Falcon030 ready for CTPCI

The last post in this blog is a long time ago. Time for some updates. The Falcon is now running fine with CT63 at 90 MHz.

There are two challenges left, to make the Falcon a real Internet-capable desktop computer.

1. At the moment, i am using a ROM-Port Ethernet Adapter by Elmar Hilgart. This adapter is a small ROM-Port Card attached to a GENIUS PocketLAN Adapter. Unfortunately the Drivers are only compiled for 68000/68030 processors and not for 68060 (which now boosts up my Falcon on the CT63). To surf in the internet I always have to switch back to the 030 mode, negating the advantages of the CT63.

But hopefully i can get a NetUSBee or a NetBee (check out http://www.atari-home.de for more informations, it is a NetUSBee in a smaller form factor without USB support (lacking drivers for anything other than mouse support the USB interface doesn’t make any sense to me at the moment). But if anyone has a NetUSBee available i would be happy to buy one.

2. Graphics are really frustrating me. Today i can run up to 640×480 in 256 colors. Thats NOT good. Perhaps i can get it to 800×608 or even 1024×768. But the ultimate solution hopefully will be the CTPCI, which i ordered back some month ago.

More to come….

CT63 has arrived an is running!

The CT63 has arrived in march, but unfortunately there was a bug on the accelarator. A short curcuit caused the Falcon to power off on random situations. After a lot (!) of testing and sending it back to Rodolphe, he managed to fix it and it returned to me, working like a beast! :-)

Some impressions…

CT63 Setup Complete

CT63 Setup by you.

Kingston RAM for CT63 by you.

Replacing the NVRAM Chip

After the Falcon arrived, it showed the typically symptons of a dead NVRAM Chip Battery. The internal clock was skewed up every boot. To ensure that the Falcon will work properly it has to be changed.

The following instruction is given WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY of success. You might damage your Falcon irrepairable!

The ingredients

The replacement chip is a DALLAS DS12887A. In germany it can be ordered from Reichelt electronics.

Because the original DALLAS chip fits exactly under the lower shielding it will be hard to replace the chip with a new one and a socket. But soldering the new chip directly to the board is no option here, because in a few years,when the battery in the new chip is going to die again, it has to be easy to change. For this reason i’ve ordered a “low-profile” socket from Reichelt, too.

CT63 005

Tools and other stuff

  • A soldering iron with a fine round needle (1 – 1,5mm)
  • Desoldering braid
  • Solder (Sn 60, Pb 38, Cu 2)
  • multifunction rotary tool with cut-off wheel
  • Small caliper
  • Perhaps a needle for cleaning the pin holes.

falcon 007 falcon 008 falcon 010

Doing the job

First we have to remove the old chip. Desoldering all pins at once and then removing the chip is no option, as the board quickly absorbs the heat. The best option in my opinion is to desolder one pin at a time and remove it with a caliper.

falcon 010

So i removed the chip carefully by using a multifunction rotary tool. Cut parallel to the pins and then parallel to the board to remove the upper part of the Chip. Be careful not to damage the GALs left to the chip (look at the left Chip on the picture above. One of the preowners had damaged it slightly by trying to remove the NVRAM chip with a screwdriver or something similar).

P1000856

After the upper part is removed (where also the battery fits in) you may take a look on the chip and all we have to do now is to remove the middle part of the remaining NVRAM chip part.

P1000858

Try to get some help and have somebody to hold a vacuum cleaner near the multi tool as it oterwise might become very dusty 😉

Be carefull not to cut the board!

Now you can break the inner chip from the pins…

P1000867

… and easily remove it …

P1000873

And after a little bit of cleaning up, you can access each pin seperately to cleanly desolder them.

P1000874

No need for the old chip any more 😉

P1000875

Desoldering each pin with desoldering braid and removing the pins is now an easy job which will take up to 20 minutes maximum. You can now insert your socket and solder it firmly to the board. Pay attention to cold capillary joints.

falcon 002 falcon 003

Even better 😉 But i suspect the chip + socket will be a little bit to high for our shielding, even it is a “low-profile” socket.

