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Gauging interest in Cartridge Slot Extension Set


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#1 Dropcheck OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 10, 2017 12:16 PM

Some time ago I was asked by another member to see if I could come up with a simple cartridge slot extension so he could embed an 800XL computer inside another container, but stil have access to the cartridge slot.  I scrounged around and came up with something that I believed would work, but I was not really satisfied.  It was clunky and the ribbon cable had to be very short.  Over the last week or so I've been fiddling with something I felt would work better and would solve the remaining critical gotcha with the 1088XEL board. 

 

I got with tf_hh to work out a buffering setup for the cartridge signals and set about measuring and laying out the two pcbs needed.  It is untested as yet.  I haven't sent the pcb files to the board house yet, because I wasn't sure there would be much demand. 

 

 

Essentially there are three parts to this cartridge slot extension set.   These are kind of rough renderings, and probably will change as testing reveals problems. 

 

1st: 

 

     Cartridge board that provides the buffering and transfer of signals from the motherboard cartridge slot to the ribbon cable. Size 75 X 50 mm

 

      RC2Cart.png

 

2nd:

 

      Ribbon cable carries the signal with a length of upto 12" to the remote pcb.

 

3rd:

 

      Remote pcb that functions as the receptor for Atari cartridges and translate the signals onto the ribbon cable.  Size 100 X 41 mm   Should fit in a 5 1/2" drive bay, but may also fit other spaces in a pc case with case cutting.  I'm trying to avoid that as much as possible.  A nice feature is the ability to snap in a 600XL/800XL cartridge guide cover.  That makes inserting brown Atari cartridges a breeze.  ;-)

 

      Cart2RC.png

 

Cart2RC2.png

 

 

 

  I did work up a rough cost estimate based on two options.

 

      Fully populated, tested set with a 12" ribbon cable     ~   35.00 plus shipping   (if you want the cartridge guide cover too, I'd have to check with Best Electronics to see what that cost would add)

 

       Bare board set   ~   $15.00 plus shipping   BOM would be available on my site.

 

Again I haven't tested it yet.  I don't see a big problem, but unexpected usually does happen.  :)

 

This is a project that I expect to take about a month or so for prototyping and testing, before being offered for sale. 



#2 mytekcontrols OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:40 PM

Wow nice to see so much XEL support before it's even released  :thumbsup:  :)  Of course this will also work with any A8 that someone wishes to mount in an alternative case.

 

I do like this solution very much, and it should allow a lot of flexibility as well as reliability with an extended cartridge slot.

 

- Michael



#3 Mathy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:04 PM

Hello Lenore

 

If somebody wants to put an 800XL inside an enclosure other than the 800XL case, wouldn't (s)he leave the 800XL case off?  If yes, that would mean two things:

 

A) The extender doesn't have to be limited to the standard width of a cartridge.  Meaning that the extender can be wider and less high.  Which would reduce the chance that a force, unintentionally put on the extender, would damage the computer.  Plus it would mean that the enclosure can be lower.

 

B) With the case off, you can take the cartridge guide cover from the 800XL and put it on the remote PCB.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy



#4 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:12 PM

I don't have particular need of this product, but it reminded me that I needed to order one of your 1200XL cartridge port extensions. 

​And ... done. :) 



#5 Dropcheck OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:54 PM

Hello Lenore

 

If somebody wants to put an 800XL inside an enclosure other than the 800XL case, wouldn't (s)he leave the 800XL case off?  If yes, that would mean two things:

 

A) The extender doesn't have to be limited to the standard width of a cartridge.  Meaning that the extender can be wider and less high.  Which would reduce the chance that a force, unintentionally put on the extender, would damage the computer.  Plus it would mean that the enclosure can be lower.

 

B) With the case off, you can take the cartridge guide cover from the 800XL and put it on the remote PCB.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

 

I'm assuming that yes, the motherboard would lay bare in the enclosure.  The extender could be wider and shorter.  :)  It all depends on the constraints of the enclosure.  

 

The force aspect I don't follow, In this instance you are inserting the cartridge pcb into the motherboard slot once and probably not messing with it again.  The remote pcb would be the source of stress of repeated insert/removal of cartridges. 

