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clh333

Levco / SuperMac Prodigy SE accelerator and utility

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About a year ago I bought - on eBay - a Prodigy SE accelerator board, which I intended to plug into the processor expansion slot on my SE which has a SuperDrive.  Not knowing much about compact Macs or anything about the board, I put it in a drawer for safekeeping until I was ready.  Recently I finished going over the SE (memory upgrade from 1 Mb to 4 Mb, fresh battery, clean the drive etc.) and I thought about installing the Prodigy board.  I dug out the board and the manual, which referred to a software utility disk.  I looked on line for the utility but no one has a copy. So I checked around here and found that I have the disk, too.

 

I don't want to screw this up:  I haven't stuck the disk in any drive yet nor have I attached the Prodigy board to the SE.  I'd appreciate some guidance on how to create a viable copy of the utility disk that others can reference and so that I have a backup of my own.  Yes, I know about Apple's DiskCopy; the question is about creating something that can be uploaded and downloaded without corruption.

 

Apparently the Prodigy board has its own RAM, one Mb from what I can see on this one, but can't use the SE's logic-board RAM without a helper application from Connectix.  Again, new territory for me; any guidance in locating and installing the proper utility will be appreciated.

 

Thanks for your replies.

 

-CH-

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DiskCopy will be fine for imaging the disk. Just be sure to convert the resulting image to binary before moving it onto a modern machine and uploading it.

Binhex 4.0 will work for that.

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Thank you for your reply.  A copy of the software and user guide are now on Macintosh Repository.  Presently I will add the board to the SE I just finished updating and see what happens.

 

-CH-

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Most accelerators do just work without any software, however using the appropriate software will let you enable/disable certain features (caches, extra RAM, RAMdisks, etc...)

Install the accelerator in the SE at first and see if it still boots. Then install the driver software and see if it still boots and the software does what it should.

Afterwards see if you can get Connectix Compact Virtual to work. The 1MB accelerator RAM might limit it from actually being useful though because most of the time CV won't let you mix accelerator and onboard RAM.

There's also no easy way to see if it's using onboard RAM or the accelerator RAM sometimes. I like to run benchmarks to see what memory setting makes it run the fastest.

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3 hours ago, clh333 said:

Thank you for your reply.  A copy of the software and user guide are now on Macintosh Repository.  Presently I will add the board to the SE I just finished updating and see what happens.

 

-CH-

Hi CH,

 It's much more efficient to upload it to the Macintosh Garden. The person running the Mac Repository scrapes the Mac Garden and so it will appear there anyway, complete with word-for-word text.

 I shouldn't complain about the Mac Repository. I'm happy that it's there and it has helped me a few times. It's just that the manner of the operation grates.

aa.

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On 1/24/2019 at 9:50 AM, ArmorAlley said:

Hi CH,

 It's much more efficient to upload it to the Macintosh Garden. The person running the Mac Repository scrapes the Mac Garden and so it will appear there anyway, complete with word-for-word text.

 I shouldn't complain about the Mac Repository. I'm happy that it's there and it has helped me a few times. It's just that the manner of the operation grates.

aa.

I've used both and been grateful for their help.  When I dug out the board I found the manual and an installation guide with it in the foil bag.  The manual made mention of the software and my first thought was that I needed to find it somewhere.  I checked the Garden and then the MR, where I found someone had posted the contents of the Rev C ROM but nothing more.  Eventually I had the bright idea to look in my OEM floppy collection, where I found the Prodigy disk.  Copying and posting the items was my way of saying "thanks" for others who have helped me.  I don't do it very often and in this instance it was a pain in the @$$.  But I'll be conscious of the prevailing winds next time.

 

Thanks for your reply.

 

-CH-

 

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On 1/24/2019 at 6:57 AM, Bolle said:

Most accelerators do just work without any software, however using the appropriate software will let you enable/disable certain features (caches, extra RAM, RAMdisks, etc...)

Install the accelerator in the SE at first and see if it still boots. Then install the driver software and see if it still boots and the software does what it should.

Afterwards see if you can get Connectix Compact Virtual to work. The 1MB accelerator RAM might limit it from actually being useful though because most of the time CV won't let you mix accelerator and onboard RAM.

There's also no easy way to see if it's using onboard RAM or the accelerator RAM sometimes. I like to run benchmarks to see what memory setting makes it run the fastest.

Thank you for your suggestions.  Yesterday I added the board to the SE logic board and fitted the sandwich back into the chassis.  I was a little apprehensive as the Prodigy board, even with standoffs, sits right on the SIMMs and the other end is dangerously close to both the toroids and the chassis. 

 

But I got everything back in place and hit the power switch.  I got the chime, a Prodigy SE splash below a smiling Mac with fangs, and then the message that OS 7.1 needed more memory to start.  At that point I couldn't do anything other than shut down.  The manual mentioned that the board always tries to take control on boot but can be defeated by holding the interrupt and pressing the restart buttons so I managed to recover control on the next boot.  I could boot from a 6.0.8 floppy but then the Prodigy board could not assume control.  I will either have to modify the board to add more memory - if I can find it - or revert to booting 6.0.8 from the HD.  I haven't tried running Prodigy's proprietary software yet for obvious reasons.

