Atari BadSector "A" Project Diary

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January 2001

Monday 01-Jan-2001


I used a plug in breadboard to connect up the AT89S53 for the first time. The intention was to try out the Atmel programmer software. This software was found after searching the web and emailing the author of the programmer and asking him to restore the web page! A minimal set of components were wired up. A 7805 voltage regulator was used to generate the 5V for the circuit. It was powered by the 12V line of a PC power supply. The use of a regulator makes the circuit more flexible with respect to which power sources can be used. A 16MHz crystal and two 33pF capacitors were connected to make the clock circuit. A set of 5 wires were connected up to an already existing parallel port cable. The programming pins: Reset; MISO; MOSI; and Sck together with a ground wire were connected up. I didn't even bother with the 100ohm resistors, but they were intended to be inserted at the PC end of the cable, which was impossible for me since I was using a printer port cable which I had already put together for my PIC programmer. The circuit didn't originally work and the following software <binary,source> was used to debug the printer port connections. After examination of the programmer source code it was discovered that the documentation had the reset pin connected to the wrong pin on the parallel port cable. Once this was fixed the circuit partially worked. When the logic probe used to check for signal activity was held on the sck pin the circuit appeared to work correctly allowing a small amount of data to be programmed and verified. The fix was to load the reset pin with a 2200pF capacitor. I really should use a scope at some point to properly understand why this allows the circuit to work. A suspicion is ringing on the Sck signal.

Tuesday 02-Jan-2001

I visited Maplin Electronics and bought some IDC cable connectors. One 2x20 way for the IDE drive connector and one 13x2 way to match the connector at the end of my parallel port cable.
Nowadays the local Maplin shop is a joke. The number of electronics components they have in stock is laughable. They seem to be moving more into the mainstream, selling PC parts, radio control, disco lights, tools and the like. They sadly remind me of Tandy shops. Each time a new Maplin catalogue is released, the smaller the number of real electronics components becomes. I guess this is only a reflection on the demise of the electronics hobbyist in the UK :-(.

Monday 08-Jan-2001

I continued to draw schematic using a demo version of Orcad for Windows. The chip count is now four. I think that it should be possible to code this application only using internal RAM. The AT89S53 only has 256 bytes, but this should be more than enough. There isn't space to buffer the data coming from the IDE drive, so it is hoped that grabbing the data from the drive isn't time critical, however to make sure that the development board is flexible enough I decided to add 8k bytes of static RAM as I have plenty available. I use the 74HCT573 octal latch rather than the more normal 74HCT373 since the pinout is far better organised. All the inputs are on one side and the outputs on the other. This matches up with the AT89S53 databus pins rather well.

Saturday 13-Jan-2001


Made more progress with the schematic. Added the MAX232 RS232 interface chip and connections. Added the printer in-circuit programmer connector. Time to start construction. The intention was to build a circuit with just the AT89S53, crystal, and MAX232 in order to test the in-circuit programming circuit and perhaps run a small program to send data out of the RS232 port. Once the circuit was built and tested with the programming software, the interface was failing intermittently. I checked the signals using a scope and tried several things to try to clean up the signals (although they looked OK). I decided to go back to the plug in board. When I tried the programming software it ran reliably. The crystal used on the circuit board was 11MHz, whereas the one used on the breadboard was 16MHz (a random selection from my crystal drawer). I tried a number of crystals on the breadboard and found that anything 11MHz and lower would not work. I therefore suspected a timing problem in the programming software. The author of the programming software included full source code and from previous inspection I knew that there was code to slow down the interface. So I loaded up Visual C for the first time and loaded the programming source code. I uncommented a #define to slow the interface down, and had a play around in the send0() and send1() functions. I recompiled, copied over to my other PC, and tried out again. To cut a long story short, I eventually got the programmer to work reliably with the processor clocked by the 11MHz crystal. I went back to the circuit board, re-soldered a wire which I had disconnected as part of my experiments, and the circuit board started to work reliably.

A quick note about my setup. On my main computer (alma) I am running Windows 95. I use gvim to edit my code (it has colour syntax highlighting). My second PC (electro) runs Windows 98. It is a less powerful PC and has a small Nec 3D monitor. It holds my EPROM programmer ISA card and has the printer port dedicated for use for my PIC programmer or EPROM emulator (both home made). It now is used for the Atmel in-circuit programmer. They are networked together using cheap 100Mb/s PCI ethernet cards and a hub. The in-circuit programming software is installed on electro. I use the TELIX DOS program as comms software running on electro.

Sunday 14-Jan-2001

At some time in the dim and distant past I downloaded a freeware C compiler for the 8051 family called SDCC. A more recent search on the web brought to light the existance of a much newer version of this program. I downloaded the binaries which had been compiled using Borland C to run in a DOS window. Following a link from the main SDCC page on Sorceforge brought me to the "SDCC Open Knowledge Web Site" which contained sample code. Of interest was the code to operate the 8051 comms port using interrupts.

