Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A4000: Custom circuit for Auto AGA/RTG switch

Hey my friends,

It's not have been a long time since my previous post but trust me... I was waiting some things to arrive alas I couldn't write without having stuff in my hands :)

Anyway, since a long time I was wondering what I was gonna do with the manual switch that Ratte's Auto AGA/RTG switch had. Don't get me wrong I love my Auto switch but I really dislike the classic stick switches.
Sadly On/Off/On switches don't have a great variety and for a round one... the smallest I could find had a diameter of 21mm which is really big to mount.
Then it struck me... Why wouldn't I put an awesome momentary Push-On switch that has an embedded LED on it and mount it on the obsolete position if the keylock switch???

Well I ordered the switch and voila... IT REALLY fits like a glove...

In the previous photos I just supplied voltage to the LED to test it out.

So... I had the switch... so now I needed the circuit that would make my Push-On click... to transform to On/Off/On states (and loop back). I made a thread on Amibay about it but on the meantime I asked a good electronic friend of mine (Mike) to bring an idea about that.
After searching a bit he told me he has done something similar in the past with an CD4017 IC. After getting the PinOuts we designed a circuit that was simple enough.
The IC used was indeed an CD4017 that has 10 outputs. Since I only wanted 3 outputs (On/Off/On) we fed the 4th output into the RESET on IC so it loops back to the start once the 3 output switches :)

You can check it out in case you wanna try something like this in the future :)
So... after getting the parts that was needed, and after 2-3 hours of assembling the prototype board, there was it. You can see the sockets for the IC and the relays plus the headers.

I soldered a couple of LEDS to female headers to be able to try out the output LEDS on the PCB

...and the first TEST (after some troubleshooting) was successful!!!
  • Left LED = ON
  • No LED = OFF
  • Right LED = ON

Since everything worked fine, I needed to cut the remaining unused veroboard and mount the PCB inside A4000's faceplate :)

I used some dual foamy sticky tape that insulated and hold the veroboard solid as a rock inside A4000's faceplate. Wires from Push-On button on header plus a custom Molex to Fan+12V power for my PCB was made :)

And that's about it!!!

Because I'm sure you're pretty weird how that thing works... how about a little video about it?
(I'm also testing Line-In of Delfina because some peepz requested it).

Enjoy :)

You can check out also a really clever and nice implementation using Arduino by my Amiga friend Claes. Check out his solution on his blog here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A4000: My ACard 7220UW experience and results

Sadly I don't have many updates as I would love to, because I'm always waiting for some extra parts and stuff to arrive but most important because I have other projects to maintain and not so much time to tinker my lovely Amiga :(

Some time ago reading a thread @ Amiga.org I got again the eager to replace my 7720U (Ultra SCSI - 50pin) ACard with 7720UW (Ultra Wide SCSI - 68pin) version.
This would have been awesome because:
  • It wouldn't need the extra 50pin to 68pin adapter alas more room for airflow
  • It would be able to give better speed due to the Wide SCSI interface!
Since getting an ACard 7720UW isn't an easy task if you reside in Greece (none reseller around) I decided to order one from Vesalia since I had some nice PayPal balance sitting around for quite some time now.

Package arrived yesterday and I was really happy to try it on my A4000 once I got back from work.

The only thing that worried me a bit was the Firmware revision that was printed as in all ACards over the ICC that had version 3.89. Based on ACard's website this revision was released on 27/05/2009 (and was compatible with the new systems like WinXP/Vista/7 etc) while the previous version 3.86 was released on 16/06/2006 (and was compatible by legacy systems like Win95/98/ME/NT etc).
I already knew that latest version of ACards aren't compatible with Amigas and after a recent conversation over a thread @ EAB I knew that 3.85 version was one of the latest that for sure worked with Amigas.

