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[AQUARIUS] Micro-Expander: RAM, ROM, AY-8910 and more!


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#51 Bruce Abbott OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:31 AM

Got a nice Christmas present  :)

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • ay pcb.jpg


#52 Bruce Abbott OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:34 PM

Good news, it works! I just made one tiny mistake on the PCB - missed an 'air wire' (unrouted signal wire) between R4 and R8, so channel C wasn't making any sound. This was easily fixed with a jumper.

 

Attached photos show various options for orientation of the USB socket:-

 

1. Vertical external: CH376 module plugged into rear of Micro-expander board. USB socket ~2mm above top of Aquarius case.

 

2. Vertical internal: CH376 module wired internally. USB socket on AY board, recessed ~7mm below top of Aquarius case.

 

3. Horizontal internal: CH376 module wired internally. USB socket on AY board, flush with rear of Aquarius case.

 

I just need to tidy up a few loose ends in the firmware and then it will be ready for Beta testing. Who wants one?

 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • air wire.png
  • usb external.jpg
  • usb vertical.jpg
  • usb horizontal.jpg


#53 Aquaman OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:44 PM

 

I just need to tidy up a few loose ends in the firmware and then it will be ready for Beta testing. Who wants one?

 

 

After it's been tested I sure want one  :)  :thumbsup:



#54 EamonShoot OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:05 PM

I definitely want one of these please! Thanks


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#55 Bruce Abbott OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 29, 2017 4:09 AM

So that's 5 people who definitely want one or are interested:-

 

EamonShoot - definite

Aquaman - definite
chjmartin2 - ???
MattelAquarius - ???
mvdsteenoven - ???

 

I currently have two sets of spare boards and almost enough chips to populate them. Just need to order more AY-3-8910 chips from eBay and a few logic gates from Element14. 

 

Meanwhile, some progress on the firmware,

 

BASIC file commands (LOAD, SAVE etc.) now accept variables and expressions as well as literal strings, eg. LOAD LEFT$(A$,11).

 

DIR accepts wildcard patterns similar to msdos.

 

I am creating a debugger based on CHAMP, an assembler/debugger package that I ported to the Amstrad many years ago. This will be a command in BASIC and an option on the boot menu. So you can reset the Aquarius while a program is running and then examine or save memory, search for data patterns, disassemble and single-step through code (even in ROM!) etc. This could be used to find 'pokes' in games, rip music, or debug your own machine code programs.    

 

I also hope to get a few more things into the ROM if they will fit, including-

 

1. LOADROM command for loading and running cartridge ROM files.

2. PT2/3  player (as a BASIC command and on the boot menu)

3. Support for my programmable character generator and bitmap graphics board.

 

Anything else can be disk-resident.

 

Finally there is a short list of bugs that I have to hunt down and fix (which shouldn't take long one I get the debugger into ROM).

 

       

Attached Thumbnails

  • wildcards.jpg
  • aqubug.jpg
  • romdump.jpg
  • trace.jpg


#56 EamonShoot OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:38 AM

Great update - thanks Bruce.


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#57 micktrain OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:45 PM

i would like one please when tested thanks



#58 Aquaman OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:33 PM

So that's 5 people who definitely want one or are interested:-

 

EamonShoot - definite

Aquaman - definite
chjmartin2 - ???
MattelAquarius - ???
mvdsteenoven - ???

 

I am sure Martin (mvdsteenoven) wants one, but he hasn't been on the forum for a while to see the progress! 



#59 slackmar OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:41 PM

I'd be interested in one of these as well.



#60 Questarian OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:30 PM

I'd definitely like one too!

#61 Bruce Abbott OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:28 AM

OK that's two more on the list: slackmar and Questarian.

 

I just received the AY-3-8910's I ordered from eBay, and they appear to be genuine originals! (not sanded down and remarked). Hope they work...

 

Making good progress on the firmware. Debugger is 75% done, up to around 4.5kB of machine code, so a few k left for other stuff. Once I get the debugger into ROM it will help to finish the rest.

 

The debugger saves and restores the screen when stepping through code, and uses it's own print functions to avoid disturbing system output. This permits debugging code that prints to the screen without messing up the display. I have also implemented a simple form of 'window' which has configurable position and size, colors, border style, title etc. May not be more functional than a command line, but it does look prettier...

Attached Thumbnails

  • AY-3-8910.jpg
  • fillmem.png

Edited by Bruce Abbott, Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:31 AM.


#62 chouimat OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:16 PM

if it's available I'm interested



#63 chjmartin2 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 25, 2017 8:06 PM

So that's 5 people who definitely want one or are interested:-

 

EamonShoot - definite

Aquaman - definite
chjmartin2 - ???
MattelAquarius - ???
mvdsteenoven - ???

 

I currently have two sets of spare boards and almost enough chips to populate them. Just need to order more AY-3-8910 chips from eBay and a few logic gates from Element14. 

 

Meanwhile, some progress on the firmware,

 

BASIC file commands (LOAD, SAVE etc.) now accept variables and expressions as well as literal strings, eg. LOAD LEFT$(A$,11).

 

DIR accepts wildcard patterns similar to msdos.

 

I am creating a debugger based on CHAMP, an assembler/debugger package that I ported to the Amstrad many years ago. This will be a command in BASIC and an option on the boot menu. So you can reset the Aquarius while a program is running and then examine or save memory, search for data patterns, disassemble and single-step through code (even in ROM!) etc. This could be used to find 'pokes' in games, rip music, or debug your own machine code programs.    

