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1stage

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About 1stage

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    Space Invader
  • Birthday 02/14/1967

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    Woodland Hills, CA USA

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  1. Here is the current list of videos I have on how to perform some basic and advanced mods to your Aquarius Computer... Removing the Aquarius Motherboard "package" from the case - Removing the RF Shield (not the RF Modulator... that comes later below) - Removing the RF Modulator and the 7805 power regulator - Installing a Modern, Replacement Power Regulator (Runs MUCH cooler and no connection to heat shield) - Replacing the old electrolytic caps - Building the Aquarius Composite Video Adapter - Installing the Composite Video Adapter - Testing the Aquarius Composite Video Adapter - - Sean
  2. Very nice! Thanks for the find, Anders!
  3. And we're off! Key caps and switches from AliExpress arrived... So I carefully laid them out into the pattern I made for the Aquarius Mechanical Keyboard... And then I cut a jig to hold them all in place while laser sintering the paint/pigment (powder coat paint) to the keys... More pics after I get some samples laser sintered. - Sean
  4. Kinda. Depends on how the target system wires their keyboard scanning matrix. For instance, Aquarius is a 6 x 8 grid. The C64 is an 8 x 8 grid. So the Aquarius is missing 16 more possible "keys" than the C64. And the mapping of the characters to the matrix is totally different as well. On the Aquarius, keys in ROW 0 (pin 9 on the header) are RTN, P, M, U, V, R, Z, Q. On the C64 keys in ROW 0 are 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, +, POUND/DOLLAR, CTRL. It is actually NOT that difficult to wire a unique keyboard for each type (aka make a custom PCB for each). Yes, you could add some shift registers that dynamically read and write characters according to a profile, but nothing I do to a stock Aquarius is going to give it the ability to use those 16 extra keys (except maybe adding "CHORDING" routines to a custom Kernal). And which printed KEY CAPS do you use for them? The Aquarius ones with the BASIC commands on the front? Those are kinda useless on the C64, ZX Spectrum, or Atari. Conversely, I can't use the cool character set from the C64 on the Aquarius (I can't even change the stock character set without some major surgery), so... a new keyboard for each type is actually easier. The USB to keyboard adapter that exists for the C64 is interesting, but I'll have to grow into that project. Thanks, Barnie!
  5. Installation Instructions (DRAFT) (Click here) Aquarius Composite Video Adapter v1.0 - Installation Instructions
  6. Bill of Materials (Click here) Google Sheets - Aquarius Composite Video Adapter v1.0 Bill of Materials
  7. Hey Everyone, UPDATED 19 SEP 2019. I've completed full testing of my RF modulator replacement, the Aquarius Composite Video Adapter board. (v1.0 shown, but will ship v1.1) Here are some notes about the project: Installation Instructions - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BLytR65OgsL6rTRvebeDWA1ux9743x6LvqPK5smutCE/edit?usp=sharing Bill of Materials (BOM) - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/192rCOzwS2t87O_Rc9E6RhjAbDTs6fMf05IUGyVK_5Mk/edit?usp=sharing Requires opening up and modding your Aquarius, desoldering the stock RF modulator, and adding an extra header pin for +5v. Replaces RCA/RF hybrid port with 1/8"/3mm AV jack. Uses the commonly available AV out cable that goes from 1/8"/3mm to three RCA plugs (yellow = comp video, red = right audio, white = left audio). Bare PCBs are for sale (US$10 + shipping), so you can build this mod yourself. All through-hole components. At this time, I WON'T be selling pre-built boards. If you've got the skill to remove the RF modulator, you can easily built this board and install it yourself. Spacers are used to help vertically center the board in the AV port hole as you solder the board in place. The double pin headers around the edges center the board front to back and side to side in the stock solder tab holes from where the RF modulator was mounted. The channel selector switch will no longer work. Tested to work with both PAL and NTSC systems! I'd also recommend swapping out the 7805 to an OKI-78R-5 at the same time. Runs cooler, no more tethered transistor to the heat/RF shield. Easy removal and replacement for only about US$5. Units are available for purchase now. https://www.ebay.com/itm/223672642110 - Sean
  8. I updated sharing on this link. Now anyone with the above link should be able to read the BOM.
  9. Thanks! I had the MEKO schematic, but not the other three. Those will be helpful.
  10. For those who just want to look at it... PNG file
  11. Out of necessity, I've created a revised layout of the "PC Board Aquarius 1" layout (scan) that has been around forever. I'm planning on some revisions, and that will necessitate a few things: taking a sacrificial Aquarius (known dead) and stripping it of all parts to scan the PCB for complete reproduction... I'm doing this both as an exercise in PCB reproduction and as a means for establishing a baseline from which modified PCBs for the Aquarius can be developed cataloging all components, visually, physically (verifying with a component tester), and technically (comparing to archival documentation)... this will help determine which components can be modernized, removed, or reworked completely The impetus for this was the need to update the Aquarius for more consistent and safe power supply. The dozen or so components that provide the Aquarius' power take up nearly 1/8 the board space, and account for about 80% (estimate) of the heat generated in the unit. While it's not difficult to replace the eight electrolytic capacitors