Author Topic: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.  (Read 7416 times)

retrocores

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2013, 04:50:03 PM »
By the way,

These are the Computer Automation computer/cpu models:

http://computer-automation-museum.org/ca/index.html#Computer_models

This is the instruction set for the LSI-2 chips:

http://computer-automation-museum.org/ca/instructionset/lsi-2.html

What chips models do these SSLs computers have exactly?

Cheers,

Artur

Its the LSI-4 that SSL used, unfortunately the instruction set is different to the LSI-2 . I was in contact with the owner of the computer automation museum website some time ago and explained my plan to implement a NM4 in a FPGA. He has some LSI-4 documentation but no time to scan it.

It gets a bit harder, it seams the models used on the first E series was  LSI-4/30  SSL gradually migrated to the LSI-4/90 which was backwardly compatible. The G series computer used the LSI-4/100 which there is even less information about. It does have an additional Z80-ish processor (made by Hitachi) to handle the SCSI drives.

The document we really need is the NM4 4/100 computer reference manual, at a push the 4/30 computer reference manual (CA part number 91-20991-00A0) would be a good place to start.

I could assist with the dis-assembly of the code when we get the  necessary docs.

Cheers,

Steve.




Artur D'Assumpção

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2013, 05:33:03 PM »
Nice! :D

I think implementing an FPGA is overkill and we should run away from it completely. We really need to implement a totally new system and look ahead to the future. Having our own system will enable us to do whatever we want, and that's the beauty of it, providing us the best return we'll have for such a great task.

We just need to start documenting stuff, making diagrams regarding how the SSL interconnection is done and processed. After that we need to start designing a hardware base. For development we could design it on breadboards for the i/o and using a development board for ARM or similar chips (i hope i'm not committing electronic design murder) that will give us enough freedom to test the design without committing and develop the initial software base. This would be a very good starting point. Later when we had a design settled in we could start thinking on minimizing stuff and produce a printed circuit board with SMD chips or something. 

What do you think?

Cheers,

Artur

marcmozart

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2013, 05:49:06 PM »
You guys are on to something - very exciting!
1992 SSL 4048 G-Series
Mix Engineer Blog
http://www.mixedbymarcmozart.com

retrocores

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2013, 07:22:41 PM »
the entire source code was coded in assembly
i don't really see myself as a coder - i'm more of a hardware man but i was forced to use about 40-50 lines of assembly to make Konnektor work
to be honest, that task alone was making me seriously, seriously angry and i hated it big time!
but it was the only way to make it work as it was the fastest and smallest way to achieve what was needed
so that's my personal limits

anyone out there to be able to decode the source code?

i don't know if you know that ssl did not design the computer at all but licensed it from CA - a company called computer automation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Automation

i'm still running one of these on my B-series - it's called the 'naked mini'
it's from 1977 and runs the 'latest' E-series software - actually still responds faster than a G series, btw?!

i wrote half of the konnektor code on that cpu - only to discover that i needed to slow down everything for the g-series


what ssl added was:

the tape interface card:
to decode the 80 bit smpte t/c, which was realized by 10x 74C164 8bit serial in - parallel out shift registers + 11x 74ls368n
it actually allows you to measure every single bit of the t/code - bits 0-63 contain t/c + user bits and bits 64-79 contain sync words
something that could be done with one chip nowadays?

then they added the tape machine interface which are basically solid state (excuse the pun) relays to control various machines and scan their switches:
PLAY / STOP / FFWD / FREW / REC

the leds + switches interface which feeds the parallel bus into the computer (trim/abs leds)

and finally, the analogue i/o cards with their multiplexed signals of the converters - i.e. one a/d + d/a converter which feed the parallel bus of the ssl computer

and then there's a z80 card for the total recall - which is serial information running through the fader lines of each channel

so yes, technically i would probably be able to provide the hardware required for a more modern computer - but is it really worth it?

you'd need to code everything from scratch on a new platform - that rules me out

maybe someone is able to convert the original assembly code to a newer system?

like i said..it's 74 ttl chips :) cheers, werner

Hi Werner,

I have just read you post again in more detail, are you saying you wrote code in assembly for the NM4? and then patched it into the E series software? If so does this mean you have access to some of the NM4 CA documents?

Cheers,

Steve.

