Getting My QL working - what to do .....

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Starfrog
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Getting My QL working - what to do .....

Postby Starfrog » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:31 am

Hi and thank you for adding me to the group. I have had a QL in my collection for a bit of time and I have finally got round to sorting it out and trying to get it up and working. It comes with a nice real keyboard (i think the Schon keyboard ? Red function keys at side). When I switch on I get a display of the “press F1 / F2” but when I type that on the keyboard I get nothing just the screen. So I opened it up and had a look inside to see if there was any obvious issue. Here are my findings and questions

1. They keyboard interface (small one on Left side looking from front) was wobbly and I suspect the connecton of the interface to the board is actually broken. When I took out the connector from the keyboard and placed it under the actual lose connector and pressed F1 it actually worked but obviously not that well but enough for it to make the connection from the ribbon cable to the actual motherboard. My question is can I get replacement keyboard interface points that i can solder back on to the motherboard ? I’d probably have someone do this for me as Im not that good with soldering and dont want to ruin the QL

2. I noticed that my ROM version has 3 roms in the two rom sockets ! They are AH but on the left side there are two roms stacked on top of each other ? Is that normal ? And should I try to get a more up to date rom chip set (Minerva?) I’d just like to get the best version of the QL as I can.

3. I purchased a Tetriod card that gives me extra ram, an floppy disk interface and a memory card interface, this when placed into the exspansion port seems to work as it comes up on screen as OK. Does that come with ability to update the rom via the expansion ? Not even sure if that is a thing but just asking.

4. What is the best way to get a better picture out of the QL ? I use a QL - Scart lead and while readable Its not brilliant and the main boot up screen there ar lots of white bits on the black backgound bleeding through. A better lead maybe ? Or not Scart ? Looks like it has a lot of noise on the screen. Just not as sharp or clear as it could be I guess.

5. I have the base RAM of 128k and the expanded ram from the tetriod card of 768k, can I upgrade further than that ? Would I need to ? What software would use more than that ?

6. I havent tried the MDV drives yet and when I switch on I hear it look for a drive but after I use the reset button i dont get anything furhter eg it doenst seem to do a seek after the initial switch on of power. If i place a cartridge in the first drive should it automatically boot into any program that is set to start on the drive or do i still need to press F1 or F2 to get it to do something.

7 Finally I have read a few times that some of the roms support dual screen? How is that done physically ? Theres only one monitor out port ?

My very first QL was one I purchased back when they first came out and had a dongle at the back. I had great fun with it and now all these years later I’m keen to get back into it and have some fun. Maybe this is a long shot but can the QL interface to the internet ? Maybe not a full blown browser in its base form ?

Thank you very much for all help :)


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Pr0f
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Re: Getting My QL working - what to do .....

Postby Pr0f » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:18 am

Fristly - warm welcome to the forum :-)

Some answers to your questions....

1) Keyboard connectors - I take it you mean the two ribbon cable sockets on the motherboard ? If so you can get replacements - but soldering skills are required to remove and replace... Look on sell my retro - I think I saw some on there...

2) AH ROM had a good few bugs in it - Minerva is probably a good update for you

3) Tetroid interface can't update the ROMs on board the QL - you must replace the chips to do that.

4) Depends on how the SCART is wired - RGB and sync or RGB and H and V syncs should give a good picture, but if it's noisy it could be either the QL video circuitry, poor earth connection in the Video lead, or the TV/monitor Input.

5) 896K is the maximum in a standard QL - you need to get a Gold card or Super Gold card for more RAM, or possibly one of the newer interfaces that will be announced soon....

6) Still need to press F1/F2 - then it should boot from the cartidge if it'sset to auto boot.

7) Dual screen is a harware feature that lets you use 2 different areas of memory to place the QL screen in, and the video circuit can read from either of them - only the Minerva ROM allowed the user to make use of this facility.


Starfrog
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Re: Getting My QL working - what to do .....

Postby Starfrog » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:57 pm

Thanks for response, I actually found another QL in my loft which looks newer but the ribbon cable to motherboard is done and came apart when I opened it. So I thought I’d transfer the schon keyboard to this one. Problem is this one only gives me a blank screen. I’m assuming newer Roms though as it’s issue 6 and D15 rather than issue 5 D06.

I took some photos and found two rom carts which may or may not be ok.

ImageImageImageImage


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


RWAP
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Re: Getting My QL working - what to do .....

Postby RWAP » Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:15 pm

Starfrog wrote:Thanks for response, I actually found another QL in my loft which looks newer but the ribbon cable to motherboard is done and came apart when I opened it. So I thought I’d transfer the schon keyboard to this one. Problem is this one only gives me a blank screen. I’m assuming newer Roms though as it’s issue 6 and D15 rather than issue 5 D06.


