RetroClinic DataCentre remake

discuss both original and modern hardware for the bbc micro/electron
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derek
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RetroClinic DataCentre remake

Post by derek » Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:49 pm

Hi,

I missed out on buying the DataCentre, but since Mark has put the DatCentre design files on Github, I was thinking of getting some PCBs made with the SMD chips already fitted.

I note in the Design files, in the PCB directory, there is 2 sub-directories:

issue2 final
issue 3

There are Eagle files in Issue 3, is this the correct version to use?
Regards,

Derek

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danielj
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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre.

Post by danielj » Sun Sep 13, 2020 5:56 pm

derek wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:49 pm
I missed out on buying the DataCentre, but since Mark has put the DatCentre design files on Github, I was thinking of getting some PCBs made with the SMD chips already fitted.
It looks like 3 was the final one.

Just note, however, the XC9572 which is what it uses as a CPLD is obsolete - you'll have a very hard time getting one. You can get hold of the XC9572XL, which is 5V tolerant on its I/Os -but (there's always a but) it requires a 3.3V supply as opposed to the 5V of the 9572. The circuit isn't designed to feed the CPLD 3.3V (just the Vinculum IC). As such, I think it's a bit more work than just getting the boards produced to make new ones. It would need some level of redesign which, given the ubiquity of cheap goteks, probably isn't worth it.

The lack of availability of the 9572 was, afaik, one of the reasons Retroclinic stopped making them.

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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre.

Post by derek » Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:46 am

danielj wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 5:56 pm
derek wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:49 pm
I missed out on buying the DataCentre, but since Mark has put the DatCentre design files on Github, I was thinking of getting some PCBs made with the SMD chips already fitted.
It looks like 3 was the final one.

Just note, however, the XC9572 which is what it uses as a CPLD is obsolete - you'll have a very hard time getting one. You can get hold of the XC9572XL, which is 5V tolerant on its I/Os -but (there's always a but) it requires a 3.3V supply as opposed to the 5V of the 9572. The circuit isn't designed to feed the CPLD 3.3V (just the Vinculum IC). As such, I think it's a bit more work than just getting the boards produced to make new ones. It would need some level of redesign which, given the ubiquity of cheap goteks, probably isn't worth it.

The lack of availability of the 9572 was, afaik, one of the reasons Retroclinic stopped making them.
Hi Daniel,

Sorry for the delay in replying, I nearly missed this, as I hardly read the Wanted section.

I mainly read all the older Hardware and programming pages, there is some really interesting topics there, and all the answers to any problems I have.

I had search for the XC9572, which as you say is obselete, though UTSOURCE can supply used chips, which maybe a risk, as some used chips are either faulty or counterfeit.

I am not sure I can convert the Datacentre PCB to use the XC9572XL, but I can convert the Eagle files to KiCad and see if this can be done.

I have Gotek drives, on BBCs and Electrons, which work very nicely, I just do not like to see good hardware fade away.
Regards,

Derek

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Stwert
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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre.

Post by Stwert » Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:40 am

derek wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:46 am
danielj wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 5:56 pm
derek wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:49 pm
I missed out on buying the DataCentre, but since Mark has put the DatCentre design files on Github, I was thinking of getting some PCBs made with the SMD chips already fitted.
It looks like 3 was the final one.

Just note, however, the XC9572 which is what it uses as a CPLD is obsolete - you'll have a very hard time getting one. You can get hold of the XC9572XL, which is 5V tolerant on its I/Os -but (there's always a but) it requires a 3.3V supply as opposed to the 5V of the 9572. The circuit isn't designed to feed the CPLD 3.3V (just the Vinculum IC). As such, I think it's a bit more work than just getting the boards produced to make new ones. It would need some level of redesign which, given the ubiquity of cheap goteks, probably isn't worth it.

The lack of availability of the 9572 was, afaik, one of the reasons Retroclinic stopped making them.
Hi Daniel,

Sorry for the delay in replying, I nearly missed this, as I hardly read the Wanted section.

