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Dracblade SBC with Catalina C, PropBasic, CP/M, MP/M, TRS80, wireless network, - Page 2 — Parallax Forums

Dracblade SBC with Catalina C, PropBasic, CP/M, MP/M, TRS80, wireless network,



  • Dr_AculaDr_Acula Posts: 5,484
    edited 2009-12-03 02:30
    heater said...
    Dr_A, Any chance of squeezing a real-time clock on there? CP/M 3 would like that.

    Sure. A DS1307 ok? That is I2C right, and should fit on the I2C bus along with the eeprom? Any 5V/3V issues with this? Is there a standard circuit out there for adding a clock to a prop and sharing lines?

    Addit: Found Kye's object

    Shares pin 28/29 with the EEPROM. Also contains two bonus things I want anyway - a sleep(milliseconds) and a random number return. Looks like will need another 10k resistor as both data and clock need pullups and I think you can leave one of those out if it is just eeprom but I suspect needs both if more than one device on the line. I might need some advice on the 5V thing though - there are threads on this somewhere, but briefly, do you need 1k resistors in series as well as pullups?


    Post Edited (Dr_Acula) : 12/3/2009 2:42:58 AM GMT
  • heaterheater Posts: 3,370
    edited 2009-12-03 03:02
    I quite like the idea of the FM3104G 4Kb I2C Processor Companion from RAMTRON which includes 4Kbits of non-volatile ferroelctric RAM. I believe there is a newer version now.

    I thought there was an object for the Prop that generated good random numbers from some PLL jitter.

    Anyway I'm not fussy, hope there is room for the battery.

    For me, the past is not over yet.
  • Dr_AculaDr_Acula Posts: 5,484
    edited 2009-12-03 03:13
    There is room for a battery. I don't know much about that part - looks like it has a few other features too. Is it cheaper? Runs on 3V which saves a couple of resistors. Does it have an object to drive it?

  • Mike GreenMike Green Posts: 23,101
    edited 2009-12-03 03:20
    I don't know if they're available to buy, but RAMTRON has similar devices (FM32L278 for example) on their website which include a RTC and 32K bytes of FRAM that could be used to take the place of the boot EEPROM. The FRAM works just like I2C EEPROM except that writes are faster and reads require an invisible refresh cycle.
  • Dr_AculaDr_Acula Posts: 5,484
    edited 2009-12-03 03:21
    Sounds interesting. Same commands as the standard eeprom?

    Just researching more the 1307 is 5V but the 1337 is 3V.

    I think I need to breadboard this before putting it on a board...

  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 18,069
    edited 2009-12-03 04:27
    Sapeiha is the expert on what Ramtron device will replace the eeprom.

    However, they are expensive. CPM3 asks for the date/time on start IIRC, so why not just use the fsrw which has an RTC function built-in?

    Links to other interesting threads:

    · Home of the MultiBladeProps: TriBlade,·RamBlade,·SixBlade, website
    · Single Board Computer:·3 Propeller ICs·and a·TriBladeProp board (ZiCog Z80 Emulator)
    · Prop Tools under Development or Completed (Index)
    · Emulators: CPUs Z80 etc; Micros Altair etc;· Terminals·VT100 etc; (Index) ZiCog (Z80) , MoCog (6809)
    · Search the Propeller forums·(uses advanced Google search)
    My cruising website is: ··· MultiBladeProp is:
  • heaterheater Posts: 3,370
    edited 2009-12-03 10:13
    RAMTRONs may be expensive but if it works as an EEPROM that can boot the Prop as well as an RTC, power supply monitor etc then it saves space on the board, requires no extra design/layout effort. Seems like a win to me.

    Can they really do that?.

    There was a thread where this came up recently, can't find it just now.

    For me, the past is not over yet.
  • JackRubinJackRubin Posts: 4
    edited 2009-12-03 22:02
    Looking forward to getting one of those US-bound boards. Let me enter a strong vote for maintaining VGA support - I'm too old and cranky to deal with low-res TV graphics! Just to the point of getting the triblade buttoned up and here comes another one --

  • RsadeikaRsadeika Posts: 3,824
    edited 2009-12-03 22:26
    I like the Dracblade, but I was never a really big fan of CPM. Now, I wonder if you could port MINIX 1 to this board, then you would have something interesting, I think. Has anyone here, in the USA, ordered a Dracblade yet? Just wondering what the final cost on this would be. What is your next project going to be?

