Junior by Werner

Modern design of Elektor Junior by Werner Beukes (Vintage Computing Group South Africa facebook group)

Gerbers, and Sprint V6 PCD design software layout of main PCB and seven segment display, and a new designed display print for more current displays..
(can be viewed with the demo version or free viewer of Sprint)

Two designs included in this gerber archive: the original reproduced by Werner and one with changes to original design: EEPROM 28C16 instead of 2708, only +5V power supply therefore and CAN crystal oscillator.

Original Junior

EEPROM and Can oscillator

The group build five working Juniors.


Build a Junior

Thw design of the Elektor Junior is well documented in the Elektor articles, books and other articles like the KIM Kenner. In many languages, the archive here is as complete as possible, but you could see some pieces of information in only one language section. The hardware components for the most part are not exotic, especially for the time of publication.
The software in the form of (sources of) the ROMs and applications such as Microsoft Basic and even Operating systems like OS65DV3 is also easy to find.

So with all this information available it is no surprise to see modern versions of the Junior. Some try to stay as close to the original design, others just take the ideas and implement it in a more modern an d convenient way.

Some obstacles in building a Junior are:

  • the original PCB’s are only available as low quality magazine articles quality. And even then be careful, the original article mixed up front an back!
  • the EPROM for the Junior monitor is a 2708 UV EPROM. A very old hard to get part, hard to program and requiring power supplies like -5V and +12V besides to usual +5V.
  • the expansion card used a 82S33 PROM for the address decoding. Also an obsolete part and hard to program.

So what designers can do:

  • design the PCB’s again. Kicad e.g.
  • replace the 2708 with an EPROM like the 2716 or bigger or an EEPROM like the 28C16 or bigger
  • use a GAL or discrete logic for the 82S33
  • use a modern SRAM IC and increase RAM memory a lot
  • modify the address decoding to fit the modern ROM and RAM
  • obtain parts like the 6502, 6532 and 6522
  • replace the hard to get 1 MHz crystal with a can oscillator
  • simplify the power to +5V

Here are some examples of builds:


Junior with KB9 and OS65DV3.3

With thanks to Philippe Roehr from France I present on this page how he got KIM Basic 9 and Ohio Scientific OS65D to work on the Junior

Junior build

Philippe has build a Junior system with at least a main board, an expansion board, 16K Dynamic RAM board expanded to 64K and a floppy controller.

It started with the Junior itself, followed by the expansion card, The monitor software PM and TM were tested.


Floppy controller, RAM card behind.

Junior KB9 Basic

Philippe started with the KB9 binary from the KIM-1 pages.
Philippe then applied the process outlined in the Elektor articles to adjust Basic to the Junior character I/O routines and also improved the speed by adjusting the now unnecessary code that took care of the ROR bug in early 6502’s.

Philippe transferred the binary to the Junior with Ed’s utility KIMTape, producing a KIM-1 audio wave file. The Junior accepts this format, a bit slow but only needed once. After seeing all was well, Philippe wrote the now optimized Junior KB9 Basic to audio wave file, and made a hex dump on the terminal. I picked up the dump, a captured text file form a a terminal emulator, and wrote a conversion program to produce a binary.

All the files here: archive with audio wave file, dump on terminal, binary and conversion software.

OS65DV3.3

After building the Junior, having PM and TM monitor working well, KB9 Basic operational, the next step Philippe took was getting the operating OS65Dv3.3 operational.
He took the steps described by Elektor in the articles with some modern additions.

A Junior able to run OS65DV3.3 needs an expansion card,  a RAM card (his is 64K) and the Elektor floppy controller, which is identical to the OSI one (6850 + 6820 ICs)

Instead of a real floppy drive Philip used the hardware Gotek floppy emulator with the Flashfloppy firmware. And used the manuals images of http://osiweb.org, and the OSIHFE utility described in the OSI Web forum posts.

Elektor made a bootstrap eprom (ESS515 download here, source in Paperware 2) able to
* load OS65D (V3.1 or 3.3 as far as I know) from floppy
* give basic I/O capability (RS232 and floppy)
* manage hex display and keyboard
* modify OS65 for the hex display after the very first load to fully adapt them to the system ( about 10 bytes to modify)

Here the OS65DV3.3 disk image in native and Flashfloppy format ready to use.

During the second part of december 2020 Philippe added a real floppy controller and added the Ascii Video Terminal (new version of hackaday). With improved moter control of the floppy drive!

Serial USB adapters testing


So I have a collection of those USB to serial adapters, some with cables and DB-9 connectors, some with cable and Dupont connectors, and some USB TTL type connectors on a PCB with male or female Dupont pin connectors for USB-A, mini or micro USB. Most not documented or unsure if the voltage levels are 3.3V or 5V ..

First some background. These are all descendants of the EIA RS232 standard in some way. Terminology, asynchronous serial format, voltage levels, start bits, stop bits, 7 or 8 data bits, hardware and software handshake, and the way it is abused in many of these devices. And so common nowadays in Arduino and ESP8268, ESP32 and even Raspberry Pi world.

