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1 hour ago, Jimhearne said:

There is one rather fatal flaw with that plan, i don't have any of those machines, my F18A is in a Powertran Cortex.

 

Jim

 

Sounds like a good excuse to port the upgrader to a new platform! ;)

 

I wrote the upgrader so that all the tricky stuff runs on the GPU, all you need to provide on the host is a keyboard interface and a way to move blocks of memory into VDP RAM when the GPU asks for it. The ColecoVision port is the proof of concept and is /hopefully/ well documented enough.

 

I never got to see a Cortex, from the software bits I've seen it seems it was a neat machine!

 

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You can get that far, but then once you click on a link it asks you to sign in.

Do that and you get a message saying "Your account is pending activation" and it sends you an activation code. ( i have done this many times).

Put the code it emails in and activate the account (again) and then you get to a page that says "We're improving your experience.
Our website is currently undergoing maintenance. We will be right back.
Thank you for your patience."

 

I've tried a couple of different pc's and email addresses.

 

Jim

 

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The JTAG update using the Xilinx tools was always a PITA, and the download is ridiculous in size.  Once the MK2 is done I will be looking into alternatives, which consists of a hardware part (USB to JTAG) and software to load the bitstream.  Other FPGAs need these kinds of tools and software, so in the last 8 years I'm sure this has been resolved (I have just not taken the time to dig into it).  If you can find some JTAG software (there are some open source offerings), and it can "see" the FPGA (Spartan-3E 250K) and attached SPI Flash, then you should be able to load the new bitstream.

 

I don't have my workbench unpacked and set up yet, or I could try a few things.  But, there is little risk, and if something goes wrong the F18A can always be recovered using the Xilinx IMPACT tool.  Alternatively the Vivado Suite (the new Xilinx software that does not support the older FPGAs) can still program the older FPGAs.  So if you can't get the ISE tools downloaded / working, you can use the Vivado tools to program the F18A (if you have a Xilinx JTAG programmer).  Vivado is *different* though, and a little more confusing to use.

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Hi Matthew,

Thank you for the extra info.

After spending all afternoon on it i finally got it to work.

 

The VM version of ISE 14.7 (on 2 different PC's) just closed as soon as you go into to read the chain.

I tried V12.2 on a Windows 7 virtual machine and then both a 32 bit and 64 bit VM with ISE 14.7 (which somebody kindly sent me).

All of these just couldn't find the programmer, either of the 2 i now have ( i bought another one from Amazon incase it was that).

It tried all sorts of messing around with the drivers, both on Windows 10 and in the VM.

 

I finally got it working by installing the non VM version of 14.7 straight onto Windows 10 and doing the swaps of the libPortability.dll and libPortabilityNOSH.dll files.

I suspect i may not have had to do that just to use the iMPACT program.

 

For anybody else that has trouble, device manager should show 2 devices with the DLC10 programmer connected as the picture below.

I suspect that some of the problems with the drivers in the VM was that while to could transfer the Xilinx USB cable device into the VM as it was a USB device, the other Jungo can't be and stays in the host Windows 10.

 

I'm sure people have run ISE in a Windows 7 VM ?

 

Jim

 

 

214729580_XilinxDLC10programmer.thumb.jpg.ba7a98cbfa0dbf4fcd76e1216bb9b93d.jpg

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6 hours ago, Jimhearne said:

I finally got it working by installing the non VM version of 14.7 straight onto Windows 10 and doing the swaps of the libPortability.dll and libPortabilityNOSH.dll files.

I suspect i may not have had to do that just to use the iMPACT program.

This is the hack that has been around for a while to get things working on Windows 10.  It does work, mostly, although I do have times when ISE will fail on the very last step of building a bitstream where is refuses to write the data to the disk.  No amount of software restarting, project file clean-up, or system restarting will get it working.  But go away for a few hours, come back, run again, and *poof* it works fine!  It is very frustrating, and one of the biggest bullshit decisions Xilinx ever made!  Xilinx did not end the Spartan-6 (or 3 for that matter) FPGAs, but the totally dropped support for the software needed to write HDL for them (and they did this right when Windows 10 was coming out).

 

Also, IIRC, IMPACT tries to identify the JTAG programmer, and basically uses a license string that they sell to licensees that goes into the USB ROM on the device.  Again, total bullshit, because there is nothing special about the Xilinx programmer (other than the ridiculous cost), or the licensed programmers.  Digilent is a licensee, so their JTAG programmers work with the Xilinx tools and are much more reasonable in cost.

 

And no, I don't think you needed to jump through the DLL swapping hoops to use IMPACT, but I don't remember for sure.  They make a "tools" download that is smaller (1GiB, IIRC, if you can call that small) that contains just the programming software like IMPACT, so that is all that is really needed to just load the bitstream.

 

At some point I do plan to write my own bitstream loader, but it has never come to the top of the project stack yet.

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Thanks for the extra info.

My older programmer comes up as Digilent, the new one seems to be a copy of the later Xilinx programmer.

At least it came with a lead with the correct type of 2mm connector for the F18A, the older programmer had a 2mm IDC plug which doesn't fit without modification.

