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zippysticks
December 21st, 2017, 11:07 AM
Folks,

after a bit of poking around with JonB today (Thanks again for your time Jon) , it rather looks like I have a Superbrain II QD rather than its predecessor - the plain old Superbrain QD.

This presents me with a bit of a problem as none of the boot disks Jon and I tried for the Superbrain (I) appear to work with my machine.

Does anyone have a Superbrain II boot disk I can beg/borrow/buy please ?

Thanks in advance.

* Perhaps I should point out that I appear to have BIOS version 4.2 installed in my machine *

Chuck(G)
December 21st, 2017, 11:23 AM
I've got a bunch of Superbrain samples; how does one tell the difference between the II QD and the regular QD?

zippysticks
December 21st, 2017, 12:00 PM
I've got a bunch of Superbrain samples; how does one tell the difference between the II QD and the regular QD?

Hi Chuck - I have no idea I'm afraid.

We tried most of the Intertec images from Don Maslins archive here:

http://www.retroarchive.org/maslin/disks/intertec/index.html

Nothing seems to be annotated for the SB II QD - really not sure what the main differences in build/design are between the I and II models.

We are reasonably confident that the machine hardware including drives are ok but all the images we tried resulted in a corrupted screen on boot - even though the keyboard and drives respond to commands. beneath the corrupted screen.

JonB
December 24th, 2017, 11:15 AM
To add to zippy's comments, we saw the boot prompt come up properly, but on booting the screen shows what looks like white text on a white background (in other words, an all white screen). You can see it writing the directory when you do DIR A:, by virtue of the cursor movement. It is obviously an issue with the way the boot code on the Maslin disks is initialising the VDP. The machine is clearly a SB II, it has the additional character ROM chip. So I surmise we just need the right boot disk for it.

Apart from that, and a couple of broken keys, which we removed, it's a nice example. I was particularly impressed with the fan. Despite looking like an old dinosaur running off 115v, it was very quiet. Mine was broken when I got the machine, so I fitted a 12v fan and it is noisier. Harumph.

:D

dmemphis
December 24th, 2017, 06:14 PM
I'm afraid I also have nothing to offer here.
I'm chiming in just so you know I saw this.
This is the first I've heard of anyone working with a SB II.
I hope something turns up!

ldkraemer
December 28th, 2017, 03:24 AM
zippysticks,
You posted that your SuperBrain has BIOS version 4.2 installed.

Looking at the Image files for these 5 Images (*.RAW) I see mention of BIOS Ver 4.x.
1. QD-BIOS4.RAW
2. ZUTILS.RAW
3. ZMAST.RAW
4. ZHELP.RAW
5. SUPERQD.RAW

QD-BIOS4.RAW
001a70 e7 cd c6 de 3e 00 32 04 00 4f c3 00 c8 0d 0a 35 ....>.2..O.....5
001a80 37 4b 20 43 50 2f 4d 20 76 65 72 73 20 32 2e 32 7K CP/M vers 2.2
001a90 20 28 5a 38 30 20 4f 70 65 72 61 74 69 6e 67 20 (Z80 Operating
001aa0 53 79 73 74 65 6d 29 0d 0a 42 49 4f 53 20 56 65 System)..BIOS Ve
001ab0 72 73 69 6f 6e 20 34 2e 30 78 31 37 20 5b 38 37 rsion 4.0x17 [87
001ac0 30 32 2e 31 39 5d 0d 0a 57 41 52 4e 49 4e 47 21 02.19]..WARNING!
001ad0 21 21 20 55 6e 72 65 6c 65 61 73 65 64 20 42 49 !! Unreleased BI
001ae0 4f 53 2e 0d 0a 80 6b ca 94 e8 fe 4e ca c1 e8 fe OS....k....N....


ZUTILS.RAW
001a70 08 23 10 fb 21 03 e0 cd c6 d6 3e 00 32 04 00 4f .#..!.....>.2..O
001a80 c3 00 c0 0d 0a 35 35 4b 20 5a 43 50 52 33 20 28 .....55K ZCPR3 (
001a90 5a 38 30 20 4f 70 65 72 61 74 69 6e 67 20 53 79 Z80 Operating Sy
001aa0 73 74 65 6d 29 0d 0a 42 49 4f 53 20 56 65 72 73 stem)..BIOS Vers
001ab0 69 6f 6e 20 34 2e 30 20 5b 4d 44 20 38 37 30 32 ion 4.0 [MD 8702
001ac0 2e 31 35 5d 0d 0a 80 c3 00 00 5a 33 45 4e 56 01 .15]......Z3ENV.
001ad0 40 00 05 00 e4 10 00 ec 0c 00 f2 04 00 f4 0e 00 @...............


