Q40 and Q60 video controller for flatscreen monitors

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XorA
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Re: Q40 and Q60 video controller for flatscreen monitors

Postby XorA » Thu May 03, 2018 10:53 am

Q60 is a retro computer by now, the PCB already designed in 1997, and maybe it should be preserved


Id love to preserve a Q60 in my collection :-D

But I kind of agree with you, for all the effort for a full re-design/rebuild the same effort could probably go into Q68-2 If anyone in QL scene actually needs that compute power. I know I sold my SGC in the end as there were so few apps that benefited from it.

Not that I am saying there is anything wrong with Q68 which is an awesome little device.


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Re: Q40 and Q60 video controller for flatscreen monitors

Postby Derek_Stewart » Thu May 03, 2018 11:00 am

Dave wrote:Would it be too much to design a revised and modernized QX0 PCB with these features? The PCB could come with sockets but no ICs and people could simply transfer their current ICs across to the new board? You could use it as an opportunity to update the video, power and memory sections... I think a lot of people would be interested in that. It would also keep costs low for Derek, as he wouldn't have to gauge demand or buy expensive components like bulk 68060RC75s ;)


The problem here is there is a lot of "Fake" 68060 CPUs, with reference to the amigiwki.de:

http://www.amigawiki.de/doku.php?id=de:parts:68060_mask

Details the 68060 Masks and CPU time line.

Peter wrote:This is the same line of thought I've also been through long ago. Three issues:
- The probably hardest to source components, the 8 VRAMs, are not socketed. CPU sockets are a pain to get.
- Once you start an improved PCB, you automatically get from idea to idea what could be changed, and have a completely new design in the end
- The Q60 is a retro computer by now, the PCB already designed in 1997, and maybe it should be preserved


Removal of the soldered VRAMs can only be done with specialist desoldering equipment. I have done this by hand, but there is a risk of damaging the internal layers of the PCB.

Though the Q60 could be classed as Retro, I am still getting enquiries for new Q60 boards.

I can source all the current parts for the Q60, the CPU maybe a little challenging.

smsq4ever wrote:Another suggestion, perhaps: a daughter board which would plug into the FPGA socket that is responsible for the video signals generation, the daughter board in question either providing a socket to plug the old FPGA into, together with another modern (SMD) FPGA to generate all the VESA-compatible video mode signals that fancy you, or right out just one larger and modern FPGA that would replace the old one altogether.


THis could be an option for future development, the Vampire 2 would be ideal, but I quess the FPGA source code would be closed source. So development from the beginning would be necessary.

Also who would perform the development of the software to run on the daughter board?


Regards,

Derek
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Re: Q40 and Q60 video controller for flatscreen monitors

Postby smsq4ever » Thu May 03, 2018 1:34 pm

Derek_Stewart wrote:
smsq4ever wrote:Another suggestion, perhaps: a daughter board which would plug into the FPGA socket that is responsible for the video signals generation, the daughter board in question either providing a socket to plug the old FPGA into, together with another modern (SMD) FPGA to generate all the VESA-compatible video mode signals that fancy you, or right out just one larger and modern FPGA that would replace the old one altogether.


THis could be an option for future development, the Vampire 2 would be ideal, but I quess the FPGA source code would be closed source. So development from the beginning would be necessary.

Also who would perform the development of the software to run on the daughter board?
What I was suggesting was to replace the FPGA used to generate the video signal on the Q60 with another, thanks to the daughter board. You won't need any software, only the FPGA programming that Peter is an expert at. The Q60 would keep its native resolution, but the newest (larger, faster) FPGA would be capable of generating compatible VESA modes (with another video output, be it VGA or HDMI one, on the daughter board) when the current FPGA seems too small/slow to implement them.

One thing that might be hard to source is the "plug" adapter for the PLCC socket... I found three potential sources via a quick search on Internet, but one is selling these things at totally astronomic prices (US$150), while the two others do not quote any price. An alternative would be to design and create such adapters using a 3D printer (still not an easy task, since there's also the pins issue).


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Re: Q40 and Q60 video controller for flatscreen monitors

Postby Dave » Thu May 03, 2018 6:21 pm

smsq4ever wrote:One thing that might be hard to source is the "plug" adapter for the PLCC socket... I found three potential sources via a quick search on Internet, but one is selling these things at totally astronomic prices (US$150), while the two others do not quote any price. An alternative would be to design and create such adapters using a 3D printer (still not an easy task, since there's also the pins issue).


A simple castellated PCB would work just fine to fit the socket and act as a riser to a main PCB.

