Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

discuss both original and modern hardware for the bbc micro/electron
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myelin
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin »

Elminster wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:14 am
You should fly to a UK Acorn event, you would probably be mob by adoring fans.
Hehe... thanks for the vote of confidence :) The experience left me feeling a little burnt out on the UEU project, but I need to remember that I'm doing this is to make an amazing upgrade for the first computer I had as a kid, not to impress anyone at a show.

That said, I think for next year's VCF West I'm just going to get the Elite manual and function key strip and spend a bunch of time playing it, because every second person at the exhibit wanted to try it, and none of us knew it well at all!
SW/EE from New Zealand, now in Mountain View, CA, making BBC/Electron hardware projects for fun.
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by jimmoores »

Just read your post about no one showing interest in your device. I've been following this thread for quite a while and I just want you to know that there are people out there who are massively impressed with your project. It really is an amazing piece of work, not just for what it already does, but for what it could evolve into. There's just something so special about an upgrade that fits into an original machine and is able to work around so many restrictions that the original machine had, while keeping it's flavour. I wondered myself about an upgraded ULA but dismissed it as a pie-in-the-sky project, but you proved that wrong.

If you do manage to get back to it, I'd personally commit to buying a board or two at a premium if you ever get around to making them. Of course you need a break and to focus on other projects for a while and that's totally understandable. I'm writing this more to let you know we're all blown away by what you've already done and look forward to any updates if you're able to see your way back to it at some point.
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rmbrowngr
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by rmbrowngr »

Just to add my support as well, I’m massively interested. I’ll buy a another Electron just to fit it into.
Richard B
Acorn Electrons issue 4 and 6, MRB, Plus 1, AP6, AP5, Pegasus 400, BeebSCSI, Gotek, Raspberry Pi, GoSDC MBE.
BBC B+ 64K (128K upgraded) with Duel OS, Raspberry Pi and Gotek.
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maniacminer
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by maniacminer »

I am very interested in an Electron ULA replacement. I have three Electrons here that each have a (possibly) duff ULA and there are no replacements. I would like to get at least one working and keep the others as spare parts. I certainly appreciate the huge amount of effort and really hope you can do this [-o<
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Vyper68
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Vyper68 »

I would just like to say that I am also extremely interested in this project, my Elk is sat waiting for this :D
Save time… see it my way.
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-B-
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by -B- »

I'm also interested, I have a bog standard Elk waiting.

Neil
Atom | BBC Model A | BBC Model B | Electron | Olivetti PC128S.
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins »

Hmmmm . . . . It would ne nice to have 'a' version to show at the next ABUG, the end of November :roll: =D>

Dave H :D
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Elminster
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Elminster »

Did we ever get an idea of cost if manufactured?
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myelin
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin »

Thank you for all the kind words! I've been on vacation and haven't had the time to respond, but it's all very much appreciated :) Next time I have a few spare hours, I'm going to make another board or two, and one of those can go to Dave. No promises as to timeline unfortunately; every time I pretend to know when I'll get something done, it always seems to get pushed out!
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anightin
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by anightin »

I'd like to add my name to the board line-up as I've also been following this thread with interest.

I have an Issue 4 board Elk that would definitely be a candidate for upgrading :)

Many thanks for the hour's you've put into this project =D>
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by mr-macrisc »

And me for a couple of boards. Tbh I may be a 2nd elk when this comes out so can have one turbo 64k and the other Ultra-ULA.

Think you underestimate how many people may want this especially with possibilities of mode 7 and beeb modes etc.

Once it’s in wild other users may add and develop things for it, speech, nula, other Possabilities as yet not thought of.

Amazing work so far :)
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by rharper »

Me too, can't resist.
Ray :)
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Hawk3y3100 »

This project is amazing!!, please add 2 boards for me when you get the chance to make them! :D [-o<
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Ramtop »

Applying to join the queue :)
Gary
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Elminster
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Elminster »

I registered my interest in July 2018 :)

Not sure that it made Myelin go faster or slower :evil:
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myelin
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin »

Having a kid made me go slower; that's about it really :)

Right now I have a couple of hours of "project time" a week, and everything I want to do has to fit in there... this week I tried to build another UEU board, but my solder paste had gone bad, so I've ordered some more and will see what I can do next week. I wish I had more time and energy for this, but it's a struggle to fit in even this much, I'm afraid!

All the notes of interest are very much appreciated :) I won't be making very many boards myself as these things are exhausting to build by hand, but I'm sure Dave Hitchins will be able to arrange for someone else to assemble them so everyone can get one!
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins »

I certainly will be. But first we need to let Myelin have the time to finalise the hardware and feel OK with passing it on to the masses!

Once done I/we can get the BoM together and start looking for build partners. We’ll then have a better idea of the cost and what will be needed for installing and testing.

Patience is needed!! This is a remarkable product and will change the Electron forever =D> But, of course, not everyone will either want to change their Electron or may find the cost too much! So we’ll have to work hard to accommodate as many people as possible.

