Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

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

Post by daveejhitchins » Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:06 pm

mr-macrisc wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:01 pm
Gonna have to find a spare elk soon I think.

Don’t wanna take the 64k/turbo one back to standard for ULA so defo need another one. Plus I have a spare plus 1 as well.

If buying an elk specifically with view for it being for the UltraULA is there any issue that is preferable? Or any issue circuitboard I should try and avoid?
They should all be OK . . . as they'll get a sort of make over :mrgreen:

Dave H :D

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by mr-macrisc » Wed Dec 11, 2019 4:54 am

daveejhitchins wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:06 pm
mr-macrisc wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:01 pm
Gonna have to find a spare elk soon I think.

Don’t wanna take the 64k/turbo one back to standard for ULA so defo need another one. Plus I have a spare plus 1 as well.

If buying an elk specifically with view for it being for the UltraULA is there any issue that is preferable? Or any issue circuitboard I should try and avoid?
They should all be OK . . . as they'll get a sort of make over :mrgreen:

Dave H :D
Ok,

any issue I particularly want or don’t want for other reasons?

Cheers

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:39 am

mr-macrisc wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 4:54 am
any issue I particularly want or don’t want for other reasons?
Issue 6 (Issue 1 German), 4 or 2 - in that order. But not many advertisers let you know the issue number!

Dave H :D

p.s. If you have problems finding one contact me . . .

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by mr-macrisc » Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:31 pm

Any way to guess from approx serial number?

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Thu Dec 12, 2019 7:55 am

mr-macrisc wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:31 pm
Any way to guess from approx serial number?
Sorry . . . Absolutely no idea! - I've never really paid attention to serial numbers apart from removing the serial number label prior to popping the cases into the dishwasher - they tend to suffer in there :?

Maybe some else knows if there's a correlation?

Dave H :D

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by 1024MAK » Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:45 pm

Short answer in relation to Elk serial numbers / PCB issue - we don’t know...

Long answer:

Members do list the serial numbers in this thread, but not many say which board version they have.
Maybe you can spot a pattern in the reported serial numbers.

With BBC B machines, with the longer serial numbers, part of the serial number reflects the model and configuration as sold (disk interface, econet etc.). Part is related to the manufacturing plant or manufacturer that built the machine. The remaining section is presumably a simple incremental number. But it may or may not start off at 1 for each manufacturing plant or manufacturer. If it does not start at 1, we don’t know what number it started with.

With Elks I don’t know if there were multiple manufacturing plants or manufacturers in the U.K. Some were made in the U.K. and some were made in Malaysia. Obviously there was only one U.K. model.

It is possible to tell the issue 6 from the earlier issue boards without opening the case, but only if you have a RGB lead and can compare the video output between them. The issue 6 had more intense colours via the RGB output because a 74xxx series chip buffers the RGB video signals.

Mark

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:48 pm

Just remembered . . . The issue 2 boards use M3 machine screws to hold the case together - later models use self tapping screws.

Also a number of Electrons were made in Hong Kong!

Dave H :D
Last edited by daveejhitchins on Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin » Thu Dec 12, 2019 8:12 pm

The UEU outputs 5V video signals, so there's no need for a later Electron with the buffers. In fact you might even be better off with an earlier issue without the buffers, just in case some future version of the UEU moves some pins around for analog output. There's a couple of unused connections to the SD card (DAT1 and DAT2, which are only used with SDIO, not SPI) and it looks like HSYNC isn't driven, so we could possibly do 2-bit colour (64 colours) without the buffer in the way.

That said, I feel that I'd be more likely to add a header to bring digital signals out to a separate board with VGA output... but analog output direct from the UEU would technically be possible for Electrons without the buffer chips.
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by mr-macrisc » Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:21 pm

So issue 4 or 2 then :) great....

