Help & information about the STE V1 booster.
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Post by rubber_jonnie » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:46 am

So booster is all good, and I've now re-flashed my TL866CS to TL866A firmware and will add the headers it needs to add in ICSP programming too.

Damn thing still doesn't seem to support Atmel 22V10C GALs though :(

But the booster is good!!
Collector of old Atari things:
800XL + Ape Warp mod, 2x 1010 cassette, 1050 + Happy mod, 65XE (128k) & XC12, SIO2SD, 2600jr, 7800 and Lynx II
Atari 520ST (1Meg) + Gotek, 1040STFM + Vortex ATOnce + Gotek, 1040STF long button floppy, 4160 STE with Gotek and ROM switcher, 4160STE with 32Mhz booster, ROM switcher and CosmosEx, not to mention various bare ST boards for testing including a PAK 68/2 :)
Plus the rest..
Amiga stuff, Mac stuff, Sinclair stuff etc...

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Post by exxos » Mon Mar 25, 2019 10:04 pm

In case people missed it.. The STE booster project is basically abandoned now and been removed from my store.

The plug in boards have been a nightmare from day 1 and it's just time to move on from it all. Not only are the failures of building these boards really high ( I don't know why) but since finding out different socket brands have different dimensions than the booster header pins, I am not about to start doing multiple versions of the same thing.

The 40MHz operation turned out to need much more complex PLD logic which means we are basically back to the 32MHz V1 design. I also found multiple issues with various GAL chips, where only certain ones would work at all. This also created huge issues. As people know I started using the Atmel ones, where I had to change the booster design to work with these chips. But I am really not happy with what seems to be, really bad hardware tolerances on the chips. So I cannot simply make these things up and have them work. It is a fight for each chip fitted to get it working.

If anything, the V1 design (the solder in version) would be the only version I would consider making again.. But with all the troubles of the PLCC sockets, I would need to revise the PCB to use a SMT one, as those generally tend to be better fitting.. But again, I'm not about to spend the time starting this project all over again, designing the circuit boards, building them up, testing them, debugging them.. But even so, I really would not want to use the 22V10's again on these boosters. I would really opt to move to a Altera or ATF15xx series.. But then it's starting the whole project again from scratch for a third time.

I think I have spent enough time on it all already to know that the STE is a lot more problematical to work on than I originally thought. I really don't have the time or patience to keep debugging endless design faults on these machines, That's even before getting to debugging the booster hardware itself. But as I am fighting tolerances on chips as well, it is not a good project to invest time into.

The same issue with the STFM motherboards with multiple motherboard revisions, all with their own quirks. You cant fix multiple issues by a simple hardware add-on. Each motherboard has to be debugged and fixes applied even before getting to the point of adding hardware. All this has become a total nightmare over the past few years and it is not work I am prepared to do any more. I'm hardly even spending time on debugging my own designed hardware, I am debugging hardware which someone else designed 30+ years ago! Its not a good use of time.

As per what I said in my action plan of this year...


I'm actually abandoning Falcon and STE hardware development as I simply do not have the time to work on every machine. But it is not simply that, all the hardware faults have just become too great to warrant spending the time to keep debugging them. IMHO it is just better to move over to the STF remake project where I can build a motherboard which works properly right from the start. This way hardware development will happen a order of magnitude faster as I will not have to to debug endless faults which appear on the original Atari motherboards.

IMHO Keeping the original machines working in their original working condition is likely going to be a challenge enough in coming years. Trying to build add-ons for these machines it is not really good idea anymore.

If people want upgraded machines, they should come on over to the remake project forum and help out with that as building a new machine with hardware add-ons built in is a lot better direction to move in.
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