Jump to content
IGNORED

800xl Cartridge Slot Problems


Recommended Posts

I recently dug out my old 800XL, bought several mods - "Ultimate1MB", "SIDE2", "SimpleStereo" and "VBXE" and have begun slowly upgrading it.

 

From the start I experienced a strange problem where the 'SIDELoader' function of the "SIDE2" cartridge would not recognize an apropriate FAT32 partition on its CF memory card. For several days I tried every troubleshooting tip FJC, Fujidude, rdea and others could suggest - none solved the problem. This was not a collosal issue in itself as, when I successfully installed the "Ultimate1MB" mod I gained access to the 'External' 'FATFS.SYS" feature of SDX and could transfer data between my PC and the 800XL via that route. I also have a functioning SIO2PC to boot ATR images. So far, so acceptably good.

 

Over the past several days I have been installing the "SimpleStereo" mod and eventually managed to get it properly hooked up and working. This evening I reassembled the 800XL and began using it. For the first time since I began working with the "SimpleStereo" I attempted to use SDX and the "SIDE2" to set up several partitions in order to copy demos to test out the new stereo functionality. Completely out of the blue, FDISK reported 'No APT device present' or words to that effect! Needless to say the CF card was slotted in to the "SIDE2". Moreover, once I disabled the SDX and PBI functionality of "Ultimate1MB" in order to boot from the SDX resident on the "SIDE2" I received the same error!!! Clearly an exacerbation to the existing problem has appeared during the hurly-burly of installing the "SimpleStereo" - a problem that was clearly already present and manifested earlier via the "SIDELoader" issue.

 

I am left without any doubt now that there is nothing wrong with the "SIDE2" or the CF card which is a huge relief. While absolutely everything else works on the 800XL, there must be broken hardware related to the cartridge slot. However, even then it is not completely faulty as the "SIDE2" will boot and run - it is only when attempting to access the "SIDELoader" and lately - after the jostling of installing "SImpleStereo" - when trying to use FDISK to access the CF card. Both these things seem to me like they are in a similar area of functionality.

 

I do have another two 800XL's which this latest fault has forced me to dig out. One that refuses to boot up and another has weird chequerboard banding on the screen which I am certain is related to a fault with the video-related potentiometer in the lower left quadrant of the motherboard. Therefore I have plenty of spares to swap out chips and even basic components if necessary. Moreover if I try the "SIDE2" in "SIDELoader" mode with the latter machine it boots perfectly, does find the FAT32 partition and will even run games... Part of me is tempted to grit my teeth, fix the potentiometer and move all the mods I have already installed in to that machine. However I would prefer to fix the modded-up 800XL as I must have spent a solid 48hours+ with it over the last couple of weeks and it would be a real kick in the gonads to duplicate all that effort.

 

Can any of you chaps suggest angles to approach the cartridge slot problem from? Are they any easily-slotted chips I can swap out for instance? Needless to say I have checked simple things like all the spring contacts are present in the slot and seem to be corrosion free.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As an update - I have literally swapped out every socketed chip on the 800XL, which on the REV1 motherboard is all of them! No difference, still will not find the FAT partition nor will APT find the device... All I managed to do was cook a spare CPU when I put it in back-to-front... Oh Well...

 

Given this I would say it must be a discrete component that has failed - most likely a capacitor? Which is actually far worse, as chasing down individual components is going to take forever! Absolute most grinding of all would be a break in a track somewhere. That would be totally impossible to trace.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As an update - I have literally swapped out every socketed chip on the 800XL, which on the REV1 motherboard is all of them! No difference, still will not find the FAT partition nor will APT find the device... All I managed to do was cook a spare CPU when I put it in back-to-front... Oh Well...

 

Given this I would say it must be a discrete component that has failed - most likely a capacitor? Which is actually far worse, as chasing down individual components is going to take forever! Absolute most grinding of all would be a break in a track somewhere. That would be totally impossible to trace.

You haven't said, but it is obvious. Have you tried a BASIC cart, or a game cart? I have a syscheck II, that would check the memory.

Boot without BASIC and load a binary load BASIC.

BASICC.zip

Edited by russg
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You haven't said, but it is obvious. Have you tried a BASIC cart, or a game cart? I have a syscheck II, that would check the memory.

Boot without BASIC and load a binary load BASIC.

 

I haven't actually tried another cart russg, that is an excellent idea. I will have to see if I can find one. At one point I had both BASIC and several games on genuine cartridges. They should still be kicking around somewhere.

