USIfAC II:Convert a PC or USB stick to Amstrad HDD,access dsk's,and many more!

Started by ikonsgr, 09:17, 01 December 20

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ikonsgr

@WacKEDmaN, i reupload fw 6d, now it should work ok (for  some unknown reason,i've tried to program PIC using the previous uploaded fw 6d, and i also got strange behavior with my cpc464) . Btw, i have another "unofficial" fw (6e) version, which has some minor optimizations and changes in boot messages in order to work better along with ram/rom board (mainly show correct boot messages in all modes).

WacKEDmaN

thanks ikonsgr... 
unfortunatly i dont have a PIC programmer... 
it would be nice if these could be updated over serial or the usb.. maybe something for the future..

ikonsgr

Quote from: WacKEDmaN on 14:43, 01 July 22thanks ikonsgr...
unfortunatly i dont have a PIC programmer...
it would be nice if these could be updated over serial or the usb.. maybe something for the future..
pm sent!  ;)

Devlin

Quote from: WacKEDmaN on 14:43, 01 July 22thanks ikonsgr...
unfortunatly i dont have a PIC programmer...
it would be nice if these could be updated over serial or the usb.. maybe something for the future..
It might be a good idea to find out if you have any "hack spaces" local to you - they're usually quite chill and might be able to help you get your u2 updated.
Amstrad fan! | CPC464 + USIfAC II | Administrator of Amstrad Discord : https://discord.gg/ksWvApv

WacKEDmaN

Quote from: Devlin on 22:17, 01 July 22
Quote from: WacKEDmaN on 14:43, 01 July 22thanks ikonsgr...
unfortunatly i dont have a PIC programmer...
it would be nice if these could be updated over serial or the usb.. maybe something for the future..
It might be a good idea to find out if you have any "hack spaces" local to you - they're usually quite chill and might be able to help you get your u2 updated.

no hacker/electronics spaces in my area....there is a "maker space" but its woodworking/metalworking, and arts..and you need to pay membership to access it!

ill have to eventually get a PICKit3.. just broke atm!

WacKEDmaN

ok..looks like i can get a hold of a pickit3... ;D

im looking at the guide to flash the pic, but im not sure which drop down is the "Voltage Level" im supposed to change to 3.5v..
VDD Nom, VPP, VDD App?.. (looks like my version of MPLAB IPE is newer)

edit: no matter..it changes once the PICkit3 is connected and its downloaded whats needed...voltage level shows in the power tab as it should :)

WacKEDmaN

:doh: 
so ive flashed both these hex files, and both are causing the 464 to bootloop as soon as its turned on.. i dont even get chance to type anything now.. i never get the ready prompt before it resets...sometimes it will crash after a few resets with garbage on the screen.. 

i dont get this... it really doesnt like my board...
is there older firmware i could download?

ikonsgr

Quote from: WacKEDmaN on 11:02, 02 July 22i have tried another ribbon and connector from a lower rom board (that works perfectly fine)
the cpc464 board im using is a new replica board.. the fingers on the edge connector are quite nice...(and ive cleaned them 3 times now!)
im starting to think..my board "may" have slightly longer traces or impedances that are throwing off the timing...
..a few little things ive noticed...
there is a through hole resistor on the back of this board.. i cant see any resistors on any of pics of the boards or the schematic in this thread.. is it supposed to be there?! (1.2Kohm)
also there seems to be a SMD capacitor missing (C6) on the USB module.. ..but that "shouldnt" be causing any issues tho...
Ok,i think we found te root of the problem. The back of the board should be like this:

You cannot view this attachment.

