FPGA 68000

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby unseenmenace » Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:48 pm

PaulB wrote:So you want to do away with the floppy entirely?

To be honest I don't know, I umm'd and ahh'd about that for some time but a floppy drive would add a fair bit of bulk to what could otherwise be a very compact unit. I guess if a project like Stimpy's got to the point of small scale production it would probably be best to do a poll but I can't help but think the vast majority of people that would buy such a device would prefer to keep their ST stuff on a PC and put the bits they want to use regularly on something small like an SD card. What about having a floppy port so you at least have the option of plugging in an external?
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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby teh3pwner » Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:55 pm

maybe some sort of connector should be added, for some extrenal floppy drive or something like that :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby Joel » Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:01 am

All we need now is someone who works in plastics to make such a thing


It'd cost a bomb for each one but I work with Solidworks and could make the CAD files at least!

Alexh > My source can no longer get the parts for the Minimig PCB :(

I can still get the parts but we'll need to wait until I can afford them.

Unless you want my PCB and populate it yourself to save time?

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby alexh » Tue Mar 04, 2008 8:06 am

unseenmenace wrote:Here is a little "artists impression" of what (in my view) an ST replacement should look like.

It's too big.

Dump the parallel port (who's gonna wanna print?).
Dump the DMA port (if you want data off an old hard drive, use a PC and SCSI card)
Dump the STe joystick ports (Only a very small proportion of games used them. Technically they will be a headache)
Dump the Cartridge port (We can integrate any clock/freezer cartridge into the FPGA)
Dump the LAN port (No one is going to want to browse the net and for file transfer you've got an SD card!)

What it is missing is:

Add some DIP switches for pre-boot configuration.
A general purpose button or two (Disk/Config Menu, Freezer cartridge emulation, disk swap/eject).

This would reduce the form factor greatly.

(Still it was a great drawing ;-))

PaulB wrote:So you want to do away with the floppy entirely?

I would say "YES". Disk image files (.ST, maybe even .STx) would be on the SD card and selected via a menu (totally separate from the ST operation). The SD card would also be used as a hard drive.

Joel wrote:Alexh > My source can no longer get the parts for the Minimig PCB :(

Never mind, I wasn't holding my breath.

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby earx » Wed Mar 05, 2008 3:20 pm

unseen: damn great casing design picture!

alexh: good points, indeed you can dump most ports.. except for the lan. call me nuts but i'd like to run irc or check my mail on this thing. even with 8 MHz and the limited resolutions, it should be possible :)

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby jvas » Wed Mar 05, 2008 3:54 pm

alexh wrote:It's too big.

Dump the parallel port (who's gonna wanna print?).
Dump the DMA port (if you want data off an old hard drive, use a PC and SCSI card)
Dump the STe joystick ports (Only a very small proportion of games used them. Technically they will be a headache)
Dump the Cartridge port (We can integrate any clock/freezer cartridge into the FPGA)
Dump the LAN port (No one is going to want to browse the net and for file transfer you've got an SD card!)


What about compatibilty? How do you want to use your old peripherials without the connectors? (at least transfering data from your old HDD to the SD card)
LAN is not just for "browsing the net". You can also use ftp. With higher CPU frequencies (I don't know the maximum) a web browser/email client can be used too.
By the way, I would like to add the floppy drive for compatibility reasons too.

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby bullis1 » Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:02 pm

alexh wrote:Dump the parallel port (who's gonna wanna print?).
Dump the DMA port (if you want data off an old hard drive, use a PC and SCSI card)
Dump the STe joystick ports (Only a very small proportion of games used them. Technically they will be a headache)
Dump the Cartridge port (We can integrate any clock/freezer cartridge into the FPGA)
Dump the LAN port (No one is going to want to browse the net and for file transfer you've got an SD card!)


Basically what you're doing is making the smallest, most incompatible ST for the sole purpose of playing old games, instead of a useful computer. I see your points but I wouldn't even call that a computer anymore, when it has practically no I/O.
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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby unseenmenace » Wed Mar 05, 2008 6:19 pm

I tend to agree with the above comments as any such device you actually want to sell any number of would need to be useful to the maximum number of people possible without making it unfeasibly expensive. I can't imagine a few D connectors adding much to the cost of such a thing though. Personally I would happily pay good money for something that did everything a real ST could do but was smaller and a bit more 21st century friendly (i.e. SD cards, LAN etc) and I bet a lot of musicians would snap up a MiniSTE :) . Of course where this actually goes depends on the people with the skill and knowlege to make it happen (i.e. Stimpy, Alex etc).
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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby PaulB » Wed Mar 05, 2008 6:26 pm

I think Bullis is correct in his statement as all you'd be making is the equivalent of an Atari ST console that has a keyboard. I've a feeling if it had a built in Lan port it just may stir some people up to write a modern browser that handles javascript properly and ssl. I don't ever see java or flash being part of it but then I can easily live without that.

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby alexh » Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:32 pm

jvas wrote:What about compatibilty?

With what?

jvas wrote:How do you want to use your old peripherials without the connectors?

