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General Category => Amstrad CPC hardware => Topic started by: PulkoMandy on 11:55, 13 November 17

Title: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 11:55, 13 November 17
Hi there,


I'm just back from the Alchimie Demoparty where I discussed CPC hardware and expansions with various people. It seems that there is some demand for a new batch of FlashGordon boards.


For those who missed it, FlashGordon is a Flash/ROM board and mostly a clone of Bryce's MegaFlash design, with a different flash chip and integrated mods for a reset button and "disable all ROMs" switch. It can be slotted on a Mother-X4, or plugged to the CPC with the appropriate cable (centronics or HE902 to HE10 female, 50 pins). It can store up to 32 ROMs, including optional replacement for ROM7 (need hardware mod on CPC6128/664 to disable the internal one, no changes needed on Plus and 464) and ROM0 (for use of the Hacker or straight-to-CPM boot or other foreground ROMs). Software is available to manage it (either ROMAN from PNG or TFM's RomManager) and will come pre-installed on the boards.


The cost for a board is 25€, shipping included.


Place your orders here. As usual, you don't pay anything until your board is ready for shipping. If you are already waiting for an Albireo board or other hardware from me, I can try to group shippings together.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: ||C|-|E|| on 12:33, 13 November 17
I definitely would like to have one! I was going to do my own MegaFlash clone but I still did not find the time  :'(   Having one of these would be great  :)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: GUNHED on 14:44, 13 November 17
Hi Pulko! Nice to see some demands for ROM expansions. In case you are going to use other kinds of Flash chips then let me know to adapt ROManager to it.
@All: If you need some new kind of functionality for ROManager please let me know. Version 2.16 is out now since some days. Download at www.futureos.de (download section).


Good luck with the new batch of FlashGordon boards.  :)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 20:33, 13 November 17
While I'm at it I'm reworking the board a little. No new features, but re-did the routing using smaller SMD components and added some silkscreen art :)


The board is slightly smaller (43mm - about the same as Albireo) and should be easier to assemble.


No change of flash chip planned as long as I can source the current one (of which there are apparently thousands available online).
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Hergoth on 23:14, 13 November 17
I should like to have one for my CPC464+  :P


Pulko, I wrote un Albireo thread to get an Albireo too!


Could you get me a place un your list?
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: IanS on 23:37, 13 November 17
While I'm at it I'm reworking the board a little. No new features, but re-did the routing using smaller SMD components and added some silkscreen art :)


The board is slightly smaller (43mm - about the same as Albireo) and should be easier to assemble.
Has it now got chips on both sides of the board, or have you changed the design?
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Audronic on 00:06, 14 November 17
@PulkoMandy (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=26)


Put me on the list for 1 (One)


Thanks


Ray
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 09:48, 14 November 17
Yes, there are chips on the back of the board in this new routing. The design/schematics is the same as the previous version (what did you think? That I found a magic way to do the whole decoding logic with just two chips? that would be too easy!)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Bryce on 12:09, 14 November 17
You should try to keep all components on one side so that oven reflow soldering is possible. It will save you a lot of time. You could even go with an SMD socket for the flash chip, then you'd have even less to solder by hand.

Bryce.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 12:38, 14 November 17
It will not save me any time because I don't have the required hardware. If someone wants to do this, they can make their own routing :)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Hergoth on 01:24, 16 November 17
I should like to have one for my CPC464+  :P


Pulko, I wrote un Albireo thread to get an Albireo too!


Could you get me a place un your list?


Sorry, I don't need a FlashGordon now. I leave the list.  ;)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: yannis_uno on 03:00, 20 November 17
Please, put me down for 1, thank you!
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: LambdaMikel on 18:54, 21 November 17
I would also like to order one! Thanks
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: tjohnson on 23:49, 22 November 17
I'd like one of these when they become available.  Cheers Trevor
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Fedeo on 13:42, 23 November 17
Hi,


One for me, please.
I'm in the waiting list to get an Albireo.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Montserrat on 21:04, 13 January 18
Hi, i would like to have one too, please. Put me in the list.i
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: asertus on 23:02, 13 January 18
Hi,


I am also in. Please let us know to order when ready  ;)


Rgds
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Montserrat on 11:33, 18 January 18
Do you have any ETA? like....couple of weeks, some moths? end of the year? (im already in the list)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 10:58, 22 January 18
Hi,


So we are at 8 orders now. I think this is enough to start ordering PCBs.


