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Another 1088XEL board offer and other news

 

Time flies…..   I wait impatiently for the official release of the 1088XEL motherboard project by Mytekcontrols from AtariAge.com.  Bugs and life seemed to have conspired to delay the early summer release date.  He has released the almost final schematic, but cautions that something may yet change after testing what he hopes is the final board version due in the next week or two from EasyEDA board house.   That has delayed testing of some boards I have designed, as I want to be sure they will not only work, but work with his board.    The SDriveXEL board I can test on my current Atari machines, but the XF551XEL and XF551SDriveXEL versions almost require the combined combinations of 1088XEL and the MicroATX case and power supply to fully test fit and function.   I do what I can in the meantime.

In the meantime I have been working on one of the few remaining weaknesses of the 1088XEL. And while a lot can be builtin on the 1088XEL motherboard, you’re always going to need a way to pop in that new/old stock cartridge that you just acquired from Ebay (or the dumpster 🙁 ).   A standard miniITX/microATX case just wasn’t built with the need for an external Atari cartridge slot in mind.  There’s literally no designed slot for an Atari cartridge.    So you have to work with what is there.

For awhile yet most tower cases in the mini-ITX and micro-ATX format still offer at least one 3 1/2″ and one 5 1/4″ external drive bays.  Some have two external 5 1/4″ drive bays.   Riches……  🙂  So rather than expecting the Atarian to take a hack saw/Super Dremel cutter to the case to fashion a cartridge slot,  I decided to see if I could fit a cartridge slot into the space of a 5 1/4″ drive bay.  And then because sometimes the distance between the drive bay and the motherboard connection could be 12″ to 18″,  I worked with tf_hh to deal with signal loss on that long a ribbon cable connection.  After testing and finding what I think are all the flaws I’ve decided to release the product for sale.

On the 1090XLR front, I am happy to report that Roland Scholz, who developed the prototype PCBridge some years ago has successfully developed the first internal expansion card for the 1090XLR project.  The card is a combination dual serial/single parallel port I/O card.  Both the 1090XLR and card are still in prototyping mode.  tf_hh is also working on a version for the 1090XLR of his SysCheck device.  Progress should go much quicker once both have returned from their much deserved vacations this month.

 

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New 1088XEL compatible storage mediums

With the imminent release of Mytekcontrol’s 1088XEL project I have decided to reimage the SDrive and XF551 floppy disk drive boards to allow an in case storage medium.   Depending on your preference you can purchase an SDriveXEL for floppy disk emulation only or go almost totally retro with a real modernized XF551 floppy disk drive pcb that will drive a compatible 3 1/2″ or 5 1/4″ drive mech.    There’s even an option to combine both SDrive and XF551 features on a single 4 layer pcb.  For the die-hard DIYer there’s even the option to buy the bare boards and build from the ground up.

Your choice of mini-ITX case will be crucial as not all will have the required disk drive bays.  The SDriveXEL option only requires a single 3 1/2″ or 5 1/4″ drive bay with adapter rails.  The XF551XEL options all require both a 3 1/2″ and a 5 1/4″ drive bay or (2) 5 1/4″ drive bays in the case.  I have listed some compatible cases below.  By no means is this list exhaustive, but it gives an idea of what is needed.  MicroATX cases that also handle mini-ITX boards are also an option.

Another crucial requirement is an adequate power supply to support the real 3 1/2″ or 5 1/4″ drive mech.  I recommend an actual ATX12V standard pc power supply.  A 200-300W power supply should be more than sufficient.  No need to go higher.  I have created a ATX12V adapter board to ease the use with the 1088XEL motherboard.  It should work for either a 20 or 24 pin mainboard connector.

In other news….. the 1090XLR project continues in fits and starts.  Currently the main prototype board and a serial/parallel I/O plug in board are in testing.  I hope to begin testing Ralf David’s ROMDISK board soon as well.

Links to suitable mini-ITX tower cases:  (I recommend this webbased pc component supplier due to several years worth of business with them.  However they are not the only source for mini-ITX cases by any means.)

APEX MI-008

Rosewill RS-MI-01 BK

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Restocked, reloaded and something…… something else…..

Well……  I’ve been restocking pcbs and some parts.  Mostly parts that I have to order on Ebay and get from China.  Those typically take upto three weeks to arrive.  Other parts that I can get state-side within a week I’ll wait until I have an order in.  Still have a couple of boards to come in.  Namely the final board I need for the RD Eprom burner board kit.  Should have that by the end of the week though.

The 1090XLR project is in full swing.  I’ve got a website and forum up for it at this address. 

The one thing I’ve been planning has not happened yet.  I was planning to start the new year with a website redesign.  Hasn’t happened yet as you can tell.  I’m still working on it.  A little at a time.  I might have it done for Jan 1 2018.  🙂

 

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Yesterday, website nuked by mistake…..

It was bound to happen at some point.   No person is perfect.  In fact most people would agree that if they do most things half right most of the time they are satisfied in their perfection.  Well… I guess I am satisfied.  🙂

I was in the process of trying to add additional features for the 1090XLR project to the domain when I veered off course and started doing clean up from past mistakes.  I had some orphaned databases and folders that were left over.  The orphaned databases were easy to deal with.  But then I discovered a scripted uninstall app in the Cpanel of the website domain manager.  It was listing several lingering breadcrumbs to failed or abandoned projects.  So happy that I had an easier way to clean the site up, I started selecting the orphaned breadcrumbs for deletion/uninstalling.  Only the listing was slow in updating and in the process I selected the active app for deletion.   WTF???!!!

