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Bruce Abbott

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

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1 hour ago, Pernod said:

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

Oh, that's a nice addition. The changelog doesn't mentions this feature as part of 1.0; but indeed the versions log is a bit confuse, there's no "0.9" release in there.

I'm not sure about what exact version I have, seems it's worth to try updating.

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4 hours ago, jltursan said:

Oh, that's a nice addition. The changelog doesn't mentions this feature as part of 1.0; but indeed the versions log is a bit confuse, there's no "0.9" release in there.

I'm not sure about what exact version I have, seems it's worth to try updating.

So where is @Bruce Abbott, as I think he would be excited to see you work in developing Mame to support the Mini-expander!  I know that I am.  All this Aquarius activity has be itching to pull my Aquarius out - it is super small - I have to be able to find a way to get it on my desk. 

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On 7/16/2021 at 2:23 AM, jltursan said:

The changelog doesn't mentions this feature as part of 1.0; but indeed the versions log is a bit confuse, there's no "0.9" release in there.

Well that's embarrassing. The 1.0 ROM should have been on my Website, but I didn't upload it - until now!  

aqubasic_rom_1.0.zip

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I come back after a long hiatus of looking for work and dealing with some money issues and see this thread still has life left in it!

 

I am tickled to see Bruce has uploaded the 1.0 ROM BIN. I'll get that flashed to my MicroExpander ASAP. I could have assembled it (maybe?) but now I don't have to. Cheers and thank you, Bruce.

 

I haven't really done much with code or anything yet, but maybe I'll get a chance to flesh some more out once I get back to work. I did at least learn some more Z80 ASM (usually I'm a 6502 person) so I'm getting closer.

 

Not much else to add right now, but tickled to see there's still action going on here. I'll check back in when I've made some more progress with something.

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Hello Aquarius fans !

 

I was requested by two friends who own Aquarius's (I unfortunately don't) to build them this quite original expander. After four different AliExpress orders I finally got the correct CH376 module and mostly successfully built the thing.

 

Thanks a lot for the work btw, that is quite amazing.

 

I borrowed one of these Aquarius's to test the thing (NTSC model behind a step-down converter, we are in PAL region) and finally can test it.

 

It seems mostly OK :

 

The ROM (1.0) menu appears, I can load and play pt3 files, sound mostly works but I have some weird sounds from time to time (AY3 were tested OK on an arduino+breadboard player contraption).

 

When loading ROM's, it seems to have no effect. I can browse content, choose a ROM, then the computer reboots as if there was no cartridge at all in it, I see the color cycling screen requesting to press RETURN to get to basic, and I get to the plain basic without the added ROM.

 

If I power cycle the computer and go to the extended basic, the 'dir' commands reboots to the first ROM screen, and 'cat' simply hangs.

 

Do you have any idea of what could be wrong ?

 

Thanks a lot !

 

BTW : If you have issues with the board not being able to access files on usb stick, try another stick. I first tested with a recent 16Gb one (FAT32), it didn't work, when an older 8Gb (FAT32) worked fine.

BTW2 : I may have three more of these to sell when I get them to work and if OK with Bruce & everybody here, at the price everybody is comfortable with.

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Welcome aboard!

 

I finally got the correct CH376 module and mostly successfully built the thing

 

I would be interested to know about the seller!, seems that they're now really hard to find and I still need one of them.

 

 I have some weird sounds from time to time

 

My first thought is, hey, that AY is bad; but you say you've tested it using an Arduino. Have you tested the AY in the same conditions required to play a PT3 file?, chinese ICs nowadays could be faulty in very subtle ways.

Try the AY in a different platform, that random sounds seems not related to the interface logic but the IC itself.

 

About the other problems:

 

1) Have you double-checked the ROM is correctly written?. I've successfully used an AM27C512-175 or a W27C512-45; but I remember having some problems with some EPROMs/Flash ICs although they were written correctly.

2) Have you checked the extra RAM is being correctly detected?

 

I really think that the micro Expander is a must for every Aquarius user, hope that more can be built!

 

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5 hours ago, jltursan said:

Welcome aboard!

 

 

 

 

I would be interested to know about the seller!, seems that they're now really hard to find and I still need one of them.

 

 

 

 

My first thought is, hey, that AY is bad; but you say you've tested it using an Arduino. Have you tested the AY in the same conditions required to play a PT3 file?, chinese ICs nowadays could be faulty in very subtle ways.