 

If you are enclosing an 800XL motherboard then yes you could use the cartridge guide from it.   Or you could cannibalize the guide from a hanger queen 8bit machine.  :)



#6 Van OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:37 PM

Nice! A more horizontal interface would work better for me. For the XEL would like to mount sockets on the PCB Cart footprint (instead of a card edge connector) and mate the buffer board with pin headers, much like how the U1MB mounts. For an XL or XE re-caseing, it would of course require de-soldering the Cart connector or using a 3rd Cart breakout board.

 

Toriman posted his project that may be of interest, http://raven1.magix.net/expander/expander.html Would like to see a two cart only switch.

 

I would differently want a set of boards or two, or at least the Cart board.

Yogi



#7 Mathy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:50 PM

Hello Lenore

 

The force aspect I don't follow, In this instance you are inserting the cartridge pcb into the motherboard slot once and probably not messing with it again.  The remote pcb would be the source of stress of repeated insert/removal of cartridges. 

 

I didn't mean the force you apply when inserting or removing the extender.  What I did mean was when the extender is inserted and you have to open the case for some reason.  In the 600XL and 800XL the cart is restrained by the metal flaps.  In the 1200XL, the case makes it almost impossible to bend a cartridge in any direction.  And with the XE, the cartridge is close enough to the surface the computer is placed on, to make it very hard to bend it up or down by accident.  But on a motherboard, sitting in a case, there is nothing that prevents you from accidentally hitting it when the case is opened for whatever reason.  Surely I'm not the only one clumsy enough to break stuff that way?!

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy



#8 Dropcheck OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 10, 2017 7:09 PM

Nice! A more horizontal interface would work better for me. For the XEL would like to mount sockets on the PCB Cart footprint (instead of a card edge connector) and mate the buffer board with pin headers, much like how the U1MB mounts. For an XL or XE re-caseing, it would of course require de-soldering the Cart connector or using a 3rd Cart breakout board.

 

Toriman posted his project that may be of interest, http://raven1.magix.net/expander/expander.html Would like to see a two cart only switch.

 

I would differently want a set of boards or two, or at least the Cart board.

Yogi

 

 I would almost have to have the 1088XEL final release board in order to verify clearances of parts around the cart footprint.  It could be done, but then you lose the access to the ECI slot.  Come to think about it my way would preclude the ECI access too.  Hmmm....

 

 Other problem is that it's 1088XEL specific and much harder to implement on the XL/XE line as you said.  I prefer to have the user do as little soldering/de-soldering as possible, particularly on a motherboard.

 

 The link doesn't pull up his project, just an under construction page.  :?



#9 Dropcheck OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 10, 2017 7:15 PM

Hello Lenore

 

 

I didn't mean the force you apply when inserting or removing the extender.  What I did mean was when the extender is inserted and you have to open the case for some reason.  In the 600XL and 800XL the cart is restrained by the metal flaps.  In the 1200XL, the case makes it almost impossible to bend a cartridge in any direction.  And with the XE, the cartridge is close enough to the surface the computer is placed on, to make it very hard to bend it up or down by accident.  But on a motherboard, sitting in a case, there is nothing that prevents you from accidentally hitting it when the case is opened for whatever reason.  Surely I'm not the only one clumsy enough to break stuff that way?!

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

 

ah.... now I understand. 

 

I don't know if you can entirely get around that problem.  Anything of any height faces that reality.  Of course you can minimize it by making the pcb shorter, but it can only go so short.  Another option is to remove the cartridge slot itself, put sockets in it's place and then plug in the extender horizontally as Van has described.  It means major de-soldering/soldering on the motherboard.  :(

 

Just realized could do a RA option too.


Edited by Dropcheck, Sat Jun 10, 2017 7:22 PM.


#10 Van OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:03 PM

 

 I would almost have to have the 1088XEL final release board in order to verify clearances of parts around the cart footprint.  It could be done, but then you lose the access to the ECI slot.  Come to think about it my way would preclude the ECI access too.  Hmmm....

 

 Other problem is that it's 1088XEL specific and much harder to implement on the XL/XE line as you said.  I prefer to have the user do as little soldering/de-soldering as possible, particularly on a motherboard.

 

 The link doesn't pull up his project, just an under construction page.  :?

Vertical may be better for all and for myself it's fine also, planning a 3 U rack cabinet. But the height would be restrictive for slim Mini-ITX cases. So if you can keep it as low as possible that would be best for XEL users, but complicates routing.

