Falcon Problems

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Falcon Problems

Postby piku » Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:50 pm

Hello all,

I am having some issues with my Falcon so I was looking for some suggestions. Symptoms include:
* ethernec transfers eventually stall. Sometimes quickly, sometimes after several MB. EtherNAT stopped working properly in a similar way.
* On boot, there is sometimes a "stuck key". I have to do a dance to get things to boot up properly. I have to press a key during hddriver or otherwise before the MiNT prompt. Then at the mint prompt I have to hit shift. At this point whatever key I hit will be repeating. Hit it again, adjust config and continue boot and all will be fine. If I don't do this I will have an ever stuck key repeating. This is with a very recent kernel.
* When booting up, sometimes I have to hit reset a few times to get the machine to work.

But otherwise the system is pretty rock solid. To troubleshoot I pulled the CTPCI/Radeon and still had the stalls. Then I changed from 25MHz to 16MHz bus acceleration (original CT60 with solders) and the problem was resolved! The reset on power up issue also seemed resolved. So I put the CTPCI back on and now the problem is back. It definitely has something to do with bus loading or something. When I first put it on too the graphics would stop working as soon as something drew a lot on the screen but I turned it off and wiggled things and it started working. Further adding to the concern of poor connections in the headers

I have booted up and ran memory tests and have no bad memory, stram or ttram.

The two ideas I have to troubleshoot this are to clean the pin headers and sockets of the ct60. No doubt they are oxidized good after all this time. How though? How do you effectively clean a pin header/socket?
Try a different power supply. Maybe the power supply is starting to fail and causing issues.
Perhaps it is a capacitor issue. Are there caps which are known to fail on the falcon mainboard?

Basically just looking for any suggestions or other ideas as I go down this road to try to get it stable again.

:cheers:
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby Greenious » Sun Mar 10, 2019 6:52 pm

What kind of keyboard are you using? Atari original or eiffel or?

Cleaning is almost always a good idea, to clean difficult spots there are special glass fiber brushes that work well. You can also use something like a small brush or sponge to apply just a little bit of contact spray to further protect them, without creating a mess all over.

Your ethernet problems sound like a form of congestion. A server will only send that many TCP/IP-packets to an individual recipient without recieving a confirmation that it has arrived, and that is likely the reason the traffic kind of slows down and then dies. ie, your falcon is not able to get those confirmations underway for some reasons, or the package is incomplete or otherwise faulty and binned at some point. Why this happens is more difficult to say.

Power problems is definately one thing I'd consider, and if you have another PSU to test with, it would be good to be able to rule that out.
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby Rustynutt » Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:46 pm

Keyboard stuck :) Pretty much a known issue. AIRC, the ESC key will stop it. I've seen a hardware mod that's suppose to fix it too. I'd say search the hardware section. Also seen the CTPCI has to be clocked down.

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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby stormy » Sun Mar 10, 2019 11:33 pm

I had the stuck key issue randomly as well, I fixed it by purchasing a new socket for the keyboard wires and soldered it on. I think they can wear or break from being plugged in/out over time.
Since your stability issues gradually started over time I would suggest that your machine might need recapping. Start with the PSU then move to the motherboard if required. The large 1600uf cap on the mobo would be the most important for power regulation. Exxos sells a really awesome pcb replacement with mini caps for added stability. It worked well for my machine.
For cleaning pins and connectors buy yourself some contact cleaner spray. Just spray it on and work the connection a bit so it cuts through any grime.
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby wongck » Sun Mar 10, 2019 11:40 pm

Rustynutt wrote:Keyboard stuck :) Pretty much a known issue. AIRC, the ESC key will stop it. I've seen a hardware mod that's suppose to fix it too. I'd say search the hardware section. Also seen the CTPCI has to be clocked down.

