Strange problems with my CFFA

For people with technical questions about their CFFA Interface card. You can use this forum to communicate with me and with other CFFA users. If you are posting a problem, please be as detailed as possible, including any necessary sequence needed to cause the problem, your system information and any error messages.

Moderator: rich

Postby chulett » Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:58 am

I've finally gotten around to trying out my CFFA board in my Rom 3 IIGS. Bought a new 256MB Sandisk CF card for it. It's in slot 7 along with an Apple SSC in slot 2 and a 1MB memory expansion card. Note that I don't have Dave Lyon's driver loaded, this is all with the native firmware with default settings.

Before installing it, things worked fine. I could boot GS/OS 6.0.1 from floppy and run the two whole games that I own at the moment - Neuromancer and Keef the Thief - with no issues. Now that the CFFA is in I'm having some odd issues I'm hoping to get some help with here.

With the card installed and first booting up, I was prompted to format the four new "drives" that showed up - .DEV2 thru .DEV5, IIRC. This went fine. Booted from the GS/OS Install disk and did a custom install to the first drive which seemed to go fine. After booting from the new OS install on the CFFA I've seen the following:

* Random crashes during booting
* Random crashes when working with the new drives
* One boot, the Finder wouldn't run as it declared there wasn't enough memory for it
* After starting Keef (just to the initial copy protection screen) and exiting, the OS declared that .DEV5 was "damaged" and needed to be Initialized or Ejected. When I "ejected" it and then rebooted, it was fine

The other odd thing I'm seeing is a sort of "video corruption" when booting from the card. There are blank (black) chunks missing from the GS/OS loading screen and from the Desktop when I get all the way in. The four hard-drive icons will have chunks missing from them and the menu text will have "artifacts". It's hard to explain, and will change from boot to boot, but it is pretty consistant. When I go back and boot from the GS/OS floppies, these artifacts are not present.

One last odd thing is with the behaviour of Keef. It allows a hard-drive install and I went thru the process of doing that - gettting all of the required files onto one of the drives. It launched fine and I went thru the (rather painful) copy protection to get into the game. The menus came up fine, which wrap around the screen but there's a box in the upper left-hand corner that displays the art - what you see what's in front of you. It never displayed anything there, I got stuck with an hourglass cursor and eventually had to restart the machine. It runs fine directly from the floppies.

So, is there something I can try to rectify this? Put the card in another slot? Pull the SCC? I stayed up waaay too late last night futzing with this and I really don't want to do that again! Thanks.

-craig
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Postby rich » Sun Feb 08, 2004 1:42 pm

Hi Chulett,

I fear I am not going to be very much help with your GS problem. I have had very few reports of problems with GS/OS and the CFFA card, and have not had to solve any.

I guess there are several courses of action you can follow.

1) It sounds like you may not like wasting lots of time on this stuff, so if you prefer to just return the card, I will refund your money and all of your shipping costs. Sorry I can't refund your time.

2) If you want to debug further there are several things you might try:
A) Just as a test, make your system as simple as possible, that is, just the CFFA card and has little else as you need to boot the system. If the system still doesn't run right, I fear it may never work. If it does run right, start adding compents back until you discover the problem. At least that would give us a clue.

B)Try Dave Lyons' GS/OS driver. Once booted, it completely replaces the on-card firmware. And could also give us a clue where to look.

C) See if the card works differently in slot 5. This slot, at least under ProDOS is accessed a little differently than the other slots in terms of SmartPort firmware. Not sure about GS/OS.

Sorry, I can't offer a definative solution.
You might want to post to comp.sys.apple2 news group. There is a lot more traffic there that there is on this forum anymore.

Rich
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Postby chulett » Sun Feb 08, 2004 5:21 pm

Thanks for the reply, Rich. I'm still going to keep messing with this thing as I'd *really* like it to work. I'll try slot 5 and see if that helps... but would that mean I wouldn't have access to my 3.5" drives?

I want to try Dave's driver, I've got it right here - on my PC! Been having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to get the darn thing on to my GS, which is why I finally decided to give it a go without it. I've posted for help in the usenet group you mentioned and am getting some excellent help, so I should be able to try it in the next day or so. I'll post back when I have more news.

-craig
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Postby chulett » Sun Feb 15, 2004 12:53 am

Interesting development. The root of my problem seems to be the SSC card. With it in Slot 2 the CFFA will not boot from any slot it seems, except possibly Slot 3. With the SSC pulled out, it boots and seems to be running fine from Slot 7. Now, the SSC does work fine and I've used it to transfer files from my PC to the GS no sweat - as long as I'm booted from floppies.

Any thoughts on why that might be?

-craig
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Postby rich » Sun Feb 15, 2004 2:25 am

Craig,

I am not sure what to make of that.

The debug versions of firmware use the a SSC in slot 2 for output of debug info. But the only trouble would be if you selected a debug firmware, using the J6 jumpers, and DIDN'T have the SSC in place. Are all three jumpers in place on J6?

It is possible that there is some small hardware problem with your card. So I could try replacing it with another one, just to find out. If you want to try that let me know. What happens if you put, the SSC in another slot (just as a test, mind you) I know it really has to go in slot 2. Does it still screw-up?

If you like we can take this conversation to email to speed up the process. You can reach me at rich@dreher.net


_________________
Thanks,
Rich

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: rich on 2004-02-15 02:26 ]</font>
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Postby h.katz » Wed Mar 24, 2004 2:43 pm

It might also help to know what else you have in your GS--amt. of memory, other cards, accelerator, etc. I've used a CFFA in both a GS and a //e with no problems - it's a great little device!

Later.........Howard
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Postby chulett » Wed Apr 07, 2004 10:35 pm

Sorry, kept forgetting to come back here and update this. Rich and I had some "offline" conversations about my problem. I do actually have the card working, with Dave Lyon's GS/OS driver, the HFS partition and everything. The odd thing still is the interaction with the Apple SSC.

There really isn't anything else in the box - it is a ROM3 motherboard with a 4MB memory expansion card in it. That's it. The CFFA boots up and runs fine in Slot 7 as long as the SSC is *not* installed. Seat the SSC and it no longer boots in Slot 7. It *will* boot with the SSC in place if I move the CFFA to one other slot (3 apparently from rereading my old post) but it is flaky at best in that mode. When I was actively transferring files from a PC to the GS and making use of the SSC, I kept the CFFA out and booted from floppies. Seemed the path of least resistance.

I haven't even turned it on in a while but I'm sure the behaviour would still be the same if I did. I don't know if there's something amiss with my Super Serial Card or the motherboard or some combination of things it doesn't like. I'm kind of at a point of acceptance, this seems to be the way it's going to work for me.

I can live with that. :smile:

-craig

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: chulett on 2004-04-07 23:38 ]</font>
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Postby rich » Fri Apr 09, 2004 12:14 am

Craig,

I am glad to hear you have found something that will work for you. If I had to guess, it would probably take many nights with a logic analyzer to find the problem and it could be in the SSC, the CFFA or the motherboard. You might be able to narrow the search by trying those cards on other apple.

It would be interesting to know if both cards are ever getting selected at the same time.
But that would require test equipment to find out.

If I can be of further help, please let me know.
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