USIfAC II, technical problems & support [MERGED with Plus-related posts from original thread]

Started by ikonsgr, 17:23, 29 December 20

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ikonsgr

Hi every one!

This thread is created to dealt with technical problems or issues anyone might have, with the USIfAC II board.
That way, it will be much faster & easier to get help & support by me, or anyone in the community.

It will also help to keep the main thread "clean", containing only useful informations and updates for USIfAC II board.

And for start, here are a couple of important references  (based on the majority of reporting problems):

  • CLEAN THOROUHGLY Amstrad CPC expansion connector before plugging the board! From my long experience, many times, issues are related to dirt/oxidized edge connector!
  • Amstrad PLUS is not OFFICIALLY SUPPORTED, as i don't own a PLUS machine, thus board is never tested on PLUS machines by me! However, there are many other people, who tried the board with Amstrad PLUS, and they claim that for the most part, is functioning ok , e.g. you will be able to load games from files or dsk images. So any  questions/issues regarding PLUS machines they can only be supported by the community.
  • If you boot Amstrad and you get a black screen,try to press pause button, if it's active, then Amstrad will freeze upon booting!
  • If you don't get board's boot message "USIfAC II Enhanced" and board doesn't seem to respond, try giving OUT &FBD2,5, this will reset Board's rom number to default '5' and in most cases, resolve the problem
  • Finally maybe the BEST way to avoid issues, is the friendly advice given by Gunhed here: "Get a proper working CPC - and best: get a proper working CPC6128." ;)

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 !

GUNHED

Shouldn't that be a personal thing? Depending what you have loaded into the FlashGordeon.
http://futureos.de --> Get the revolutionary FutureOS (Update: 2022.03.09)
http://futureos.cpc-live.com/files/LambdaSpeak_RSX_by_TFM.zip --> Get the RSX-ROM for LambdaSpeak :-) (Updated: 2021.12.26)

poulette73

I didn't go into details here, but I had done all long and wide tests (deleting each roms, one by one, with tries each time to find if a rom was in conflict, etc.).

In the end, even with an "empty" FlashGordon (only rom 0 for Basic and rom 7 for CPM) the problem was still present.

It was on advices of ikonsgr that I tried to find wich possible positions of USIfAC relocation.

This is only in slot 3, perfect for cohabiting with a FlashGordon (even virgin). 👍


Since then I've reloaded about ten roms in FlashGordon (low and high roms) and everything works perfectly.  :)

eto

Interesting: How can the ROM number have an effect on the compatibility, if there is no ROM number collision?

Is there a difference if the USIFAC physically before or after the Flash Gordon in the MX4?

Fran123

Quote from: eto on 10:26, 06 July 22Interesting: How can the ROM number have an effect on the compatibility, if there is no ROM number collision?
I guess when you write a rsx command the system searches the command in the ROMs in a specific order, and when it finds out, it stops

eto

Quote from: Fran123 on 10:50, 06 July 22
Quote from: eto on 10:26, 06 July 22Interesting: How can the ROM number have an effect on the compatibility, if there is no ROM number collision?
I guess when you write a rsx command the system searches the command in the ROMs in a specific order, and when it finds out, it stops
That is true, but I understood that there is no other ROM present, the FlashGordon is just physically present. 

poulette73

Quote from: etoIs there a difference if the USIFAC physically before or after the Flash Gordon in the MX4?
On the MX4, the USIfAC is connected in the 1st position physically.
I tried plugging the FlashGordon into positions 2, 3 and 4 and the problem persisted.

But since, everything is resolved with relocation of the USIfAC in rom slot 3.


Quote from: etoThat is true, but I understood that there is no other ROM present, the FlashGordon is just physically present.
That's absolutely correct! You understood well.

The problem was permanent, even with a FlashGordon empty of any rom.

XLV2K


Bubo Bubo


XeNoMoRPH

your amstrad news source in spanish language : https://auamstrad.es

Cwiiis

Quote from: XeNoMoRPH on 12:02, 29 July 22Usifac II with CPC 6128 plus not work,  at least to me.


Works for me, but only if I use the original Basic/Burning Rubber cart, will not work with a C4CPC or even just an EEPROM cart with NoACID. I expect NoACID makes some timings more marginal and the usifac is a bit lax with this (complete guess based on a bunch of my and others' testing)

leexus

I want to say thank you for John for developing and making the ULIfAC and the previous USIfAC II cards.
I have an Amstrad CPC 6128 plus machine.

If you are interested to the compatibility tests, read the following.
So I've tested the new ULIfAC card with my CPC+ I attached some photos, videos of the results.

As summarization of the tests I can say ULIfAC is better than USIfAC II + 512k mem. board were from CPC+ view, but its still not perfect and has some issues.. see below.