Will see what I can see cheapish :)

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by davidb » Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:37 pm

You could always try haggling with CJE Micro's: Acorn Electron (S/H) Not working and incomplete. ;)

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by mr-macrisc » Sat Dec 14, 2019 7:05 am

They have their uses in market, but no thanks :mrgreen:

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Budgie » Sun Jan 19, 2020 4:11 pm

I am very interested in this project and have been watching along for a good while. I'm looking to play around with this and perhaps try making a board myself. Would it be possible to use a Xilinx XC95144XL CPLD as a level shifter ? It would provide about 40 pins, so would not be enough if I wanted to use the on board RAM but guess if I could find a suitable FPGA with enough block RAM then I should be okay. I'm looking to use an FPGA with a simple single power supply requirement and internal flash to make things easier.

I have removed the ULA and fitted a socket which went reasonably okay. The top side of the board under the ULA had slight corrosion.

ULA Removed - Board to be cleaned.jpg
But cleaned up okay with IPA
ULA Removed - Board cleaned 2.jpg
ULA Removed Board cleaned 2.jpg
Then new socket fitted (from Ebay about £4.50)
Socket Topside.jpg
Socket Underside.jpg
Socket Installed.jpg
ULA Fitted
ULA Fitted into socket 2.jpg
ULA Fitted into Socket.jpg
Board cleaned of flux

Flux on board
Socket installed - Board to be cleaned.jpg
After cleanup

Socket installed - Board cleaned.jpg

Cheers

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin » Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:03 pm

Nice work! I doubt I could get one of those off without damaging the ULA.

If you're up to the task of doing the soldering -- which isn't that hard once you get the hang of reflowing with solder paste and a stencil -- I'd be happy to send you a board. I would recommend against designing a board from scratch unless you're aiming for something very different from what I've done; I thought it wouldn't be *that* hard, and it turned into a major project that took months! Please please please join in on this project instead; it's 100% open source, and you are very welcome to jump in and mess with the hardware, RTL, or firmware however you like :)

Aside: I just got an email from TI today to say that they just obsoleted the 74LVC16245A buffers I used (in EOL state now here: https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/ ... -ND/639587), so it may need quite a bit of hacking if we can't find a suitable tiny 3.3/5V capable buffer to replace it.

Anyway, answering your question... the XC95144XL would probably make a fine level shifter, although expensive and on the large side compared to the aforementioned buffer chips. I used one in the Arcflash project as a level shifter plus MCU interface, and it appears to interface just fine with the ARM2 and MEMC, and I've also used an XC9536XL as a level shifter for an earlier project where I had an FPGA piggybacked on the Electron's CPU.
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Budgie » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:44 pm

I've PMed you about the board and would love to have a go but this would be my first go at reflow work so unlikely to end well but always happy to try.

Thanks for the feedback on the buffer chips and the use of the XC95144XL as one. A shame about the TI part becoming obsolete. Always chasing our tails with parts going end of sale !!

Anything I'm looking to do aside from this project is purely to try and teach myself more about electronics and VHDL. I'm at the pretty basic level at the moment but am very interested in the work which goes on in this forum, its an amazing melting pot of talent !

Cheers

Andy

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Budgie » Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:06 pm

Question for Dave H please

Do you by any change have a full pin layout for the Electron ULA. I know you posted this earlier but some of the pins are missing off the image.

I pretty much have them all but want to be sure all are correct.

Many of the Pins on Myelin's layout are labelled 3.3V but unconnected I think and are actually RAx pins which map to the RAM ?

As a suggestion from Myelin (thanks !) I'm thinking of keeping things easy and just creating a level shifter board for the eepizza board which can plug into the Electron socket. This can hopefully drive the on board ram or block ram in the FPGA. Not sure the case will fit due to height. Will have to check that.

Thanks

Andy

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin » Sat Jan 25, 2020 9:26 pm

Full pin details are in max10_electron_ula.py I believe. Let me know if anything’s missing!
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Budgie » Sat Jan 25, 2020 10:39 pm

Great thanks. All pins found now.
Last edited by Budgie on Sat Jan 25, 2020 10:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Budgie » Sat Jan 25, 2020 10:44 pm

Just spent some time looking at the kicad layout for your board and can’t believe the detail and amount of work that’s gone into it. I’m not surprised it took months of work.

