Friday, May 31, 2013

A600: Mounting HxC & Floppy Internally (Part 4)

Hey my friends...

After my last article about my dual floppy internal mod I had two more mods in order to finalize this project.
The first was to do something about the slim floppy's eject button that was really small and didn't give enough room to press it. Also it needed some alteration to the case in order to be able to push it :)

So... I took the eject button and attached it to a spare beige floppy button from a PC drive that I had lying around. With some instant glue and hotglue for the rest... it was easy.

The result was really nice as you can see. This is how it looks when there is no floppy inside...

...and this is how it looks when the floppy is inside. You can see that the eject button is inline with the original eject button that now hosts the MicroSD card as you saw on my previous article.

The hard part now as always is to cut the upper case, in order for the eject button to be usable :)
Hard it was due to the fact that you can't use a dremel as the area is really tight and because there is the plastic from the floppys hole's lower part that gets in the way.
Lots of cautious cutting and sanding and this is how it went.

Not bad at all. After attaching the upper to the lower case this is how it looks when no floppy is inserted...

...and this is how it looks a floppy disk inserted.

From the side this is the whole picture of the mods. Both eject buttons one of which is the MicroSD slot and the lock switch :)

The first mod was done and the only mod in order for the project to be finalized was the LCD screen mounting.
I left this task for the end because I wanted to think about it a lot as cutting the upper case was always the worst thing as it's something that is always viewable. Something ugly or not properly mounted would cause me grief (LOL).
So... after measuring exactly where to put the LCD horizontal-wise (not to interfere with the lower side and the HxC-Floppy combo, I needed to find the best vertical alignment for best visual feeling.
My measuring showed that the cut I needed to do, had the same height as the A600 logo alas I thought about putting it EXACTLY at the same orientation verticaly! That was it :)
I made the necessary markings with a pencil...

...and then I begin cutting with a blade as dremeling was kind risky for melting the plastic as it's a 3mm height.

After a lot of effort... the cut was done. You can see the initial cut without any sanding.

Some may have noticed it, some may not... but as everyone makes mistakes... I cut by mistake a small area next to the upper right of the cut... You can see it by flash but still is annoying. I tried to cover it as much I could but still is noticeable with a flash or bright light. Not something too important but annoying nontheless. I might give it some try with a dremel and some soft brush but for now I'll leave as it is (Grrrr).

Anyway... in the meantime, I ordered a Plexi Glass from a nearby store as I wanted a laser cut of exactly 3.9x1.3mm (and 3mm thickness) as I wanted to fill the hole of the cut. The plexi glass was ready the next day so I sanded the cut as much as it required for the plexi glass to fit nicely! What a pain in the butt that was!!!
This was the final cut ready for the plexi glass to be mounted.

After applying some careful drops of instant glue I attached the plexi glass on the case and it fitted like a glove!

Because the LCD screen has a black frame by default, I didn't like how it would look underneath the plexi glass so I thought about spraying it with a light beige color. I had a spray ready from my A4000 custom bezel and this is how the frame turned out after 2 coats of spray. Of course I dismantled the whole LCD in parts (I didn't think it would play after this but I had a spare one so I had to try).

After everything was ready and the spray was dry, I hotglued carefully the LCD in place.

And VOILA! This is how the LCD looks now :)

I wanted to try it as soon as possible so AT LAST I wanted to close the case! The keyboard ribbon was put in place and then the custom LCD connector was attached to the LCD screen.

Case closed and I fired up the miggy!!! W00h00!

Everything worked like a charm and I was a happy man! Mission accomplished after a month of work :)
You can see now how it looks completed

Even the plastic protector had room for the Slim floppy's eject button (this was by pure luck as I was thinking to also mod the case). Awesome stuff!

This concludes this custom mod for fitting internally both an HxC SD floppy emulator and a slim floppy drive.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A600: Mounting HxC & Floppy Internally (Part 3)

Hello my friends.