 

I also hope to get a few more things into the ROM if they will fit, including-

 

1. LOADROM command for loading and running cartridge ROM files.

2. PT2/3  player (as a BASIC command and on the boot menu)

3. Support for my programmable character generator and bitmap graphics board.

 

Anything else can be disk-resident.

 

Finally there is a short list of bugs that I have to hunt down and fix (which shouldn't take long one I get the debugger into ROM).

 

       

Bruce,

 

For sure I want one.  Sorry I haven't responded for a month just haven't checked the forum!

 

Chris



#64 Bruce Abbott OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 5, 2017 7:10 PM

Sorry I haven't responded for a month just haven't checked the forum!

 

That's OK, I don't check it as often as I should either. Anyway, you and chouimat are now on the list!

 

I have been working hard to get the ROM finished. It's getting easier as I build up a library of subroutines - just have to avoid silly bugs (spent several hours trying to figure out why the keyboard wasn't working properly in the ROM loader - turns out I had put too many lines in the boot menu screen so it was overwriting the system variables...).

 

Here is a preview that you can run on Virtual Aquarius. Just set RAM to 32k, load game rom  'ubasic.bin', reset and have a play! USB disk functions obviously don't work in the emulator, so I put a fake directory into the ROM loader (no actual game ROMs in there, sorry).

 

The debugger is mostly working. You can examine and modify memory, and trace machine code programs one instruction at a time. Select Trace and hit ? to see the hotkeys. Press <RTN> to trace through the system ROM. You will notice the screen flashes briefly as each instruction is executed - this is the system screen being swapped in and out. Press <SPACE> and it will show the system screen so you can see what was printed on it. You can also invoke the debugger from the command line or in a BASIC program. the command is 'debug'.

 

The PT3 music player isn't implemented yet, but it looks like there will be plenty of room in the ROM for it. Now I must burn an EPROM and test it on a real Aquarius!

Attached Thumbnails

  • boot menu.png
  • aqubug.png
  • load rom.png

Attached Files



#65 BillLoguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 6, 2017 11:18 AM

I want one too once it's tested. Thank you.



#66 Bruce Abbott OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 8, 2017 8:16 PM

I want one too once it's tested. Thank you.

OK, you're on the list!

 

Here's who's on the list so far. Have I missed anyone out?

 

EamonShoot
Aquaman
Micktrain
Slackmar
Questarian
Chouimat

chjmartin2
BillLoguidice

 

More good news. After a marathon programming effort the PT3 player is now working. Currently limited 36 songs due to screen space and the number of keys on the keyboard. This will have to change (and it could also do with better visuals) but for now I am happy since it can play more than an hour of songs continuously!

 

Just have to tidy up a few loose ends in the firmware now. So far the hardware appears to be working perfectly. I have 2 more boards on stock which I will start building in the next few days. Then I will need to order another 6 from OSH park. 

 

I am also thinking about a case. Frosted clear plastic would be nice. Anyone have experience with 3D printing?

Attached Thumbnails

  • file selector.jpg
  • play song.jpg


#67 mvdsteenoven OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 9, 2017 12:48 PM

Hi Bruce,

 

Yes, I still would like to have one!!

Thanks!

 

Regs,

Martin



#68 dex.128 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:35 PM

Can I ask for one, too?



#69 Bruce Abbott OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:39 AM

Can I ask for one, too?

Yes! :)

 

By my count that's 9 orders now. It will take a while to do them all so please be patient...

 

I started working on the two spare boards today. Software is taking a little longer to tidy up than I thought (doesn't it always?) but the list of things to do is getting smaller. The debugger is 95% finished and working well. Today I converted a batch of PT2 songs to PT3 format using Vortex Tracker II and they all played perfectly, so I just have to improve the visuals. Once that's done the firmware side should be complete and I can concentrate on making more units.      


Edited by Bruce Abbott, Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:40 AM.


#70 Bruce Abbott OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:54 PM

PT3 player visuals done!

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • DSC00009.JPG


#71 barnieg OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:50 AM

OK, you're on the list!

 

Here's who's on the list so far. Have I missed anyone out?

 

EamonShoot
Aquaman
Micktrain
Slackmar
Questarian
Chouimat

chjmartin2
BillLoguidice

 

More good news. After a marathon programming effort the PT3 player is now working. Currently limited 36 songs due to screen space and the number of keys on the keyboard. This will have to change (and it could also do with better visuals) but for now I am happy since it can play more than an hour of songs continuously!

 

Just have to tidy up a few loose ends in the firmware now. So far the hardware appears to be working perfectly. I have 2 more boards on stock which I will start building in the next few days. Then I will need to order another 6 from OSH park. 

 

I am also thinking about a case. Frosted clear plastic would be nice. Anyone have experience with 3D printing?

 

After a long stressful period of issues with health & Personal life hopefully Im able to devote some hobby time. One thing I'm doing is learning new skills I've found there is a local fablab so I should have access to 3dprinting soon and appropriate support (might be worth checking if you have a local fablab) do you have a design done?

 

Barnie



#72 Bruce Abbott OFFLINE  

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Posted Yesterday, 2:37 AM

 

do you have a design done?

No. I haven't designed anything in 3D so I will have to Google it :). Do you have any recommendations?

 

There probably is a 'fablab' around here but I don't intend to make any myself. I have already sunk way too much into this project and now that I have to make 9 (or more?) units I need to focus on getting them out to recover costs (upside of having an intermittent part time job is more time to work on projects - downside is not a lot of money coming in!).






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