Info: Vampire series of cards are back to the production
Respecting the wish from many people who wrote me on my mail and facebook I have decided to resume production of genuine Vampire V2 accelerator cards for various Amiga models again with some improvements, some technical some not but still very important. In those messages I found several things in common, they liked the product but they were very frustrated with long waiting time, payment methods, insecure and slow shipping and complete logistics behind this project.
So it didn't make any sense for me to resume production before all of those things were fixed.
In the meantime several things in the world has been changed. Everything gets more expensive and hard to get. I remember when I started Vampire accelerators project, soldering first wires, fuel was 0.7Eur and today is 2Eur for one litter, insane! Price of the copper and several other metals increased several times in past few months. All of that made huge impact for any kind of production and development. Production of the cards increased by 10%, shipping increased by nearly 25% and price of the parts become insane. Luckily in 2020. I have ordered tons of capacitors and resistors for the future for good prices. Worst thing is that I have feeling that this inflation will never stop. Politicians on my side talking also about increasing income tax from 10% to 13% and this is just one tax in front of many used to basically kill freelancers and developers like me. All of this is something you can see on your side also, how inflation is kicking in in your city influencing your life.
No matter what is going on I have decided to not increase price of the accelerator cards. I have always hated to see that in inflation end customer pays more just to ensure that manufacturer earns the same like he was earning before inflation. Nooo they will never give up part of the profit. This will clearly break my idea that each Vampire accelerator card has to ensure financial stability for getting more and more parts for production. That was the only way I could make enough cards for Amiga community.
Last batch of Vampire 1200 V2 cards (Rev:1.3)
Vampire 600 V2 card (Rev:2.2)
So if you want genuine Vampire V2 accelerator card for your Amiga, giving support to original developer and founder, you can drop me a mail: imajstorovic AT yahoo DOT com.
Yesterday, my friend, my mentor, my idol died from complications caused by Covid-19. Man who was TV and radio host, who was pioneer in electronic music in Bosnia, who was most creative person I know. Person who made huge influence to many generations and made all of us little better showing us that certain level of creativity can be done in the isolated environment where we are living. Music producer, IRC guru, PHPNuke freak and in front of all Amiga coder. I remember his words, on Amiga I could be the one with the machine, on PC only creative thing I can do is to create virus.
Thanks to Covid who strikes again it took us nearly one month to finish design and produce new cardboard boxes who will be in use from now on with all Vampire accelerator models. With old design I didn't had much luck with silk screen ink who wasn't resistant enough to scratches. This time, going much professional with new printing company everything looks perfect! I want to thank Crom, our team member for this brilliant design and patience needed to finish all of this.
Old cardboard box vs. new
For promotional purposes I have also decided to make limited number of keychains. What's special of them is that actual piece of PCB is placed inside, part of Vampire card including logo. PCB is 0.36mm thick with black soldermask and red silkscreen with 35um copper plate inside. How all of this happened? I got to the store and got printable keychains with idea to print Vampire logo on them. Printable erhm, no one could print on them with any known technique or tool so my decision was to replace existing metallic plates inside them with PCB. Beside keychains there are also 3D stickers who will be included in package. Remember, all of those are build in limited numbers and will be included in packages for short period of time. They are not for sale and I will send them as gifts together with Vampire accelerators untill quantities produced don't run out.
Posted by majsta on Thursday, March 11 2021 @ 19:24:03 UTC (518 reads)
(comments? | Score: 5)
Inspired by our logo who gives special mark to the project I have decided to recreate my working space. I was pretty impressed by the low price of plywood, printed foils, screws, glue and all the other materials and tools needed for 2 working desks and closet. Total price for everything was just under 200EUR. Impressive! On the other hand, hard part was the assembly because when you buy furniture regular way, from the store, it comes with instructions manuals together with all the markings on the plywood. That's something that makes assembly easy for everyone. Designers furniture with unique touch, especially for gaming rooms is not something you can easily buy in stores and in most cases must be done from scratch. In this specific case I had to be the one who will do all the work from initial idea and calculations needed to actually make all pieces of wooden puzzle fit, down to the assembly. It was hard journey who took at least 15 days of my life but it was well worthy.
V-Desk in various stages of building
V-Closet & tiny desk
V-Closet and tiny desk in various stages of building
Final touch to my room was gift from my friend who surprised me a lot with this. Take a look :)
As you are aware Covid-19 situation made huge problems to everyone. All this time I was thinking that this is something that will go away soon and be forgotten even quicker but I was wrong. I am facing problems regarding production for long period of time now. It is nearly impossible to maintain production of accelerators in large scale and it is getting harder and harder to source parts or to get them in time or at normal prices that were listed before. Parts and following materials, tools used in this project are sourced all over the world and without having all of them, precisely selected over the years accelerator cards won't have decent quality which is not an option. Everything was a problem, from sourcing something simple as ESD bags to more important stuff like genuine Amtech flux I needed. In such situation I have decided to stop production completely and wait. For nearly 3 months I was focused to help in other areas apollo-team had needs slowly collecting parts to run production again. And yes, it is getting better now but we are not even near to say that everything is back to normal. With all of the orders I m over 6 months behind so waiting time is getting more and more frustrating for everyone. With limited quantities of cards I was making I had to postpone any cooperation with Amiga shops and I m very sorry for that but I couldn't give them false promises because simply, I can't deliver anything in reasonable amount of time.