inside the computer, the power brick (aka wall-wart), which is hard-wired to the unit, has components inside that are inaccessible and not replaceable. So I drafted this up... motherboard_with_labels_20190902.pdf Caveats: The scan of the original PC Board Aquarius I document was NOT clean enough to read many of the component numbers... they can be inferred, but as an example many times it's difficult to tell "R22" from "R33"... so, there WILL be mistakes. The original documentation does NOT reflect the final build of the Aquarius. As an example, both the historic schematics and layout indicate TWO quartz crystals, implying that the Aquarius (at some point) could output either PAL or NTSC, but obviously there is now only a single crystal... There are some documented components that aren't installed. There are some installed components that aren't documented. PLEASE PROVIDE FEEDBACK ON CORRECTIONS OR ADDITIONS! Anyway, if ANYONE happens to have access to the ORIGINAL hardware documentation and would be willing to either scan it in higher resolution, loan it to me for scanning, or sell it to me, I would be happy to reconcile and establish an updated set of documents. - Sean
  12. Okay, so I got my Aquarius composite output amp circuit bread-boarded and working... Not sure how close the colors are, or if I've got a good picture or bad picture, but its loads better than the RF output I was getting. This is the schematic for my circuit... I am removing the SJ1 bypass pad, and I know there are PROBABLY cheaper video buffer ICs I could use, but it works... EXCEPT... No audio. Does anyone know of a single-supply 5v audio amp (preferably DIL package) that I can use to drive the standard RCA input on most TVs? The IC I got with the video buffer IC didn't work in single-supply mode at 5v. EDIT: I’m going to use an LM386.
  13. It's like I'm hearing myself talk... I now teach two classes a term (grad & undergrad) at California Lutheran University (in addition to the day job), and class prep is eating into my Aquarius and C64 modding time, dammit! (Oh, and the rework of my Space Invaders Deluxe cabinet, and the mods I'm planning for the Arcade1Up Star Wars cabinet coming out October 2019, oh and... Here's my Aquarius-specific list: Aquarius mechanical keyboard (EASY, just time and patience) Aquarius (I) reproduction PCB (like-for-like replacement, but includes the half-dozen or so bodges Radofin did), and make the revised schematics, PCB layout, and Gerbers available as open source. (Eagle format. Sorry.) Aquarius II? - upgrade to Meanwell switched power supply, integrated 32k, controller ports, and 3-voice sound, mechanical keyboard, composite video (non-RF) and sound out (RGB too, if possible), modern SMD components, Jay's CHROM hack included, similar form-factor to the prototype model Program at least ONE game for the Aquarius (probably a Tetris clone, randomized Rogue-like top-down dungeon-crawler, or a puzzle like Pipe Dream)... not sure the language, tools, etc, but would like to show off the full set of features Now to find the time... - Sean
  14. Apologies if this ship has sailed already... I'm drafting up plans and assembling components for an Aquarius mechanical keyboard, one that matches (as much as is practical) the design for the Aquarius II keyboard. Here are some general specs, requirements, & goals: Use commonly available components MX Cherry switches (inexpensive knock-offs for now) Dye-sublimated keycaps to approximate the colors of the Aquarius Custom PCB Upgrade the Aquarius motherboard keyboard connector Use standard male square-pin headers (0.1"/2.54mm pitch) right-angle connectors, replacing the flex-cable connector Add a key to the 16th pin (GND) and move the GND pin down one to a new 17th pin, drilling a new pin hole and grounding to ground plane Modify removed edge connector of chicklet keyboard to mate to new 17 pin female connector Diodes will stay on the motherboard Include a silkscreen of the keyboard matrix schematic on the PCB as reference Establish mounting holes so that keyboard PCB can be incorporated into a later Aquarius II style case RESET key will be replaced by tac switch, accessible via pinhole in new keyboard bezel, but will NOT be a physical KEY CAP (to avoid accidental resetting of system) Key caps will have markings that match the layout and style of the Aquarius keyboard I will need to experiment with this a bit, but there are a couple of YouTube videos that show great success with a laser embossed/fused approach using plastic dust (toner). I think I might be able to use generic powder coat pigment for this (yay, Harbor Freight!). If the laser part doesn't work, I'll use water-slide decals until a better solution can be found. Thoughts? Note: I made a similar posting in the Mattel Aquarius Computer group on Facebook a week or two ago.
  15. Even though I'm late to the game on this, I'm very excited to start the Micro Expander build. Is there a more detailed BOM that shows complete specs for each component? The one Bruce posted 08 JUN 2017 was a great start, but leaves some questions unanswered. It was an incredibly generous offer, but I don't know if he still makes the parts available and at the price he quoted previously. Also, I already have many of those parts as spares myself, but for some of the more exotic components, who knows if they're even realistically available? As a start, here's a Google Sheet that has my work-in-progress sheet as well as Bruce's original item list (second tab). https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1uOPcStu26q4kG-tO-dFrugIbuu7juL4POVsBoPc4r9c/edit?usp=sharing Thoughts? Clarifications? Corrections? Also, even when I get the parts, what instructions do I follow for the build, including programming, etc? I'm happy to assemble a step-by-step, but there likely already exists one, right?
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