If you are new to the serial world and want to use these devices and understand how, study the next chapter. You will learn and know what I am talking about: DCE, DTE, DSR, DTR, TxD, RxD, CTS, RTS, DTR, RI, CarrierDetect, UAR/T’s, TTL voltage levels being reverse to RS232 voltage levels, a ‘0’ being negative RS232 voltage up to 15V, a ‘1’ being as low as -15V.

 

RS232 asynchronous information


This picture shows where RS232 came into being about 50 years ago,


Read these PDF’s:
RS232 Protocol – Basics
EIA RS232-C Standard Protocol
EIA RS232-E Standard Protocol
Fundamentals of RS–232 Serial Communications
RS232 Physical Layer Interface Standards
RS232 (TIA/EIA-232-F)
RS-232: Serial Ports

USB Serial TTL devices

These little devices came into use to communicate with small computers like SBC’s, Arduino and ESP’s and PC’s. Throw out the overhead of the + and -15v, limit or leave out the handshake signals, (mis)use the DTR signal to reset the Arduino, use it to download firmware or collect data from sensors on the small computers and process it on bigger machines. And act as the power supply the little computer.
Based on special UAR/T IC’s, very small footprint, and dirt cheap.

Testing USB Serial TTL adapters

What you need:
– A PC, Raspberry Pi or another Linux or Windows PC. Any PC platform supporting USB ports will do.
– The program SerialTester, see below
– A small breadboard
– A collection of Dupont cables with male and female connectors
– A multimeter, a most simple one will do

SerialTester

Testing USB serial adapters is not that difficult, you need a terminal emulator, which are available in lots of formats and capabilities. Putty, Minicom etc all allow to choose a serial port, set baudrate and other parameters like hardware handshake, software handshake, number of data and stop bits. With a loopback test (which means connecting serial out TxD to serial in (RxD) you can test the serial connection by typing characters and seeing the characters appear on screen.

What I miss in these programs is a way to inspect the modem control lines. So I wrote a little program for that.
SerialTester allows to do the loopback test and shows the state of the modem control lines.
You can change the DTR and RTS lines since these are set of cleared by the USB serial port. The other lines are read from the USB serial adapter.

Get the program here:
Windows 10 installable executable
source (Lazarus + Freepascal) and executable for Windows, Linux and executable for Raspberry Pi

Use the program as follows to completely test and document (write down test results on the next steps!) the adapter.

1. It is a GUI/Windows program, so start as usual on your operating system. Raspberry runs this program fine, but Linux is not so forgiving in plug and play of USB devices, so expect some hangs and reboots. CH340 chipsets can have a temper, and SerialTester sometimes fails, where Minicom succeeds.

2. Insert the USB adapter, do not connect anything yet to the adapter
For the USB-A types it is handy to have an USB-A male -female cable to bring the adapter to the table

– Check if the USB adapter is recognized by the operating system
For Windows start Device Manager and look for COM Ports, like COM8 in the example below
On Linux start a terminal and type “lsusb”, insert the USB serial adapter and look for added USB device serial adapter, in the screenshot an FTDI adapter.
The command “ls -l /dev/ttyUSB*” will show devices like “ttyUSB0”.

3. Click Port settings and click in the field Port drop down button. A list of serial adapters will be shown, pick one. Note that on a Raspberry the serial port ttyAMA0 on the GPIO connector will be shown also. Here we want the ttyUSBxx device.

Select 300 baud as baud rate, this will help seeing the transmit with the multimeter., leave the rest default.

Press OK

4. Open the Port by clicking the button Open Port. Look at the status displayed, it should tell the port is opened. If not opened, you might have a driver problem, see the sections below on CH34x, FTDI and Prolific 2303HX devices.
You will also see the DTR and RTS fields light up red, as opening also sets the DTR and RTS pin high.

5. Switch on the multimeter and read the prints on the USB or the color of the wires.
– First find Gnd. Indicated with the label GND or a black wire.
– Now find Vcc, indicated with VCC or the red wire. Measure the voltage, should be 5V, 3.3V. Some adapters have a jumper to select the voltage. Some adapters also change the voltage on the other lines, some do not. Measure!

6. Find the TxD pin. Connect the multimeter to the TxD pin. It should be +3.3V or 5V. Also check if changing VCC to +3.3V or 5V makes any difference, some adapters do, some do not change the voltages on the pins.

7. Enter a long string in the Send field, and press Send (or Send CR for a line ending). Observe the readout on the multimeter, it should be lower than the value in rest. Nothing will be shown in the received fields.

If not, then this is not the transmitting pin. Check RxD if that is the transmitting pin, for all my adapters it was TxD, but who knows what manufacturers do ..

8. Inspect the adapter for a DTR line if any. Connect the multimeter to the corresponding pin and measure the voltage. Press the DTR button in SerialTester and check if the voltage changes on the pin.


9. Repeat for the RTS line.

10. Locate the RxD line. Connect this line to the TxD pin and send a string again. Now you should see the Receive and Receive hex fields filled with the send string.