ZMAST.RAW
001a70 08 23 10 fb 21 03 e0 cd c6 d6 3e 00 32 04 00 4f .#..!.....>.2..O
001a80 c3 00 c0 0d 0a 35 35 4b 20 5a 43 50 52 33 20 28 .....55K ZCPR3 (
001a90 5a 38 30 20 4f 70 65 72 61 74 69 6e 67 20 53 79 Z80 Operating Sy
001aa0 73 74 65 6d 29 0d 0a 42 49 4f 53 20 56 65 72 73 stem)..BIOS Vers
001ab0 69 6f 6e 20 34 2e 30 20 5b 4d 44 20 38 37 30 32 ion 4.0 [MD 8702
001ac0 2e 31 35 5d 0d 0a 80 c3 00 00 5a 33 45 4e 56 01 .15]......Z3ENV.
001ad0 40 00 05 00 e4 10 00 ec 0c 00 f2 04 00 f4 0e 00 @...............


ZHELP.RAW
001a70 08 23 10 fb 21 03 e0 cd c6 d6 3e 00 32 04 00 4f .#..!.....>.2..O
001a80 c3 00 c0 0d 0a 35 35 4b 20 5a 43 50 52 33 20 28 .....55K ZCPR3 (
001a90 5a 38 30 20 4f 70 65 72 61 74 69 6e 67 20 53 79 Z80 Operating Sy
001aa0 73 74 65 6d 29 0d 0a 42 49 4f 53 20 56 65 72 73 stem)..BIOS Vers
001ab0 69 6f 6e 20 34 2e 30 20 5b 4d 44 20 38 37 30 32 ion 4.0 [MD 8702
001ac0 2e 31 35 5d 0d 0a 80 c3 00 00 5a 33 45 4e 56 01 .15]......Z3ENV.
001ad0 40 00 05 00 e4 10 00 ec 0c 00 f2 04 00 f4 0e 00 @...............


SUPERQD.RAW
0020c0 2a 2a 2a 80 2a 2a 20 72 65 63 6f 72 64 20 6e 6f ***.** record no
0020d0 74 20 66 00 53 55 50 45 52 42 00 53 55 50 45 52 t f.SUPERB.SUPER
0020e0 42 52 41 49 4e 20 49 49 20 51 55 41 44 20 44 45 BRAIN II QUAD DE
0020f0 4e 53 49 54 59 20 44 4f 53 20 56 45 52 20 31 2e NSITY DOS VER 1.
002100 31 2c 20 46 4f 52 20 43 50 2f 4d 20 32 2e 32 20 1, FOR CP/M 2.2
002110 20 20 20 20 0a 0d 80 2a 2a 2a 00 53 55 50 45 52 ...***.SUPER
002120 42 52 41 49 4e 20 49 49 20 53 44 20 44 4f 53 20 BRAIN II SD DOS
002130 56 45 52 20 31 2e 30 2c 20 46 4f 52 20 43 50 2f VER 1.0, FOR CP/
002140 4d 20 32 2e 32 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 M 2.2
002150 20 20 20 20 0a 0d 80 33 36 00 30 32 33 31 35 43 ...36.02315C

I'd create a Boot Floppy with these .IMD files and give them a test. Of course, there is no guarantee that any of them will boot properly.


Larry

Chuck(G)
December 28th, 2017, 09:06 AM
I'll repeat my offer to check through my Superbrain floppy collection, but I need a way to tell when I've found the right one.

zippysticks
December 28th, 2017, 09:47 AM
Thanks Larry,

JonB will have sent you an email outlining our progress today.
Thanks to your help we have managed to boot the Superbrain II QD and I now have a boot floppy that gets us some way forward.

The machine boots albeit with reverse video and apparently running with a display at 60Hz rather than 50Hz.
JonB has kindly copied some useful utilities onto the boot disk such as MBASIC and kermit to allow me to copy files across as I find them.

Its apparent that we now need a compatible configur.com executable that should allow me to preset the comms port parameters, screen refresh rate and hopefully get rid of the reverse video display.

