ACA 500+ - freeze and green screen ...

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Don't Panic. Please wash hands.
  • Hello,


    Recently I've purchased an ACA500+ ... Also, I've spoken with Jens via email back and forth pertaining to issues concerning it.


    I've looked over some of the threads and discovered a few things. My power supple could be an issue, it was also stated that these green screens are not detecting chip ram. When the accelerator is taken out, I've used Amiga Test Kit to test the ACE2b, 2mb chip ram which I just purchased. This tests out perfectly, however very tricky to get in. So, I certainly do not want to mess with it!

    I'm using a never used boxed Amiga 500, which was pulled out of storage and used by me. Everything is old - new ... Revision 5 motherboard. Original PSU, from original unused packaging - stored. 1084 monitor never used, pulled from original box and plastic. No extra floppy drive or anything. No trap door memory, I pulled that out. When I first used the ACA 500+ I was able to put CF cards in and see Workbench. Though when I did try to run things in that Workbench, they froze every single time. Now, if I dare try and use the CF card reader it will freeze and brick the accelerator.

    Right now I am happy that I finally get it to boot into the menu. More than once I have used the menu ADF update, which from what I understand and read is also a sort of recovery disk. So I created a floppy on my Amiga 4000. Several times I have updated the menu in a recovery style thing.

    As I said, right now I am just happy it goes into the menu and boots up. The Starfield menu thing will eventually freeze. If I keep playing it will do something. What I did was put in Amiga test kit. With the accelerator present. The AC2b 2 mb chip expansion I installed tests out perfectly every single time. When I go into testing fast ram. Eventually it does a red screen and the accelerator goes bonkers and freezes.

    I'm on a prayer that I've gotten it this far again. Still, I'm not upset or disappointed if I can not even get it to work. I've ordered so many great things from Individual before. This is an exceptional product. I think it's just in an extremely vulnerable sensitive place by being on the side port. These contacts and whatever themselves can become very sensitive with the card and whatever else. Ideally, it's genius and I couldn't see needing more power than this for a 500. Electronically brilliant and possibly design flawed without having a casing or something.

    Still if it works, doesn't work or whatever, I will continue support here. I'm not letting it stress me. I'm not fully confident I may be able to get this to work. Stranger things have happened with patience ...

    Lou
    :thumbup::saint:

  • it was also stated that these green screens are not detecting chip ram.

    That's only the case if the green screen does not show anything else. If you see an "EXC" (short for exception) and lots of numbers for A0-A7, D0-D7 and PC, then you're looking at the internal exception handler of the ACA500plus. If in doubt, please post a picture.


    ACE2b, 2mb chip ram which I just purchased. This tests out perfectly, however very tricky to get in. So, I certainly do not want to mess with it!

    You may need to, as this may very well be a contact problem between ACE2b and the Agnus socket.


    Revision 5 motherboard. Original PSU, from original unused packaging - stored.

    Rev.5 NTSC motherboard used to be a problem with the old ACA500, but that was resolved with the ACA500plus. The old PSU may be a problem, as capacitors also age when they are not in use. If there's an old-school radio/TV technician around your neighbourhood, you might want to ask him for help in exchanging the capacitors in that PSU.


    Several times I have updated the menu in a recovery style thing.

    This should not be necessary on a regular basis. A garbled flash is a rare event, and it usually only happens if you get a power outage during a flash update procedure.

    I think it's just in an extremely vulnerable sensitive place by being on the side port.

    That may look more vulnerable than you might think. Circuit boards can take quite some abuse before they really fail, and the ACA500plus has quite a few units in the field, and certainly not all of them are in a case (those are available after-market).


    The more likely thing is contact problems: Please clean the A500 slot with alcohol and micro fibre cloth (don't use contact sprays, as these often contain additional lubricants for potentiometers, and you don't want that on a computer connector). Same with the Agnus socket: Clean that with alcohol and an old toothbrush, and insert ACE2b while the socket is still wet from the alcohol. IPA should be available in any pharmacy - again, don't use hand sanitizer, as that may contain other chemicals like glycerine to be more friendly to the skin. It's pure IPA (isopropanol) that you want to cleaning computer contacts.

    Stranger things have happened with patience ...

    Let's go with the most common sources of problems first. I'm sure this will work out without requiring higher forces :-)

  • Fortunately, I had the alcohol to clean the contacts and I had done that with the slot. So I did take the Amiga apart and remove the Ace2b, clean it and it works just as well as it did before. It runs flawlessly the ACE2b without the accelerator.


    It also tests and has tested flawlessly with Amiga testkit ... Moving on, I placed it back in and it works fine.

    I did clean the slot again, checked out the pins. I mean they are a mess ... Getting this thing to go on again was a challenge.

