Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Discuss the new Altair 8800 Micro

Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby sanman » Dec Fri 30, 2011 3:36 pm

I was also a victim of the board shorting out. I put a little double-sided tape underneath and all is working well.

The battery box is a little wonky. Make sure the batteries seat well and that you are seeing 4+ volts at the board with the power supply disconnected, otherwise your RAM disks won't be persistent.

I ended up making a custom 3-cell NiMh pack that sits down nice with some velcro. I also added a connector so that it could be removed.

Playing Zork! Could not get Adventure to run.

- regards
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby jkempthorne » Dec Fri 30, 2011 4:18 pm

Great catch, Chuck!

I also installed the Disk Controller in a little over an hour. Triple checked the PCB and all solder joints, installed the Disk Controller board, set the switches to:
Run/Stop --> STOP
A10 --> UP
AUX --> UP
PROTECT --> UP
POWER ON
STEP --> UP ONCE
"88-DCDD not found" :(

I then loaded 8KBAS.BIN as normal and it showed 59012 Bytes of memory! Good sign... :wink:

I then checked the forum and saw Chuck's post, placed a piece of anti-static bag over the 10uf caps, repeated above sequence and:
AltairMicro 88-DCDD Emulator v1.0 BETA 1
Disk Image Options:
Transfer Image [F]rom SD Card
Transfer Image [T]o SD Card
Option [F or T, ESC cancles]?


From here I successfully loaded CPM and the Games disk images!!!

Thoughts on the Disk Controller mounting:
1. Taller standoffs would put the Disk Controller at a slight angle, not a big deal.
2. Anti-static foam will work
3. Mounting the 10uf Electrolytic Caps at an angle (45 to 90 degrees) will work. Too late for my build.

Vince, would replacing the two 10uf 16v electrolytic caps with two 10uf 16v 20% Dipped Tantalum Caps work? :idea:
If so smaller foot print and available at your local Radio Shack http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062393&filterName=Brand&filterValue=RadioShack

Comments?

And thank you for a great kit! I have been showing it off to friends... :D

Happy New Year,
Jim
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby elchucko » Dec Fri 30, 2011 4:30 pm

Hi Jim,

I have my Micro to the point where CP/M is loaded, but for the life of me I can't figure out how to load and run the games in CP/M. I'm missing something here. How did you get "games" to load and run in memory?
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby jkempthorne » Dec Fri 30, 2011 6:54 pm

Chuck,
I looked for BASIC on the boot disk and the games disk and did not see it. I hunted down MBASIC.COM (24K) and it works. Here is the link http://dl.dropbox.com/u/328997/mbasic.zip

Just put it on the SD card --> use TREAD MBASIC.COM and you are good to go.

I also found COBOL, FORTRAN, dBASE and several other languages. Have not tried them yet. I have also been looking at utilities to read and write CP/M disks from DOS (windows).

So far the system is working very well and I am quite pleased. :D

Need to run, dinner quests, will check back later.

regards,
Jim
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby kyeakel » Dec Fri 30, 2011 7:58 pm

My board is now built, I have to run and get batteries. There was one diode missing, common enough that I had some. So, no problem, if you found one on the floor and didn't know which kit it was from.... :D I also got the USB adapter in my kit, I do not see the instructions for it. I did install the header, just need to know the connections for it, I see GND, tx, rx but no 3.3 or 5v position on the board. Also, is it a one time thing or should I mount it in the case?
Thanks,
Kipp
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby galaga » Dec Sat 31, 2011 2:28 am

you just need the gnd,tx,rx (don't use the 3,3v or 5v it may damage it)
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby kyeakel » Dec Sat 31, 2011 1:19 pm

I'm having problems updating. With the new CPU: I get the following, Terminal 4.9 Firmware 0.5 and never get the "Enter Filename" prompt. With my old CPU: I get, Terminal 4.9 BootLoader 1.9 and do get the "Enter Filename" prompt. When I enter the "ACPU51B1.BIN" it says file is too small. The file on the cd and sdcard is 7k in size. Any suggestions?
Thanks,
Kipp
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby garryj » Dec Sat 31, 2011 2:02 pm

kyeakel wrote:I'm having problems updating. With the new CPU: I get the following, Terminal 4.9 Firmware 0.5 and never get the "Enter Filename" prompt. With my old CPU: I get, Terminal 4.9 BootLoader 1.9 and do get the "Enter Filename" prompt. When I enter the "ACPU51B1.BIN" it says file is too small. The file on the cd and sdcard is 7k in size. Any suggestions?
Thanks,
Kipp


