Soekris dam1021: First major firmware update

A few hours ago Soren released the much-anticipated new firmware for the dam1021:

According to Soren, these are the changes to the firmware:

* PLL Clock Sync at sample rate change cut down to less than 0.2 second
* Isolated Serial port now works, note that port is at 3.3V cmos level
* Serial Port now interrupt driven, no character loss at high speed
* Volume Control now is -80db to +10 db, and phase bug fixed
* Volume Control also now have zero crossing detect
* Power Off plop can be reduced to 1/3 by adding a single 27K4 resistors, see picture attachment
* FIR1 filters doubled in size, so max 2032 coeff @ 44K/48K, 1016 @ 88/96K, 508 @ 176/192K, 127 @ 352/384K
* You can now select four sets of filters, named Linear, Mixed, Minimum and Soft.
* FIR1 coefficients are now 1.31 format, filters should be good down to around -150 db
* Stock filter now have improved deemphasis filter
* Input Source Select bug fixed
* New mode setting: Normal, Inverted, Balanced Left, Balanced Right
* The tiny bug on signal saturation on -full scale fixed
* Should now be possible to do balanced and crossovers by parallel the inputs and connecting the isolated serial ports together, more details to follow

I had some difficulty uploading the new firmware but that was due to Windows 10 and ExtraPuTTY not playing along very well. I got an “Error File not found!” message when I was trying to upload the file. When I went to a Windows 8.1 machine everything went as expected. One thing – do not forget to give the “update” command once you have uploaded the code followed by a “y” and return. When the procedure is complete and upon power cycling the board (and entering the “+++” command) you should get something like this:

soekris after upgrade crop

Both the uManager and FPGA revisions should be 0.99.

The uManager has a few new options:

soekris after upgrade 2 crop

Plus these are the new built-in filters:

soekris after upgrade filters all crop

First impressions are very good. The dam now locks much faster to incoming signals, so fast that it’s near instantaneous:

Plus we have very good news on the serial control department. Not only has the isolated serial port been enabled (to be tested asap..) but the RS232 port seems to no longer have problems with my Arduino controller. It probably had something to do with the “Serial Port now interrupt driven, no character loss at high speed” fix. So development of the ArDAM1021 code becomes high priority. 🙂

Zero crossing detection seems to be working fine too – no more glitches during volume adjustments.

All in all I would say this is a pretty good upgrade. Kudos to Soren.

Now looking forward to DSD support on the next upgrade.

Soekris R-2R: Firmware upgrade

The DAM1021 originally came with FPGA firmware 0.8. Since then Soren has released a new version of the firmware, Rev 0.9.

In order to upload it to the DAC one must connect the DAC to a computer using either a “classic” serial port, like the one found at the back of older computers, or a USB to Serial adapter. Then a cable must be made connecting three pins of the DB9 connector to the connector J10 on the DAC board.

These pictures illustrate the connections that are needed:



You use your new cable to connect the DAM to your computer’s serial port (or USB-to-serial adapter). You do not power on the DAM DAC just yet.

Once you are done with making the physical connection, you need to get your hands on some software that supports the XModem 1K data transfer protocol. This is a pretty old protocol, so your choices in software are pretty limited. One such choice is the “classic” HyperTerminal, but since it is no longer available with Windows I chose the more modern ExtraPUTTY. It is a fork of the classic PuTTY telnet/ssl client software that also supports “vintage” transfer protocols such as XModem.

Once you have it installed it is pretty easy to establish a serial connection at 115200, 8, n, 1, as specified by Soekris. You click on the “serial” tickbox and enter your computer’s serial port (in my case it’s COM5) along with the specified speed (115200bps):


You click on “open” and you get a black terminal screen. You now need to power on the DAC. Once you do that, you should get something like this:


This means that everything is fine. You might see an “I0” instead of an “I3”. That is OK.

Now you need to get to the uManager prompt. You type “+++” and wait for a second. You will not see the “+” characters as you type them. That is OK. You will get this:


Now type “download”, followed by Enter. You will see something like this:


This means that you have 30 seconds to begin sending your file. To do that you click on File Transfer -> Xmodem 1K -> Send. Select your firmware file and off you go!

firmware upload (crop)

When the transfer completes you will see something like this:


You type “exit” (and Enter) to exit the uManager prompt and you are ready to power cycle the DAC. Once you have done that, you repeat the above steps to get to the uManager prompt and you verify that you have successfully updated the firmware. You should now be at FPGA firmware 0.9!

firmware upload 0.9 installed (crop)

If are having problems connecting, such as getting garbage like this in your serial console:

screenshot terminal jibberish 2

chances are that your USB to serial adapter is not a “true” RS-232 interface, but outputs TTL levels instead. You can confirm that by measuring the voltages between GND and the RX & TX pins. You should be getting zero volts in one case and about -9V in the other. If you are getting 3.3 or 5 volts, your interface will not work with the DAM. You should try to find a proper RS-232 interface.