Retromaster’s Electronics Projects

…related to old computers and other assorted stuff…

TFE+ Progress

Posted by retromaster on March 25, 2010

Here is the TFE+ prototype board fully populated and connected to the A500 mainboard. The ribbon cable carries the system clock as well as video color and sync lines. On the mainboard end, it is soldered to appropriate points. This is good for reliability reasons, but I have also ordered some inexpensive test hooks that can be useful when easy installation is desired.

So far, I’ve got the video output, the keyboard control and the buzzer working. There might be some minor problems but hopefully nothing unsolvable. The photo on the left shows the settings screen, which I managed to navigate to using the keyboard. I haven’t tested the SD card access (and floppy emulation) yet, partly because I seem to have misplaced my SD card adapter. There is some new code to be tested there, as the floppy data output is now handled through the ATmega644 USART module (in SPI mode) as opposed to the external shift register in the previous TFE. Once that works, I’ll move on to more advanced features such as write support and on-board MFM decoding.

One of the tricky parts here was the communication between the keyboard MCU and the main MCU. The keyboard MCU detects keypresses for a set of keys (arrows, return, ESC) and when there is a change, it places the new keyboard state (8-bits, one bit per key) in the USI data shift register, which is operated in the external clock mode. The main MCU generates the clock for the USI shift register in software and reads the keyboard state output from the keyboard MCU. This way operation of the keyboard MCU remains independent of the keyboard state reads. To prevent clashes, during shift register content updates, the keyboard MCU asserts the clock line for a while. The main MCU looks out for this situation and restarts the read operation if an update occurs in the middle.

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