Like what? A Jaguar Pad is the only thing I can think of. Most STfm users never had one and almost no applications supported it.

jvas wrote:at least transfering data from your old HDD to the SD card

You use your computer (PC/Mac) and a SCSI card.

jvas wrote:LAN is not just for "browsing the net". You can also use ftp.

Surely it's a "do it once" thing and from then on you FTP painlessly using a GUI on your main computer and transfer the files using the SD card.

jvas wrote:With higher CPU frequencies (I don't know the maximum) a web browser/email client can be used too.

You really are a masochist :)

bullis1 wrote:instead of a useful computer

Be realistic. EVERYONE interested in the Atari ST has a second computer. It long since stopped being a "useful computer" and now brings joy and nostalgia to those who used one when they were younger through it's applications, games, demo's and programming challenges.

Just out of interest, what did you all do with your extra I/O on your ST?

unseenmenace wrote:I bet a lot of musicians would snap up a MiniSTE :)

Musicians have long since moved to a different platform.

PaulB wrote:all you'd be making is the equivalent of an Atari ST console that has a keyboard

With a floppy drive that uses .ST files on an SD card. A hard drive and a scandoubler (31KHz VGA out). Ability to use modern keyboards and mice without adapters.

Beyond that, it should be possible to recreate extra classic Atari hardware in the FPGA such as MegaSTe's 16MHz 68k, a Nova style gfx card etc. etc.
Last edited by alexh on Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby unseenmenace » Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:55 pm

Parallel port: used for much more than printing and in fact my 2 main reasons for wanting one would be for 4-player joystick adapters and parallel port D-A convertors.

Cartridge port: the main reasons for keeping these would be the vast array of samplers, sound carts and dongles for the likes of Cubase.

STE Joy ports: Personally I use these a lot and if an FPGA project was ever expanded to include Falcon capabilities then they would have even more worthwile uses.

DMA: I could live without it myself

Floppy: A socket for one might be nice for testing originals

earx wrote:unseen: damn great casing design picture!

Thanks :)
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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby alexh » Wed Mar 05, 2008 9:13 pm

unseenmenace wrote:Parallel port: for 4-player joystick adapters and parallel port D-A convertors.

We'd be able to integrate the capability of the PP D2A converter into the FPGA and output the sound via the regular sound connector (either mixed in with regular sound or selectable). Were there that many 4 player games? If so then maybe worth something here.

unseenmenace wrote:Cartridge port: the main reasons for keeping these would be the vast array of samplers, sound carts and dongles for the likes of Cubase.

Sound carts can be integrated into the FPGA like the parallel port, dongles could be too if their operation was known, but I have a feelin most dongles have been hacked out of said software ;-) And there is no use for a sampler these days.. you can always transfer samples from your second computer via SD card.

unseenmenace wrote:STE Joy ports: Personally I use these a lot

Seriously? Out of curiosity, what for?

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby unseenmenace » Wed Mar 05, 2008 9:43 pm

alexh wrote:
unseenmenace wrote:Parallel port: for 4-player joystick adapters and parallel port D-A convertors.

We'd be able to integrate the capability of the PP D2A converter into the FPGA and output the sound via the regular sound connector (either mixed in with regular sound or selectable). Were there that many 4 player games? If so then maybe worth something here.

Theres a few here:- http://www.atari-forum.com/wiki/index.php/Multitap_Games
You could always dump the parallel port but have 2 extra joystick ports instead?

alexh wrote:
unseenmenace wrote:Cartridge port: the main reasons for keeping these would be the vast array of samplers, sound carts and dongles for the likes of Cubase.

Sound carts can be integrated into the FPGA like the parallel port, dongles could be too if their operation was known, but I have a feelin most dongles have been hacked out of said software ;-) And there is no use for a sampler these days.. you can always transfer samples from your second computer via SD card.

I have a few different sound carts and samplers and a project on the go that I hope to add support for them to but without mixing the output with the YM or DMA but I realise I may be the only person interested in such a thing :)

alexh wrote:
unseenmenace wrote:STE Joy ports: Personally I use these a lot

What for?

http://www.atariage.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=121908&st=0&
And yes I realise some of those are Falcon only titles
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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby alexh » Wed Mar 05, 2008 10:18 pm

I think you should forget anything "falcon like" for several years (at least).

A 68030 and DSP is not going to be possible with todays low cost FPGA's (capacity or speed wise) not to mention (unlike the ST) it is still covered by active patents.

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby Joel » Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:14 pm

Be realistic. EVERYONE interested in the Atari ST has a second computer. It long since stopped being a "useful computer" and now brings joy and nostalgia to those who used one when they were younger through it's applications, games, demo's and programming challenges.


Very true. Though it would be nice to have access to a cart port, I think for a design like this it's overkill.

An external floppy port would be a good idea though. Most of us, I'm sure, still have mountains of disks they aren't willing to give up.

I kind of always imagined this being integrated into a modern slim keyboard. Same idea as the ST but not even close to being as bulky. Certainly is a great concept drawing though UM :)

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby ppera » Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:31 pm

Instead floppy drive I would like to see floppy emulator - to run images from SD cards or hard disk.

