FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

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IanJeffray
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanJeffray »

I've now got back round to making these "last" 10. I'd like these to go to peeps actively in need - debugging board issues, so please comment if you still want a board and ideally a link to any relevant thread.

When silicon is more sanely available/priced again (likely '23 at this rate!) then I may build more,
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by daveejhitchins »

IanJeffray wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 3:25 pm
I've now got back round to making these "last" 10. I'd like these to go to peeps actively in need - debugging board issues, so please comment if you still want a board and ideally a link to any relevant thread.

When silicon is more sanely available/priced again (likely '23 at this rate!) then I may build more,
I'll take one, please Ian . . . I've still a few boards that need restoration!

Thanks Dave H.
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanJeffray »

daveejhitchins wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 3:27 pm
I'll take one, please Ian . . . I've still a few boards that need restoration!
Noted! Will PM when one's ready. I didn't realise it's been a full 4 months since I posted about the 2nd batch :(
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by markusher »

Hi Ian

I still have five boards that I want to get working again, so I'm still in need.
-Mark
4 x BBC, 1 Viglen BBC, 3 Masters, BBC AIV Domesday System, EO1S & E20 Filestore, A4000, RISC PC 600,700, StrongArm. Probably more I've missed...
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by baz4096 »

Please could I also be added to the queue? Happy to wait if someone has a more urgent requirement.
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanJeffray »

vanpeebles wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 7:59 am
Would this help an A5000 that powers on but does nothing else? :?:
It won't help the machine, but it may help you diagnose it ;)

First port of call is to check voltages everywhere of course.
Check Reset is going up and down as expected at ARM/MEMC/IOC.
Then check for the full address-bus walk under reset at the ROMs / links.
If all that checks out, but the board appears to do no more, that's when you may consider POSTbox.

POSTbox requires that at least a small part of ROM is functional - to start communications with the POSTbox.

POSTbox can help in the situations where the full POST fails (no floppy flashes) -- IOC / RAM / latch failures.
It'll let you see any parts of POST that have managed to complete before it gets stuck and it'll also let you exercise things for diagnosing issues - useful to see IOC wiggling, VIDC working etc.
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by vanpeebles »

IanJeffray wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 12:32 pm
vanpeebles wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 7:59 am
Would this help an A5000 that powers on but does nothing else? :?:
It won't help the machine, but it may help you diagnose it ;)

First port of call is to check voltages everywhere of course.
Check Reset is going up and down as expected at ARM/MEMC/IOC.
Then check for the full address-bus walk under reset at the ROMs / links.
If all that checks out, but the board appears to do no more, that's when you may consider POSTbox.

POSTbox requires that at least a small part of ROM is functional - to start communications with the POSTbox.

POSTbox can help in the situations where the full POST fails (no floppy flashes) -- IOC / RAM / latch failures.
It'll let you see any parts of POST that have managed to complete before it gets stuck and it'll also let you exercise things for diagnosing issues - useful to see IOC wiggling, VIDC working etc.
It sounds like I need one! :) Can you put my name down too please :)
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanS »

IanJeffray wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 12:32 pm
POSTbox requires that at least a small part of ROM is functional - to start communications with the POSTbox.
I can try this later, but I presume if you see a small burst of activity on LA21 (pin 3 of the test connector) then the POST code is probably being run. If you don't see that, it's unlikely the PostBox will help?
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by acp »

IanJeffray wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 3:25 pm
I've now got back round to making these "last" 10. I'd like these to go to peeps actively in need - debugging board issues, so please comment if you still want a board and ideally a link to any relevant thread.

When silicon is more sanely available/priced again (likely '23 at this rate!) then I may build more,
Hi Ian,

I'd still like one, please. I've got a couple of machines that're misbehaving that I'd like to have a prod at. I'm not in any particular rush though, so I'm happy to remain in a queue if there's folks in more need than I.
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by Boydie »

I still have (at least) 3 boards in need of investigation, plus a few other flaky ones, but if there’s going to be another batch at some point in the future I can wait until that run - I suspect covid’s going to keep me too busy to investigate faults until then…

If this is likely the last run, I’m still interested in one.
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanJeffray »

Ok that’s the CPLD and MCU fitted to 10 POSTboxes. Phew. Other parts next week, probably.
8925EFC3-B7E9-45D1-AA14-1A92FEDBCB59.jpeg
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanJeffray »

Marathon soldering sesh today - and we’re done:
10EF9113-D2B2-43B3-ADA0-6D7CC547BB81.jpeg
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by a1exh »

Nice work. Are they available to buy for UK users?
Principal ASIC Engineer
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanJeffray »

a1exh wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 11:03 am
Nice work. Are they available to buy for UK users?
I refer you to this post - nobody has posted any links to repair threads yet, which I'd be really keepnto see, because I'm selling these at component cost, and they take quite a while to hand solder, test, ship, etc, so the shared experiences of issues that people have had with machines and how things have been investigated so far, etc will benefit everyone.

