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Author Topic: Nick ReLoaded (or something) ... (Read 2162 times)

Online Z80System

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Nick ReLoaded (or something) ...
« on: 2013.October.30. 21:32:40 »
My english is not enough to speak and ask precisely, so please try to interpret what I would like to ask.

I'm not involved in hardware, I'm involved in software only, and I'm a (not so power) user of EP.

How it is turned out (we belive it now), most of the Nick chips have a "bug".

Because of this "bug", the picture can have flashing pixels at specific places of the screen in specific video modes. We call the thing simply "Nick bug", but we know nothing about this thing in the details. Maybe it is not a bug, but something else. The "Nick bug" is a nickname only ... :)

So that would be a great thing, that somebody could make some new Nick chips, without the bug.

Replacing the chip probably would be possible. I did not see a succesful replace till now, but a few people says it is possible.

So whether how much work can be the reconstuction of a chip like Nick ? Is it possible in only a few instance ? Or would it be too expensive, or too much work ?

I know nothing about this.

Every notion would be welcomed.
« Last Edit: 2013.October.31. 10:36:58 by Z80System »
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Re: Nick ReLoaded (or something) ...
« Reply #1 on: 2013.October.31. 09:54:45 »
Any opinion ?
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Offline Saint

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Re: Nick ReLoaded (or something) ...
« Reply #2 on: 2013.October.31. 09:59:24 »
Recreating the Nick chip in some kind of FPGA or CPLD to work in the Enterprise would be a time consuming job. It's certainly possible, but a lot of work, I think. A good example is the Suska project to recreate the Atari ST. In this project each chip was replaced one by one with an FPGA and recreated using VHDL.

This sort of thing interests me, but at the moment I don't have the experience or time to do such things. Would be a nice project, though! :)

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Re: Nick ReLoaded (or something) ...
« Reply #3 on: 2013.October.31. 10:11:24 »
Quote
Recreating the Nick chip in some kind of FPGA or CPLD to work in the Enterprise
So, is it possible probably, to place the replacement Nick inside the EP ? Because, as far as I understand, it will not be in the same form and "socket" like the original ...

How I see, Suska is a whole computer replacement, not a chip only ...

Or when Nick is recreated, is it simplier to recreate the whole EP ?
« Last Edit: 2013.October.31. 10:16:12 by Z80System »
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Re: Nick ReLoaded (or something) ...
« Reply #4 on: 2013.October.31. 10:26:24 »
Quote from: Z80System
So, is it possible probably, to place the replacement Nick inside the EP ? Because, as far as I understand, it will not be in the same form and "socket" like the original ...

How I see, suska is a whole computer replacement, not a chip only ...

Or when Nick is recreated, is it simplier to recreate the whole EP ?
It's certainly possible to recreate the Nick and solder into the Enterprise, yes.

Suska started out by recreating each chip in the Atari ST one by one. Once each chip had been recreated and tested in real hardware then the ST-on-a-chip was created. Very much the same as replacing the Nick chip with an FPGA.

It may well be simpler just to recreate an Enterprise on a board such as the Altera DE1 as you dont have to worry about recreating each chip, but the system as a whole.

To replace old chips with FPGA, these modules are great. But not big enough for the Nick.

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Re: Nick ReLoaded (or something) ...
« Reply #5 on: 2013.October.31. 11:12:03 »
Quote
It's certainly possible to recreate the Nick and solder into the Enterprise, yes.
It would be cool.

Enterprise have a few problems with its hardware.

First was the keyboard membrane problem, but now it is solved, because somebody made keyboard membranes and these ara available from the net.

Second was the 15 KHz monitor problem, but it is not an EP problem, rather the problem of all machines of the age of the EP. Now we use monitors with scart input and resistors when neccessary. So we can say it is solved.

Third problem was the loading problem, cassette players are uncomfortable, EXDOS cards are limited, the EP's LAN interface is not compatible with PC's on the hardware level. Zozo's IDE controller with an IDE to SD unit is solved this, and your works with the memory expansion and probably the SD card interface will make it even better.

(I'm dreaming of a 4M and SD card capable EP, with absolutely NOTHING joined to the right side of it, with a new keyboard membrane. :))

So probably the only remaining HW problem will be the Nick bug. This is a disturbing one ... :(

And when the Nick bug will be solved, there will be a final ultimate last one ... the problem of the green joy caps! There are a too few of them ... :)
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Re: Nick ReLoaded (or something) ...
« Reply #6 on: 2013.October.31. 11:25:34 »
Anyway ... Is the Nick chip a clearly digital circuit ? Or has it analog features, as well ?

I think, the digital features can be recreated exactly, but the analog features probably not ...

So, whether how much would be the recreated Nick exactly the same, like the original ?
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Re: Nick ReLoaded (or something) ...
« Reply #7 on: 2013.October.31. 11:34:11 »
Quote from: Z80System
Anyway ... Is the Nick chip a clearly digital circuit ? Or has it analog features, as well ?

I think, the digital features can be recreated exactly, but the analog features probably not ...

So, whether how much would be the recreated Nick exactly the same, like the original ?
Entirely digital as far as I can tell. A recreated chip could be identical to the original, or entirely different with the parameters of the I/O pins. What the chip does is entirely programmable with an FPGA.

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Re: Nick ReLoaded (or something) ...
« Reply #8 on: 2013.October.31. 11:36:06 »
I think it is fully digital, the analog parts of video are inother circuits.

The first big problem, no full documentation about how it is works...

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Re: Nick ReLoaded (or something) ...
« Reply #9 on: 2013.October.31. 11:41:49 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
The first big problem, no full documentation about how it is works...
That's not such a problem -- we have logic analysers and oscilloscopes to tell us a lot about the chip, plus detailed emulation via software which is a very good starting point to recreate the hardware.

It's just all very time consuming!

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Re: Nick ReLoaded (or something) ...
« Reply #10 on: 2014.March.01. 14:51:47 »
I've had some more thoughts about recreating the Nick and Dave in a CPLD. When replacing all the caps recently, I noticed all the vias around the Dave chip. It would be possible to hook all the Dave input pins from vias and feed them into a CPLD. You could then create the VHDL code to work as the Dave chip and compare the outputs of the real Dave with the new Dave with the VHDL code. When they all match then it would be a good time to try the new chip with a broken Enterprise.

The same could be done for the Nck, but you could also feed the outputs from the new Nick into a monitor so you could see what is happening in parallel without removing the working Nick chip.

I wish I had more time to play around with things like this... :(

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Re: Nick ReLoaded (or something) ...
« Reply #11 on: 2014.March.01. 14:59:57 »
Quote
I wish I had more time to play around with things like this... 
And I wish it, too ... :)

I would replace it in working EPs, too ... because of THE BUG ... :)

And if we could use the new and the original chip parallel, like display mirroring ... great scot !
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