From this time on I have forgotten to take pictures (sorry!), but I needed to cut off the shielding where the DALLAS chip sits. Best, use a small metal saw, but be carefull, the rest of the shielding is very unstable and may get deformed. So don’t be to rough!

Once reassembled, the Falcon boots up normally …

falcon 004 falcon 005

… and keeps the time i’ve entered in the Control ACC. I don’t even need to reinitialize the NVRAM up to this point but i decided to reset it, so that further settings saved to the NVRAM will not end up in a data nirvana.

falcon 006

I used NVM_CONF by Manuel Hermann, which warned me at startup that the NVRAM is unreadable and has to be resetted. After a reboot everything seems ok and i’m quite happy that the falcon returned to normal operation.

The falcon has landed

Today the Falcon arrived! :)

falcon 002

 falcon 003

cute :)

falcon 013

Taken apart

 falcon 006

hm, a nice 10 GB IDE HD

 falcon 007

14 MB of RAM

falcon 008

uh oh, whats this? The NVRAM Chip really looks bad – the falcon obviously had a frustrated pre-owner…

falcon 010

Looks like someone tried to remove the NVRAM Chip before

falcon 016

yes, definitively. I will try to change the Chip on the weekend and pray that the board did not taken damage during the previous removal attempts…

More CT63 parts arriving

Yesterday and today more parts for my CT63 project arrived.

CT63 002

PicoPSU – a very small power supply, fits perfectly in a Falcon case

CT63 007

The corresponding external Notebook Power Adapter with 120 Watts Output at 12 V. And hey! It is designed for CT63 use!

CT63 006

A double sided PC133 512 MB SDRAM Module by Kingston – that should be enough!

CT63 005

And for the probably empty DALLAS NVRAM Chip in the Falcon… a new DS12887A and a socket (extra low profile).

Today the Falcon should arrive and on the weekend i am going to repair the NVRAM Chip!

The supporting Falcon

Last week I posted a search message on atari-home.de boards to find a suitable Falcon030 for my CT63 project.

The main requirement was, that the Falcon should not be heavily modified. If there are other accelerator cards installed, it would be a lot more difficult to uninstall it and install the CT63.

On the weekend I discovered a Falcon which may be appropiate.

IMG_00561  IMG_00581

It is a Falcon030 with TOS 4.04 and 14 MB RAM, featuring a 9 GB IDE Hard Disk and a virgin motherboard. Only one thing troubles my joy. This issue impacts nearly every Falcon now aging 15 years and older. The onboard Realtimeclock chip, which also holds the NVRAM for settings, has a built-in (!) Battery. Yes it is molded into the Chip and the chip is – of course – soldered to the board and not socketed.

DS 12887 A   GS 24P

So there will be a few tasks to do, when the Falcon arrives. Yesterday I’ve ordered a new DALLAS NVRAM Chip and a socket, so that future changes will be a lot easier. For this time changing the chip will be hard, as i’ve read in several boards a lot of pain in the ass problems, removing the chip.

Next time I will continue by reporting about fixing the NVRAM problem and the difficulties. Perhaps i also will have some hints for you, making the job a little bit easier.

ATARI Falcon030 powerup

In the following weeks i’m going to aquire an ATARI Falcon030. The Falcon030 is the very last ATARI Computer and was released in 1992. It features a Motorola 68030 CPU running at 16 Mhz and a maximum of 14 MB RAM.

For modern tasks like browsing the net or something similar, the Falcon030 is not powerful enough.

Since 2003, Rudolphe Czuba offers a Falcon Booster – the CT60 and a successor, the CT63. It comes with a 68060 Processor, that can be run up to 100 MHz and a modern SD-RAM slot. The CT63 can be plugged onto the Falcon’s bus slot without any soldering and is stands for the top of all Falcon enhancements ever produced.

image

My order for a CT63 is done and i’ am eager to get it in march. Then i will post some more experiences with the new Speed-Up Card. The main goal will be to get the Falcon running smoothly with network access, so that it can be used for E-Mailing, IRC, Browsing, SSH and other stuff.