The smal signal 1N4148 diode should be placed if you had a previous than 6d fw version, otherwise reset button will reset amstrad but not USIfAC board. Let me explain:
 Until fw version 6c, i used MCLR "master clear" pin of PIC mcu to "hardware reset" PIC. But having MCLR active, is a potential "threat" for an accidental damage/erase of pic program under sertain (but rare) circumstances. I've also discover that in some cases, specific Z80 cpu's (combined with state of Amstrad board/edge connector), might not hold BUS RESET signal (that resets Z80 and I/O chip) high enough for USIfAC board to reset properly (that's why i've added the pullup resistor shown in your board's photo), resulting in
 the ubsence of "boot message" and of course a non working board. In order to fix this, i disable the hardware reset using MCLR pin,and add a small diode as shown in photo along with a small "reset code" into PIC's firmware.


WacKEDmaN

i have tried another ribbon and connector from a lower rom board (that works perfectly fine)

the cpc464 board im using is a new replica board.. the fingers on the edge connector are quite nice...(and ive cleaned them 3 times now!)
im starting to think..my board "may" have slightly longer traces or impedances that are throwing off the timing...

..a few little things ive noticed...
there is a through hole resistor on the back of this board.. i cant see any resistors on any of pics of the boards or the schematic in this thread.. is it supposed to be there?! (1.2Kohm)
also there seems to be a SMD capacitor missing (C6) on the USB module.. ..but that "shouldnt" be causing any issues tho...


ikonsgr

Quote from: WacKEDmaN on 11:02, 02 July 22i have tried another ribbon and connector from a lower rom board (that works perfectly fine)
the cpc464 board im using is a new replica board.. the fingers on the edge connector are quite nice...(and ive cleaned them 3 times now!)
im starting to think..my board "may" have slightly longer traces or impedances that are throwing off the timing...
..a few little things ive noticed...
there is a through hole resistor on the back of this board.. i cant see any resistors on any of pics of the boards or the schematic in this thread.. is it supposed to be there?! (1.2Kohm)
also there seems to be a SMD capacitor missing (C6) on the USB module.. ..but that "shouldnt" be causing any issues tho...
Ok,i think we found tte root of the problem. The back of the board should be like this:

You cannot view this attachment.

The small signal 1N4148 diode should be placed if you had ONLY 6d fw version, if not, reset button will reset amstrad but not USIfAC with fw 6d. Let me explain:
 Until fw version 6c, i used MCLR "master clear" pin of PIC mcu to "hardware reset" PIC. But having MCLR active, is a potential "threat" for an accidental damage/erase of pic program under sertain (but rare) circumstances. I've also discover that in some cases, specific Z80 cpu's (combined with state of Amstrad board/edge connector), might not hold BUS RESET signal (that resets Z80 and I/O chip) high enough for USIfAC board to reset properly (that's why i've added the pullup resistor shown in your board's photo), resulting in  the ubsence of "boot message" and of course a non working board. In order to fix this, i disable the hardware reset using MCLR pin,and add a small diode as shown in photo along with a small "reset code" into PIC's firmware.
As i already explained, this is a modification needed ONLY with 6d firmware, although the only "problem" if you don't place the diode is that USIfAC will not reset after pressing rst button.


WacKEDmaN

right...so i should remove the resistor, and put the 1N4148 in as shown?


ikonsgr

Quote from: WacKEDmaN on 11:35, 02 July 22right...so i should remove the resistor, and put the 1N4148 in as shown?
For using latest 6d fw, yes. Although it's rather strange that your brand new CPC464 replica board doesn't work right with fw 6c and the pull up resistor...  ::)
Can you measure the voltage on PIC's MCLR pin (it's the pin that resistor goes)? If it's lower than ~3,5 volt this can cause problems with board

WacKEDmaN

Quote from: ikonsgr on 11:39, 02 July 22
Quote from: WacKEDmaN on 11:35, 02 July 22right...so i should remove the resistor, and put the 1N4148 in as shown?
For using latest 6d fw, yes. Although it's rather strange that your brand new CPC464 replica board doesn't work right with fw 6c and the pull up resistor...  ::)
thanks ikonsgr

it had 6d on it when i got it...
i found you firmware repo.. and just flashed 5a..but just got a yellow screen!..

ill reflash 6d and do these hardware changes (i hope ive got a spare 1N4148 handy!) and see how it goes...