You need to update the Terminal firmware (Ctrl-Alt-F10 procedure) to v5.1 before the new CPU chip will be recognized properly.
- Make sure the TERM51B1.BIN file is on your SD card
- Set the RUN/STOP switch to the STOP position and power on or reset the system.
- Press Ctrl-Alt-F10 and you should see the "Update Terminal Firmware" prompt.
- Enter the TERM51B1.BIN file name to update the Terminal firmware.
- If you haven't installed the new CPU Vince sent with the Disk/Memory expansion card, power the system off and do so now.
- When you power up you should see the Terminal 5.1, CPU 5.1, BETA 1 start up screen.
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby kyeakel » Jan Sun 01, 2012 4:06 pm

Thanks garyj, that did let me get the terminal reloaded, with my old CPU. I then changed to the new CPU which did come up like it should. I was able to load cpm22 to a: and then loaded games to b: it hen followed the instructions for the BootLoad.bin file, and even did the auto load. It seems to auto load fine but nothing boots. So, I'll try to reload the image to a: or check for the board shorting issue.
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby kyeakel » Jan Sun 01, 2012 8:16 pm

Board is not shorted via caps, I removed them, and remounted new ones sideways. I've tried cpm22 and cpm302 in the A: drive neither starts from BootLoad.bin. I can load basic and see the 59012 bytes. When the .DSK image is copied from the sdcard, is it verified? Does the ram drive use the DSK images as is or does it unpack them? Why was format.com included in the directory for cpm3?
Thanks,
Kipp
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby garryj » Jan Sun 01, 2012 9:33 pm

So it sounds like you never see the CP/M "A:" prompt? Do you see any CP/M boot information displayed on the screen at all?

Since you see the disk image transfer prompt when you A10/AUX/PROTECT/STEP then the disk controller MCU is responding to I/O commands. The .DSK image data is checksummed during the serial transfer from the SD card but the writes to RAMDisk are not verified. Since is sounds like the image transfer function is working, you can verify RAMDisk content by immediately transferring the .DSK image just loaded back to the SD card under a different file name then doing a binary file compare of the two .DSK images in your PC OS of choice.

If the .DSK file transfers complete, but CP/M does not boot, then that suggests there might be a problem between the disk controller MCU and the AS6C4008 SRAMs, so IMO binary compares of the .DSK images in/out would be the next step. The .DSK image data is written to the RAMDisks in a linear fashion, so any bad compares that happen in the first 12KB of data means the CP/M system tracks will be corrupt. The original Altair used a 137 byte sector with 32 sectors/track and the 512KB SRAMs have room for 119 tracks. The AltairMicro CP/M BIOS uses a 2 sector logical skew which is what was used by the original Altair 8800 disk boot ROM code (i.e. bootload.bin).

If there's a FORMAT.COM by itself on the support CD (I don't have the CD) then it's the most recent version I sent to Vince. It will work on either CP/M 2 or 3 and is functionally identical to the version that's pre-loaded on the CP/M 2.2 "A:" .DSK image. The only difference is that the newer version uses CP/M BIOS hooks according to the CP/M version# it detects, while its predecessor did its own "raw" disk I/O outside the CP/M BIOS. BTW, the AltairMicro custom BIOS calculates a rolling checksum on disk write/read and the format program does do a verify pass, so if CP/M does boot, formatting a drive is a good way to test the SRAM.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby elchucko » Jan Sun 01, 2012 11:23 pm

My machine looks to be good. Up and running as stated in the documentation that came with the kit. What do you think about starting 2 threads that deals with 1) CP/M software; 2)CP/M hardware? This preorder thread is diverging? I'll start one on software as I'm looking for........ ;)
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby elchucko » Jan Mon 02, 2012 2:32 pm

Suggest switching the order of chapter 4 and 5 for better readability? Name the specific CP/M file(s) to load to disk A? Just thoughts.......... :?
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby kyeakel » Jan Mon 02, 2012 6:41 pm

Ok, I tried the write back and compare, no match. I then wrote then CPM3 image to A: put the switches in the boot mode and reset the computer. It booted right into cpm. I then power down and try again to boot, no go. Looks like there is about 3.9v at the battery connections. I'm assuming that the memory doesn't retain when power is removed. Any more suggestions?

Kipp
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Re: Disk Controller board beta run preorders!

Postby garryj » Jan Mon 02, 2012 9:23 pm

Unfortunately, hardware isn't really my forte, but it does sound like it could be a data retention issue. If you transfer a disk image in/out without ever powering down do they compare OK? If they do, then I'd think the circuitry between the disk controller MCU and the SRAMs should be good.

With the power switch OFF, the voltage on pin 32 of the AS6C4008 SRAM should be close to the battery voltage. If voltage at the chips is OK, the resistors next to the AS6C4008s are weak pull-ups to keep /CE at high logic when on battery power. You could try using a lower value, but power off backup time would likely be reduced.
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