Author Topic: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)  (Read 10450 times)

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Offline biishop

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #150 on: 21:21, 30 July 19 »
This interface is beautiful, practical, compact and do an absolutely necessary job for all old CPC enthusiasts who absolutely want to continue to use the CPC like 30 years before with original 3 inch discs.

The operation is very simple and very reliable. Replicating DSK files on physical media is pure bliss with the USIfAC.


I sincerely thank Ikonsgr for this achievement and the sharing he makes of this creation and the way to makes it accessible.

It's a MUST HAVE absolutely.
« Last Edit: 21:45, 30 July 19 by biishop »

Offline ikonsgr

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #151 on: 12:03, 31 July 19 »
Thanks biishop, frankly, comments like yours give me the greatest joy and satisfaction for my small contribution to Amstrad CPC community!  :)
Btw, today we reached 50 boards sold (42 assembled boards and 8 DIY kits), to ~40 different people!
« Last Edit: 21:25, 31 July 19 by ikonsgr »

Offline ikonsgr

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #152 on: 15:05, 02 August 19 »
I've just upload the hole project to my blog (it also contains many of my designs i made over the years, for Amstrad CPC and other home micros), so, from now on, anyone can easily have access to it!
You can also find a small presentation on youtube here


Offline ikonsgr

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #153 on: 19:36, 03 August 19 »
I've tested another ~20 games with direct load, we reach 150+ in total!

Offline LambdaMikel

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #154 on: 20:02, 21 August 19 »
Here it is.
From now on, i will flash all new boards with this version,  and i'll upload the hex file to the "official" link too!  ;)

Thanks for the firmware update! I just reprogrammed my USIfACs with this new firmware. So this should have the 31.250 BAUDs required for MIDI, right?

Finally found the time to do something with USIfAC and successfully transmitted 2 games.  Using a standard USB FTDI cable - it works great!


Now, I am in a position to start working on the MIDI IN experiment. I have the MIDI IN code working with LambdaSpeak 3 Serial Interface (see Polyphonous MIDI IN CPC Synthesizer Video there), and will try to get that code running with USIfAC.


The only concern I have is that the USB port is actually (attempting to) powering the whole CPC... so I need to make sure to first turn on the CPC before plugging in the FTDI USB cable. Of course the USB cannot provide enough power, but it is enough for the Power LED to go on and the CPC trying to boot... 
« Last Edit: 20:33, 21 August 19 by LambdaMikel »

Offline LambdaMikel

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #155 on: 08:24, 22 August 19 »
Coming soon...

Offline LambdaMikel

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Offline ikonsgr

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #157 on: 15:34, 23 August 19 »
So it seems that USIfAC  really works as MIDI "bridge" between a synthesizer and an Amstrad CPC! 
As far as i know, this must be the first  application of the Usifac,apart from the utilites i have made!
And LambdaMikel,i suppose it wasn't hard to make it work with USIfAC right? ;)

Btw, i wonder ,what would be the practical usage of such "marriage"? Writing music using a keyboard synthsizer that could be saved in amstrad and then maybe replayed?



The only concern I have is that the USB port is actually (attempting to) powering the whole CPC... so I need to make sure to first turn on the CPC before plugging in the FTDI USB cable. Of course the USB cannot provide enough power, but it is enough for the Power LED to go on and the CPC trying to boot... 


  Hmmm, maybe if you don't use the 5v pin from Usifac ,the problem will be solved (this is how a usb2serial cable adpater works too,there is no need to connect the 5v pin,i note this in manual too). Unless the small board with the midi connector needs to power from serial interface
« Last Edit: 16:34, 23 August 19 by ikonsgr »

Offline LambdaMikel

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #158 on: 17:14, 23 August 19 »
So it seems that USIfAC  really works as MIDI "bridge" between a synthesizer and an Amstrad CPC! 
As far as i know, this must be the first  application of the Usifac,apart from the utilites i have made!
And LambdaMikel,i suppose it wasn't hard to make it work with USIfAC right? ;)

Btw, i wonder ,what would be the practical usage of such "marriage"? Writing music using a keyboard synthsizer that could be saved in amstrad and then maybe replayed?

  Hmmm, maybe if you don't use the 5v pin from Usifac ,the problem will be solved (this is how a usb2serial cable adpater works too,there is no need to connect the 5v pin,i note this in manual too). Unless the small board with the midi connector needs to power from serial interface
Yes, it was very easy to use and "program" USIfAC, thanks tou your excellent manual!
Understanding the MIDI protocol good enough was the most challenging part, but I had already gone through this with the previous version of this project.

Right, the "power problem" does not appear with the MIDI board, only with the USB cable connection to the PC. Providing VCC from another source or may only connecting GND might solve the problem. Will try. It is not a big problem anyhow, just something to remember - turn on the CPC first, then plug in the USB FTDI cable.