    When I removed it the first time, I think I pressed the back of the pins. Pushing them forward about a half fingers length of them. I've really attempted to carefully try and put them in their place. However, the card won't come on that way. So I've slightly moved some forward. Before that point, I did have the cf cards running workbench. But, eventually it started crashing and wouldn't run anything. It wouldn't run stuff well off CF. I also know the first slot is not hot swappable. I did learn that ... As I thought both were at the very beginning. But I was not sticking it in and out fast or anything. I had done it a few times. Trying to give you the most honest account of everything, totally possible to the letter.

    Now when I test fast ram, it freezes ... Red screen in Amiga testkit ... Here is a picture. I'm at least happy there is hope the menu screen now comes up consistently ...

    Let me know what you think,


    Lou

  • Though things are not perfect, I do think the contacts are lined up , " Well " ... To where everything is making contact. I literally had to take the ACE2b in and out 100 times. For two plus days, till finally now it goes in and out and works perfectly. Even if I take it out. That's why I was so scared. No reason now, So, I'm patient about attempting to line this up just right. IF that is indeed the issue. The other could be as you said PSU related. No one in my area will have anything to do with an Amiga. These techs are horrible. They only do Playstations and Iphones. Because they can pinpoint the problems easy and replace things. I'm not good with hardware like you. I understand a little, I'm pretty decent with the software end. Not the whole City of Chicago though, not a single tech I tried. I have friends in the Amiga community. Who are busy guys though. Getting a new PSU isn't an option right now. For future, definitely ...

  • No one in my area will have anything to do with an Amiga.

    A power supply is not Amiga-specific (at least the servicable part isn't). Capacitors have been used for decades, and exchanging one for a similarly-rated new component is not rocket science, but plain craftsmenship. This is why I was referring to a TV repair shop - or a retired employee of one that used to do such things (I am aware that it's 2021, and pretty much all TV repair shops on the planet have gone out of business).

    Now when I test fast ram, it freezes ... Red screen in Amiga testkit ... Here is a picture.

    I have a faint memory of a similar case where we found out that Amiga Testkit is no good, but if memory serves right (that's the part that doesn't work too well lately, as I don't get enough sleep for months), it was an address problem, and the program assumed a too-large memory area. THis is definitely not the case here - so the author may have improved it, or it's hidden deeper in debug output.


    That said, the red screen doesn't show any useful output, I don't see any error message.


    I'd like to take a look at the state of the connector. Please take high-res/close-up pictures of the back side and looking into the connector; maybe it's something obvious.

  • I have a faint memory of a similar case where we found out that Amiga Testkit is no good, but if memory serves right (that's the part that doesn't work too well lately, as I don't get enough sleep for months), it was an address problem, and the program assumed a too-large memory area. THis is definitely not the case here - so the author may have improved it, or it's hidden deeper in debug output.

    Hi Jens,


    Is this the same kind of problem I had when I ran Kickstart 3.1.4 on the ACA500+, if I remember correctly (for the moment this part doesn't work very well either, too little sleep) Amiga Test Kit didn't show the right amount of memory that was present on ACA500+, then I also got a red or green screen.


    Now with 3.1 and the recent 3.2 the memory is shown correctly on Amiga Test Kit and no red or green screens.

    I also placed the ACE2b and it never conflicted with the ACA500+

    A1200 Rev2B AmigaOS 3.2| SanDisk CF64GB HDD | Blizzard 1230 IV 64MB FPU 68882/50 | Indivision AGA MK3 | CA-PSU | Eizo S1933 | Bose Companion 2 series III

    A500 Rev6A AmigaOS 3.2| SanDisk CF16GB HDD | ACA500Plus V2 / ACA1221lc | Indivision ECS V3 | ACE2b | CA-PSU | Eizo S1933 | Bose Companion 2 series III

    iAmiga 27" :huh: | AmigaOS 3.2 FS-UAE | SDD 1 TB | RTG by Picaso96 2560x1440

    Edited 2 times, last by Phil ().

  • Jens,



    Thanks for the kind and prompt replies. Really, what I wanted to do is re-read the entire documentation for the ACA 500+. Slow down look around and think. I also took pictures and took a close look at the contacts. After this, I changed a few settings around. I disabled the trap door setting, Aca.resource has been enabled, I also set the aux card slot to on. So I spent the last few days getting it running and a bit stable before I wrote here.

    The bottom of the feet seemed to come off the ground. I might have been nudging slightly when I put a new CF card in. So, I put a little floppy disk there to make the area flush. Then I inspected the contacts, did my very best to slowly and carefully line them up. Two at the front side of the accelerator seem to come up. What I did was I used a very small tiny, tiny toothpick wedge. Understand it is so tiny that it's literally a tip of a tip. After unplugging it and plugging it many times. I was able to gain stable contact it seems. Though certainly I am sure this is not advised, I am unable to get any stable use out of it doing otherwise. Unless I carefully, carefully play around more. When the next steps come, after I burn it in a little and continue testing, I will post the hi-res pictures I took of it. Also, I will take pictures of others tests.

