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Bruce Abbott

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

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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?

 

Edited by 1stage
Added another thought...
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I bought a microexpander on Ebay and got it up and running earlier this week, I wanted to be able to develop stuff easily and my original plan of using casettes is on the back burner. I think my plan now is to create a rom image release of what originally started out as robotwon 2525 and get some carts manufactured. Still a way to got development wise but this should help considerably. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10220538253224694&id=1184205523

Edited by barnieg

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i used the files in Bruce's blog to make my microexpander, i'm waiting for new ch376 since the old ones works only few minutes..

capture14.thumb.png.47392d13adb874e8b208e31cfc771071.png

capture17.thumb.png.d3cb368ce083d6d3ae1190984b58df81.png

i also added an HDMI output using the RGBtoHDMI project created by stardot.uk users, and picking the digital RGBI value directly from TEA1002:

Aquarius.thumb.jpg.60856926bf6da654098171695dc5fd91.jpg

IMG_20200904_090608.thumb.jpg.341f53597dd2aaca24d5f4d050708855.jpg

Now... i'd like to play with Burgertime, but it seems not easy to find the .BIN file... any hint to get it (either than buy an Aquaricart)?

 

Edited by aotta
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5 hours ago, aotta said:

Now... i'd like to play with Burgertime, but it seems not easy to find the .BIN file... any hint to get it (either than buy an Aquaricart)?

Very nice work!  I wasn't familiar with the RGBtoHDMI project that you mentioned, but I know that there is at least one dedicated Aquarius RGB upgrade in the works.  (I plan to use it with my Framemeister XRGB-Mini.)

 

If you're looking for BurgerTime, the easiest place to get it is with the Virtual Aquarius distribution linked in this post.

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56 minutes ago, jaybird3rd said:

Very nice work!  I wasn't familiar with the RGBtoHDMI project that you mentioned, but I know that there is at least one dedicated Aquarius RGB upgrade in the works.  (I plan to use it with my Framemeister XRGB-Mini.)

 

If you're looking for BurgerTime, the easiest place to get it is with the Virtual Aquarius distribution linked in this post.

Thank you, i'd never think in looking for an emulator's folder!

I red about the RGB mod, but i've now perfect hdmi output, and made a simple composite mod wiring the comp and audio signal to the "printer" 3,5 jack, in my Aquarius (a Pal one) it works without any other components, with a TRS to RCA cable.

The only issue is some white rumour in the SND line, i've added a filter and a resistor in serial without result, i'll work on it. I've the background rumour in the microexpander output too.

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On 10/6/2016 at 2:51 AM, Bruce Abbott said:

I don't know if DMA is even possible on the expansion bus

I know this was from a while ago, but I just looked, and it apparently all the Z-80 signals are brought out to the cartridge slot. You just need to hold down BUSRQ and wait for BUSAK, then you can fire away.

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On 9/27/2020 at 4:23 AM, Bruce Tomlin said:

I know this was from a while ago, but I just looked, and it apparently all the Z-80 signals are brought out to the cartridge slot. You just need to hold down BUSRQ and wait for BUSAK, then you can fire away.

Not 100% sure how successful that would be, since PLA2 sits in between the external databus and the CPU/RAM (for producing the Video display) - and PLA1/PLA2 don't track the BUSRQ/BUSAK lines, so I would guess that DMA won't work to the internal RAM anyway.

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On 9/10/2020 at 9:32 AM, aotta said:

 

i also added an HDMI output using the RGBtoHDMI project created by stardot.uk users, and picking the digital RGBI value directly from TEA1002:

Aquarius.thumb.jpg.60856926bf6da654098171695dc5fd91.jpg

 

 

 

Looking at that, you aren't getting the INV line (pin 1 on the TEA / Pin 23 on PLA2) so you are only getting 8 colours, not the full 16. 

 

Edited by MackJsy
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2 hours ago, MackJsy said:

Looking at that, you aren't getting the INV line (pin 1 on the TEA / Pin 23 on PLA2) so you are only getting 8 colours, not the full 16. 

 

Yes, the pic was taken at first stage of test... i connected pin 1 too and got 16 colours in HDMI:

 

capture15.png

Aquarius2.jpg

i also added a "composite mod" getting audio and componend from RF input and routing them to the printer port, and using a TRRD to RCA cable

Edited by aotta
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1 hour ago, aotta said:

Yes, the pic was taken at first stage of test... i connected pin 1 too and got 16 colours in HDMI:

 

 

 

i also added a "composite mod" getting audio and componend from RF input and routing them to the printer port, and using a TRRD to RCA cable

Cool - I've got a similar setup - where I'm pulling the RGB into analogue RGB and feeding it into a scart on a telly. 