Situation is not so good with postal services too who are under big hit constantly changing their policies for sending or receiving parcels. My postal service like others had some strange calls so when epidemic started I could receive packages from China but not send them there. Strange? Right now I m able to send to USA but unable to receive anything from there. Chile is also forbidden in my post office and several other countries. Worst thing is that I pay for shipping and then after few days they call me to say that they can't send it to specific country each time keeping the money. On top of everything fraud investigation regarding wirecard bank, widely used by developers and parts suppliers created more troubles.
What can I say, strange times, people lose jobs and maybe best option for everyone is to save money for other priorities in life than on our hobbies. From my side I can only promise that production of all versions of Vampire accelerators will be continued soon I get all needed parts.
Posted by majsta on Sunday, July 12 2020 @ 22:38:28 UTC (775 reads)
(comments? | Score: 0)
Info: Gamescom 2019
Final decision to leave my cave and meet in person several Apollo-team members was made at the beginning of July. Destination, Gamescom 2019 who took place from August 20 - 24 in Cologne, Germany. My friend and me traveled by the car there and back for nearly 3000Km. It was crazy road trip with lot of funny things that happened. At the very beginning GPS navigation pointed us to some mental health institute. So imagine us late at night knocking at the doors to enter thinking that this is our hotel. Something was suspicious to me by looking one lady who was walking in circles constantly... But, nevermind that :) My constant fight with automatic doors and sensors equipped faucets created lot of crazy situations. For last 20 years I m thinking that someone is watching when I approach sensors equipped devices and shuts them down on purpose to make idiot out of me. But, watching Brad Pitt commercial for new movie in Swiss made public toilet, same time holding my dick was on top of everything. Come on, tablet installed in pissoir with Brad Pitt talking to me to watch the movie. After my reaction everyone started laughing there. Brad Pitt jumped from the shit and asks to suck my dick. HaHaHa
So, how was it at Gamescom. It is pointless to explain because there are no words invented yet to describe what I have seen there. In short, it does not matter are you into games, technology or not you must visit Gamescom in your lifetime. Everything there left mark in my mind and changed me completely. My views about life, world, various communities. It's simple, you are surrounded with thousands of people who are full of desire to change the world with innovative ideas.
Meeting several Apollo-team members after so many years working together was very good decision. All what I was thinking about them before was proven to be true. Hard working people with strong desire to get another life to Amiga computers. I consider myself as a person who "reads" people very quickly so I was happy to see that our team is legit without lies or hidden motives. I won't use this article to talk more about things we discussed there, let's our work talks for itself. Also, big thanks to Amiga Future for making all of this possible.
Apollo-team at Gamescom 2019
So where we stand there? It was privilege to have stand beside biggest companies in the world of technology. Despite game development progress in last few years it was amazing for me to see that kids were playing games on retro computers. Mostly multiplayer games and there I see our chance together with Indie Game Developers. Final conclusion is that our work was recognized and that we are very close to provide one more alternative to the end users.
So let's conquer the world together :)
More pictures in Read More, Pictures, Files... section of this article.
Few days ago this website was under heavy hack attack, again.
Database is damaged now and content of published articles could be changed to mislead visitors. I will try to repair website when I found some free time.
Each Vampire card have its own Unique ID, serial number that is integrated inside chip. For better support and future core updates who will be UID dependent please register your card by filling the form provided HERE.
Posted by majsta on Sunday, August 27 2017 @ 15:25:36 UTC (1635 reads)
(comments? | Score: 1.33)
Info: Fair Warning!!!
I have informed that there are several people on various places claiming that they will be official sales representatives of the Apollo-team. Yes, there was some discussion about that matter but so far no serious agreement with anyone. So please watch out if someone asks you for money, pre-orders or anything similar. Sales are handled by me and kipper2k and only from APOLLO-ACCELERATORS.COM
March 14, 2017.:::UPDATE: Recently I have send about 10 mails to the people from our list to pay to our manager Sandy and not directly to me and send transaction details with pictures to my mail. This is done to save time and to avoid paying PayPal fees two times. Sandy will handle parts for us and I m creating some kind of fund on hers account to speedup parts delivery.
Posted by majsta on Thursday, December 29 2016 @ 20:24:46 UTC (1699 reads)
(comments? | Score: 2.33)
Info: Living in shithole
In my 2nd attempt to have proper cardboard boxes for Vampire cards I have realized where I actually live. For last 15 days I m trying to find someone who can do simple 110x110x40mm black cardboard boxes. Right now after 40 minutes of search for one "company" I have finally gave up. Dirty roads, no street signs or anything in the part of the city where about 30 000 people lives. Instantly you start to wonder how is possible that final product can be any good if you work and live there. Leaving that part of the city I noticed same group of people on dusty bus station still waiting. Yeah it is normal that bus didn't arrive, no one cares about lost time. No one is in a hurry, why bother, anyway most of the people don't have a job at all so why to be in a rush. Everyone are happy because most of them start drinking early in the morning. Visiting those places makes you think of American movies with titles like "Eaten alive", or "Butchered in the woods". You again ask yourself why they don't change something, how is possible that people don't see that same politicians are on the scene for last 25 years doing nothing. Actually, they are doing something but not for the people but for their own pockets. No one is guilty for closing electronic industry complexes in my city, no one is guilty about the fact that 12 000 people who worked in that sector don't have job anymore. Yeah, people still vote for the same politicians and they will vote again. Why, it is not important that they didn't build roads and pipes for drinkable water, most important thing is that few days before elections they organize huge parties with lot's of alcohol and food. People will then give their votes to them not realizing that in next 4 years every beer they had on that party will cost them 1000Eur. Talking about people, most of them are so ignorant that their only goal in life is to prove how big Serbs, Muslims or Croats are. In that situation every politician who says right words in right moment is their hero. I think when NASA discovers Martians and when they attack us world will unite to fight them, all world except people in Bosnia. They will still be busy proving their point. Best are those who left Bosnia to work in Germany and other countries doing jobs no one want's to do there. Working in a sewerage systems, they are biggest bosses when they visit Bosnia on some holidays. With rented cars using horns and national flags, again they becoming biggest patriots. For 20 years working there they were incapable to learn German language or to integrate there.
