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Just let me know where to send the check!  The arcade-shopper Web site doesn't seem to work for me.

 

I've got a console that I'm going to try to revive; it's waiting for something like this.

 

K-R.

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On 4/4/2020 at 9:41 PM, matthew180 said:

The Rev K boards came in today, and the parts were in last Wednesday.  It is too late tonight, but I'll probably build one tomorrow and see if I fixed anything.  I'm also working on moving my website, CodeHackCreate is migrating to dnotq.io.  The new site it up but not done.  I'm trying to make it more useful and easier to maintain and update, so hopefully that means I'll have more information and docs up there eventually.

 

Anyway, as always, some photos:

 

 

mk2-k_hires_03.jpg

mk2-k_hires_01.jpg

mk2-k_hires_02.jpg

looking super cool, as usual.  from a longtime lurker on this thread thank you sincerely for putting in all the time/sweat/tears to this project that you do- definitely watching with interest.

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On 4/5/2020 at 11:39 AM, Kchula-Rrit said:

Just let me know where to send the check!  The arcade-shopper Web site doesn't seem to work for me.

 

I've got a console that I'm going to try to revive; it's waiting for something like this.

 

K-R.

try https://arcadeshopper.ecwid.com/    but i don't carry the f18a.. or mk2 when it comes out unless something changes he sells them directly on codehackcreate.com 

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14 hours ago, arcadeshopper said:

... but i don't carry the f18a.. or mk2 when it comes out unless something changes ...

Let's talk once the MK2 gets closer to release.  I don't mind if people carry the MK2 in their stores.  I would also really like to find a European distributor since shipping to anywhere outside of the U.S. costs so much freaking money these days; it is very frustrating.

 

15 hours ago, arcadeshopper said:

... he sells them directly on codehackcreate.com

Note that codehackcreate.com is migrating to dnotq.io.

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On 3/25/2020 at 10:51 AM, matthew180 said:

I needed to get rid of the HDMI connector, terminology, and anything directly related to what is covered in the license.  That was accomplished by using a generic FPC connector on the MK2 itself, and a DVI connector on a header board.  Not the ideal solution, since it means more cost and confusion, but it is a legal solution.

 

I actually have an older 23" Apple Cinema Display taking DVI...I might just be hanging onto the perfect monitor for the F18A MK2!

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12 hours ago, matthew180 said:

Let's talk once the MK2 gets closer to release.  I don't mind if people carry the MK2 in their stores.  I would also really like to find a European distributor since shipping to anywhere outside of the U.S. costs so much freaking money these days; it is very frustrating.

 

This will be great because as you know we, the TI-99/4A users in Europe have to pay high freight costs and customs if we buy in USA. If someone can sell directly in Europe this amount will be dramatically reduced.

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@matthew180, I understand that you can't legally sell an HDMI board, but would it be legal for you to design one and post the design files? That way, the rest of us can just order our own PCBs and connectors and stuff and build them ourselves.

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Matthew,

  When designing the MKI or MKII - do you notice differences between how the Tomy or Adam access the TMS9918A socket vs the 99/4a?

tx,

Dano

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10 hours ago, dhe said:

Matthew,

  When designing the MKI or MKII - do you notice differences between how the Tomy or Adam access the TMS9918A socket vs the 99/4a?

tx,

Dano

Sorry, I don't really understand the question.  Neither the Tomy nor the ADAM have their VDP in a socket, so you will have to remove the original VDP and install a socket for the MK2.  I do not own either system, but I have gotten my hands on them in the past (thanks to the generosity of some other hobbyists) to install a socket and test the MK1 (original F18A).  I have attacked a few photos from those installs.  The MK2 will certainly fit much better in the Tomy and ADAM!  No more need for the tall vs. short pin options, or the ADAM adapter, etc..

 

In looking at the photos again I'm noticing that the Tomy does not seem to have a heat sink on the original VDP.  Ouch!  Also, it seems the Tomy is everything the 99/4A was *supposed* to be, i.e. TMS9995 CPU, 9918A, small compact design.  It is probably fast (I don't have much time using one, other than some quick testing when I had access to one).  Does anyone know what the two custom ICs are above the CPU?