Try the AY in a different platform, that random sounds seems not related to the interface logic but the IC itself.

 

About the other problems:

 

1) Have you double-checked the ROM is correctly written?. I've successfully used an AM27C512-175 or a W27C512-45; but I remember having some problems with some EPROMs/Flash ICs although they were written correctly.

2) Have you checked the extra RAM is being correctly detected?

 

I really think that the micro Expander is a must for every Aquarius user, hope that more can be built!

 

Hi !

 

Thanks for the welcoming.

 

I think I got my CH376's from here : https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32765670473.html?spm=a2g0s.12269583.0.0.1fab4361WX8Ds2

 

Since I tested the AY I think it is ok, my problems may be down to timing issues ?

 

1) Since I can see and use the the EPROM menu and basic functions I think it is correctly burnt.

2) How can I check that ?

 

Thanks for helping,

 

Marcel

Edited by SchLikA
Added link to CH376

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Constant timing issues would cause bad sound always, not random weird sounds from time to time (is that what happens, isn't it?). Do you have any other working machine to test an AY with?

 

Don't trust the menu & Basic working, I would check the EPROM with your programmer, just verify the content against the programmer buffer loaded with the firmware 1.0. And even if it's successfully verified,  try with another different chip, do you have spares or any other brands (EPROM or EEPROM)?

 

Here's a quick guide I've copied from the web with some instructions to test the RAM part:

 

This SRAM expansion board is tested as follows:
 
 
1) Before testing the board, turn on your Aquarius computer and type in the
below BASIC command at the prompt.
 
 
PRINT FRE(0)
 
Without any memory expansion, you should get 1724 bytes reported! Please see
the last image.
 
 
2) Turn OFF the Aquarius. Plug in the SRAM expansion board with the TOP side
of the board (the side with the chips) facing DOWN. Please see the 2nd photo.
 
 
3) Now turn on your computer. And Type in the below BASIC command at the
prompt.
 
 
PRINT 65536 - FRE(0)
 
With the memory expansion board, you now have 34113 bytes available, 32KB +
some of the built-in 1724 bytes of RAM.
 
 
4) You can test by issuing the POKE and PEEK commands to memory address in the
range $4000-$BFFF. Remember that the Aquarius computer's BASIC works with
signed integers. So, any address above 32767, you must subtract from 65536.
 
 
Examples:
 
 
10 REM POKE and PEEK at address $4000.
15 REM THIS ADDRESS IS LESS THAN 32767. SO NO NEED TO SUBTRACT FROM 65536.
20 POKE 16384,25
30 IF PEEK(16384) = 25 THEN PRINT "SRAM WORKING!"
 
 
Running the above BASIC program will verify that the SRAM is working by
POKEing and PEEKing a value into address 16384, respectively!
 
 
Now try with address $BFFE (49150 in decimal and the last addressable location
of the SRAM expansion board), you will need to subtract 65536 from it; that
is, 49150 - 65536 = -16386 (a negative number!!!). BASIC will understand this
"negative" address.
 
 
POKE -16386, 25
PRINT PEEK(-16386)
 
 
You should get 25 from the PEEK command!

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Hi, thanks for the tip. I tried the FRE(0) stuff and it seems to hang the machine. Maybe an issue with the RAM chip ? The EPROM was tested when burnt, I'll try another one eventually.

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The GAL can also be bad, I mean bad programmed or simply faulty. I've always struggled trying to find good parts (GALs are since long time superseded), the right programmer (the best I've been able to found is the TL866II+) or practical info to program them correctly.

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On 10/15/2021 at 3:46 PM, SchLikA said:

Hi !

 

Thanks for the welcoming.

 

I think I got my CH376's from here : https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32765670473.html?spm=a2g0s.12269583.0.0.1fab4361WX8Ds2

 

Since I tested the AY I think it is ok, my problems may be down to timing issues ?

 

1) Since I can see and use the the EPROM menu and basic functions I think it is correctly burnt.

2) How can I check that ?

 

Thanks for helping,

 

Marcel

Great!, indeed the seller send me the correct CH376 PCBs and voilà, I've finished building my own micro-Expander, working 100% so far.

 

Also, thanks to the new Expander I've been able to fix some problems I've been having with my first one (purchased through eBay), flaky USB loading that seems to work much more stable now after resoldering the cables between CH376 and expander PCB and thoroughly clean the solders.

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