Friday, November 4, 2016

A600: Paula NMI Piggyback adapter

Hi my friends.

Recently I got a message from my friend highpuff that he created an NMI adapter for A1200 that piggybacks to Paula!
I was amazed since I didn't knew that the IPL0, IPL1 and IPL2 signals that were needed for NMI header were also available on Paula as well!

Yesterday I got a package on my mailbox out of the blue sky...

OMG, I was really happy that Highpuff sent me one kit for testing it on my beefy A600!
After all... Paula on A1200 and A600 are the same so why wouldn't it work?

Here's the adapter on it's full glory...

Really simple design but elegant and effective!
Time to remove my floppy dual drive combo, and plug the adapter to Paula.
Once it was ready, and switch was put in the adapter header it was time to give it a spin!

Hohohoho! After some custom kickstart fun, just pushing the button gives us HRTMon 2.36 (even from Early Startup Menu! Awesomeness!

For some people who will simple say... WTF is that, it's an Action Replay clone that can give some info and alter some address in RAM for hacking some stuff.

ACA630 had an NMI adapter by default that I showed in the past as well, but since Vampire doesn't have an NMI header the only solution to get the signals so far, was to get the signals from Vampire's Piggyback 68k socket (not something for the fainthearted doing).
Getting the header from another IC is a really awesome solution without affecting at all the rest of the setup. Good thing also is that the adapter is really low profile and doesn't mess with the height of the floppy drive (even my dual drive combo sat really well) and case closed just fine :)

Thanks a lot highpuff my friend... You rock!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A600: Some RTG love and recent ClassicWB 3.9 enchancements

Hi my friends.

So many things, so little time but hopefully I'll try and post more stuff from now on.
All this time I'm tinkering my lovely Vampire and my beloved ClassicWB 3.9 system.

I made many changes so I might not remember all but here are some highlights:

  • Updated a lot of libs, utilities and programs to latest versions
  • Changed whole iconset from MagicWB to Ken's Icons (OMG only that alone is TONZ of work)
  • Added "Theme Support". This includes the following options:
    • <None>
    • VisualPrefs (with a new OS4.0 theme edited by myself)
    • AfA OS (it still doesn't work since it requires FPU but if you mount the system to WinUAE and add FPU then it works just fine). Also it's ready for when FPU implementation is done on the Vampire.
  • Updated a lot my Startup-Sequence cleverly so I can mount my CF card both on Amiga and my PC (via WinUAE) using the same system without any changes. IT ROX so much having the same environment without having to change monitor, screenmode, settings etc, and what's best... either in real A600 or WinUAE every change is saved in each environment!
  • Changed many options on ToolPrefs menu adding stuff like:
    • Converting images to icons (thumbnails)
    • Replacing backdrops on the fly either on windows or workbench screen
  • Replaced ToolsManager Dock with WBDock by Thomas Rapp
  • Added many utilities and tools. Some I remember are:
    • SwazInfo that replaced RawWBInfo (I like it more)
    • PowerWindows (for moving windows wherever I want on the screen)
    • ReqAttack for changing all requesters
  • Changed all my assigns from all places to be managed by MCP
  • Installed Clould Handlers (after also registering them just for the support)
  • Made a lot of new backdrops with Vampire theme (lol) which I will put at the end of the post for anyone that wants to grab any :)
You can check the video bellow that shows some of these features live. I suggest to open it on YouTube where you can also view it up to HD (1080p) quality.

Here are the backdrops that you can grab :)


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 :)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Α600: Vampire V2 arrived and it's hawt!

Hey my friends.

Long time no see but I had a really good reason I was not much online or in the works.
I had my second child (a son this time) born on 18th of August so as you can imagine my personal time plus sleep have decreased drastically since then :(

Everything's turning out better as the time goes by and I have more time to tinker my lovely hardware.
Lovely things happened in my "absence" like new core with RTG support, cache, etc on FPGA Arcade and Vampire V2 with Apollo core and SAGA support... oh damn!

Well I hope from now on to write more frequently about my findings and tests on these lovely machines.

Yesterday I received my Vampire V2 board which took some time but was SOOO much worth it :)
Board is indeed small and has a JTAG connector, an HDMI output connector and a MicroSD connector. Lets put that baby on, shall we?

Yeah it's a bit messy as I had to dismantle the floppy drive combo, Subway and some wires that went on the former ACA630 in order to test the Vampire V2.

Workbench started just fine and INSANELY fast. My titlebar that is changed via MCP showed 040/ECS. Wow what a thrill!
I was amazed that Indyvision ECS worked just fine, cause I was under the impression by some posts that I read somewhere that they were incompatible. Turns out that atm they work just fine together even in SuperPlus 800x600 resolution.

Time for the classic SysInfo benchmarking and WTF!

Insane numbers for an A600 so it was time to make a module in SysSpeed to give a side-to-side comparison with my other accelerators (ACA630-OC, Furia, Furia2)

OK, I knew that Vampire V2 has the genuine kickstart that I provided inside. Time to give a test if it will work if I remove my former kickstart completely...
...OMG it works... :D

Last but not least, I thought about giving SAGA (P96 RTG) support a glimpse.
After I installed P96 and the SAGA driver... voila!

So far only 320x240 and 640x480 till 16bit are supported but we're still on early stages of awesomeness.

Today or tomorrow I'm gonna make a new post with some video of the responsiveness of the Amiga with the Vampire V2 along with the SysSpeed modules in order for anyone to compare it with his/her own benches.

Stay tuned :)