I only spent an hour or so late Sunday evening having a play with SDCC. The sample program vs5.c looks like a good candidate to try. It is a very short program which performs some serial comms. This is exactly what I need to check out the hardware. When I try to compile it with the SDCC compiler I get a couple of linker warnings. Two library routines are not been found. I suspect that I am missing some libraries. I have no documentation. The ZIP file which I downloaded contained only the Borland C compiled binaries and no documentation and no other support files (such as libraries). Despite these warnings an Intelhex file has been created. I surf the web to find an Intel hex to binary converter, as the in-circuit programmer software only supports binary files. I fire up electro and power up the development board. I copy the vs5.bin binary file over to electro and then program the AT89S53. I hit the reset button to reset the processor, but monitoring the tx pin with a logic probe see no activity at all. Time to go to bed!

Monday 15-Jan-2001

I had a very frustrating time messing around with SDCC. I downloaded the SDCC sources from Sourceforge as I now know that they contain the missing libraries. I tried several ways to get around the linker warnings which I was getting. I suspect that the library files have to be found in a specific directory. I found that if the .c program was compiled one of the temporary files created was a .lnk file which appeared to be used by the linker. I edited this file to change the directory string to the one where my library files were. I could then successfully run the linker. I also found that if the -L option of the SDCC compiler is used to point to the library then this also works. It makes the command line a little long. There must be a better way.

Tuesday 16-Jan-2001

I surfed the web at work today and found useful information about the installation of SDCC. I also tried to compile the SDCC sources at work on a Sun workstation with mixed success. I eventually got SDCC itself to compile. I now have a good idea why the installation on my PC isn't working. I moved some directories around on my PC. I grepped some of the SDCC sources to try to determine where the program was trying to find the default libraries and include files. Looking at some C sources and the makefile all became clear. I created the following directories on my C: drive (it must be this drive). Also note that any .c programs you compile must also be on the C: drive. I compiled an example serial comms program called vs5.c. This time there were no error messages. This program does simple interrupt driven serial IO at 19200 baud. It prints out an ASCII message then echoes everything received on the rx input back to the tx output. The at8252.h include file was correctly found in the /sdcc/share/include directory and the small model library files were also correctly located. I used a program called hex2bin to convert the .ihx Intel hex file into pure binary. On electro I opened the directory on alma where the vs5.bin binary was found and (copied it into the clipboard). I then pasted it into the local directory where the in-circuit programming software is. I then entered the name in the software (shame there is no file selector) and hit the program button. The device programmed successfully. The device was then verified. All OK. I loaded up an old DOS comms program called TELIX on electro and connected the RS232 connector to the MAX232 on the development circuit board. After messing around with wires and working out which pin on the DB9 connector needed to be connected to the Tx pin on the MAX232, the reset button on the in-circuit programming software was pressed which toggles the AT89S53 reset pin. The expected ASCII message appeared in the TELIX window. Success!

Wednesday 17-Jan-2001

I fired up Orcad and wired up the IDE connector. I am only using the bottom 8 bits of a 16 bit bus. This should be OK. The commands are only 8 bits wide, and the intention is to "waste" the upper 8 bits of data. So each 512 byte (256 x 16bits) sector will only hold 256 bytes. This fits in fine with the way Atari drives are formatted for double density. For reference single density Atari floppy disk drive sectors can only hold 128 bytes. I then fired up my soldering iron and wired up the remaining chips and IDE connector. Only the address bus of the RAM chip remains to be connected. The IDE connector is fully wired up, so in theory I can now play around with accessing an IDE drive itself.

Thursday 18-Jan-2001


I created my own program called ide.c based on vs5.c with only some very minor changes. Imagine my surprise when the program didn't work correctly and the text string printed to the RS232 terminal was garbled. After much frustration in tracking this problem down I decided to try some other serial port driver code from the SDCC library. This new code worked. So the presumption is that the vs5.c code is buggy in some way. I then played around with separate C file compilation and linking (ide.c & ser_ir.c). This in turn led to the creation of a makefile. I then incorporated the printf_small library code. I tried a simple "printf", but it didn't work. Again I played around with the printf code, but eventually gave up for the day. Oh the frustration of free software!
 

Friday 19-Jan-2001

I started adding debugging code (i.e. puts() and putchar() calls) into the printf_small library code which I suspected was the cause of the problems. After doing this the program appeared to work. I added a routine which accessed the RAM and one of the registers of the IDE drive. I  soldered around 20 more wires in order to complete the board and wire in the RAM chip. I then connected a real IDE drive to the development board. I was soon able to write and read from RAM and more excitingly write and read from one of the IDE drive registers. In fact it read back and printed the correct IDE register values expected after resetting the drive! Flushed with success I added more code to the program to allow me to write and read from any IDE register using the RS232 terminal program. When I reset the processor the title string was printed but then the screen just continued scrolling. At this point I gave up.