 

Jim

 

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The knock-off programmers just extracted the license info from the USB ROMs, so for sure it will not prevent 3rd parties from making programmers that work the the Xilinx tools.  I think it is crap that Xilinx even tries to lock this down.  Oh, and that 2mm header, yeah, you can thank Xilinx for that too...  Although, for as much bitching as I do about these annoyances, I do have to say that from a technical standpoint, the Xilinx FPGAs and the documentation are absolutely fantastic, and one of the main reasons I stick with them.

 

I have spent a lot of time evaluating a lot of the alternatives, and always end up back with Xilinx for reasons related to packaging (physical IC), features, cost, and capabilities.  They also make their tools available for free for use with the low-end FPGAs (which are the only ones hobbyists can afford anyway).  The Lattice FPGAs are designed primarily to be small and lower capability, and the Altera (Intel now) FPGAs are all higher-end, expensive, and very large.  Xilinx has FPGAs that fit right in the middle (and also go up to the high-end capabilities too), and are still the only option for the cost, size, and features needed for the MK2 (I did a reevaluation just the other night).

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Hey,

 

here is a quick update on my progress building F18As:

 

I have received the right pins and the board now fits nicely into the machine unless the TMS9901 has been socketed.  I'm still waiting for a few parts to arrive.  Mouser has some ICs in a Texas that apparently has difficulty getting things out of the door at present.  I've also ordered the VGA pigtails in China and they were produced and shipped yesterday:

 

Catch.jpg.74fa120b2ded36bce69a596f73425f21.jpg

 

This was a nice experience and the first time that I had things made in China on my order.  It is really these parts that prevent me from finishing boards for anyone else, as soldering the VGA cable is rather delicate and time consuming.  There are currently 18 people on my list, so I may be able to fulfill the demand in the end.

 

The new run of PCBs that I have ordered has not arrived yet.  A few of them will have the trace re-added that is missing in the layout on CircuitMaker.  I'll share the Gerbers once I know that my fix is OK.

 

If you intend to build the F18A yourself, make sure that you're using the BOM that Matthew has posted earlier.  It is easy to order parts with the same part number but the wrong voltage rating or package if you're not very careful.

 

Cheers,

Hans

Edited by Hans23
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What I really miss is a soundcable.

I could not use my 2 F18A-systems since I got them, back in 2017

The 3rd one I desperately sold some month ago.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Schmitzi said:

What I really miss is a soundcable.

Sound is coming out of the DIN connector.  All you need is a standard C64/Atari Style video breakout cable which has sound on one of the RCA plugs.

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1 minute ago, Hans23 said:

Sound is coming out of the DIN connector.  All you need is a standard C64/Atari Style video breakout cable which has sound on one of the RCA plugs.

 

yes, and with my solderings I have destroyed a mass of DIN-Plugs....

Maybe you recognized the DIN-Plug-shortage in the EU, in the last years ? :grin:

 

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Oops, I forgot that the european model has these uncommon DIN plugs.

 

It really helps plugging the connector you're soldering into a jack to get some of the heat transported off while soldering.  Using crocodile clamp to hold the jack easily leads to disaster.

 

For NTSC machines, an adapter like this should do.

 

-Hans

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Yes, I remember buying adapters & cables for at least 2 or 300 euros in all those years, but not one brought sound to me.

The PAL output plug seems very special. Or very lonely. But I am not lonely, I am walking knee deep in adapters here :)

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Schmitzi said:

 

Yes, I remember buying adapters for at least 2 or 300 euros in all those years, but not one brought sound to me.

I'm going to figure this out, thanks for bringing it up!

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13 minutes ago, Schmitzi said:

 

Yes, I remember buying adapters & cables for at least 2 or 300 euros in all those years, but not one brought sound to me.

The PAL output plug seems very special. Or very lonely. But I am not lonely, I am walking knee deep in adapters here :)

Why don't you put your F18As in US consoles then? AFAIK you have plenty. 🙂

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6 minutes ago, Asmusr said:

Why don't you put your F18As in US consoles then? AFAIK you have plenty. 🙂

 

I built them into the EU consoles first and then saw the dilemma ;)

...and then got busy with the cables/adapter "solutions"

...and the lost the interest

 

 

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4 hours ago, Schmitzi said:

 

yes, and with my solderings I have destroyed a mass of DIN-Plugs....

Maybe you recognized the DIN-Plug-shortage in the EU, in the last years ? :grin:

 

Put a heat sink of some kind on the pin side of the plug and they won’t melt as easily. I used a 5 pin din jack on mine when making cables and it works pretty good as a heat sink. 

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16 hours ago, Schmitzi said:

 

What I really miss is a soundcable.

I could not use my 2 F18A-systems since I got them, back in 2017

The 3rd one I desperately sold some month ago.

 

 

I had those cables made and stock them .. btw

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6 hours ago, arcadeshopper said:

I had those cables made and stock them .. btw

 

Yes, I think I have ordered them for the next ship ;)

Finally :lust:

 

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Looks like the correct FPGA is still available and in stock at DigiKey!  No doubt, this would be an interesting DIY project.  And I was convinced F18As were unobtainable.

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