Author Topic: SSL MiniComp v1.0  (Read 426 times)

horizonsound

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SSL MiniComp v1.0
« on: February 25, 2021, 07:03:05 AM »
Hi everyone,

Thought I might start a thread which will be generally my ramblings, of developing something to replace the SSL Computer. I'm not sure where this will head, but am keen to explore building something that will at minimum serve as a backup in to the future.

To date I've worked on the VCA side of things, and managed to translate that effectively in to a MCU interface. By taking the 0-5v VCA signal, and converting it to Midi.
All the VCA handling is done on a separate board with it's own microprocessor. It then receives status commands and feeds the data to the master processor on request.
Here's a quick video of that in action.

https://youtu.be/Oeuceq1OGX8

Next up I played around with the user interface, hoping to get a Total Recall system working. It evolved in to a 4" TFT - something I've never attempted before. The TR actually works at a software level, but I need some more parts to be able to connect it to the console to fully test. It reads and stores the current TR elements, and compares it to the stored TR elements. All the knobs and switches display as they would in the original computer.

Ideally I'll add a VGA port to it, as 4" is not very practical for old eyes. It's programmed in at a 320x240 resolution (same as the SSL TR computer), which with the use of a custom scale factor, can zoom in on the TR screen.
Here's a video of it it. There is a stack more programming to go....

Anthony.

https://youtu.be/0MBlBONEfmQ


ULH

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Re: SSL MiniComp v1.0
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2021, 03:16:57 PM »
Super cool! Wow you are fast on progressing this project. That is a lot of programming done already!

What are you thoughts on HID? Only touchscreen or also make the original ssl usable as input? VGA out sounds reasonable. Seems to be some kind of mcu on arduino framework with nextion tft? Maybe RPi for all ui and then a spi to mcu (or fpga) for i/o to ssl is a better/more responsive/cheap hardware with hdmi out solution? And this would be more flexible to develop the software on and powerful enough to run all automation data if the software evolved to be this advanced along the way.

I once had plans to embed a RPi with spi to a fpga on a pcb inside the original ssl computer to get rid of all the undocumented pcbs and unneeded pcbs in the original computer (cpu, floppy, ram, tr cpu, video distribution etc) but still use the original io, cabling etc. Then the hardware would be very inexpensive if and only if you already had a ssl computer
 
Do you have plans for how this could be distributed/sold? I would love to help but I can’t seem to find time to set aside for this project at the moment. It would be wonderful if it could be shared somehow and that you and possibly other developers would still be paid. Maybe open source / kit the hardware and then have a lock/pay system on the software? I am selling a locked rpi software product so I have experience in doing this if you want to chat about it :)

Congrats on the great engineering work!

Best regards,
Uffe

Www.Frostboxlabs.com

horizonsound

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Re: SSL MiniComp v1.0
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2021, 08:14:50 PM »
Hi Uffe,
Thanks for the comments!

My initial plans were to use an RPi for the GUI, mainly for the HDMI capabilities. This is still possible, and the only reason I did not, was because I have no experience in Python. The communication between the master UI board and the "blocks of 8" sub boards will be via SPI, so using an RPi in future can be done. FYI - I've never used C++ either until last year, but have extensive experience in Basic, back through the 80's.

The main processor I'm using for both the main and sub boards is a Mega2560, which has the advantages of lots on inputs / outputs, and they are really cheap!

The intent is to use the SSL keyboard, given that the S31E keyboard cable needs to be integrated anyway, as it carries the TR address bits.

I had thought about replacing all the Computer Automation boards in the existing SSL computer, and using the Input, Output, SMPTE, etc boards, but then realised you can compress all of those in to a 2RU case with the use of a Mega2560.

One thing that makes it a little more difficult is how the SSL handles "cuts". In normal operation the VCA fader works on 0-5v which is perfect for the Mega2560 analogue inputs. However when "cut" is activated, it sets the line to 10v. Likewise this is needed on the output to activate a cut. There are a few ways around it, but I have yet to work out a design of the circuit.
The current SSL computer handles this easily with a very expensive single channel 10 bit A-D chip.

In regards to making this available, I would consider making the PCBs available for the sub-boards / master. Then a DIY build. Like Hairball with their 1176 kits.
For the software, I don't know. It would be great to make it freely available if everyone helped to develop it within this community, but would not be happy if people simply copied it and used it / on-sold it to people, as there has been a lot of work put in to developing this (presently 100s of hours).

Here's a look inside the case so far...

« Last Edit: February 26, 2021, 08:27:36 PM by horizonsound »

viguier

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Re: SSL MiniComp v1.0
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2021, 07:26:50 AM »
Hi Uffe,
Thanks for the comments!