I too have this issue but instead of a hardware mod, I just pop this keyoff.prg program as 1st few app in my AUTO to stop those clicks.
You can try it too.... viewtopic.php?f=97&t=31846&start=25#p321490
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby piku » Mon Mar 11, 2019 2:19 am

I am using an eiffel

I agree with your assessment about the network traffic. I'd bet traffic FROM the falcon is getting stuck somehow. I just don't see any way to tune mint tcp paramters at all to try to diagnose it. I tried to drop mtu a bit and didn't seem to help or hurt.

Wow that keyoff is a valuable tool! The PSU is an ATX psu so I'd be surprised if it had cap issues. But come to think of it, the PSU is probably pushing 10-15 years old now. Time flies! I actually have 2 different contact cleaners, one flammable intended for use on dead connections and one intended for use on live circuits that isn't flammable. I don't think why I didn't think of that, that would work perfectly. I wonder too if maybe there is a cold solder joint in the headers from years of flexing trying to get the board seated or unseated. It seats pretty easily to the falcon motherboard but getting ctpci or ethernat on or off the ct60 requires a rather excessive amount of force.

The other thing is that my falcon and CT60 have a history. The CT60 had a short in a previous CTPCI that fried the chip and fried a few traces on the CT60. Those have been fixed. The 50mhz oscillator is socketed and the socket seems a bit rickety. I think I might solder that oscillator in directly or find a higher quality socket. The IDE irq line is also damaged on the falcon board (use your imagination and you can guess how that happened) so I had to patch that by following a falcon schematic to find another point to pick up the signal. It does work but only with the onboard IDE and not the CTPCI IDE.

I'll check out the cap kit in exxos's store. I've already bought some stuff from him.

On a recent reboot now the radeon wasn't detected, but a cold boot fixed it. Always something new and interesting with this machine.
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby Greenious » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:35 am

Well, PSU's are in a constant state of deterioration... though I have found that lower watt PSU's generally age gracefully and can work for years and years, while the monster 1000 watt PSU's generally die after just a few years. (which I believe is the result of the standardized ATX PSU physical size, high wattage PSU's need more & higher rated components in the same small space, causing everything to run hotter and also forcing them to use more compact components worser at handling heat.)

But a sure sign of an aging PSU in need of refurbishing/repairs/replacement, is that it don't handle varying loads very well anymore, such as during startup, which causes voltage drops that can cause all kinds of weird behavior. Besides smoothing the voltage, the caps are also there to pick up the slack between when the load increases, and the PSU responds to increased demand.

So stick a reliable voltmeter to that PSU and see if it holds steady or not,
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby hencox » Mon Mar 11, 2019 12:46 pm

Hello!

I recognize some of your instability issues from when we developed the EtherNat and the SV and the falcon was flaky. Putting and pulling boards on/off the connectors seems to crack the solders after a while. One thing that usually helped was to resolder the solders of the motherboard expansion connectors (that the ETherNat and the CPTPCI sits on) using some fresh solder paste. Not just heating up the solders again, you need some new resin in the solder to get a better chance of it fixing the solder. Or replace the connectors intirely, which is more complex work, but when refreshing the connector solders didn't help anymore this usually fixed it and gave me a stable falcon for several months or couple of years until it started to deteriorate again.

/Henrik

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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby mikro » Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:11 pm

hencox wrote:Putting and pulling boards on/off the connectors seems to crack the solders after a while.

This makes me wonder whether CT60/63 had been so terribly manufactured? I mean, sure, I would understand maybe your scenario, when you perhaps pulled it out literally tens of times but these stories are well known also among normal users.

Would be nice to know whether Willy used something more reliable (solder? PCB?) for his CT60e.

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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby piku » Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:53 pm

So the problem isn't the pin header connection mechanism itself but cold solder joints on the headers due to cracking. Makes sense. I would probably redo the header solder on the falcon mainboard as well.
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby piku » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:36 pm

To start I tried hooking up another power supply.. It failed to boot and my radeon immediately let out the magic smoke(!). Thankfully the machine and CTPCI still looks good. I checked for shorts or other things, I don't think it was me. So I'll get this power supply on a test bench and see what is going on and verify any others on a cheap PC before I even think about hooking them up to the falcon.
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby jd » Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:38 pm

When I took my falcon out of cold storage and booted it up it seemed to work fine but after an hour very weird things started happening, strange keyboard clicks when I hadn't touched anything, random freezes etc.

