• Floppy shenanigans

    11/13/2017 at 20:07 6 comments

    been learning a lot about floppy drives/disks/controllers lately, what with #Floppy "Fun" -- Backing up a unique Kay-Pro disk  and #Improbable AVR -> 8088 substitution for PC/XT

    Also finally started attacking a long-planned project to record audio directly onto floppy disks...

    So, here I plan to throw random unexpected discoveries that may be useful for floppy endeavors of all sorts.

    (Many Many more are buried in logs at the projects linked above).

    1) the /STEP input is *not* directly fed to the stepper motor driver. Boolean logic determines whether the drive pays attention to the /STEP input. Primarily: the drive *will not step* if /WG is active.

    (This Teac drive manual actually shows the logic equation... and similar equations exist and are explained for other I/Os as well...)

    2) if /WG is active when the index pulse arrives, the pulse is extended (dramatically) presumably to indicate to the host controller that the write process was truncated (?).

    I vaguely recall reading about this extended pulse somewhere (and plausibly whether the write actually gets truncated, or whether it's allowed to overwrite the beginning of the track) but have yet to relocate that source.

    3) microstepping?! Fiddling with /WG and /STEP timings, I noticed it may actually be plausible to acheive some level of microstepping. More logically, /STEP and /DIR could plausibly acheive this as well. Precision more likely than accuracy, so maybe not so useful when using disks for storage, but maybe something to fiddle with. (One thought... maybe possible to use Step/Dir microstepping in attempt to read tracks written on a poorly calibrated drive... or, e.g. where a 5.25in disk has an oblong hole, from years of wear).

    The odd thing about /WG's effect on stepping... I was under the impression that /STEP must be (falling)edge-triggered... the outputs of the motor driver holding their new state after the edge. But then /WG's only effect should be that of either allowing or blocking the transition to the next state. Then there should be no fractional (or incomplete) steps. But almost certainly I could hear attempted steps cut short.

    That would imply... 

    4) /STEP is not edge-triggered (?!)

    And, actually, that makes some amount of sense based on my readings which I didn't quite wrap my head around until just now... combined with knowledge of the stepper motor driver chips used in some (macintosh) drives I've scrounged for their... wait for it... stepper-driver chips. These chips have two supply voltages for the motors... 12V for seeking and 5V for holding. 

    And the readings...? As I recall, the stepping-procedure for drives allots various (adjustable) time parameters for head movement... step-rates made sense to me; don't try to step too fast or the head won't overcome static friction, and steps will be missed. Head settling time; after a step, the motor will bounce briefly before settling into its new position... give it a certain amount of time to settle. But there were other step-timing parameters I didn't grasp... and I'm betting one of them is the duration of the /STEP pulse, which probably also determines the duration that the new state is supplied with 12V to nudge that motor into that new position... (note the drive I'm working with now only has a 5V supply, but may use a similar seek/hold scheme).

    Aside: I used those motor drivers (once removed from the drives) for quite a bit of experimenting... #CD/DVD mechanisms and cartesian thinggie[s?]  microstepping was definitely doable, but also causes quite a bit of heat... also, I worked with the driver chips themselves, which had separate...

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  • Ode to My Oscilloscope...

    11/07/2017 at 14:20 3 comments

    I love my oscilloscope almost as much as one can love a machine...

    My oscilloscope is *both* analog *and* digital.

    This ain't no small potatoes...

    We're talking: Its "bandwidth" is 20MHz, but I've diagnosed signals up to 128MHz, by adjusting various scaling-factors, in analog-mode.

    In digital mode... well, it's pretty limited. 20MS/s means Nyquist would say we can't view anything greater than 10MHz, and then, only *barely*. Allegedly it can view repetitive signals at much higher sample-rates in "EQUIV" mode, which I assume does-so by *beginning* sampling at different delays after the trigger... I've had... sporadic luck with this.

    But... at signal-rates lower than 10MHz, the digital-mode it does quite nicely... E.G. being able to "scroll" low-frequency signals is *awesome*... and, as far as I'm aware, completely impossible via analog-only means. Similarly, the ability to "hold" and then, essentially, "dump" a screenshot... well that's quite handy. It also does averaging and various interpolation-methods, but not things like... what I'mma call "windowing" wherein it'd show both the min and max values sampled at each sample-point (limited sample-memory, only seems to handle about one screen).

    Now, in this era a 20MS/s 'scope ain't hard to come by... (nevermind RAM)... And, if I understand correctly, most digital 'scopes today that claim e.g. 20MHz sample at 10x that (200MS/s). So, by-far way better than this guy... (Though, there is a bit of debate as to whether cheapo-'scopes that claim such rates actually have the analog-front-ends to support it).

    Anyways, I *have* actually diagnosed 128Mb/s signals, of certain forms, on my allegedly 20MHz analog 'scope... aliasing isn't a factor in the analog realm... It Can Be Done... And, so, analog is quite a nice thing at times...

    (E.G. say your "20MHz" digital-only 'scope samples at 200MS/s... Nyquist says that you'll never see anything greater than 100MHz on that screen, without its being severely distorted by aliasing... Though, again, there may be ways 'round this, e.g. when you know a signal is repetitive, and your triggering is highly-accurate, and your software-programmer and circuit designer were "extremely" on the side of "clever").


    Anyways... It's been a long-running idea to replace the digital circuitry in my 'scope with something a little more capable in today's technology... 