 

 

 

tt_02.thumb.jpg.2340f781af9d366676a27e3fab99bd2c.jpgtt_07.thumb.jpg.bc56d6dcf461b8af19ee9dbd0c33d24a.jpgtt_14.thumb.jpg.c3b9261feec8ff7f310aede38360bd1a.jpgtt_10.thumb.jpg.7d0ad9e316150877aedea52a88ae7939.jpg

 

Tomy Tutor F18A MK1 Install

 

My photos of the ADAM were taken after I pull the original VDP and installed a socket, so don't let the photos fool you.  I went searching and found another post of the ADAM motherboard here on AtariAge to confirm the orignal VDP is indeed soldered to the motherboard.

 

adam_original_vdp.thumb.jpg.d820635c2e30aca25f584c2479f28c14.jpgadam_adapter3.thumb.jpg.f991ed568be4e8baa582273e4c4b4bf3.jpgadam_adapter5.thumb.jpg.fa49821a6f1491d21e36f14b7c2a98df.jpgstarwriter.thumb.jpg.21cacd8f04519896679d8b1d386ae8a2.jpg

ADAM F18A MK1 Install

 

 

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On 4/20/2020 at 5:15 AM, hansliss said:

@matthew180, I understand that you can't legally sell an HDMI board, but would it be legal for you to design one and post the design files? That way, the rest of us can just order our own PCBs and connectors and stuff and build them ourselves.

I will be posting all the schematics and PCB files, as well as making the boards and such available from OSHpark (that's where I get my prototype boards).  I will be documenting my 22-pin FPC connector pinout, so anyone wanting to make adapters will have everything they need.

 

I will probably also make a 22-pin to 20-pin FPC adapter to take the MK2 FPC to the existing 20-pin FPC adapters that I bought for testing.  The problem with that is, each manufacturer of those adapter boards is using a different pinout (intentionally I think) between their boards.  The two I bought were both different, and neither one was very well made IMO.

 

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Just an FYI: To help keep talking about the MK2 less confusing, I have decided I will refer to the original F18A as the "MK1".  It was never called that, or never had such a designation, but back-naming it the MK1 seems to make sense in light of there now being a MK2.

 

Updates:

 

I am making some good progress on the Rev K board.  I finally had time to get it assembled and started testing.  Rev K represents quite a few changes and fixes based on the Rev J prototype testing, that, if you have been following along, you might remember Rev J did not work in the 99/4A (which left me very frustrated and confused).  The main changes in Rev K:

 

* Level-shifters changed to same manufacturer and device-family as the one used on the MK1.  This is an attempt to get the MK2 working in the computer the F18A was designed for in the first place.  After all, the MK2 works in the other two computers I have that use the 9918A VDP.

 

* The user switches have been replaced with a USB header.  If all goes as planned, the USB header will allow easy updates, and ideally a way to make any setting changes.  The hardware is now in place, all that needs to be done is the HDL support.

 

* Quiet audio.  Rev J had audio noise issues.

 

* VGA support.

 

* Change to 22-pin FPC connector.  This was needed to allow separation of the audio signal from the video signals (the cause of most of the noise), as well as making room for the extra VGA signals.

 

All of that required some pretty massive changes, and I think I touched every part of the PCB except the SRAM-to-FPGA routing.  Needless to say, I always expect my boards to work the first time. 🤣

 

Well, Rev K did work the first time... until I plugged it into the 99/4A and it had the same symptoms as Rev J!!  I could not believe it.  I went to bed, very unhappy.  The whole order of events is too hard to explain, and probably boring anyway, but after some troubleshooting today I finally found the problem, and it was not the MK2.

 

I have removed the DRAM ICs from my development 99/4A, something I actually did back in 2012 when I was heavily testing the first MK1 boards.  So apparently when I was removing the DRAM ICs, I created a solder bridge between -5V and the CAS line (see photo).  My volt meter found the problem, and after throwing the 99/4A under the microscope I found this:

 

 

VBB_to_CAS_short.thumb.jpg.eda7bcebd5f876250420f6af1fd94c3d.jpg

 

You can see the short, about 2 "mil" (0.002", or about 0.05mm) wide where the CAS line (going to all the DRAMs) runs between the DRAM pins 1 and 2.  The short is barely visible to the naked human eye and might look like a fine hair or just some dirt.  Apparently back when the 99/4A was made the space between the pins was too narrow for the solder mask, and so the traces are exposed anywhere that they run between IC pins.  When I was pulling the DRAMs, a wisp of solder bridged pin-1 to the CAS trace, which put -5V on the CAS line.  Of course this did not matter since I had removed all the DRAMs, and the MK1 did not connect the CAS line (pin-2 of the VDP socket), so it went unnoticed.