Talking about doing some business here. When you need to go and talk to someone, you can expect bunch of things. Like my friend told me, they won't do any work by phone or mail, you must go and visit them because they will just by looking at you see is it possible to trick you and take more money from you. Again, few days ago I was waiting for an meeting and after hour of waiting man told me that they need first to eat some candies for some celebration. After my initial frustration here goes another one when they told me that they can't do boxes for me in black color. Price for white boxes, I told him that I can get boxes done cheaper in USA including shipping price. Everyone is acting like they are millionaires, everyone takes work as casual thing, and everything is slow, so slow that you can order things anywhere in the world and get it faster than they can build it here. When you need something that is not standard you won't find it anywhere. Month ago when my car died I couldn't find part anywhere. Certified Opel dealer told me that they can get me part in 20 days, hey I m not certified dealer but I can get same part from E-bay in 2 days and at lower price. It is perfectly normal to wait for anything in endless lines, for hours, days. It is perfectly normal that people are selling tickets publicly to get you faster in that line. If you are member of some party or have important relatives you can do whatever you like.
In the days where each dot in the world is one click away we are 200 years behind. Yes we have cars and phones but most of our cars are used cars from Germany. It is not important that you don't have all teeth, it is important that you drive Mercedes who is discarded as scrap metal in Germany. It is important that you spend all day looking at the phone searching for someone who can donate food or clothing for your kid not thinking that you should do something instead spending time on using device you can't afford.
Anyway, most of you don't have any idea how hard was for me to do project like this. Living in the place where only two companies in the country have CE, where you have problems with everything. Nice cardboard boxes, again not an option.
Posted by majsta on Wednesday, September 28 2016 @ 11:18:40 UTC (1179 reads)
(comments? | Score: 5)
Info: About recent events
As you probably know participation in Apollo-team project was 90Eur, later on price went to 120Eur because design change. For that price you were getting Vampire 600 V2 accelerator card and opportunity to have fastest and most compatible Amiga accelerator ever produced, Apollo-core ported to Vampire card with unique features and with more than 100MIPS with latest published cores. From initial core release we went up for more than 20MIPS with adding more and more instructions, more compatible video output drivers and support for MicroSD. Everyone got opportunity to participate in this amazing project seeing it as a next best thing after minimig. Lot of people realized that we inside Apollo-team could bring something to the market, beyond wildest dreams of Amiga enthusiasts who waited for over 20 years for something like this to happen. As a person who worked on hardware design for last 6 years I was under constant pressure helping the team best I could in various areas with my modest knowledge. At the time when money was needed Amiga community recognized potential of this project and placed first pre-orders helping a lot financially. Without those people none of this would happen and that's the truth. They were helping me also in other things, getting parts, equipment. There was so many energy in the air send by them. That gave me the strength to work constantly more than 10 hours per day, every single day. For two years I didn't go to fishing properly or did something else like spending some time with the family.Don't know, just go somewhere with them. I didn't find time to do any other things, this project took it all. Project was frustrating, from the point that design needed change, five times, to the fact that in process of testings I had to buy parts who are now forgotten in those changes.
When you solder by hand about 3200 0402 capacitors and loads of other parts sacrificing in front of everything my health and then when you see that someone else is making money from your hard work then you start to wonder what are you doing wrong. From the start money wasn't my motivation. If that was the case I could sell this design number of times or I could increase the price more. Why solder by hand you may wonder. Because that was the only option to keep prices low and affordable to everyone, at least it was me who was talking constantly that no one should benefit from nostalgic feelings of retro computers enthusiasts. That's why I have opensourced first version of the Vampire 600 so anyone can continue work on it. If this was about the money then I wouldn't end up in the situation where I need to find money for future projects. I was forcing kipper2k to keep prices of the accelerators low with minimum profit or close to zero and each time one FPGA dies he is left with loses. And yes those things happen, I have loads of overheated or ESD damaged parts.
Lot of questions are in my mind lately, could we get even better results if we had money to pay someone for the drivers, demos, for the test cases, instead everyone inside team was working for free. With recent Intel purchases prices of the parts went even higher, yet we kept prices down because we had stock of the parts ordered before those Intel's takeovers. Same time people started to put their Vampire 600V2 cards on eBay selling it for anywhere between 300-800Eur. You may say that's not illegal and they can do whatever they want with their cards but please be in my position to work on this so hard and still don't have money for tooling fees needed for card edge connectors. Some people are adding themselves to our waiting list because pure profit they can make by selling the card five times more than they paid for. I was at the edge to block those cards from future core uploads but I didn't do it and I won't.
