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#EPROM

Flash Amiga ROM

It's possible to use EPROMs to update your Amiga to the latest AmigaOS. Unfortunately these EPROMs are not produced any more, so it's becoming increasingly difficult to find these parts on the market. Another disadvantage is that a special UV light source is necessary to erase EPROMs, unlike modern Flash ROMs that can be erased electrically.

So wouldn't it be better to use Flash ROMs instead? Certainly yes, but they do not come in DIP-40 packages that fit the Amiga ROM sockets.

The Flash ROM Adapter

Soldering the Flash ROM chip on a hot plate. djbase kindly published the design of an Amiga Flash ROM Adapter. It can be equipped with 29F400, 29F800, or 29F160 Flash ROMs. They are available at all kind of electronic sellers, and can store up to four Amiga ROMs in a single chip.

Besides the PCB and the Flash ROM chip, you only need four SMD resistors, one SMD capacitor, and pin headers. The problem, however, is that the components are tiny, and the pitch of the Flash ROM chip pins is very fine, so this project is definitely not suited for soldering novices. Trust me. I made three of them for the bin before I was successful.

The Programming Hardware

The Hardware Sandwich For programming, I use an XGecu TL866II Plus programmer and the SN001 Adapter Kit. djbase also provides a special programming adapter, which is connected to the TSOP48/SOP44 base board of the SN001 adapter kit.

This programming adapter sandwich is put into the ZIF socket of the TL866 programmer. The Flash ROM adapter is placed into the ZIF socket of the adapter board, and the pin headers of both boards are connected according to their labels. Note that the current revision of the adapters support Flash ROMs up to the 29F160, and require five wires. I still use the previous revision with only four wires, because I like it better.

If you don't intend to change the Flash ROM content after soldering, you can also save the programming adapter and use the SN003 adapter instead (which often comes bundled with the SN001 adapter kit). You would then flash the Flash ROM before soldering.

The Binary File

For preparing the binary file, I use my Pynaroma toolkit. It takes care for joining multiple ROM files and the necessary byte swapping. For example, to create a ROM image of AmigaOS 2.04 and AmigaOS 3.2.1 for the Amiga 500, this command line can be used:

rom2bin -o flash.bin A500.37.175.rom CDTVA500A600A2000.47.102.rom 

Depending on the flash ROM chip, you can use up to four different ROM files of 512KB each. If the ROM file has a size of 256KB, remember to duplicate it.

Once the adapter is in the Amiga, the desired ROM image can be selected via the header address lines (e.g. by using jumpers or switches). Note that the address pins of the Flash ROM are pulled-up by the adapter. This means that the last ROM file of the sequence is used when all header pins are open.

Flashing

For programming, I prefer to use the open-source minipro software over the original software by XGecu, mainly because the original software is not available for Linux.

It is important to select the correct Flash ROM type. Pick the type that you have actually soldered to your adapter. Always choose the TSOP48 package, as the programming adapter simulates a TSOP48 socket.

I use a M29F800FT, so the correct device setting is M29F800FT@TSOP48, and the command line for flashing the binary file from above is:

minipro --device 'M29F800FT@TSOP48' --write flash.bin 

The Flash ROM will be erased (so there is no need to erase it before), the image written to it, and then verified in a final step.

ROM Replacement

Amiga Flash ROM adapter in an Amiga 500 The Flash ROM is a drop-in replacement for the Amiga ROM. I carefully removed the original ROM from the socket by using a screwdriver with a wide blade.

After that, I put the Flash ROM adapter into the socket. The correct orientation is crucial. The adapter is put with the header having the same orientation as the notch of the original ROM.

Sometimes the holes of the socket are too small to receive the pins of the adapter. In this case the only chance is to either replace the socket, or use an EPROM.

If you own an Amiga 500 Rev. 5 mainboard and experience random crashes with the new Flash ROM, you might need to add resistors to the address lines. This can be done either via resistor packs or by using an Amiga 500 EPROM adapter that is sold at some Amiga shops.

