Hardware Project: Is this even possible?

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Timnaber
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Hardware Project: Is this even possible?

Postby Timnaber » Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:59 pm

There have been lots of hardware projects in the past that add great things to our STs, but I always felt they did not go far enough. Or it has been like: you can have this one, but because you chose that you cannot have this one. So you have to choose between great items and are not able to take advantage of another great project.

I would try my hand in this if had any hardware design knowledge. I can solder, but I am no engineer. Therefore, I am willing to fund the development. Test boards, parts etc. There isn't a paycheck in it, but the developers and I would share in the credits of the device and any profits, if there are any.

There should be two versions of this hardware addon. One for VME and one for the internal expansion slot in STs.

This addon will have:
1. Graphics Card w/4mb RAM (built on the VME or BUS board, Internally. VGA port to back cover)
2. USB - true USB (2 ports to back cover)
3. IDE (Port to back cover, can be internal or external)
4. SD (port to back cover, can be micro SD)
5. FPU.
6. Network (port to back cover)
7. Blitter
8. Probably need a new 3D printed back cover with all ports to attach to.
9. And, of course, all of the drivers that go with the above.

Not all STs need all of the above, so there should be a way to turn each off from software run on the ST.

To me, this sounds impossible. So I guess the name of it should be THE IMPOSSIBLE.
ST: TT030 10/32 MB; Falcon 030 14MB(2); Mega STe 4 MB; Mga 4 stock(3), 1040STf 4 MB(3); ST 4MB (2); Megafile 44 (3); Megafile 30(4)

8-Bit: 320XE w/Ultraspeed+/FIXXL; 320XE; 130XE w/Ultimate 1MB; 600XL w/Ultimate 1MB; 800XL w/Omnimon XL/Boss XL/Omniview XL; 800 w/Incognito; 48K 800; Black Box Enhanced (3); 1050 Super Archiver II; 1050 Happy (2); XF551 360K(2); XF551 720K; 8-bit Hard Drive Tower 480 MBs.

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Greenious
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Re: Hardware Project: Is this even possible?

Postby Greenious » Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:57 am

All of that has been done, one way or another, for the ST(E) already, so there's certainly nothing impossible about it.

There's a few things I'd like to point out though

IDE & SD, there are tons of cheap IDE to SD adapters out there, you could never make a cheaper variant on the ST, so I would just implement IDE, and let people decide themself what they want to attach to it, IDE harddrives, cds or SD/CF/whatever.

Blitter is getting a bit hard to find and expensive to retrofit (and is very easy to add to a Mega ST if it doesn't already have it, and is already present in STE/TT with VME), and if you make a new gfx card I would dare to say it likely is redundant, you could add/design functions that would make the blitter less useful than the appendix, and a new gfx card need drivers anyway.
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czietz
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Re: Hardware Project: Is this even possible?

Postby czietz » Sat Oct 05, 2019 6:43 am

One thing that actually is technically impossible is realizing this on a card that plugs into the VME bus. You cannot do things like IDE, FPU, Blitter, ... in the VME address bus range and be compatible with existing applications/drivers.

In my ST I already have everything from your list except the 3D-printed cover and the FPU. (There are almost no applications that use the FPU in a 68000 machine, anyway.)

PS: Why not add 8 MB of AltRAM and a CPU speeder to your list?

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Timnaber
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Re: Hardware Project: Is this even possible?

Postby Timnaber » Mon Oct 07, 2019 3:20 pm

Thanks for the feedback, guys.

I can see that some of the items may not work through VME. It was a huge wish list. But the main purpose was to try to combine some of the items that get installed the same way, i.e. 'remove processor, install board, replace processor' . In this instance it would be nice to have all of the items that needs that type of installation done on one board, instead on different boards and then I have to decide which one I want more.

OK so maybe there is a VME board that does all VME stuff and a Processer board that does everything the VME cannot. Then I can buy two items and have a well upgraded computer.

As far as a new Graphics card, it can be Tseng 4000 chipset that already has drivers written for it. I added the Graphics card as I have seen devices that place the graphics card outside the computer. It just makes more sense to put it in the computer.

I had no particular computer in mind when I wrote the original post. I wanted to cover items that are useful for most of them.
ST: TT030 10/32 MB; Falcon 030 14MB(2); Mega STe 4 MB; Mga 4 stock(3), 1040STf 4 MB(3); ST 4MB (2); Megafile 44 (3); Megafile 30(4)

8-Bit: 320XE w/Ultraspeed+/FIXXL; 320XE; 130XE w/Ultimate 1MB; 600XL w/Ultimate 1MB; 800XL w/Omnimon XL/Boss XL/Omniview XL; 800 w/Incognito; 48K 800; Black Box Enhanced (3); 1050 Super Archiver II; 1050 Happy (2); XF551 360K(2); XF551 720K; 8-bit Hard Drive Tower 480 MBs.

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Greenious
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Re: Hardware Project: Is this even possible?

Postby Greenious » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:50 pm

Well, the VME slot is a good place to put things, but yes, you would have to add some additional wires if you want to use more than the VME bus allows, making it less installation friendly.

As for gfx, at this point in time I'm not so sure these old chipsets, or ISA/PCI cards, can be sourced very easily, or at a reasonable price, compared to an FPGA based solution. I don't know how big the market is, but it would probably need atleast a few hundred to create a big enough userbase to have people motivated enough to write sw and maintain drivers.

But I suspect that if someone came up with something that could be made in larger numbers, with components that could be sourced as needed like CT63 for Falcon, or skuunkboard/SD cartridge for jaguar etc a lot more people would be interested in getting one aswell. All gfx solutions for ST(E) are old and hard to find today, and if you manage to put your hands on one, you are pretty much alone with it, which I think is a turnoff for many.

Anyway, it's pure speculation on my part, but I do think a modern solution is needed here.
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Re: Hardware Project: Is this even possible?

Postby 1st1 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:05 pm

FPU plus Blitter through VME bus... Yes...
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Timnaber
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Re: Hardware Project: Is this even possible?

Postby Timnaber » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:42 pm

Greenious wrote: … All gfx solutions for ST(E) are old and hard to find today, and if you manage to put your hands on one, you are pretty much alone with it, which I think is a turnoff for many....


I have to agree with this. There does need to be a new solution. So if anyone goes after a new gfx card, please include more VME stuff on that card.
ST: TT030 10/32 MB; Falcon 030 14MB(2); Mega STe 4 MB; Mga 4 stock(3), 1040STf 4 MB(3); ST 4MB (2); Megafile 44 (3); Megafile 30(4)

8-Bit: 320XE w/Ultraspeed+/FIXXL; 320XE; 130XE w/Ultimate 1MB; 600XL w/Ultimate 1MB; 800XL w/Omnimon XL/Boss XL/Omniview XL; 800 w/Incognito; 48K 800; Black Box Enhanced (3); 1050 Super Archiver II; 1050 Happy (2); XF551 360K(2); XF551 720K; 8-bit Hard Drive Tower 480 MBs.


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