Sunday, June 12, 2016

A600: Spare A600 mobo recapped, serviced and replacing current

Since many years I had a spare A600 mobo from my really old A600 that had some cap issues (sound etc) plus some old hacks I did when I couldn't hold a soldering iron correctly :)
Since I didn't have much time my really good friend Leo (keropi) offered to help a bit.

After getting a cap kit from AmigaKit, he changed the caps but there were channels missing in audio... He checked and changed the audio amp chip (from a spare dead A600 mobo) but still no fix.
Then he decided to salvage Paula from the dead mobo and finally that was the problem!
Now my mobo is working flawlessly so I received it and tested it with great joy.

Since it was working perfect with my Vampire I decided to replace my current mobo (that has some audio issues as well, along with some RGB to scart issues (caps desperately needing change).

So new mobo got the following hacks

Adding 2 signals for the dual floppy header. I decided to add the wires under the motherboard for cleaner mod. You can check the previous mod here where I added the wires on the top of the motherboard.

Next it was the 2nd floppy LED wires that would attach next to the LED header. Previous mod can be seen here. A lot cleaner in this go :)

Here you can see Ratte's switch in RF modulator space, the ribbons for Native/RTG fold carefully and hot-glued on top of kipper2k's angled adapter and then going under Vampire.

And here you can see the whole unit ready to rock with everything on.

You'll notice in the previous pic that the old switch that I used for switching between Kickstart 1.3 and Kickstart 3.1 was removed as nowadays the kick resides inside the Vampire. Instead, I thought of putting a bigger switch I had (ON/OFF/ON) for switching between Ratte's switch modes (Auto/Native/RTG). It took me a LOT of time trimming and filling the switch in order to be able to fit in my A600 but it fitted like a glove once I was ready.


Some things that are missing (if someone knows my setup) are the following:

  1. MAS-Player plus the internal MAS/Paula mixer: Yep it was removed for 2 reasons. 1st because MAS-Player is definitely obsolete now since it can only play up to 192kbit MP3 files while Vampire can play up to 320kbit without a sweat and with only consuming 20-30% of the CPU power (impressive shiz I tell ya). Another reason was that mixer lowered considerably the volume of both MAS-Player and Paula so there was no reason to keep it.
  2. NMI header: Yep, Vampire doesn't have an NMI header, although we managed with kipper2k to trigger the INT7 so I might add such a feature in the future
  3. Ugly HDMI to VGA adapter handing in the air: I sympathize I tell ya, but most that know me, know that there was not a single way I would leave that hanging like that :) Tbh, I'm waiting an HDMI amplifier plus a short 10cm HDMI cable to try putting all these inside as comfortable as I can to have the best possible VGA signal coming through the HDMI plug.
Stay tuned :)

Monday, June 6, 2016

A600: Ratte's auto switch working on my A600 beast :O

Hi peepz.

After finishing my Gotek inside my A600, something that troubled me a long time came in front.
I love my Vampire and RTG modes, but I also want native modes which atm I can get either from Indivision SD/FF or from RGB to Scart. Ofc both of these solutions require either a dual input monitor (HDMI/VGA or HDMI/Scart, which I already have) or having 2 monitors.

Since I was always fond of auto switch between RTG and Native I though... what the heck, I have to try Ratte's switch like I had in the past.
Worst thing, is that I would use the parallel port signal if I couldn't find one inside...
After talking with highpuff ( who was making a batch on Amibay, I decided to gief it a go after he told me that U8 that I knew on A1200 was also present on A600! Dafuq I never thought they were alike sharing the same signals :)

This is the new switch that I received along with plenty of cabling in PRO quality! (Thanks a lot Claes mate, you rock \m/)

Ok Natives were ok as I knew that Indivision would run ok with Ratte's switch as I tried in the past Indivision AGA, 4000, mk2 without issues.