I vaguely remembered reading somewhere (before internet!) that the Falcon PSU were crap so first thing I did was pull it out and connect it up to a PC ATX PSU that I took from an old PC case (brand new in comparison to the falcon). Haven't looked back since, rock solid. Defo get a decent PSU although it has to be an external in my case.

According to official service manual must be able to handle +5VDC 7A, +12VDC 0.2A so I would add a bit more just to be safe.

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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby piku » Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:46 pm

My falcon stability problems were cured by removing ethernat. My ethernat stability problems were solved by reducing clock to 66mhz. Now everything is *much* better but I can still cause network issues that actually require a full power off and restart to correct with the ethernat. It seems something in my system is degrading such that 92mhz did work before and no longer works properly. Interestingly all my weird keyboard issues are resolved too. But I also took all the boards out, reseated, reflowed some connectors and cleaned contacts. But even after all that it's still unstable in the same way at 92mhz so that is the main issue. I've bumped by bus back up to 25mhz and it's still happy. Perhaps the CPU is getting too much heat internally. The heatsink isn't really hot at all.
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby piku » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:05 pm

Yeah I think I was wrong there. Whether I use ethernat or ethernec I get increasing amounts of tons of "in error" in ifconfig. So even when it's working it's not really working properly. The RTL8319 driver doesn't work for me. It detects my card but it just hangs on/after the autonegotiation and can't ping. I think it's a driver/card incompatibility since radeon works fine. But I've taken everything apart to replace my RTC/NVRAM which sad to say didn't go well the first time and somehow it didn't work. I took it all back apart and touched each pad with the soldering iron and now the socketed nvram is good... Then I decided to add some leaded solder to each connector the whole way up the chain falcon to ct60 to ctpci to ethernat. I decided ethernat solders looked good. So I worked on the ctpci and now it didn't work. CTPCI not found. Hmm how is this possible all I did was touch the connector. So I took it out and touched each one again and now it is found... most times. It seems rocking it on the headers can cause it to work or stop working. Some kind of microscopic crack or something somewhere.

Moral - I think the connectors on the ctpci are bad. Even when ctpci is not found ethernat works through it! So it's a signal only ctpci uses. I also have another damaged ctpci and that one works every time even when other ctpci is not found meaning the connectors on the ct60 and falcon are fine. It's very interesting that I can have all these issues but then radeon works fine. Makes no sense to me.

Also it seems heatsink makes a huge difference on the 060. 40C vs 70C!

Interestingly I can run Jinnee with memory protection on the most recent kernels. So now I can run in memory protection which gives away pretty quickly when there are hardware issues and when things are working well.
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby wongck » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:06 pm

piku wrote:Yeah I think I was wrong there. Whether I use ethernat or ethernec I get increasing amounts of tons of "in error" in ifconfig. So even when it's working it's not really working properly.

This have nothing to do with CTPCI, no?
I seen ppl cleaning the ROM port for ethernec helps.
Otherwise take a look at the network settings.

piku wrote:The RTL8319 driver doesn't work for me. It detects my card but it just hangs on/after the autonegotiation and can't ping. I think it's a driver/card incompatibility since radeon works fine.

Are you using that RTL8139 or another?
Only RTL8139 works. IIRC they can be found cheaply from ebay, mostly from China. I know there's a trade talk now and many Americans shy away from China products now but.... if it helps with your trouble....


piku wrote:Moral - I think the connectors on the ctpci are bad. Even when ctpci is not found ethernat works through it! So it's a signal only ctpci uses.