11. Now if any pins are not tested yet, they have to be the other modem control lines. The labels on the adapter will tell or experiment and measure. Connecting to ground or VCC with a 2k2 resistor (to be safe) will show on the display of the SerialTester program the corresponding level.

Chipsets: FTDI, Prolific, Silicon Labs, CH340

The USB Serial adapters contain a UAR/T IC, made by a small group of manufacturers.

1. FTDI. Comes with the highest recommendations. Many types. Well supported in Linux and Windows.
Due to fake IC’s made in China the current drivers check and try to make a fake inoperable.
If you encounter in Windows a non-working FTDI adapter, you cna only use it in Linux, after ‘repairing it. See here how to do that

2. Prolific. Supported in Linux and Windows.
Also due to fakes, older (not fake!) IC’s made by Prolific are not supported by the current Prolific driver in Windows. Device manager shows PL2303HXA PHASED OUT SINCE 2012. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SUPPLIER.

Easy to solve with an older version of the drive, like in this archive. Unpack in a folder, Update driver, Look on this PC, Have disk, Browse to the folder.
Windows may ‘update’ the driver again, just rollback the update in Device Manager. For permanent fix, see also this page how to enable group Policies on Windows 10 Home and prevent any updates.

3. CH34x. I sometimes encounter problems under Linux with this chipset. Windows runs fine.

Reports

‘Blue’ closed connector with cable
Prolific PL2303
Male Dupont connectors
Black Gnd
Red +5V
Green Tx (sending data) 3.3V
Yellow Rx (receiving data)
Betemcu CH340
Status LED red, send LED blue
Edge pin connector maleGND Gnd
VC +3.V or 5 V slide switch
TX 5V Sending
Rx 5V receiving
DTR 5V
CTS connect ground for ‘on’
Button switch of Vcc
D-Sun-V3.0 CH340
Status LED red Send blue led Received blue led
Edge pin connector male
GND Gnd
RxD receiving
TxD sending at 3.3V or 5V
3V3 3.3V
Vcc jumper to +3.3V or 5V (no jumper 3.3 V)
5V 5V
Tienu ZX2H1911A1 PL2303HXA
Status LED red Sending green LED Receiving Yellow LED
Edge pin male
5V 5V
3.3V 3.3V
TxD sending 3.5V
RxD receiving 3.5V
Gnd Gnd
FTDI DCORSO FTDI 232
Red status LED send receive green LEDs
Edge pin male
Jumper +5V Vcc +3.V
Jumper 5V – Vcc – 3.3V
All modem signals to edges RI CTS RTS
110 baud not supported
DTR 5V or 3.3V following jumper
TX sending 5V or 3.3V following jumper
RX receiving 5V or 3.3V following jumper
VCC 5V or 3.3V following jumper
CTS 5V or 3.3V following jumper
Gnd Gnd
4D Programming Cable CP2102
Dupont female
RES ?
Gnd Gnd
Tx Sending 3.4V
Rx Receiving 3.4V
+5V 5V
FTDI cable no ident,
lights in cable red (receive) green (send)
Dupont female
Black Gnd
Blue CTS 3.4V
Red +5V
Green Sending 3.4V
White Receive 3.4V
Yellow RTS 3.4V
Tienu FTDI232H
USB-A FTDI edge pin red status LED green send, yellow receive
GND Gnd
RXD Receive at 3.5V
TXD Sending at 3.5V
3.3V 3.4V
5V 5V
FDTI basic Sparkfun female dupont bottom
Mini USB
GND Gnd
CTS 5V
5V 5V
TxD sending 5V
RXI receive 5V
DTR 5V
Square CP210X Red status
LED Red LED send Red LED receive
Micro USB Male Dupont Edge
3V3 3.3V
DTR 3.4V
RXD sending 3.4 V
TXD receive 3.4V
GND Gnd
+5V 5V
FTDI232 Mini USB
Jumper 5V – Vcc – 3.3V
All modem signals to edges. Voltages follow Jumper setting.
MBC2 cable Prolific 2303
black GND
red 5V Vcc
Green TX sending at 3.4V
White Rx
UC-2102 Cable CP210X
Male edge pin connector
DTR 3.4V
RxD
TxD sending 3.4 V
+5V +5V
GND
GND

 

post

Elektor Junior computer large update

After finishing the large update a month ago of KIM-1/SYM-1/AIM 65 I turned my attention to the Elektuur/Elektor archive, mainly the 6502 period of 1978 to 1985 where the SBC Junior Computer and EC65/Octopus systems were introduced.

New and enhanced in higher quality information about these systems:
– published in multiple languages and more content of articles and books scanned, not only dutch bnut also English, German, French, some Spanish and Italian.
– better hardware descriptions and photos of PCBs etc
– more complete software library, sources of systems ROMS etc.
– gallery of Juniors, EC65 and other cards and cases

Start here for the Elektor/Elektuur/Junior/EC65/Octopus pages.

Junior retronics articles

Elektor did write about the Junior and related designs in recent years, retro electronics! This site (at the present and previous wwww locations) was mentioned also.

Oh, and this is retro but not a Junior computer!