Order list:
- ||C||-||E||
- Audronic
- yannis_uno
- LambdaMikel
- tjohnson
- Fedeo
- asertus
- Montserrat


I have been quite busy with other things in the last 3 months and now I'm preparing something for the Forever party. After that I think I can get back to hardware assembly for both this and Albireo. Sorry for the delays!
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Montserrat on 11:44, 22 January 18
Hi,


So we are at 8 orders now. I think this is enough to start ordering PCBs.


Order list:
- ||C||-||E||
- Audronic
- yannis_uno
- LambdaMikel
- tjohnson
- Fedeo
- asertus
- Montserrat


I have been quite busy with other things in the last 3 months and now I'm preparing something for the Forever party. After that I think I can get back to hardware assembly for both this and Albireo. Sorry for the delays!


 ;D  Thanks for your work :D, ill be waiting.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: LambdaMikel on 00:05, 28 January 18

 ;D  Thanks for your work :D, ill be waiting.
Me too looking forward to it no rush!

Sent from my ZTE B2017G using Tapatalk

Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: hsimpson on 21:10, 30 January 18
@PulkoMandy (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=26): One for me, please.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Montserrat on 11:46, 08 June 18
Any news on the boards?
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Emashzed on 11:52, 14 June 18
Not sure if it's too late, but I'd be up for one too !  :)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 18:34, 18 April 20
Hi!


Well I'm still reworking the schematics :)


I fixed two problems with the original MegaFlash address decoding support: lack of decoding for the A14 address bit on write access, and use of diodes for logic. If you know something about these things, let me know what you think of the attached schematics. Otherwise, enjoy the 3D renderings!


As a bonus, there is now enough space for a proper reset button (maybe not so useful if you have a Mother X4 board, but quite nice otherwise)


I don't know if I can start manufacturing these in the current situation, and I need to do some tweaks to the PCB anyway (making sure the holes for the write protect switch are at the right place, for example).
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Bryce on 21:14, 18 April 20
Hi!


Well I'm still reworking the schematics :)


I fixed two problems with the original MegaFlash address decoding support: lack of decoding for the A14 address bit on write access, and use of diodes for logic. If you know something about these things, let me know what you think of the attached schematics. Otherwise, enjoy the 3D renderings!


As a bonus, there is now enough space for a proper reset button (maybe not so useful if you have a Mother X4 board, but quite nice otherwise)


I don't know if I can start manufacturing these in the current situation, and I need to do some tweaks to the PCB anyway (making sure the holes for the write protect switch are at the right place, for example).

As the original designer, I know a little about both things :D I used diodes to handle the logic because I had run out of gates and two diodes were cheaper and needed less pcb space than adding another chip. As for not decoding A14, I didn't consider it necessary at the time. There was no combination of hardware that would clash with it.

Nice layout by the way, I like how much you've reduced the PCB size.


Bryce.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: GUNHED on 21:21, 18 April 20
Sorry, but for A14 there is lots of stuff, see CPC I/O list. IMHO it very important to always fully decode all 16 bits.In addition is a pain from the software makers POV. But it works, and thats great. :)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 23:03, 18 April 20
Well, everyone has been using the MegaFlash and FlashGordon with this limitation and no one ever complained (to me, at least?).


This is for memory-mapped access (writing to the ROM) not for IOs. And it does something only if you follow the very specific sequence of writes needed to do a write access to the ROM, so it isn't too bad. I've been using my FlashGordon for years with this and never had a compatibility problem. But still it is a little thing that annoyed me in the design. Yes, I guessed that it was due to wanting to keep the board reasonably small and simple and not adding an extra chip to it (routing the PCB was already difficult enough). And as I was reviewing my old schematics and making plans for new projects this week I had this idea of using 74LS138, it is useful to compare 6 bits to almost any given value. Not the most efficient use of PCB space (half the pins of the chip are unused) but at least it directly decodes 6 inputs into one, and I don't have to route tracks back and forth between two chips.


We'll see if I didn't mess up anything and this actually works when I receive the PCBs.


