QL upgrade versus Q68

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Peter
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QL upgrade versus Q68

Postby Peter » Tue Nov 29, 2016 9:59 am

Separate subject for a topic that came up in "Announcement - new QL Interface" and was leading away from the very nice board that was announced there, more toward some "super" QL upgrade

thorsinclair wrote:Could it be an expansion card with a FPGA with a more horsepower CPU core, more expansion RAM up to 2 or 4 MB, Quimi was also named, connectors for modern monitors, slightly better graphics in terms of resolution and colors, SD card interface and/or Qubide. What do you think?


All that, and battery backed realtime clock, more ROM were also named recently. Sometimes people asked for ethernet, keyboard interface, sound and decent speed serial also.

The Q68 contains about all the above, just more RAM, and it's physical size is exactly the QL expansion area. ;) For a long time I considered making the Q68 an expansion card.

But once I have an expansion card covering all that, I have a completely new computer. The question is: Which parts of the QL would still be in use then? For me, the original case and keyboard would be the only things left.

In the end I decided to make the Q68 a standalone system instead of expansion card, mainly for two reasons:

1) The board side occupied by the QL expansion connector became free for other connectors. This way, there was room for two normal SDHC card connectors, some LEDs, and sound output. Personally I do not like handling the extremey small microSD cards, especially when using the cards for data exchange.

2) The Q68 is small and has very low power consumption. As a standalone system, that makes it easily portable, simply using a 5V rechargeable battery pack.

I'd find it interesting to know how many prefer the Q68 as "standalone" and how many as "QL expansion" :)

There might even be a compromise: Putting the standalone Q68 inside a QL and connecting it internally by I²C or via the SPI (e.g. by the ROM socket board from QL-SD which already has an extra SPI). That's fast enough to transfer keyboard data.

thorsinclair wrote:Especially when it comes to a FPGA CPU core I guess you've made some reasonable experiences with the Q68. There is a lot of talks around in the net about CPU cores but I think the implementation is much more difficult.


CPU cores were difficult to debug for QL code usage, but Richard and me did that already. Hopefully to a point where no serious misbehaviour of the CPU is left. Ironically, a different FPGA board already used the results before the Q68 could be made available. Nevertheless it looks like the Q68 still has major points. So time and health allowing, I try to find a way to make the Q68 available for others. This year I received great support from Wolfgang Lenerz, the maintainer of SMSQ/E. I'd like to finish something, before I report more details.

Peter


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vanpeebles
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Re: QL upgrade versus Q68

Postby vanpeebles » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:19 am

Peter wrote:I try to find a way to make the Q68 available for others. This year I received great support from Wolfgang Lenerz, the maintainer of SMSQ/E. I'd like to finish something, before I report more details.

Peter


Excellent news :) I look forward to further updates!


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Re: QL upgrade versus Q68

Postby thorsinclair » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:38 am

Thank you Peter for putting this into a new topic!

I think you are right by saying that "extrem expansion" of a standard QL just does not make much sense as most of the parts of the original QL would not be in use anymore. This means that a viable rout would be to separate the development into a new board (stand alone) and the good news is that you have done this already!

I'm keen to find out more about your C68 board and do keep my fingers crossed!


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Peter
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Re: QL upgrade versus Q68

Postby Peter » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:42 am

Please remember the first part of my sentence, which was "time and health allowing" ;)

What is your opinion about "standalone" versus "QL expansion"?


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Re: QL upgrade versus Q68

Postby RWAP » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:45 am

Hi Peter,

I have always liked the Q68 project and would love to see it finally come to market - I think a stand-alone computer would be OK, but it would be nice if it could be fitted into a QL case just for the look :)

The other option would of course to be to run a kickstarter project to get a design something similar to the last QL concept done by Rick Dickinson - but I am not sure that there would be sufficient people willing to back this to pay for the tooling of a new case.


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vanpeebles
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Re: QL upgrade versus Q68

Postby vanpeebles » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:49 am

Peter wrote:Please remember the first part of my sentence, which was "time and health allowing" ;)

What is your opinion about "standalone" versus "QL expansion"?


Hehehe. I would be happy with either I think. What would be the easiest route in terms of design/production?


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Peter
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Re: QL upgrade versus Q68

Postby Peter » Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:03 am

vanpeebles wrote:
Peter wrote:What is your opinion about "standalone" versus "QL expansion"?


Hehehe. I would be happy with either I think. What would be the easiest route in terms of design/production?


The current design is standalone, so that is easier. Still I'm curious what people prefer.


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Re: QL upgrade versus Q68

Postby Derek_Stewart » Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:13 am

Hi Peter,

I would vote for a stand alone machine, a cases are easy to make, either composite or 3D printed.

Some Raspberry PI boards are enclosed by Lego, which works well.


Regards,

Derek
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Peter
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Re: QL upgrade versus Q68

Postby Peter » Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:18 am

RWAP wrote:I have always liked the Q68 project and would love to see it finally come to market - I think a stand-alone computer would be OK, but it would be nice if it could be fitted into a QL case just for the look :)


Even the standalone board fits in size, but a separate connection like I²C is required to get the keyboard data from the QL. Fixing the board mechanically, and connecting to QL power would require tinkering at the moment.

RWAP wrote:The other option would of course to be to run a kickstarter project to get a design something similar to the last QL concept done by Rick Dickinson - but I am not sure that there would be sufficient people willing to back this to pay for the tooling of a new case.


Is there someone who has the time to deal with it, provided people are willing to pay enough?


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Peter
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Re: QL upgrade versus Q68

Postby Peter » Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:21 am

Derek_Stewart wrote:I would vote for a stand alone machine, a cases are easy to make, either composite or 3D printed.


The Q68 directly fits a nice black case which even looks QL-style. Just the cutoffs from the front-/back-panel need to be defined.

However, some may want it within the original QL case.



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