  • JackRubinJackRubin Posts: 4
    edited 2009-12-03 23:23
    Actually, since there is a 6809 core project, how about a Dracblade running OS-9 (the real version)?

  • Dr_AculaDr_Acula Posts: 5,484
    edited 2009-12-04 02:47
    Four boards are on their way to the USA as of yesterday. One going to the UK today.

    Cost is $10 all up.

    I'm going to have to order another batch of boards!. And I'm running out of time to go through the debugging process changing the board too much. I might just put a RCA socket on and leave it at that for the moment. I'm sure once there are some boards working others can look at add-ons.

    I'm also thinking this board can be useful for other emulations. Indeed, it ought to be able to run catalina and the two versions of basic coming out soon. The board contains the things I found useful - ie sd card, two serial ports, lots of memory, and provision for a small 20x4 LCD for battery power plus VGA for when running on mains. 20x4 LCD is more than enough for programs that ask you for a one line input, then do something, then ask another line.

    As a general comment, I think the prop II will put most of this on one chip.

  • HumanoidoHumanoido Posts: 5,770
    edited 2009-12-04 10:06
    The board and hardware is awesome! Will you make software available with some "loading/getting started" instructions, in one zip file, for ease of running it?

  • Dr_AculaDr_Acula Posts: 5,484
    edited 2009-12-04 10:19
    Sure. It does need a 'step by step' writeup. I keep thinking of things to mention too, like the exact 512k chip to use which needs to be 3V3 compatible and 55ns or better. The software is all on the website at the bottom of this post in a link near the bottom of the text. Basically, format the sd card as fat16, put all the .dsk files on the sd card, then run BST (also in the zip), and compile and download.

    I've sent off 4 bare boards and one made up board (though that was my network testing board so now I need to solder another one). I put in a big order to future electronics and futurlec as it makes sense to get all the parts together and maybe do a kit?

  • blittledblittled Posts: 681
    edited 2009-12-05 05:21
    The kit idea sounds great! Do you have any idea what you will be charging for a kit?

    Will work for Propeller parts!
  • Dr_AculaDr_Acula Posts: 5,484
    edited 2009-12-05 07:23
    Would need to cost a kit. For instance, postage for a board plus parts overseas is $18 but postage for a blank board is $2.20. And in most cases the components are going back to the USA where they came from originally! Might need to think about reselling from someone stateside?

    Meanwhile, I've added a DS1307 clock and a battery and the TV and a socket for I2C. I thought about other clocks, but the 1307 has an object already done, and it is the cheapest one. There will be other versions as this evolves.

    704 x 570 - 160K
  • RsadeikaRsadeika Posts: 3,824
    edited 2009-12-05 15:27
    @Dr_Acula, have you considered developing an arrangement with Gadget Gangster? I think that he is equipped to handle kits, and possibly offer up a board that is assembled. I would probably be interested in an assembled board if the pricing is reasonable (this is the difficult part). Your board is starting to look like a motherboard, which means, for us, with poor soldering skills, a lot of problems could show up after assembly.

    Just my 2 cents

  • Oldbitcollector (Jeff)Oldbitcollector (Jeff) Posts: 8,091
    edited 2009-12-05 15:48
    Toss in a NES port or two and you'll have a platform the gamers can develop on
    with extra memory to boot! Do you have 3 or 4 I/O pins left?


    New to the Propeller?

    Visit the: The Propeller Pages @ Warranty Void.
  • Toby SeckshundToby Seckshund Posts: 2,027
    edited 2009-12-08 20:33

    Just thought I would show the latest ironing fest ( before I fry it ). No twin '232 stuff, yet, as I am using an off board converter, via the 5 way plug behind the power socket, or LCD. As it is a shameless rip of your cct I put a clue on it, as to whom the creator was.

    If I post a "YIPPEE" soon, then you will know all is well. If not then I am looking for a suitable small furry beast, upon to vent ...

    And another thing, last Friday I cut the end of my rt thumb, nothing big, but, as I have been working away on your project it refuses to heal. The name, it is a joke ? right ????

