AB-Semicon and AB181E processor (Z180-compatible)

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I would like to know if anyone purchased the original
''Developers Kit'' for the AB181E from AB-Semicon, and
if they have the supporting CD-ROM, of which I would
like a copy. The link to information about this processor
is found at http://www.ab-semicon.com/products_microproc.htm

I purchased my Developers Kit for the AB181E directly from
Nextus/Ringdale ( http://www.nextus.com/ ), but it did not
contain full contents as expected (no supporting files on
the CD-ROM) -- evidently they were unable or unwilling to
produce the original CD-ROM, and instead made an impromptu
CD containing only 2 files.

This was a very recent purchase -- just 6 weeks ago -- but
I had some real problems getting what I paid for, and now
Nextus wants me to return the incomplete kit, refund my money,
and be done with me...

On August 7th, 2003 I contacted Nextus by telephone, to
discuss the AB181E-20 Developer Kit.  After the phone
conversation with Nextus, I sent a faxed purchase order,
dated 07_AUG_2003, to Nextus.

Originally I received the wrong board, and no supporting
CD-ROM.  After another phone call, I was told that Nextus
would replace the board and include the CD-ROM.  I was
issued a Return-Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number,
and promptly returned the entire contents in original
condition.

On September 10th, I received the "correct" board for the
AB181E-20 Developer Kit,  with a CD-ROM.

The CD-ROM contained only two files; one named 'X1367.dsn',
which is apparently an OrCAD design file.  The other document,
'AB 181 ReadMe.doc', contains a mere 29 lines of text, and
Windows reports the internal properties of the document as:

    Created:  Friday, September 05, 2003 10:40:00 AM
    Modified: Friday, September 05, 2003 3:07:19 PM

    Last Saved By:  Klaus Bollman
    Revision Number:  1
    Total Editing Time:  73 Minutes

This document states,

"The AB181 development kit consists of:

   1367 PCB populated and tested
   Half Shell Plastic Base
   5 Volt Power Supply"

This looks like a heavily-edited subset of the original document;
it makes no mention of a schematic, a CD-ROM, or what the contents
of the CD-ROM should contain.  However, I have a copy of the original
press release, (printed in 2-color letterhead cardstock, sent to me
by Russel Nall of AB-Semicon), which describes the kit in more detail.
This press release is what I was looking at, and referred to, as I
initially spoke with Nextus on the first occasion.

For your reference, a copy of the press release is attached.  Based on
this official press release, I would have expected that my purchased
AB181E-20 Developer Kit should contain (at least) the following:

   - 150x200mm PCB with AB181E-20 microprocessor,
   - serial cable,
   - universal power supply,
   - board manual,
   - schematic,
   - assembler, linker and C compiler software, specifically prepared
     for AB Semicon by Avocet."

There seem to be several shortcomings:

1. Wrong Schematic: I have discovered the schematic provided does
     not correspond to PCB1367. The enclosed schematic is for an "AB1801
     Test Jig (PCB 1390)" which contains a 160-pin AB180PP, interfaced
     to an LCD.

2. No Board Manual: Neither shipment contained a manual for the board,
     in electronic nor printed form.  I do have an original copy of the
     "Evaluation Board Manual, version 1.1" (sent to me in 1999 by Russel
     Nall of AB-Semicon), but the schematics in back are so small that
     signal names are not legible.  Also, my copy may have been superceded.

3. No development tools: The assembler, linker and C compiler were not
     provided.  Note that it is illegal for me to use ZiLOG's tools for
     any "non-Zilog" processor, and that their software licensing agreements
     specifically state this.

4. No supporting documentation for the FPGA was provided: In order to
     effectively evaluate the AB181E-20 in the circuit provided, I would
     expect a copy of the HDL source code for its Xilinx FPGA, and the
     corresponding UCF (user constraints file) which designates its pin
     allocations for this configuration.

5. No source or object for Debug Monitor: To come up to speed quickly
     with new hardware, it is customary to use the monitor source code
     (which includes a working example of startup and initialization code),
     to modify and enhance. I would expect an electronic copy of the Debug
     Monitor, in both object and source code forms.

So, for the moment, it would be rather difficult to evaluate the AB181E.
I faxed the above information to Nextus, and faxed a 2nd time (after 4
days of no response) again yesterday. They sent e-mail to me today with
a new RMA (by order of Klaus Bollman), to only refund and NOT to support
or replace.

I don't think I deserve such a 'cold shoulder' from Nextus; I would only
like some support for my development kit.  I would opt to keep this kit,
if someone could produce the original CD-ROM or its contents.  I would
glady reimburse you for your time, and for postage, if you would forward
a copy to me.

--
Douglas Beattie Jr.      http://www.hytherion.com/beattidp /


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