 

If the cart edge fingers were pushed to the left edge of the interface board you could have a board 80mm max width that would overhang the LM555 power section so long as the bottom edge is at lease 10mm above the PCB to clear the LM. This would avoid the ECI connector as the Interface board's left edge would line up with pins S/15 of the cart connector. On an XL the board overhangs the traces going to the PBI, but may interfere with a U1MB installation. Of course when re-casing an XL the U1MB can be mounted very different than 'normal' if need be.

 

As to RA option, that's what I was trying (poorly) to say about the Cart breakout board. Something like your Cart extender board. Could use RA pin header and socket to connect to Interface board (horizontally mounted). Could even use a short ribbon cable for more mobility. Would add a 3rd board to the list, but would be solderless.

Yogi



#11 orpheuswaking ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:46 PM

As a 1080xel user I would prefer something that can take both the cart and eci out... lower profile to enable the use of mini itx cases.

#12 mytekcontrols OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:19 PM

This might help: Attached File  1088XEL Rev1_1 preliminary layout.pdf   290.72KB   33 downloads

 

If printed at 100% scale should give you a good reference. Although I marked this as preliminary, not much if anything will change before release.

 

- Michael



#13 Dropcheck OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 5:32 AM

I'll look at including the ECI slot as well, but that means extra circuitry to buffer too.  More chips, more cost.  We'd lose the cart guide option.  Not the first time I wanted to cuss at Atari for putting out two totally different PBI busses.  :mad:  

 

How many ECI devices are we talking about?  Isn't there a Mini-PBI connector on the 1088XEL already? 

 

Let me see what I can come up with. 



#14 Dropcheck OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:43 AM

As a 1080xel user I would prefer something that can take both the cart and eci out... lower profile to enable the use of mini itx cases.

 

What do you have that would benefit from the repositioned external access cart/eci slot? ie does it have frequently changed switches or connections.  :)


Edited by Dropcheck, Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:44 AM.


#15 orpheuswaking ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:10 AM

Personally I don't have anything specific I just think if we are bringing out the ports it would be worthwhile to have both.

I'm debating exactly what I want to use my XEL for but I'm likely to build one fully enclosed and then one that would have the ability to have external devices added

#16 Dropcheck OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:47 AM

Personally I don't have anything specific I just think if we are bringing out the ports it would be worthwhile to have both.

I'm debating exactly what I want to use my XEL for but I'm likely to build one fully enclosed and then one that would have the ability to have external devices added

 

I understand the desire......  :) 

 

I'm just trying to reconcile the desire with a compelling existing reason.    Just about anything is possible, but you have to balance desire vs cost vs real benefit.  :)

 

As far I know at this point there are only three 130XE cart/eci devices in existence.

 

1. A memory expansion plugin (Not needed with the Ultimate 1 Meg inside)

 

2. I believe there is a version of TurboFreezer that plugs into the 130XE cart/eci slot

 

3. An old IDE card (MaxiDrive I think ???)

 

With the first one eliminated right off the bat, only the second and third remain. 

 

The IDE card probably would be best stored inside the case.  The question remains if it is possible to install it inside.  That would be a function of the case you use and the dimensions of the IDE card.  I think it has a passthru cart connection, so my original design could be connected to it. 

 

That leaves the Turbofreezer.  That may need to have external frequent access.  Switches etc.  Can someone confirm that for me?  I believe it also has a passthru. 



#17 David_P OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:02 AM

There's an IDE+ model with an ECI interface (preferable to the PBI interface also on the device, since ECI includes +5V, 800xl PBI does not).



#18 mytekcontrols OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:16 AM

Unfortunately Atari's decision to create two entirely different expansion buses tends to splinter any effort to actually support it. Then add to this the fact that several systems didn't come with either, and it's amazing that any 3rd party device was developed to support this bus at all. Of course then I come along and create yet a 3rd method (i.e., MPBI), but in my case I did so to immediately support a completely independent device (IDE/CF interface with direct support via the on-board U1MB) while still retaining and leaving free the CART/ECI for legacy applications. This also gave me the chance to put whatever signals I wanted on this new bus interface, some of which are dictated by existing upgrades, as well as some that came out of discussions in the Beta test group. And lastly it allowed for a much smaller footprint to be used in the MPBI boards, which was also key to what I had in mind for this bus. So with that said, it is important from an XEL standpoint that the MPBI port remain open and accessible, since I'm sure a lot of future XEL owners would likely want to use the MPBI IDE/CF board with it.

