SGC successor brainstorming

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Peter
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Re: SGC successor brainstorming

Postby Peter » Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:38 pm

dilwyn wrote:I think Tetroid's SGC compatible suffers from availability of a critical chip used, so a SGC successor actually makes sense if Tetroid is unable to make more than a few of these add-ons because of that chip shortage.

I think it is absolutely vital though, that whatever add-on card of this type is made, that the improved video connection is included.

This leads to an idea that I didn't have before: Tetroid might be interested in replacing that obsolete chip - maybe an opportunity to add video to his SGC clone?
Tetroid is doing an excellent job, and his recent board seems more like a new design than just a copy.
I would hesitate to bring in "competition", if the video issue can be solved this way.

Tetroid, if you read this, please comment.


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Cristian
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Re: SGC successor brainstorming

Postby Cristian » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:42 pm

Andrew wrote:Retro computers that appeal to younger people are those who have a large library of games (QL does not)

Let's "seize" them from other platforms :) Are there other machines from which games can be (easily) ported? Or emulated?


stephen_usher
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Re: SGC successor brainstorming

Postby stephen_usher » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:44 pm

Basically, if it had all that the SGC(clone) has but add DVI/HDMI video output and an SD card interface (hard disk) that would be ample.

No M680x0 processor will be fast relative to today's machines, so stick with the M68020 and the same clock rate. QDOS/Minerva/SMSQE after all are relatively lean and fast.

You *may* want to add a USB mouse compatible interface and make it compatible with the old pointer environments, but this would only be if there's time/space/development energy.


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Cristian
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Re: SGC successor brainstorming

Postby Cristian » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:51 pm

Fortunately I'm seeing lots of 68020 on ebay, both used and new


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Cristian
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Re: SGC successor brainstorming

Postby Cristian » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:51 am

In my opinion, I would like the following improvements:

Colors, at least 256 (640x480)
VGA output
SD card
some sound
Also a ten year battery would be really appreciated

The idea of a new motherboard is wonderful, anyway a SGC successor is enough IMHO.
What will be the name?
HyperGoldCard?
PlatinumCard?
DiamondCard?

:)


olifink
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Re: SGC successor brainstorming

Postby olifink » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:14 am

from my recent journey back to the QL here is my assessment:

  • emulators are low threshold to entry but miss the essence of the original system
  • QLs are still relatively easy to get, but you don't know what you're getting (JS, JM, etc)
  • the video situation is not really ideal, but it's not as big a problem as others
  • getting software for the machine is essentially impossible without flp
  • without tetroids excellent works (currenly I have both TDI CF QubATA/QubIDE and SGC clone) the situation would be very sad
  • as you need to pick one card, there is always a tradeoff (SGC has no ATA, TDI is slower and flp seems more unreliable)
  • no mouse(!), no QIMIs anywhere and SERmouse works but serial mice are as thin on the ground as bus mice nowadays

to continue on the original hardware, it would be ideal to have one card

  1. RAM
  2. PS2 or USB Mouse port
  3. Battery backed RTC
  4. SD card for getting programs in from a PC that downloaded them (ie. it can read fat32 dos files)
  5. EPROM slots or SD for loading ROMS
  6. FLP connector
  7. ATA connector (allow other ATA drives, like iomega rev, not only CF cards, enough adapters available)

optional

  • faster processor like SGC or higher 68020, 30, 40...
  • alternative display port (more res display is ok but not a must, for me there is not much point in more colors really)

At the same time one wonders with the limited supply of original QLs if it wouldn't be a better option to come up with a longer term sustainable solution. One thing I found frustrating that there seem to have been many quite successful attempts at reasonable replacement or successor boards (Thor, Aurora, Q40, Q60), but nothing is available anymore and designs are not open for somebody to have a go at them. Also, most of the time the design is left out (which is why I admire what SpecNext is doing around the casing and keyboard). I realize that this is prohibitively expensive, so a more reasonable approach could be along the lines of the ZX Evolution board approach of making a board to fit readily available standard cases.

So a bit like a modern Sandy Futura:

  • Successor board fitting Mini ITX cases
  • FPGA (allows much more tinkering and is still a hardware not an emu solution)
  • Keyboard/Mouse ports (PS2 or USB)
  • RGB or VGA display port
  • 2x SD cards (both as win_ replacement and as dos_ import drive)
  • on board connectors for FLP, ATA
  • some kind of expansion bus

The final thought is that the original (and upcoming new) software must be easier to acquire, transfer and install to attract people. Something along the lines of a custom format akin to tap or tzx, and/or a package manager or at least an easy way to quickly explode zip files without having to go through acp or unzip c68 pain would be attractive. As I'm only good at software and not hardware I'm actually exploring that right now, get in touch if you want to help or provide input.