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 12.04.53 PM.png
A straight castellated PCB...


The VRAM would also be quite easy to source.

The other thing I would do is change the output format from VGA to differential serial, ie: DVI.

That said, it would be more market accessible and quicker if the Q68 just had a new PCB designed to make it more user friendly and give it more growth options. That is much fresher in Peter's mind than something he designed and released 21 years ago. I would separate out the PS/2 port to two ports, delete the ethernet and add a second serial port, and if I could free up a single data line, double the addressable RAM. I have been trying to dig into the I2C bus on mine to get it to configure a device via $1C1C0 and $1C1C4 but I have not yet been able to successfully generate legal I2C protocols from SBASIC by bitbanging. I'm hoping driver code or a SBASIC extension will come along ;) I have been doing this, explicitly for having that output on the Q68 be highly software configurable for timings.


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Re: Q40 and Q60 video controller for flatscreen monitors

Postby Derek_Stewart » Thu May 03, 2018 7:21 pm

Hi,

I can source all the Q60 parts very easily, even the 68060 CPUs.

The Vampire 2 has pins that locate into the PLCC socket, which stable, but I like the castellated PCB idea.

Could FPGA core for the Q60 be developed?


Regards,

Derek
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Re: Q40 and Q60 video controller for flatscreen monitors

Postby smsq4ever » Thu May 03, 2018 8:36 pm

Derek_Stewart wrote:I can source all the Q60 parts very easily, even the 68060 CPUs.
Really ? I did manage to find one 68060RC50 (not the XC experimental CPU (1F43G or 1G65V masks), but the release/fixed RC one with 0E41J mask) years ago, but it was not cheap; I wonder how pricey these little gems would be nowadays...


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Peter
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Re: Q40 and Q60 video controller for flatscreen monitors

Postby Peter » Fri May 04, 2018 11:42 am

Dave wrote:A simple castellated PCB would work just fine to fit the socket and act as a riser to a main PCB.

Plugging into PLCC for Q60 purposes is not a new idea, I went through several permutations long ago. One of the problems is, that the PCB manufacturers where I order affordable PCBs would not build the depicted structure in small numbers. The only simple way for copper at the side of a board would be cut vias, and even that only unwillingly. I know several other solutions, but all expensive or badly suitable for very small, unknown numbers.

For more than a simple task like line doubling, it would also be required to have two of such adaptors plus a PCB connecting to both. (And that would still not increase memory nor access speed.) It would be cheaper and easier to build a completely new graphics card that plugs into the ROM sockets. (That would require a few extra wires soldered to the mainboard, also not very nice.)

It was probably sad but necessary to be reminded of the 68060 mask revision issue. In the past, there had been public complaints that I did not document the corresponding issues for the Q60 myself. Expectations from a single hobbyist seem much higher than from commercial companies making money. I'm warned again now. I better think (more than) twice before publicly releasing a "high end" machine again.


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Re: Q40 and Q60 video controller for flatscreen monitors

Postby Dave » Fri May 04, 2018 6:20 pm

My PCB maker does castellated PCBs for no extra cost. Tech has come along way.

It would certainly seem that making more QX0 PCBs, but with just an extra header or two with some vital signals brought out would bring extended capabilities well into the future.


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Re: Q40 and Q60 video controller for flatscreen monitors

Postby Peter » Sat May 05, 2018 8:16 am

Dave wrote:My PCB maker does castellated PCBs for no extra cost. Tech has come along way.

How would you specify that? Just let the board outline cut through pads and write "castellated PCB" in your description text file?
What surface material would they use then?

Dave wrote:It would certainly seem that making more QX0 PCBs, but with just an extra header or two with some vital signals brought out would bring extended capabilities well into the future.

Maybe. Probably only if someone designs a new video card also. I'm uncertain about the whole 68060 or "high end" issue.

Watching my personal usage, the Q68 is so neat that I fire up my Q60 less often. The 68060 is less compatible for old software and games than the Q68. And when I need high speed as a tool, e.g. to compile large sources, the PC is faster these days. :(

Also what to do with the existing Q40 and Q60 boards? Just rip out the socketed chips and ditch?


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Re: Q40 and Q60 video controller for flatscreen monitors

Postby bixio60 » Mon May 07, 2018 3:58 pm

Hi,
I replaced the video controller with the new one Peter sent me .
It work nicely on my LCD LG Flatron L1919S. For the time being I did not try any other monitor I have.

For sure it is not nice to view because lower 1/3rd of the screen is black.... but at least CRT is definitively gone away :D

Fabrizio



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