 

However, the MK2 uses *all* 40-pins of the original VDP in an attempt to be more flexible as an FPGA devboard, and that -5V coming in on pin-2 of the VDP socket was causing the problems; especially since that is supposed to be an *output* pin from the VDP socket to the DRAMs.  I'm really surprised it did not blow the FPGA, or at least that I/O pin, but luckily nothing has been damaged, the problem was found, and more importantly the MK2 works in the 99/4A!!

 

The VGA header works great too, after finding two errors on the VGA header!?  For such a simple board, I sure managed to mess it up twice.  But it proves that the TMDS protection ICs do not affect the red and green signals where I had to dual-purpose the outputs (running TMDS vs VGA requires a firmware change).

 

 

mk2_k_vga_hdr.thumb.jpg.260a054f12513b4e3fe9eb73696c943e.jpg

 

The audio is working really nice now too!  Very quiet.  However, sadly, the 99/4A itself has *very* noisy audio.  You can *hear* the cursor blinking in TI-BASIC, and other activity as the computer operates.  This is not surprising though, seeing as how the audio IC on the 99/4A is 2/3rds the length of the motherboard away from the A/V plug, it is no wonder the audio picks up so much noise on its way down the board.

 

 

mk2_k_working_10x7.thumb.jpg.ab2883934340812698841a891ab4a45c.jpg

 

The yellow clips are picking up the audio-output from the 99/4A motherboard and connecting it to pin-1 of the MK2, which is the audio-input for the MK2.  If I can find some smaller clips, this would be a good "no soldering" solution for picking up the host-computer's audio.  The audio is coupled, buffered, and sampled with a 12-bit ADC, and available to the FPGA as digital data.  The sampled data will be available to the host computer (and the GPU), mixed with the new audio capabilities, sent out to the 12-DAC, and finally pushed out the audio connector on the header board.

 

So that is the bulk of it for now.  I still need to test the SRAM, and add the new USB functionality.  But, the initial release is getting much closer now that the "not working in the 99/4A" problem has been discovered.  I'm very glad it was not a problem with the MK2 itself, which gives me confidence that the design is pretty solid.  It also forced me to make some changes that I am, overall, happy about; so it was not a total loss of time.

 

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I like it when, after a long session of troubleshooting and various fixes, it turns out it was a simple error somewhere all along. You get a lot of improvements done in the design that way, since you tend to find a lot of edge cases and minor mistakes and get them fixed as part of the troubleshooting.

 

Kinda frustrating process though, while still searching. :)

 

Edit: BTW, nice work!

Edited by hansliss
Nice work!
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Matthew,

 To pose the questions a different way. Did you have to make any hardware or software changes to make either the MKI or MKII work with those two other platforms?

 

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8 hours ago, dhe said:

Matthew,

 To pose the questions a different way. Did you have to make any hardware or software changes to make either the MKI or MKII work with those two other platforms?

 

To be clear, to date the MK2 has only been tested in the TI-99/4A, ColecoVision, and Panasonic HX-10 MSX1.  I do not currently have an ADAM or Tomy Tutor in my possession for MK2 testing.  However, the MK2 is built on the design of the MK1, and aside from the problem with my own 99/4A, the MK2 has been 100% so far and I do not expect there to be any problems (but it will also be tested in other systems before being made generally available).

 

So, changes, software and hardware to get the F18A MK1 working in either the ADAM or Tomy Tutor:

 

Software changes:

1. To the MK1, no, I did not have to make any firmware changes for the MK1 to work with either mentioned system.

2. To the ADAM or Tomy Tutor, no, I did not make any software, ROM, firmware, or otherwise, changes to either system or any software used with either system.

 

Hardware changes:

1. To the MK1, no, I did not have to make any physical changes to the MK1 board to get it working in either system.

2. To the ADAM or Tomy Tutor, *YES*, I had to desolder the original 9918A or 9928 VDP from the motherboard, and solder in a 40-pin DIP socket in its place (see photos posted previously).  Only then could the MK1 be installed.  I did not have to make any other hardware changes to either system.  In the case of the ADAM, the MK1 requires an adapter board to move it back inside the motherboard outline (see the photos I posted previously).  Optionally, you may need to make changes to systems with the F18A installed to get audio out of the system, in cases where the audio is combined with the original RF video signal.