 

The machine does boot and run *.ATR games and indeed retail games on disk without any problems. I would have thought if there were a hardware error that would not be the case - yet, here it is...

 

In regards the "SysCheck II" - is that available on *.ATR? I have used "XRAM" in the past and that came through clean. That was with the "Ultimate1MB" installed however, which I have now removed in order to simplify tracing the problem. Is it possible that one of the RAM chips could be duff and causing this? It runs through the 'SelfTest' without any problem.

 

It seems suspicious that the problem got worse after fiddling around with the POKEY IC and its vicinity while installing "SimpleStereo". Does POKEY have anything to do with cartridges? I thought it was just for sound. I suppose a better question would be: does POKEY have anything to do with "SIDELoader" or the APT facility of the "SIDE2"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

It seems suspicious that the problem got worse after fiddling around with the POKEY IC and its vicinity while installing "SimpleStereo". Does POKEY have anything to do with cartridges? I thought it was just for sound.

 

POKEY stands for POtentiometer and KEYboard. In addition to its use as a 4-channel sound generator, it also handles keyboard reading and reading the paddle potentiometers. I don't have a clue - without spending a lot of time digging through schematics and/or De Re Atari - whether it's used in connection with the cartridge interface at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

POKEY stands for POtentiometer and KEYboard. In addition to its use as a 4-channel sound generator, it also handles keyboard reading and reading the paddle potentiometers. I don't have a clue - without spending a lot of time digging through schematics and/or De Re Atari - whether it's used in connection with the cartridge interface at all.

 

I suppose to be very specific, its not exactly having trouble with the cartridge. It can read SDX from the "SIDE2" properly. It will even give a readout of the available drives on the internal CF when 'SIDE2.SYS' loads. However it has never been able to detect a FAT32 partition for "SIDELoader" and now it cannot detect an 'APT Device' when starting FDISK... This despite being able to see the already partitioned drives and even read and write to them from BASIC! I would think there was some commonality there, a second data point; something to do with a failure to interrogate the CF card in certain ways that might help the problem solving. I have found nothing for myself though and I have literally swapped out every IC on the board except for the RAM units as with the "Ultimate1MB" installed they are not important and more to the point pass the "Self Test" without trouble.

 

Moreover I am pretty sure neither the "SIDE2" nor the CF card are to blame as it does work perfectly when I try it in a second machine. At this point I am about ready to jack it all in and move the mods to this second machine, except... It is a REV4 motherboard and only some of the chips are socketed. Critically neither the MMU chip nor the other one that the "Ultimate1MB" needs you to remove and plug in to are socketed... I've got a hot-air kit somewhere but I doubt it has the right sized nozzles for the chips in question so that is out and I have not found them terrible useful for through-hole circuit boards in the past anyway. I also cannot seem to use solder-braid for the life in me, the stuff just sits there on the circuit board, its feet in a pool of liquid solder and laughs at me!

 

Apparently these are the cats whiskers though when it comes to solder-suckers:

 

http://www.edsyn.com/product/DHT/DS017.html

 

So I have one on order from ebay - assuming its not a Chinese knock-off!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

'In regards the "SysCheck II" - is that available on *.ATR? I have used "XRAM" in the past and that came through clean. That was with the "Ultimate1MB" installed however, which I have now removed in order to simplify tracing the problem. Is it possible that one of the RAM chips could be duff and causing this? It runs through the 'SelfTest' without any problem.'

 

I doubt it is a memory problem, however. You'd be having other troubles if it were.

 

SysCheck II is a hardware device which connects to the PBI/ECI. It is from Juergen in Germany.

 

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/233201-orders-for-sys-check-ii-pcb-w-parts-only-accepted/

 

 

Edited by russg
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pokey has nothing to do with the cartridge port but if address lines got shorted or otherwise mangled when dual Pokey was fitted, problems will surely follow.

 

To the best of my knowledge and ability I don't think either of those things happened FJC. I unplugged the resident POKEY, plugged in the replacement "SimpleStereo" board and then re-socketed the POKEY IC in to it. The only soldering done was to attach pin-headers and the 'uSwitch' and both of those occurred on the "SImpleStereo" board itself. I also attached the 'VCC' and 'GND' connections of the "uSwitch" - to a 5V resistor leg and pad 1 of the PBI respectively. I am wondering if the board was already cracked and the mechanical stress of unplugging and re-plugging worsened that problem?