Since I have enough parts only to cover initial pre-orders placed on Amibay without need for more funds and because of recent eBay events I m forced to increase the price anywhere between 230-250Eur for various models. Without this decision we are dead in the water and we will hardly find money to finance Vampire 1200. I was idealist, thinking that I should play fair and give anyone opportunity to get this piece of hardware not respecting my time or energy and knowledge rest of the team put into this. I was an idiot thinking that everyone will keep their cards and follow our progress, they didn't even bother to try latest cores, instead they went for quick money. In the darkest corner of my mind I couldn't predict that someone will sell the card instantly when he gets it... Thank you eBay sellers for opening my eyes. World turns when money talks. Finally I learned that.
Info: Project applied to M:tel Technology contest for best blog in the country
Ovaj tekst ulazi u izbor najboljih blogova u BiH na takmińćenju m:bloger kompanije m:tel m:blogger
Kako u par recenica srociti sve ono sto sam uradio na ovom projektu u proteklim godinama? Jako tesko pa se necu ni truditi da pisem o tome. Bitno je da sam sam sebi, a i drugima dokazao da u stvari nije bitno gdje zivis nego je bitno koliko znas. Prepoznace se tvoj trud i zalaganje i bices u prilici da saradjujes sa svim strucnjacima u svijetu gdje jezicke, kulturoloske barijere ne postoje. Nece im biti vazno ni ko si, ni kako se zoves ni kojoj politickoj opciji pripadas samo je vazno koliko znas. U okvirima gdje jezik tehnologije govori napravio sam mnogo ali mi je zao sto vidim da generacije koje dolaze sve manje postavljaju pitanja tipa kako, zasto, da ih skoro niko ne edukuje u tom smijeru.
I won't translate. I put this project into contest organized by our largest telecommunications company M:tel and this is one of their rules to follow. I had to publish text used in contest application form. This contest is related to Technology and I think that we fit in that category nicely :)
Posted by majsta on Wednesday, August 31 2016 @ 11:47:06 UTC (1082 reads)
(comments? | Score: 0)
Info: LitePlacer - Ultimate tool
No one could predict that demand for Vampire 600 cards will be in such volume. Simply, in my wildest dreams I couldn't think that more than 100 of them will be sold. Now, I have no idea how much of them are send or how many more needs to be produced. It is not a problem when you need to solder few cards by hand but soldering thousands of them could take too much time, months, years... Biggest problem here is not time itself, problem is that after some time you are sick of it. You start to hate project itself each time more and more when you put single PCB on the desk and start soldering ~50 0402 capacitors by hand. Lot of people offered help in soldering but for various reasons they gave up after seeing the board. Man I trust the most when comes to soldering, kipper2k did amazing job lately by producing more than 500 Vampire 600 cards and sending them to end users. I have ended up in really bad situation because I had multiple task to handle, same time. I was soldering V600 cards for people from my pre-order list, doing 3 redesigns of Vampire 500 and Vampire 1200 design. Same time I entered into territory of high speed signals and I needed to read a lot to understand how DDR3 works. Like that was not enough I had to help with VHDL coding and Gayle/IDE integration into V500. More, BigGun Apollo-team leader after some discussion about our HDMI drivers told me that I should stop talking because I don't know anything about C++. I have found that as a challenge and took 2 months long classes about C++ at my university...
People from my pre-order list asked melot's of reasonable questions. Why they need to wait so long for the cards from me when people are getting them sooner from kipper2k. Answer is simple, if there were no my personal pre-order list none of this could happen. Without money from pre-order list I wouldn't be able to do anything. This story begins and ends with Amiga 600 but what about other models. In current situation there is no normal person who would start production of Vampire 500 without proper plan. How to announce it and survive demand who could be 10 times greater than with Amiga 600. Again, lot of people proposed that cards should be manufactured by professional company so we, from Apollo-team can concentrate on other things. I have tried to manufacture Vampire 600 V1 in Europe and cost for assembled board was around 800Eur so I had to give up. You see, for Amiga market demand is high but for professional manufacturer we are too small to reduce costs by having larger volume of the product. Yes, all is doable, but then forget about low price I m trying to keep here. As a person who want's to have control over certain things I m doing I have decided that only option is to get myself Pick and Place machine.
Professional PnP machines costs tens of thousands dollars so that was out of the question. Only company who produces affordable machine is NeoDen, but then again price is about 4000USD. Same time their low level models have one huge disadvantage, they don't have cam. In the days where USB cameras are everywhere for few USD? Searching the web I didn't find any other company in that price range but what I did find is that few people managed to build PnP machine from old printers, scanners and DVD players. There are also specialized robotics related sites where you can order everything from stepper motors to various controller boards. All of the things mentioned above were not possible in my case. Because of the price I can't buy any of commercial machines, even low end variants. On the other hand I can build machine, I can build anything but my enemy here is the time. For building PnP machine I would probably need 3 years of constant work so going in that direction could delay my other projects. By pure luck I stumbled on liteplacer.com website and start to read. The Low Cost Prototype Builder's Pick and Place Machine as is started on the site and it costs 1199‚ā¨, still huge money for me but I had to do it. I was amazed how everything is well documented and I started discussion with Juha Kuusama, man behind this amazing project. He was very friendly and with help from ShK we find a way to get machine to me by using cheapest possible options. Then nightmare begins. About the things I had to do to get machine into my hands is not smart to talk. I only realized that there is close to nothing I wouldn't do for this project...
