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F18A MK2

F18A VDP 9918A

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#1 matthew180 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:49 AM

I normally don't like to announce things before they are ready, but I can't keep making excuses to those waiting and asking about the next F18A board run.

 

For the last 6 months, while requests for the F18A were trickling in, I have been working on a new version of the F18A, called the MK2, to solve the problems of the current board.  At the point were I had enough requests for F18A boards, I was not quite ready with the new MK2 design, so I continued to avoid the direct question of "when do you think the next F18A run will be?"

 

To not have to keep making excuses, and with apologizes to those who have been waiting patiently for a long time, I'm announcing the F18A MK2 now, about a month before it will probably be shipping.  I wanted to do this so people would have some real status, and to help my conscience (Vorticon, I spelled it right this time... icon_winking.gif ).

 

Here is a link to the long version of the story: http://codehackcreate.com/archives/592

 

I'll do the short and sweet version here.  The primary features of the F18A MK2 are:

 

* It is 52mm x 19mm, i.e. the same size as a standard 600-mil 40-pin DIP socket, so no tall-pins, short-pins, adapters, etc. will be necessary for it to fit in the host computers.

 

* Digital video output (TBD, probably DisplayPort).  No, there is no VGA, sorry.  See my post above for the details on that.  Digital video to VGA converters are available if you really need/want VGA.

 

* Host audio injection into the video signal for those who can manage to connect one wire internally to pick up the system's audio and get it to a pin on the MK2.

 

The MK2 will run the same core as the original F18A, and I am still committed to supporting, working on, and fixing the original F18A issues (there is a known problem with the interrupt on some systems, etc.)

 

Future features based on the enhanced MK2 hardware.  Access to these features will come with future firmware releases (I don't have time to do it all at once, sorry):

 

* The MK2 has 512KiB of 10ns SRAM, i.e. basically 512KiB of VRAM.  This VRAM will be available in a 9938-compatible way, and then some.

 

* The MK2 has extra I/O, including the Mode-1 pin to make it possible to do the 9938-update to the 99/4A in a "TIM" manner.

 

* More than double the FPGA resources than the original F18A.  This means more possibilities for new stuff in the VDP.

 

Other non-TI related possibilities:

 

* With simple low-cost adapter boards to re-arrange the wiring, plus a firmware change, the MK2 can be used to replace other VDPs like those in the NES, the Master System, MSX2 (i.e. 9938/59 system), etc.

 

* Stand-alone FPGA-based game system due to the on-board 9900 CPU and 14 extra general-purpose IO pins.

 

* General purpose FPGA devboard.

 

* More simple SPI-based host interface to use the MK2 as a video chip for simple micorcontroller projects, i.e. Arduino, etc.

 

I plan to keep this thread updated with status and to gauge feedback.  If all goes well, and if I have not just made a big mistake, I hope to have the MK2 shipping by late July.  Ironically this will be exactly 6-years after the original F18A shipped!

 

Some renderings and photos of the current prototype:

Attached Files


Edited by matthew180, Sat Jun 30, 2018 9:37 PM.


#2 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

--- Ω ---

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:31 AM

Wow! So many thoughts flooding my brain all at once... Very good news!  :thumbsup:

 

It's a beauty!

 

Attached Files


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#3 atrax27407 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:55 AM

Will this, in fact, replace the 9938 (i.e., can I plug it in and use 9938 dependent programs)?  :grin:



#4 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:07 AM

 

* The MK2 has 512KiB of 10ns SRAM, i.e. basically 512KiB of VRAM.  This VRAM will be available in a 9938-compatible way, and then some.

 

* The MK2 has extra I/O, including the Mode-1 pin to make it possible to do the 9938-update to the 99/4A in a "TIM" manner.

 

 

 

Will this, in fact, replace the 9938 (i.e., can I plug it in and use 9938 dependent programs)?  :grin:

 

This was one my first thoughts!  I'll be nice to get this one answered to see if this eliminates the compatibility issues with some of the older software once and for all.  I'm GUESSING yes, with the mention of the additional I/O pins, but want to read it straight from Matthew.


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#5 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:19 AM

I notice the micro HDMI connector on the F18A MK2... will there be a jumper/converter included cable included that will attach to a PC style plate?   I already have my main TI modified for the original F18A's VGA connector.  If I could just swap it out with a new REGULAR HDMI connector that would make my life so much easier.  I'd rather not be forced to cut any new holes or have to patch any old ones.



#6 Casey OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:35 AM

Very pleased with the HDMI output. My current setup uses an RCA->HDMI converter to hook my TI up to a modern monitor so I like the idea of continuing with HDMI. Looking forward to this!

#7 jjh76 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:46 AM

I'm assuming the firmware on this can still be updated while in the TI like the original?