 

What I really cannot understand is why any of the problems should only effect "SIDELoader" and now "FDISK" when "SIDE.SYS" obviously loads, runs and will allow writing to the CF card even from BASIC... Is there any specific feature that 'FDISK' employs and general IO doesn't that could narrow down my search for a duff component or broken trace?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FDISK calls the SIO which calls the PBI BIOS to read and write HDD sectors. The SIDE Loader accesses the hardware directly when loading XEX files, but calls the PBI BIOS when mounting ATRs. I guess when you install any board, you're changing the overall capacitance of the bus, so behaviours can change in strange ways. It's also worth checking the stereo board itself if all else fails: superb as they are, I once fitted one which turned out to have a dry joint on one of the SMD ICs, and this had the effect of completely destabilising the machine. A couple of dabs of flux and solder and all was well.

 

Aside from that, the gold-pin daughterboards deserve, if not require, precision sockets, IMO, although replacing the socket may introduce more problems than it solves depending on one's flair with the iron.

Edited by flashjazzcat
Link to comment
Share on other sites

FDISK calls the SIO which calls the PBI BIOS to read and write HDD sectors. The SIDE Loader accesses the hardware directly when loading XEX files, but calls the PBI BIOS when mounting ATRs. I guess when you install any board, you're changing the overall capacitance of the bus, so behaviours can change in strange ways. It's also worth checking the stereo board itself if all else fails: superb as they are, I once fitted one which turned out to have a dry joint on one of the SMD ICs, and this had the effect of completely destabilising the machine. A couple of dabs of flux and solder and all was well.

 

Aside from that, the gold-pin daughterboards deserve, if not require, precision sockets, IMO, although replacing the socket may introduce more problems than it solves depending on one's flair with the iron.

 

I am just about brassed off with this whole project to be honest! It has not proven the knock-about of pure fun I was expecting. I am going to junk this REV1 motherboard and start again with the REV4 which even in its native state seems to be able to run the "SIDELoader" properly. I'll have to desolder the MMU and the other socket from the old motherboard, de-solder the actual MMU and other chip from the REV4 and then resolder the sockets... That and buy a new "SimpleStereo" after I lost my temper with the whole thing earlier, yanked it out roughly and bent a pin.

 

I am rapidly gaining a new appreciation for Altirra. Perhaps hardware is not for everyone - it certainly seems like its not for me!!! I am perilously close to binning the god-forsaken lot and writing it off to experience. I certainly won't be bothering with the VBXE; I've learned that much.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hardware is always a bit of an adventure, despite the fact we're spoiled with robust, timing-proof gadgetry these days. Troubleshooting can be a depressing experience... at least until things finally work, and then it's hugely rewarding. Completely exasperated, I had already abandoned one 800XL motherboard before I discovered that the stereo board had an issue. I put it down to experience: clearly I forgot to try running the original board without the dual Pokey.

 

I know SimpleStereo is inexpensive, but the pin header is repairable even if a pin is completely broken off. Don't bin it. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hardware is always a bit of an adventure, despite the fact we're spoiled with robust, timing-proof gadgetry these days. Troubleshooting can be a depressing experience... at least until things finally work, and then it's hugely rewarding. Completely exasperated, I had already abandoned one 800XL motherboard before I discovered that the stereo board had an issue. I put it down to experience: clearly I forgot to try running the original board without the dual Pokey.

 

I know SimpleStereo is inexpensive, but the pin header is repairable even if a pin is completely broken off. Don't bin it. ;)

 

You are right of course FJC. A new day has brought a cooler head.

 

Earlier on I gritted my teeth and proceeded to attempt the dog-work of removing the MMU and... whatever the other one is called from the REV4 motherboard. They were soldered directly in which is not only short-sighted on Atari's part but very annoying from a modding standpoint. Nonetheless, using my new and indescribably crap 'SilverLine' solder-sucker I managed to get them both off - much to my surprize! Even more to my amazement the sockets came off my spare motherboard even easier. A bit of flux-pen and a surprisingly large amount of solder allowed me to reattach these on the REV4 without any hitches. What raised my eyebrows the most was that the original, soldered on chips still worked when I inserted them in to the sockets by way as a base-line test of the system. All that heat and twisting had not cocked them up - which I totally had not expected!!! I can only think a lot of that 'chips are sooo delicate' business is total bollocks, which to be fair to him was something my father always insisted - and he did all his soldering with a huge bent-wire gun-thing. I am not that brave. Or skilled.