 

But I also don't expect any 3rd party hardware support to be centered around the XEL, since it has yet to be released, or its number of potential owners to be counted (a pre-order will be a good way to judge this). So I guess this is where the saying "don't put all your eggs in one basket" really applies  ;)

 

- Michael


Edited by mytekcontrols, Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:18 AM.


#19 JoSch OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 12:11 PM

I would be in for one complete extension board.
If you would extend ECI too, I could use my Freezer with it. I would pay the additional costs for the additional costs of it.

#20 Brentarian OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 12:57 PM

Yeah, the Freezer in the 1088XEL looks like this and is almost impossible to find the switches. 20170611_141318.jpg

Attached Thumbnails

  • 20170611_145356.jpg
  • 20170611_145314.jpg

Edited by Brentarian, Sun Jun 11, 2017 12:59 PM.


#21 Dropcheck OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:53 PM

Okay, now we know for sure that there is at least one 130XE cart/ECI device (TurboFreezer)  that needs to be external to the case and a fairly popular one at that.  :)

 

The trick is going to be orientation of the remote pcb that will allow easy access to the front of the device while at the same time not exposing excessive pcb to be broken or jerked loose if bumped. 

 

One final question:  Has any of the beta testers attempted to verify that the Freezer 2011 will work in the 1088XEL?


Edited by Dropcheck, Sun Jun 11, 2017 3:23 PM.


#22 Mathy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 3:20 PM

Hello Lenore

 

Of course you can minimize it by making the pcb shorter, but it can only go so short.  Another option is to remove the cartridge slot itself, put sockets in it's place and then plug in the extender horizontally as Van has described.  It means major de-soldering/soldering on the motherboard.  :(

 

"Major (de)soldering" isn't the way I'd choose to go.  Many people really do not like that.  To make your project possible, you need as many buyers as possible.

 

Re: ECI:  Why?  On the 600XL and 800XL the cartridge port is on the top.  Stuff the motherboard of a 600XL or 800XL in anything other than its own case and accessing it becomes "uneasy".  So your extender makes sense.  But the ECI (and the cartridge port) on an XE is always on the back of the motherboard.  All you have to do is place the XE motherboard close enough to one of the sides of whatever case you want to use, and the cartridge port and the ECI are directly accessible.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy



#23 Dropcheck OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 4:24 PM

Hello Lenore

 

 

"Major (de)soldering" isn't the way I'd choose to go.  Many people really do not like that.  To make your project possible, you need as many buyers as possible.

 

Re: ECI:  Why?  On the 600XL and 800XL the cartridge port is on the top.  Stuff the motherboard of a 600XL or 800XL in anything other than its own case and accessing it becomes "uneasy".  So your extender makes sense.  But the ECI (and the cartridge port) on an XE is always on the back of the motherboard.  All you have to do is place the XE motherboard close enough to one of the sides of whatever case you want to use, and the cartridge port and the ECI are directly accessible.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

 

I'm not a fan of case mods or major solder/de-soldering either.  I'd prefer to take advantage of existing motherboard connectors and case openings to expose ports.  :)

 

There's actually two distinctly different conversations going on in the thread. 

 

One revolves around the particulars of the 1088XEL motherboard and what ports/signals to extend outside the case and how. The other is the classic 600/800XL/130XE motherboard rehomed into another case style that now needs access to the cartridge/PBI/ECI ports.   

 

As usual, what works for the one, doesn't for the other.  :(


Edited by Dropcheck, Sun Jun 11, 2017 4:24 PM.


#24 kheller2 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 5:35 PM

I would love to have had an extension like this back in the 90's .. so I didn't have to wrap my cart extension cable in foil, and keep it rather short in order for it to work well.  Long story short:  130XE, MIO, XF551, Gumby, Transkey 1 in an AT tower case. Cart port was routed to the front 3.5" slot.

 

I'd buy a full kit now too, for another project that is sitting in the to-do pile.



#25 mytekcontrols OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:25 PM

Other than the Freezer, there isn't much else in the existing PBI hardware that an XEL would really need since I already have a IDE/CF interface in the works for the XL's MPBI port, and that could also be easily adapted for just a plain jane IDE HDD interface as well (if there is interest in this, I might even create a variant with just the 40 pin IDE connector on board). Don't know how many Freezers are out there in the wild, or how many XEL owners will use one, or for that matter if you can still buy one. Be nice to perhaps take a poll at some point to see, since this might influence how you approach this project.

 

- Michael






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