Mh... I think I could even easily make it be ROMs 32-63 for people who think 32 ROMs aren't enough and want to use two of these side by side...
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: GUNHED on 00:56, 19 April 20
It always depends where you have your stack. Also interrupts (in IM 2) can be source of troubles.
Furthermore the chip has a software protection. Sometimes one loads a picture and it has Byte &55 at the wrong position, also this can cause troubles.
As long as we know that A14 is not decoded, it's not a problem to work around.  :)


Sorry for my comment with the I/O range, this was wrong an misleading.  :picard:
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: gerald on 12:27, 19 April 20
Hi!
If you know something about these things, let me know what you think of the attached schematics.
1. I am a bit puzzled by the decoding using the 74LS138.
The way it is wired your FLASH will only be selected for ROM number 32 with R0EN connected to U3_Q0, and never selected if you connect R0EN to VCC.
I you keep U5 input as such, you should use U7_Q3.

2. I don't think you need R5 nor R3. Even R4 is not needed if you use 74HC00 or 74HCT00.


Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 13:12, 19 April 20
R5 forces R0EN to 0 when the jumper (SW3) is removed. It allows to disable all ROMs in case something goes wrong and you want to boot the CPC with the device connected, but disabled. Then you can run some ROM manager, put the jumper back, and reprogram the broken ROMs. This was missing from the original MegaFlash and documented as a mod for it in the wiki when I did the first version of FlashGordon (now the wiki describes a different mod, adding a push-button instead)


And yes, U5 Q3 should be used, of course, thanks for catching this! I think I swapped the inputs around while doing the routing and forgot to adjust the outputs  :doh:
I'm considering adding a switch to allow selecting Q3 (ROMs 0-31) or Q7 (ROMs 32-63) in case someone would want to have 64 ROMs on their system.


I don't know about R3, that's from the MegaFlash design (as seen here: http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/MegaFlash). And yes, I'll use 74HCT chips (I had compatibility problems with 74HCxx in the first FlashGordon batch however) so I can leave R4 out. But I'm leaving the footprint in case someone wants to assemble the board with 74LS chips.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: gerald on 13:43, 19 April 20
R5 forces R0EN to 0 when the jumper (SW3) is removed.
Ok, the schematic made me think that SW3 was an actual 2 position switch, not a jumper (poor man 3 position switch  :D )
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: RetroCPC on 15:58, 30 May 20

If you know something about these things, let me know what you think of the attached schematics. Otherwise, enjoy the 3D renderings!
PM,

Sorry for the off topic question, but I noticed your using KiCad, how do you find using its UI? I'm sadly using Altium thesedays but its UI is so terrible - I'd hoped I'd get used to using it with time, but its so awful I still dread having to use it...

Its intelligent track place (as your manually try to route a track) is on drugs, goes ANY direction but the one you want - I don't understand why its so invasive... its so complicated to delete / move a track... everything about Altium is needlessly complicated - my life too short to fight such CrXP

For simpler PCB's and Spice simulation I still use Labcentre's Proteus - IMO it has the simplest, best, most logical UI... not sure if you have any experience with Proteus - but how do you find working with KiCad? 3D is not important to me - I like to essentially manually route my PCB's... Place a track - route manually node to node without any stupid invasive "interference" from the software...

If you have watched any YouTube videos where they are teaching users Altium you will see them repeatedly trying to place a track, deleting track sections and trying again as Altium send the track in the opposite direction of where you wanted to place it... These are Pro users, so its not just me with my "lack of experience"...
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 16:15, 30 May 20
Hi,


Well I have never used Altium, so I don't really know how they compare. It woudl seem that Kicad in recent versions behaves as you say, trying to autoroute things in stupid ways and making it annoying to delete these traces. Old versions did not have any autorouting, and that was perfectly fine for such simple projects. I didn't look yet if there is a way to disable or configure it. At leat it previews things in realtime so you can see it's going stupid before you actually place the track, so you can press escape and try again. And keyboard shortcuts help quite a lot in getting things done (backspace or delete to remove a track, etc).


It reminds me of a story about my father. He worked in a print shop and used a tool to cut vinyl stickers (to make big lettering to put on cars and trucks and the like). He used a tool from the 90s that ran on Windows 98. The machine required 3 parallel ports for driving the cutter, printer, and for the software protection dongle. At a time the company bought a new, larger, faster machine. It came with a new tool, but it seemed the tool was needlessly complex and made things 10x more difficult for no reason. He then got a training on it, and came back conforming that the tool was indeed bad designed, it was not just missing knowledge on how to use it.