I expect to get these programmed and tested today.

EDIT: All 10 are now programmed and tested. Time to sort out some wires and packaging.
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by Wobblestone »

Hello!
This is my first entry here. I just registered in order to show my interest in one of these POST box cards.
But first a brief introduction to myself:
As you might have guessed already English is not my native language. I'm from Austria. Acorns are very rare here. If you look at eBay here or other sites, you don't find even one entry for these great masterpieces.
I'm collecting mainly Commodore (which are very common here), but also Acorns. In my childhood I read in some computer magazines articles of Acorn Archimedes which instantly fascinated me. But of course I did not have the money to buy one and - frankly - I was pretty happy with my Amiga 500.
But in the past couple of years I finally found some online, two in Germany and two in UK.
Right now I own 4: One perfectly working A5000, one RiscPC 600 and other two none working RiscPC 600.
For those (and maybe more in the future :oops: ) I would need that POST box.
If there is one left and you want to ship it to Austria (of course on my cost!), I - and my two "sick" RiscPCs - would be very happy to buy one.
Thank you for reading!
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanJeffray »

I get the impression some folks think POSTbox is a magic fix for all ills.

This is why I'd like people to post links to how they've been addressing problems without a POSTbox - there's a lot you can and should do first. And there's a lot you can get from 'plain POST' without a POSTbox. And if RISC OS boots at all (even if incompletely) you won't gain a massive amount from using a POSTbox.

IME, lots of issues can be fixed purely by inspection and continuity testing. Fix all broken traces. Always replace the CMOS RAM chip if it's been near battery damage (they rarely seem to survive, even if they don't look physcially bad). Remove all additional add-on and upgrades before doing any cignosis (tasting my own medicine here - had an A5000 with "faulty RAM" that turned out to be the 2MB upgrade card itself was dead).

If you have a scope, use the "Arm walks the address bus under reset" feature to check ROM buffers and continuity. If no address walk seen, check there's a clock where it should be at ARM and further up the chain. If there is, ensure the reset line is actually going up and down when it should - on ARM/IOC/MEMC.

Find yourself a CRT monitor so you can see the POST startup coloureed screens - a "stuck" colour can tell you a lot even if POST doesn't complete. No CRT? Probe the monitor port pins!... the POST colours produce clear steady-states that can be probed in a pinch.

Know your RISC OS ... if DEL-reset still drops you at a * prompt rather than the desktop, it's failed to talk to the CMOS RAM, so either the traces or the chip itself is read.

Know what POSTbox requires -- it requires that reset, clocks, address bus, ROM buffers, ROM is all working! It requires that ARM executes some of the RISC OS POST code to even begin talking to POSTbox at all. POSTbox is not JTAG - it's "just an interface".

And remember that POST code is only in RISC OS 2.01 .. RISC OS 3.7. Not RISC OS 4 or newer. Nor does it do much with a SrongARM present, so for a RiscPC, you'll want an Arm610 or Arm710 CPU card for diagnosis work.

Still want a POSTbox? :)
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by Wobblestone »

Wow, thank you so much for this great guide!
But...
I still want it :D

By the way: Is there any possibility to check the traces on a PCB of a RiscPC "virtually"?
For Amigas there is this page which is incredibly useful:
amigapcb.org
You can see easily which trace connects what.
Since a RiscPC has a multilayer PCB which is much more complicated than the ones of Amigas, such a tool would be awesome.
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanJeffray »

Wobblestone wrote:
Mon Jan 17, 2022 6:30 pm
Is there any possibility to check the traces on a PCB of a RiscPC "virtually"?
What we really want is InspectAR. But, sadtly, no. And there are 3 variants of the RiscPC motherboard -- and we only even have the Issue 1 schematics!
As far as I'm aware, no layout data for any Acorn 32bit machine (I've no idea about 8bit) is available.

IMHO RiscPCs are one of the worst boards to work on because of the "inverted" plane design -- all signal traces run inside the board, rather than on the top/bottom. Having said that, I've been able to fix quite a number with various levels of battery-leak damage, without having to resort to really any surface wiring - just fixing-up minor trace breaks, or very small sections of rotted trace around the battery area.
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanJeffray »

I've been musing about keeping one or two of this batch as "hire" units, because we literally can't make any more just now unless if anyone knows where I could get another dozen or so Lattice LCMXO256 in TQFP100 package (nominally LCMXO256C-3TN100I), let me know, as I do have extra SAMD21 MCUs, which is the only other critical component on the board.