    Style and grace : Nil point
    640 x 480 - 52K
    640 x 480 - 52K
    640 x 480 - 51K
  • SapiehaSapieha Posts: 2,964
    edited 2009-12-08 21:30
    Hi Toby Seckshund

    It is pleasure to look on it

    Nice work.


    Nothing is impossible, there are only different degrees of difficulty.
    For every stupid question there is at least one intelligent answer.
    Don't guess - ask instead.
    If you don't ask you won't know.
    If your gonna construct something, make it·as simple as·possible yet as versatile as posible.

  • heaterheater Posts: 3,370
    edited 2009-12-08 21:42
    That's damn neat ironing Toby.

    Did you clean the blood off already?

    For me, the past is not over yet.
  • Toby SeckshundToby Seckshund Posts: 2,027
    edited 2009-12-08 21:49
    Thanks all, but the beast doesn't run shakehead.gif

    It grinds to a halt at SD mount. I am using one of the two cards that work on Triblade etc. Just about to put on some pull ups as I see the rails fall to low and judging by the 50Hz pickup, Hi Z.
    I know Dr_A had thoughts/problems with the SD bits.

    Style and grace : Nil point
  • Toby SeckshundToby Seckshund Posts: 2,027
    edited 2009-12-08 21:54
    That did nothing. Hey-Ho.

    I'll have to do some learning now shocked.gif

    Style and grace : Nil point
  • hover1hover1 Posts: 1,929
    edited 2009-12-08 21:56
    Great looking boards.
    At least you kept the blood off the boards [noparse]:)[/noparse]

    I will gladly donate the cat.

  • Toby SeckshundToby Seckshund Posts: 2,027
    edited 2009-12-08 22:09
    The board has beaten me, for now, at least it kept me busy for the last few days. I'll attack it again tomorrow ( I have to go and pretend I care )

    By Friday it will be working, or at the bottom of the local river. Its choice.

    Style and grace : Nil point
  • Dr_AculaDr_Acula Posts: 5,484
    edited 2009-12-08 22:31
    Re "It grinds to a halt at SD mount. I am using one of the two cards that work on Triblade etc. Just about to put on some pull ups as I see the rails fall to low and judging by the 50Hz pickup, Hi Z"

    1) Could you post a schematic? Just guessing from the board photos are those 574s, not 374s (not that it matters but if that has changed then have other things changed?)
    2) I can't see any bypass capacitors. Needs one per chip. Also the caps on the power supply need to be on the board, and it needs a 22uF tantalum on the board somewhere (don't ask me the exact reason why but all computer boards I've ever seen since the 1970s have them). One for 3V and one for the 5V rail.
    3) Pullups on the sd card - I can't see those.

    If the sd card works on the triblade it should work on this ... if the software and hardware are both right. So - what files are on the sd card?
    The sd card interface is very simple as it just uses 4 lines from the prop. So all the other sd card software out there should be useful for testing.

    Re "rails fall too low", that sounds very much like a power supply issue. What is the power supply? How much current can it supply? (sd cards can need >100mA briefly). This is why I have a 3V switcher capable of 500mA with 470uF on the output as a big store of energy, plus 22uF for briefer pulses, plus multiple 0.1uFs near the chips. You should not be getting 50Hz on lines nor rails falling too low.

    Lots of reasons it is not working. No need to give it concrete shoes and send it to the bottom of the river quite yet!

    Addit: Ive got 1 board left and have an order being made for another 30. The new one has a real time clock. Cost of boards will still be $7.80 plus $2.20 shipping = $10. I'm pulling together parts from a number of suppliers to do some kits as things like the vga socket, the sd socket and the switcher chips are a bit hard to source.


    Post Edited (Dr_Acula) : 12/8/2009 10:37:27 PM GMT
  • Toby SeckshundToby Seckshund Posts: 2,027
    edited 2009-12-08 23:21
    Hey, using one of your boards would be just too easy. I have been very naughty (apparantly) and must be punished.

    The rails look good and there are bypass caps on every chip (SM 0.1uF ) with SM 220uFs underneath. I have tried with and without 10K pullups. The files on the card are from your Zip archive minus the spin and Tera stuff.

    I used '574 latches but did shuffle the data and addr lines to suit the layout So apart from all the things I changed, its just like yours.

    I'll have a look at it tomorrow, more caring required.