    Low and behold, I have it well supported, sturdy and stable. The CF card works and boots into Classic Wb. OCS and ECS demos will run, fully through, mostly. I recognize the need for those to be run in some instances in Pal. As most demos are in pal, so when I changed the background in WB to Pal settings and or start in Pal, it seems to work decently. There is some slight stuttering and on occasion from time to time the red light flashes, gives a minor slight pause and the demo continues. It's nothing too bad and tolerable. I'm also aware this is an entry level accelerator. Also, I have a 4000, this machine is not for that stuff. It's for basic classic Amiga stuff.

    Some software will require trap door address in the memory to function. I am curious if ACE2b settles that dilemma? I'm also aware that some software is fickle to the original processor. So I can shut off the acceleration and go back to 7mhz when needed. Basically, I still need to play with and understand the settings a bit more. Right now, it's running successfully. Though it is slightly fickle, I do not mind. Demos are running straight through. I have not tried gaming, however I am sure those will go

    well. As far as capping my PSU. It's not that hard and I just do not have the space or the proper equipment. Honest not really the dexterity to do so. I'm decent with computer stuff, just not hardware related repairs. I realize it is not rocket science, however no one in the City of Chicago will take their time and cap this old crap, to them it's crap and I should buy new stuff.
    These guys in some instances also charge 100 bucks an hour. As I said, I have some major player friends within the Amiga community, in my Commodore - Chicago group. Still, I would go with a new PSU if I went that far, eventually.

    I'll get back to you in a few days let you know how it's going. But, I do have things somewhat stable momentarily. I'm grateful for that. I'm learning patience with the hobby. This all cost me a lot from years of dabbling in it to finally learn that. Because it's not hard to mess up the simplest things. These are old computers, I do not ride them like wild horses. I recognize what it is and I am satisfied with that. I take it easy! I will contact you here soon, more pictures,


    Thank you for your time,


    Lou

  • Some software will require trap door address in the memory to function. I am curious if ACE2b settles that dilemma?

    Many A500 titles use hard-coded addressing for memory at $00c0.0000, which is the trapdoor area. ACE2b will only add memory in the chip ram area, which is $0000.0000 to $001f.ffff (the first 2MB of address space), so that won't change anything.


    However, knowing that many titles from the A500 haydays use this rather bad technique of just assuming that 512k memory is available in $00c0.0000, the ACA500plus will always map memory there (unless you disable it in the menu, which is only possible for completeness, hardly ever required).

    I'm also aware that some software is fickle to the original processor. So I can shut off the acceleration and go back to 7mhz when needed.

    In the 7MHz case, the ACA500plus does even more: It will slow down the trapdoor memory to a pace where it is *exactly* the same speed as the original trapdoor memory (which is slower than fastmem, depending on the graphics that are displayed). This is a cycle-exact emulation, never shown before with any memory expansion that connects to the side of the computer.

  • Jens,


    Double thanks to you ... With patience I have a fully stable ACA 500+ ... I tested it two days in a row and now I am testing it tonight. What I did was just took your advice, I replaced the trap door memory ( at least I think it's what you meant) - then enabled the trap door memory within the ACA 500+ and saved the settings to Vram ...

    What I am finding is now there is no stuttering at all. At least on the last several demos I ran. Last night, I was gaming also and nothing crashed or anything. Looks like a very successful run. Tomorrow, I will be posting pictures and talking about how much I like it in my Chicago Commodore group. Fortunately, I am actually friends with some actual real life rocket scientists. Because, certainly I am not one myself. Also, thankful for your kindness and amazing expertise via the Amiga computer. It's really fun learning. Right now, I am having an even better time, watching my 500 blast through these great old school demos via ACA 500+...
    In the next days, I will share some fun pictures. It's singing away ...


    Gratefully,


    Lou

  • I replaced the trap door memory ( at least I think it's what you meant)

    With the ACA500plus, you don't need the physical trapdoor expansion any more - memory is located on the ACA500plus.


    There are of course reasons why you may keep the physical trapdoor expansion. One is if you want to use the battery-backed up clock of it. The other reason may not apply to you (because you have the ACE2b as well): The ACA500plus can turn the physical trapdoor expansion from "ranger mem" into "chip ram" (so it's available as graphics/sound mem). This requires the main board to already have an ECS Agnus, but that was standard with Rev.6 and higher boards. There are of course lots of instruction pages out there that describe how to do that with a few cuts and jumpers on the main board, but the ACA500plus skips all the soldering - it's just a setting in the menu. I'd write "never shown before..", but this feature was already present in the older ACA500 product. So let's go with "never copied" :-)