I'm not quite sure how a "hire" arrangement would work - I certainly don't want to be sending and receiving and organising too often - was trying to think of a reasonable "chain" arrangement where one person ships directly on to the next in line? Not sure. Anyone got smart ideas? But it'd be great for people who could benefit from use of a POSTbox to be be able to get their hands on one in some way -- I fear of the efforts of building these and then having them used maybe once and then just sat in a drawer.
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by thecellartroll »

IanJeffray wrote:
Mon Jan 17, 2022 8:09 pm
I fear of the efforts of building these and then having them used maybe once and then just sat in a drawer.
This would be the likely result of me getting one, so I will remove my name from the list for now.
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanJeffray »

thecellartroll wrote:
Mon Jan 17, 2022 9:26 pm
IanJeffray wrote:
Mon Jan 17, 2022 8:09 pm
I fear of the efforts of building these and then having them used maybe once and then just sat in a drawer.
This would be the likely result of me getting one, so I will remove my name from the list for now.
Hey, I'm not trying to scare folks off, just set expectations! I've got a pile to get shot of here just now after all :) When they're packed, I'll be in touch with folks - I'm just sorry there's no way to make more just now.
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by markusher »

IanJeffray wrote:
Mon Jan 17, 2022 2:39 pm
Still want a POSTbox? :)
Yup! Definitely need one. Most of mine seem to be stuck on single colour boot screens or lockups. 2x A4000, RISC PC 610,710,Strongarm and a CRT monitor to hand! I've been wanting to tackle these for a while but no way forward at the moment. I'm hoping the PostBox will assist in the process - and no doubt I'll be needing some help on the forum to go them going again too.
-Mark
4 x BBC, 1 Viglen BBC, 3 Masters, BBC AIV Domesday System, EO1S & E20 Filestore, A4000, RISC PC 600,700, StrongArm. Probably more I've missed...
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by Wobblestone »

I fear of the efforts of building these and then having them used maybe once and then just sat in a drawer.
That's true. Let me then offer this:
If I'm done with my "two Risc-Patients" (or there is no hope to get them working with my little knowledge), I will offer mine (if I get one :oops: ) here for the same price (+ shipping).
I'm hoping the PostBox will assist in the process - and no doubt I'll be needing some help on the forum to go them going again too
True for me too :D
As far as I'm aware, no layout data for any Acorn 32bit machine (I've no idea about 8bit) is available.
That's what I've expected and that's bad.
There are three little vias at DRAM SIMM 0, close to the bad area of desaster (== the area of the battery) and right of the inductor L11 which are very corroded on one of my machines. I don't know what they are good for or what they connect. Maybe it's nothing, but does anybody know with what these via's are connected?
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by Wobblestone »

Sorry, me again...
And a very stupid question: How can I send private messages? There is no button or such thing in "Private messages". And if I go to "compose message", I get this error:
We are sorry, but you are not authorised to use this feature. You may have just registered here and may need to participate more in discussions to be able to use this feature.
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by markusher »

The ability to reply to, or to send Private Messages (PMs) is disabled for new members at first until you have posted a certain number of public messages (25 I think). However, you can ask for full PM functionality to be enabled by using the ‘Contact us’ link (envelope icon) at the bottom of every page. This sends a message to the administrators who will consider your request.
-Mark
4 x BBC, 1 Viglen BBC, 3 Masters, BBC AIV Domesday System, EO1S & E20 Filestore, A4000, RISC PC 600,700, StrongArm. Probably more I've missed...
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanJeffray »

markusher wrote:
Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:50 am
The ability to reply to, or to send Private Messages (PMs) is disabled for new members at first until you have posted a certain number of public messages (25 I think). However, you can ask for full PM functionality to be enabled by using the ‘Contact us’ link (envelope icon) at the bottom of every page. This sends a message to the administrators who will consider your request.
It's a bit silly that I can send a message, I can see it's been read, but the receipient can't reply!
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by markusher »

That the recipient can't reply is certainly a gap in the implementation. Also opens up the temptation to spam postings until they can reply.
-Mark
4 x BBC, 1 Viglen BBC, 3 Masters, BBC AIV Domesday System, EO1S & E20 Filestore, A4000, RISC PC 600,700, StrongArm. Probably more I've missed...
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Re: FS: USB "POST box" adaptors (for debugging Archimedes / Risc PC systems that don't boot)

Post by IanJeffray »

For reference, I've been looking in to prices for sending a POSTbox to Wobblestone in the EU, and, assuming most of the EU will be the same price for postage (you'll need to handle any customs charges yourself) then I can ship these for a total of 50 euro all-in on a 5-day tracked service originating with Roya lMail. Every other courier is considerably more expensive.
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