And so until two years ago when he retired I helped keep that Windows 98 machine alive and connected to the company network so he could send files back and forth to it to use this old but efficient software. It was not always easy to find spare parts still compatible with it and getting windows network shares to work was a bit of a challenge sometimes, but it did work!




Well in any case, now that I know how to use Kicad I don't really plan to switch to something else, so I guess it's good enough.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: RetroCPC on 16:36, 30 May 20
PM,

Thank you for your swift reply - sadly it seems like KiCad are following Altiums footsteps... trying to be a "Free" version of Altium :(

WRT Labcenter's Proteus, I'm in fact using an earlier version (Aries 6.9) which runs under Windows XP - LabCenter had to rewrite later versions to support the new Graphics drivers in later Windows versions - in rewriting the software they made it worst... although its still leagues better them Atlium IMO.

So I understand your pain of supporting an even earlier version of Windows...

Sending my love to France, I lived there for many years (and in fact I met my Wife in Paris). I still miss the lifestyle - although not trying to run any kind of business in France!!!
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: sfox72 on 21:06, 23 June 20
Hi,
is it possible to join the list, or is the batch already closed?
Stefan
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 16:04, 20 October 20
Hi,


I have finally ordered the boards. Since I made quite a lot of changes to the schematics I ordered only 10 boards for now. I will check if this new design works. If it does, I can make another batch. Now waiting for the PCBs to get delivered so I can start assembling and testing :)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: GUNHED on 16:35, 21 October 20
Hi there,
Well, I assume the new batch will use Flash Chips from SST or Winbond (as before), if not let me know.


Today I will upload a new version of the ROManager 2.34 for all ROM simulating devices for the CPC / Plus range. Links see below.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 18:20, 21 October 20
No change of flash chip. The reason I switched to the SST one in the first place (compared to the original Megaflash) is that it's still in production, so it's easy to buy when I need it. So far this has not changed, so everything is fine :)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: GUNHED on 15:41, 22 October 20
No change of flash chip. The reason I switched to the SST one in the first place (compared to the original Megaflash) is that it's still in production, so it's easy to buy when I need it. So far this has not changed, so everything is fine :)
Thanks for you answer. Great! BTW: Using SST for this reasons is of course the right decision. Why using a chip which is no longer available. I hope you will sell lots of your great device.  :)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Bryce on 17:20, 22 October 20
The W27C040 that I used on the original MegaFlash was widely available at the time and it had a few advantages over the SST part. That's why it was chosen. Unfortunately they became more difficult to source soon after that, but they are still available, even in large quantities.

Bryce.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: TotO on 18:12, 22 October 20
The Winbond EEPROM advantage compared to the SST FLASH is the 256 bytes pages vs 4K pages and the fastest writing speed.
The most inconvenient is that it require each time to manually lock/unlock to be sure to not loose data.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Richard_Lloyd on 21:39, 22 October 20
Hi. If there's one available from this or a future batch I'd like to put my name down. Many thanks.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Nitro on 22:00, 22 October 20
@PulkoMandy (https://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=26): if there is such list, could you put me on it as well for one item?

Thanks!
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: GUNHED on 15:32, 23 October 20
The Winbond EEPROM advantage compared to the SST FLASH is the 256 bytes pages vs 4K pages and the fastest writing speed.
The most inconvenient is that it require each time to manually lock/unlock to be sure to not loose data.
Yes, the Winbond is more of a beauty. However since we usually burn 16 KB blocks, the page size doesn't matter. (It would matter as soon as we would use a ROM floppy though).

About writing time. Since we do not write too often I personally don't care if it takes half a second or one full second to burn a ROM. (And yes Tot0, you're right, there can be application in which time will matter).

The MegaFlash from Bryce uses the Winbond, and it can be protected by software, so it's not needed to use a switch. The same is true for other devices, except the bright blue LED is not there.

For the devices supported by ROManager this software protection does work for all Flash chips. None of the devices actually needs a switch being moved (when using Flash software-protection).
Having said that, it may well be possible that one feel more save with using a switch too.

