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      /  Micro-A1 troubleshooting
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Av8Retro 
Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 25-Aug-2021 6:37:22
#1 ]
Member
Joined: 24-Aug-2021
Posts: 21
From: Unknown

Good evening all,

I'm a new member here, although I have been a longtime Amiga user since the mid-80's (A500,A2000,A3000) and most recently (2005-ish?) a Micro-A1 from Eyetech.

I'm hoping someone would be able to help me troubleshoot my issue with my MicroA1, which has been sitting in a moving box for a few years and now it won't boot or display anything on the screen. I have replaced the motherboard battery and the cooling fan on the motherboard comes on, as does the green LED on the motherboard. I have reset the u-boot via the jumper, and when I insert the AmigaOS CD it seems to read for a bit, but the display is still blank.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to troubleshoot it or where to send it for testing/repair? Or if not fixable what is the availability of boards these days?

All suggestions are deeply appreciated!

Have a great week all!
Carl

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Hypex 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 25-Aug-2021 9:19:27
#2 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 6-May-2007
Posts: 10267
From: Greensborough, Australia

@Av8Retro

Hello and welcome to the club!

You've addressed the first port of call--the battery. I don't recall any jumper to reset UBoot but I would have avoided it because I don't like to loose my settings.

I don't have a micro but I do have it's older relation, the XE. The next thing I would try is removing the ram. It may have collected some grime over time. You can try giving a clean. Using isopropyl alcohol and a cotton bud (or q tip depending where you live). Or even a simple eraser is known to work. Blowing out dust on the slot is also recommended with compressed air.

It might even be enough sometimes just removing the ram and slotting it back in. A few years back my XE had the same issues. It was fine one night and had the black plague the next! I spent hours trying to figure it out. Disassembling it. Removing all the cards and connections. Then I pulled out the ram, put it back in, and it come to life!

You don't happen to have a null modem cable by any chance? They really help to diagnose problems. These boards don't really help by displaying errors or making beeps.

As to these boards, they were produced by the now defunct Eyetech. And have been practically obsolete for a while now. A similar replacement would be an ACube Sam. Or a Tabor but unfortunately that suffered delays.

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Av8Retro 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 25-Aug-2021 10:38:56
#3 ]
Member
Joined: 24-Aug-2021
Posts: 21
From: Unknown

@Hypex

Thank you for the helpful tips. I really appreciate it.

I'll start with the RAM and some DeOxit on some cotton swabs and clean the tabs and go from there. I do not have a null modem cable, but how does the trouble shooting work if I do get one? What to look for?

I did come across a Youtube video tonight of someone having the same problem, (search for "AmigaOne XE/SE CPU repair (DIY)"), looks like the video was from 2012. He had the same black screen problem, and solved it by removing the processor board and putting it in the oven...not sure I'm that brave yet :)

I'll post my results for posterity here later.

Thanks again!
Cheers!

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rumbler 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 25-Aug-2021 14:01:57
#4 ]
New Member
Joined: 17-Nov-2004
Posts: 4
From: Unknown

Hi,

I am an A1 XEG3 user and I have a strange issue that my system sometimes boot and sometimes does not.

I figured out that the system boots without installing it into a case. Possible shortage caused by installation.

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NutsAboutAmiga 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 25-Aug-2021 16:05:10
#5 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 9-Jun-2004
Posts: 11881
From: Norway

@rumbler

When fixing a problem, you dont start with the sledgehammer.
start backup battery, PSU, try minimize the problems sources, disconnect ervything you dont need to boot, the RS232 null modem cable is useful, if you do not get picture, it should display the same uboot text as normally be displayed on the screen, you might also need USB to RS232 adapter, bound rate is normally 19200, just experiment until see some text, if tried all bound rates do not get text, you can assume its some wherry bad. Even with bad backup battery, you should see text on RS232 port.

Some graphics cards are not supported by UBOOT, but are only supported by AmigaOS4.1.

If get UBOOT up and running, consider running the UBOOT tests, not all test can be run as require loopback testing kit.

AmigaOS4.1 will only boot if know what IS CDROM and what is a HD-DRIVE that information it get from environment variables. Also, SATA DMA might not work, check if hardware has wire straps or not. _XFER and _CONF variables are important, see if you find PDF from Eyetech. Problem has also be result of running wrong kernel, and running incompatible version of OS, mismatches results in lockups lots of issues. Generally, its a bad idea to mix kernel modules.

Also, people working on PC terminals @ work, replace a lot of RAM, they dont last forever. These computers are never turned off they run 24/7. Eyetech computers are picky about type of ram, not all ram work, sometime they work on one computer but not on another.

