Sorted by Squirrels.

Friday, 5 June 2009

A third-class ticket to despair and back

I couldn't make it work. I tried... Alas the Fail was strong in this one.

The spectrum wanted its CF adapter. I wanted to oblige. I tried a number of different cards which all appeared to be lacking in Win. I had checked over the wiring a number of times and, although not entirely convinced it would help, I thus set about rewiring the beast.

Guess what! Still no Win. The board resolutely refused to
play nicely and so I took a step back and considered all the possible failure points. Too much stray capacitance? A dry joint? Lack of understanding? The list goes on. At last I decided to cut my losses and re-work the board as an IDE interface. Several tens of minutes later, having used an entire roll of desoldering wick, the board was bare but for the edge connector.

It's a good job I only regularly watch one TV programme (The Apprentice, with S'ralan), as I could get on with some burning myself.

The result:

Joy! I'd carefully checked each connection as it was made and I was certain they were all good. I'm bouyed by the assurances of my meter, and sure of at last securing a payment of success to offset the miserable week spent futilely poking at the CF board. Apply power, insert device -



With heavy heart I put this project aside until some future time when I can muster the strength of character to return to the joyless debugging. It didn't get much better than this for weeks. I've started four more projects since, each more resoundingly failful than the last!

So that, dear reader, is why there have been no updates. I'm afraid I don't have the strength of character to tell of my winless ways. I can't even bear to tell you what they are. I do intend to return, though, this time with bigger guns. More on that later.

What I needed was something simple to rejuvinate my mojo. To get me to the power-pill so I can start to chase those ghosts.

My opportunity came at a recent retro-computer themed event where I met up with a number of people thus far only identifiable by a 24x24 pixel avatar and psychologically revealing nickname. Amongst these a contact who keeps me fuelled with rare Acorn Atom goodies. In this case I was knighted with a home-built rom-box, containing a couple of eproms.

Forget the soviet nuclear-warhead launching switches! The mysterious dials and socketry - this is truly a thing of beauty. But like most beautiful things, it's what's inside that counts. And that was going to be ME. The dumping challenge was on! [If you or someone you know built this rom-box, then please get in touch!]

Once retrieved from the secure caress of their sockets the lovely ceramic packaged gold legged EPROMS were quivering in the palm of my hand like frightened baby Meerkats. These chips are ancient and JEDEC incompatible. 2532s. 32Kbit arranged as 4K x 8. Here is the adapter I built to allow me to read the eproms using the glorious tier jerker:

And in situ:

As it turned out they contained images of programmers' toolkits. I must admit I was hoping for a rare find, however the images in question are already well known. But that is by-the-by. The thing is an hour had been spent with a soldering iron, a further hour spent reconfiguring the client application to draw the data PC-ward by the magic of electon in serial cable, and then some moments of joy - as the contraption worked. Worked?? WORKED!

I believe my drought is ended. The rains of win are falling, filling drained butts of enthusiasm. I shall venture forth and tackle the next item - Upgrading my SD2IEC in order to take advantage of the JiffyDos-enabled commodore machines at my disposal...

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