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Project "Repair Falcon"


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#1 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 4, 2008 9:03 PM

I just received a "project" Falcon today. I got it from its original owner who bought it at Guitar Center in the mid '90s. Here are the specs:

FALCON INFORMATION & MODIFICATIONS:

The Falcon is a 14MB standard cased Atari-branded Falcon that has had
the audio modifications done to it that made it work better with
Cubase Audio.  These included:

-DMA fix
-input is line level
-bass-boost removed from output.

I bought this Falcon brand new from Guitar Center in Hollywood, CA -
right around the time Atari gave up on them.

It uses an "Actionsoft" memory board, with a 16MB PNY SIMM fitted.

I replaced all the key contacts with "TT-Touch" contacts, that give
the keys a more tactile feel.

I installed an external switch to disable / enable the built-in
speaker.

It has the Nemesis accelerator installed, which increases the speed of
the Falcon.  The speed is software selectable:

- Nemesis OFF = standard 16MHz (no acceleration)
- Nemesis Low = 40MHz clock / 20MHz bus
- Nemesis High = 48MHz clock / 24MHz bus

The Nemesis (with the addition of the included "Videlity" software)
also allows for extended VGA and true color resolutions.

Part of the installation included an additional "buffer board"
installed as part of the Nemesis upgrade, that, if I remember
correctly, resolves some issues with SCSI transfers and over all
stability.

It was having some booting issues and after a PS replacement didn't fix it, he tries reversing the Nemesis mod, accidentally pulling pins on the DMA chip in the process.
He decided that was enough tinkering for him so I have purchased it. I now have it in my possession, as I have always loved a challenge, and am going to attempt to repair it.

My question, is the DMA in the Falcon the same part # as in the ST, Mega, TT and so on, or is it different?? Does someone have the part number handy?? I know Best probably had it but I may already have one, just don't know the part # for the Falcon. Anyone????

Edited by Guitarman, Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:00 PM.


#2 lp060 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 5, 2008 11:51 AM

I have their printed catalog (Best). It has several pages of replacement IC's with Atari part numbers. Can you list all the numbers on the chip? or is the chip missing entirely? I can try to find it in the catalog.

There is also an ST-Guide HYP loaded with chip part numbers for every model, called 'Chips `n Chips'. I have that too.

The HYP listed this for the Falcon030: C302996-001 (U36)

Edited by lp060, Sat Apr 5, 2008 12:06 PM.


#3 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 5, 2008 3:39 PM

I have their printed catalog (Best). It has several pages of replacement IC's with Atari part numbers. Can you list all the numbers on the chip? or is the chip missing entirely? I can try to find it in the catalog.

There is also an ST-Guide HYP loaded with chip part numbers for every model, called 'Chips `n Chips'. I have that too.

The HYP listed this for the Falcon030: C302996-001 (U36)



That would be the one. The chip is gone but it is at U36 on the mainboard. Was that part number just for the Falcon or is it in other Atari's??

#4 lp060 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 5, 2008 3:47 PM

You can grab the HYP and compare the number to the other models.
I uploaded it: http://dev-docs.atar...files/chips.hyp

Note that it is in German, but you should be able to find the parts lists as I did.
Seems to contain part lists for every model, even some prototypes and clones.

Edited by lp060, Sat Apr 5, 2008 3:48 PM.


#5 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 5, 2008 5:52 PM

You can grab the HYP and compare the number to the other models.
I uploaded it: http://dev-docs.atar...files/chips.hyp

Note that it is in German, but you should be able to find the parts lists as I did.
Seems to contain part lists for every model, even some prototypes and clones.



How do I open the HYP file???

#6 lp060 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 5, 2008 6:10 PM

You need ST-Guide which is found in many ST software archives you find. HypView will also work.

#7 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 8, 2008 8:31 AM

Well, ordered the parts from Best yesterday. Got the DMA and a HDD kit coming. This is going to be a real challenge, soldering a 144 pin surface mount chip to the board!!!

