Topic: Review : ABI Boardmaster 4000  (Read 6258 times)

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Offline porchy

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Review : ABI Boardmaster 4000
« on: September 26, 2011, 05:38:22 PM »
In a recent post I referred to a piece of test equipment called the Boardmaster and never really gave any thought that probably no one would know what the hell one is. There is very little information out there about them and ABI are notoriously difficult to obtain any info from especially seeing as though they current sell the Boardmaster 8000.

The BM4000 is a diagnostic tool for fault finding on PCBs. It has a built in LCD screen, floppy disk drive and has printer and RS232 outputs.



There is also a keyboard too which is used to program the unit, more on that later.

It is capable of testing a shed load of logic, RAM and processor ICs both in circuit and out of circuit.


Testing out of circuit is really simple. Just a case of inserting the suspect IC into the ZIF socket on the unit, keying in the ID number and hitting EXECUTE.




The In-circuit testing feature is a little more involved but not difficult.
There are a couple of test clips provided, a couple of 20pin ones


and a 40pin one, useful for testing Z80 CPU in circuit.


Also provided is the BDO (Bus Disable Output) lead which has several pin clips on which can be configured to logic HIGH or LOW and are used for disabling clocks etc. There is also a couple of test probes on this that are used for locating short circuits.


There are several other functions that this thing has such as logic traceing and V-I curve testing which applies a varying voltage to each pin of the component under test. A graph of voltage against current is then plotted. Apparently with experience this can be used for fault finding but as of yet I havent used this.

The PCB under test can also be powered by the BM4000 but again I have no real need for that feature at this time.

A great feature of the Boardmaster is the programming language which is called TestBasic. It is a stripped down version of the BASIC language with a couple of added commands to accomodate testing and feedback.


This is a very useful feature and can be used to accomodate all sorts of different ICs.
The built in floppy drive is used to save programs and to save board test results if the option is selected.

All in all its a fantastic piece of equipment but it does take a little bit of the 'fun' out of PCB repair. I still use the trusty logic probe but for those time when you get a little too frustrated this is a godsend.
Ive yet to use this to its full potential but it has seen a lot of use.

Offline AndyT

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Re: Review : ABI Boardmaster 4000
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2011, 05:53:47 PM »
Thats a nice, and very useful piece of kit!
Andy
http://www.retrocomputers.eu
Xbox Live Gamertag : AndyCTaylor

Offline Panther

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Re: Review : ABI Boardmaster 4000
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2011, 10:44:53 AM »
Sounds well useful.

I wonder if Womble would approve about such testing methods  ;) ;D

Offline Womble

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Re: Review : ABI Boardmaster 4000
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2011, 05:36:05 AM »
Board repair is about fixing the boards, not making life hard for yourself. The hardest way to do it is with no tools at all, which ironically is how most people atempt it. Its no more cheating than using a Fluke 9010A.

I would approve and I do!  I also want one!

My logic comparator is very useful but it only goes up to 16 pins, and doesnt handle tri-states. Would love a tri-state comparator that does upto 20 pin for LS240/244/245/273 and 393s.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2011, 06:12:51 AM by Womble »
Sic Transit Gloria Atari

Offline porchy

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Re: Review : ABI Boardmaster 4000
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2011, 06:46:53 AM »
it is what it is. It cant do everything and there are some obvious limitations but it is proving very good in fixing that pain in the ass 3 board psycho soldier i have.
oh, it can also dump protected pal16l8's of which are now on my site for download should you ever need em mate

Offline Womble

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Re: Review : ABI Boardmaster 4000
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2011, 10:19:09 PM »
Ah yes, psycho soldiers, littered with bad TTLs, at least the mame emulations has had some bugs fixed. Namely the title screen "garage door" bug.
Sic Transit Gloria Atari

Offline porchy

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Re: Review : ABI Boardmaster 4000
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2011, 10:22:41 PM »
That's the one, Fujitsu must have been made rich from snk on this one