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Olympia BOSS

Posted By: rfka01

Olympia BOSS - 01/02/18 10:43 PM

I have been contacted by user friol who has seen my posts on a German forum about my Olympia BOSS. I was trying to get more information about that rare machine before posting here, but so far nothing came along apart from the huge boat anchor that's currently residing in my basement. Didn't want to overload the MAME devs either ;-)

[Linked Image]

The thing is a massive Z80 machine with an integrated harddisk that uses Prologue. The harddisk is on the fritz, and unfortunately I have neither bootdisks nor documentation. Another user on the German VzEkC forum wanted to add his machine's ROMs but didn't follow through yet. I'll ping him again.

The BOSS line of machines was comprised of four or five models with little compatibility between them due to different floppy formats and CPUs (8085 vs. Z80).

http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=95
http://www.computersammler.de/sammlung/homecomputer/cpm/olympia-boss/

Before the harddisk died, I managed to read it via my MFM emulator board, and here (and on the FTP) are are the ROMs as well. The archive is rather large due to the inclusion of two read attempts of the harddisk.
I hope friol can create an initial driver that garners enough interest for others to contribute their hard- and software!
Posted By: friol

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/21/18 11:26 AM

Hello guys,
I've prepared a MAME driver for this beast, but unfortunately was unable to make it work, since this time there is no documentation/schematics available anywhere for Olympia Boss, apart the material rfka provided.

I've hooked the Z80, the uPD3301 (CRT controller) and its companion the uPD8257. The screen is showing a "flashing" amount of garbage, so for sure I've done something wrong. I'm quite sure (say 80%) that the 3301 and the 8257 are tied to the right ports, since what the code writes to those ports seems to be meaningful for the chips. In particular, the 8257 DMA read is set to 0xf2c6, that is where the code writes the "BOSS .." message that should appear on screen.

If anyone more experienced than me wants to take a look and share his toughts, you're welcome; my driver is here:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1vHdcFHCIRYZfJfvTJ2_aO9zZo2K69OsA

Thanks.
Gabriele
Posted By: crazyc

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/22/18 12:53 AM

You've set the screen update like MCFG_SCREEN_UPDATE_DEVICE(UPD3301_TAG, upd3301_device, screen_update) but also made your own screen_update callback. You should probably use UPD3301_DRAW_CHARACTER_MEMBER like in pc8001.cpp.

Edit: forget that I missed it....
Posted By: friol

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/22/18 06:10 AM

Yes, I was using my callback at the beginning, but then I commented it (it's commented in the source).
Posted By: rfka01

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/22/18 08:55 AM

I'd like to add that the harddisk dumps included in the archive that is linked to in the first post were done using the MFM harddisk emulator board. The controller used in the original machine is a MSC-9056.
Posted By: crazyc

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/31/18 04:01 PM

[Linked Image]
Flickers though.
Posted By: rfka01

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/31/18 05:24 PM

The BOSS is at it again smile

I was promised documentation, more ROM dumps and disks for the BOSS series to come up during the next weeks ... I hope that'll give us enough clues to emulate it properly.
That being said, cracyc ... could you please have a look at the Alphatronic P30 8088 add-on board?
Posted By: friol

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/31/18 06:55 PM

@crazyc: the "BOSS" writing should be on the bottom of the screen.... but anyway, did you manage to emulate properly the 8257 and 3301?
Posted By: crazyc

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/31/18 07:25 PM

Nope, just fixed one tiny bug. It'll still need significant additional work.
Posted By: rfka01

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/31/18 08:39 PM

BTW there's a video of the BOSS booting from Prologue from the harddisk in the archive that I've linked to in the first post. The "BOSS .." prompt shows some flickering that don't seem to be camera issues.
Posted By: friol

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/31/18 08:54 PM

Nah, it's just the video retrace.

See here another video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGM-lz23oaY
Posted By: rfka01

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/31/18 09:04 PM

BTW that's the same machine ... I got it from the guy with the YT video.
Posted By: friol

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/31/18 09:28 PM

I imagined. This machine should be pretty rare if there is only one youtube video about it smile
Posted By: rfka01

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/10/18 12:30 AM

I got the chance to document and dump 3 (1/2) other BOSS machines this week. Here are a few infos while I'm waiting for the final OK to publish the stuff.
We're getting dumps from the main and char ROMs from two Boss B Z80 and one Boss B 8085 as well as matching boot disks for these and the Boss C / D line.
The Z80 dumps are nothing new, they're completely identical to the ones in my Boss D Z80.

The disk formats are somewhat odd:

Boss A: Single sided, double density, 32 tracks, 16 sectors/track, 256 bytes/sector (Prologue), 128K
Boss B: Double sided, double density, 32 tracks, 16 sectors/track, 256 bytes/sector (Prologue), on a CP/M disk some tracks are formatted with 9 sectors/track and 512 bytes/sector, 256K
Boss C and D: Double sided, quad density, 76 tracks, 16 sectors/track, 256 bytes/sector (Prologue), CP/M see above, 608K

B disks exist that have 35 or 40 tracks, C/D disks exist that have up to 80 tracks, possibly residue from an earlier use of the disks.

There will be some (none too technical) documentation as well that suggests that all models existed with either CPU.

