Saturday, August 8, 2015

FPGA Arcade: New LED signals on the core equals more LEDS to play with

Yesterday MikeJ released a new Amiga core for the FPGA Arcade which apart from scrollwheel support, OSD options for Mouse/Joysticks and some 2nd joystick button also added 3 headers on the AUX_IO spot for Power, Floppy and Hard Drive LEDS.

That was awesome cause I had no appetite to get these signals by soldering wires to the SD access SMD LED.
After I opened the case, I tried firstly with a spare LED to see if the signals were working ok. First I tried the power LED (although I wasn't going to use it as I have the signal from my custom circuit (before the core is running which I prefer it).

Second it was the floppy LED that I used by opening an "Workbench 3.1" image...

Last but not least was the hard drive access LED that I tested while system was booting (what a nice LOL picture of the ghost loading icons).

So after seeing everything was working as intended... I dismantled the board from the case once more, and attached 3 rows of pins to the AUX_IO spot to have for future use (you can see it in the top middle area of the board right from the RS232 connector) :)

Because the case has one bright Blue led for Power and one Orange one for the Hard disk access, I thought about changing the Blue cause I didn't like it, and replaced the Orange one with a dual LED (Orange for hard drive access, and Green for floppy access).
As you can see from the pictures bellow, I had to get the extra signal along with the other cables so I put an extra wire for it :)

As always, and because I want to keep always a tidy up space inside the case, instead of stretching the cables for my need, I made an extra custom extension cable for connecting all the necessary LEDS to the FPGA Arcade board.

Everything was ready and testing was successful :)

Also, because the power LED (now in red) was still VERY bright, I decided to put an extra 4.7KΩ resistor just to keep it dimmer. Ofc the resistor was placed inside an insulated extension for better looks (lol).

And a last panoramic view from the mods before closing the case.

Here you can see the Power red LED...

The Floppy green LED...

And the orange HD LED.

Last because a friend asked for it..., I present some photos of SysInfo, AIBB and WhichAmiga for fun.
Not bad for a system not using Cache :)

Anyone noticed the extra board attached? Minimig RTG Card... exciting times coming :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

FPGA Arcade: Casing and some Workbench testing

I had many ideas in the past of what case to use for my FPGA Arcade.
One of which was an old A590 casing (which I already have) which I might use in the future, or a small mini-itx case.
My good friend Leo (keropi) kindly offered me a spare mini-itx case that he had which was rather nice for my taste as it had a small size.

The case is a "Morex Cubid 3833" which is the following (stock pictures)

Thanks bro! U rox once more :)

I really liked the fact that it had options for DB9/DB15 plug that would be handy to wire the RS232 console port which would be mounted inside.

My only concern was that the case (as ALL modern cases don't have a simple ON/OFF switch but a momentary push on switch that isn't suitable for the FPGA Arcade (without the power board which you need to buy extra and that I didn't know).
That is the moment when I realized that I already had that problem in the past, on my former A4000 when I wanted a push on button to act like an ON/OFF/ON switch for using it with Ratte's Monitor Switch.
This is what I done back then: "A4000: Custom circuit for Auto AGA/RTG switch"
I had this circuit already in my hands so I though, why not!

After some slight work into cabling this was the result! I also put a small copper heatsink on the FPGA as I realized it gets hot at times and also a spare Noctua fan that I had on my stash :)

As you can see I wired the console port using an ethernet cable (lol) and also used my A4000's homebrew circuit for ON/OFF/ON switch. Good thing I also had a LED header that I wired to the front case power LED!

This is the backplate side when you can see the extra DB9 port for debug purposes :)

And more internal shots.

What I would have loved is being able to wire the onboard SD access LED as the HD activity LED of the case and also the OSD button that sits on the back, as the Reset button on the case.

After emailing MikeJ about these, he answered that the OSD button header is already there (P19) although he haven't putted a header for an SD card access LED. He can do some alterations in the future in order to transfer this signal to some spare IO headers that exist but for now it's not a problem.
With that in mind, I also made a extension to the case's Reset button and now pushing reset on the front of the case... brings forth the OSD menu!

Since the circuit for the switch is ON/OFF/ON (while I only wanted an ON/OFF) I have one position that I don't use so I have to press the button twice in order to open it again.
To avoid that I will build a new circuit in the following days just to get rid of the extra push (yeah I know I'm kinda OCD LOL)

The circuit is the same as before, but without the extra output logic and you can see it here in case you need it in the future.

Last but not least, I present some better looking photos (rather crap but better than last time) from the system starting, selecting the hard images (you can put it auto ofc), and booting into workbench and some usage.

That's all for now... more in the following days so stay tuned :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

FPGA Arcade is in da house!

Hi guys, it's certainly been a long time no see :(

Sadly except my heavy work and family obligations that kept me long time from my retr0sport and custom modding we (Greece as a country) had some crappy financial situation with capital control, banks closed etc (which most will know already) so we still can't buy many products overseas using PayPal or Credit cards. Not gonna spend more lines on that matter though...

In the meantime, and long before this crisis, I've also upgraded my main PC@Home using for the first time watercooling in a mini-itx case which was rather challenging for a first timer but I'll tell more about it in a different article :)

This article is about the LONG waited FPGA Arcade which has finally arrived my premises some days ago.
Just for a bit of history, I was on the preorder list as of April-2011! A lot of things happened since that day and a couple of batches went out to people, many beta cores have been made and AGA support is finally done.
After exchanging many emails with MikeJ (the FPGA Arcade developer) telling him about the crappy situation in Greece and being unable to pay for now for the long waited unit of mine, he decided to send it to me anyway!!! (I'm still amazed about his so kind gesture and trust).

Unit was received as I already said, some days ago and I was a really happy man!

Looking good doesn't it?

I couldn't help it so I had to try it @ work, so after some reading on the forums about how to prepare an SD card, I was up and running :D (and with my custom ROM that I use on my A600).
Don't get fooled though... I couldn't make it work at first (blank screens ftw).
Solution was given after putting a NULL MODEM cable to the serial interface and in my PC to check out the boot sequence that told me that HRTMON.rom couldn't be found!
Damn, after commenting out the line in the replay.ini, system was up and running :)

Booting into Workbench 3.1 from a floppy was working just fine so I was rather pleased and happy about it! I now wanted to make some hardfile to boot!
I tried copying a basic setup from my WinUAE environment but sadly it didn't boot...

I then remembered I had exactly the same problem with my former Chameleon some years back when I was from the first that setup the hard drive for using a ClassicWB installation.
I found out my post from June-2011 on Chameleon's Yahoo Group and remembered I have to create the .HDF image on WinUAE, then transfer it on FPGA Arcade, then boot an Install3.1 disk and initialize and format it under FPGA Arcade. After that, the image can be used either on FPGA Arcade and WinUAE! Awesome time to work :)

After some time, I managed to get a working setup of Workbench 3.1, then a basic setup of ClassicWB then it was time to get my UBER custom setup of ClassicWB 3.9 that I host on my A600.
Ok, it didn't work at first... Can't find DOS device etc? Why's that?
Firstly I disabled my custom ROM, putting a normal 3.1 one, and system booted but with many errors, but mostly artifacts in the screen! Aha. Time to start disabling ClassicWB components via the ClassicWB menus...
...After some time, I discovered that Fblit was causing the issues!!! After disabling it, system booted just fine.
Time to create a second partition (Work), and copy some stuff from my A600 partition including games, emus etc.

Oh yeah, system was up and running :D


More updates on the way so stay tuned :)