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mytek

The Worlds Smallest Atari 8-Bit?

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18 hours ago, DrVenkman said:

Please see prior posts. This unit will be offered as finished machines only for the foreseeable future.

I quoted @mytekanswer in my post. I just wanted to show that there will be interest in bare PCB, maybe this will help with the decision when offer them for sale. I'm not interested in assembled board or design files.

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To be frank, some of the support requests for the XEL/XLD builds were pretty challenging, not everyone taking the project on is really qualified to do so and that has made supporting them pretty hard work. This build includes SMD devices for the first time and everyone on the team agrees that providing a kit would create a support nightmare for us all. 

 

I have argued that we could make the blank PCB available with just a BOM and a notification there there will be no support for it, that if you're not 100% certain you can do it, you shouldn't start. Something along the lines of "This board has been well tested and is known working. Any issues you may have will be with the components or your assembly, once you have thoroughly checked your assembly for issues, please contact your component supplier for support" but even that isn't strong enough for some of the team so it's not likely that position will change for at least a couple of years.

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1 hour ago, Mr Robot said:

To be frank, some of the support requests for the XEL/XLD builds were pretty challenging, not everyone taking the project on is really qualified to do so and that has made supporting them pretty hard work. This build includes SMD devices for the first time and everyone on the team agrees that providing a kit would create a support nightmare for us all. 

 

I have argued that we could make the blank PCB available with just a BOM and a notification there there will be no support for it, that if you're not 100% certain you can do it, you shouldn't start. Something along the lines of "This board has been well tested and is known working. Any issues you may have will be with the components or your assembly, once you have thoroughly checked your assembly for issues, please contact your component supplier for support" but even that isn't strong enough for some of the team so it's not likely that position will change for at least a couple of years.

I think I read about some projects where the SMD parts were pre-installed and just the through-hole stuff left to builders. I know I won't attempt SMD soldering if the part has more than 2 contacts and even those are hairy enough for me.

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29 minutes ago, slx said:

I think I read about some projects where the SMD parts were pre-installed and just the through-hole stuff left to builders. I know I won't attempt SMD soldering if the part has more than 2 contacts and even those are hairy enough for me.

That would help DIY'ers in general but given the very small and closely-packed layout of this design, some of the through-hole components must be soldered alarmingly-close to the SMD components. I can tell you, it is frighteningly easy to create solder bridges without even realizing it. The ability to solder tiny pads in very close proximity is not to be taken for granted, and the equally-important ability to read a schematic and troubleshoot methodically, carefully and have I mentioned METHODICALLY cannot be understated. 

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38 minutes ago, DrVenkman said:

That would help DIY'ers in general but given the very small and closely-packed layout of this design, some of the through-hole components must be soldered alarmingly-close to the SMD components. I can tell you, it is frighteningly easy to create solder bridges without even realizing it. The ability to solder tiny pads in very close proximity is not to be taken for granted, and the equally-important ability to read a schematic and troubleshoot methodically, carefully and have I mentioned METHODICALLY cannot be understated. 

Good points. Last time I tried to mod an SMD calculator (HP-30) I pulled the solder pad off the circuit board... I didn't dare attempt any of the other minis so the NUC wouldn't be a good place to start ;)

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This bit on the Fujinet is a nightmare to do by hand. I don't currently have a hot air gun so I did all this with just an iron and I'll be amazed if it works when I get to test it! For scale, C6, R7, C5, R3, R4, C7, C8, C2 are 1mm x 0.5mm (0.040in x 0.020in)

 

 

582740323_Screenshot2020-11-08at13_00_33.thumb.png.cdf5f0383db817ab4139a483ce2e981c.png

 

I've since ordered a hot air rework station :D 

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the NUC board is much easier to solder but it does have some shenanigans like this to deal with, for scale, the two yellow lines I drew are where GTIA goes on the other side of the board.

 

 5772061_Screenshot2020-11-08at13_18_58.png.5fc985e2fffc406308226953126bd615.png

 

1081206493_Screenshot2020-11-08at13_25_39.png.9dc8c17ac9ff9b1dab34c6e49489bce4.png

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Thanks @Mr Robot for pointing out those shenanigans 😬 . I've already fixed one of those, but I'll have to see what I can do about the other ones as well.

 

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22 minutes ago, orpheuswaking said:

Things are a lot closer on this board for sure, I am being extra careful but I had a couple bridges already. 

I've fixed a few close ones on a new PCB layout (V1.2), but at least one of them will have to remain and just require some extra care while soldering. This is a tight board layout due to its very small footprint, so some compromises in ease of assembly had to be made. This also factored into why I decided for the time being not to allow for bare DIY boards to be sold.

 

On the other side of the coin, I was growing tired of people PMing me expecting to get preferential support outside of the main forums when they were building some of the previous boards I designed. It was as if they thought I was the one who had sold them the board in the first place, and somehow should be responsible to help them build and/or diagnose it. I was fine with providing the public support within the main forums, but felt it was crossing a line when people started bugging me at 'home' so to speak. Towards the end I took on a tough love persona, and simply wouldn't answer the PM, or would suggest that they take it to the main forums where 'all' could benefit from the conversation. I think this would be good for people to take into consideration before they decide to PM someone for help.

