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/  Forum Index
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      /  New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
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BoingBear 
New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 14-Apr-2017 20:14:39
#1 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 28-Oct-2015
Posts: 131
From: Unknown

The existing prototyping boards that are available for purchase to place into the Xorro Slot of any X1000 or X5000 computer have been criticized often in these forums. This thread is for any/all of you electrical engineers, or computer hardware genius types, to provide a discussion of the pros and cons of the existing A-Eon Xena/Xorro prototyping boards, and to come up with a better, more usable design. You do not need to be an owner of an X1000 or X5000 to provide input and suggestions to this thread. We want a board design that would promote the possibility of more people "tinkering" with projects that utilize the Xena chip on their X1000 and X5000 computers in the future.

Since A-Eon and AmigaKit are apparently too busy to address the apparent short comings of the existing prototyping boards that are available for purchase at this time, and there is almost zero news about any X1000 or X5000 owners working on any projects that utilize the Xena chips on their AmigaOne systems, hopefully this discussion will improve the situation, and lead to the design and production of new Xena/Xorro prototyping boards, that are more useful, and will spur future projects to be started by X1000 and X5000 owners around the world.

We will discuss how new boards will be produced, and how many new prototyping boards should be produced (perhaps I'll post a poll to figure out how many X1000 and X5000 owners would be interested in buying the newly designed proto board), in the future, but first, let us discuss what the new design should be, which would be most useful, and most likely to encourage future projects to be attempted.

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Signal 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 14-Apr-2017 22:28:15
#2 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 1-Jun-2013
Posts: 508
From: USA

@BoingBear

Just to begin with.

There are two possibilities to consider.
A single board that utilizes Xorro AND the PCIe x1 slots.

Or a board that only uses the Xorro slot designed to allow another card, Ethernet, Serial port(s), Parallel, etc., that can be used in conjunction with various designs. This would require drivers for .... whatever x1 cards are used, but quickly utilizes the x1 slot as a means for high speed communication with the PCIe bus.

For the two board choice a mounting bracket can be made to go over the top of the x1 card or simply 'clipped' to the x1 card. Minor consideration. The Xorro board could have its pin traces brought up the front and rear edges as necessary if needed.

NEXT!

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QuikSanz 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 15-Apr-2017 3:48:02
#3 ]
Super Member
Joined: 28-Mar-2003
Posts: 1066
From: Surf City - Huntington Beach, Ca.

@BoingBear,

There are so many uses I can think of for this.

Lets say you want to control the alarm and lights, maybe even some cameras. Would use a totally different design than lets say a telescope controller.

I would think some places strategically placed spots for SMD could be easily placed, you can either bridge with solder or add a device, easier than cutting a trace.

Must be strategically designed to accommodate!

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broadblues 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 15-Apr-2017 12:04:37
#4 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 20-Jul-2004
Posts: 4121
From: Portsmouth England

@BoingBear

The problem I see is that the board itself cost 40 that quite bit of money for a 'bread board' if you make a mistake in cutting your tracks / laying out your project design, you need a new one, so hacking costs go up quite quickly. Then for you next prject you need another new one again.

So create a much llower profile board that maps the outputs to an "edge connector" that you can then plug a pice of standard vero board into.

Do your hacking on the vero board, plug in, test, hack some more.

The basic board might cost a little more, but would be much safer and easier to use. And the hacker could choose the style of Vero board they prefer.

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lylehaze 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 15-Apr-2017 13:12:24
#5 ]
Super Member
Joined: 1-Sep-2004
Posts: 1102
From: On the Florida - Georgia border.

@BoingBear

It's getting harder to make a project with all "through hole" chips. Many devices are not available in that form. And SMD's have many different pin pitches to deal with.

When I built my Xorro board, I needed a MAX3232 level shifter for a serial port. Available in through hole, also available as a pre-made breakout board for about the same price. I bought the breakout board, attached it with double-stick tape, and used four short wires to attach to the Xorro board.

I also needed a SD Card socket. these are NOT available in through hole, but breakout boards are easy to find. Like the serial chip, I attached it with double-stick tape and wired it right up.

I'll say it first: this is not the "prettiest" way of building circuits. But it's easy, it's very flexible, and it does not require cutting the Xorro board traces. It's also removable.

On the subject of new design: I found some bi-directional fully isolated buffers that are unusually fast, non optical, and easily switchable from 3v3 to 5v. these would be an ideal "safety barrier" to protect the system from experimentation. Designing a connector pinout for the exposed side of these, eight bits wide, would make a good modular interface for lots of "whatever" projects.

Lots of XMOS projects are related to digital audio. Adding an optical S/PDIF input and output are inherently safe and would open the door for LOTS of fun stuff. Especially on the X1000 where the on board audio supports S/PDIF too.

The two circuits I added to mine (serial and SD Card) never leave the case, so I was not too concerned with isolation. Personally, I would make sure ANY signals leaving the case were properly isolated, and it's just a good idea anyway if less experienced people are "trying new things".

