Got my RAM Drive kit today

Discuss the new Altair 8800 Micro

Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby Pepe » May Tue 08, 2012 3:26 pm

So I know what I will be doing this weekend.....
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby lizardb0y » May Wed 09, 2012 1:58 am

Mine just arrived in New Zealand. I'm looking forward to building it :)
Andrew
Proud owner of [uril=https://youtu.be/Qab-960Dl1E]Altair 8800 Micro #139[/url]
http://www.vintage8bit.com/
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby jsissom » May Wed 09, 2012 9:30 pm

I received mine and built it. 1 hour from start until turning on my 8800 Micro. The kit was very simple and I ran into no problems.

Unfortunately, I left the CD at the office so all I had was a print out of the 10 page manual. When I turn on the device, it says:

ALTAIR 8800micro
www.brielcomputers.com
Terminal v 2 Firmware XX

Where XX keeps changing each time I turn off the device and turn it back on. I've seen version 5, 19 and 255. The instructions on Chapter 5 of the manual do not seem to work. Sometimes it says No SD card found. (there is an SD card installed)

Any ideas where to start looking for issues? I'll review the CD again tomorrow. I have 8800micro serial number 2 and have not applied any updates to it. I did replace the 8515 CPU on the main board with the one that came with the RAM drive kit marked CPU.

Thanks
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby vbriel » May Thu 10, 2012 12:58 am

You have to do the terminal firmware update. The terminal .bin file is on the CD. This will change things. I recommend the 16MHz crystal if you haven't done so yet.

Vince
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby jsissom » May Thu 10, 2012 8:15 am

Just to clarify...I need to replace the 20mhz crystal on the 8800 micro board with a 16mhz one?

I want to make sure before I do that. I can also update the terminal firmware.

Will this new CPU work without the RAM drive board attached? I'd like to test it without that board first to make sure it works before adding that board back.

Thanks
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby vbriel » May Thu 10, 2012 10:37 am

No, I recommend that you do, but you do have to. 50% of the CPU's became unstable at 20MHz. I would try it first and see how it goes with the 5.1BETA first before installing the RAM drive.
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby jsissom » May Thu 10, 2012 11:53 am

I'm pretty sure I have a spare 16mhz crystal at home so I'll give it a shot. I'll try the terminal update first.

I noticed last night that the front panel doesn't work the way it should. Would that imply that the crystal is the problem instead of the terminal update?
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby vbriel » May Thu 10, 2012 12:38 pm

The terminal doesn't control the front panel, it might be a sign of a CPU issue at 20MHz. I would personally swap it out for a 16. The new CPU can auto detect the CPU speed to clock the serial port correctly. Do the terminal update, then change out the CPU right after that.
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby jsissom » May Thu 10, 2012 8:51 pm

No luck. I replaced the crystal with a 16mhz crystal. I tried to update the firmware, but I could never get it to work properly either before or after the crystal change.

Code: Select all
- Set the front panel address switches A14, A12, A10, A8 to the UP position
  and the A15, A13, A11 and A9 address switches to the DOWN position.
- Set the RUN/STOP and AUX switches to the UP position and the PROTECT switch
  to the DOWN position.
- Power-cycle or RESET the unit. When the system re-boots, the CPU firmware
  update option should be displayed.


When I do this, I get the normal display (with the firmware version changing). Sometimes it tells me there is no SD card installed. That is all it will do. It never asks me for the firmware file name and none of the keys on the keyboard seem to do anything except the num lock key will change the num lock led.

I haven't installed the RAM board yet. I will try putting the original 8515 chip back in to see if it will go back to normal.
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby jsissom » May Thu 10, 2012 9:19 pm

I didn't think of this until after I had done it. I replaced the 8515 on the main board with the one that came with kit originally. I got the same results. Then I remembered, there is now a 16mhz crystal instead of a 20mhz crystal.

Is the hex file available for the main board 8515? I have an ISP and avrdude so I can verify the correct code is in the chip. I also have the propeller software so I could program that outside the box too if necessary.

Jay
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby vbriel » May Fri 11, 2012 3:13 am

jsissom wrote:No luck. I replaced the crystal with a 16mhz crystal. I tried to update the firmware, but I could never get it to work properly either before or after the crystal change.

When I do this, I get the normal display (with the firmware version changing). Sometimes it tells me there is no SD card installed. That is all it will do. It never asks me for the firmware file name and none of the keys on the keyboard seem to do anything except the num lock key will change the num lock led.

I haven't installed the RAM board yet. I will try putting the original 8515 chip back in to see if it will go back to normal.


You don't want to flash the CPU with the A15, 13, 11 and 9 switches on power up, this is why I sent a new CPU chip. If something isn't working, you can reflash the CPU I sent out with the flash from here:

http://www.brielcomputers.com/files/ACPU51B1.BIN This should flash you to 5.1BETA if you have 5.0 or above already.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Now, here's what you have to do, in this order:

1. put the terminal .BIN file onto your SD card with the original CPU installed still

2. Power up the Altair to some state where it is past the bootloading process.

I may need to make these steps more clear in the manual, but you need to update the terminal first otherwise the CPU and the terminal will get out of communication sync and you won't be able to boot.

3. Stop the CPU with the RUN/STOP switch to STOP

4. Press CTRL ALT F10 to bring up the TERMINAL update function. Enter the terminal file name. After you finish this, power off the unit.

5. Replace the CPU with the one provided.

You are now FLASHED on your terminal to 5.1BETA and your CPU that you just installed is 5.1BETA

So, to recap, FLASH the TERMINAL first with the new TERM51B1.BIN FILE (can also be found here: http://www.brielcomputers.com/files/TERM51B1.BIN

Then swap the CPU
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby jsissom » May Fri 11, 2012 7:23 am

Vince, thanks. I agree that the instructions weren't clear on the process to update firmware for an original device without any mods.

OK, I put the 8800micro back to the way it was originally. It worked like it should.

Ctrl-Alt-F10 never worked, but I was trying other keys and it asked me to update the terminal firmware. I did that.

I then replaced the CPU and put in the 16 mhz crystal.

Now when it turns on, it says Terminal 5.1, CPU 5.1 BETA 1 sometimes. Sometimes the cursor will stop after Terminal 5.1, it will reboot itself, then it will say Connect timeout.

I don't want to continue with the RAM card until this is fixed. Any idea why it times out sometimes?

Thanks for your help.
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby Pepe » Jun Mon 18, 2012 8:52 am

I finally got around to finishing the ramdrive. I followed the instructions on how to do the fw upgrade and it worked like a charm from the start. Next thing will be to play around with the assembler and try to do something fun.
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby jsissom » Jan Thu 10, 2013 3:54 pm

I'm glad yours worked. It looks like most of them did. Unfortunately, mine is still not working and at this point even the 8800 doesn't work without the RAM drive. :(
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Re: Got my RAM Drive kit today

Postby vbriel » Jan Sat 12, 2013 10:01 am

You want to send it in to have me look at it?
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