Various boosters for various machines ( FAQ & Rant)

General chat about boosters.
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exxos
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Various boosters for various machines ( FAQ & Rant)

Post by exxos » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:18 am

I get asked a lot of common questions over and over so here's a roundup of them.

I get asked about accelerators for Acorn, mega Drive, Amiga and other non-Atari related machines. My V1 booster would likely work in any 68000 based machine, but for starters I do not have these machines, and I do not have time to try them. If people want to know if the accelerator will work, they should get a test machine and try it!

Secondly, most of my time is taken up with my web store, and as said before, I'm struggling to keep stocks up in th the store as it is. My free time after that is taken up replying to emails and generally helping people out on various groups various problems. The time left after this is practically nothing, so it leaves very little time for me to work on new hardware. For example the 32 MHz STFM has been on my to do list for about 4 years now and I have only just got around starting this. And it will likely take another year to complete. That pretty much concludes I have zero time for anything else whatsoever.

I also get asked about recreating the PAK series of booster. There are already two or three people selling this booster. And I believe one person is already looking into recreating it with more modern parts are making it smaller. While I could do this, I do not want to take someone else's design manufacture it and sell it for huge profits. To me personally while it is good to recreate this old hardware so people can use it, I also feel such people such should be slightly ashamed of themselves basically ripping off someone else's work and selling for profit.

I did consider myself remaking the PAK, but again I do not have time, and the problem is it is very difficult to debug and expand on someone else's design. As such I decided to start the booster work from the ground up and document everything along the way. This will ultimately benefit everyone who wishes to design and manufacture their own accelerators in the future. As there is practically zero information on how to do this. This is what people should be doing not just taking some other design and copying it. Ultimately this does not achieve anything.

All my work, and progress of what I am working on each day or week, is posted here on my forum and on my website. Likely more technical information and daily activities will be posted on the forum, and more final roundups of the work will be posted on my website.

Overall, I get asked a lot of things each day by a lot of people, while one project may seem easy to copy and produce, it still takes a lot of time. I do not want to seem like I am not helping people what they want, when there are like 100 people wanting 100 different things, the 99 of those people will likely not get what they want. People generally don't seem to understand how much time and effort has to go into each project, and I do not believe I will be motivated or live for the next 500 years to complete all this work by myself.

So likely when all my accelerators are completed, and the new motherboard, various add-ons will be adapted to it, but this could take easily 5 to 10 years to complete. This is all my time taken up. As to if this will ultimately get finished I cannot say, why I would love to do many many projects, unfortunately I just do not have the time. I do actually have a day job as well!

Ultimately, I may one day move to 020 & 030 processes, as I said before previously, the 68SEC000 wires up almost like the 020 CPU, so once the SEC booster is completed should not really be much work to drop a 020 or 030 in there.

There were also one thing to take into account, I have been designing PCBs since the early 90s, and every single kit I produce likely has several different versions of that PCB. Overall I'm getting a little tired of designing PCBs of late. It is not something I particularly find enjoyable any more, it is very time-consuming and complicated to do. I really would suggest people learning themselves how use PCB software as any current hardware developer isn't going to be around forever.

There are also others working on 020 and 030 accelerators such as Rodolphe and Terriblefire. So there is really no need for myself to basically recreate something with several other people are already working on.

Terrible fire does work on other machines and is trying to create a more universal processor upgrade which can be used in various machines. If that is what people want they should hop over to his channel and support his work and progress. Such projects are open source and documented so these designs are more future proof and should not become lost and obsolete like so many other projects have in the past.

Basically all information relating to accelerators is basically non-existent. I myself want to create and document everything from the ground up. This is what a lot more people should be doing. If I want to produce something, I wanted to be my own work, so I can update and adapted easily in the future. Updating someone else's design while is possible, it is also very time-consuming, as slight changes can cause malfunctions when it should not do. I do not know of any bugs or stability issues with other accelerators, I do not have any and I don't want to build upon someone else's design which is basically untested by myself.

Building upon a unknown platform is not a wise thing to do. As it often leads to debugging the original design in the first place. And I really just do not want to go down that path. I would rather learn all about issues and shortfalls every step of the way, document them and come up with solutions. Ultimately this is a lot more productive and better use of time.

People who are like me and of course everyone else developing accelerators just as a example, we did not wake up one morning and decide to build the world's most awesome accelerator. We all started out knowing absolutely nothing, and we are learning every step of the way on how to achieve the results we want. There is no reason why others cannot do this also.

