Sinclair QL

So recently I have been playing with one of my retro toys the Sinclair QL. This is the strange beasty Sinclair built after the ZX Spectrum, 68008 CPU which is familiar(ish) to Amiga/ST owners.

So far I have a SuperHermes replacement serial/keyboard board fitted. To one machine that allows the use of PC keyboards.

Another machine has the most excellent QL-SD fitted.

Like other Retro platforms there are also new hardware manufacturers appearing like Sandy where one of the first products announced in the new SupraRAM! Waiting for my SupraRAM to use with the QL-SD!

Sandy are for a short time also offering a 40% off their replacement microdrive pads (essential as they tend to turn to dust after 30 years) with the code CRAZY40!

 

CPC 6128 External Drive A Mod

So as a follow on from the last post it turns out the same issue is present on the 6128 classic drive port as well. Another wire link from Pin 4 of internal connector to Pin 25 of external can be made.

Here is a picture of this mod as well.

CPC6128DriveAMod

CPC 6128+ External Drive A Mod

For some reason Amstrad did not route NDSEL0 to the external drive connector so external drive accont be drive A. For me that was an issue as the internal drive on my 6128+ is broken. The fix is relatively easy and is just one wire link. You need to link the internal drive connector Pin 4 to the external drive connector Pin 9.

Here is a photo of the link which shows it in place.

NDSEL0Link

Acorn Electron ROM Cart to Sideways RAM part 2

So I had a rethink about the Sideways RAM and I came to the conclusion that possibly there were some timing issues causing the instability. According to this post on stardot someone had managed to piggy back a SRAM on the internal ROM without the issues I was seeing.

With this information and due to the fact I was using a 62256 (32k x 8) I figured I could actually make the cartridge without the 74HCT139 as ROMQA (Edge-A16) could be connected directly to A14 of the ram chip. /OE (Edge-A2) could be connected to /OE and /CE of the ram chip. R/W (Edge A4) could be connected directly to /WE pin of the ram chip.

The easiest way to to this was to cut the 74HCT139 completely off the board so we can use its VIAS to make the connections. I had to restore the track I had cut on Edge-A4 (Edge-A11 is still not needed). I had to make a couple of new cuts to disconnect the A14 on the ram chip from be wired to Vcc.

Anyway this is the front of the PCB from the new version.

Care PCB Front2

And this is the back of the PCB where the real work with the wire links and cuts occurs.

Care PCB Back2

And just to show this is all working, *ROMS command issued just after switch on.

Care ROMS Blank

*ROMS command issued after loading 2 roms from disk.

Care ROMS Loaded

New welcome screen after break is pressed to initialise the new roms.

Care ROMS Break

And just to check roms are executing code the *HELP +1 command that Pres rom adds.

Care ROMS Pres Help

Im pretty happy with this project now. My only regret is that Edge-B10 is not populated on the cart (as no unused pads are). If so I would have wired it to the spare socket to provide ROM 13 and not wasted a socket.

Acorn Electron ROM Cart to Sideways RAM

Finally I got round to taking some decent photos of my conversion of a CARE Rom Cartridge to Acorn Electron sideways RAM. This is required because for some reason Acorn decided to move the R/W pin around on the cartridge interface.

So here is the front of the PCB + mods

Care PCB Front

You can see the original PIN A11 trace has been cut to allow PIN 4 to be wire linked with it. This wire link is on the back. The wire link you see here connects what used to be pin A4 input to decoding logic to +5V to pull it always high. This used to be the master CS pin which is not present on Electron.

And here is the back of the PCB + mods.

Care PCB Back

Here you can see the pin A4 to where A11 used to enter decoding logic wire link. You can also see the trace cut that used to be the original pin A4 trace.

With these mods the Electron recognises the cartridge as sideways RAM and the Slogger *rload commands work to load roms into these slots. There is however an issue with the images getting corrupted during load. I do not know what causes this. But it has been reported as happening on other sideways RAM projects using Plus 1 cartridge slots.

Chromebook Ubuntu 13.04 Touchpad Fix

This one is nice and simple, to fix the sensitivity of the touchpad back to what you were used to under ChromeOS.

xinput set-prop 7 "Synaptics Finger" 5 5 256

If I could work out where xfce4 keeps its autostart files then I could get this to run at startup.

Chromebook

I blame ‘hrw’ for showing off his Chromebook at Connect, but when I returned to the UK I obtained one.

Running chrome itself is of little interest to me, much more interested in using it as a laptop. So first of all I used ChrUbuntu to get a 12.04 on it. Then I followed hrw’s instructions how to upgrade to 13.04. I messed it up a couple of times but eventually succeeded.

I will say two tips before rebooting, make sure you have ssh server running, and make sure you have a /etc/X11/xorg.conf working. Also if you are doing internal its really helpful to already have a valid install on external SD card you can boot in emergency.

It seems at the moment armsoc Xorg driver prevents suspend by crashing on VT change and then forcing a VT change when it restarts. So if you actually want to use the device you might need to switch to fbdev driver for now!

Very nice little device, I hope more of this sort of low power laptop appear to replace the now killed netbook market.

 

Synaptic Touchpad Configuration LXDE

This is probably not the cleanest or the neatest way to do this but until LXDE gets a synaptic applet of its own its one way to configure your touchpad on login so it functions how you want it.

First create a file $HOME/bin/touchpad.sh with you configuration set using synclient.

#! /bin/sh

synclient TapButton1=1
synclient TapButton2=3
synclient TapButton3=2

And make it executable chmod 755 $HOME/bin/touchpad.sh

Now create a file to autostart this on login $HOME/.config/autostart/touchpad.desktop.

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Touchpad
GenericName=Touchpad Config
Comment=Personal Touchpad Settings
Exec=/home/someone/bin/touchpad.sh
Terminal=false
Type=Application
Icon=xterm
Categories=X11;
StartupNotify=false

This is probably not standards compliant ;-).

Now if you logout and login your touchpad should be configured correctly. If you copied my setting one finger tap for left button, two finger tap for right button, three finger tap for middle button.

Asus Transformer and Youtube Fullscreen

If you are a Transformer user you will have noticed that the latest updates of the youtube app from Google busted fullscreen while you are docked with keyboard.

This has been well discussed on xda-developers forum and it seems for now the only way to restore functionality is to roll back to the latest working version.

The latest version is on the forums here.

Just uninstall all updates then install this package instead. It is a bit unfortunate that you also lose the nice clean interface of the newer app.

Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad

And today we return to narrow gauge trains with Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad. This is a cool little narrow guage in the Oak Meadow Park at Los Gatos. They have a steam engine and two diesel engines. Unfortunately the steam engine does not run in the winter months. Guess that’s an excuse to come back in the summer.

Diesel

At only 2$ a ticket it’s a bargain for a 15 min ride around the park on the train.

At the end of every run the engine has to be turned around. The have a little turntable just off the end of the platform for this task.

Turning1

Turning2