O


afx
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Re: SGC successor brainstorming

Postby afx » Sat Nov 17, 2018 3:20 pm

Peter wrote:...
I consider these improvements over the SGC:
  • Get rid of external video converters for the QL's non-standard video signal
  • Integrated graphics card with additional colours and resolutions
  • Further RAM expansion, e.g. 12 MB or 28 MB.
  • Moderately higher CPU speed, but 68000 based instead of 68020 for higher QL compatibility
  • One or two (micro)SD card interfaces, much higher speed than Floppy or QubIDE
  • Integrated sampling sound unit in addition to QL speaker
  • Fast PC-style serial port
  • PS/2 mouse interface
  • Re-chargeable realtime clock buffer (no battery replacement)
Thanks, Peter

I totally agree with Peter's proposal.

In my opinion, those features that Peter says would be ideal for a new expansion card. I'd like to see the network retained and about new video output screen resolution, 640x480 or 800x600 with 256 colors would be great.

Another interesting project, to keep QL community alive over time, could be a QL motherboard "new edition". (Our old motherboards will stop working in the future and we will also need a replacement).

.


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Cristian
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Re: SGC successor brainstorming

Postby Cristian » Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:08 pm

afx wrote:Another interesting project, to keep QL community alive over time, could be a QL motherboard "new edition". (Our old motherboards will stop working in the future and we will also need a replacement).
.


This is a nice idea, even if I have doubts about its feasability....


FrancoisLanciault
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Re: SGC successor brainstorming

Postby FrancoisLanciault » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:56 pm

Sorry if my opinions kind of diverge from many QL users...

We are talking Super Gold Card replacement. Now at the time, the goal of the SGC was to add more speed and memory to the QL. It was not design to be able to play bareQL games, Although miracle system did their best so that old games would run, most required a perfectly tuned SLUG command, and many would not run at all. Point is, you don't buy an accelerator card when all you want to do is play slow speed games.

Now I agree there is a market for retro game players and that a modern QL motherboard replacement that runs at the right speed for games and that includes video and SD cards might be desirable. But here, we are talking Super Gold Card replacement.

Most QL users have emulators and most recent software development is performed on those emulators. The reason is simple; they are fast. More and more software require such fast environment.

In other words, what I would like to see the most for a SGC replacement (and as I said I understand I might be alone here) is more speed and memory so that hardware QL is more on par with the emulators. They would obviously never be as fast, but 2X, 3X SGC speed would be a good improvement (more with FPGA ?). I am an hardware person so I have always "resist" the temptation to switch to emulators. Q68 was a nice step in the right direction. (I am very happy with my Q68)

As for video, it seems most people want modern video outputs so they can use their QL on modern monitors (I always found it strange that retro computer lover don't keep a retro monitor for their computer... lets be retro all the way!) but OK it should be included as more and more modern softwares require the higher resolutions and/or colors.

Other nice ideas I saw in this thread are:

- Q68 bus compatibility.
- SD is a must these days, but we already have QL-SD from Marcel, so for me it is not an issue.
- Arduino and/or RaspberryPi interface pinout compatibility.

These are my wishes. But honestly I will probably buy whatever comes out of this discussion if it ever happens.

François


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Peter
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Re: SGC successor brainstorming

Postby Peter » Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:27 pm

olifink wrote:getting software for the machine is essentially impossible without flp

No you don't need floppy at all. Since I introduced the QL-SD interface, FAT32 formatted SDHC cards are the much faster and easier way.
Most QL hardware platforms, GC, SGC, Q68, Q40, Q60 support SDHC cards by now, and most emulators.
You find a huge QL software collection at: http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/downloads.html
Here's a PC tool to copy downloaded software into the container file of a SDHC card: http://www.wlenerz.com/qlstuff/QxlwinReader.zip

olifink wrote:without tetroids excellent works (currenly I have both TDI CF QubATA/QubIDE and SGC clone) the situation would be very sad

For the black original case, I understand this sentiment, that's why I started the thread. If a different case is an option, there's the Q68.

olifink wrote:as you need to pick one card, there is always a tradeoff (SGC has no ATA, TDI is slower and flp seems more unreliable)

You could get an (S)GC or clone and QL-SD.

olifink wrote:ATA connector (allow other ATA drives, like iomega rev, not only CF cards, enough adapters available)

Why ATA? On QL-style systems it is not faster than SDHC, just larger outline.

olifink wrote:One thing I found frustrating that there seem to have been many quite successful attempts at reasonable replacement or successor boards (Thor, Aurora, Q40, Q60), but nothing is available anymore and designs are not open for somebody to have a go at them.

Nothing? The Q68 is in full production.

olifink wrote:Also, most of the time the design is left out (which is why I admire what SpecNext is doing around the casing and keyboard).

The Spectrum Next case was never available - the Q68 case is.

olifink wrote:I realize that this is prohibitively expensive, so a more reasonable approach could be along the lines of the ZX Evolution board approach of making a board to fit readily available standard cases.

Exactly what I did with the Q68, I just wanted much more compact case, so I desigend own panels, look here: https://www.qlforum.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=1919

Peter



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