#8 lp060 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 8, 2008 9:38 AM

Cool. I hand soldered at my previous job for almost 15 years. Make sure you have a clean surface, no oxidation. Have some flux handy too, in case you get a stubborn joint. Mostly likely the chip has sat around for some years, clean the chip to. Consider proper grounding as well when handling the parts/board. Avoid a room with carpet, you don't want any static discharges.

I'd also get some proper PC board cleaning solution. Clean off all the excess flux and crud when you are done.
You may of already knew all this, but can't hurt to mention it just in case. :)

#9 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 8, 2008 10:42 AM

Cool. I hand soldered at my previous job for almost 15 years. Make sure you have a clean surface, no oxidation. Have some flux handy too, in case you get a stubborn joint. Mostly likely the chip has sat around for some years, clean the chip to. Consider proper grounding as well when handling the parts/board. Avoid a room with carpet, you don't want any static discharges.

I'd also get some proper PC board cleaning solution. Clean off all the excess flux and crud when you are done.
You may of already knew all this, but can't hurt to mention it just in case. :)



I think the main issue is making sure all the traces are intact and repaired. I am planning on searching for some of that trace repair stuff for surface mount IC's. I saw some online somewhere. I want to make sure I have a good healthy board surface before attaching the new chip. I have a container of flux I got from Radio Shack and I usually use rubbing alcohol to clean the board (got a better suggestion?? I'm open). I am going to buy a new thin point tip for my iron also. Got a nice Weller adjustable temp iron. It will be a cool thing to get this running again as the upgrades/memory/Nemesis blows my other Falcon away.

#10 lp060 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 8, 2008 1:31 PM

Actually rubbing alcohol would have been my suggestion if you don't have the proper stuff. I can't remember the name of the stuff we used at work, as they bought it in bulk and it was transfered to us in small unmarked refillable clear bottles. There's definitely a feeling of satisfaction resurrecting something that is non-functional, I used to do customer repairs back then. Talk about a challenge. lol Bringing an Atari back to life, even more thrilling. Hope it turns out well.

Edited by lp060, Tue Apr 8, 2008 1:31 PM.


#11 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 9, 2008 9:44 PM

Well, got the parts today. I got my weekend cut out for myself!!!

#12 TwiliteZoner OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:29 PM

Well, got the parts today. I got my weekend cut out for myself!!!


Good luck.

#13 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 11, 2008 1:46 AM

OK, next call to help. I am cleaning up the Nemesis accelerator that was in the Falcon and was removed. Since the board was removed before I got it, there are some question as to the wires that were/are on the board. Does anyone have or know where I can find a schematic for the Nemesis board or have one installed that I can get a picture of to see the wire placement on the board. I do not need to see where the wires attach as I have the installation manual but some of the various color coded wires are no longer on the board, and I need to see what colors go where. Any help would be great!!

#14 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:15 AM

Got lucky!!!! The original owner had post pictures of the Falcon when he was selling it, when it still worked. Got a good closeup of the Nemesis card installed. I'll be able to reference this for the wire color.

Nemesis_2___.jpg

#15 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 11, 2008 2:21 PM

Also, could still use a schematic and part list of the Nemesis and it's buffer board, if out there somewhere.

Edited by Guitarman, Fri Apr 11, 2008 2:21 PM.


#16 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:14 PM

Well, here are the first pics in the process to repair this Falcon. These are pics of the Nemesis Accelerator and Buffer boards, both before and after rework.


Buffer before
4 top wires missing. Bottom wires cut
Falcon_Repair_002_sml.jpg

Buffer cleaned up
All wires removed. Solder pads cleaned up and prepped
Falcon_Repair_008_sml.jpg
Falcon_Repair_009_sml.jpg

Buffer after
All new wiring
Falcon_Repair_010_sml.jpg

Nemesis before
Wires missing and cut
Falcon_Repair_006_sml.jpg

Nemesis after
Fully rewired
Falcon_Repair_013_sml.jpg


Next is the main board cleanup and repair before installing the new DMA.
Pictures coming soon.

#17 krupkaj ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:00 PM

You can grab the HYP and compare the number to the other models.
I uploaded it: http://dev-docs.atar...files/chips.hyp

Note that it is in German, but you should be able to find the parts lists as I did.
Seems to contain part lists for every model, even some prototypes and clones.



