Today I had little time to build another core for Vampire 600. Someone may ask why I wasted time on building core slower and with less memory than original one. Let's say that few people wanted core according to this specifications. MC68000 emulation with memory located at $C00000 - $CFFFFF, $200000 - $5FFFFF space, in total 5 megabytes of Slow/Fast Ram. Another reason is to again prove the concept and how easy could be to upload new core supporting another type of CPU. This core is more compatible with some problematic software. Enjoy :)
Hardware needed: Windows based computer
Vampire 600 FPGA accelerator
Software needed: Quartus II Web Edition Software - Altera
Vampire 600 core
1. Please make shore that your Amiga 600 is turned off.
2. Connect USB blaster cable to JTAG header found on Vampire 600 accelerator, connect another end of programmer to USB port on your PC. Now you can power on your Amiga. This procedure is needed because we want to avoid any damage to our hardware from electrostatic discharge(ESD). Accelerator have specially designed levels of protection but it won't hurt us to be little more careful.
3. Download and unzip appropriate core from table above on your PC and Start Quartus II Web Edition Software, select Tools and then Programmer. In new window click Auto Detect option like shown on picture below. This procedure is needed to see that FPGA is properly detected and after that we select detected FPGA and click Delete.
4. Now when we have properly detected and removed FPGA we can load our core into programmer by clicking Add File. Search for place where you unzipped downloaded core and select appropriate file with *.jic extension and click open.
5. In this stage we need to remove previous core by selecting Erase and clicking Start. At this point it is completely normal that your Amiga system freeze.
6. Now it's time to upload core. Uncheck Erase option and check Program/Configure option and click Start.
If you have some soldering experience you will be able to solder most of the components on the board but soldering FPGA device can be tricky. This specific FPGA is in QFP package with very sensitive pins very close to each other. There are lot of techniques you can use but I like to use brute-force technique. This specific way of soldering is invented in China few years ago and for me it is the only way I can solder this specific device fast.
Required tools: 1. Soldering station
2. Soldering wire with flux
3. Solder wick
4. Paper based tape
5. Aethanolum dilutum 70-90%
Procedure: 1. With paper tape isolate FPGA footprint. This way you prevent damage of other components footprints.
2. Place FPGA on footprint and check for alinement.
3. Secure every side of the FPGA by soldering corner pins.
4. Apply lot of soldering wire to each side dragging soldering iron close to the pins but not touching them.
5. Apply heat on one side and hit desk with the board and all not needed soldering material will fall of.
6. Clean board with Aethanolum dilutum.
Tips: Set your soldering station at 350 Celsius degrees and be quick.
This is schematics of latest version of Vampire 600 accelerator with BOM included. Please use this document purely for information purpose and not for building idea of earning money and exploiting Amiga or some other retro scene.
As promised all work regarding Vampire 600 project will be open sourced and I think that from this materials complete Amiga community can benefit. Documentation will be published gradually when is finished followed with video materials about complex parts.All of this materials are just for educational purpose. If you decide to build something based on this materials drop me an mail but I strictly forbid building large series of accelerators for selling purpose.
Q: Should I consider this product as finished? A: No, complete idea is about statement that product will be never finished and it will be constantly updated with better cores.
Q: Is the product completely tested? A: No, it is impossible to test accelerator in all situations on various boards and programs, games, but every single board sent to end users is completely tested on my Amiga 600. Best situation is to have Amiga 600 motherboard with Gayle version 02.
Q: How about compatibility? A: System is compatible as it can be and compatibility depends from TG68 core who has some bugs inside and since I don't have permission to modify TG68 itself we are at compatibility level like all devices using this core.
Q: Can I use WHDLoad? A: Yes but system is now too fast for running some games and you need to find way to start them using commands like NoAutoVec, NoCache and such. I don't intend to give any kind of support for starting games and various programs since I m not author of WHDLoad. You have plenty information's in WHDLoad documentation.
Q: What additional hardware or software do I need to use accelerator? A: Accelerator itself is "plug and play" and don't require any additional software or hardware.
Q: How do I upgrade my core. A: I suggest everyone to buy cheap USB blaster cable and install free Quartus II Web Edition Software on your PC so we can upload new core in seconds in case something goes wrong. Remember accelerator maybe doesn't work on your system and you need specific core to upload.
Q: Any guarantee? A: You will receive technical support and I will find the time to help you to get everything working. Don't worry I don't plan to leave Amiga scene soon :) If you are not satisfied with something there is always possibility to money refund so everyone happy :)
Q: Where should I seek for technical support ? A: On this site we have forum and section for technical support.
I received my boards but...
Q: I didn't get it some fancy box! A: You don't use a box for acceleration, and creating such boxes are not possible in my country and could increase price of final product significantly. Manufacturers wanted from me to order special tools for cutting cardboard valued 500Euro's because their tools can't produce boxes in required dimensions.
Q: I didn't get any instructions how to attach Vampire accelerator to my motherboard. A: It is so simple, one minute job, and if you need manual for that please consider leaving Amiga scene :)
If you are not prepared to learn and to understand this piece of hardware then this is not for you. Complete concept is about open sourcing complete project and future development from all of us. If you consider yourself to be just an user without much knowledge and patience then please consider buying some commercial products developed for Amiga. Buying USB blaster programmer and installing Quartus II Web Edition on your PC is something we need to find and debug potential problem on your system. It is easy task and often takes few minutes and in the same time you will learn a lot about core itself.