 20201006_150622.thumb.jpg.d48a715e3262026a0c3bd14d8bf36cc2.jpg

 

Btw, since you've got the PAL version, you can actually take the TEA out completely if you only want to use the RGB, as it's surplus to requirement (unless you are leaving the composite mod in) - the NTSC version needs the TEA to stay in situ as it drives the main Sysclock (the PAL version has a separate LS04 top left for the sysclock)
 

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1 minute ago, MackJsy said:

Cool - I've got a similar setup - where I'm pulling the RGB into analogue RGB and feeding it into a scart on a telly. 

 20201006_150622.thumb.jpg.d48a715e3262026a0c3bd14d8bf36cc2.jpg

 

Btw, since you've got the PAL version, you can actually take the TEA out completely if you only want to use the RGB, as it's surplus to requirement (unless you are leaving the composite mod in) - the NTSC version needs the TEA to stay in situ as it drives the main Sysclock (the PAL version has a separate LS04 top left for the sysclock)
 

Great setup, very nice work!

I have a NTSC Aquarius too, in wich i made composite mod only, but it's my "boxed" (and quite new) ones, so i promised myself to not open it anymore!

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I'm incredibly late to the party, but I've just started building one of these thanks to a board set acquired from eBay and parts coming in a few at a time from all over the world.

 

My soldering is atrocious, but I'm inspecting all my joints for bridges and toning them out to make sure they're not cold. I've got some pictures here of my awful work, but please be kind. 🤣 I've had to improvise without SMD capacitors (will probably just span the sockets diagonally across VCC and GND for most) but am getting it done. Only one SMT IC has arrived so far, and I managed to get it attached without mangling it and/or the board, so that was my biggest fear conquered. Moving on from there it's just a couple sockets and some headers attached so far.

222505575_Photo3.thumb.png.072c5d9f94e8b69a2d7234abdb0d79ad.png1215444644_Photo1.png.ed0a255309c931e6f0093592fe12dddf.png1465425070_Photo2.thumb.png.abff1aa733966982d6e94944e7166187.png

 

 

I've got a TL866 programmer which is supposed to be able to program the ROM, and a couple Winbond EEPROM chips of the right type. I think the TL866 can do the GAL chip, as well, or at least I sure hope it can as it's all I've got.

 

My Aquarius is NTSC (I'm in the US anyway) and I am working on cracking it open soon to do a composite video mod and see about a power supply upgrade/replacement. From the schematics I've got it looks like -12V is only used for the printer port, so I may use a regulated 12V supply and maybe something more modern than a 7805 to step down to 5V from there. Who knows what I'll end up doing!

 

Anyway, I just dropped in to say THANK YOU to this amazing group (and Bruce) for coming up with this, and to follow any new progress. I'm not sure if the last .BIN that he posted is the final software, or if I need to figure out how to compile the source code. Guess I'll have to cross that bridge sooner than later.

 

Cheers, Aquarians, and here's looking forward to lots of fun on this old machine once I get this completed.

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IIRC, yes, the last posted .BIN is correct. AFAIK, there're no further updates.

 

The BIGGEST and annoying problem with this build is the CH376 pcb, seems that no seller in the world have the same model needed (Bruce already spotted the problem) by the circuit and the new ones doesn't have the same pinout so you need to wire the signals by hand.

 

And yes, with your TL866 you can program the GAL 🙂

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Thanks for the speedy reply and helpful info, jltursan!

 

I'm relieved to hear the BIN is correct (compiling the code would be a big change for me, as more of a hardware person) and that the TL866 will program the GAL. I will also triple check the pinout for the CH376 PCB when it arrives. If I have to get creative and make a cable or adapter or something, that's fine. I don't even have a cartridge shell to mount this board into anyway.

 

I've attached the SRAM, the DS1233 reset controller, and the 40 pin AY chip socket to my boards today. Waiting on some other parts, but very happy that I've done the surface mount parts so far without trashing them and that my first major project build gets to be for the Aquarius.

 

This forum and its members seem nice so I'll be sticking around.

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Ask and you shall receive, jltursan. It's as assembled as it's gonna get for now, and working so far. (even my bodged capacitor placement since I couldn't handle the tiny SMT caps)

 

I still need to get the female header sockets to attach the AY/Joystick board, but the AY chip is also still a couple weeks from arrival. RAM, ROM, address decoding, and USB are all working though.

 

Here's some pics so far to thank you all for being so encouraging, including a graphic I generated with the BMP2AQ tool.