Chuck - Thanks again for the offer of help.
As far as I can tell from the Superbrain II manual, disks for the SB II Jr, QD and SD can be differentiated by having customisable BIOS .ASM file on their respective disks - for example SBIICPM.ASM, QDIICPM.ASM and SDIIBIOS.ASM respectively. In my case of course I would need the QDIICPM.ASM file to be on the disk - ideally alongside a compatible CONFIGUR.COM file.

Chuck(G)
December 28th, 2017, 10:06 AM
I'll have a look. Many of my SB disks are data, not system, but there's always a chance...

zippysticks
December 28th, 2017, 10:29 AM
I'll have a look. Many of my SB disks are data, not system, but there's always a chance...

Thanks - another difference would appear to be the operation of the 'FORMAT' command. The Superbrain II manual indicates that it will prompt for the type of machine/drive the format is being carried out on - it SHOULD prompt J, Q or S for Superbrain II Jr, QD or SD variants.

I have managed to get rid of the reverse video with a keyboard Escape sequence - ESC~a
This only temporarily gets rid of the inverse video until the machine is rebooted.

42708

42709

JonB
December 29th, 2017, 12:11 AM
Nice one, Ian! Doesn't it look great like that? :)

JonB
January 13th, 2019, 07:16 AM
OK, so I will resurrect this thread as I have recently acquired a SBII main board, which seems to be working. I am booting the Superbrain QD image (derived from SUPERQD.RAW) and it comes up in reverse video just like Zippysticks' machine. The only problem is that I can't use the ESC~A sequence because I have a lashed up video mixer to generate composite video from the Superbrain's H-Sync / V-Sync / Video signals, and the image collapses on my screen if it's not reverse video. Also, I cannot see top or bottom lines...

Chuck, did you find any Superbrain II boot disks in your collection? There are none out there that I have been able to find (We have SUPERQD.RAW and that boots AND has the SBIIBIOS.ASM file but it has nothing else. The special utils DATE, TIME, CSDUMP and CSEDIT can be found on the Maslin VPU30ENH.IMD file but it's not a SBII boot disk and doesn't have the SB II CONFIGUR.COM that's used to set the serial port and other characteristics.

We are still on the hunt!

JonB
January 14th, 2019, 08:33 AM
After lots of trial and error, I discovered that there is a configur.com that will work with the QD boot image I mentioned before, on a Superbrain II with ROM v4.2. I've attached it. As configured it will boot a UK Superbrain II with 50 Hz screen frequency and black background. Main and Aux ports should be set to 9600 baud (I've not tested that works as I'm running with a SBII mainboard only, so can't yet connect a serial port up to try it).

The SB II boot disk image is attached.

zippysticks
January 17th, 2019, 09:30 AM
As usual, nice work Jon. Thanks for the image. I'll get my working SB II out of storage and give it a try.

JonB
January 17th, 2019, 10:56 PM
Do you have facilities for writing the image to a disk? Sorry, can't recall...

I noticed that the 4.2 ROM image we pulled from your SB II appears to set the CRTC to 60Mhz (per US spec SBs). The "4.2 INSERT DISK IN DRIVE A" message is rolling on the screen, then it goes solid after booting the disk I posted above (which sets 50Mhz). I have the same ROM in my board and I've attempted to alter it to set 50Mhz but for some reason it didn't work. I wonder if the CRTC in the SB II has different port mappings? If so it would explain why utilities like NORMAL.COM (which I suspect are for a Superbrain I) don't work as expected.

The other thing I discovered was that the SB I ROM adapter card isn't necessary for the later SB II as Intertech stopped using the TMS2716 chip by then; so I have been able to drop an EEPROM into the socket and it worked without complaint.

JonB
January 18th, 2019, 06:23 AM
One more image to try (attached). It's the VPU30ENH disk, but modified for UK 50Hz refresh rate and screen normalised. Turns out the Compustart VPU30 in standalone mode (as booted from this disk) appears to be a Superbrain II QD in disguise! So I think this represents the most complete SB II QD boot disk we've found so farm and I see it has all the expected utilities, including CONFIGUR.COM.

This is an HxC floppy emulator image, you can use the HxC software to create an IMD or .td0 for writing to a physical disk.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1AQv_czbWD66warkL3NzM70CZBOqcp_g8

Interesting. MBASIC on this disk will not honour the SYSTEM command. And the other MBASIC (on the SB II Boot.zip image) locks up when you do SYSTEM...

zippysticks
January 18th, 2019, 09:59 AM
My 'tweener machine PSU went up in smoke before Christmas and I need to rebuild another to write the image - I'll give it a whirl and let you know.