What about RTG coming through HDMI though :S
First of all HDMI is only digital while Ratte's switch works only with Analog signals.
Only choice I had was to get an cheapo HDMI to VGA adapter from eBay like this...

After making all the necessary connections to a spare recapped A600 mobo of mine... this was the result (btw, I asked highpuff to make me a custom male RTG cable in order to feed it directly to the HDMI adapter).

Result was SUCCESSFUL! OMG I couldn't believe it! Even putting SwitchControl in Startup-Sequence right before IPrefs gave me AUTO switching like it should!!!
After that I thought about dismantling the adapter to see how big it would be inside... Turns out it's rather slim

I couldn't leave the thick HDMI connector as it was would I?

One more test again and it was indeed successful as well! You can see in the following picture the U8 CIA adapter (what a PRO PCB man)

Here's a quick video about the booting and switching phases of RTG/Native using Ratte's switch on my A600.

Stay tuned :)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A600: Replacing internal HxC SD with Gotek HxC on my beast

Hey my friends.

Some months ago (and haven't found the reason yet) my internal HxC SD stopped working (LCD screen wasn't working and no sound was coming from buzzer.
After removing everything, I made a continuity test on whole board (comparing it with another HxC SD that I have) but still couldn't find anything wrong. HxC SD gets voltage but something is shortcircuiting and gives issues but I didn't have enough appetite atm to troubleshoot it more.

After seeing about Gotek and HxC's firmware adaptation by Jeff, I decided to give it a go :)

I ordered 2x Goteks (one in black and one in grey) and after getting the HxC licence from Jeff, I flashed both replacing the Cortex firmware.

Now it was time to give a spin on attaching a test 16x2 LCD screen (normal size) and an extra button to see if firmware was working as intended and Presto! The extra cheap I2C controller I got from eBay works lovely :)

In order to give a try on a test mini LCD screen I had once more to wire carefully from the ribbon connector to the I2C module (irritating job but someone's gotta do it).
After some time of soldering carefully, experiment was successful!

Now it was time for some case and Gotek modding. First of all my dear friend Dremel was used to remove the front fascia from the Gotek case...

Then everything was removed and the mod of slimming down the Gotek in order to be slim enough for the slim floppy drive to attach above it... started :)

After some time, the 2x caps were placed on the side, the board headers were removed, and also the USB connector and buttons were removed as well.
Good thing is that it still was working so yey! You can see it's more slim now :)

I also made the buzzer mod and glued it in place along with all the other components.
Drive was also attached above the unit carefully after many tried of measuring and testing on the real Amiga. I also attached the extra dual drive adapter in the best position I could.

On this detail view you can see in the lower left corner of the Gotek case, a cut I made with the Dremel in order to put the buzzer as far back as I could (including the needed transistor lol). Buzzer was also Dremeled a little in order for the upper motor of slim floppy to be as back as it should.

Here's the front side with the USB plug re-positioned in order to match the cut on A600 upper shell (where the original eject button was).

Just for means of WTF you can see the lower side of the whole mod (the cable coming underneath is the HxC buttons (Next, Previous, Enter) that are position on the lower A600 shell so I wanted a connector in order to remove the drive whenever I wanted.
The back dual drive adapter is attached via strong glue and some solid plastics

This is a classic overall mod on the internal of the case showing everything.
You can also see now the replacing of my Subway with a RapidRoad USB. Yes, you saw correctly that I'm not using the default mini connector of A604n's clockport as it wasn't easy to fit with the drive combo and also was really close to the HDMI connector of Vampire V2.
custom clockport cable was stripped and made rounded, in order to position RapidRoad a bit more right to the case and everything's now works as it should leaving space to HDMI connector as well!!!

Case closed for now. Everything's is now working as plan once again!!! Phew \o/

Last but not least, a screenshot of my loved A600 running latest SILVER5 core on Vampire V2 using a resolution of 1360x768 on P96. Awesome stuff indeed!

Stay tuned for more tests in the following days/weeks :)