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Author Topic: Questions about SymbiFace3 (Read 3203 times)

Online gflorez

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Questions about SymbiFace3
« on: 2020.July.01. 15:24:01 »
Hello. I open this new thread to put here the best I know about the Symbiface3, its current development and future functions.

Thanks.

How can I update my SF3 to the very last version?

How can I start with the SF3( on the Enterprise)?

                 What contains the SF3_EP.INI file?

                 Has the SF3 more versatile ways to inject Roms?
  
                 How to manage the Rom Manager program?

How can I start managing the SF3's funtions?
« Last Edit: 2020.August.15. 20:40:50 by gflorez »

Online gflorez

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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #1 on: 2020.July.01. 20:34:37 »
For example, one of the first questions that will arise to new SF3 owners is:

How can I update my SF3 to the very last version?

Ok, like all developments, and SF3 is still on the very middle of it, there will be some transitional/test updates and then the definitive/tested updates. I will put here on Enterprise Forever only the definitive updates, and will explain what has changed on them. Usually some fixings or additions to the code of the Arm processor.

Every SF3 comes with a DFU cable, an "unusual" lead with a male USB connector on every end:



Don't keep it in the bottom of a drawer! you will need it very often to reveal new and fantastic functions.

The ideal way to update the SF3 is connecting it to a Win PC, but some users have been able to upgrade on Apple or Linux computers.

To start I will describe only the Win way.

First download and install the linked DfuSeDemo program. Also, create a new directory where you will store the DFU update files. Download the last DFU update and store it there.

With the SF3 disconnected from the Enterprise, change the position of the DFU switch on it to the upper position.



Then connect one end of the DFU cable to the PC and the other end on the "FAT32" USB port on the SF3(at the right of the Wifi antenna and over the OLED screen:

The PC will then recognise the new hardware and will install its driver.

Open the DfuSeDemo program:



If the middle list is filled like on the picture, the SF3 has been recognized and the update zone has been read. If it remains in white, try to remove and re-connect the DFu cable from the PC.

Now, you only have to use the two marked buttons in red, first Choose, and select the DFU file that you have previously downloaded and stored on an special directory.

Once done the little square near the two buttons will now show something like "00 ST...", and the "Upgrade" button now will be highlighted.

Click on the "Upgrade" button, a warning window will now appear, but click on "Yes". One green bar at the bottom will grow making two passes, and at the end it will show "Target 00: Upgrade successful !".

Now you can click the "Quit" button to exit the program.

On almost all upgrades this will be all, the SF3 will be ready to be connected again to the Enterprise with the adapter. Remember to put the DFU switch on the down position.

But on some circumstances, the CPLD chip firmware needs to be modified. On it are the main adaptations to each computer, so every update is critical.

It also happens that the user could need to re-program the SF3 to use it on other family of computers, CPC, MSX, PCW or others to come.

Then, after the DFU update, and still with the SF3 connected to the PC, move the DFU switch to the down position and press the Reset button on the SF3, at the left side of the card.

The OLED screen will briefly show the target computer DFU update installed, on our case "EP", the actual voltage the PC provides, and then "Missing Z80 upd".

From now on, please only continue if it has been recommended on the most recent DFU update.

Now press the middle button below the OLED screen, and the CPLD will be internally updated with an attached file on the DFU.

The screen will show "UPDATE" and once done "READY". Now the SF3 can be unplugged from the PC and re-installed on the Enterprise with the adapter.
« Last Edit: 2020.July.01. 20:57:29 by gflorez »

Offline John Fante

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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #2 on: 2020.July.02. 07:45:39 »
Very good guide. Thank you - once again :) - for all you hard work!! :smt041

Online gflorez

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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #3 on: 2020.July.03. 19:40:24 »
Other giant question about SF3 can be this:

How can I start with the SF3( on the Enterprise)?

A packet has arrived to your address, it contains several parts, including the SF3 and the adapter(one of the two classes of it).

The SF3 was primarily developed for the CPC, it is the reason why it inherits the strange(for us) connector, but some of the pins have been reprogrammed to the Enterprise specific ones, so it is no more a CPC connector on its logic, only on its shape. There are also SF3 adapters for MSX and planed for the PCW. As I have pointed on the first question, the CPLD on the SF3 is where the interfacing logic of every computer is stored. Never try to connect an EP programmed SF3 on the wrong computer, it first needs to be programmed for the new host computer by means of a DFU+CPLD upgrade as explained on the first question.

The EP SF3 you have received has an extra lead soldered to the pin1 on the CPC connector. It is needed because Hans got out of free programmable pins during development. Hans is thinking a solution for it, but until that, an EP SF3 can't be connected to the other families of computers.

There are 2 ways to connect the SymbiFace3 to the Enterprise, both electronically equivalent.

Hans designed the stand-alone adapter based on an hand-made prototype I sent him only for tests, but it only admits the SF3 on the expansion connector, no more EXDOS, for example. Is it a problem? I think no, because we actually use more the SD-cartridge than disks. But also because the SF3 promises to be the always dreamed "Enterprise All-In-One expansion". I think that soon it will be the best option for an user that never has expanded the computer.