ikonsgr

Quote from: WacKEDmaN on 11:43, 02 July 22it had 6d on it when i got it...
i found you firmware repo.. and just flashed 5a..but just got a yellow screen!..
ill reflash 6d and do these hardware changes (i hope ive got a spare 1N4148 handy!) and see how it goes...
Even better, use the unofficial 6e fw  ;)

WacKEDmaN

no go... :(

6d causes constant reboot/bootloop
6e is doing weird things.. sometimes it will bootloop...sometime it will lockup after manufacturer string...
sometimes... it loads into basic fine..  i give it OUT &FBD2,5 and reboot...
on reboot it'll reboot itself a few times, then the help screen is being shown, and then it reboots again once the help screen has finished printing...
...i cant get a response from any of the commands until i switch off the power...
but...then im back to square one, with it bootlooping....

im am still not seeing the ROM string on any of these reboots...

i do have it plugged in the right way yeah?! (i cant be that much of a n00b!)

ikonsgr

Hmmm, that's really very weird indeed.... Try to re-solder the pull-up resistor again (along with diode) and see if that helps. 
Btw,i see that you have another Edge connector ribbon cable, did you try to replace the ribbon cables?

WacKEDmaN

yes ive tried the ribbon cable from my lower rom board... same thing...

ive just gone through all the firmware testing what happens with each one...
all seem to reboot or throw corruption except for 5.. (not 5a) ..which actually boots ok, and shows the ROM string.. 
|STAT works fine... but.. |HELP shows most of the commands then a bunch of characters and locks up...
|USB also locks up...
|EN locks up..

back on 6e now...
and something ive noticed from day one, if i run the voltage LOWER from my power...the usifac seems to like it better...
the serial power pins on the USIFAC read 0.2v below my set power...


 6e @ 5-5.2v reboots and screen displacement and some times pixels after its loaded the manufacturer string...
 6e @ 4.3v (min needed to boot the cpc) it actually boots into basic.. but giving the out command and rebooting doesnt show the ROM string, and |STAT causes cpc to reboot..

6d @ 5-5.2v was constant bootloop..
6d @ 4.3v would load..STAT would show.. but i could only change settings with the various OUT options.. using the RSX commands would cause pixels on the screen and lockup...

also i noticed that none of the 6x firmware are able to be verified when i programmed the PIC... (all the others did fine).. 
im guessing they are all protected?

ill try the resistor + diode..

WacKEDmaN

resistor + diode just stops the rebooting... but it still locks up just after "locomotive software ltd"...
tryed both 6d and 6e with all combinations, resistor alone, resistor + diode, diode alone and neither diode or resistor.. nothing is working...

...also..this diode.. you mentioned its for reset..and about the reset button.. the button under the diode is the disk change button???




ikonsgr

Yes, diode should be placed under dsk swap button. But even without the diode, Amstrad CPC464 should boot normally (actually it should boot twice on cold start)
 Anyway,from what you describe, it seems there might be signal problems with this replica board and USIfAC board. It reminds me the same erratic behavior with previous versions of RAM/ROM board, where the added length of signal traces, caused problems because of the 1oz copper thickness and relative thin traces. When i used 2oz copper thickness and wider trace widths (especially for 5v & gnd), most problems resolved. Maybe something similar happens with this replica board...  ::)

WacKEDmaN

Quote from: ikonsgr on 18:00, 02 July 22Yes, diode should be placed under dsk swap button. But even without the diode, Amstrad CPC464 should boot normally (actually it should boot twice on cold start)
 Anyway,from what you describe, it seems there might be signal problems with this replica board and USIfAC board. It reminds me the same erratic behavior with previous versions of RAM/ROM board, where the added length of signal traces, caused problems because of the 1oz copper thickness and relative thin traces. When i used 2oz copper thickness and wider trace widths (especially for 5v & gnd), most problems resolved. Maybe something similar happens with this replica board...  ::)

thats not what i wanted to hear! >:(

is it possible to power it externally? via either the ICSP port or the serial port +ve/-ve??

ill try to get mate to test it on one of his CPCs in the next few days...

ikonsgr

One last thing:i remember that some people had problems flashing PIC using PICKIT3, when hex file was code protected, so try this unprotected file and see if it works:
You cannot view this attachment.

