Building a REX

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Diy rex 1.jpg

Introduction

Building Steven Adolf's REX from scratch.
Brian K. White - bw.aljex@gmail.com

Files Used
Steven advises to use 4.9 Build 162
A few pictures from the build process

Parts/Materials

Bill of Materials. Order each of these.
These are parts to build 3 REX boards. You can't order fewer than 3 PCBs from OSHPark, but if you only want to build one or two boards, you can reduce the quantities of the parts from DigiKey.

  • Card stock, such as from a cereal box. 2 pieces 1/2" x 1-1/2" per REX.

Tools

  • Xilinx "Platform USB" programmer.
I used this actual ebay item: http://ebay.com/itm/112073269777
But ebay links die after a while, so if/when the link above is dead, just search for "Xilinx Platform USB" on ebay or amazon etc.
There are a lot of overpriced programmers, and I include the official Xilinx ones in that group. There is no reason I can see why a jtag programmer should cost $200.
So, go on ebay and search exactly "xilinx usb", then sort by "price+shipping, lowest first, and filter by buy-it-now.
Then skip the cables and adapters until you get to the actual programmers. You want one of the kits that has the programmer and several adapter cables, all for about $25.
Then expand the item pictures and verify that it says DLC9G or DLC9LP, or DLC9. Prefer DLC9G most, then DLC9LP. DLC9 is oldest but would still work fine for this. DLC10 probably works too, if you feel like spending the money.
Don't search for DLC9G or DLC9LP directly by name, you will only get the overpriced ones. Search "xilinx usb" and then look at the pics.
  • "Modern" PC with at least one usb port, and a COM port or usb-serial adapter.
To run the Xilinx software to program the CPLD, and to run a TPDD server to complete the programming process, and to get software onto the M100.
"Modern", only in comparison to the Model 100. I used a 12 year old atom-powered netbook, running Ubuntu 16.04. The point is it is possible to do the entire job with very little special requirements, IE even a dirt cheap netbook running only free software and OS is enough. It did require several gigs of hard drive space for the Xilinx software though, and getting the LabTools software installed and working, and getting the special usb drivers working DID require some non-trivial futzing around. But I described all that [Here] if you want to use Linux. (TODO: Windows directions, MAC directions)
  • Sandpaper, medium grit (120 or so)
This is just to clean up and smooth the edges of the PCB a little.
Do not necessarily need anything fancy. I actually used this exact one.
Or the strongest reading glasses you can get at the local drug store.
Don't really need this. The "no-clean" flux above can be left on, or cleaned with warm water.
  • Test Hook to jump between the jtag vcc pin and PORT_EN (R3) to program the CPLD.
Just need a little section of 6 pins snapped off of one stick. The rest are not needed, but you almost can't buy them in any smaller quantity.
  • A Model 100, 102, or 200.
For connecting the M100 to the modern pc to complete the software load. If you get exactly this cable, then you do not need any other gender-changers or null-modem adapters.
  • If your modern PC has no COM ports, then you need a usb-serial adapter too, since no modern pc has a serial port. Anything will do. Even the cheapest junkiest cable is good enough, and they all have the right male 9 pin connector the match the cable above.

Assembly

Electronic Components

Install these parts:

29F800 (on the back side)
XCR3064XL
LP2980
R1 = 0 ohm
R3 = 10K ohm
C4 = 1.0 uF

All other locations left empty.

Simple Drag Technique to solder the chips with an ordinary solder pen and flux. No fancy professional soldering station needed.

Orientation of the chips:

Rex chips orientation.jpgRex chips orientation zoom.jpg

Spacer & Extractor

1/2" double sided tape
Cereal box
Cloth Ribbon, 3/8" to 9/16" width.

Apply double sided tape to bottom of REX (The side with only the flash chip and no writing).

Cut a length of about 2 1/2" of ribbon, and melt the cut edges with the soldering pen to keep them from fraying. Stick the rex to the center of the ribbon, aligned lengthwise.

Turn the REX over and add another piece of double sided tape on top of the ribbon.

Cut a piece of cereal box about 1/2" x 1-1/4", and stick that to the tape.

Programming

Program the CPLD with the .jed

Now we need to flash the CPLD (Xilinx) with the .jed file. This configures the blank CPLD into a functional device or circuit that actually does something.

  • Install LabTools 14.7 from Xilinx
Linux
Windows
  • Supply +5vdc to pin 1 of the board edge, and gnd to pin 14.
The simplest way to do this is just pop the REX into a Model 100 (or 102, or 200) with new batteries or a wall plug, turn it on, go into BASIC and issue a "POWER CONT" command. This will scramble the ram in the M100, so back up any files you want on the M100 first.
Another option is take any 5v phone charger, cut off the usb plug, cut off 3 inches of the outer insulation so you have 2 separate wires, strip 1/4" of insulation off of those, and use rubber bands wrapped around the REX to hold the red wire on pin 1, and black or bare on pin 14.
(TODO indicate where pin 1 and 14 are)
  • Hook up the "platform usb" programmer to the jtag pins with the short section of single row pin header.
(The staggered/offset holes makes tension on the straight row of pins, which holds them in place and makes a solid contact without any fancy spring loaded sockets or clips.)
Rex jtag pins.pngRex programmer hookup.jpg
  • Temporarily pull PORT_EN high on the CPLD (the Xilinx chip) by temporarily jumping from the jtag vcc pin to R3, on the side closest to the center of the board. (Be careful and get this right. The other side of R3 is GND. If you short vcc to gnd you may burn out the LP2980 3.3vdc regulator on the REX.) Just clip a test clip to the jtag vcc pin and manually hold the other end touching the side of R3 for the few seconds it takes iMPACT to program.
Rex port en.jpgRex port en zoom.jpg
  • While holding the PORT_EN jumper/probe in place, use iMPACT to program the .jed file.
Rex jed before.pngRex jed after.png

Flash the Firmware

The firmware gets written to the flash memory. This includes an option-rom image loaded in one of the 32k blocks of flash, which in turn contains REXMGR.

To do this, follow the directions for the 4.9 update. The "update" also works for first-time install.

4.9 update directions The latest advice from Steven Adolf is to use the Build 162 files, not higher.

TODO: This step needs you to run a tpdd server on a modern machine and install a dos on the M100. Should walk through the process of using teeny and dlplus.

References

User Manual

Sources and support files

PCB