SDHC adaptors...

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Dave
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SDHC adaptors...

Postby Dave » Fri Jan 03, 2014 1:45 am

Are any of the people manufacturing the new SDHC adaptors on this forum? I know Peter Graf has someone making some in the EU, but I don't recall who. There's also another effort.

Who's doing what?

It would be good if y'all communicated with each other so we could have a moderately compatible pair of systems. Also, I'd like to be able to manufacture something myself - I now have a greatly extended SMD/PCB capability. :)


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Re: SDHC adaptors...

Postby Paul » Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:42 pm

Its me building the Peter Graf designed QL-SD interfaces manually.
These are two PCBs connected by a cable. The QL-SD is replacing an internal micro drive unit.
The interface called QL-EXT is a rom adapter for a single 27C512 replacing the original QL ROMs.
Under the ROM socket is the hardware to drive the SD Card.
It is essential to understand that the QL has to be opened for installation with all risks that come with this. I supply the interface with a Minerva ROM and driver in ROM as well. The rom port of the QL is blocked by this and cannot be used any more.
QL-SD is NOT COMPATIBLE with any device plugged into the rom port.
Also it is NOT COMPATIBLE with Goldcards and Supergoldcards.
It is compatible with memory expansions and floppy controllers like the trump card.
The QL-SD uses RAM for sector buffers. The amount of RAM needed corresponds to the size of the Image on the SD-HC Card. This means you will not be happy using QL-SD with an unexpanded QL.
QL-SD is compatible with SMSqe, JS and Minerva ROMs.
If you prefer to use a rom other than the one provided you will need to load the driver from disk or micro drive.
I made twelve devices that are being tested by several persons mainly living in Germany.
Derek is the only British person having received one which unfortunately doesn't work.
It will be replaced next week.
The QL-SD is a homebrew project. I am not running a company and am not planning to start one.
There can only be a limited support through the German QL forum as I am not going to spread the information over many forums.
I am NOT accepting orders.
I am planning to produce a small batch soon.
If you want to buy such a device, I am going to sell those via sell my retro if they are available.
If all goes well, there will be a first device available for the 30th anniversary of the QL on January the 21st this year. There will also be batch available at the ZX-Team meeting in Germany in April this year.
I am also planning to produce a QL-SD interface with memory expansion for the expansion bus next year.
This is aimed at persons not wanting to open their QL and those having an unexpanded QL.
My friends and me are also trying to find the Supergoldcard and Goldcard problems in order to fix those.

Kind regards
Paul


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Re: SDHC adaptors...

Postby Mr_Navigator » Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:36 pm

Paul (Peter), regardless how this all turns out, well done and thanks for getting this feature thus far, I hope that you are surprised at the interest it creates.

Also thanks for stating and making very clear the position of the device(s) and your position as to what is being done, that will reduce any pressure on your good-selves allowing you to tinker and develop at will.

I will watch SMR with interest and anticipation.

All the best


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Re: SDHC adaptors...

Postby Paul » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:03 pm

Thanks mr. Navigator.
We do not see the QL Scene as a market but as a group of enthusiasts that help each other.
Making those devices is not made for profit, but to give you a possibility to use SD-HC Cards on the QL.
For the normal tinkerer this is quite difficult as making QL-SD does not only need SMD soldering skills but also a TQFP48 part in 0,5mm pitch.
Otherwise we had offered this as a kit.
By the way, the SD Cards are not being monitored. Before pulling them they need to be unmounted.
After a insertion a new mount is needed.
At startup of course, the SD-HC Card in the drive is mounted by the driver.

None of the stuff was designed by me.
Just built by me. The interface was designed by Peter and the driver by Adrian.
Kind regards
Paul


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Re: SDHC adaptors...

Postby ppe » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:51 pm

Paul wrote:For the normal tinkerer this is quite difficult as making QL-SD does not only need SMD soldering skills but also a TQFP48 part in 0,5mm pitch.


I understand from your earlier post that the aim of the project is not to make money and hence there is going to be no support whatsover but... Can the schematics and board layout be open sourced so that those of us who feel comfortable soldering 0.5mm pitch components can have a go at making these for personal use?


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Re: SDHC adaptors...

Postby Paul » Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:22 pm

Funny that everyone is wanting to help in producing and distribution.
Peter has no problem publishing everything. We do not consider this project as secret or even closed source.
Nevertheless Peter is so kind to wait while before publishing.
Our team has invested quite some time in this project.
I have invested in equipment and parts. Please give us the opportunity to come to a black zero before we publish everything.
It won't be too long, I promise.


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Re: SDHC adaptors...

Postby tofro » Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:22 pm

ppe,

eventually, all of the components will be made open source - At least that's the current plan.

There is however, a number of pitfalls that need to be circumvented to build QL-SD on your own:

  • You should be able to program Lattice Mach4000 CPLD.
  • As mentioned, small pitch soldering is required
  • Apart from the soldering, obviously the PCB needs to be made - This is definitely not a kitchen etching project ;)
  • As QL-SD carries a ROM, you should be able to program EPROMS

For the average electronics tinkerer, every single one of the items above would probably be beyond the usual expectations.

The team is currently doing a lot of testing and figuring out the quirks and possible pitfalls. We still might need one or the other modification in the hardware, the CPLD firmware or the driver to make QL-SD finally work on all (or even most of) the possible platforms. So at the moment, it wouldn't make a lot of sense to publish something.

Regarding your "no support whatsoever" statement: I'd rather read that "no guaranteed support whatsoever" - Obviously everyone is willing to help with reasonable effort as far as time allows.

Tobias


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Dave
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Re: SDHC adaptors...

Postby Dave » Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:24 pm

I am enthused by your progress.

Your EPROM contains Minerva and the SDHC driver. It invalidates the ROM port. Does the EPROM contain TK2 also? If not, can you include TK2 so people can load it? I think most people would be lost without TK2.

Also, the interface provides support for one SDHC card, as I understand it. Is there a way to have BOTH microdrives replaced by SDHC cards?


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Re: SDHC adaptors...

Postby RWAP » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:12 pm

News of progress is always good and I am sure many QLers out there will welcome this project.

Adding Toolkit II into the EPROM would have little benefit - as the interface will need extra memory, then I should imagine most people will use it alongside a disk interface (many of which have TK2 built in).

TK2 could also be loaded quickly from the SD card - although the network drivers will not work properly due to timing differences (hence why it was taken out of the configurable version of the Super Toolkit as far as I remember).


Paul
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Re: SDHC adaptors...

Postby Paul » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:39 pm

It is possible to have two QL-SD on one QL-EXT.
This is Running without problems. The Question is where the benefit is?
It's a hard disk driver Adrian adapted, so also multiple Partitions on a single SD-HC are possible.
But the cost of these cards is small so you can have multiple SD-Cards.
E.G. One for programs requiring pointer environment and one disliking this.
And many more.
However multiple QL-SD or multiple partitions are tested, work ok, but are not recommended.
Kind regards
Paul



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