Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Improving my bench MEGA65 prototype hardware

After the last several posts focussing on VHDL implementation of various interfaces and things, here is a much shorter read with more pictures, following the improvement of my bench-test MEGA65 revision 1 PCB. 

Here it is before improvement:


The main problems I wanted to solve were, in no particular order:

1. The floppy drive had to live externally and loose, and be powered by an adapter on the joystick port. I want it internal, and firmly held in place.

2. No keyboard. Is further explanation really necessary?

3. The headphone jack and FPGA programming port are very close, which I can't change, but the hole in the case for them was too small to allow both to be plugged in at the same time.  Very annoying when the kids want to play games, and I have to keep unplugging the sound to plug in the data interface and vice-versa.

4. The hole for the joystick ports was very tight, and needed a little enlarging.

5. The hole for the HDMI port was also too small.

6. The cartridge port hole was also too small.

7. I wanted to install pull-ups for the IEC bus, so that it would just work, without having to plug anything strange in (and so that it wouldn't lock the C65  ROM during boot-up).
8. I wanted all the improvements to result in a reasonably physically robust arrangement, that wouldn't be at risk of falling down and damaging itself or shorting itself out when used, whether by myself, or by the kids.

The clear plastic case is big enough for everything, so I figured I would just enlarge holes, and in the case of the floppy drive, make some new holes.  It would be nice if I had the correct tools for cutting holes in plastic. Instead, I have a power drill and some 3mm wood drill bits.  Making the hole for t he floppy drive consisted of drilling perforations around the outline, and then joining them up using the drill as a kind of power saw.  Not ideal at all, but it worked. Here it is with most of the holes drilled:

Then with all the holes joined up, and the piece knocked out, but yet to be filed into a nice rectangle. Sorry the shot is a bit blurry. Cameras don't like photographing nearly invisible objects very much.

 We'll come back to that a bit later.

Then it was time to think about how to attach me genuine C65 keyboard (without printet key caps) to the top of the box, such that it couldn't fall off, fall in, or snag the fragile ribbon cable that connects it to the mother board.

I had a piece of acrylic the right size to sit on top of the box, so I traced out around where I wanted the keyboard to be mounted on it:

Then fitted a couple of scrap plastic blocks to the underside, so that when it rests in the top of the plastic case, it can't move in any direction.  Here is the arrangement from underneath:

With those in place, and a couple of extra holes to fix the keyboard to the top (using the existing two holes in the keyboard, which presumably were designed with a similar purpose in mind), I had a keyboard sitting nicely and securely on top of the box:

Here you can see it from the side, with the green plastic thingoes you put in walls before you put screws in.  If only I could remember their name. Anyway, even nameless they work just fine for this job:

Then it was time to fix a few issues with the PCB, adding a floppy power connector, and pull-ups for the IEC serial bus, so that that can work without any special cable attached. By permanently fitting the pull-ups, it means I can't use the IEC port to drive the POT lines on the joystick, as I did while implementing 1351 mouse support, however as that is done, and since I can use an Amiga mouse transparently (a blog post on that coming up soon), I figured this was no great loss. The expansion/cartridge port was the easiest place to find power:

So after doing that, and having finished making the hole for the floppy drive (which is held in place with four screws on the underside, like in an old PC), I had all the electronics inside. By this time I had also already enlarged the various holes in the case.

Connecting the ribbon cable for the keyboard was fairly straightforward:

Here it is all together. They keyboard ribbon pokes up a bit, which I don't really like, as it is still at some risk of damage like that. But it is not snagging on anything or under any tension, so it will have to do for now:
 And the view from the lest side with the power and joystick ports etc:

 And set up in my office, ready for use:
So while it is clearly a bench prototype, it is now all assembled and functional, without a mess of cables and having to plug and unplug things all the time.

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