I mainly read all the older Hardware and programming pages, there is some really interesting topics there, and all the answers to any problems I have.

I had search for the XC9572, which as you say is obselete, though UTSOURCE can supply used chips, which maybe a risk, as some used chips are either faulty or counterfeit.

I am not sure I can convert the Datacentre PCB to use the XC9572XL, but I can convert the Eagle files to KiCad and see if this can be done.

I have Gotek drives, on BBCs and Electrons, which work very nicely, I just do not like to see good hardware fade away.

It would be nice if it could be dragged back to life. Sure, most of us will use Goteks, and many of the other excellent options available for our BEEBs, myself included. But I just think the DataCentre has some nice hardware advantages, which are worth preserving...... Or maybe it’s just my gadget obsession, I’m autistic, I can’t help it :lol:
I'll be highly medicated and my humour can be twisted, so when I offend you, its not intentional, honest :lol:

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danielj
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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre.

Post by danielj » Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:47 am

derek wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:46 am
I had search for the XC9572, which as you say is obselete, though UTSOURCE can supply used chips, which maybe a risk, as some used chips are either faulty or counterfeit.
That's the risk - and when you're adding in all the other components and doing low volumes you end up risking a fair amount of capital. I would be reluctant to be charging a fair whack for something that wasn't using new parts (and I suspect they'll come in quite pricey at low volumes given everything that needs to be sourced). I'm going to split this off into the hardware in a mo :)

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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre remake

Post by VectorEyes » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:19 pm

The DataCentre does have several advantages over Goteks. Off the top of my head: Fast import and export from/to SSD files on a USB stick, a non-volatile RAM drive, and you can even connect a hard drive to it. If you have Beeblink (or various other similar systems) and some Goteks, you can do pretty much all of that as well, but personally I think it would be a shame if DataCentres faded away completely.

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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre.

Post by Ramtop » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:33 pm

derek wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:46 am
I had search for the XC9572, which as you say is obselete, though UTSOURCE can supply used chips, which maybe a risk, as some used chips are either faulty or counterfeit.
Very risky to go that route I think. Most of those chips are likely salvage parts removed from scrapped PCBs using hot air, and in my experience the XC9500 CPLDs are quite fragile and don't like that sort of treatment.
Gary

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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre remake

Post by JasonStonier » Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:42 pm

I have a super cheap supplier of PCBs if that's of interest. I was thinking of emailing Mark to see if he'd open-source the DataCentre so it's great to find he already has. I'll probably order a board for myself, so I can easily order 10 boards - will be about the same price as 1 board :D

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JasonStonier
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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre.

Post by JasonStonier » Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:44 pm

Stwert wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:40 am
I’m autistic, I can’t help it :lol:
Safety in numbers, mate. 8)

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JasonStonier
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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre.

Post by JasonStonier » Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:47 pm

The circuit isn't designed to feed the CPLD 3.3V (just the Vinculum IC). As such, I think it's a bit more work than just getting the boards produced to make new ones. It would need some level of redesign which, given the ubiquity of cheap goteks, probably isn't worth it.
That's an easy problem to solve I imagine. I'll pull the gerbers down and see if I can't do a really quick hack to the board to make this work.

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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre remake

Post by danielj » Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:22 pm

VectorEyes wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:19 pm
The DataCentre does have several advantages over Goteks. Off the top of my head: Fast import and export from/to SSD files on a USB stick, a non-volatile RAM drive, and you can even connect a hard drive to it. If you have Beeblink (or various other similar systems) and some Goteks, you can do pretty much all of that as well, but personally I think it would be a shame if DataCentres faded away completely.
I'd say this is arguably a software issue - FlashFloppy can clone a blank image to make a new one and you can just *BACKUP to it (c.f. https://github.com/keirf/FlashFloppy/issues/71) - horses for courses though! If really motivated you could write a utility ROM that had commands to do both sides of the disk at the same time (although I'm fairly sure something like that is in ADT?). The NVRAM was certainly handy at times though.