 

One of the major design goals of the F18A is to be 100% electrically, physically, and software compatible with the original 9918A-family VDP (aside from the original video output).  If any computer or game-system you have uses the TMS 9918A, 9928, 9929, 9118, 9128, or 9129 VDP, then you can replace it with the F18A MK1 or MK2, and your system should work exactly as it did with the original VDP (other than the video output will then be VGA or TMDS).

 

I assume people realize that with the F18A installed the original RF, NTSC, PAL, SCART, RGB, or PbPrY (component) video signal from their system will no longer work, since the primary function of the F18A is to produce VGA or TMDS video output.  If you need the original video output signal, then simply continue to use the original VDP.

 

I have a list of systems that I have personally installed and tested the F18A MK1 in, or that others have sent photos and confirmation that the F18A MK1 works in that system:

 

https://dnotq.io/f18a/pinout.html

 

Scroll to the bottom of the page.

 

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I have a Tomy I'd be glad to send you for a test install when you are ready!

I also have an adam, but it's got a HD installed in the case - so kind of dicey to ship!

Dano

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On 4/22/2020 at 8:49 PM, matthew180 said:

To be clear, to date the MK2 has only been tested in the TI-99/4A, ColecoVision, and Panasonic HX-10 MSX1.  I do not currently have an ADAM or Tomy Tutor in my possession for MK2 testing.  However, the MK2 is built on the design of the MK1, and aside from the problem with my own 99/4A, the MK2 has been 100% so far and I do not expect there to be any problems (but it will also be tested in other systems before being made generally available).

I have a Baby Pac-Man if you want me to test it in that. 

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@Tighe Baby PacMan is one system I could never get the F18A tested in personally, and no one has reported to me that they have tried it.  I almost had a chance at the 2013 MidWest Gaming Classic, but the owner of the machine could not be found or contacted in the window of time I had.

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54 minutes ago, matthew180 said:

@Tighe Baby PacMan is one system I could never get the F18A tested in personally, and no one has reported to me that they have tried it.  I almost had a chance at the 2013 MidWest Gaming Classic, but the owner of the machine could not be found or contacted in the window of time I had.

Excuse my ignorance but what benefit would be had running it in a Baby Pac-Man?  Baby Pac is my favorite game.  Happily test in in my cabinet as well if needed. 

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14 hours ago, koolmoecraig said:

Excuse my ignorance but what benefit would be had running it in a Baby Pac-Man?  Baby Pac is my favorite game.  Happily test in in my cabinet as well if needed. 

Well, the F18 doesn't output RGB so the Vidiot board has a chromadecoder in it to convert the composite video to RGB and doesn't look as good as it would if it were RGB. Either version of the F18a would be an upgrade for Baby Pac, You could put in a VGA CRT in if you wanted with the MK2 or even a LCD over HDMI (blasphemy). 

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3 hours ago, Tighe said:

Well, the F18 doesn't output RGB so the Vidiot board has a chromadecoder in it to convert the composite video to RGB and doesn't look as good as it would if it were RGB. Either version of the F18a would be an upgrade for Baby Pac, You could put in a VGA CRT in if you wanted with the MK2 or even a LCD over HDMI (blasphemy). 

Thanks for explaining.

 

Honestly, the only way I really see that as an "upgrade" visually is if eyes were added to the ghosts :)

 

Original CGA CRT looks great to me.

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3 hours ago, koolmoecraig said:

Thanks for explaining.

 

Honestly, the only way I really see that as an "upgrade" visually is if eyes were added to the ghosts :)

 

Original CGA CRT looks great to me.

You know... with the F18A in there, that is actually pretty feasible... ;)

 

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28 minutes ago, Tursi said:

You know... with the F18A in there, that is actually pretty feasible... ;)

 

That's thought-provoking... what about using the gpu to do it? To have another sprite track the ghost's location. Without modifying the game code.

 

Is there any way to flash a gpu program, so that it loads up and starts every time? (feature request idea) An arcade game cabinet with an F18A would have a single purpose.

 

 

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