I've been asked to look into the ASTRO-TAC 3000 and 9600 comparators (voters) for a bit now.
These are rather simple in operation devices which use the wireline card and SCM from a Quantar as a voter. The 3k is mostly of interest to radio amateurs now as it supports conventional use, while the 9600 was designed for simulcasted trunked p25 systems.
The controller is based around the EPIC SCM, but with the addition of a 68EC040RC33B 68k uP. I've used the 25mhz version of this and it works from what I can tell as it's what I had on hand.
Converting an EPIC II Quantar SCM to ATAC
To convert the controller over to the comparator use the following needs to be done
- Install 68040 CPU
- Jumper s701
- Flip the 1st switch on s501 (marked 040)
- Install a blank 28c64 codeplug chip
- Install a properly programmed SIMM with ATAC 3000 or 9600 code
Note the codeplug chip needs to be blank, the operating system won't write over an existing quantar codeplug. Just blank it if you don't have another.
- EPIC 2 CLN6961 Quantar Converted to ATAC - 00022.JPG
Like other products in the Quantar family the SIMM modules are not re-programmable to another product via the RSS upgrade procedure. This is due to the Boot1.o code on the chip which is not updated during an upgrade.
What is unique to the ASTRO-TAC is the SIMM ID jumpers must be set for 8 x 4mbit chips, in two banks. This differs form the quantar which doesn't seem to care.
3.19.001 is the latest firmware for the 3k from September 2018. If there is newer please send it to me and I'll post it.
notes on doing an upgrade
I found it necessary to change the BPID file to the universal one from the quantar upgrade. The installer only makes this directory and uncompresses the files, and it's necessary to mount it's location as a drive and run it as it expects the files to be in the root directory of it's disk. It's easier to just use the already decompressed zip file.
Also, the upgrade only seems to work after letting the SC module write for a long time. I thought the unit was flashing on and off meaning it was failed (typical of a failed quantar upgrade), but I left it and went to bed after watching it for about an hour. In the morning I checked it and found the upgrade had finally worked.
My advise to only upgrade it via changing the SIMM; it's much faster.
The wireline cards for the comarator are 8 wire and identical to the Quantar, but the firmware is different. If you install a Qunatar wireline card in the astro-tac it will fail to boot and vice-versa.
The Astro Tac requires a am29f002NBB-70pi chip. The AM29f002NT version will work and even go through the upgrade and work, but once the comparator power cycles it will fail. The 29c020 will not work either.
In a pinch you can use the AM29F002NT or AT29C020 chips (I've tested the 120ns version) flashed with the version of code that matches the running firmware. So long as it doesn't need an upgrade it will work, but if you should ever put it through an upgrade/downgrade it will try to flash the board and fail. This will require you to manually flash it. The AM29F002NT chip will be damaged and need to be rewitten if this happens, the 29C020 will simply fail.
Should you wish to convert back to the Quantar Wireline you'll need the AT29C020 chips and the quantar firmware. The older 27F010 chips will work, but they will not auto upgrade to match the quantar firmware.