Retromaster’s Electronics Projects

…related to old computers and other assorted stuff…

UFE A1200 Keyboard Daughterboard Progress

Posted by retromaster on August 4, 2010

I’ve made some good progress with the A1200 keyboard daughterboard for UFE.

I painfully found out that the PCB design I’ve mentioned in my previous post had a physical issue: It was a little too large! After I made the board, I tried to fit it in an A1200, but it wouldn’t since the corner of the board hit a capacitor. Fortunately, I had not soldered any components yet.

So, back to the drawing board… The solution I came up with was to move the components in the lower left quadrant of the old design to under the PIC chip. Of course, a precision socket had to be fitted in order to raise the PIC to allow components under it. This way, I was able to cut the lower left section altogether, which meant that the new design would fit even with the metal shield in place.

Once I manufactured the PCB, I was glad to see it fit very well. This board is definitely NOT one of my better manufacturing jobs, but it seems it will do the job. The copperclad I used is thinner than the usual stuff, so it fits directly in the flex cable socket once the white plastic lock is removed.

The board has a PIC16F877 installed (I had some handy), although I think that a PIC16F884 would be a better, cheaper alternative, and could be used without modifying the board. During my first tests last night, a funny thing happened. I had a PicKit 2 attached to the daughterboard for testing and it was powering the daughterboard. The PIC was recognized by the PicKit and it was able to program and verify it. But as soon as I plugged the board in the A1200, the PicKit would give VDD Voltage level errors… I was puzzled. I checked for shorts all around the board and I was wondering if the edge connector footprint was incorrect. Then, I realized: The A1200 was off and the poor PicKit was trying to power the whole Amiga through the VCC pin on the flex cable connector! Once I turned the A1200 on, the errors went away šŸ™‚

Last night I managed to write some code for the PIC, too. Now I am able to scan the Alt and Amiga keys so that I can detect the activation keycombo. Once the activation keycombo is detected, the board prevents the A1200 from receiving any keypresses and it looks like it can scan the keyboard without any interference. So, the basic functionality of the board is in place, although I need to do more tests to confirm problem-free operation. Eventually, I’ll implement the I2C communication with the UFE mainboard and I am sure there will be some quirks to sort out.


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