 

If I were to put one in my Colecovision,  could I swap it into the TI to do the firmware update?



#8 adamantyr ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:00 AM

Awesome news! Definitely worth the wait. :D

I recently acquired an RGB cable for my brothers old color computer 3 and I have to say, seeing a clear crisp image instead of a hazy NTSC screen is really nice.

Looking forward to it on my TI!

#9 RickyDean OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:21 AM

I already commented on your website, but I want at least a couple, though maybe not at the same time. I could see the possibility of a Geneve  VDP replacement, as well as a foundation to possibly add video to my Foundation CP/M card down the road. awesome!!


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#10 x24b OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:54 AM

You are an intelligent, creative and honest man. You delivered my previous F18A order on time, in perfect condition and on budget. I will be ordering, at least, a single F18A MK2 once they are ready to sell and ship.

 

Thank you for all you have done for our TI 99/4A community.

This device is an enormous help to those in the general retro computer community as well. You can be certain I'll be singing your praises on other Internet boards too.

 

Good luck with the next generation.



#11 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:08 AM

Okay, okay, posting this GIF is a little premature, but I had to do it!  :evil:

 

gallery_35324_1027_1371249.gif


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#12 BeeryMiller OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:08 AM

Keep in mind the F18A does not mimic all the V9938 capabilities unless I missed something.  I thought he said he was using the same core.  So, if you were a Geneve or TIM user, you would lose a number of graphic modes.

 

Now, if he updated the core to support everything on the 9938, then that does open other opportunities.

 

Beery



#13 broettger OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:20 AM

I am now glad that I have been waiting for the next batch. After seeing this, I would have wanted to upgrade right away and the old F18A would gone into the spare parts bin. Thanks for saving me $85!
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#14 Asmusr ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:26 AM

Great news. Sounds like I will be able to finish my raycaster.  ;-)



#15 OLD CS1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:26 AM

Is it really ironic? ;)

 

If it helps with planning your run, I will want two right out of the box.  Saves me having to continue putzing around with this clumsy VGA-to-HDMI conversion I have thrown into a console.

 

Congrats.  It is a beautiful design.



#16 RickyDean OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:58 AM

Keep in mind the F18A does not mimic all the V9938 capabilities unless I missed something.  I thought he said he was using the same core.  So, if you were a Geneve or TIM user, you would lose a number of graphic modes.

 

Now, if he updated the core to support everything on the 9938, then that does open other opportunities.

 

Beery

I was getting that as a possibility from his website, that it could be expanded. Just hopeful. I do have the SOB as well as the TIM, so could possibly be some interchangeability.  :-D  


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#17 PeteE OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:59 AM

This is most excellent.  You did the right thing holding off making more VGA version, and focusing on the HDMI MK2.  What HDMI video mode does it use?  (I'm hoping 720p60)  Could you post a pic of how it looks on a monitor?



#18 RXB OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:35 AM

Love this!

Was thinking like Matthew180 and LOL said 512K to day in my last post before I saw this post.

 

Hope the features do offer 4 times the pixels in Graphics modes like Bit map in 9938/9958???



#19 FarmerPotato OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:43 AM

I am excited that not only are we getting F18As, but a ton of unexpected bonuses too!
 
I pledged to buy 5 of them to boost the order, I'm still going to. I use my good F18A console for everything. 
 
I hope we can share good solutions to mounting an HDMI port on the plastic. 

Edited by FarmerPotato, Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:45 AM.

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#20 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:08 PM

Love this!

Was thinking like Matthew180 and LOL said 512K to day in my last post before I saw this post.

 

Hope the features do offer 4 times the pixels in Graphics modes like Bit map in 9938/9958???

 

Saw that!  I guess this means that other message about PREDIT needing and edit job of it's own may not be necessary after all?


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#21 RXB OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:25 PM

Yep!

You know i wanted to make a 80 Column OS with this F18 MK2 with VRAM may be the way to go.

 

I would love extra graphics modes like 4 times the pixels of 9918.


Edited by RXB, Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:25 PM.


#22 retroclouds OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:27 PM

Hi Matthew, that is incredible news! Very impressive. I am game for 3 x F18a Mk2.
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#23 Asmusr ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:31 PM

Are the GPIO pins shared with the other pins?



#24 Nick99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:53 PM

I must have one!!!  :)

Like a few others have mentioned, 9938 graphics modes would be superb...  that would make my old dream come true!  :D  :thumbsup:



#25 Tursi OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:17 PM

I'm assuming the firmware on this can still be updated while in the TI like the original?
 
If I were to put one in my Colecovision,  could I swap it into the TI to do the firmware update?


You can already update from the ColecoVision as well if you have one of the SD carts or can burn a "megacart" image: http://atariage.com/...date/?p=3726315





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