Hats of to you

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Wed Jan 29, 2020 6:30 am

Sorry, just found this - ABUG delay!* Thanks to Phil for stepping in.

* I don't seem to get the time at these brilliant meeting to keep up-to-date with the Forum :shock:

Dave H :D

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Budgie » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:21 pm

No problem Dave. Looks like the meeting went well looking at the photos.

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by aerobaticant » Wed Mar 04, 2020 12:07 am

Hi, any update on the state of the union?
Another very interested party here too.

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin » Wed Mar 04, 2020 12:39 am

Haven't touched it in a while; need to make a v2 board with a few extra resistors, or possibly just build some more v1 boards with the resistors soldered on top, given that the buffers I used have been end-of-lifed (argh) by TI due to one of their suppliers EOLing the BGA substrate they used. It works fine, just a pain to solder, so I've only made two of them; I have one and Hoglet has the other.
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by aerobaticant » Wed Mar 04, 2020 11:38 am

Hi myelin,

Keep us posted! I have quite a bit of VHDL/schematic/layout experience - I've been doing it for a living for about 30 years - albeit not with Altera. Mostly Xilinx and Lattice.

I also have a friend in here in the UK who owns an SMD assembly company, so if there's a demand for UK based manufacture I'm sure I could sort out some mates' rates.

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Wed Mar 04, 2020 5:48 pm

aerobaticant wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 11:38 am
I also have a friend in here in the UK who owns an SMD assembly company, so if there's a demand for UK based manufacture I'm sure I could sort out some mates' rates.
That sounds interesting as China may be on lock-down for a while yet!

Dave H :D

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by mr-macrisc » Mon May 25, 2020 11:26 pm

Well that’s my 2nd Electron back from Dave with ULA socket repaired, ram socketed and a little upgrade to ULA socket so the Ultra ULA (or whatever it’s to be called) should just plug straight in.

Yeah I know it will be a way off yet but at least it’s all ready to go.

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Leew » Tue May 26, 2020 11:08 am

daveejhitchins wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 5:48 pm
aerobaticant wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 11:38 am
I also have a friend in here in the UK who owns an SMD assembly company, so if there's a demand for UK based manufacture I'm sure I could sort out some mates' rates.
That sounds interesting as China may be on lock-down for a while yet!

Dave H :D
Just watched a YouTube video from Tom at WiFi Sheep. https://youtu.be/v5HkSufsJyE Looks like he got some PCBs out of China in April via PCBway.com may be another avenue of investigation (assuming you haven't already look at them).
Lee W
------------
Proud owner of many Electrons, some Beebs, a couple of Archies, some Commodore 64s, Amigas, Atari STs and an Atari Falcon 030
Lemmings are for life, not just the 90's... https://www.lemmingsworld.me

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin » Fri Jun 05, 2020 4:27 am

A quick plug: I'm going to be giving a talk about the UEU from 9-10pm at this Saturday's Virtual ABug #4. Looks like there's still a couple of spaces open if anyone here is interested!
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:57 am

@myelin

Well . . . You waited too long - now you've to add this - just wouldn't be complete without :lol:

Dave H =D>

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin » Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:34 am

daveejhitchins wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:57 am
Well . . . You waited too long - now you've to add this - just wouldn't be complete without :lol:
=D>
Econet!

I spent a while learning about that and building but not programming a USB Econet adapter in what looks like late 2018; this would be awesome to fit in the UEU.

That said, something I've struggled with in this design is what to do about things that require new external connectors. I'd love to include the following:

- Proper VGA output with NuLA support, or maybe HDMI using a Pi Zero
- Econet
- USB and SD media (hot pluggable, unlike the SD socket on the UEU)
- Wifi
- External USB device

... but they probably make sense to do in a separate "Plus" unit that plugs into the back of the machine.
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by mr-macrisc » Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:09 am

Or a plus1 Addon or cartridge :)

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