But if the user already has some classic expansions, he(or she) better needs the SF3 slot adapter(designed by Wilco and me), intended to be connected on a Bus expander. I will explain much better this adapter later.

Both approaches are well hardware-integrated on the Enterprise, so they will not clash with other devices. One exception is the Spectrum Hardware emulator, that uses the same 40-4Fh range of ports, and so it can't be connected at the same time than the SF3. Zozo has promised a fix for the Spectrum emulator card soon.

Ensure that the Enterprise is switched off.

Plug the SF3 stand-alone adapter on the Enterprise expansion port, or the Bus expander if it is the case.

On the Stand-alone adapter the SF3 faces to the user,



while on the Slot adapter it faces to the computer.



Always re-assure that the SF3 is correctly plugged.

Plug firmly and in parallel the two connectors, all the 50 pins at the same time, to put the SF3 in its position on the adapter.

If you need to unplug the SF3 from its adapter, pull gently from both sides of the connector while making a slow swing with the hand. But it can happen that we bend some pins on one of the sides of the connector. With a sharp point guide the point of the pins to their place, aligned with the other rows. Do this before attempting to plug again the SF3 on its adapter.

The SF3 slot adapter in its actual form is made of the adapter itself connected to a flat cable. I reached to this approach while measuring the excessive height of the SF3+adapter. Then I decided to lower the set at maximum.



Practice has proved that the best slot on the Bus Expander to plug the SF3 is the very first one. I recommend you to tie the  SF3 to the adapter board with a gum strap(these to tie the hair can serve), and the set will gain a lot of stability. Also, avoid if possible the spikes of the 7805 regulator heat sink.

Please, wait to switch on the computer. We are very near.

You will need a male/male stereo sound jack cable to ear the SF3. The adapters come provided with an IN jack base connector. Plug one end on it and the other to the green jack base connector at the right side of the SF3. You don't need more for sound, as the Enterprise will mix perfectly its Dave internal sound with the incoming SF3 sound.

With all the pieces connected we still need a spare micro SD and an USB pen-drive for sf3 storage. The first one will save System SF3 files, while the pen-drive will store media files.

The capacities of both  better if they don't exceed 4 GB, because we need them to be formatted on the usual FAT16 system and it is its limit. Please only use 1 big partition. Use discarded storages from other devices if you only can buy larger ones.

Still wait... Once booting, the SF3 will search on its SD card the most important of its system files, "SF3_EP.INI", a text archive where some important configurations are stored. Other SF3 computers have similar files, named "SF3_CPC.INI", "SF3_MSX.INI" or "SF3_PCW.INI". This way, the same SD card can be used on a lot of computers without the need to edit their INI file.

Sorry, patience... I will explain the INI file on the next message.
« Last Edit: 2020.July.03. 21:09:33 by gflorez »

Offline John Fante

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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #4 on: 2020.July.04. 07:37:40 »
Good guide!

A question:

The EP SF3 you have received has an extra lead soldered to the pin1 on the CPC connector. It is needed because Hans got out of free programmable pins during development. Hans is thinking a solution for it, but until that, an EP SF3 can't be connected to the other families of computers.

Does this mean that I cannot connect my SF3 to a MSX or a CPC even if I reflash it with the right firmware?

Online gflorez

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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #5 on: 2020.July.04. 11:22:02 »
Pin 1 is used on CPC to output AY sound from the DSP. Not related, but on my opinion it was a bad hardware design by Amstrad, as it would have been much better a mono sound input and merging like is done on MSX(mono) and Enterprise(stereo).

In fact, this pin 1 is scarcely used. But even unused, it is connected  to the CPC DSP amplification circuits.

On the EP interface approach Hans use that pin for /BUSDIR, soldering a little lead from a test point that is programmable. What still remains is a way to neutralize the signal that comes from that lead when the SF3 is programmed for other computers, that's all.



The signal is not potentially harmful, but  a fast switching of 0v to +5v on it can probably create a lot of noise on the CPC sound amplification circuits.

On the MSX adapter, I don't remember it well now, but I think that the SF3 Right sound channel is output on pin1, so the same problems could apply to it.

------

All this long(and probably unnecessary...) explanation lead us to an easy answer: Benny, you can use your SF3 on other computers the CPC, of course(if you dare...), but you will need to unsolder and isolate one end of the lead while you do it. Later, solder again the lead on its place when you reprogram the SF3 for the EP.

------

EDIT: Hans confirms that the pin 1 is not connected on the MSX adapter, so it is sure to connect the SF3 that has the lead soldered(the ones sold for the Enterprise) to a MSX.

Remember: the SF3 needs to be reprogrammed by DFU+CPLD to the host computer before attempting to connect it.
« Last Edit: 2020.July.04. 11:53:15 by gflorez »

Offline John Fante

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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #6 on: 2020.July.04. 16:48:49 »
OK. Thank you for the clarification :-)

Online gflorez

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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #7 on: 2020.July.05. 00:04:25 »
Hans recommends better to check the verify option when upgrading the SF3 with the  DFUSe Demo program.

