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 chassis supports up to 16 v.24 ports, across 8 Wireline cards. The arrangement in the chassis is
6, 7, 8, AUX PS, PS, SCM, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
To power the 6-8 wireline cards they need the Aux Power supply module CLF1580, or in a pinch you can use the quantro IPA which does the same thing. The main power supply supports 5v and 14v output, but the 5v has a limit of 5 amps. A fully loaded chassis uses >5 A at 5v, so the PS is needed to "rob" some of the unused 14v rail, convert it to 5v and power Wireline boards 6-8.
The Quantro IPA TLF6900 (800)/TLE5980 (UHF) works, but you will need to cut down the chassis to make it fit and remove the connectors for RF or wirleline modules 7 and 8 will not fit.
As there is no monitoring or inventory of the AUX PS module by the SCM, it would appear any 14v to 5v converter could be used. The 14v input is on Pins 4-11 and the 5v output is on 20-27 of the AUX PS connector. I've tried this with a little 3A converter used to power RPi's and works fine.
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.
EPIC II CCN4009
The below controller is out of an ATAC 9600, but could be used in a 3000.
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.
It's possible to build a poor man's ATAC from a Quantar chassis that will give the first 5 slots on the chassis. All that's needed is to add some extra connectors on backplane, and of course extra wireline cards.
You need to be able to solder decently and have a good iron.
- first remove the backplane from the chassis
- add the extra two connectors to the backplane between RX 1 and RX 2 ports
- re-install the backplane
- swap out the firmware chips in each wireline card
- if you're doing analog, install the 8 wire cables in the 5 spaces in the back of the chassis
- install the modified SCM and the wireline cards, and hook them up to the analog cables
You should have a 5 or more port voter now.
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.