My initial plans were to use an RPi for the GUI, mainly for the HDMI capabilities. This is still possible, and the only reason I did not, was because I have no experience in Python. The communication between the master UI board and the "blocks of 8" sub boards will be via SPI, so using an RPi in future can be done. FYI - I've never used C++ either until last year, but have extensive experience in Basic, back through the 80's.

The main processor I'm using for both the main and sub boards is a Mega2560, which has the advantages of lots on inputs / outputs, and they are really cheap!

The intent is to use the SSL keyboard, given that the S31E keyboard cable needs to be integrated anyway, as it carries the TR address bits.

I had thought about replacing all the Computer Automation boards in the existing SSL computer, and using the Input, Output, SMPTE, etc boards, but then realised you can compress all of those in to a 2RU case with the use of a Mega2560.

One thing that makes it a little more difficult is how the SSL handles "cuts". In normal operation the VCA fader works on 0-5v which is perfect for the Mega2560 analogue inputs. However when "cut" is activated, it sets the line to 10v. Likewise this is needed on the output to activate a cut. There are a few ways around it, but I have yet to work out a design of the circuit.
The current SSL computer handles this easily with a very expensive single channel 10 bit A-D chip.

In regards to making this available, I would consider making the PCBs available for the sub-boards / master. Then a DIY build. Like Hairball with their 1176 kits.
For the software, I don't know. It would be great to make it freely available if everyone helped to develop it within this community, but would not be happy if people simply copied it and used it / on-sold it to people, as there has been a lot of work put in to developing this (presently 100s of hours).

Here's a look inside the case so far...



OMG !!
Incredible project and skills !!!

The DIY would be great ( even to learn how our desk is working !! ).

Can't wait to see how it will evolve :)

Thanks again !!
Paul

horizonsound

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Re: SSL MiniComp v1.0
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2021, 10:52:04 AM »
If any one has one of these that they want to part with, or know someone who does, let me know.
It would greatly help developing the keyboard interface, which I am coding now.


pascal.verdet

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Re: SSL MiniComp v1.0
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2021, 05:13:07 PM »
Hi,
I'm really interested.
Cheers,
P.

ULH

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Re: SSL MiniComp v1.0
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2021, 07:59:17 PM »
Hi again anthony

5 years ago a mess around with a project sending keybaord commands and receiving vdu readout from the ssl computer to from an ipad over wifi using udp. I have a lot of notes, schematics and code I made for this. Maybe you can use some of it?

Here are two videos demoing some of it:

https://www.icloud.com/iclouddrive/0CHWxb_CSocQIblZHfG1e55bQ#IMG_6133

https://www.icloud.com/iclouddrive/0gQEfLGSOrF5izMcibSNVKDmg#File_15-11-2015_09.55

Best regards,
Uffe




horizonsound

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Re: SSL MiniComp v1.0
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2021, 03:42:51 AM »
Hi Uffe,

That is some great work there! I would be interested in the hardware side of it, as that is what I am currently working on. If you have anthing you can share, it would be deeply appreciated.

What microprocessor did you use and what language?

Anthony.

ULH

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Re: SSL MiniComp v1.0
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2021, 09:12:14 PM »
Hi Anthony

So I finally got around to send you some stuff on my old (2016) projects creating a keyboard remote and vdu read out of the SSL Computer for using an ipad as remote. It worked pretty good with very low latency but the ipad app was very basic and never finished up.

The main design principle was to connect a arduino due with ethernet sheild to receive the commands as udp from the ipad and then emulate the normal keyboard with a logic circuit very similar to the original circuit that connects directly to to ssl computer main board. The arduino due also reads out the vdu data which i stored in a dual port memory whenever the ssl cpu writes to the normal ssl vdu ram. Transport buttons also have 2way control. The design is very much based on reverse engineering the ssl computer bus communication system.

The project goal was for me to test out wether I could understand the ssl computer data system and communicate with the system. I used a logic analyser and a lot of head scratching :) At one point I considered doing a pcb with spartan 6 fpga connected with SPI to Raspberry pi that should slide in to the ssl computer main board. This would decommission all undocumented parts (processor pcb, ram pcb, vdu pcb, total recall pcb etc) inside the ssl computer to have a fully documented system as a way to future proof the ssl computer without a heavy hardware investment making it all open source but selling the pcb (approx 2k $) in hope of  people supporting me developing the system. I did implement the SPI bus on a spartan dev board and successfully communicated with a raspberry pi but I could see that it would be a pretty huge fpga coding and software programming project.

I have emailed you some more details and files.

Best regards,
Uffe

horizonsound

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Re: SSL MiniComp v1.0
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2021, 10:10:13 PM »
Thanks Uffe for sending the info through. There sure is some good reading in amongst it.

I'll pick up this project in a week or so, as I'm busy completing all the routing cards, and other switch replacements.

Anthony.