 

The BASIC generated by BMP2AQ is loaded in to an emulator, then I saved the video RAM area as a file, then loaded that file straight off my USB drive on the real Aquarius. #Success

AQ3.thumb.jpg.95bdfbb4caba23c4feca7097501e9ecf.jpgAQ6.thumb.jpg.e818955123d4b7acf39d02a5958a3b96.jpgAQ2.thumb.jpg.eb733cc818fc22b3ca27f5f758fbed3a.jpgAQ4.thumb.jpg.f179c07f901578596d7da495d6a434a2.jpgAQ5.thumb.jpg.18ef91dbdf77f2ba5aacd06bbfe1c33b.jpgAQ1.thumb.jpg.7310be99236895a69148bf90d7476410.jpg

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Nice, thank you for sharing all these pics!. 

 

So you've used some pin headers and Dupont cables to connect the USB adapter...have you changed the jumpers of the adapter or they're by default?, can't see it clearly in your pic.

 

As with all these cables it could be a tight fit when all the PCBs are plugged; I guess that, once tested, you'll replace the Dupont cables with standard wiring...or maybe if they fit after all, you'll keep them. I'll love to see more pics with the boards piled.

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Sorry for the long wait for replies. I've left the jumpers in the position they shipped in, jltursan. They were (luckily) already set correctly.

 

The Dupont cables are temporary, but they fit fine for now. I am going to make a proper, short IDC ribbon cable for the USB module once I finish some other things.

 

Unfortunately I discovered I had accidentally swapped IC2 and IC3 on the audio/joystick board of the Micro-Expander set, and when trying to rework them I seriously damaged the board. "Goodbye, traces. We'll miss you! Don't forget to write!"

 

Part of me can't believe it took me so long to uncover the problem (lots of tracing, wondering why the machine would power on to a scrambled screen with the audio board attached, even if the AY-3-8910 chip was not present) when it was obvious even in the photos I shared here. In good news however, the soldering I had done all checked out, I have plenty more of the SMT chips, and another set of the Micro-Expander boards was only $20. I've already placed the order.

 

In the meantime, I have been using just the ROM/RAM/USB board and having a lot of fun loading images made on my PC onto the Aquarius, tinkering with some visual effects (Aquarius Demoscene anyone?) and some blocky scrolling, and keeping myself from getting discouraged. It occurs to me that games with very large and complex levels could be loaded off the USB drive and into 32K-36K of RAM.

 

It may be a while before I have everything back together (and I am trying to get my hands on a real mini-expander as well) but I will keep you all posted. This community makes me feel great, and this project has really upped my electronics skills even if I have made a flub or two. Cheers!

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Ouch, that hurts!, seems that you've learned a lesson the hard way ;-)

 

Thanks for the info about the CH376, I've a micro-Expander almost ready except the CH376 pcb, I need to finish it now!.

 

Btw, good to know your experimenting with the Aquarius programming, I'm eager to see your tests. I'm also working on a big project and still learning about the machine, it's really simple and easy to master (at least to a reasonable level ;-))

 

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Is the final release of aqubasic.bin that reports V1.0 available anywhere, can only find 0.9?

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Posted (edited)

At least the assembler source code found in Bruce's page seems to have an "1.0" as reported version. There's no binary tho...you need to compile it or I can try to do it for you.

Edited by jltursan

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On 4/29/2021 at 4:09 PM, N.K.Chavez said:

Ask and you shall receive, jltursan. It's as assembled as it's gonna get for now, and working so far. (even my bodged capacitor placement since I couldn't handle the tiny SMT caps)

 

I still need to get the female header sockets to attach the AY/Joystick board, but the AY chip is also still a couple weeks from arrival. RAM, ROM, address decoding, and USB are all working though.

 

Here's some pics so far to thank you all for being so encouraging, including a graphic I generated with the BMP2AQ tool.

 

The BASIC generated by BMP2AQ is loaded in to an emulator, then I saved the video RAM area as a file, then loaded that file straight off my USB drive on the real Aquarius. #Success

AQ3.thumb.jpg.95bdfbb4caba23c4feca7097501e9ecf.jpgAQ6.thumb.jpg.e818955123d4b7acf39d02a5958a3b96.jpgAQ2.thumb.jpg.eb733cc818fc22b3ca27f5f758fbed3a.jpgAQ4.thumb.jpg.f179c07f901578596d7da495d6a434a2.jpgAQ5.thumb.jpg.18ef91dbdf77f2ba5aacd06bbfe1c33b.jpgAQ1.thumb.jpg.7310be99236895a69148bf90d7476410.jpg

I need to revisit BMP2AQ and see if I can do a better job with it.   I have learned a lot since I wrote it.  Discrete Cosine Transform instead of Brute force RGB distance.  Anyway, love it!   

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On 7/13/2021 at 8:40 AM, jltursan said:

At least the assembler source code found in Bruce's page seems to have an "1.0" as reported version. There's no binary tho...you need to compile it or I can try to do it for you.

Thanks, I managed to build it myself. The older 0.9 version doesn't handle directories.

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