Problem at boot time

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FrancoisLanciault
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Problem at boot time

Postby FrancoisLanciault » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:28 am

Hi,

I currently have 3 QL systems, 1 Q68, 1 SGC + Aurora and 1 original QL + GC.

The Q68 works perfectly :-)

However, the other two are giving me troubles but only when booting:

The Gold Card System problem is the following: When I power up the computer, it boots as it should i.e. first memory test -> Minerva logo -> second memory test -> Minerva logo + Gold Card Version number (2.49) and the computer is waiting for the F1/F2 button to be pressed. So far so good. However, the pressing F1 or F2 does nothing 19 times out of 20. I have to reset try again, reset try again, unplug try again etc until finally it works. From that moment the computer works reliably even for days. But if I have the bad idea to push reset the problem reappears.

Now I know the problem is related to the GoldCard for two reasons. First if I remove the GoldCard the computer will boot without problem every time running on its 68008. 680008 + expanderRAM also work fine. Also, this is my second GoldCard, the one I had before was working well with the same computer. In fact the problem started when I got this new GoldCard. But at first I had just to reset 2 or 3 times before the computer would boot. It has gone worst over the years and now it will bot roughly 1 out 20 attempts.


The SuperGoldCard problem is different. It always boots correctly to the flashing cursor. But when I try to load SMSQ/E the computer will freeze just after the screen goes black i.e. before the SGC version and other copyright notices appears on the now SMSQ/E driven screen. If I try again, the same thing will happen.
To solve the problem, I need to let the computer run for about 1/2 hour at the flashing SBasic cursor before trying to load SMSQ/E. It looks like the computer needs to get "hot" for the problem to disappear. Again, once I'm able to boot SMSQ/E, the computer is reliable. For me this looks like a bad contact somewhere (memory ?). So I dismantle every thing and have unplugged every cables (Aurora, Qubid, both HD, floppies, keyboard, serial connectors) put every thing back together, pushed all IC firmly in their sockets, but the problem is still there.

BTW I said the problem is when loading SMSQ/E but in reality the computer freezes as soon as I load anything big enough. For example, if I stay with the minerva OS, it will freeze somewhere during the rest of my boot process when enough extensions have been loaded. However if I stays at the command prompt level, playing with SuperBasic and without loading anything too big, it is fine. This is why I think this one is a memory problem.

Anyway ask me questions if my problems description is not clear. I will try to explain better. Those are not BIG problems as I can still use both computers but I must admit that after so many years, I look forward to a solution! And with the impressive quantity and quality of knowledgable individuals on this forum maybe I stand a chance to solve either or both problems!

I am not an electronic expert. Not by a long shoot. I have absolutely no idea what to do. However I am good enough to be able to monitor signal lines with my oscilloscope if given VERY precise instructions.

Thank you,
François


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Dave
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Re: Problem at boot time

Postby Dave » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:34 am

What happens when you swap the QLs between the two sets of expansions? Does the problem stay with the respective Gold Cards, or does it stay with the respective QLs?


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Peter
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Re: Problem at boot time

Postby Peter » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:08 am

FrancoisLanciault wrote:For me this looks like a bad contact somewhere (memory ?).

I had a similar problem, it went away when I moved the SGC DRAM chips a little inside their sockets.


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tofro
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Re: Problem at boot time

Postby tofro » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:38 am

Peter wrote:
FrancoisLanciault wrote:For me this looks like a bad contact somewhere (memory ?).

I had a similar problem, it went away when I moved the SGC DRAM chips a little inside their sockets.


Same here. The RAM chips on the SGC seem to suffer from oxidation of the pins in the sockets over time. Wiggling them very carefully helps in mine. Don't break the pins, they're fragile. That was the only hardware problem with the SGC (and GC) I ever had.

Tobias


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Re: Problem at boot time

Postby RWAP » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:38 am

I agree - I actually had a similar issue and removed the RAM chips; which revealed the actual problem - one of the legs from the RAM chips was left behind in its socket - it had obviously broken off at some time, but once it heated up it made enough of a connection to sort of work!


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Peter
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Re: Problem at boot time

Postby Peter » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:40 am

The sockets are good intention, but in the end it would have saved money and improve reliabilty to solder the DRAMs directly. There were similar issues with Q40 VRAM.


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Dave
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Re: Problem at boot time

Postby Dave » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:42 pm

I do have a supply of the DRAM used on the (S)GCs around here, and can supply it at cost if people need it.


FrancoisLanciault
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Re: Problem at boot time

Postby FrancoisLanciault » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:35 pm

Peter wrote:
FrancoisLanciault wrote:For me this looks like a bad contact somewhere (memory ?).

I had a similar problem, it went away when I moved the SGC DRAM chips a little inside their sockets.


Hi,

Thank you all for your answers.

Based on your experiences, I carefully removed all RAM chips from the SuperGoldCard, I inspected them along with all socket holes under the microscope (could not find anything obvious) and decided to re-assemble then in the reverse order they where removed. The idea was that the problematic pin/socket combination would not be there anymore.

But, alas, the problem is still there, i.e. the computer boots ok, but it needs to get warm in order to have SMSQ/E to load.

But!

Before, the computer was just freezing with a black screen, now it crash with colorful vertical lines on the screen. My interpretation is that there is still a memory problem, but the problematic memory is now located in a different place because of the memory chip shuffling I did. This, in my opinion, points more towards a bad memory chip than a bad socket. Next, I will try to find the bad chip by systematic replacement with some other chips from my old GoldCard.

If any of you have anything else to suggest I will be happy to hear you out.

Also, anybody has something to propose for my first problem (QL with GoldCard)

Thank you.


FrancoisLanciault
ROM Dongle
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Re: Problem at boot time

Postby FrancoisLanciault » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:39 pm

Dave wrote:What happens when you swap the QLs between the two sets of expansions? Does the problem stay with the respective Gold Cards, or does it stay with the respective QLs?


It would be difficult for me to test this because the SCG was modified to work with a backplane (I don't remember what modification I did) and won't work anymore attached to a real QL (I tried four years ago, and there were some horrible sound coming out of the computer). Likewise, the GoldCard needs to be modified to work with the Aurora+backplane.

François


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Re: Problem at boot time

Postby RWAP » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:41 pm

I guess the one question which has not been asked (unless I missed it) is whether you still have the original 68008 in the QL? Users were always advised to remove this because of the extra current drain (I believe).



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