 

The Prodigy board has been wave-soldered; there are spare holes on the board for another 1 Mb of RAM but there are hundreds of holes that would have to be opened and then filled again to bring it into 7.1 spec.  For now I'm just letting the board burn in; in a day or so I'll make up my mind how to handle the rest.

 

Thanks again,

 

-CH-

Edited by clh333

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I swapped the HD for one that had been initialized with OS 6.0.8.  The machine booted to the Prodigy board and ran - faster, but stably.  The System Index produced by the diagnostic utility says the board is 3.5 times the speed of a standard SE.

 

Unfortunately there isn't a lot of RAM for other programs.  I haven't added the Prodigy driver yet or experimented with Connectix software.

 

Here are some picture of the board: in-chassis, on top of logic board, and close-up of chips and memory.

DSCN0646.jpg

DSCN0650.JPG

DSCN0652.JPG

DSCN0654.JPG

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Hello!

 

I recently got a Levco upgraded SE and decided to dig into it.

I've done some digging into the board ROM and found few things. For exemple you can start the on-board self-test with the interrupt button and the following command:

G 600056

 

But will focus on the RAM upgrade since it's the most usefull part for now. I bought a 68851 and plugged it into the Prodigy board in place of the BMMU (the not-a-chip with the levco or supermac sticker on it).

This will allow me to upgrade the RAM up to 32MB, but this mean I should build my own memory board. I've got some reverse-engineering to do!

The only part worrying me is the manual that indicates RAM upgrade need also a PAL and array chip upgrade.

Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 21.43.41.png

IMG_1377.jpg

IMG_1376.jpg

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14 hours ago, Big Ben said:

Hello!

 

I recently got a Levco upgraded SE and decided to dig into it.

I've done some digging into the board ROM and found few things. For exemple you can start the on-board self-test with the interrupt button and the following command:


G 600056

 

But will focus on the RAM upgrade since it's the most usefull part for now. I bought a 68851 and plugged it into the Prodigy board in place of the BMMU (the not-a-chip with the levco or supermac sticker on it).

This will allow me to upgrade the RAM up to 32MB, but this mean I should build my own memory board. I've got some reverse-engineering to do!

The only part worrying me is the manual that indicates RAM upgrade need also a PAL and array chip upgrade.

Thank you for your post and the tip about G 600056.  

 

I too have acquired the 68851 and will be adding it to the Prodigy board.  I have already added the Prodigy utility software and accessed their control panel.  I have not attempted to use the Connectix software since I believe -from what I read - it depends on the presence of a 68851.  I guess I'll find out the hard way.

 

The lack of RAM on the Prodigy board is the biggest limitation at the moment.  When you refer to "the manual" are you referring to Prodigy SE User's Manual, P. 21, "Optional Features"?  In my copy of the manual the text states: "When it becomes available, the 68851 will allow the Prodigy SE board to utilize RAM configurations of 8, 16 and 32 megabytes."  At the time that was written (1987) apparently the 68851 was not yet released to the public. 

 

I don't know if any of the memory expansion boards were ever released, and if so in what capacity; I've never seen or heard of one.  And I don't have any schematics, alas.  But I wish you well with reverse engineering the memory expansion port.  In my view that would be a great achievement.

 

-CH-

14 hours ago, Big Ben said:

 

 

 

 

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DSCN0654.JPG

 

Those interboard connectors(?) stick out like two sore thumbs to me. Could you buzz the connections to see if they're a continuation of the memory bus with lines (they'd be CAS and RAS) not connected to the rows of ZIP RAM? There's not a lot of overhead available, but it looks to me as if the board might be laid out to have another one inverted above it with the ZIP ICs pointing down in between the ones on your RAM board. Measure the spacing to see if that might work? Very curious.

 

edit: pics of the solder side of the memory card, the logic board underneath and the connectors would be much appreciated.

Edited by Trash80toHP_Mini

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1 hour ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

pics of the solder side of the memory card, the logic board underneath and the connectors would be much appreciated.

I've planned to take some high-res pictures of my board this week-end.

 

7 hours ago, clh333 said:

The lack of RAM on the Prodigy board is the biggest limitation at the moment.  When you refer to "the manual" are you referring to Prodigy SE User's Manual, P. 21, "Optional Features"?  In my copy of the manual the text states: "When it becomes available, the 68851 will allow the Prodigy SE board to utilize RAM configurations of 8, 16 and 32 megabytes."  At the time that was written (1987) apparently the 68851 was not yet released to the public.

Yes, last paragraph of the "Prodigy RAM modules" section.

Note that PALs and gate-array are OTP (one-time programming) so if it's mandatory to upgrade them we'll need new-old stock or replacement, and of course the actual logic implemented.

 

First step is to provide at least the ability for everyone to upgrade to 4MB. Then develop some open source alternative tools for the prodigy more System 7 friendly, and even some customization tools.

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