And my usual addendum: If you want something specific, and you do NOT have the skills to build the board for it, I suspect AmigaKit could be hired to deliver a board that is ready to go.

Just my opinion.

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billt 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 15-Apr-2017 15:59:02
#6 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 24-Oct-2003
Posts: 3021
From: Maryland, USA

@BoingBear

The trick I see is that the sorts of things I would want to tinker with would be surface mount things, not through-hole things. But then how do you make a generic protoboard for that?

I'd rather see a nice PCB template for some cheap/free/popular design tool like Kicad or Eagle (though Autodesk seems to be wrecking Eagle IMHO) or a free online one like Upverter or CircuitMaker. Something with the connector and outline ready to go, just fill with whatever pieces we might want. Perhaps a couple versions, PCIe-only, Xorro-only, and combo both together...

Then, if we want to put on an audio codec and speaker jacks, OK. Or a clockport header, OK. Or a parallel port or floppy port or whatever.

Sure, then we need to get a PCB manufactured, rather than buying a generic protoboard, but it's hard to imagine a generic board being generically suitable for modern SMT parts needing transmission line interconnect of some particular impedance and solid reference planes for return paths.

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Signal 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 15-Apr-2017 16:19:11
#7 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 1-Jun-2013
Posts: 508
From: USA

@
After letting ideas ( ) muddle around overnight I'm leaning toward a single board solution that would allow access to the x1 slot with a RIBBON CABLE RISER .

Which means the PROTO BOARD (Bottom of page.) could be similar to this one except PCIe x8 and the left side cut away enough to allow the x1 ribbon cable to fit into its slot.

The x8 traces could be brought up 2, 3, 4 holes, or routed around the side and in a few holes, to provide connection to the x8 Xmos bus. the rest of the board could be all holes and perhaps power and ground buses along the top edge.

Since whatever is going to the Xmos should be isolated, power could be supplied/regulated from a spare power supply lead instead of the motherboard.

If BREAKOUT boards are going to be used they could be attached on MALE HEADERS mated to FEMALE HEADERS mounted on the proto board.

If the whole board is a strip board mounting something like a dual row IC or a dual row HEADER means cutting many traces.

It seems the less complex a proto board is the cheaper it could be. Even the cut away for the x1 slot could be eliminated as long as any traces from the x8 slot either don't go that way or are routed to above where the cutout would be and leave it to the hobbyist to do the cut, or not.

Could also bring the x1 slot traces up a few holes with the x8 traces above them enough to still allow a cut away.

Thoughts

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PR 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 15-Apr-2017 16:38:00
#8 ]
Super Member
Joined: 1-Sep-2004
Posts: 1768
From: Suomi-Finland Perkele

If any ideas here needed an universal stick to the usb, sd and hp-printer and Nokia ..

Yes got a pc for that.

In the fantasy world there would be also an universal remote controller.

(Close all window curtains, put the robot vacuum cleaner,refrigerator temp ok,,washing machines and maybe the Car + DeluxePaint Off from the same button and PR to sleep;)

Really there are too many remotes and controllers in many houses. 7-10 maybe here.


Thinking what is Really needed. Ok. A snowplower last season over here...

All in all a lego style board to do like You wish and build to do what wanted and put a new NVidia ...

There could be an universal "brick" to send for all manufacturers, make it compatible or...

All AmigaGuys have earned such a device to generate more as it is and was.



Happy Holidays.


PR



Edit: Idea was like stick like the Action Replay MK III to the A500 and controll it all. Not like a pc maybe controls somebodys lifes with all the known problems.

Put a card and You have this, or put another You have that. Be in any flavour. It's near but not complete.

The word that had to think was: Easy with Power on and there You have it in a second.

Then some retro connections for all our old good devices, seems to be needed.

My old idea was that build like needed.


Edit 2: Still Have no idea about the slot but Please use if anything or forget.







Last edited by PR on 15-Apr-2017 at 05:10 PM.
Last edited by PR on 15-Apr-2017 at 05:09 PM.
Last edited by PR on 15-Apr-2017 at 05:01 PM.

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QuikSanz 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 15-Apr-2017 23:36:16
#9 ]
Super Member
Joined: 28-Mar-2003
Posts: 1066
From: Surf City - Huntington Beach, Ca.

@PR,

I think you have it but you forgot lock all doors.

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iggy 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 16-Apr-2017 1:11:00
#10 ]
Super Member
Joined: 20-Oct-2010
Posts: 1175
From: Bear, Delaware USA

@BoingBear

A very basic prototyping board with pin headers for the connection of a daughter board would interest me.
As has been stated, many components are now smp, so a board focused solely on pin through components is pretty useless.
If I had something I could attach prototype boards and other daughter board designs...

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PR 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 16-Apr-2017 11:07:35
#11 ]
Super Member
Joined: 1-Sep-2004
Posts: 1768
From: Suomi-Finland Perkele

@QuikSanz

Good one from the doors.