Last edited by NutsAboutAmiga on 25-Aug-2021 at 04:38 PM.
Last edited by NutsAboutAmiga on 25-Aug-2021 at 04:25 PM.
Last edited by NutsAboutAmiga on 25-Aug-2021 at 04:25 PM.
Last edited by NutsAboutAmiga on 25-Aug-2021 at 04:07 PM.

_________________
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Hypex 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 26-Aug-2021 7:49:49
#6 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 6-May-2007
Posts: 10267
From: Greensborough, Australia

@Av8Retro

A null modem cable helps to view the debug output from UBoot. For example, when my ram failed, I had no idea as there was nothing on screen and no response from the computer. Then I hooked up a serial cable to see what it was thinking. It was alive underneath and printed up to a point then stopped. It gave a clue to being ram related at the point it stopped.

It works by connecting it to the serial port of the A1 and then the other end goes to another computer running terminal software. An essential debugging tool. I find it hard to debug programs without it.

More details here:
https://wiki.amigaos.net/wiki/Advanced_Serial_Debugging_Guide

I found the DIY video. Yes that's a rather advanced solution. A bit of a hack to reflow soldering on bad joints. There's a particular Intel iMac model where this is needed to fix a common fault, but it tends to come back. Hopefully you don't need to goto that trouble, as in this kind of case the CPU had detached from the soldering, and usually needs someone with SMD equipment to do an advanced repair.

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Av8Retro 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 26-Aug-2021 19:05:11
#7 ]
Member
Joined: 24-Aug-2021
Posts: 21
From: Unknown

@Hypex

Great info, thank you for the link, and to all that has replied. I will apply the suggestions, and start with a simple disassembly/reseating of components and good cleaning of contacts and go from there. The RAM is the original 256MB module that came with the machine.

Cheers!

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redfox 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 26-Aug-2021 21:17:03
#8 ]
Super Member
Joined: 7-Mar-2003
Posts: 1857
From: Canada

@Av8Retro

My system is a MicroA1. I have replaced the battery a few times. As I recall, the last time I had to replace the battery twice within a few days. Some MicroA1 systems require a very fresh battery.

If the "new" battery is too old, it will cause problems.

Anyways, first step is to replace the battery.

When the battery is replaced or UBOOT reset, the MicroA1 defaults to using the IDE disk drive interfaces on the motherboard. I mention this because some people had a disk drive interface card in the PCI slot.

I use the IDE disk drive interfaces on the MicroA1 motherboard.

I have never used the serial interface for debugging issues, because the serial interface is a header on the motherboard and the official manufacturer documentation shows the wrong pinout information for this connector.

---
redfox

Last edited by redfox on 26-Aug-2021 at 09:19 PM.

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MigthyMax 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 27-Aug-2021 7:16:15
#9 ]
Member
Joined: 22-Jul-2004
Posts: 58
From: Unknown

@Av8Retro

I made almost the same this year and resurrected my Micro-A1, and had (and still have minor issues) to get it work. And as everybody stated having a second computer to read the output from the serial port from U-Bott and even AmigaOS helps a lot.

But be aware that the Micro-A1 only has a on board serial port. In my MAI documentation from the mainboard the PIN out was wrong described.

My PIN layout is like that:


Key 10 * 5 GND
RI 9 * * 4 DTR
CTS 8 * * 3 TXD
RTS 7 * * 2 RXD
DSR 6 * * 1 DCD


If that is the case for every Micro-A1 mainboard, or if it might exist documentation with correct PIN layout, i don't know.

Even see even here fro more information about my challenge to get the serial output.

HTH

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Hypex 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 27-Aug-2021 14:52:57
#10 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 6-May-2007
Posts: 10267
From: Greensborough, Australia

@Av8Retro

Another thing. I read the UBoot chip is socketed. Try pressing down on the chip. From pictures I've seen it looks like it is next to IDE ports. But I haven't found a clear guide.

www.intuitionbase.com/static.php?section=handbook

@redfox

I was looking up info and for some reason thought I saw a serial port on a back panel picture. I also read it had USB2 which seems a bit embellished.

@MightyMax

Thanks for the info!

So it uses the Intel standard.

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number6 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 27-Aug-2021 15:11:27
#11 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 25-Mar-2005
Posts: 11251
From: In the village

@Hypex

Quote:
thought I saw a serial port on a back panel picture.


Because it is there.
We used serial dialup and the back panel port almost from day 1 with the Micro.

