Sunday, April 28, 2013

Custom Greek Support on OS3.9

Hey my fellow Amigans... most of you won't even bother reading this article as it contains info about Greek support on OS3.9 only.
For the Greek readers though... it can be informative though so here goes :)

First of all, OS3.9, comes by default with many Localization language packs (including Greek) from the official Haage-Partner's website which you can check out here:

The Greek support pack, includes a Keymap toggle application (named "Hellas") which is put from the installation script on WBStartup folder plus the required localization files and the Greek keymap.
So far so good, and everything works out just fine.
The bad thing with this pack though... is that it installs USAELOT keymap which be default is the American Greek keymap. This can be really irritating for Amiga users that have an UK English keyboard so some symbols like @ and " are in different key locations.
So... even if you choose GB as the default keymap, onces the Hellas application runs on startup changes the keymap to the American USAELOT which means it screws the english support for UK keyboards.
Sadly there is no way to assign with an option or a Tooltype on the Hellas icon, that the default keymap is other than the US one :(

I remembered that in the past my father had obtained a legal Greek localized version of Workbench 2.1 (for our former A2000 beast back in the days) which happens to also have a Greek Support floppy for already installed 2.1 or 3.x systems!!!

You can see what the booting of the default Workbench 3.1 installation with the localized support looks like

The greek solution of the era (made my Mr. Kostas Tsaousis) had a popup window that showed the legal owner (in the pic you can see the name of my father),  it's telephone number and it's national identity card's ID. 
While searching the archive I saw that the required files needed for the Keymap toggle in the WBStartup folder where 2 out of the 4 installed: MenuKeySwapper and KeymapSwapper.

If you check the information of KeymapSwapper application you can see that there are many tooltype variables that we can change! One of them is the SW_Keymap1 and SW_Keymap2.

By default the SW_Keymap1 was equal to USA so I changed it to GB and voila! Everything worked as it should!!!
It was a time to make a test on my beloved custom ClassicWB3.9 installation.
After taking a backup in case I screw something up... I removed the Hellas application and instead of installing the GreekSupport of Mr. Tsaousis, I putted the files manually cause I didn't want the setup to overwrite my Locale files (after all the installation was at best for Workbench 3.x so localization would have screwed my OS3.9 localization).
What I discovered was WHEN the KeymapSwapper application run... I had an error message that the SW_Keymap2 couldn't open the GR Keymap. Hmmm that was odd cause I thought that the keymap file from the 3.9 Locale would have been compatible. I guess I was wrong since when I overwrote the gr keymap of locale 3.9 with the one from the 3.1 GreekSupport the application run just fine and I could use Greek just fine on my UK keyboard!!! Hooray!

One thing that I also realized that despite everywhere I could change the language from English to Greek (via the hotkey LAmiga-Space) I couldn't do it only in VincED. Ok someone can say easily who cares... you can ditch VincED for KingCON :)
The keymap toggle indeed works in normal CLI windows with KingCON, and I already have KingCON on my ROM so no big deal. It was irritating though so I thought about searching for a way to do it as well!
After lotsa of fiddling around I FOUND IT!
It's just a tooltype change that is required named SEARCHEXEC which is by default on YES. If you change it to NO then VincED works just fine as welll!

You can see it on my ClassicWB3.9 working normally on VincED \o/

Ofc... the greek keyboard can't implement the UK keymap as it's by default USAELOT but that is really minor. It's the same on Locale 3.9 and all greek keyboards I know.
One other thing I realized is that the Locale 3.9 greek support, has the ACCENT character one button right as we all greeks are used to (in " instead of ;). Mr. Tsaousis Greek support solution has it normally in ;

The only thing that was kinda irritating, was the popup window that showed my father's info.
Don't get me wrong, I love my father, but seeing that popup in every boot was really crappy.
My friend Cass from AmigaHellas helped me out but checking the binary of the 2 needed files that had the code that called intuition's library function. By dissasembling it, he saw what was happening, and made an alteration to the binary so the window won't be called upon running!
That was it. Now the applications run just fine and the annoying popup windows doesn't show!!!

Thanks a lot Cass my friend \o/

Despite I don't like Greek localized OS3.9 (I can enabled it at any time via Locale prefs) prefering the English one... the solution for Greek support writting is better than the original one thanks to my former greek support solution! I'm glad there's something from my Amiga past that still helps me out even today.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

HxC SD: Mounting a tiny LCD and slimming it down

Hey my friends.

Since a really long time (long before HxC Rev.F and Slim Edition), I wanted to take my Rev.C HxC SD Floppy emulator and slim it down as much as possible in order to make it moddable for my taste :)
The one thing I didn't like much was the big (lol) LCD screen that occupied a lot of space.

While searching the bay, I managed to get a really Tiny 16x2 LCD Screen that was really nice for my needs but instead of having pins, it had a ribbon as it's meant for embedded projects.

I don't mind though, as I also got a connector to wire it.
As you can see from the picture below... the size difference is definitely noticeable compared with the default 16x2 LCD screen of HxC SD :)

In order to use this LCD screen, I needed to short 2 of the opened jumper locations as I saw from the online   datasheet.