Have to check as have Amigagirls around and gave keys.

If been looking as people change their phones every so often.

Maybe an integrated easy system to the computer with all the thousand pictures and all.

Here have to wire, a friend has haves wireless.

And all.. The Windows robot vacuum cleaner is so stupid...

Just some day things if some get ideas.

Last edited by PR on 16-Apr-2017 at 11:09 AM.

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Signal 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 16-Apr-2017 14:17:06
#12 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 1-Jun-2013
Posts: 508
From: USA

@iggy

Quote:

iggy wrote:
@BoingBear

A very basic prototyping board with pin headers for the connection of a daughter board..........

That would be 36 pins for the x1 and 98 for x8, 134 pins total.
Considering not all signals go to Xmos it would be necessary to either cut off some haeder pins or cut the traces going to Xmos. Lets say for a serial port only 4 pins might go to Xmos 2 for power and 4 to the outside world.

Just having a 98 pin header to a daughter board that may need to be taken apart during development would be a challenge. But I like the idea.

Also, having the pin headers installed by the maker would raise costs and they might get damaged in shipping. That does not mean it should not be done.

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lylehaze 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 16-Apr-2017 18:57:19
#13 ]
Super Member
Joined: 1-Sep-2004
Posts: 1102
From: On the Florida - Georgia border.

@Signal

The XMOS pins are in groups..
Some work as individual pins, others work best in groups of 4/8/16 for wider targets.

That's why I suggested connectors in groups of 8. If pinned the same, a very simple change to a header file could move a project from one connector to another.

Groups of 16 as well, if you like wider connectors

The discussion so far has been quite diverse, all the points well made.

Perhaps the board being made now is not so far off target after all? It brings out the connections, the JTAG loop, and a couple different voltages.

Looking closer, _most_ of the 8 bit ports appear in the same pattern. So a project board could sit on a single row pin header, and could be soldered down in about four different places depending on which port it is to occupy. Allowing up to four of those to be installed at once.
I'm just looking at the TRM right now, I don't have a Xorro in front of me. But it looks quite "do-able".

And for those with Eagle skills, there's not much easier than making a board with a single row header for the I/O connections.

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Signal 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 16-Apr-2017 20:07:43
#14 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 1-Jun-2013
Posts: 508
From: USA

@lylehaze

Interesting.

Is the pinout of the X5000 the same as X1000? Probably not.

Perhaps further explaination is needed. I was hoping for a single board without too much hanging off the side due to the limited amount of room between the slots on the motherboard.

I think you're saying each protoboard, depending on purpose/project would only have headers/pins that connect to certain ports/pins on the Xorro card, not all of them. (?)

Time to help get Easter dinner ready.

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BoingBear 
Re: New design for Xena/Xorro proto boards
Posted on 16-Apr-2017 21:15:12
#15 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 28-Oct-2015
Posts: 131
From: Unknown

@lylehaze, and everyone else who has contributed to this discussion, thank you.

Lyle, your insights are particularly useful, as you are the only person I know of who has actually created a board for the Xena/Xorro, so you have first hand experience and knowledge, that most of the rest of us do not have.

I am not a hardware guy, and my electronic education is ancient, so not helpful, but my thoughts are to keep the board as simple as possible, to help keep it useful for the widest variety of projects. It should be useful to projects that use through hole components, as well as surface mount components, by what ever means is easiest and most efficient/practical, to add daughter boards, be that headers, or some other type of connection.

I very much like Lyle's idea of including "SAFE" connections, by including any kind of component between the Xorro slot connector and the components on the proposed proto-board, or any added daughter boards.

A very close look at the existing proto-board beind sold by AmigaKit should be made, to take what works from that design, and carry it forward into any new design, if it has good points, as Lyle has suggested it may have. Each project will be vastly different, and have different needs, so every project creator will need to produce their own daughter boards, or combined components to be connected to our proposed new proto-board design, as it appears from what has been written so far in this thread, that no design for a proto-board will satisfy every project, without connections to different modules.

Perhaps by looking through the hundreds of existing XMOS projects that have already been created as standalone XMOS chip or combined with a Windows/Linux PC projects, will give us more insight into what our proto-board design should include? I must admit that I would need to do extensive reading before I will be able to add any useful technical suggestions to this thread, but I am happy to see that others are participating in this discussion, as that was the purpose of starting this thread.

I sincerely hope that this discussion will lead to a small production run of new proto-boards, even if I need to fund their manufacture by myself, and attempt to sell them to any interested X1000 & X5000 owners.

Lyle, can you confirm that the Xorro slot in the X5000 is identical to the one on the X1000 motherboard? If it is not, my opinion of the intelligence of A-Eon and Varisys, just went downward by 50%. You don't go creating a new interface to a control chip and then change the design so that Xorro boards for the X1000 won't work in the X5000, IMHO.

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