plipbox hardware

Hardware used to build a plipbox device.

See the hardware page on GitHub for details.

Currently, the following boards are supported:

  • plipbox nano: Arduino Nano based (production) version
  • plipbox: Arduino 2009 based (prototype) version
  • plipbox on AVR-NET-IO board
  • a1k forum user crasbe has created an own board

Hardware Gallery

1. plipbox nano

The plipbox nano is realized with stock components:

  • An Arduino Nano v3 (with ATmega 328 @ 16MHz)
  • An Arduino Nano Ethernet shield with ENC28j60 chip

I added a small (single-layer PCB) base board with the parallel port connector  and two pin headers for the pins of the Ethernet shield:

plipbox nano ingredients: Arduino Nano, Nano Ethernet shield, and custom base board

As a result you get a very compact plipbox setup that fits nicely directly into your classic Amiga: (Use a cell phone power supply with a mini USB connector to power your plipbox nano)

plipbox nano: Arduino Nano, Nano Ethernet Shield, and base board

The long pin headers of the Ethernet shield work well here as they raise the Ethernet connector a little bit so it does not obscure the Amiga’s serial port.

plipbox nano

plipbox nano attached to an A1200 (top view)

plipbox nano attached to an A1200 (side view)

plipbox nano attached to an A1200 (rear view)

plipbox nano attached

The base board is very simple: it routes the parallel port lines from the Ethernet shield pins to the Amiga’s parallel port connector.

I provide a layout and a single-layer PCB design for this base board:

plipbox nano base board schematics

plipbox nano base board (bottom layer)

Note: the PCB is single layer but you need to add four parallel wires to connect the vias between the Ethernet headers.

Here are some shots of the v1.0 base board prototype.

Note: the wires fixed some issues in v1.0 and are corrected in v1.1 above. Also the jumper on the left side is obsolete and was removed.

plipbox nano 1.0 prototype base board (bottom side)

plipbox nano 1.0 base board (top side)

 

2. plipbox on Arduino Board

The Arduino 2009 board and the ENC28J60 Ethernet Module:

I used an Arduino prototype board to connect the Amiga parallel cable there (in the middle you can see the 5v to 3.3v converter IC I soldered with some caps on a little extra board):

The prototype board also has the connections between network module and Arduino board:

All boards connected to build the final device:

3. plipbox on AVR-NET-IO Board

The AVR-NET-IO board with attached USB-Serial Adapter (and some gender changers to make it possible to attach the serial adapter), connected Ethernet and the power supply with 5V (This is the modified power supply that replaces the 9V connector). Please note it is essential to power the board with external power as the parallel port is not capable to do so.

The AVR-NET-IO board connected to my development machine, an Amiga 1200. I build a small DB25 connector to make sure only the actually used lines are connected to the Amiga (and have access to the pins for debugging with a scope).

Strobe wire for AVR NET IO board

Strobe wire for AVR NET IO board

This image shows how to add the missing strobe wire.

4. crasbe’s plipbox

User crasbe of the german Amiga Forum a1k.org has created his own board with a very compact layout. Its fully compatible with the plipbox nano.

See a1k.org Post for details.

crasbe was so kind and donated me a Rev.2 board!

crasbe's pillbox with power supply cable and usb2serial dongle attached

crasbe’s plipbox with power supply cable and usb2serial dongle attached

A close up of crasbe's plipbox

A close up of crasbe’s plipbox

My development setup A500, logic analyzer, and crashes' pillbox

My development setup A500, logic analyzer, and crasbe’s plipbox

12 comments to plipbox hardware

  • Kire

    Good to see the Amiga online.

  • Hey!
    I see that you already built that box!
    Would you like to reimplement your soft on a dedicated board?
    I plan to build a very small adapter, that would fit into a DB25 hood like this one: http://www.compucanjes.com/prod_images/0000009886_1.jpg

    See my USB joystick adapter as an example of what I do. http://www.retronicdesign.com

    Thanks!

  • Can you elaborate more on how the signaling works? The 8 bit bus is easy to understand but what are the function of /STROBE /ACK POUT SELECT and BUSY?

    Thanks!

  • I built the whole thing.
    Because my board is using a derivate of the enc clock, it runs at 12,5MHz (25MHz/2). I rebuilt the firmware accordingly.
    My usart was set to 19200 for convenient purpose.
    I used the 0.2 firmware.
    I’m able to see the serial prompt. I put the network side in DHCP. The PLIP side is as standard: (Amiga) 192.168.55.1 and .2 (PLIP).
    When I power-up the Amiga and the AmiTCP boot disk finished booting, I get a plip online message.
    I also obtain a valid IP from DHCP.
    Then, when I issue a ping to a network address, I get this message: plip(rx): 67 but no answer.
    On the other side, when I ping the PLIP device on its LAN address, I get this message: plip(tx): 84 and plip(tx): retry #84
    Any idea what is wrong?

  • At last!
    My proto is working. Here is some picture of it:
    http://gradel.ca/magplip/mag1.jpg
    http://gradel.ca/magplip/mag2.jpg
    http://gradel.ca/magplip/mag3.jpg
    I was able to make it run on my Amiga 2000 but not on my Amiga 4000. The errors in my last comment still bugging me.
    Is the parallel port of the Amiga 4000 different?

  • Hey, your proto looks great!

    I am not aware of any differences between the A2000 and A4000 parallel port. Only the A1000 is different…
    Maybe on the A4000 some timing issues occur due to the faster processor?

    I only have tested plipbox on a vanilla A500 and an A1200 with and without A1230/42 accelerator board…

  • Max Rodriguez

    Hi,

    Great project. It looks like I will finally have Ethernet on my A500…

    However, one minor question, you say: “Currently, the firmware is implemented on an Arduino 2009 board with an ATmega328 running at 16 MHz. You can also use one of the many Arduino clones if the ROM size is sufficient (32K or more, not 16K), the AVR chip matches and enough I/O pins are available.”

    Well, for the life of me I can´t seem to find any arduino 2009 clones on dx.com that have 32K, all have 16K.

    I wonder if replacing the 16K for 32K flash memory is an easy enough task for a novice.

    Thanks
    Max

  • Jenot

    @Max You can use Arduino Uno R3 – tested, works without issues.

  • Christkph

    Why dont’t you use the 5V from the parallel port to power your hardware?

  • Christian Simpson

    It’s worth noting that the AVR doesn’t fit easily in the A500+ parallel port. The Amiga power plug gets in the way and requires some bending.

    On the AVR, can you please give instructions as to what wire to solder, and how exactly to connect the power?

  • The amiga parallel port can only provide around 10mA of current while the circuit with ethernet adapter requires more than 300mA!
    So an external power supply is required (if using an Amiga != A1000 of course).

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