After carefully wiring the connector for the ribbon... SUCCESS I had :)

As I said before, I wanted to slim the HxC SD down so I decided to unsolder the PIC and IC sockets in order to gain some height space. It was a really boring procedure but nothing one man can't do with a bit o patience :)
Since I'm not the best in unsoldering with the El'Cheapo desoldering pump that I own, I managed to loose connection from 3 lines, which after a continuity test, managed to find from nearby lines so no problem at that! (Thank God to my 1st Rev.B to Rev.C HxC SD which helped me find the missing tracks.)
After unsoldering the LCD Header (after my successfull experiment) I soldered the wires from the tiny LCD connector directly to HxC and also hotglued a tiny pcb juts to hold the wires together not to get cut.
I also unsoldered the Drive selection jumpers and short the pins where a jumper for assigne DF0 would have been :)

You can see here the cable connection and the unsoldered PIC and IC :)

Ok, I was happy with the result, but more stuff needed to get out of the way to gain some height space as well. Obstacles were:

  • The 34pin floppy connector
  • The mini buzzer
  • The LCD contrast trimmer
  • The 3x PCB mounted buttons
  • The molex floppy power connector
Ok lets get these things one by one shall we?

The 34pin floppy connector
First of all I removed the plastic rectangle that surrounds the pins as I didn't care :)
then I bent all the pins with pliers 90 degrees. Bending one-by-one was such a BORING procedure that required a bit of attention but had to be done :(
Once might ask... WHY haven't you desoldered the header and solder an angled dual row pin connector instead? Well... firstly because I was afraid of doing some damage with desoldering, but most important that I saw that the angled double row pins had more height that I wanted.
Anyway... after bending the pins, I soldered a dual row of pins to the bent pins and everything was nice and firm :)

The mini buzzer
The buzzer is rather small, but still it has some height I didn't like. I decided to unsolder it and attach it via hotglue to the back of the unit in the middle between the lower and upper part of the PCB :) That made it a lot lower than before.

The LCD contrast trimmer
That bugger has some great height due to big leg pins. I desolder teh bastard quickly and as I measured it, there was no need to reattach it elsewhere, so I just soldered a fixed resistor value that worked great with my LCD as there was no way of putting another screen than the one I currently own.

The 3x PCB mounted buttons.
Despite being ok, the position of these 2 buttons didn't suit my needs not to mention their height was out of the question as well, so they had to go. I unsoldered these as well, and rewired them to an external mini PCB that I can put whenever I want.

The molex floppy power connector
This was too easy. I just use pliers to remove the plastic insulation of the connector alas I got some exposed pins that I will use in the future with a flat female connector :)

After all this work I tested everything but the LCD screen didn't show much stuff :O WTF. I was really sad.
AFTER a long time testing to see what I did wrong, I found that one pin of the LCD screen wasn't making a firm connection with one of the PIC pins so I just wired a bridge underneath and everything was fine as well :) I so, unglued the mini pcb and resoldered the wires once again, hotgluing them directly to the PCB and now everything worked as it should without issues!

Here you can see some pics of the whole custom work.

Just as a comparison with the original unit, I'll present some photos from my 1st Rev.B to Rev.C HxC SD. Don't take in mind the custom PCB with the RAM module that converts the board from Rev.B to Rev.C just see the whole PCB and compare :)

Not bad aye? Just tested it by:
  • Playing Hybris using Kickstart 1.3 + Disabled ACA
  • Loading WB using Kickstart 3.1 + Enabled ACA
No problem so far.
Good to know I have a modded HxC SD for future mods... :)

Stay tuned

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Α600: Final overclock. ACA630@37.5MHz

Hey peepz.

As I said in previous articles, my ACA630 was unable to operate stable @ 40MHz alas I putted an oscillator of 72MHz to have a speed of 36MHz. I always wanted to try an 75MHz so I bought one from a fellow Amigan (altcomputing) which arrived yesterday :)

After replacing my former 72MHz oscillator and putting the new 75MHz one... Amiga booted just fine so I tried first some benchmarks via latest version of SysInfo...

Then I also checked the Disk speed which was rather nice!!! 2.6MB/s is not bad for native mode.

Last but not least... I had to enabled MMU in order to run WhichAmiga  which you can see bellow

I was really glad with the results but now I had to test if this was going to be stable as the 72MHz oscillator. After 3 hours of keeping the Amiga running Modules, MP3s, putting it online and Send/receiving emails from YAM, taking screenshots as PNG etc... SYSTEM is stable and running smoothly!
So... I didn't get the full 40MHz clockage but 37.5MHz is rather fine :D

Since I saw that the default heatsink of ACA was getting rather hot... I decided to re-attach the 40x40x10 ultrasilent FAN but with the minor alteration of raising it a bit for better airflow.
I used some small nuts that I glued with thermal gluing paste (like the ones that use on the Voodoo's Heatsink) and after that, I glued the nuts with thermal gluing paste on ACA as well :)

As always I take a full picture of the whole setup just for reference along with the old Eizo F35 CRT monitor that works awesomely well :)

Well that's it for now. Soon I'll make some more videos testing some neat Internet applications like VNC, FTP etc so stay tuned :)