Project specific categories

Step 1

F18A In-System Update

Thanks to the help of several fellow 99/4A enthusiasts (Rasmus and Tursi), I’m happy to announce an in-system software update for the F18A firmware. Currently the update program only runs on a 99/4A system and requires a bulk-storage device large enough to contain the update program, bit stream, [...]

F18A Pinout

Anyone interested in using the F18A in their own computer or microcontroller system, please start with the TMS9918A datasheet since the electrical interface, host CPU interface, and timing specifications of the F18A are the same as the TMS9918A.  I’m only going to outline the F18A differences [...]

F18A Programming Introduction

1.0 Introduction Programming the F18A is very similar to the original 9918A VDP.  Because the F18A is a pin-compatible replacement for the 9918A, the host system interface and all of the 9918A core functionality is identical.  If you already know how to program the 9918A, then using the enhanced [...]
F18A in the TI-99/4A

Mounting the F18A VGA Connector

Mounting the F18A VGA connector to your system case is *highly* recommended!  The F18A is not designed to withstand any pulling on the VGA cable and requires good strain relief.  One good “tug” can easily rip the F18A out of the socket and bend or break the PCB pins on the bottom of the board. Even [...]
Test of the Bitmap Layer

F18A Features

Since the F18A is now shipping (finally!), and the feature list is stable (heh, yeah right…) I need to get my website updated, and eventually write some documentation so people can use the enhance features.  For now I will try to make a comprehensive list of the features with a brief explanation. I [...]
F18A Board


Update: March 19, 2012 I learned over the weekend that ceramic SMD capacitors cannot be reliably soldered using a soldering iron.  It seems the ceramic material expands at a different rate than the circuit board and causes microscopic cracks in the crystalline structure of the ceramic.  Apparently [...]

Toobin’ Arcade Game

I recently restored a Toobin’ arcade coin-operated (coinop) video game.  Operators have a habit of doing some of the most awful things to games, so I had to undo some damage and stupid modifications, like changing the marquee lighting BACK to florescent from incandescent (which seems to be a [...]
F18A V1.0 during assembly, all main components done

Making Boards

Bad Assumption When I first started the F18A project I figured getting a minimal FPGA board to run it on would be easy.  After all, I bought my fully loaded devboard for about $150, and the only thing I needed was the FPGA and a few connectors. Well, I’m here to tell you it did not work out that [...]

Learn VHDL or Verilog?

The quick answer is, VHDL, then Verilog.  Yes, both!  There is a lot of existing HDL out there, examples, complete “cores”, etc. and the one you need, or want to look at to get ideas, might be written in the HDL that you decided not to learn. I learned VHDL first, and I’m working on Verilog here [...]

FPGA Education, Books, and Community

GETTING STARTED I’m a self learner. If I want to know about something, I’ll generally start with a Google search and usually end in shopping trip to Amazon (with a wish list full of the books I can’t afford yet.) When I decided to start FPGA development, I purchased my devboard and found the 5-star [...]
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