Konnektor

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2013, 08:59:35 PM »
hi Steve,

i meant that i had to write some assembly code for the chip which is inside the konnektor
unfortunately i don't have access to any information regarding the NM

and you're totally right about the CPUs

- g-series uses the 4/100
- e-series also runs on 4/30 and 4/90 - i have both of them, the 4/30 has a reduced instruction set but works - it's a bit slower, though
- both, e and g series, use a z80 for total recall

cheers, werner

Artur D'Assumpção

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2013, 09:05:16 PM »
Hi guys,

Please take a quick peek at this thread and leave your thoughts so we can move this discussion as soon as possible to a more appropriate place and start collecting and organizing the necessary information for this project.

http://forum.sslmixed.com/index.php?topic=431.0

Cheers,

Artur

Konnektor

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2013, 09:18:52 PM »
« Last Edit: November 05, 2013, 09:42:51 PM by Konnektor »

Artur D'Assumpção

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2013, 09:25:24 PM »
Thanks Werner,

You're welcome to our humble community! ;) I hope to count with your help to make this project a success! :D

Cheers,

Artur

Artur D'Assumpção

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2013, 09:28:50 PM »
Please repost that info here. ;)

ah cool - will post some useful info in the new thread in a minute
the whole forum thing is all very new to me :)

Matt Sartori

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #24 on: November 05, 2013, 09:56:55 PM »
Please repost that info here. ;)

ah cool - will post some useful info in the new thread in a minute
the whole forum thing is all very new to me :)

I guess after this I will have to shuffle all the posts in the new category of the forum...  8)

Mattia.

waltzingbear

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2013, 05:55:59 PM »
yes, there is a need, or at least desire to maintain tape transport control. I have several SSL boards that are interfaced to Studer machines.

Alan
Alan Garren
Waltzing Bear Audio

Artur D'Assumpção

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #26 on: November 06, 2013, 09:29:51 PM »
The requisite specification thread is now open

http://forum.sslmixed.com/index.php?topic=446.msg2496#msg2496

Bn1Studio

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2014, 06:33:29 PM »
A quick note to say that the chap leaning over the back of the console in the first pic (page 1) is the late Colin Sanders.  The bearded chap in the other photo I recognise, but can't put a name to him

The computer rack shown in the second pic was the standard one supplied with the console in the early days. Twin floppies, miniPC rack mounted below, big ugly silver rack. I think a lot of the computers were swopped out with later models as part of a rolling update program. I know the power supplies at Eden were huge tall rackmount things and were replaced by a 2U PSU that took two people to lift. If you have one of those racks with scratches on the front edge, now you know why!

The first London 4000E console was at RG Jones, the second at Eden. Sarm East followed pretty soon after. All predated by the Townhouse Studio 2 4000B with (I think) rotary routing switches

Nick Froome
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 07:53:00 PM by Bn1Studio »

Artur D'Assumpção

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Re: SSLMixed community letter to Solid State Logic...and more.
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2014, 09:48:51 PM »
Hi Nick,

Thanks so much for the info! I'm always baffled by the SSL history! :D

Cheers,

Artur

jimlfixit

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Bearded chap in photo is Jim Smith
« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2014, 12:21:30 PM »
The bearded chap in the other retro SSL picture with the 651 pulled out is Jim Smith. I thought I mentioned him before in another post but he could be a useful chap to contact if possible regarding this new computer system replacement. Before SSL he engineered the Buggles single, Video killed the Radio star with Trevor Horn on keyboards amongst other things but, more importantly since being at SSL, he was a young design engineer responsible for the new computer.

Faced with the problems at CA, SSL set about designing their own computer rack and floppy drive system and Jim Smith was the main man behind this concept. He designed both the 11u rack and the 2u Floppy unit and I made some of the earlier prototypes and production versions whilst working with him. He was also responsible for the 3u Synchroniser rack (linked to the Adam Smith or Lynx synchronisers) plus the Real time and Events controllers as well, most of which I also made in the earlier years along with the associated cables.

My point is, he may be worth checking out as he would have extensive knowledge about the SSL computer system hardware then. He used to live in Hailey in Oxfordshire I think and I did some work for him whilst he was designing F1 racing car wind tunnel systems in the early nineties.

Hope this helps and maybe someone can track him down (I'll give it a go as well).