Detection of the ULIfAC card: ok
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j4EnvRywleunb5iV9_dn2FENhNc_rrEf/view

Diagnostic with DIAG: ok
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SONj37_JaqEimijMCvOYiZX2v_vjcrHZ/view
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1p3i4jmjozVExQFWcKoMdoTaItQzAWIC4/view
https://drive.google.com/file/d/104xOf7eIs6B5yryOJFc6fMu-j4wMyL8A/view

SNA loading: ok

BAS loading: ok

DSK: 80-90% of the games can be loaded (better than with USIfAC II)
Some DSK demos/games which had problems with previous 512k mem expander are problematic here also, but in a different way) - e.g. "SWIV" and "James.DSK" restarting the machine, "Blakhole" (freezing the machine), "Amazing" demo, "Debris" demo, and Night demo (BAS!) and other CPC+ demos are producing graphical issues to the screen (seems to be some clock, sync problem).
These are also problematic when loading the DSKs from Gotek drive. When the previous mem. 512k expander or the ULIfAC is disconnected, they are working without any problems. (the mem. expansion causes these problems somehow).
from ULIfAC: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HOT8HSHVO9rSXyumzUJYphXKpsgjOkSl/view
from Gotek: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_oRnvghVojU0_PwdeDOp5uARj3GuxNgz/view
Question: What can cause this by the mem. expander of the card?

All RSX commands are working except the following problematics:
|PARA: works only in 6128 mode. In normal mode will be hanging/reset sequence. Strange.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ytL4bAAPyu42igtF2O1rq4h2nWL1Do_P/view
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UaQNV4zEnglPZH_5v_lh8F_AMCLrnbh1/view

|FM and |FSM cannot be used in 6128 mode (256k RAM + 16x ROM), because DSK selection stops with memory full in 100 failure. 
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fDvzbeqaGYhNbbbnVfF7oJttttNSbbYA/view
Question: What can cause this?

|MROM,"filename",X: Loads a rom from usb stick to rom slot X and activate it (e.g. after reset in 32X ROM mode or DUAL RAM/ROM mode the specific rom slot will be initialized). 'X' can be 0-31 for 32X ROM BOARD mode, or 0-15 for dual RAM/ROM mode.
Most of the ROM files are freezing the machine when using the |MROM command.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gxAJIWLqdy62_ZCxghmNv8IUZd1KF_ps/view
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j7YtQejMVCm1dPiJpISDKAPhIArWgxT2/view
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1QUeffEyGG_cShM8sWmQ5hTQZ9FyRcZy3/view
Question: If you could successfully load and use ROM files, pls. write which ROM files and how you've started them. Thanks!

|464 mode is completely freezing the machine with an empty screen (its not a problem, but it worked on USIfAC II).

Hardware reset (external custom reset on my mainboard) in normal mode (512k RAM mode): not working properly – after DSK loading and using RUN and after the game pushing the reset button - it freezes the cpc+, often graphical characters are appearing, system hangs.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YFAUzgdxXtKH6HMPmLWakx9l-HUxIFkm/view
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WO9meR625bWKI-hrSy94wfyzfkfxjNts/view
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1q5kfFFcpHn7gnM4yGYW7NnnrnEnML0Ru/view
Question: Do you also having this issue on non-plus machines?

Reset button on ULIfAC not works after loading any DSK image and running.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cKxIdwaBNVrpbarh0G8CJtsytby3rs-u/view
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BY-6hQvga9tQQch92yL--hTEbw1IuOYg/view
Question: Do you also having this issue on non-plus machines?

Reset button on ULIfAC works fine when using Gotek (when the ULIfAC is connected, but DSK loaded from Gotek).

Symbos 3.1: Compatible. Now you can use the RAM expansion in SymbOS – due to that only in 6128 mode is working the Symbos, you can use 320k memory.
(All the 3 disks can be mounted by |MG and swap to Apps disk after loading the Symbos screen.)
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mUDEiyabRbfUx3FYkA4lUrAv8ISsDd_K/view

Symbos 3.1 in normal mode (512k RAM mode) will be freezing during the loading.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fWK5c0kr0cR2I7jmxVWfXj6bzP3fuOdp/view
https://drive.google.com/file/d/14ocwIPyQPdvT5gDl9J_REEIkLopNzUfF/view
Question: What can be this problem?

Symbos 3.1 works only in |6128 (256k RAM + 16x ROM mode). Its great but only 256k RAM available if I load the Symbos from ULIfAC:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_6K08MXavB9ubcyVOWviwh0HomVGqy99/view

Gotek compatibility: perfect, from GOTEK DSK loading you can use the RAM expansion in SymbOS even the 320k memory or the 576k memory as total. Great!
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EYqMzbXdo56ig04NWqo4GoeEvILGQMXy/view
https://drive.google.com/file/d/19fTY3dgAZHJYMGrUDV14JFeaapNAoS9l/view

Thanks for reading.

eto

Quote from: leexus on 15:14, 03 February 23If you are interested to the compatibility tests, read the following.
So I've tested the new ULIfAC card with my CPC+ I attached some photos, videos of the results.
Do you have a custom cartridge with NoAcid patch? I recognized that the Usifac II and those kind of cartridges don't properly work together. I wonder if that's the same with the Ulifac.

leexus

Quote from: eto on 17:33, 03 February 23
Quote from: leexus on 15:14, 03 February 23If you are interested to the compatibility tests, read the following.
So I've tested the new ULIfAC card with my CPC+ I attached some photos, videos of the results.
Do you have a custom cartridge with NoAcid patch? I recognized that the Usifac II and those kind of cartridges don't properly work together. I wonder if that's the same with the Ulifac.
I had until now USIfAC II board and the 512kb Ram expansion & 32x Rom board - all the two from John. I used them together before.
But now I used only the new ULIfAC board of John.
If you see the photos, videos it will be unmistakable..

andycadley

CPC+ software that has issues with a memory expansion is probably because most memory expansions aren't properly compatible with the way the ASIC pages into memory address space. Software which accesses the ASIC registers while expansion RAM is in the #4000-#7fff range can result in memory corruption in those cases.