Box, huge, opening box, I m scared. There are thousands of parts inside, nuts, bolts, pipes, motors, wires. Assembly has started 28.6.2016 and ended up 4 days later, after ~18 working hours. Like I said , because all was documented properly all went fine. For tweaking machine I needed about 16 days more. So not bad. Initial plan was to dedicate on this one month, that was the only time I could afford away from Vampire project. No more or less. Complete assembly puts each of your skills to huge tests. Each time wondering is there something you did wrong. Juha did awesome job with LitePlacer and I m certain that with this project he made lifework and earned his place in scientific world's history. Combining mechanical and coding knowledge he made ultimate tool for every man cave. Using the machine is the experience that can hardly be compared to something else.
What's left to do and not included in the kit was SMDtrays, and for professional SMD trays price can go up to 1800USD, yes you read it right. To solve this problem I had to find plastic or aluminum profiles for other use who can be modified. Five days I have spend in my car, driving to every shop, store, mall in my and closest cities looking for something I can use. Sellers looked me like I m crazy because I was measuring everything from fly killing racket and his grip to the various toys. Can 8mm SMD tape fit and slide inside something. Finally I have found 10mm cable channels and used their cover bending it down to 8mm and gluing 4.8mm plastic tape on the bottom to ensure that parts won't move up and down once PnP needle picks them. In the process of making those trays I cut myself badly. That and many more pictures from LitePlacer's assembly stages you can find in Read More, Pictures, Files... section of this article.
LitePlacer - Placing 0805 capacitors on Vampire 600 V2 accelerator
Question is simple but in the same time not easy for me to decide what to do and there are certain things that needs to be considered. From the start I had an idea to keep this in form of early developed blogs, to write down my own experiences using Amiga computers, or my work regarding FPGA accelerators. So here we go.
Cons: 1. Pages of the site are heavily linked on various forums and Google search results so building new site means that we lose direct connections
2. Building new site will take lot of my time so I won't be able to work on the project itself
3. Site must be build by me, I must understand every part of it, can't call someone each time I want to publish some news
4. We will lost all the features that CMS like this provide, so each time I need to add something to the site I need to code
Pros: 1. New site HTML5 based could prove that this is serious project
2. Could be done to detect and support every single platform old and new
3. Look very modern and professional
Problem is that there is quite a lot comments about this site lately. Someone says that this is just the place where one person write nonsense and that this don't look like professional work. Others says that this is place where they can track complete progress easily and find lot of valuable information's for their own projects or simply for easier understandings how things works in retro scene. Keep it simpler, leave it as is, site like this is not secure, add animations... For me most important thing is that I can use this CMS easily and don't waste too much time on it to say what's on my mind. On the other hand should I build modern site like everyone is doing to make people thing that behind me is army of the people working to get things done. To put shiny pictures of some facility representing it as a new place where Amiga will be reborn. So last months I was confused and in parallel with the Vampire designs I worked on the new site constantly asking myself what is the point. Here is the the demo, yes it looks nice, but that demo also represents one man soldering in his basement. It is fake show without any real purpose than to let you say wow I will follow this project because site looks interesting.
I have attached survey on right side, please vote.
Posted by majsta on Saturday, October 10 2015 @ 08:30:47 UTC (1338 reads)
(comments? | Score: 5)
Info: Agony continues...
How can you stay normal after today I ask myself? In Bosnia, my country, where God said goodbye and where about 67% of the people have strong will to leave country I had the idea that I might succeed in life if I work hard enough so I decided to stay and to educate people that they should stay too and try to change something. But, after this morning I ask myself did I chose wrong when I decided to stay and that I just wasted my time here. But, where to go now I m 32 years old and stuck here for reasons I don't understand well. It seems to me that in Bosnia only correct approach is to became a criminal. They are untouchable by any kind of law. Favorite statement from them is "It was so hard to earn first million, next one goes easy".
But this story is not about them it is about me trying to fulfill my dream and create few technical innovations, in same time promoting my country. This morning I received phone call from customs about my packages. So I went there and talked with them for about half an hour about their desire to send back my packages to the manufacturer. There it was on the table 50 Vampire 600 accelerators looking so nice, clean, elegant. I was able to touch them but I couldn't take them with me. After so much work I was so devastated that I had lot of trouble driving back home. They said that single person can't order so much peaces of something? They had no interest to look at my papers that everything is financed by the Government of my country and that this is scientific project. They was also not interested in fact that on one package's declaration "Gift" column was checked. Yes, it was a gift from manufacturer from China because I had few orders from them in the past and they wanted to support me somehow. They said that I can apply complaint but that this won't delay execution, merchandise will be back to country of origin. Don't get me wrong I obey low and my country's law regulations and maybe all of this is normal but when you live in the country where law doesn't apply to everyone equally you start to wonder about few things. Why are my packages put on hold and investigation and in the same time it is perfectly normal here to see someone making a huge building on someone else terrain and without any prove of money origin. It is perfectly normal to rob, steal or injure someone and same day go free from police department. It is normal to bring every single firm down and take money without any investigation. It is normal to steal any country resources just need to enter the team who rules everything and then you are protected. Rest of the people, like me, if they are lucky lives with less than 300Euros per month and no they not allowed to do more. In the situation where everyone expect money just to say good day to you and where in regular bases you see that your life is not life you turn to hobbies and try to escape from everything. And yet, my hobbies are at crucial importance for the customs to prove that we must obey law. We must, we little people!!!
