Beyond Super Gold Card

A place to discuss general QL issues.
stephen_usher
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby stephen_usher » Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:30 pm

Peter wrote:By the way, I'm all but sure that HDMI is a good idea! I have a number of monitors with only VGA input. And all my HDMI ones also have VGA! Many brandnew ones still have VGA, very easy to get. Definitely no problem yet, if one takes a little care. For myself, HDMI would be a clear disadvantage! Even more so, as I prefer the 4:3 screen dimensions of the QL and Q60 times, not widescreen.

It's so easy to cry that an interface is "obsolete" expecting supply shortages which are not yet here. But the actual situation is that retro users usually have monitors, and creating a need to dump them might not always be clever. An adator from VGA to HDMI is a matter of a few Euro, a new monitor costs much more.


Indeed, currently HDMI would be nice to have but it's not necessary. VGA (as long as it keeps to standard resolutions and refresh rates) is GoodEnough(tm) at the moment. There are cheap VGA to HDMI converters on the market which do a reasonable job. If you want to go digital use DVI as that's a sub-set of HDMI and probably doesn't have the licensing issues (and you can probably get the connectors more easily). You can just plug a DVI to HDMI adapter in and then plug an HDMI cable into that. No audio with DVI though, not that the QL has that much of a need for it.


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vanpeebles
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby vanpeebles » Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:35 pm

stephen_usher wrote:
vanpeebles wrote:Could you use a pi zero just for hdmi? I think that's how a lot of projects get round the licensing?


Not using the bitmapped graphics the QL uses as there's no shared memory. Unfortunately QDOS doesn't have a display abstraction layer, such as the Atari ST has with GEM, so there's no way of sending commands over the restrictive data bus provided by any GPIO interface and asking the Pi to render it natively.

I don't know how the pointer environment works but I guess that has it's own abstraction layer which may be usable over such an interface but the normal bitmapped graphics is right out of the question. (The closest you could get would be to have a graphics sub-system like the MSX one where you have to tell the TI graphics chip what bytes to write at what graphics location.)


Ah that explains it :)


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Peter
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby Peter » Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:04 pm

stephen_usher wrote:Unfortunately QDOS doesn't have a display abstraction layer, such as the Atari ST has with GEM, so there's no way of sending commands over the restrictive data bus provided by any GPIO interface and asking the Pi to render it natively.

That would be pointless. There are mandatory tasks like bitmap transfer, for which the Raspi Zero simply has no interface with sufficient realtime performance. Keep in mind we talk 65536 colours at 1024x768.

stephen_usher wrote:If you want to go digital use DVI as that's a sub-set of HDMI and probably doesn't have the licensing issues

Yes, I wrote that already. I don't really like the DVI solution, because the connector consumes even more board width than VGA and breaks the compact Q68 case size. (And for a SGC successor DVI would even be worse, because the card has just one usable side for external connectors, not two.) Whereas a HDMI connector, espcially the upright version, frees some space, e.g. for 3.5 mm jack sockets. So DVI would only be a last resort.


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SinclairSociety
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby SinclairSociety » Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:27 pm

And I am one of these new guys and for sure plan on buying a Gold type card.

QLs are selling like hot cakes on eBay so betting a new legion of QLers would like to expand their BBQLs.

TJ

dilwyn wrote:Watching this discussion with interest, even though I'm not (yet!) a Q68 user (been so busy this year I've barely had time to touch a QL). Thanks goodness for QPC2!

I'm definitely of the opinion that some form of super-duper-gold-card is needed to keep the good old bbql going. While Vitaly (Tetroid) is able to produce Super Gold Card clones, that's fine. But we are seeing a steady trickle of new or returning QL users appearing on here and the QL-related groups on Facebook, so there would be a ready market for one - Peter may well find that the demand exceeds his expectations like the Q68 did if he decides he has the time and energy to design one. Definitely room for both stand-alone Q68-style systems, plus a plug-in derivative to keep the bbql going.

So, please keep the discussion going and help Peter decide which way his thoughts should go.


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stephen_usher
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby stephen_usher » Thu Nov 14, 2019 6:37 pm

Peter wrote:
stephen_usher wrote:Unfortunately QDOS doesn't have a display abstraction layer, such as the Atari ST has with GEM, so there's no way of sending commands over the restrictive data bus provided by any GPIO interface and asking the Pi to render it natively.

That would be pointless. There are mandatory tasks like bitmap transfer, for which the Raspi Zero simply has no interface with sufficient realtime performance. Keep in mind we talk 65536 colours at 1024x768.


Indeed, for bitmap transfer it would be incredibly slow, unless it's pre-uploaded and then rendered into the display as a blit operation. This is the issue that MSX games have, but at a very low resolution.

If you just need text or graphic primitives drawn then there is no issue at all.

Of course, this is not at all how the QL-style display works.


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Peter
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby Peter » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:06 pm

dilwyn wrote:I'm definitely of the opinion that some form of super-duper-gold-card is needed to keep the good old bbql going. While Vitaly (Tetroid) is able to produce Super Gold Card clones, that's fine.

Hi Dilwyn,

thanks, and your reply shows some of the dilemma. If my decisions were sales-driven, I would surely go for a card that plugs into a QL, cut price to less than 100 pounds and flood the retro market. But as you know, I work absolutely for free, and have a different motivation. The last thing I want is to take away from Vitaly's sales. I would be very glad if a Super Gold Card successor could be done without me, ideally from Vitaly himself, or Dave & Nasta. Because the time I need for it, is taken away from fundametal technical progress like Q68 cache, TCP/IP, ethernet, HDMI, new FPGA generation, etc.

The biggest needs I see for the BBQL are graphics with at least VGA, and PE compatible mouse with at least PS/2. If these two were solved without me, I would probably not bother. Unfortunately, the (Super)GoldCard remakes lack both, so new users have to deal with clumsy video converter setups, and sourcing QIMIs + serial mice.

Peter


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Andrew
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby Andrew » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:16 pm

Peter wrote:
The biggest needs I see for the BBQL are graphics with at least VGA, and PE compatible mouse with at least PS/2. If these two were solved without me, I would probably not bother.

Peter


I would also add some kind of storage - QUBIDE or QL-SD integrated in the the (S)GC. That would be my dream card.


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Peter
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby Peter » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:38 pm

Andrew wrote:
Peter wrote:
The biggest needs I see for the BBQL are graphics with at least VGA, and PE compatible mouse with at least PS/2. If these two were solved without me, I would probably not bother.

Peter


I would also add some kind of storage - QUBIDE or QL-SD integrated in the the (S)GC. That would be my dream card.

If I design a card, that will surely be included.

It's just a little less important, because a modern SD card interface (QL-SD) exists, and onboard storage would just be faster. Comfortable solutions for graphics & mouse don't even exist.


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Andrew
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby Andrew » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:05 pm

Peter wrote:It's just a little less important, because a modern SD card interface (QL-SD) exists, and onboard storage would just be faster. Comfortable solutions for graphics & mouse don't even exist.

QL-SD exists, but if I remember correctly, Marcel said that he will not be producing another lot :(


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Peter
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby Peter » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:38 pm

Andrew wrote:QL-SD exists, but if I remember correctly, Marcel said that he will not be producing another lot :(

Since I placed my QL-SD design under GPL, it is completely free & open. The sources are published anyway, and I'd also give ready Gerbers, JEDEC file, EPROM binary etc. to anyone capable & willing to build it. Tetroid, if you read this, it would be very nice to hear your comments. I think Dave also was interested, but had concerns to "compete" with Marcel. Maybe time to come back.



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