This is because, when the ASIC is paged in, they should ignore writes to RAM but doing that means the hardware needs to be aware of how the ASIC unlock sequence works and the current status of RMR2 (i.e. has RAM been paged out at #4000 to page the ASIC registers in). Very few memory expansions take notice of this, the Gemini RAM expansion does and internal memory expansions to add 64K to a 464+ will (the banked memory in a 6128+ obviously also works correctly).

eto

Quote from: leexus on 18:03, 03 February 23I had until now USIfAC II board and the 512kb Ram expansion & 32x Rom board - all the two from John. I used them together before.
But now I used only the new ULIfAC board of John.
Sorry, I might have been unclear: 

With the Usifac II attached to a Plus, where the Plus has a Custom cartridge (with Eproms and NoAcid-chip) inserted instead of the original one (Basic + Burning Rubber), the Plus will hang during boot or when starting a DSK from the Usifac. 


leexus

Quote from: eto on 18:32, 03 February 23
Quote from: leexus on 18:03, 03 February 23I had until now USIfAC II board and the 512kb Ram expansion & 32x Rom board - all the two from John. I used them together before.
But now I used only the new ULIfAC board of John.
Sorry, I might have been unclear:

With the Usifac II attached to a Plus, where the Plus has a Custom cartridge (with Eproms and NoAcid-chip) inserted instead of the original one (Basic + Burning Rubber), the Plus will hang during boot or when starting a DSK from the Usifac.


I use the original, factory default Burnin Rubber CPC+/GX4000 cartridge.
Just some DSK images are hanging, as I wrote they are working mostly (about 80-90 percentage of them).

ikonsgr

@ leexus, Thanks for the detailed presentation of ULIfAC on PLUS models. I'm glad that in most part, it seems to work ok (even more compatible than USIfAC II). But i'm afraid that all the problems you describe does not exist on Amstrad CPC models (6128,464) and since i don't have a PLUS model i can't investigate further.

@ GUNHED, i want first to make the new user guide for ULIfAC and also some board modifications i have in mind, and then "officially" open a new thread for ULIfAC  ;)

eto

Quote from: WacKEDmaN on 09:54, 09 February 23i really dont get why im the only one having these sorts of issues...
you are not. 

Usifac II works on my 6128 but it's barely usable on a 464 or a 6128 Plus. 

Gryzor

Just to note, this is about hardware issues, all the rest belong to the original thread, correct?

ikonsgr

Quote from: Gryzor on 11:54, 17 February 23Just to note, this is about hardware issues, all the rest belong to the original thread, correct?
Yeap, this is only for hardware related problems, for software it will remain on the main thread  ;)

GUNHED

Out of curiosity: Remembering the awesome USIfAC (the first one!) it had the lower bit from the lower nibble decoded. I still use them and they work very well btw.

Now, my question: Which bits of the USIfAC II are decoded? (It must be more that one inside the 16 bit I/O address). Please let us know.  :) :) :)
http://futureos.de --> Get the revolutionary FutureOS (Update: 2022.03.09)
http://futureos.cpc-live.com/files/LambdaSpeak_RSX_by_TFM.zip --> Get the RSX-ROM for LambdaSpeak :-) (Updated: 2021.12.26)

ikonsgr

Quote from: GUNHED on 17:05, 20 February 23Out of curiosity: Remembering the awesome USIfAC (the first one!) it had the lower bit from the lower nibble decoded. I still use them and they work very well btw.

Now, my question: Which bits of the USIfAC II are decoded? (It must be more that one inside the 16 bit I/O address). Please let us know.  :) :) :)
The address bits i'm using for decoding on USIfAC II are:
A13 for decoding OUT &DF00,X (A13=0 set rom to be used)
A5 & A10 for USIfAC II board (A5=0 & A10=0 expansion peripheral + serial port)
A14 for activate rom read from board's rom emulation (romen=0 & A14=1)
A7 & A10 for FDC emulation (A7=0 & A10=0)

All address decoding information used, are taken from here. (I've checked the code again and found out that i'm actually using the proper bit A7=0 to enable FDC emualtion, so everything is done properly after all :-) )

GUNHED

Thanks, and b3 to b0 are used for selection of internal registers? Right?
http://futureos.de --> Get the revolutionary FutureOS (Update: 2022.03.09)
http://futureos.cpc-live.com/files/LambdaSpeak_RSX_by_TFM.zip --> Get the RSX-ROM for LambdaSpeak :-) (Updated: 2021.12.26)

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