 

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1 hour ago, mytek said:

"On the other side of the coin, I was growing tired of people PMing me expecting to get preferential support outside of the main forums when they were building some of the previous boards I designed. It was as if they thought I was the one who had sold them the board in the first place, and somehow should be responsible to help them build and/or diagnose it."

 

Michael, I'm sorry to hear of that happening to you.  We accepted, maybe not all, that when the 1088XLD was released that there was a clear understanding that if an individual undertook the project that they took the responsibility as well.  I know even the Beta folks were having issues, but that was to be expected, hence the term Beta tester.  Again, I respect your decision on what you release and how it is done.  However, my disappointment still remains, and that is not your problem, it is mine;)

 

Mike

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Some news...

 

I ran into a problem that I never would have expected while I and the beta testers were bringing their boards online. It was discovered that without buffering GTIA's csync output, GTIAs would overheat and die. In the first 3 iterations of the board design, they all had the csync directly injected (via a diode - for reverse polarity voltage blocking) into the output of the luma DAC circuit, similar to a stock Atari, but missing any buffering between (i.e., CD4050). This was done to simplify the design, and at first it seemed to work fine for fulfilling the original purpose. However depending upon the GTIA chip, death would soon follow within minutes to hours, but in the end they would all perish.

 

So a new version (V1.2) is being worked on that will add back in the required buffering.

 

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I was feeling guilty about possibly being the one who killed off the possibility of bare boards being sold after my issues with the XLD. I had no idea you were also being pummeled with PM's.  I'd like to say that at no time did I think there was some design issue with your boards Mytek, nor was I ever upset with the build process. It can be a little frustrating, and I appreciate all the help everyone gave me with my builds. All part of the process. I'm now looking for some kind of similar project for this winter. Even going so far as possibly creating replacement boards for a Klipsch amplifier that needs repair. To me the build and the troubleshooting was most of the fun. I play with my XEL but my XLD is currently living in a moving box. 

 

Thank you for creating these cool projects and putting up with all of us. I hope you continue to do so, just not sure how many more Atari variations I need!! lol

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11 hours ago, chevymad said:

I was feeling guilty about possibly being the one who killed off the possibility of bare boards being sold after my issues with the XLD.

No it wasn't you, and it wasn't my intention to make anyone feel bad by what I said. I just don't have it in me to support this new project much beyond getting it launched.

 

When I started this little NUC thing, it was to get my mind off of the whole Covid induced isolation, and do something fun and distracting instead. And... I also wanted something that I could gift to my grandson when he gets old enough to appreciate it. Pretty soon I can check this one off my to do list.

 

11 hours ago, chevymad said:

Thank you for creating these cool projects and putting up with all of us. I hope you continue to do so, just not sure how many more Atari variations I need!! lol

You're very welcome. Not sure what's next, although I have been doing some prototyping in a few other directions.

 

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On 11/9/2020 at 8:24 PM, mytek said:

And... I also wanted something that I could gift to my grandson when he gets old enough to appreciate it. Pretty soon I can check this one off my to do list.

 

 

I don't know why but you are doing all this wonderful things. I pictured you much younger... I guess Atari users are getting older, I'm old myself :) I don't have a grandson yet but I started late! 

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2 minutes ago, Blues76 said:

I don't know why but you are doing all this wonderful things I pictured much younger... I guess Atari users are getting older, I'm old myself :) I don't have a grandson yet but I started late! 

I'm 64 years old, and will be 65 this coming February.

 

I would have loved to have done all of this BITD, but limited money, resources, and lack of cheap large capacity SRAM as well as small microcontrollers got in the way :) .

 

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The Fujinet daughterboard for the NUC+ now works, just needs a little tweaking.

914842063_Screenshot2020-11-21at17_39_31.png.7ca2c57243d026bafe666f977af7705e.png

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(DELETED)

 

Meant to post elsewhere. But here, have something else. :) 

 

 

 

Edited by DrVenkman
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1 hour ago, MisterOz said:

Awesome. I really want to build one of these next!

In two years you can :) .

 

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On 11/22/2020 at 10:07 PM, mytek said:

In two years you can :) .

 

Just read the first page again, missed that - oops.. You've inspired me to try and create my own A8 mini. This one is going to be called the micro. It'll only be for my own use at this point. I've got the layout completed and have started connecting traces. As I'm only proficient in expresspcb/schematic, manually placing these traces and vias is becoming quite the exercise in patience. I've already re-ordered board components about 8 times as I stumble upon different components that I want to try out. I'm probably a bit optimistic in how tight I have everything spaced, as I'm sure you've encountered.  Thanks again for your other designs - and of course to all the collaborators. They've been very fun and rewarding to build so far.  

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