Saturday 20-Jan-2001

For some reason the SDCC executable runs really really slow. It takes around 10 seconds even to print the "usage" information if no parameters are given. This is really frustrating. So I spent a few hours trying to re-compile the source C using my Borland C++ V4.5 compiler (which was free on a magazine cover disk). There are Borland makefiles in the SDCC source tree, but needless to say they need a lot of editing to work properly. I booted up Linux and copied the SDCC source tarfile over and installed it under Linux. It installed like a dream. The Borland compile had failed since there were no lex or yacc binaries running under DOS. The Linux make had created these files so I copied them to floppy disk and re-booted into Windows. I continued to try to get SDCC to compile. I then discovered that I hadn't copied all the necessary files over from Linux. So rather than re-boot I searched the net and finally found some tools which allowed Linux disk partitions to be accessed from Windows/DOS. They worked successfully and proved quite useful. I eventually got SDCC to compile my program.

I then set about debugging the sluggishness problem. I tracked the problem down from routine to routine using printfs to see where the big delay was. It was revealed at a place at which files appear to be created in a temporary directory using the TMP or TEMP environmental variables. I went to the TMP directory and saw it was full of files beginning with the string "sdcc". I deleted them and re-ran sdcc. It ran in a flash. The number of files in the temporary directory slowed down the creation of new files in this directory, and the problem was that they were never getting flushed. Now I knew this, the fix was simple. I added commands to delete these files in my AUTOEXEC.BAT file and also in my Makefile. In the SETUP.BAT file which I have created to run to setup the sdcc environment I re-assign TMP away from the normal place and then in the Makefile clear the temporary files. So at last the SDCC executable runs at a sensible speed. Shame I had to waste so much time tracking this down.

Tuesday 23-Jan-2001

I suspected that the "crash" problem was due to memory problems. When the small model is used only 128 (or 256) bytes of RAM are available for storage. The AT89S53 (and the 8031 and similar variants) have an extra 128 bytes of RAM available (over the 8031) either for stack expansion or for indirectly accessed variables. I changed the Makefile to use the large model. This requires external RAM, but this is OK as the HM6264 chip gives 8k bytes of storage. Having done this, the problem program sprung back into life.

I then developed the program to have a simple single character menu selection system which allows any IDE register to be written to or read from. There was a strange problem that sometimes when printing no number appeared. This led me into another debugging session. Eventually I discovered a problem in the printf_small library routines. If the number to be printed was 0, then nothing at all would get printed! Both hex and decimal print routines were affected. I made the necessary simple changes to the library C source code and re-compiled. As the code expanded I wrote some code to get a string of characters and convert them to integer using the library atoi() routine, however when the number entered was printed out it was always completely wrong. After yet another session of debugging, the problem appeared to be the use of multiplication in atoi(). I copied the atoi() library code into my own source and changed the code to use shifts and adds to achieve the required multiplication by 10. The number reading code now appeared to be working and I could write to and read back values from any IDE register.

Wednesday 24-Jan-2001

I started to use the menu system to play with the registers. All the registers read back the expected post reset values. By the end of the evening I had the IDENTIFY command working and I was able to dump and print out the drive serial number. Since only the lower 8 bits of the IDE drive data port are read back then every other byte of the IDENTIFY is missing, however the ASCII data is aligned to the lower byte of each 16 bit word.

Friday 26-Jan-2001

In order to understand the IDENTIFY instruction better a binary dump of the data was coded. In order to format the data correctly I modified the printf_small() code to understand more complicated format strings (e.g. %02x). As often the case the data displayed on the screen wasn't as expected and I spent time trying to work out what was wrong in the code which I had added to the printf code.

Sunday 28-Jan-2001

I finally discovered the printf problem. I needed to code the format string as %02hx, where the "h" means short or char data. The problem was that the unsigned char parameter was been interpreted as an int and hence extra digits were being printed.

A new problem has started happening. The RS232 data printed to the RS232 terminal emulator is corrupted every so often. The title string which is the first thing to be printed always gets corrupted in the same place - in the middle of my name! I wondered if the data is being sent to the PC is too quick for the PC software to cope (since the DOS window is running under Windows) and some kind of data over-run is happening.

A new bug has come to light with SDCC, although this one has already been reported in the Sorceforge SDCC bug list page. There is a for loop to move the data from the IDE drive to the sector buffer. The assembly code generated reverses the direction of the for loop with very strange results. I found there was a compiler directive to switch off for loop optimisation and this cures the problem. Pressing the "i" key now prints out the hard disk drive serial number and other text information. Since only the bottom 8 bits of the IDE interface can be read the drive parameters cannot be properly determined unless they are less than 256 in size. Before finishing some code was written to dump a selected sector. This code was extended to write test data to the same sector before reading it back. The program sometimes works but more usually hangs, so in the next session I need to add timeout code and better status and error checking.



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