Beware - the Schon keyboards tend to use small PCBs to push into the keyboard connectors on the motherboard (these are known as Molex connectors). The PCB forces the molex connector apart, meaning that a membrane may well never work in the keyboard connector afterwards.

The molex connectors are also very hard to find - I think Dave on here purchased a bulk lot for a project - I have just one 11 way connector left now (free to a good home) and have not been able to find small quantities of replacement 9 and 11 way connectors...

Keyboard membranes are easily obtainable - £15 each plus postage - see sellmyretro.com (my own site).

The black screen on the second QL can indicate various issues - the first thing to do would be to remove the chips which are already in sockets and push them back down (sometimes a carbon build up on the pins is the problem). After that, there are various chips which can cause a black screen - others can advise on this.


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Re: Getting My QL working - what to do .....

Postby RWAP » Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:20 pm

Pr0f wrote:
7) Dual screen is a harware feature that lets you use 2 different areas of memory to place the QL screen in, and the video circuit can read from either of them - only the Minerva ROM allowed the user to make use of this facility.


Actually, machine code programs could make use of the second screen (the normal one is at $20000, the second screen is at $28000) - it had to disable interrupts and enter supervisor mode, but many games used this to help with speed of screen drawing and speed of sprite movement - as you can use a machine code call to switch rapidly between the two screens.

Minerva just brought the interface out to SuperBASIC, so that you could happily write to both screen areas and then use the MODE command to dictate which one is used for drawing and/or display.


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Cristian
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Re: Getting My QL working - what to do .....

Postby Cristian » Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:32 pm

Starfrog wrote:4. What is the best way to get a better picture out of the QL ? I use a QL - Scart lead and while readable Its not brilliant and the main boot up screen there ar lots of white bits on the black backgound bleeding through. A better lead maybe ? Or not Scart ? Looks like it has a lot of noise on the screen. Just not as sharp or clear as it could be I guess.

Is your QL-Scart lead homemade? Usually a good QL-Scart cable provides an (almost) excellent picture quality (if you accept the inevitable lack of some columns at the lateral extremities of the display). Also I found that some modern LCD TVs can't manage the QL-Scart signals very well so you get some garbage on theitr screen. So, if you can, try other displays.
Alternatively, if you want perfection and you can spend some money, you may consider to get a good upscaler


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Cristian
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Re: Getting My QL working - what to do .....

Postby Cristian » Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:51 pm

Starfrog wrote:5. I have the base RAM of 128k and the expanded ram from the tetriod card of 768k, can I upgrade further than that ? Would I need to ? What software would use more than that ?

Technically speaking, what you have is the largest RAM expansion card. You can run almost the totality of the existing "classic" softwares.
The GoldCard not only adds more Ram, but also replaces the CPU so that you can run some of the "recent" softwares


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Re: Getting My QL working - what to do .....

Postby RWAP » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:37 pm

Cristian wrote:
Starfrog wrote:5. I have the base RAM of 128k and the expanded ram from the tetriod card of 768k, can I upgrade further than that ? Would I need to ? What software would use more than that ?

Technically speaking, what you have is the largest RAM expansion card. You can run almost the totality of the existing "classic" softwares.
The GoldCard not only adds more Ram, but also replaces the CPU so that you can run some of the "recent" softwares


From memory - the only classic (ie non-high colour) software which uses more than the 896K available on the QL+Trump Card is ....

QL Genelogist (after I worked on this with Chris Boutal)
From memory I think Q-Route also needs the extra memory if you have the Big Britain Map.


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Dave
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Re: Getting My QL working - what to do .....

Postby Dave » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:41 pm

RWAP wrote:The molex connectors are also very hard to find - I think Dave on here purchased a bulk lot for a project - I have just one 11 way connector left now (free to a good home) and have not been able to find small quantities of replacement 9 and 11 way connectors...


I did try to buy out their entire stock, but they canceled my order and declined to ship internationally.

The Schon keyboard PCBs that go into the molex connectors DO spread them so they are too loose to use a regular membrane afterwards. The trick here is to get the membrane and simply add a couple of layers of tape to the back side of the membrane to increase the thickness. This also makes the membrane a little more durable - except the membranes sold by RWAP which are of newer, better quality materials and virtually indestructible.


RWAP
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Re: Getting My QL working - what to do .....

Postby RWAP » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:02 pm

Dave wrote:
RWAP wrote:The molex connectors are also very hard to find - I think Dave on here purchased a bulk lot for a project - I have just one 11 way connector left now (free to a good home) and have not been able to find small quantities of replacement 9 and 11 way connectors...


I did try to buy out their entire stock, but they canceled my order and declined to ship internationally.


PM me the details and I will see if I can acquire them...



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