Continuing my work for mounting internally my HxC and slim floppy drive, I had some minor stuff that needed to be fixed.
First of all, I needed to put some headers in HxC switches and on the slim floppy drive LED. Both of these wires were mounted directly from the adapter to the mobo and case, so if I needed to dismantled and remove the floppy it would have been messy.

Here you can see the 4pin female header coming from the HxC switches, and the 2pin female header coming from the mobo's upper case (LED) connector. Btw I also removed the molex power connector from the floppy power, putting a 4pin female header as well. It does a better connection to Nigel's adapter comparing to the original one.

 After this short but essential replacements, I had to thing WHERE I should mount the SD card from HxC :)
First of all as you can remember the SD card is on the middle. First idea was to simply cut a slim hole in the upper case in order for the SD card to be insertable.
I didn't like that approach much tbh.

Why shouldn't I use a MicroSD solution I thought! Hmmm
The most important obstacle is that MicroSD doesn't have a lock position. Despite not being so important for most uses, it's rather important for HxC cause you might want to have a disk locked at times (acting as a real protected floppy disk).
You can bypass this by putting a Cheapo SD to MicroSD card which has the lock position as normal.
Why on earth I should use that though, when I don't want to use the SD card slot in the first place?
Looking from HxC schematics I realized then that Lock position is just one pin that is always shorted with GND (if card is unlocked) and unshorted when is locked. Why can't I mount an MicroSD and put another switch for my lock/unlock mechanism them? That's what I'll do :)

Anyway... before I decide where to mount the MicroSD socket, I thought first of getting the signals :)

In this picture you can see the 9 signals needed for SD card (MicroSD requires the 8 of them as the one is VSS that isn't needed). Also I maked the signals for Lock, GND and Card Inserted.
And here it's insulated with tape :)

After that I was thinking where to put the MicroSD adapter and then suddenly it hit me!!!
I have an empty spot where the old EJECT floppy button existed! This is the perfect spot not to have an empty hole :)
I didn't want to mount just the MicroSD though in such a big hole... It would have been ugly I though!
Then I saw an eject button I kept from the dead floppy I salvaged for Part 1 and I thought... "why not use this original button in the eject place, mounting the MicroSD adapter inside?"

These were the first comparison tests...

Damn it fits like a glove!!!
After a LOT OF TIME with the drill, swiss nife and a LOT OF PATIENCE... this was the result... :)

MicroSD connector was instant glued in the upper place (to leave space on the bottom for HxC and cabling.
After some Googling around I found the following pic

So... I made the following wiring diagram just to be sure :)

Signal   SD  MicroSD
DAT2     9   1
CD/DAT3  1   2
CMD      2   3
VSS1     3   
VDD      4   4
CLK      5   5
VSS2     6   6
DAT0     7   7
DAT1     8   8

After finding my connectors information...

...I was ready to proceed with the soldering :)

That was some tough soldering since the pitch for the pins was really small.
Ok everything's was set.
I forgot to tell ya that I also got from my electronics store some really small switches that I thought of using for the Lock/Unlock mechanism.

The best spot I managed to find without altering the case more was the perimeter of where the upper case meets the lower case on the floppy area! The good thing on that perimeter spot is that it has a really think plastic layer which was IDEAL for what I had in mind :)

This was the cut I performed after A LOT OF TIME AND PATIENCE.

And this is how the modded eject button with MicroSD connector AND the micro switch for lock/unlock mechanism was mounted!!! Awesome stuff aye?

This is how it looks when you eject the actual MicroSD card :)

And as always, a panoramic view of my Amiga's innards :)
(You can also see a custom label I made for my Dual kickstart - mfilos Edition LOL)

Only 2 things left to be done... but we'll talk about these things on the next part... soon enough :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A600: Mounting HxC & Floppy Internally (Part 2)

Hey folks,

As I'm waiting for some stuff from eBay I couldn't just sit back and just do nothing :)
First of all, what I didn't like is the fact that the 26pin connector on the slim floppy drive doesn't have a MOTORLED signal as the Amiga drives but instead it has an onboard LED.
Since I wanted to have LED activity when the floppy was running, I just picked the LED signals at first just to have them for later usage.