So, today I had to become lawyer fast. I have read hundreds of pages where I concluded that they can't do that. I haven't found any single word where is forbidden for me to import large quantities of something. Also, in documentation I found that I shouldn't pay any money to customs because this is scientific project no matter who is ordering and what is the purpose of merchandise. In other hand in customs declaration we have explanation for every electronic part and dedicated customs fee. For about 90% of electronic components custom fee is 0%.
At the end all of this was unnecessary by them and maybe attempt to prove something. They just don't like situation where people ordering something from the Internet. Only one thing I know that this could be nice civil sue from me because they didn't provide any documentations that my packages are arrived and reason why they turned them back. So on Monday I will talk to them again and maybe we will find some solution for this situation.
UPDATE: September 2, 2013
During the weekend I didn't sleep or eat waiting for Monday and this morning went to customs to get my boards. I was certain that law is on my side and after short discussion with head chief there and looking into my papers he approved my shipment :) When I back home I found out that I received one more package from China without any problems. So conclusion to this topic is that everything in my country is pure luck and strange things can happen for unexplained reason. For example one teenager end up in process of police investigation because he was successful in pay per click programs online. Automatically every news paper reported about that and everyone claimed that he is a hacker :) There is no prove of anything, there is no explanation but his life here as normal person is finished and he will never clear his name. Anyway, I might expect more problems during sending boards and receiving money but I m persistent in this and all of you are just lucky living somewhere else.
Main problem in development of Amiga FPGA Accelerator was solving Voltage Level Translation. As we know MC68000 operates at 5V CMOS and most of the signals are in that range of voltage levels. Problem occurs when you want to use or replace that signals with newer devices like FPGA ones who are unable to use anything higher than 3.3V or in LVCMOS range. In this case I decided to use Altera Cyclone II device for MC68000 emulation but like I said it is very hard to find 5V tolerant FPGA device so only solution was Voltage Level Translation between MC68000 and Altera Cyclone device. On the market we can find lot of devices for Voltage Level Translation like QuickSwitch devices, Level Shifters, Transceivers, Buffers/Drivers or Voltage Level Translators with or without Auto Direction Sensing, but not all of them are suitable for this job because we don't have just unidirectional signals here, we must provide Voltage Level translation for some bidirectional signals also. Simplest solution is to use Schottky diodes with series of resistors but I decided to use different approach because I wanted to simplify design as much is possible. There are number of parameters that we need to consider and for better understanding check two pictures below.
Using Schottky diodes
After some investigation I found that some Dev boards have some kind of protection for 5V signals. This protection is needed to keep FPGA device protected for high voltages. For example Altera DE2 board have over voltage protection using Schottky diodes with series of resistors. Unlike the DE1 (which has no protection), the DE2/DE2_70/DE2_115 boards have 47ohm series resistors on all the GPIO lines, plus a BAT54 diode pair clamping to +3.3 and GND respectively on the FPGA side of the resistor. So it is perfectly safe to apply 5V signals on the GPIO pins on these boards even during configuration.
Using QuickSwitch devices provided by Pericom or IDT can solve lot of problems. They are NMOS transistors based. You just need to add diode at the VCC to drop down Voltage Level by 0.8V, for this often is used 1N4148 diode.
All of this should work fine with unidirectional signals, but in situation where we need to solve problems with bidirectional signals in CMOS to LVCMOS translation and vice verse it could drive to number of problems, because sometimes 5V CMOS device in some cases can't detect LVCMOS signals. Those problems can be solved by using external pull-up resistor with a typical resistor value of 1K or 10K connected to a higher power source. This technique works but it can drive to increasing power dissipation on the circuit. Also this technique is problematic with high speed signals. You need to remember that this need to be done with every bidirectional signal and that could drive to design complications because we increase number of components on the board.
Using this devices you don't need to think which way are signals going as the QuickSwitch devices don't have direction control pin. For this operations you can use basic PI3C3384 from Pericom or equivalent from IDT QS3384 if you don't have large number of signals needed for Voltage Level Translation, but if you have it is better to use something like PI5C34X245 32 bit or 16 bit QS32X245 device.
Level Shifters, Transceivers, Buffers/Drivers, Voltage Level Translators with or without Auto Direction Sensing
There are lot of devices that can be used for Voltage Level Translation produced by TI, NXP, Maxim and others. First you need to select correct Logic Family that is suitable for your design for example LVC, LVT, and each family represent some Logic Type. For selecting right Logic family you need to check electrical characteristics of the devices like VIH, VIL, VOH, VOL. In my case using MC68000 and Altera Cyclone II device I had to provide minimum and maximum ratings to establish safe connection with those two components.
Many of those devices have direction control pins, even if they are dual voltage devices or 5V tolerant devices you need to pay attention to those pins because with those pins you will decide which side of logic device is input side and which one is output. Also you may pay your attention to "244" or "245" number in component name as "244" stands for unidirectional device and "245" for bidirectional but that doesn't mean that they can change direction of input and output signals on their own, devices don't have Auto Direction Sensing and that could be a large problem if you need truly bidirectional device . In my situation I needed cheap devices but in the same time I needed device that can change direction depending on signals so when A side needed to become input that B side become output and when B side needed to become input A side automatically goes to output state. To accomplish this you need to program direction control and output enable pins on selected Logic device, and I solve that just driving those pins to Cyclone II I/O pins and then programmed them. So now I have truly bidirectional Level Shifters and his A and B side, or input and output one depends from Cyclone.