OTOH (and this is my opinion), being able to navigate a well designed directory structure directly from the OLED with a rotary encoder on a gotek makes it rather quicker to find and use a desired disk image than having to type my way through a directory structure. Being able to use it with ADFS/DFS formats is also very handy with the 80186 copro. Horses for courses though!

I think the unfortunate thing is that some of the potential facilities provided by the VNC2 were never taken advantage of with regard to adding other USB peripherals - but given that no one's really played with that to a great extend thus-far leads me to think that anything utilising it in the longer term probably isn't going to happen.

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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre remake

Post by Stwert » Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:47 pm

danielj wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:22 pm
VectorEyes wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:19 pm
The DataCentre does have several advantages over Goteks. Off the top of my head: Fast import and export from/to SSD files on a USB stick, a non-volatile RAM drive, and you can even connect a hard drive to it. If you have Beeblink (or various other similar systems) and some Goteks, you can do pretty much all of that as well, but personally I think it would be a shame if DataCentres faded away completely.
I'd say this is arguably a software issue - FlashFloppy can clone a blank image to make a new one and you can just *BACKUP to it (c.f. https://github.com/keirf/FlashFloppy/issues/71) - horses for courses though! If really motivated you could write a utility ROM that had commands to do both sides of the disk at the same time (although I'm fairly sure something like that is in ADT?). The NVRAM was certainly handy at times though.

OTOH (and this is my opinion), being able to navigate a well designed directory structure directly from the OLED with a rotary encoder on a gotek makes it rather quicker to find and use a desired disk image than having to type my way through a directory structure. Being able to use it with ADFS/DFS formats is also very handy with the 80186 copro. Horses for courses though!

I think the unfortunate thing is that some of the potential facilities provided by the VNC2 were never taken advantage of with regard to adding other USB peripherals - but given that no one's really played with that to a great extend thus-far leads me to think that anything utilising it in the longer term probably isn't going to happen.

I do love my large (by Gotek standards) OLED and HUGE rotary encoder on my Gotek and it is, as you say, quick and easy to get where you want - especially since the fast scroll was added.

But I started out pre-GUI with computers, typing in directory structures is second nature to me, I can navigate around the "hard drive" (Pi) easily as quickly as I can turn the encoder, click it to change directories, scroll again to the next directory, click into that directory and then scroll to the file I want. But as you say, HFC, I use both methods and I'm happily at home with either.

My, still unfinished Gotek....... Just because :lol:

IMG_1279.jpeg
I'll be highly medicated and my humour can be twisted, so when I offend you, its not intentional, honest :lol:

derek
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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre remake

Post by derek » Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:51 pm

Hi,

I was going get the PCB company to make the PCBs and solder the SMD chips, leaving me to solder the THT components.

Part the the PCB assemble would be to guarantee the functionality of the SMD components they are fitting.

So if they use second hand components that they have removed from other boards with hot air and the chips fail, then they are under an obligation to fit new chips or refund the money.

This would agreed before payment of the job.

I assumed I can use a Gotek and DataCenter on the same machine?
Regards,

Derek

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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre.

Post by daveejhitchins » Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:57 pm

danielj wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 5:56 pm
The lack of availability of the 9572 was, afaik, one of the reasons Retroclinic stopped making them.
And the fact that Mark sold me some for the AP5 :oops:

But, I have squirreled away enough for a final 100 AP5's :D Not from Mark, though - he wouldn't sell me any more :lol: :mrgreen:

Dave H.

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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre remake

Post by flaxcottage » Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:26 pm

derek wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:51 pm
I assumed I can use a Gotek and DataCenter on the same machine?
No problems on my Masters or Beebs.
- John

Check out the Educational Software Archive at www.flaxcottage.com

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Re: RetroClinic DataCentre remake

Post by mph1708 » Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:44 pm

I was quite interested to see someone elses take on the Gotek hardware.

Currently I am using a Dual Gotek / BeebSCSI unit.
The case is fashioned from a 19 inch 1U high rackmount switch.

But previously I used a hybrid Gotek / Datacentre / BeebSCSI unit.
A Cumana disc drive case and PSU.


Mike
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