#6

_________________
This posting, in its entirety, represents solely the perspective of the author.
*Secrecy has served us so well*

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redfox 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 27-Aug-2021 17:44:21
#12 ]
Super Member
Joined: 7-Mar-2003
Posts: 1857
From: Canada

@Hypex
@number6

Back in 2004, I purchased a MicroA1 motherboard and assembled the computer myself. I used an Antec Minuet case. There is no serial port on the backplate of my MicroA1 motherboard. My only choice for adding a serial port is to add a connector to one of the expansion slots on the back of my Antec case.

In this case, I would wire from the serial port header on the motherboard to a connector on an expansion slot. Since the MAI document contained errors, I was reluctant to experiment blindly with a motherboard for which I had paid $1000.00+ Canadian.

The backplane of my MicroA1 looks like what is shown in the unofficial MicroA1 handbook on Intuitionbase website. My motherboard has keyboard, mouse, ethernet port, USB ports, VGA, S-video, composite video, sound ports, parallel port, joystick port, but no serial port.

Now that the actual pinout of the serial port header has been confirmed several times, perhaps it is time for me to find or make the required csble.

---
redfox

Last edited by redfox on 27-Aug-2021 at 05:50 PM.
Last edited by redfox on 27-Aug-2021 at 05:48 PM.
Last edited by redfox on 27-Aug-2021 at 05:46 PM.

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number6 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 27-Aug-2021 17:55:21
#13 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 25-Mar-2005
Posts: 11251
From: In the village

@redfox

I had the Venus Morex with correct backplate, including serial.

These machines were not all delivered the same way.

#6

_________________
This posting, in its entirety, represents solely the perspective of the author.
*Secrecy has served us so well*

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Av8Retro 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 1-Sep-2021 11:52:26
#14 ]
Member
Joined: 24-Aug-2021
Posts: 21
From: Unknown

@redfox

Success!

I removed the memory socket, cleaned with some DeOxit, followed by DeOxit Gold and re-inserted the memory module.

Same procedure for the CPU board, removed the 3 screws, gently lifted it up and and looked over all the pins with some watch repair magnifiers, added some DeOxit Gold and reseated the module.

Powered up the computer and I have a display output, showing the U-boot setup screen.

Does anyone know the max RAM the Micro-A1 can take? Any recommendations on the "sweet spot" for memory for these machines?

A lot of thanks to everyone that has offered suggestions. Thank you!

Carl

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MigthyMax 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 1-Sep-2021 13:15:19
#15 ]
Member
Joined: 22-Jul-2004
Posts: 58
From: Unknown

@Av8Retro

Quote:
Does anyone know the max RAM the Micro-A1 can take? Any recommendations on the "sweet spot" for memory for these machines?


That, I would like to know, too. I think a read once that it could coup with 2GB.

But i came across a 1GB module. Installing that failed with U-Boot hanging. The hanging might be a cause of the 1GB module being a ECC variant.
I don't know if one is supposed to (can) put ECC modules into a mainboard not supporting ECC.


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redfox 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 1-Sep-2021 16:40:58
#16 ]
Super Member
Joined: 7-Mar-2003
Posts: 1857
From: Canada

@Av8Retro

Congratulations on your success.

I still use the original 256 MB RAM module in my MicroA1.

Some people were able to use a 512 MB RAM module, but I don't know if these are available.

---
redfox

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Steady 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 2-Sep-2021 2:28:59
#17 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 1-Nov-2004
Posts: 198
From: Melbourne, OZ

@Av8Retro

I remember not being able to get above 512MB with my microA1 but I don't know for sure if that was the limit.

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Av8Retro 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 2-Sep-2021 3:44:06
#18 ]
Member
Joined: 24-Aug-2021
Posts: 21
From: Unknown

@Steady

I just found in the Micro-A1 manual that came with my motherboard it can take 2GB...maybe one of these days I will give it a try :)

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Steady 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 3-Sep-2021 2:30:12
#19 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 1-Nov-2004
Posts: 198
From: Melbourne, OZ

@Av8Retro

Cool. Give it a go. I think it was very fussy about the RAM modules it could take which became an actual limit rather than the listed 2GB.

Again, I'm running off my memory here so don't let my comments stop you.

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smf 
Re: Micro-A1 troubleshooting
Posted on 3-Sep-2021 8:36:00
#20 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 15-Mar-2003
Posts: 319
From: Vxj, Sweden

This memory 1GB memory module was reported to work fine with the uA1 two years ago.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00H01282U/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apap_Wysf5zja5tpIX

unfortunately it's not available from that amazon link anymore.

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