There are few devices on the market like TXB0108 from TI who have Auto Direction Sensing so if you don't know what to do and don't understand any of this just use them and you will be fine in most cases but remember those devices have dual voltage VCCs and this could drive to PCB complications as you need to drive two power sources to the device. For better understanding Logic Families and Voltage Level Translation you need to read lot of documents. Some of them you can find here in Further reading section.
There are lot of people who helped me with this project. Some of them helped posting valuable information's on various forums about processors, coding, PCB designs... I will not state their names because I had problems with some of them because they told me that I m using their names to promote this Accelerator. That was not mine intention and I just wanted to thank them in some of my videos or articles. I have not stated the names of people for reasons that someone realizes that they directly participate in the project and that I expect them to work for me. I thank them for the articles that they wrote about Amiga, and for all the help they gave me via E-mail to figure out problems. I am so grateful for the excellent articles and papers I've read that I simply had to provide their names. I wanted to somehow pay tribute to those who like me spend hours and hours trying to perform the impossible. I had no intention to offend someone or use his name to promote the project. I just wanted people to see that I am working on this project for months. But somehow all of that was misunderstood... There are some of the people who supported project directly by donating hardware, software or equipment needed to finish this project and I would like to thank them.
March 6, 2016 Manuel Oswald donated 30EUR.
February 24, 2016 Claudio Guglielmotti donated 35EUR.
December 21, 2015 Santiago Gutierrez donated 50USD.
August 27, 2015 Claudio Guglielmotti donated 35EUR.
June 13, 2015 Phil Parsons donated 20EUR.
May 22, 2015 Mark D Brown donated 50EUR.
April 22, 2015 Jostein Hjeldnes donated 10USD.
March 31, 2015 Graham Campbell donated 5USD.
March 30, 2015 Beat Furrer donated 100USD.
March 7, 2015 Sebastian Adamczyk donated 25USD.
March 6, 2015 Marcus Engene donated 100USD.
March 4, 2015 Piotr Potera donated 1USD.
January 25, 2015 kipper2k donated 127.45USD.
January 6, 2015 Kjell Irgens donated 5USD.
December 10, 2014 Lovrenco Vladislavic donated 10USD.
November 18, 2014 Robertus Verzuu donated 25USD.
October 27, 2014 Finnish Amiga Users Group donated 150USD.
October 27, 2014 kipper2k donated 97.21USD.
September 29, 2014 Marcus Engene donated 100USD.
June 21, 2014 Lars Slivsgaard donated 5USD.
June 17, 2014 Olivier CHATRENET donated 10USD.
June 12, 2014 kipper2k donated 278.80USD.
May 14, 2014 Christos Papadakis donated 1USD.
April 26, 2014 Jorge Manuel Leal Ruivo donated 10USD.
January 26, 2014 Aleksandar Tenodi donated 1USD.
November 28, 2013 Enrique Fortuny donated 4.06EUR.
November 15, 2013 Esbj√∂rn Hagstr√∂m donated 1USD.
October 13, 2013 Nikolaos Tampakis donated 5USD.
October 7, 2013 dj-lukass donated 10USD.
September 15, 2013 Jan-Willem Doreleijers donated 1USD.
September 10, 2013 Christiaan Sijtsma donated 10USD.
September 5, 2013 James Igou donated 1USD.
September 5, 2013 Lars Slivsgaard donated 10USD.
August 22, 2013 Frank Tully donated 1USD.
August 18, 2013 Oliver McInnes donated 10USD.
August 15, 2013 qq1975b donated 10USD.
August 10, 2013 Oliver McInnes donated 5USD.
August 10, 2013 Christopher Ream donated 10USD.
August 10, 2013 Jens Kirk donated 25USD.
August 10, 2013 Andrew Gillen donated 1USD.
August 10, 2013 Vladimir Obradovic donated 10USD.
August 10, 2013 Simo Koivukoski donated 10USD.
August 8, 2013 dj-lukass donated 5USD.
August 7, 2013 Adrian Hughes donated 25USD.
Comment: Provided to support your work on Vampire A600. Just don't put pressure on yourself, and finish when you get there :) Maybe get someone to distribute this for you so you can just take pleasure in 'tinkering' rather than 'moving boxes'. Best wishes Adrian.
May 21, 2013 tnt23 donated 5USD.
April 30, 2013 Jonathan Mckeown donated 5USD.
April 17, 2013 ******* ********* donated 10USD.
March 8, 2013 burtonium donated 10USD.
March 1, 2013 Jan-Willem Doreleijers donated 5USD.
February 27, 2013 Martin Johansson donated 1USD.
February 25, 2013 Zenon donated 25USD.
February 24, 2013 Harm Veenstra donated 25USD.
Comment: Many Greetings from Holland
February 23, 2013 Trevor from Trevor's Amiga Blog donated 100USD.
January 14, 2013 John Perkins donated 25USD.
Comment: Awesome work, keep it up! John Perkins
January 13, 2013 Norbert Kett donated 5USD.
January 1, 2013 Neo Winston donated 5USD.
December 5, 2012 Retrotec donated 25USD.
Comment: Hello majsta. I have congratulated you on a1k.org to the project's progress. I am delighted by your past performance and happy to support your work with a small donation. Dear greetings from Switzerland. Andreas Pulver alias Retrotec
November 12, 2012 robinsonb5 donated 25USD.