If there is a bad connection and the upgrade is not checked, it can lead to a bad behaviour of the sf3.

A defectively upgraded SF3 can be easily reprogrammed.  


Offline ergoGnomik

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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #8 on: 2020.July.05. 16:35:01 »
That patching looks quite ugly. That's not what we are accustomed to in Hans' work. Am I guessing right that there will be a new revision making this configurable by jumper or DIP switch?

Edit: Typo corrected.
« Last Edit: 2020.July.05. 19:58:53 by ergoGnomik »

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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #9 on: 2020.July.05. 17:33:04 »
Yes.... but tests cost time and money....

Some time ago he tried a new SF3 version with the 74LS245 chip integrated, so the aerial lead wouldn't be necessary.

But then the PCBs came defective(they have a 4 layer design, not cheap), and it forced him to return to the current old-reliable design.

He will try it again, of course, but there are priorities when developing.
« Last Edit: 2020.July.05. 17:43:16 by gflorez »

Offline John Fante

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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #10 on: 2020.July.05. 20:19:40 »
Maybe not the nicest hack but I have seen worse ... :)

I am considering attaching the wire to a SMD on/off DIP-swith fastend with some hotglue to make switching a bit easier.

Something like this:

DIP-switch

Not the nicest "hack" but it works ... ;-)

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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #11 on: 2020.July.05. 20:47:47 »
does the msx not work with this thread?

Its only an problem by the CPC.
I think so
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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #12 on: 2020.July.05. 20:50:27 »
When i have time... i will change the CPC cpld code.
the budir pin in an output pin.
And the sound of the CPC also.
First i will measure the signal values of the cpc audio
When its lower than 5v and higher if 0v.
The cpld busdir pin  can be modivfy to input pin
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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #13 on: 2020.July.06. 06:32:11 »
does the msx not work with this thread?

Its only an problem by the CPC.
I think so

I have not tested yet :)

I have been offered an Amstrad 6128. Therefore I was researching a bit on what was needed to run with that.

I will write to you on Slack when I have tested just to confirm that everything works.

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Re: Questions about SymbiFace3
« Reply #14 on: 2020.July.10. 12:18:47 »
The following great question, before all the other little ones start to come, is: what contains the SF3_EP.INI file?

But before answering thoroughly to that, there is other little question: What happens if the SF3_EP.INI file is not found?

If not found it happens the same that when the file is incorrect(some error is found): The SF3 Rom is injected on the segment 60h, and a minimum 512KB Ram expansion is enabled at A0-BFh segments(this zone can overlap other ram expansions).

Actually, when the SF3.Rom is found, it only draws the SymbiFace3 screen and exits, but on a future it can take control of the Enterprise, install drivers, configure the SF3 and exit.

Another question: Why the SF3.Rom is injected on segment 60h? Because Zozo says that until now it has been a seldom used zone, and because the original EXOS Roms 2.0 and 2.1 only search for Roms on the cartridge zone(04-07h) and on the X0h segments(being X: 0 to F). Newer EXOS Roms modified by Zozo search for Roms on the complete 4MB range.

Now, let's explain what does the SF3_EP.INI.

This is an example of it:

Code: [Select]
************************************************************************************
*      SF3  ENTERPRISE INI FILE                                        
************************************************************************************
*Wifi settings - configure up to 5 access points

WIFI_PASS   =wwwww
WIFI_SSID   =xxxxxxx

WIFI_PASS   =aaaa
WIFI_SSID   =bbbb

WIFI_PASS   =sss
WIFI_SSID   =tttt
 
*WIFI_CONNECT

************************************************************************************
*TMTnet settings

TMTNET_USERID=30XX
TMTNET_PASS=XXXX

************************************************************************************
*Ram settings

EPRAM[8,#0B]

EPRAM[12-31]
*EPRAM[#08-#1F] decimal or hexadecimal segment numbers can be used if added a #

*EPRAM[#20-#2F] EXDOS Rom zone


EPRAM[#30-#5F]

*EPRAM[#60-#6F] SF3 Rom zone

EPRAM[#70-#F7]

*EPRAM[#F8-#FB] internal 64KB Ram expansion on 128K models


************************************************************************************
*Rom settings

*ROMEXOS_ENA=ON This option is to inject a Rom in 00-03h segments

*ROM[#06]  =SD:strack3.rom
*ROM[#60]  =SD:SF3BOOT.ROM
*ROM[#61]  =SD:SPEMU128.ROM
*ROM[#64]  =SD:epd19uk.rom
*ROM[#66]  =SD:forth.rom

*ROM[#67] =HTTP:www.tmtlogic.com/cyrus.rom
*ROM[#69]  =SD:epnet.rom
************************************************************************************
* Audio settings SYMAMP for symbos audio - options are SYMAMP(MP3A), MP3B and MIDI
 

AUDIO=  SYMAMP
************************************************************************************
« Last Edit: 2020.August.15. 14:43:40 by gflorez »