Four hours later I finally had a functioning website back.  Fortunately I had done a brute force backup of the website, late last November and so I was able to use it to get back up.   So right after I finish writing this post, I plan to make a backup both on the domain and off-site.  I really did have other things to do yesterday and I don’t want to repeat this.  Especially since there are so many other things to only get half right most of the time.  🙂

 

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New Hardware Coming…….

XF551s

Over the last few weeks I’ve been putting the finishing touches on several small projects that have been sitting on the sidelines.   I plan to have these projects up for sale by Cyber Monday.

One project was started over two years ago, but I kept stalling out on it, or my time got switched to other projects.  I’m finally now going to offer it up for sale.  That’s the long rumored and promised XF551 Control board.  This modification will allow on both my re-imaged boards and Atari’s original XF551 floppy drives to have a track display and some front panel controls.   More info will be available on it’s  product page.

Another offering will be a simple 1200XL cartridge extension board.  I’ve always been aggravated by Atari’s funnel shaped cartridge port that was too narrow to allow the Polish cases to be inserted.   I finally got off my duff to do something about it.   Further info is also on it’s product page.

Something that came up on a AtariAge.com thread a few weeks back also sparked my creative juices.  Some people were grousing about the problem of the Atari 130XE’s cartridge port being awkward to use because a person sitting in front of the computer couldn’t see the connector when he/she was inserting the cartridge.  It seemed to become a feel_to_insert situation.  It became a particular irritation when someone frequently changed cartridges.  While it’s not a perfect solution, I decided to try a dual right angle cartridge extension board.  With it you can insert two of your most commonly used cartridges and switch between them without having to physically remove the cartridges.  You still will have to reboot the computer after the switch.  tf_hh was invaluable in developing a functioning prototype.   More info is also on it’s product page.

Another thought I just had was a modified RA SDX cartridge.  Essentially instead of the horizontal cartridge slot at the end of the internal pcb, put a vertical cartridge slot there.   It should be doable.  The tricky part’s going to be the cartridge case design.   But it might help the unstable stacking effect on 1200XL/800XL/130XE computers.   Since I already have functioning prototypes, hopefully I can have a preliminary rendering up by Cyber Monday as well.

There’s still a few small projects on the drawing board so to speak.  Hopefully while waiting for the parts and boards to come in for these projects, I can finish them as well.    At this point I am only planning one big project for next year, the 1090XLR.  Not sure yet just what shape it will take, but hopefully I can come up with a prototype box by mid year 2017.

 

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3d printing of Ralf David Eprom Burner Case pt 2

XF551s

I believe I nearly have the finished .stl files.  I’m doing a final fit print now and into tomorrow morning.  There will be two files, two parts,  a bottom and a lid.  It may not be the best solution, but I dare say a better one than in the buff as it is now.  🙂

My printer is behaving, but the Hatchbox filament is taking a little while to dial in.  It wants to ooze a little more than the XYZ filament.  So I backed down the temperate from 220C to 218C.  I’m printing the lid now, so we’ll see how well it does.   Also setup a skirt/brim to hopefully eliminate the wad of filament that wants to collect at the nozzle.

Print time is rather long for the bottom, a little over 4hrs, but I’m printing at medium speed/quality.  The lid is supposed to take about 2hrs.   I’ll do the bottom tomorrow morning.  I don’t want to let the printer run over night.  Too many times it’s run amok and after only 5 minutes of inattention I’ve found a ball of filament dancing with the extruder on the build plate.

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3d Printing of Ralf David Eprom Burner Case

XF551s

Progress on the 3d files.  First preliminary fit printing went well.  Found some obvious errors in dimensions.  Fixed them.  Now I am ready to do a secondary fit printing.  But…… the original filament cartridge that came with the printer is about out.  I have 3rd party filament, so the next adventure is going to be dialing the printer into the new manufacture’s filament.

I am also going to be switching entirely to Simplify3D software.  I’ve been using XYZ’s software, but the next batch of prints I want to attempt is going to require custom supports and that software just can’t handle it.  I have a new SDX cartridge case that I want to see if it will 3d print.    I maybe tempting fate…..

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Misc Info

XF551s

Today is a mismash of things.  I partnered with mytekcontrols to bring to simi-mass market his creation TK-II Stereo Bundle.  Essentially it is a PS/2 keyboard/Atari 8bit interface with the added feature of a stereo Pokey feature.  With the price of Pokeys rising  to new heights I decided not to include the necessary 2 Pokey chips, but otherwise the bundle is complete.

Also I am testing the 3D printer files for the Ralf David reimaged Eprom Burner board.  Surprisingly the XYZ Printer Pro is behaving itself for now.    There’s two files, one for the bottom and one for the top portion.  I’ll be printing both today (I hope) for a preliminary fit test.   The bottom should take about 5hrs.  Not sure how much the top will take, hopefully a few hours less since it’s only about half a inch tall.  Same size as the bottom, but not as tall.

I’m also doing some testing of smaller projects that have been sitting, waiting patiently on the side.  Maybe I can finally get the XF551 track display project done, a 2364 2in1 adapter.  and when the board order arrives a couple of other cartridge adapters for the 1200XL and 130XE.   I’ll also be working on a software/hardware mod for the eprom burner project that I hope will allow moving the disk-based software to rom.  We’ll see.

On the website arena, I will begin the process of upgrading and modernizing the website theme.  It’ll go on behind the scenes until it’s ready to be activated.  I’m shooting for Nov 1st.  That’ll be the three year anniversary.

I doubt there’ll be any major projects the rest of the year.  Refinements and small projects only.