 2 Duo 2.66GHz 775 1333 4MB CPU OEM -- $132
Note: Minimum BlackMagic spec -- no CPU cooler necessary as Shuttle includes it in the barebones kit.

Graphics Card
EVGA 01G-P3-N981-TR GeForce 9800 GT 1GB $134
Note: Be very, very careful if you choose a different graphics card otherwise the UltraScope won't fit.
You will need a true single slot card that includes the cooler -- which frequently violates the adjacent slot.
There are only two PCIe slots in this computer -- so you can't afford a violation.

SSD Hard Drive
Trancend 2.5" 16 GB Solid State Hard Drive -- $139
Note: 16 GB is pretty small -- but I'm not loading or running anything else on this machine.

Hard Drive Bracket
StarTech BRACKET25SAT Adapter/Cable to Mount 2.5" SATA HD into a 3.5" Bay -- $15
Note: Velco does work -- but this is better -- especially if you plan to move the Shuttle around.

2GB Kingston RAM -- $30
Note: BlackMagic's minimum spec -- in my case, no need for anything more.

DVD Drive -- Already Had

Windows XP -- Already Had

Dell 2408WFP Monitor -- Already Had
TOTAL HARDWARE COST = $670 (not including the UltraScope)

Note: As you can see, my total would have been $531 -- if I had used one of the many extra hard drives I have laying around -- rather than the SSD.

Hardware Build: 1 Hour -- I've built computers & servers -- but most people can assemble a Shuttle
Drivers & Software: 1 Hour -- See my computer links above
Performance: Excellent
Regrets: None *(except below)

* My only regret is that as small and compact as this little Shuttle is -- there's still tons of room in the case designed to accomodate two more 3.5" Hard Drives, one more 2.5" SSD, a mini PCIe Card and a full externalized Card Reader. My dedicated, purpose-built UltraScope has a very limited function -- so I don't need any of those capabilities. Accordingly, it would have been nice for this case to have been even smaller -- but then, Shuttle didn't design this product just for me -- some of you might value that expansion capability -- and the thermals (and noise) are that much better in my minimal configuration.

Finally, my UltraScope Wish List (which I think I'll post in a separate "Wish List" thread:

1. 29.97pSF Support - This is absolutely essential. I don't know why this was left out -- but please put this in the next release
2. Error Detection and Error Logging - Self Explanatory
3. VITC Waveform Display - Self Explanatory
4. Scalable Computer Screen Display - for smaller monitors
5. Ability to Select Parade and Vectorscope Only - eliminate clutter and visual contention during Color Correct sessions

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Steve Harley
Re: UltraScope SFF Portable Computer -- My System Specs
on Sep 3, 2009 at 8:25:47 am


For those who only want a mouse or a small USB trackpad on their desk to control the UltraScope -- here is a nice little AutoHotKey script that allows you to "Alt Tab" between UltraScope and any other application -- without having to close UltraScope first -- and without a keyboard.

Just download the file in the red "Update" section, install it, and you can "Alt Tab" by just holding down the left mouse/track button -- while pressing the right mouse/track button.


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Steve Harley
Re: UltraScope SFF Portable Computer -- My System Specs
on Sep 3, 2009 at 10:27:59 am

Sorry, forgot to include the link:

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Richard Dee
Re: UltraScope SFF Portable Computer -- My System Specs
on Sep 30, 2009 at 7:44:26 am


I was looking for a small form factor computer for this. One of the negatives reviews of this case I read said the power supply fans were noisy. Can you comment.

Great, thorough post.

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Steve Harley
Re: UltraScope SFF Portable Computer -- My System Specs
on Oct 1, 2009 at 6:48:05 am

I read a NewEgg post like that too.

There are two fans assemblies in the product -- the PS fan and the CPU cooler:

The PS fan is very quiet -- you'd strain to hear it at 6 feet or so. The CPU fan is also very quiet.

When UltraScope starts running -- it ramps up the processor cooler -- but not the PS fan. With my lower end processor, Task Manager reports +/- 40 CPU Usage when UltraScope is running. It may very well be that a faster processor would not heat up as much -- and would not trigger the CPU cooler in the process. It would be interesting to find out.

Shuttle also offers something called XPC tools that allow you to customize everything in the machine -- including fan speed. I considered playing around with that -- but my UltraScope largely lives in an adjacent space and it is not an issue.

If you do pull the trigger on that machine -- and if you opt for a faster processor -- please report back on your Task Manager CPU usage -- and your associated CPU cooler fan. I'd love to know what the difference are.

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David Glasgal
Re: UltraScope SFF Portable Computer -- My System Specs
on Jan 1, 2010 at 1:06:48 am

So once I buy all those parts, then what? How do I get it working? Thanks


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Arthur Puig
Re: UltraScope SFF Portable Computer -- My System Specs
on Jan 3, 2010 at 6:38:24 am

I'm trying to buy the SX38p2 pro but so far most of the websites like Tiger Direct or New Egg have it discontinued, and the few that has it are selling it over $350, you mentioned that you bought it from directly from Shuttle, but I cannot find anywhere on their website to do so, all they have are link to resellers that don't have this model.
So my questions are a) How did you purchase it from Shuttle? and b) If this model is discontinued, what could be a good replacement?


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Arthur Puig
Computer just freezes - Don't try!
on Jun 15, 2010 at 7:09:14 pm

OK, I tried to follow this guide very thoroughly, and after 15 seconds of using it the computer freezes, my explanation was that somehow since this shuttle model has 2 PCI-E x16 slots, this video card may be seen as a video graphics card and not as a video capture card.

Since the author of this post never answers questions regarding technical problem, and not Shuttle nor Blackmagic has a solution for this, don't waste your money on this config!

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Steve Harley
Re: Computer just freezes - Don't try!
on Jun 29, 2010 at 8:03:46 pm

Sorry...not active on this forum.

Here are the facts:

1. This hardware configuration worked flawlessly for 1 year.

2. Last week, I upgraded to the latest software release -- and I am now dead-in-the-water.

3. Extensive testing suggests that a software [and/or] driver [and/or] firmware update has "broken" the UltraScope on this hardware platform.

4. I know of no way to fix this problem -- and neither does Black Magic.

5. It would be an understatement to say that I am deeply disappointed in this outcome.

6. I also sincerely regret that some of you are also in the same position.


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Darin Wooldridge
Re: Computer just freezes - Don't try!
on Jan 19, 2011 at 12:36:52 am

My scope went down today.. Getting this error when launching the application.

ultra scope error.
there is no ultrascope hardware detected. please insure your hardware is installed correctly.

Worked great last week.

Any ideas.

NOTE: The comments above are strictly mine, and may not necessarily
represent those of my employers.

Darin Wooldridge
Colorist / Technical Strategist
check me out at

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