Once I got home, I pulled off the old trusty 7720U ACard and putted the new on maintaining ofc the same SCSI ID and termination jumpers.
Sadly... the Amiga saw the ACard and HD (since HD LED's output from ACard was blinking just fine) but within the booting sequence it stopped :(
Early startup menu, showed that Hard Disks were recognized as partitions though. That's why I booted my CF Backup setup (via the SCSI Multicard Reader) and hard drives appeared. For some reasons I got hard drive errors for my DH0 partition so I tried to reformat it but got "Error 4" in hard drive description.
That wasn't good :(

After some more fails and troubleshooting I was almost convinced that my ACard's revision was screwing me!
I decided to take the situation on my hands so I putted an Adaptec SCSI controller into an old PC of mine with WindowsXP and mounted ACard onto it, downloaded the previous version plus the ACard flash utility and Downgraded the firmware to version 3.86. Flashing was sucesfull so there was only one way to find out if I did it succesfully :)

The ACard was mounted on my A4000 and I also changed the ID to something else just for safety. Hard Drive was discovered but boot partition DH0 with 3.9 was corrupted :(
I decided then to initialize the drive from scratch (booting with CF Backup 3.9 environment) and repartitioning it with new sizes, etc. Thank God the drive initialized just fine without problems! (Phew No.1)
In my previous partitioning scheme I had:
  • 950MB PFS3 for OS3.9 (DH0),
  • 950MB SFS for OS4.1 (DH1),
  • 950MB SFS for MorphOS (DH2)
  • and the rest of the 80GB HD space left unpartitioned for future usage.
Now I made a similar scheme but with 1023MB partitions (I played it safe and under 1024MB=1GB) and all with SFS.
All partitions were defined and save changes didn't give a single error (Phew No.2)

After I booted to 3.9, I cloned my CF partition to my fresh formatted partition and rebooted my Amiga...

YES!!! Hard disk booted just fine and I was in my previous well known custom ClassicWB 3.9 environment with CGX4/AfA OS/Antialiased fonts/Ken's Icons etc!

Since I was so happy I though of checking out my new hard drive speeds via SysSpeed and SysInfo.
Results were more than amazing!!!

Well... compared to my previous screenshot with the ACard 7220U I now got an 10.6MB/s speed increase! (from 18.3MB/s to 28.9MB/s). Not bad at all aye? :D

Also without the need of an 50pin to 68pin adapter, now the space needed is much shorter and gives a nice extra for better airflow :)

Awesome stuff! After this successful try, I installed again OS4.1 and didn't have a single issue! On to MorphOS today but we'll be ok on that as well me thinkz :P

Soon more to come.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A4000: New fans and some minor audio mods

One more Saturday to work on my lovely A4000. Sorry for not updating sooner but last weekend I was hackintoshing my Dell Mini 9" (dual booting Snow Leopard with Windows 7) but that was not Amigish to share so... here we are once again :)

 Well first of all I thought of getting 2x new silent 80mm fans for my A4000. One will replace my PSU fan and the other will be mounted where the original Hard Drive bracket existed. After some searching around local stores I came up with a Noctua 80mm 17db - 53CFM. This fan has also 2xAdapters with resistors to lower the silence up to 10db or even 7db (ofc lowering the CFM as well). Since I tested them a bit... I thought that 17db was just fine for my taste.

 PSU replacement was easy enough... and you can barely see the difference with the previous one. Sound difference is a LOT though! Awesome \o/

Next step was to mount the second 80mm fan where I wanted. As a holding surface I thought of using one spare metal bracket that we use for the backplates of our ISA/PCI etc slots.

I straightened  it a bit using pliers and with a little hammer I gave the final look.

After that, I dremeled one side to match a bit with the other and sanded the whole bracket. It looks better right?

After the sanding... it was time for 2x coats of a gray spray paint which I used in the past for some components. Result was really neat.

Now I had to put some dual sticking foamy tape to the upper side of the fan...

...and then attach the painted metal bracket to the sticky tape! Last step before putting it in the Amiga was to put 2x tie wraps to hold the fan even better and more steady.

Here you can see it mounted in it's permanent place. It's very steady quiet and it's airflow it's just epic! Some mini heatsinks on the CyberVisionPPC and RAM SIMMS on the CyberstormPPC will be must better now :)

Since last time I didn't like the way that  I mounted the RCA cables to the internal spot of Delfina, I thought of doing something better and more good looking :)

That's why I decided the following:
  • Changing the Mic input connector (Pink) to the Internal connector on the Delfina (after all Aux2 can be used for Line or Mic so I had one spare connector).
  • Making tiny cute Mini Jack to RCA cable to be able to connect it from the Amiga RCA output to Delfina's Internal input (now Pink femal Jack)

You can see it clearly now :) Doesn't it look better? And I can anytime remove the cable and get the RCA from the Amiga (don't know why I'd do such a thing... but anywayz).

I had to include one last photo from the internal of the A4000 with the Delfina and custom cabling showing also the new fan mounting! Small update but definitely an important one.

Cheers for lookin'