Video modes are 80x28 characters or 96x320 pixels on a p37 phosphor monitor. or 64x20 characters / 64x256 pixels in eight colours for foreground and background each.
Posted By: crazyc

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/10/18 11:15 PM

[Linked Image]
This required the am9519 and a change to the 8257. Unfortunately, that change upsets the pc8001 which also uses the upd3301.
Posted By: friol

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/11/18 01:24 PM

@crazyc: impressive job there! Now we just need those boot disks from rfka.
Posted By: rfka01

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/11/18 06:39 PM

Thanks, @crazyc! I can probably post the stuff tomorrow.

Prologue disks should boot by just pressing CR, other disks like CP/M need an address specified. You need to type a capital B which gives you "B:" and you add the drive and a number seperated by a comma (I think it's some sort of sector offset). I've seen "B:0,1", "B:0,40", "B:0,80" and "B:0,100". IIRC "B:0,80" is standard for CP/M disks.
If you want to boot from drive B: (on a Boss A, B or C) you have to specify drive 1 instead of 0.
Posted By: rfka01

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/12/18 10:56 AM

The archive with the disks, photos and ROMs is on the FTP now.

Correction to the boot commands: From what I learned on the phone today:

For an installation floppy of Prologue for the "D" you need to type "B:0,100"

Other Prologue floppies start with "B:0,80", reading the OS from sector 0 on track 8
CP/M on a Z80 machine is started by (CR), on an 8085 (of which we have no example) with B:0,1

We'll see smile

The guy who kindly offered to let me read in his stuff goes as "Aquarius" on the German VzEkC forum but might chime in here as well soon.
At least one of his Boss B Z80 is operational, so he can give valuable insight into the machine.
Posted By: crazyc

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/14/18 10:22 PM

[Linked Image]
The keyboard needs proper emulation next.
Posted By: friol

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/14/18 10:48 PM

Incredible job. @crazyc: a short writeup of how you did reverse engineer this machine would be great, considering there was no documentation or schematics.
Posted By: rfka01

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/14/18 11:06 PM

Absolutely amazing! Looking forward to trying the emulation. If you need something checked out on the keyboard I can pass on the request to Aquarius.

[Linked Image]
Posted By: R. Belmont

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/15/18 12:13 AM

You get a feel after a while for what read/write patterns go to what chips. I cruised through konmedal68k because I know what the init patterns look like for all the System GX-era chips.
Posted By: crazyc

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/15/18 12:28 AM

Yup, you can tell which devices a machine has by looking at the pictures then look for patterns. The am9519 was a new one so I had to look at the data sheet but the upd765 will always get a specify command first so you'll see 0x03 followed by two bytes. Things like motor control is a bit harder but it's usually a bit setting just before a floppy read, write or seek.
Posted By: crazyc

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/15/18 06:30 PM

[Linked Image]
Some programs run, other don't, no idea why.
Posted By: rfka01

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/15/18 11:37 PM

Great progress!
Could it be a disk ready problem? Displaying the directory sometimes needs two tries, and disks cannot be formatted, Error 01 is "Drive not ready", your ER.4 is "first addressed sector outside scope for selected drive".
Posted By: rfka01

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/16/18 07:39 PM

Maybe the truth is somewhere in between ... or somewhere completely else. With the last changes to the floppy system, the QD versions boot CP/M despite the errors

[Linked Image]

whereas the DD version that used to boot now doesn't.

[Linked Image]

Formatting on drive B: also still fails.
Posted By: crazyc

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/17/18 01:55 AM

[Linked Image]
8085 prologue
Edit: This version of the OS is case sensitive.
Posted By: shattered

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/17/18 09:08 AM

Originally Posted by crazyc
Yup, you can tell which devices a machine has by looking at the pictures then look for patterns. The am9519 was a new one so I had to look at the data sheet but the upd765 will always get a specify command first so you'll see 0x03 followed by two bytes. Things like motor control is a bit harder but it's usually a bit setting just before a floppy read, write or seek.


A self-test routine also helps, I've mapped most of Displaywriter's floppy controller (i.e. parts other than upd765) by running every test it has in the ROM. There's still plenty to work on in that driver until it boots actual text editor software, though.
Posted By: aquarius

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/23/18 02:41 PM

Hello,
I am the guy who knows these machines for more than twenty years. They were my first contact to computers so I really apreciate your work here. It is a fantastic journey back in time.

I have testet the boss b z80 emulator and it works pretty well. With the floppy access there are some glitches as it does not read all the time. I had to try several times to load files or the directory.

Next I try the 8085 machine.

If you need any infos or tests on the real machine don't hold back.

Regards Martin
Posted By: olyguy

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/26/20 11:23 PM

In MAME64 I got diverse Boss and the People machines working. Thank you so much for rescuing those rare machines. Sadly no HD support as far as I know. A big thank to rfka01 for his support.
Posted By: rfka01

Re: Olympia BOSS - 01/27/20 05:55 PM

Welcome olyguy!

He's contributed an abridged operator's manual to the Olympia Boss which I've uploaded to the FTP.
Posted By: olyguy

Re: Olympia BOSS - 02/05/20 08:22 PM

Another find for the HD emulation of this machine:
https://amaus.net/static/S100/MSC/cards/MSC%20Hard%20Disk%20Controller%209056.pdf
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