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Article #65 (74 is last):
Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.product.8bit.reviews
From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: Super E-Burner / hardware
Posted-By: xx004 (aa700 - Michael Current)
Reply-To: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Date: Tue Aug 25 20:27:17 1992


Reprinted from Atari Interface, Vol. 4, June 1992
 
 
CSS Super E-Burner for the Atari 8-bit
    --------------
A First Impression
 
 
Barry Gordon (ACCESS)
 
     I was overwhelmed with excitement the day the UPS man delivered the 
box from Computer Software Services.  I had very good reason to be.  
After all, I had recently ordered one of their most technically oriented 
devices, the "Super E_Burner."  This device reads and programs 
(E)rasable (P)rogrammable (R)ead (O)nly (M)emory or EPROMs for short.
     Whoa!  That's jumping in a bit too fast.  How about we take a few 
steps back and run over some basic concepts first?  OK, here goes...
 
ROMs vs EPROMs
     Inside your computer is a ROM (Read Only Memory) chip which holds 
the instructions that tell your computer what it is and how to operate.  
This Operating System chip (OS ROM) is a permanent component which does 
not need energy to maintain its data integrity.  In other words, it 
doesn't go blank when the power is removed like a RAM chip.
     The OS ROM chip is programmed with instructions when it is 
manufactured, and those instructions cannot be changed at a later time.  
An EPROM chip also retains its programming when power is removed, 
however, its programming can be changed.
     An EPROM has a small window in the center of the top side of the 
chip.  Erasing an EPROM is done by simply exposing this window to a high 
intensity ultraviolet light (Don't ask how, or we'll be here all day 
talking about transistor gate depletion levels and photo-electron 
velocities).  But programming (commonly called "burning") and EPROM chip 
requires a special device.  Enter the Super E-Burner.
 
Let's Get Physical
     I had never seen a picture, nor heard a description of the physical 
aspects of the Super E-Burner.  All I knew was that it plugged into the 
cartridge port of the Atari 8-bit computer and was incredibly fast.
     After tearing the shipping box open, I pulled out a rather odd-
looking device.  The main unit of the Super E-Burner is a 5"x5" PC board 
which holds one power connection, four IC chips, 48 miscellaneous 
electronic parts, one 34-pin port and one ZIF socket.
     What's a ZIF socket?  Well, it stands for (Z)ero (I)nsertion 
(F)orce.  It's an expensive socket that puts no pressure on the pins of 
an inserted chip.  The socket has a small lever on its side.  After 
placing a chip in the socket, pressing the lever down causes a metal 
plate in each hole to clamp down on the pins, thus making a solid 
electrical contact.  Coming off the 34-pin port is a two foot ribbon 
cable that connects to the cartridge interface board.  This board 
resembles a disassembled game cartridge, and is used in a similar 
manner.
 
Using the E-Burner
     Despite the rather sparse and inadequate documentation which 
accompanies the Super E-Burner, operating the device is quite simple.  
The cartridge interface board plugs into the cartridge port and you then 
boot your computer with your favorite DOS.  (For reasons unknown to 
myself and Bob Puff, this device does not work properly with SpartaDOS 
X).  Upon entering the cartridge via a DOS command, the following menu 
screen appears:
 
+-------------------------------------+
| CO:01 NU:00  File:                  |
| Prom:0  Loc:00000  Write:00 Read:00 |
| Type:        Retries:0000   Speed:1 |
+-------------------------------------+
|       The SUPER-E BURNER 0.7        |
|  By: Robert Puff  (C) 1991 by CSS   |
|                                     |
|      [A] 2732    25V                |
|      [B] 2732A   21V                |
|      [C] 2764    21V                |
|      [D] 2764A   12V                |
|      [E] 27128   21V                |
|      [F] 27128A  12V                |
|      [G] 27256   12V                |
|      [H] 27512   12V                |
|      [I] 27C101  12V                |
|      [J] 27C301  12V (or mask ROM)  |
|                                     |
| Select PROM type >                  |
+-------------------------------------+
 
     From this menu, the EPROM size and programming voltage is entered.  
On this subject, the docs say nothing more than "Select the proper EPROM 
type.  An incorrect selection of types can damage your EPROM."
     I recommend you find some other references to help determine the 
proper setting.
     Once the EPROM type is chosen, the main menu is presented:
 
+-------------------------------------+
|        Select Operation:            |
|[R] Read EPROM    [B] Burn EPROM     |
|[V] Verify EPROM  [E] Verify erase   |
|[N] # of copies   [Q] quit to DOS    |
|[S] Change speed  [ESC] New PROM size|
|[1-9] Disk directories               |
|                                     |
|Please Select >                      |
+-------------------------------------+
 
     Although these menu selections are basically self explanatory, 
we'll run through them quickly.  [R]ead copies the information from a 
programmed EPROM onto a disk file.  [B]urn writes information from a 
disk file onto a blank EPROM.  [V]erify compares information on a 
programmed EPROM to a disk file.  [E]rase checks to make sure an EPROM 
is blank.  [N]umber sets the number of EPROMs to be burned from a single 
disk file.  [Q]uit exits to DOS.  [S]peed alters the programming speed 
for older and slower EPROMs.  [ESC] goes back to the previous menu.
 
Documentation Details?
     Four stapled pages accompany the Super E-Burner consisting of a 
title page, a warranty page, a VERY oversimplified page of instructions 
and a page showing the orientation of different sized chips in the ZIF 
socket.  I immediately called CSS and asked Bob Puff, "Is this it!?"  He 
assured me they would be revising the documentation soon and talked me 
through the necessary concepts and instructions.
     Within the documentation, a handwritten notes says that CSS is 
working on a built-in editor which will support XE memory.  This would 
make the Super E-Burner one of the most powerful firmware devices I've 
seen.  A ROM chip could be read, disassembled, modified, and rewritten 
without loading up any other programs.  Bob said the revised 
documentation would be included with the enhanced editor.
 
Observations
     Now that I've had the Super E-Burner for about a month, I find 
myself rather comfortable with it.  I have managed to backup every 
single ROM chip in the house onto my hard drive.  That's over thirty 
chips including nine different Operating Systems for my 8-bit!
     But the real fun of owning an EPROM burner is in firmware 
modifications.  By disassembling, modifying and rewriting parts of ROM 
code, I've managed to make my 130XE run in high speed mode with my US 
Doubler drives, regardless of what disk/DOS I boot; I've made a stock 
1050, US Doubler 1050 and an XF551 all respond to drive numbers higher 
than D4:; and I'm working on modifying my SpartaDOS X cartridge to use 
the standard SIO vector so it will work with a Multiplexer.
     All things considered, I am very impressed with the Super E-Burner.  
It is a well built, extremely fast, and (so far) reliable unit.  In my 
opinion, it is well worth the price (which as of this writing, is 
$169.95 + $8 S/H).  Kudos to Bob Puff and the gang at CSS!
 
-- 
 Michael Current, Cleveland Free-Net 8-bit Atari SIGOp   -->>  go atari  <<--
   The Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG is the Central Atari Information Network
      Internet: currentm@carleton.edu / UUCP: ...!umn-cs!ccnfld!currentm
     BITNET: currentm%carleton.edu@{interbit} / Cleveland Free-Net: aa700





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