Dave H :D
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Elminster
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Elminster »

myelin wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 11:37 pm
Having a kid made me go slower; that's about it really :)
That will be all you free time gone for next 18 years then. :)
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins »

Elminster wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:05 pm
That will be all you free time gone for next 18 years then. :)
:lol: :lol: :lol:
I spent yesterday in Manchester fixing my daughters office kitchen mains wiring . . .

The support Never stops :shock:

Dave H :D
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by stuslayer »

Just like to register my interest too :D I have a working Elk and one that needs some TLC so this would be a great fit for that it would be nice to have an original and the 'V8' version running at the same time!!
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by walkerworks »

I've just finished reading this thread, quite a page turner. When the time comes for it's release I be joining the queue. It is and has been quite a commitment for those working on this..

Derek :D
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myelin
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin »

And then there were two!

It took me a solid hour just to get the solder paste on and place all the components, but it looks like everything's working so far (microcontroller, USB, oscillator, FPGA, flash), so it's time to solder on the through hole components and test it in an Elk. This board has the updated buffer (74LVC16245 instead of 74LVTH162245) without bus hold, so hopefully it shouldn't require any modifications to the keyboard. If it all works out, this will be on its way over to Dave H shortly :)

274D429F-908E-4924-A001-F3A5F252C0E1.jpeg
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins »

Maybe in time for ABUG at the end of the month [-o<

BUT . . . Only if time permits - Family first!!

Question: How’s the change over, between the various modes, handled? Do they actually make a 200 way switch :lol:

Dave H :D
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Budgie »

Awesome work and skill !! Well done
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myelin
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin »

Looking good so far!

Here’s Dave’s board working with no extra keyboard buffers — changing out the 74LVTH162245 for a 74LVC16245 fixed that.

9B12740D-A7E0-46CB-89FD-FDE577328DEA.jpeg
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Ramtop »

It's quite spooky seeing an Elk with the CPU socket empty :shock:
Gary
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by davidb »

myelin wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 9:06 pm
Here’s Dave’s board working with no extra keyboard buffers — changing out the 74LVTH162245 for a 74LVC16245 fixed that.
Looks good! It's like the hardware upgrade we've always dreamed of. :)
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myelin
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin »

daveejhitchins wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 6:52 am
Maybe in time for ABUG at the end of the month [-o<

BUT . . . Only if time permits - Family first!!

Question: How’s the change over, between the various modes, handled? Do they actually make a 200 way switch :lol:
Right now it's a bit of a mess; most of it is hardcoded in the VHDL, so to do something like switch between the internal CPU and an external one, you need to rebuild the FPGA bitstream and reprogram it. I've used existing registers for all the things that I've emulated, so the MGC code just works as-is, as does MMFS (which has an emulated EUP with 6522, I believe). Something I have in the works is a flexible way of configuring the sideways banks, so you can map any of the 16 banks to any 16k chunk in the SDRAM or flash, with or without write protection, or you can leave it unmapped so it's available for external peripherals (Plus 1 cartridges, Plus 3 ROM, etc). That won't be ready for ABUG though.

SO... I have a board here that appears to be working. I can send it to you this week if you like, configured with as much useful stuff as possible (EMMFS, internal MGC, Mode 7, BeebLink), although you'll almost certainly want some way to reprogram it. What operating system are you using? I'm using Windows for FPGA and MCU development, macOS as my everyday laptop, and I have a Linux box. I should be able to get you up and running to flash in new FPGA bitstreams, MCU firmware, and data flash contents, on any of those three... let me know which one and I'll get to writing up a user / developer guide!

BTW do you already have any hardware to program ARM chips -- any kind of SWD programmer like a J-Link or the like? I believe that 3.3V Arduino boards will also do; there's firmware you can flash into them to use them as SWD programmers.

I assume you don't have an Altera USB Blaster or other download cable for Altera/Intel FPGAs?
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by cmorley »

myelin wrote:
Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:44 am
I assume you don't have an Altera USB Blaster or other download cable for Altera/Intel FPGAs?
The clone Altera USB blasters work well and cost £2.50 (or £3.70 shipped from the UK). IIRC they are supported by urjtag and/or openocd if the user doesn't want to use the vendor tools. Not worth using a blue pill/Pi, programming it with dirtyjtag and faffing with pin headers at that price... IMO
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myelin
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin »

cmorley wrote:
Sun Nov 03, 2019 6:57 am
The clone Altera USB blasters work well and cost £2.50 (or £3.70 shipped from the UK). IIRC they are supported by urjtag and/or openocd if the user doesn't want to use the vendor tools. Not worth using a blue pill/Pi, programming it with dirtyjtag and faffing with pin headers at that price... IMO
Agreed... I had trouble using the vendor tools with the really cheap ones, but Quartus has been working fine for me with a “rev C” clone (FT245+CPLD). I think the ideal for someone who just wants to program in bitstreams they’ve downloaded is to use the £2.50 mini programmer and openocd, though.

Do you know of any super cheap SWD programmers? That’s the one I was thinking of using a 3.3V Arduino Pro Micro for — at least for Dave to be able to install updates. Over here I’m using a J-Link.
SW/EE from New Zealand, now in Mountain View, CA, making BBC/Electron hardware projects for fun.
Most interesting: Arcflash, FX2+PiTubeDirect Tube/Cartridge adapter, USB cart interface.
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