    Style and grace : Nil point
  • Dr_AculaDr_Acula Posts: 5,484
    edited 2009-12-08 23:44
    Because so many functions are independent of each other it should be possible to break it down into manageable portions. Eg - forget about the zicog for the moment etc, and just focus on booting up the sd card. It will either pass or fail. Then try reading a tiny file (I had a test file at one stage with 1 byte in it) and see if that passes or fails? Do you have anything on the display so you can print out debugging messages?

    If the sd card is failing, time to ?get inside the fsrw code with a 'repeat' which is essentially a halt at each stage, eg after the very first change to a pin status then test that pin. Though for me the sd card was the one bit that seemed to work 'out of the box'. Code hasn't been modified? Talking to the correct 4 pins? Clock and data not transposed?

    I should add that I had trouble with different brands of cards, so even though lots should work, I'm going to stick with 1Gb and Sandisk brand as they work (plus they are only $10 on ebay and they are the micro sd that come with a free adaptor to standard sd). If it works on the triblade it should work here too.

    I've got pullups as there are some fudge bits of code that tristate all the pins on the prop.

    Addit - just got a PM to say one board has arrived in the USA. That was only 6 days!


    Post Edited (Dr_Acula) : 12/9/2009 7:31:33 AM GMT
  • Toby SeckshundToby Seckshund Posts: 2,027
    edited 2009-12-09 08:25

    Thanks for all your clues. I shall try to poke around in it today, it is probably a "good thing" that it doesn't work "out of the iron" as it will stop me just accepting everything for free. Education is never a bad thing.

    I buzzed out the card connections and they seem to agree with the cct diag ( one early morning thought was that the cct I used wasn't from the archiveb ut from the earlier post, so I will double check that. I havent seen much activity on the /CS_SD line after it raises after reset. Power rails are good for 500mA and there is 300uF of decouplings around the prop and mem chips, along with 0.1uF in every chip (2 for prop).

    The VGA screen fires up and reports:-

    "Zicog with Dracblade. 19200 baud.Loadind disks.
    Mount SD and find hard drive file locations
    Error - halt
    The sd was freshly formatted and filed from your archive were copied over. This was done one by one, I wonder if unzipping then over from a modified archive would be better??

    Moral of the story :- Keep my fat gob shut until the project works, and then pretend that it worked first time. yeah.gif

    Style and grace : Nil point
  • Dr_AculaDr_Acula Posts: 5,484
    edited 2009-12-09 09:01
    I can replicate that error by popping out the sd card. It is running this
    PRI FindSDblock | i, n, r                               'read blockno of file for count into buffer
      r := sd.start(@ioControl)                           'start the SD routines
      CheckError(not r)
      PrintStringCR(string("Mount SD and find hard drive file locations"))
      r := \sd.mount(spiDO,spiClk,spiDI,spiCS)      'mount the SD

    So it doesn't even matter what files you have on the sd card as it isn't managing to mount it.

    Just to check - this card definitely works on the triblade? If yes then that means the card is formatted right and also it hasn't been zapped somehow.

    SD not changing would be right - once the sd card is initialised I don't think any code changes that. Ultimately sd CS might not even be needed and might free up a pin.

    Ok more and more it points to a wiring error. I know you may not want to do this, but can you post some closeup shots of the sd card setup and the wires going to the propeller?


    Post Edited (Dr_Acula) : 12/9/2009 9:06:39 AM GMT
  • Dr_AculaDr_Acula Posts: 5,484
    edited 2009-12-09 09:10
    Ok, I think I spotted it. Underside of your board, I see 4 lines going to a header. Pins 9, 13,14,15.

    That was the original schematic. On the dracblade 2 I changed that to pins 12,13,14,15.

    I wonder if you have the code for v2 and the schematic for v1? (This is a very rapidly changing project. Board is now up to V3)

    New code in the var section is
      spiDO         = 12                                     ' microSD pins
      spiClk        = 13
      spiDI         = 14
      spiCS         = 15    

    Old code is
      spiDO         = 13
      spiClk        = 14
      spiDI         = 15
      spiCS         = 9  

    There will be some other things to change, but just try swapping to the old code and see if it gets past the mounting? If that works it should get to the list of disk files but then crash on the zicog.

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