    I've yet to come across a service-manual (as opposed to user-manual) for this guy, so I guess we'll have to start with some reverse-engineering...


    Oh, BTW, this is a Goldstar OS-3020, which appears to also have been labelled as LG (Lucky Goldstar?) OS-3020, also plausibly EZ-Digital OS-3020, It's of the OS-3000 series (which comes in 20, 40, and 60MHz varieties, along with the OS-3040, OS-3060... And I've seen e.g. OS-3020D, OS-3040D, and OS-3060D part-numbers, as well...

    The user-manual shows BASIC listings for how to work with it... I mean, Cool. No?


    Anyways, lacking schematics, here's some stuff for posterity:

    The digital-board is located under the CRT... I guess the CRT's sheilding makes that possible.

    The "big" components on the digital-board are:

    U2412 HD64180RCP 10X (CPU, 10MHz, ZILOG Z180/Z80180 "fully-compatible", 1MB address-space... kinda funny I've been doing so much with Z80's recently. @Ziggurat29, any interest in disassembling this thing?).

    U2402 XILINX XC2018-70 (Gate-Array... ??? Video-controller ???)

    U2422 EPROM: TMS27C512-15 (Boot-ROM, 64KB)



    82C55 - (2x) Programmable Peripheral Interface

    82C54 - (2x) Programmable Interval Timer

    HM63021 - (2x) 2KByte "serial-access" SRAM

    [H]A19211B - (2x) 20MS/s 8-bit A-D converters

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  • Contemplations on CMOS/TTL interfacing/hacks

    01/05/2017 at 09:56 0 comments

    Discussion with @Ted Yapo and @jaromir.sukuba over at one of my project's logs wound 'round to the concept of level-shifting for various CMOS voltage-supplies and TTL... and it got me thinking.

    The basic gist of that conversation was:

    3.3V CMOS outputs can typically drive TTL inputs, but cannot be relied on to drive 5V CMOS inputs. Similarly, it's not reliable to feed a 5V TTL output into a 5V CMOS input.

    Thus, there's the 74xCT series (ACT, HCT, etc.).

    Basically, if you want to interface a TTL output signal to a 5V CMOS input, you should use the HCT or ACT series, rather than the HC or AC series, at that juncture in the circuit.

    And, as I understand, that same series can be used to interface a 3.3V CMOS output to a 5V CMOS input.

    There should be plenty of info about this 'round the web, and surely more reliably-documented than anything I could come up with. Look for "level-shifting" and check out the datasheets for these series.


    This "page" is mostly about hacks. These concepts should *NOT* be used in products, without *carefully* looking into the details that I won't be going into, here, to any extent except to throw out some ideas/experiences... for HACKS-SAKE.


    So, here are some of my experiences with the TTL series' running at 3.6V. We're talking e.g. the 7400, 74S00, 74LS00, and 74F00. They're only spec'd down to 4.5V, but I have had some luck using TTL at 3.6V, and you might too.

    • For #sdramThing4.5 "Logic Analyzer", as regular-ol' glue-logic, a MUX, a latch, and some boolean-logic. There were definite performance-hits, but it was functional. I eventually "upgraded" to the HC series and, of course, the system was able to run faster. But. "It worked" with lowered-expectations, and a lot of experimentation, 'scoping, etc. with TTL's running at 3.6V.
    • For that system, as well as my AVR-based LVDS-LCD controller: https://sites.google.com/site/geekattempts/home-1/drive-an-old-laptop-display-from-an-avr I've used 74LS86's (alternatively 74LS00's, and 74LS32's) running at 3.6V to drive the LVDS signals into old laptop displays. (much slower than normal FPD-Link... 16-128Mbps). Note that LVDS has a differential voltage of something like 0.1-0.3V, and has a 100ohm load at the end, which just happened to work out darn-near perfectly when directly-driven by the LS86's. Again, a lot of experimentation went into this! But the key, here, is that "it worked" *way* out of specs, and surprisingly reliably (two systems running 24/7 for over a year!).

    Again, Neither of these experiences should be *expected* to work for you just because I happened to luck-out. But, for hack's sake don't be deterred from giving it a try (and expect it to be flakey!).


    Why? Mostly because those were the supplies I had on-hand.

    Actually, the LS->LVDS system went through *many* iterations involving better-suited systems before settling on the (simplest) direct-driving via 74LS86. Another attempt used AHC parts, an inverter and a buffer. These are CMOS, rated for 3.3V, quite a bit faster, and most importantly (for LVDS) have much higher drive-strength, thus requiring series-resistors to keep the voltage low-enough.


    The recent discussion with Jaromir, as I said, got me thinking a bit about the xC vs xCT series. As I understand, the xCT series is basically identical to the xC series *except* that its inputs are rated for TTL-signals.

    So... does that mean that the internal circuitry is identical, exclusive of the inputs?

    The thing is: I've access to a bunch of ACT parts, but not so many AC. Similarly for HCT and HC. Others might run into the same when working on a project at a hacker-space, hackathon, convention, etc.

    So, why the question...? Because ACT and HCT are *only* specified for 4.5-5.5V, just like TTL. But, if internally they're identical to the AC and HC series, then maybe they *can* run at the AC/HC power-supply-voltage-levels somewhat happily... (Maybe even with very similar timing-specs to the AC/HC...

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