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby alexh » Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:05 pm

ppera wrote:Instead floppy drive I would like to see floppy emulator - to run images from SD cards or hard disk.

This is part of the MiniMig design and is already complete, it should be painless to adapter for Atari ST (for .ST files at least).

I'd like to play at bringing it up, but I cannot justify the £100+ for the FPGA board with a perfectly good MegaSTe with a CF card for a hard drive sitting in front of me :-(

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby bullis1 » Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:23 pm

unseenmenace wrote:Parallel port: used for much more than printing and in fact my 2 main reasons for wanting one would be for 4-player joystick adapters and parallel port D-A convertors.
Cartridge port: the main reasons for keeping these would be the vast array of samplers, sound carts and dongles for the likes of Cubase.
STE Joy ports: Personally I use these a lot and if an FPGA project was ever expanded to include Falcon capabilities then they would have even more worthwile uses.
DMA: I could live without it myself
Floppy: A socket for one might be nice for testing originals


I pretty much agree with Unseen on all these points. I'm a musician that used a PC for many years and in the last few I've switched back to ST for MIDI reasons, software efficiency, and for easy use of the YM2149 when I want it. I have various DACs, samplers, and MIDI interfaces that use the parallel, serial, and cartridge ports.

However, I'm probably not the target audience for this project and I never buy new versions of old hardware anyways.
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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby NiceGuyUK » Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:28 pm

Wanted : Something I can run ST games and demos on and do some DevPac coding when the mood takes me. Must fit in pocket, work with a USB keyboard and mouse and have a VGA adapter. SD storage is fine.

That's as simple as I can make it. Everything else I wouldn't need. As Jeff Minter once told me "if it works, don't kick it"...
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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby alexh » Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:39 pm

NiceGuyUK wrote: work with a USB keyboard and mouse

The MiniMig PCB will work with a USB keyboard and mouse *IF* they support legacy PS/2 with an adapter.

ImageImage

True USB support is too expensive and at this time a little pointless.

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby NiceGuyUK » Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:01 am

Hack-A-Day has an article (and link to some info) on FPGA today - check out http://www.hackaday.com/2008/03/06/fpgas-rock/
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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby ppera » Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:06 pm

alexh wrote:This is part of the MiniMig design and is already complete, it should be painless to adapter for Atari ST (for .ST files at least).

I'd like to play at bringing it up, but I cannot justify the £100+ for the FPGA board with a perfectly good MegaSTe with a CF card for a hard drive sitting in front of me :-(


Yeah.
Don't see why implementing anything should be painful. Developing something new should be a fun, challenge :D
ST and MSA support is almost same - MSA is not too complicated image format. Perhaps, if project became popular we will see Ijor to publish STX specs... (somewhere in 2020 :-) )

SD support seems as not to practical - using hard disk images on machine which can work directly with hard disks ?? (read memory card in this case). I understand that it is because of concept - loading 'firmware' from card at boot etc...
Adding IDE support is really trivial, what would ensure much more flexible and faster work with CF cards or hard disks.

Other solution would be usage of 2 SD cards: on for boot-up system, then using regular partitioned FAT system as real hard disk - after emulation is on.

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby alexh » Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:23 pm

ppera wrote:SD support seems as not to practical - using hard disk images on machine which can work directly with hard disks ?? (read memory card in this case).

I am sorry, I cannot understand what you are trying to say?

ppera wrote:Adding IDE support is really trivial

It would require lots of FPGA I/O. That is what makes it non trivial.

ppera wrote:ensure much more flexible and faster work with CF cards or hard disks.

Why work with CF cards or hard disks when you can use the SD card which is required to boot the FGPA?

ppera wrote:Other solution would be usage of 2 SD cards: on for boot-up system, then using regular partitioned FAT system as real hard disk - after emulation is on.

Why use two when you can use one? Hard disk files _would_ use regular partitioned FAT system just like a real hard disk. It would probably be possible to just use two partitions.

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby ppera » Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:38 pm

alexh wrote:I am sorry, I cannot understand what you are trying to say?

ppera wrote:Adding IDE support is really trivial

It would require lots of FPGA I/O. That is what makes it non trivial.

ppera wrote:ensure much more flexible and faster work with CF cards or hard disks.

Why work with CF cards or hard disks when you can use the SD card which is required to boot the FGPA?

ppera wrote:Other solution would be usage of 2 SD cards: on for boot-up system, then using regular partitioned FAT system as real hard disk - after emulation is on.

Why use two when you can use one? Hard disk files _would_ use regular partitioned FAT system just like a real hard disk. It would probably be possible to just use two partitions.


Maybe I don't get it correct. But it talks about work with hard disk images on site. So, I have impression that it uses SD card in special way - as boot for emulation system, and is not planned to be used as regular drive with normal partitions.

Very likely usage of special partition for emulation on regular partitioned SD card will ensure it. Probably some small extra work for supporting regular partitioned SD card....
In that case no much sense for IDE port (CF cards cost more than SD).

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Re: FPGA 68000

Postby unseenmenace » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:12 pm

OK here's a more compact version and I also added a couple of configuration buttons :)
micro-st.gif
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Last edited by unseenmenace on Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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