WacKEDmaN

Quote from: ikonsgr on 18:23, 02 July 22One last thing:i remember that some people had problems flashing PIC using PICKIT3, when hex file was code protected, so try this unprotected file and see if it works:
You cannot view this attachment.
nope..still the same lock up just before BASIC 1.0 is supposed to show...

the protected hex files upload fine, they just cant be verified after its been flashed...


wolfgang

Quote from: shacpc on 23:16, 30 June 22
Quote from: wolfgang on 21:53, 30 June 22The USB stick is formatted with FAT32 and I tried with 2 different USB sticks, I did copy the content in the sticks root directory, not the folder.
Thanks anyway for your reply, I will try again when I have upgraded the USIFAC II to the latest firmware, could be the problem as eto just mentioned.
Precisely the "basic" structure of LILICPC is like this to ensure the greatest compatibility of USIFAC devices (past and future) and because 100x100 games work perfectly with this launcher system and ease of use for any user, because I do not plan give support and for that reason I decided to include this "plus" for usifac in this cpcwiki post, which ikonsgr has kindly allowed.

In the beginning, the idea about LILICPC was to create a menu system with a basic program, but there were occasional failures in the execution of games and in the reset and it also prevented the enormous amount of games that can now be played with LILICPC.

When ikonsgr launches the ULIFAC I will publish in this post a new update with 1000 more games and with a much more optimized LILICPC.

As I always say, all credits and thanks from LILICPC to the creator of USIFAC Ikonsgr and to the authors of the games.

Hi,

I got m,y PIC programmer and updated the USIFAC to Version 6d, the RUN"xxx now works.
Only thing is it works only once, after resetting USIFAC II another RUN"xxx command gives "File not found", so I have to switch OFF/ON the CPC464.

Anyway the effort of resetting USIFAC or OFF/ON the CPC is nearly the same, so I think its not worth to put more effort on it.

LILICPC is actually a very nice collection, many thanks for your work, as well as to ikonsgr for the fantastic USIFAC II.

Greetings

Wolfgang

ikonsgr

Quote from: wolfgang on 23:39, 02 July 22I got m,y PIC programmer and updated the USIFAC to Version 6d, the RUN"xxx now works.
Only thing is it works only once, after resetting USIFAC II another RUN"xxx command gives "File not found", so I have to switch OFF/ON the CPC464.
Anyway the effort of reseting USIFAC or OFF/ON the CPC is nearly the same, so I think its not worth to put more effort on it.
LILICPC is actually a very nice collection, many thanks for your work, as well as to ikonsgr for the fantastic USIFAC II.
Greetings
Wolfgang
Most probably, "return to root directory" is disabled, so after reset, it remains to last directory used, thus you get "file not found". You can easily change this,by giving OUT &FBD1,66 to enable or OUT &FBD1,65 to disable (note also that board will "Remember" your choice), and check current status with |STAT.
Alternatively you can just give |CDR after reset and return to root directory  ;)

poulette73

Hello ikonsgr,

Many thanks for this USIfAC II interface: it's fabulous !!  :)
There are so many possibilities.

A little advice for those like me who use a 512K ROM extension "FlashGordon" on a Mother X4 board.

I noticed a few RSX command conflicts that no longer worked on USIfAC II.
After various tests and with help of ikonsgr : the solution was to relocate USIfAC II rom to another location than the default one (slot 5).
To do this : use the OUT &FBD2,x command, where x is the slot number. Then do a reset afterwards.

After testing all possible slots between 1 and 15, the only one that works perfectly is slot 3.

Since then, no more worries, I have retrieved all the functions of USIfAC II !

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