How do I open the HYP file???


If the HYP is available from internet you can use libHYP. Just enter the URL of the HYP to form and wait a little - the engine must dowload and parse the HYP file. It takes some time in case of larger HYP

#18 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:57 PM

You can grab the HYP and compare the number to the other models.
I uploaded it: http://dev-docs.atar...files/chips.hyp

Note that it is in German, but you should be able to find the parts lists as I did.
Seems to contain part lists for every model, even some prototypes and clones.



How do I open the HYP file???


If the HYP is available from internet you can use libHYP. Just enter the URL of the HYP to form and wait a little - the engine must dowload and parse the HYP file. It takes some time in case of larger HYP



Smokin' cool!!! Thanks.

Does anyone know if the schematics for the Falcon are online somewhere?? I need to get the values of a couple of surface mount resistors that were pulled for the Nemesis install.

EDIT: Found them!!!

Edited by Guitarman, Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:05 PM.


#19 Trooper OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:33 PM

Might I ask where you found the schematics?

#20 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:50 PM

Might I ask where you found the schematics?



http://atari4ever.fr...r/hardware/doc/

#21 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:42 PM

Some more pics. Here is the DMA space on the board before reworking the pads. As you can see, the pad and trace in the top right corner is gone, lower left corner second from the bottom is gone and many of the traces coming from various pads are cut through. I have already cleaned all the pads of leftover legs and solder and am in the process of checking continuity of all the pads and repairing any that are broken before mounting the new chip.

Falcon_Repair_DMA_Cleanup_011_Crop_sml.jpg

#22 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 27, 2008 3:55 PM

Here is the Falcon with the DMA installed. I still have 2-3 missing pad connections to repair with wirewrap wire to complete the install. Continuity between the pads and chip legs all check OK. Now here's hoping that I got all the traces fixed properly. Next is to use the Nemesis installation guide to reverse the rest of the Nemesis install and get the Falcon back to factory so I can test the functionality of everything. Keeping fingers crossed.

Falcon_DMA_Installed_Small.jpg

#23 Guitarman OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 2, 2008 4:01 PM

Well, got the Falcon Service Manual and reversed the rest of the Nemesis install. Had to reinstall 3 resistors that were removed for the Nemesis. Tried powering up the Falcon. There is life in there but not getting a display. At least I know I'm on the right track and I got some kind of response.

I am now looking for a Falcon test cartridge to run service diagnostics on it. I have the test fixture board and cables but the Falcon takes its own test cart. If anyone knows where I can find one (Best is out right now), either for sale (preferably) or to borrow, let me know.

She Will Live!!!

#24 lp060 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 2, 2008 10:15 PM

If you can burn your own eprom and make a cart there is this: http://dev-docs.atar..._21-14OCT92.zip

#25 nurmix OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 3, 2008 12:06 AM

Well, got the Falcon Service Manual and reversed the rest of the Nemesis install. Had to reinstall 3 resistors that were removed for the Nemesis. Tried powering up the Falcon. There is life in there but not getting a display. At least I know I'm on the right track and I got some kind of response.

I am now looking for a Falcon test cartridge to run service diagnostics on it. I have the test fixture board and cables but the Falcon takes its own test cart. If anyone knows where I can find one (Best is out right now), either for sale (preferably) or to borrow, let me know.

She Will Live!!!



I'm impressed by your work!

* For what it's worth to those reading this (other than Guitarman), I was the original owner of this Falcon.

So, it would appear that it wasn't the Nemesis after all (or the DMA chip, which was my guess).

Are you getting anything on the monitor when you power up? I would get a white screen, and maybe 1 out of 30 tries, the Falcon would boot to the desktop normally.

When I attempted to bypass certain features of the Nemesis temporarily (the acceleration of the DSP, and then the DMA), I would get a black screen. Based on comp.sys.atari.st user suggestions, I was intending to replace the DMA chip (which is why it was removed from the motherboard when you bought the Falcon). I'd rather not talk about the mess I made during that procedure, but... moving right along...

I did not have a Falcon test cartridge either, and pretty much gave up at that point. So, I'm following this thread with great interest. And I wish you the best of luck!
:?




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