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Saturday, March 5, 2022
How to burn Amiga EPROMs

TL866II Plus with EPROM adapter and MX27C4100 EPROM With the recent AmigaOS 3.2 release, and the prospect of further updates, it may be interesting to burn own EPROMs for the Amiga. Luckily there is no need to buy expensive equipment any more, as EPROM burners and erasers became affordable. This article explains how I burn Amiga EPROMs at home.

Shopping List

First of all, we will need fitting EPROMs of course. These types are compatible to most Amiga models:

  • AMD AM27C400
  • Macronix MX27C4100 [sic!]
  • STMicroelectronics M27C400

It is important to pick parts with an access time of 200 ns or faster. Models like the Amiga 4000 can even be jumpered to an access time of 160 ns. EPROMs with 120 ns (or less) are easy to find, and definitely on the safe side. Note that Macronix truncates the trailing zero, so a MX27C4100-12 actually has 120 ns access time.

For burning the EPROMs, I use an XGecu TL866II Plus programmer and a 27C400 programming adapter.

Unlike modern flash memory, EPROMs cannot be erased electrically, but are erased by exposing the chip behind the quartz glass window to a strong UV light source. For this reason, an EPROM eraser is also recommended. Note that there are OTP-ROMs without that window, they cannot be erased at all.

With a bit of nail polish remover, the AMD 27C400 retransformed to MX 27C4100. No EPROM shaming here! 😉 None of these EPROM types are still in production. You might still find sources who sell NOS parts, but usually all chips on the market are refurbished. I am a bit careful with chips that look too new, or are claimed to be made by AMD. It is likely that these are just Macronix chips that were painted black and then laser-engraved with a fake AMD label. A cotton bud and a bit of nail polish remover will quickly reveal the scam.

These fake parts are perfectly fine. They are just sold at a higher price because of the alleged noble AMD origin, so you might as well order the Macronix chips directly and save money.

Preparation

Before burning a ROM dump, all even and odd bytes need to be swapped. For Amiga models with two ROM sockets, these dumps also need to be split into separate images for the upper and lower word. To make things even more complicated, a 256KB ROM dump needs to be duplicated to fill the entire memory space of a 512KB EPROM.

Luckily, the AmigaOS 3.2 CD already provides *.bin files that are ready for burning. For plain ROM dumps (those that can be used in emulators), my tool pynaroma can be used for byte-swapping, splitting, and duplicating.

Burning ROM

For the TL866 programmer, I prefer to use the minipro controller software. It is open source and runs on Linux, MacOS and many other Unix derivates, while the manufacturer's original software requires Windows.

The programming adapter is inserted into the programmer, and EPROM inserted into the ZIF socket of the adapter, with the notch pointing to the top, and the chip aligned with the bottom of the socket. Do not put the EPROM into the programmer without that adapter, otherwise it will be destroyed during operation.

The adapter simulates the pinout of an AM27C4096 EPROM, so --device 'AM27C4096@DIP40' must be selected. The --skip-id option must be given as well, otherwise minipro would abort the process because it detects a different type of EPROM.

For writing, the --no_id_error option needs to be used instead. By default, the AM27C4096@DIP40 profile uses a programming voltage of 13V, and a writing voltage of 6.5V. On my chips VPP=12.5V is printed, so I reduced the programming voltage with the --vpp 12.5 option. It might also be necessary to reduce the writing voltage using the --vdd option. Check the datasheet if in doubt.

The first step is to check if the EPROM is empty.

minipro --device 'AM27C4096@DIP40' --skip_id --blank_check

If it's not, it must be erased first. 15 minutes of UV light exposure in the EPROM eraser should be sufficient. If the EPROM still isn't empty after that, just repeat the process.

After that, the ROM image (e.g. amigaos.bin) can be burned to the EPROM:

minipro --device 'AM27C4096@DIP40' --no_id_error --vpp 12.5 --write amigaos.bin

minipro will automatically verify the content after burning, but you can also verify it manually:

minipro --device 'AM27C4096@DIP40' --skip_id --verify amigaos.bin

And for the sake of completeness, this is how to read the content of a burned EPROM to a ROM image file:

minipro --device 'AM27C4096@DIP40' --skip_id --read amigaos-read.bin

After burning, the window should be covered to protect the chip from stray UV light. A simple paper sticker is sufficient.

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Friday, October 29, 2021