If connectors are bad you will not be able to use the Radeon as it goes over the same connectors.
But I think your RTL8319 will definitely not work.
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby piku » Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:31 am

Well the issue here is that there are multiple unrelated problems:

1) IDE corruption - happens only when using CTPCI IDE. Falcon IDE causes no trouble.
2) Network corruption both through EtherNEC and EtherNAT - not solved... not understood.
3) System instability - memory violations during weird times like fsck. This is now SOLVED by reducing the system frequency to 66mhz. I've also cleaned up connectors and done other work to improve things. But all this work created a new problem:
4) When I resoldered the connectors on the CTPCI it showed that it was not found. No matter which way I reseated it on the connector it wouldn't work. I pulled it out and resoldered the connectors again. I looked for shorts or any other issues and I could find nothing wrong. I put it back in and it still didn't work. I shifted it on the connector and then it started working. Therefore I have strong suspicions that all of my current issues are rooted in CTPCI connector problems. This is strange given that the radeon works but radeon is 100% writing to the card. Maybe it's reading back or something in the bus arbitration itself that is the problem. I will say for sure the CTPCI connector on mine is extremely sensitive at minimum. CT60 and ethernec both seem fine though.
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby wongck » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:02 am

About IDE, my CTPCI IDE which I remembered was working before is now not any more, I can't remember when but sometime the previous session when I had my Falcon out (before I switch it with the Firebee but I am back to Falcon now) as when I brought the Falcon out again it was already on Falcon IDE.
May be my power supply degraded as it was tripping and it actually killed my HDD that was connected to the falcon IDE as it was turning on & off without proper drive parking (yeah it is like a so-yesterday hdd). Not even sure if my 40pin IDE HDD is working or not :lol: . I tried using a lower power device like a CF, still it was not working.
So today I am using only my Falcon IDE.

I found my Falcon IDE was corrupting -- giving raise to system instability - memory violation during weird times like fsck & sometimes hddriver cannot even detect the drives. This was solved by reducing the system frequency to 80mhz.
This is now SOLVED by using a shorter 8-inch 3-way IDE cable instead of the 12-inch 3-way IDE cable.

I wanted that CTPCI IDE to work as I have a IDE DVD burner that I want to try Anondyne ExtenDOS which was released as freeware recently.

piku wrote:. This is strange given that the radeon works but radeon is 100% writing to the card. Maybe it's reading back or something in the bus arbitration itself that is the problem. I will say for sure the CTPCI connector on mine is extremely sensitive at minimum. CT60 and ethernec both seem fine though.

Is your card a 8319 or 8139 like a typo? The one that works is 8139.
Have you tried using the 8139 on the Radeon slot ?
I have a burned slot on one of my 4 slots :cry:
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby piku » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:09 am

It is an 8139. It is even detected by the driver fine. My tower case is so big the ide cable is already stretched ;)
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Re: Falcon Problems

Postby piku » Sun Apr 21, 2019 1:29 pm

The two things I've recently found are that if you wiggle the sdram just a tiny bit with a finger tip the system immediately reboots or locks up. So the SDRAM socket is failing. That seems ok because if you don't touch it everything is good. However the system seems to have a tremendous amount of warm reboot problems. Displaying exception processing when going through the ct60 tos initialization stuff or blank screen, etc. To me it feels like the warm boot is not interacting with the SDram correctly. Does anyone else have warm reset problems? The system is always good cold booted and once it is up it is extremely solid. The CTPCI only works when it is on the ct60 angled with pins closest to the main oscillator exposed. I don't understand why. I have checked all connections with a meter. The problem seems internal to the ctpci female header that attaches to the ct60. It could be with the ct60 itself but I don't think so. My other CTPCI always works (this one is failed in other ways so I dont' use it but it is always detected).

Next I will use a single pin on an alligator clip to probe connectivity through the female header on the bottom of the ctpci. Maybe I will find a problem that way.

I don't think I have enough skills to replace the SDRAM socket. I will probably have to live with it. The warm reboot problem could be related.
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