Sadly it's not so easy to capture the wires I soldered in the LED header inside but here we go...

Here you can see the back of the floppy drive where the thin 2 wires were hotglued to stay in place.

OK that was easy. I was trying to think where the LED could be used.
1st idea was to just wire it to the original Floppy LED so to illuminate both for the HxC and for the floppy drive. Despite being an ok solution, I didn't like it much as I wanted to know both floppy activities and not just one.
2nd idea was to mount another LED somewhere, but as you know, I don't want to ruin much the look by putting a LED just somewhere randomly.
While checking some pictures of the A600 from BBOAH I just zoomed one and performed a simply COPY-PASTE by selecting the floppy LED and putting it on the upper part.

That's how the concept picture looked after the MSPAINT copy-paste action (LOL)

Not bad at all since floppy area is larger than the Power and Hard Disk areas so it's not that bad.
The worst thing is that cutting it would be a major pain in the ass as you can see it has some curves that can't be made easily by hand...
Oh well... you know I don't give that up so easily when something comes in my mind :)
I can easily say that... THAT WAS THE TOUGHEST THING I have ever done by cutting an Amiga case by far. As mistakes can't be forgiven once you cut or drill, it took me A LOT OF TIME and patience in order to achieve the following...

I think the results turned out really well. As you can see from the pictures I tried to recreate the original curves and I had success at a really good rate.

Ok next mod was to alter the mini PCB that helds the LEDS. I thought of changing all LEDS putting fresh ones, and also change a bit the coloring as following:

  • Power --> GREEN
  • Floppy Drive (slim) --> ORANGE
  • HxC SD --> ORANGE
  • Hard Disk --> RED
This is how the fresh LEDS look like on the mini PCB

In order to be able to mount the extra LED and since the LEDS need to be really tight to the PCB, I dremeled both the height of the LED by trimming 0.5mm from the bottom, and because the legs had to bend 90 degrees, in order for them not to have a single mm height, I also dremeled the lower area when the leg would have been bent. This was the result.

After removing the upper part of the resistors as they were on the way of the extra LED, I soldered them on the lower part after changing their position a bit (lol) and also I made 2 small holes in order for the cable to be able to reach the upper part where the extra LED would be mounted.

This is the upper part after the LED was mounted in the correct place. It took a while to align it by putting it temporarily on the case, then putting a drop of instant glue to secure it, and then remove it and solder it. Results were great :)

Putting a new LED gave me 2 extra wires that I had to mount to a connector. The default 4pin molex one, wasn't enough, so I desoldered it, and attached a 6pin female connector having all the required cables :)
Ofc, shrinking tube for extra protection was put along with a tie-wrap to secure the cables.

And we're ready to rock :D Not bad at all aye? I think it looks quite original.
I know that most of you don't like the idea of cutting the case. Well I don't like cutting it badly, but I think it's ok for a custom cut after all so I'm rather pleased.

Mini PCB with connector was ready but I had to put a connector inside as well. Since I didn't want to dismantle the whole mobo, I just added 2 pins (after applying a drop of instant glue and afterwards some hotglue to secure them in place.

Firing up the Amiga, gave me the classic Power and afterwars the Hard drive LED which is now Red instead of the default Orange. The colors are a lot nicer than the pictures and not so bright as they look :)

Testing the DF0 = HxC in the original header worked just fine :)

Testing now DF1 = slim floppy drive on the extra LED worked also fine \o/

 And last but not least a photo of both the activity floppy LEDS working after I performed a diskcopy from HxC to Floppy drive :)
You can see that the Floppy drive is less bright than the rest of them. Probably because I left the onboard LED on the slim floppy which draws some current as well, so in the following days I will remove that as well :)

That's all for now...
Stay tuned for the next article in the following days (lets hope I'll receive the stuff from eBay soon) :)

After removing the internal slim floppy LED I realized that indeed the brightness improved a lot. I might change the resistor values in the future... but for now I'm good I think :)