Well, "practical and 8bit computers" is a bit of an oxymoron these days anyhown IMHO  ;) , but yes, it could go into that direction. How about adding a CPC to your rack of MIDI synthesizers - imagine something like this + a CPC  :D
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0a/Synth_rack_%40_Choking_Sun_Studio.jpg
I mean, there are people using the C64 + DualSid etc. with MIDI IN as a synthesizer... why not do the same with a CPC and maybe PlayCity and LS3. Obviously, a capable MIDI CPC Synthesizer program needs to be written or adapted first. Maybe I'll work a bit on this by extending what I already have.
« Last Edit: 17:16, 23 August 19 by LambdaMikel »

Offline GUNHED

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #159 on: 17:31, 23 August 19 »
Well, I'm not a musician, but just imaging to use a keyboard to play on PSG + LambdaSpeak III + PlayCity - just awesome, endless possibilities.  :) :) :)
http://futureos.de --> Get the revolutionary FutureOS (Recent update: 2019.08.07)
http://futureos.cpc-live.com/files/LambdaSpeak_RSX_by_TFM.zip --> Get the RSX-ROM for LambdaSpeak :-) (Updated: 2019.08.14)

Offline ikonsgr

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #160 on: 22:20, 31 August 19 »
A few more direct load games added, and reduce price for assembled board to... 8euros

Offline Targhan

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #161 on: 12:29, 18 October 19 »
I think I may have fried my card, but I'm not sure.
As I always do, I plugged everything without reading the manual (because I think I'm sooooo clever), and plugged the 4 pins of the USB adapter, INCLUDING the +5V, which, I learned later, must NOT be plugged.

I first started playing with hardware in Basic, reading the control port and receiving only 255, meaning that a byte was available (and the byte is always 255).
Then I read the manual, disconnected the +5V, but the result was the same.

The reset and pause buttons work fine, so I guess the hardware is not so fried??

Also, Windows 10 recognize the COM port, but names it "PL2303HXA PHASED OUT SINCE 2012, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SUPPLIER."!
The COM port is in the dropdown box of the Windows software provided with the USIfAC, but when clicking on "connect", a pop-up shown with the message "Serial interface exception".

Am I doomed to order a new hardware?
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Offline Targhan

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #162 on: 12:41, 18 October 19 »
OK, false alarm!! It **kindof works**.

I switched to another USB port, and it worked right away, W10 detected a "Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm port" and it worked great!
But then, I unplugged the USB port, plugged it on another USB port, and now the driver is always "PL2303HXA PHASED OUT SINCE 2012. PLEASE CONTACT YOU SUPPLIER.", even when I switch to the USB port that was working previously.

I'll try to find a driver somewhere... unless someone here has a solution.
« Last Edit: 12:43, 18 October 19 by Targhan »
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Offline Targhan

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #163 on: 13:00, 18 October 19 »
So, the interface seems to work very fine, but I have this driver problem, I have to disable the "PL2303HXA PHASED OUT SINCE 2012, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SUPPLIER." driver, then enable it again, and *sometimes* if it well recognized as "Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm port".

I made a search and downloaded drivers from here, but it doesn't change anything. Anyone with the same problem as I?
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Offline Targhan

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #164 on: 13:12, 18 October 19 »
Ok, it seems to work not so bad. I did exactly what was shown here. It works, but when unplugging/plugging, W10 sometimes chooses the wrong driver and I have to go back to Device > Properties and select the right one by myself, like explained in the video. A bit of a pain!
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Offline Bryce

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #165 on: 13:24, 18 October 19 »
Have you tried de-installing the incorrect driver completely and removing it from the registry?

Bryce.

Offline Targhan

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #166 on: 18:03, 18 October 19 »
I tried, without real success yet. But there's probably no need because, as always, everything is perfect on Linux :).
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Offline LambdaMikel

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #167 on: 19:00, 18 October 19 »
With W10, it really depends on the quality of the FTDI cable... super cheap is usually crap. I have three or four of these, and only two of them really work reliably. The good ones need no driver at all - or for whatever reason, my Windows already knew them   ;D

Offline pelrun

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #168 on: 03:35, 20 October 19 »
PL2303 cables work perfectly under W10, but you have to use the driver from 2008. All the later driver versions deliberately broke things  :picard2:

Offline HAL 6128

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #169 on: 10:51, 20 October 19 »
With W10, it really depends on the quality of the FTDI cable... super cheap is usually crap. I have three or four of these, and only two of them really work reliably. The good ones need no driver at all - or for whatever reason, my Windows already knew them   ;D
...yeah, I had the same experiences...
« Last Edit: 16:22, 20 October 19 by HAL 6128 »
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Offline Targhan

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #170 on: 14:44, 20 October 19 »
The Windows driver now seems recognized well every time. Everything is working very fine. Great interface!
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Offline TotO

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Re: Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC (a.k.a USIfAC)
« Reply #171 on: 18:46, 05 November 19 »
Are the ports ($FBDx) compatible with the Amstrad Serial Interface?
No. Sorry.  ;D
« Last Edit: 18:58, 05 November 19 by TotO »
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