Only these days I have four years worth of my work in accelerators documented on my website, work which others do not really have to do, but are aware of everything I have tried, the results and failures of everything also. This is the backbone work designing any accelerator. People should be very fortunate I'm spending huge amounts of my life doing this work and documenting it for other peoples for the future. If I took the PAK and copied it and produced it, what would that really accomplish ?

So my suggestion is that anyone who wants accelerator for any machine, start reading my information start learning how to use PCB software and start creating hardware! As mentioned previously, terrible fire is developing various open source platforms, basically giving away the "bare bones" designs two people come adapt and build upon them themselves. We are all doing things as quick as we can! As for myself, accelerators is just one thing I am working on. I am of course working on power supplies, RAM upgrades, and million other things. So my progress for each kit will be extremely slow.

And for those thinking why do not just work on one thing and do that, well as hardware developers know this does not work in practice. For example I will design the PCB, for some kids, and the PCB will take two weeks to arrive. In that time I would basically be doing nothing. So I start on another project, and then I am waiting another two weeks for the PCB to arrive, so I take on another project. This is confusing as hell keep tabs on every single project I'm working on and its status and what needs to be done next. Also I may decide I want a break from one project and work on something else for a little bit instead. Again as hardware developers know, sometimes it is better to take a step back away from projects and problems and go back to them with a clear head another day.

I should also point out, again, we all do this in our free time, sometimes it seems like a lot of people are nagging because they want the hardware, and yet they do not want to for any of their own time into helping development. Only hardware developers really understand and can appreciate the huge amounts of time effort and money which goes into developing every single piece of hardware. People are not happy with the progress, then do like I have to do, and do everything yourself!

There are unfortunately people out there who do copy other people's designs and sell them at a profit. I believe terrible fire also had this issue a few weeks ago, where people were taking his PCB design and selling it for a unrealistic high amount. Basically again, ripping off someone else's work and selling it for profit. This really does not help motivation for any hardware developer who are giving away tens of thousands of hours of their free time to help people just ultimately get ripped off by a few idiots.
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guus.assmann
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Re: Various boosters for various machines ( FAQ & Rant)

Post by guus.assmann » Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:26 am

Hello Exxos,

The comment on any rippoff is understandable and I do agree it's a dispicable action.
Specially if it's obviously done to earn money. It also abuses fairly ignorant users.

Regarding the re-creation of things like PAK or other boosters, I have a somewhat different opinion.
Your hobby and intrest is great. It must give you some satisfaction (I hope) and it's surely great for many users.
And the technical acheivement is also interesting in more ways than one.
So I'm happy and greatfull that you make it available for the gereral public. Many thanks for that. :D

However this being said, a component like PAK or another "old" design serves a purpose.
In the past, I could never afford such nice things. But thanks to these new productions I can.
And it may also moderate the price of "collector items".
For me, it's a shame that some of the old products end up in some collection and will never be used again.
If the collector dies, what of these parts?
By making them available again, it may encourage the collectors to sell of their (not overly prized anymore) items.
Of course, when recreating these designs, one should seek the aproval of the persons that hold the rights.
And in the case of the Pak68-2 this has been done.
Also, I do own some of this old hardware. And I want to use it.
Thanks to the information that may also come from re-creation, I can sometimes use or repair this old stuff.

So for me, it opens new doors.
Not as nice as new developments, but it has some attraction.
And I can see how it may be appealing to less technical persons, that want the use and no insight on the technical acheivement.

BR/
Guus

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Re: Various boosters for various machines ( FAQ & Rant)

Post by Atarian Computing » Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:15 pm

Your suggestion for people to take up PCB design is very good! Just earlier this year I had no idea how it was done. Now I’ve already done several PCBs (Megabit Adapter, TOS 32/28pin adapter) and even sold several (LaceScan).

I’m now working on STaceX, a logic analyzer for the ST, Magnum ST ram + TOS upgrade for the MegaBus connector, and several others. All are pretty much complete except for routing.

Granted, I use existing schematics that I modify to my needs. But considering I’ve learned heaps in just half a year, anyone can take this on in no time.

I use EasyEDA.com for the whole process. Works on the browser. All my 2 layer boards have cost 2$ for 10 PCBs. Yes, 10 PCBs for 2$ altogether + shipping. It’s awesome.

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