- Milestone #1: Successful Installation into an A1000.
- Run a 1MB Chip RAM Demo on the Rejuve'd 1000.
- Hiccup: Company to build the board for us pulled out due to financial concerns
- Receive blessing/permission from both the original designer to reverse engineer the board, Greg Tibbs, and manufacturer, Expert Services.
- A team of passionate volunteers, we decided we should try to prototype the Rejuvenator ourselves at this stage rather than rely on a third party - at least a proof of concept.
- Milestone #2: Successfully upgrade my working Rejuvenator to 2MB using the hard-to-find Amiga 3000 Agnus 8372b, thanks to team member Christian based here in Seattle.
One of the volunteers on my team named Joe is based in Idaho. You may know him around these parts as Joethezombie. He is a talented circuit board analyzer and designer. Rather than send my one-of-a-kind bare board to a company to be sanded down and recreated, I sent Joe the board for him to try and duplicate instead. I also sent him hi-res photographs of my working original Rejuvenator. Over time and a lot of work, Joe recreated the schematics for the Rejuvenator by hand and has since printed 6 prototype home-brew boards. He discovered along the way that the bare board appeared to be an early prototype, as there are differences between it and my working board. Joe worked those changes into his schematics, too.
He has actually taken one of the prints and begun the exciting process of populating it with chip sockets and other necessary components. Folks - look at this thing! Meanwhile, I happened to be so lucky to find and source another Rejuvenator thanks to one of the members on the Rejuvenator Team, Adrian who is based in Springfield, MO. Thanks to his alert, I was able to acquire this new Rejuvenator from a gentleman in Wisconsin. I had no idea if this board worked - and neither did he. But I paid for the board in the hopes that it would, and worse case scenario I figured it could be plundered by Joe if necessary or at least provide deeper hands-on analysis. But what I really wanted was for it to be a working board so we could pull the PAL chips off of it and place them into Joe’s brand new board. Looking at the age of this Rejuve2, Adrian actually thinks there's a decent chance its PALs aren't read protected.
The PALs (which stands for Programmable Array Logic - not the video PAL/NTSC stuff) are the final piece of the puzzle as we’ll need to decode the calculations that are stored on them and eventually write them to our own chips. But before we do that, we need to prove our new home-brew board even works.
So, I installed the newly acquired board (what I have been calling internally the Rejuve2) to a spare stock A1000. I didn’t want to have to pull chips off the one known working board except as a last resort.
I flipped on the switch - black screen. I got a power light, yes, but only a black screen. That was a massive bummer. So much so I had to take a few days off of hardware projects just to clear my head.
I then replaced Paula, Denise, and all 8 RAM chips. I had working RAM from the original when we upgraded Rejuve1 to 2MB.
Still had a black screen.
I then took detailed photos of the installed board and sent them to the team. Christian looked at them very closely and compared them to images he had found of working Rejuvenators online.
And then he saw it.
There is no “notch” on the silkscreen for the Kickstart ROM, and it appeared to him that the KS was installed upside-down. This was the way I had received it from the previous owner (the board had been fully populated) and I assumed it was correct.
I put on my jeweler’s glasses (47 year old eyes, guys, gimme a break) and Christian was right! Of course, that ROM was completely fried.
But I had a spare. I quickly realized I need more KS 1.3 ROMS, as I only had a 3.1 in my stores. But regardless I popped in 3.1 and voila! The Rejuve2 sprang to life! I couldn’t believe it. We were back in business! Next steps
I have shipped the working Rejuve2 to Joe. He’s going to pop the socketed chips off the working board and put them on his new home-brew. Then he’s going to install it to his own A1000 and flip the switch. And before that, he's going to try and read this board's PALs. There's a chance they won't be protected. And as Joe told me today, "It would be a moon-landing stoke of luck if they’re readable." Because if they are readable, we're virtually home free.
But assuming Joe's board works (oh my god you guys, we’re so close!) and the PALs are protected, we will officially be down to the final step: recreating the calculations in the PALs ourselves. And we’ve already gotten a head start on that as well.
More soon, and thanks for reading.