In case your device is in Write mode all the time, then the Flash can be identified by software, which is cool!  8)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: TotO on 15:37, 23 October 20
The MegaFlash from Bryce uses the Winbond, and it can be protected by software, so it's not needed to use a switch.
The first X-MEM used it too. But, the soft protect of Winbond EEPROM is not enough robust to avoid accidental data lost if not hard protected.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: GUNHED on 15:47, 23 October 20
The first X-MEM used it too. But, the soft protect of Winbond EEPROM is not enough robust to avoid accidental data lost if not hard protected.
I never had that problems. Lucky me.  ;) :) :)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Bryce on 16:25, 23 October 20
The same is true for other devices, except the bright blue LED is not there.

Your MegaFlash was a "Blue LED limited edition" because you requested it, no one else had a Blue LED. :D

I decided on the physical write switch because there are so many situations that could accidentally corrupt the data. Having a physical write switch meant that no bit combination on the expansion bus can damage the data.

Bryce.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: GUNHED on 17:52, 23 October 20
Yes, that's right of course. A switch is a good thing to have. Just to be sure. Even if I never use it, I fell better just by having it.  :)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 22:54, 23 October 20
With the sst flash you need, not just some data on the bus, but activating two different roms in sequence and writing exactly one byte to each of them, without any other rom access in between.


So, yes, in a lot of cases the software protection is enough because this is quite unlikely to happen by accident, and the write switch is just to be extra safe.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 12:44, 09 November 20
PCBs delivered today!
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Ast on 13:36, 09 November 20
What's news ? does it work correctly on amstrad plus (asic connected) ?
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: roudoudou on 13:45, 09 November 20
What's news ? does it work correctly on amstrad plus (asic connected) ?
Plus is not CPC, we don't care  :P










....8
i'm out!
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 13:49, 09 November 20
For ROM expansions there is no problem with the ASIC, they are at different addresses. It's the same as before, just smaller and easier to assemble for me :)
I'm thinking about a RAM expansion that's ASIC compatible, but, more on that later. I have some soldering, testing and shipping to do now!
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: GUNHED on 19:05, 10 November 20
For ROM expansions there is no problem with the ASIC, they are at different addresses. It's the same as before, just smaller and easier to assemble for me :)
I'm thinking about a RAM expansion that's ASIC compatible, but, more on that later. I have some soldering, testing and shipping to do now!
For RAM expansions please consider to fully implement RAM mode &C3 like Revaldhino did - just it case it's supposed to run with 464 / 664 computers.  :)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 00:01, 11 November 20
I plan to do things for 6128 and plus only. I don't have other hardware to test with. And what revaldinho did is fine for these usages anyway :)


But I will clearly advertise that it is not fully compatible with 464/664 to avoid any confusion.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: GUNHED on 00:26, 11 November 20
Good to know. It's the era of CPC 6128 and 6128 Plus anyway.  ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: hsimpson on 15:38, 12 December 20
I have received my package. Now I am the happy owner of FlashGordon. A beautiful gift for Christmas :). Many thanks PulkoMandy :) .
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Richard_Lloyd on 23:43, 12 December 20
Received my FlashGordon a few days ago and it is so good - thanks PulkoMandy.


I also tried it on my CPC464 and it works on that too. The 464 only initialises the first 8 ROM slots of course.  I've not given it much to do but the MAXAM1.5/Protext combination work just fine.


This is a great Wiki!
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 23:57, 12 December 20
I think you can move the "booster" rom to slot 6 to get it to initialize the remaining roms in that, but I have not tried. I don't have a working 464 around.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Ast on 00:08, 13 December 20
Hi Pulko,


Could you tell us the price, please ? Thanks.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: PulkoMandy on 09:50, 13 December 20
It has not changed since the first post in this thread. 25€ including shipping.


All boards have been delivered for the previous batch but I can order and assemble more. It will take a few weeks to get the PCBs delivered.


I will make some slight changes to the board again to replace the jumpers with actual switches.
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: GUNHED on 23:30, 14 December 20
And for the management of ROMs you can use ROManager 2.37 (new update online) for FutureOS. See my homepage (signature).  :)
Title: Re: FlashGordon - new batch
Post by: Richard_Lloyd on 00:00, 19 December 20
I think you can move the "booster" rom to slot 6 to get it to initialize the remaining roms in that, but I have not tried. I don't have a working 464 around.

Hi, "booster" in slot 6 crashes my 464. No problem, I'll code something, test it and let you know. Thanks.