June 18, 2012 marmot64 donated 25USD.
Comment: Hi, cool project, but don't work to hard and take care of your health! Good luck and kind regards, Lemmy
May 2, 2012 AmpZilla donated 100USD.
May 2, 2012 Tomasz M***** donated 10USD.
Apr 15, 2012 kipper2k donated 10USD.
Comment: Nice work in progress, Try to design board so that it takes advantage of HDD cradle holes to help secure the board and also check that your board can coexist with other peoples hw too. I can help with the board design itself but not actual HW.
ShK donated A500 motherboard and two keyboards, two A600 keyboards, four Amiga 600 motherboards, ROM's, Amiga 1200 motherboard, LCD TV, PLCC-68 sockets, Amiga 4000 and 2000 keyboards, Workbench floppy disks, PS2 keyboard interface for A600... It is hard to mention everything what he sent to me in process, as he said, clearing his apartment. All valuable things who helped a lot in the process of development Amiga hardware.
kipper2k donated about 50 PLCC-68 sockets, IDE adapters and lot of other Amiga related parts. He became one of the most important supporters of the complete project always there to help. Since beginning of the 2014 he maintains production of Vampire 600 accelerator.
Chinners donated complete, working Amiga 600.
mfilos donated non working Amiga 600 board for spares&repair.
cpiac64 donated working Amiga 600 motherboard.
cgugl donated Amiga 4000 motherboard and keyboard adapter.
Finnish Amiga Users Group donated full working A4000 + all other peripherals and tools needed to continue with this project.
Lord Aga donated tank mouse.
Mr_Acid who help me all the time with parts, equipment. Thank God for his basement...
Djole donated some special soldering flux, and solder tip and those things opened my mind to realize that I didn't have right tools for this job :)
Schematics & PCB design
Vovanius helped with understanding Voltage Level Translations, Clock signals and much much more.
Hattie Spetla from Texas Instruments provided me lot of information's regarding their products that I can use in design.
Harald van Veghel from NXP was always there to give me additional info about transceivers and other devices that they produce.
Soft cores and additional software
Jason McMullan helped with understanding USB controllers and their usability on Amiga and providing drivers that can be used together with Vampire design
dwh helped with understanding VHDL, correcting my codes and understanding basics of FPGA devices...
timn helped with TG68 core and understanding some of generated signals.
robinson5 helped with understanding FSM in VHDL.
Those people don't participate in this project directly, they don't work for me and they don't expect any credit for their help. They just wanted to help me somehow to finish this project, huge for one man.
I just don't understand Amiga community. First of all we are in situation that things are stuck for 20 years or so and people who know something want's to keep that private. For what ??? They just don't want to share any ideas or knowledge or experience. For past 2 years there are only few people who wanted to help me. Others just told me something like "You want to someone do all the work for you" or "Code speaks for itself don't need explanation???". Also those ones who created something related to Amiga hardware spend lot of time on most Amiga forums just to laugh at my work instead of giving support and sharing knowledge. That is the main reason why Amiga is going nowhere. I was thinking that they would like to see that someone want's to join them to work hard and share ideas. And if this situation continues Amiga will become nice memory and nothing more. In all my work regarding to PC, electronics, networks people wanted to help and all my life I helped others to learn but here in Amiga scene people are different. And there is about 100 forums where I shared my knowledge and every time I found some solution I post it so people can learn from it so that they don't need to waste time and to continue their work. Working on this accelerator I spend thousand hours to do something that someone could do for only 10 minutes and still they didn't want to take that 10 minutes for me. But they didn't understand that this work is not for me that this work is for all Amiga community. They can't understand that era of money earning from and for Amiga is gone forever but if we unite we can do something. Few people are working on Amiga hardware and for them all others are just stupid to enter their circles and they don't want to waste their time to anyone who want's to work hard. I started this project without any knowledge related to Amiga accelerators and Amiga hardware and now I m in situation to know lot of things. There are no open hard&soft databases. Where are the people who worked on old projects??? They only write something on the forums and laugh at those who are trying to create anything. They don't have will to start new projects or share ideas regarding old ones... So Amiga community is just Talk Talk community. And main reason of creating this accelerator is to prove people that someone like me without any knowledge can enter that world and create something. And then maybe someone will start thinking... So work will continue even if sometimes I m going crazy with this... Work will continue just to prove that I can do it, and for those who makes fun of me lets wait and see what happens maybe you will feel some kind of shame that you didn't helped after this project is finished. I enjoy to enter someones world and turn it around. Now its time for Amiga world... So share your ideas you will feel great and if you want to help me and have any knowledge related to VHDL or TG68 core please contact me...
This project is related to Amiga and creating accelerator cards for Amiga computers. Why Amiga if we have modern computers? If you asked that question then probably best option for you is to to move on from this site.
Investigation says that there are lot of accelerators for Amiga but I m talking about creating worlds first FPGA Amiga accelerator, and I m working on this project more than 2 years by now. Idea is to create open hardware database, where everyone can build accelerator for their Amiga or other retro computers, maybe improve some characteristics and propose some ideas so we can bring old computers into life so they can act like modern computers supporting some new standards same time keeping that retro feeling and possibilities who don't exist anymore. Plan is to use VHDL programing language on Altera platform. Project could bring something interesting to the Amiga community who is patiently waiting for Amiga revival.