 

Anyway. I am now ready to try reattaching the "Ultimate1MB" to the new sockets on the new machine. As it stands - without any mods at all - it correctly recognizes the "SIDELoader" and offers to run the *.XEX files. It also will boot in to SDX, loading 'SIDE.SYS' and identifying the pre-made partitions on Lotharek's USB image. As before though, with only 64K it does not do much else.

 

I also replaced an old, corroded and barely-functioning potentiometer marked 'R38' with a - surprizingly after 35 years in between! - physically matching 500k ohms new one i bought from ebay. This seems to control the colours and with the new unit in place the picture is much more stable and rich in hue.

 

I have not tired to fix the broken pin... Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay... "Ultimate1MB" is now back connected and seems to be working happily. Also, for the first time ever the "SIDELoader" is booting both *.XEX and *.ATR files. So I count that is a win. So far. I have left it to run 'Self-Test' for a few hours now and hopefully it will not throw up any problems. In the past I was unsure about this motherboard, I had left it a couple of times only to return to a blank screen. This - and the sockets - is why I used the REV1 motherboard in the first place. However it could well have been down to the very dodgy 'R38'. We shall see.

 

I know SimpleStereo is inexpensive, but the pin header is repairable even if a pin is completely broken off. Don't bin it. ;)

 

Now comes the messy part I fear. How exactly does one repair these fancy goldplated pins? I have never attempted this at any point in the past. Is it just as simple as soldering it? Because I think that might be really tricky on a butt joint like that. I do have the 'precision socket'' that came with the "SimpleStereo" and was not needed. Could I use that in some way? Maybe yank one of its pins/sockets out and replace the broken one directly?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How exactly does one repair these fancy goldplated pins? I have never attempted this at any point in the past. Is it just as simple as soldering it? Because I think that might be really tricky on a butt joint like that.

You replace the whole header row in one piece (20 pins).

 

I do have the 'precision socket'' that came with the "SimpleStereo" and was not needed. Could I use that in some way? Maybe yank one of its pins/sockets out and replace the broken one directly?

Absolutely not (see above). And the precision socket is needed: it's what you plug the stereo board into. ;) The pins are far less likely to become damaged when a precision socket is used.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The pins are far less likely to become damaged when a precision socket is used.

 

It wasn't the non-precision socket to blame FJC, it was my bad temper!!! It came very close to not only being yanked out of the machine but being thrown in to the garden afterwards, possibly after I jumped on it a few times :-D And I have a large garden!

 

You replace the whole header row in one piece (20 pins).

 

Could you point me to the - presumably eBay - place where I could buy a header row?

 

I honestly don't feel like 'enjoying' another de-soldering adventure for a good long while to come. Is it the case it just won't work properly in the native Atari socket, or does the precision socket just bring a better likelihood of making good contacts with the board?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Could you point me to the - presumably eBay - place where I could buy a header row?

Like these, but 20 way and preferably cheaper:

 

eBay Auction -- Item Number: 1214630242131?ff3=2&pub=5574883395&toolid=10001&campid=5336500554&customid=&item=121463024213&mpt=[CACHEBUSTER]

 

Is it the case it just won't work properly in the native Atari socket, or does the precision socket just bring a better likelihood of making good contacts with the board?

It will probably work, but the precision socket is simply a much better fit and much more durable. The amount of force required to simply insert a row of goldpins into a single or dual wipe socket (and I have done it) suggests to me that there's about double the chance of bending the legs if you don't fit a nice turned socket. And of course we always assume that once the daughterboard is in, it's in for good, but then problems occur, and the thing is inserted and removed a dozen times and guess what: a pin broke. Not everyone thinks precision sockets are de rigueur, but I do. Note any upgrade board which happens to use square gold pins won't fit a precision socket, but on the other hand said square pins will completely wreck a tin socket as well.

Edited by flashjazzcat
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Groan... I think you have convinced me.

 

Damnit!!! I didn't want to do any more socket de-soldering dog-work after today. Those little bastards gobble up the solder as well - and that stuff ain't cheap any more!!! I remember when you could get a reel as thick as your wrist for less than £10 from Maplins. Now its £30 for a tiny little spool. I blame it on all this 'lead-free' bollocks.

 

I hate the 21st century. Except for computers. And media. And everything else.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...