Author Topic: Brother (possibly also some Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards  (Read 10783 times)

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Offline MarkMLl

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Current Brother/Bernina domestic sewing and embroidery machines have a slot for a memory card, and a USB host connector into which a standard Flash stick can be plugged.

Older machines only have a card slot, and transferring embroidery instructions from a PC (e.g. prepared using Inkscape/Inkstitch) to the machine relies on having a special memory card and a card writer... both of which are scarce and expensive.

I have seen a number of questions before relating to these cards and readers, but it seemed that nobody made much progress. I now have a sacrificial card (not part of a burnt offering) over which I have been waving test probes and magnifier.

The card is 40-pin, not 41-pin as sometimes reported. The connector is an AMP 175564 with 1mm pitch, it's comparable with a single row of a PCMCIA connector. One of the "ears" at the end is slightly thinner than the other, and this identifies pin 1.

Most of the pins connect both to the chip (a die under an epoxy blob) and to tracks cut when the PCB was guillotined to size. The pin layout corresponds roughly to the die, i.e. it's either an ASIC or Brother selected a type of chip when they first specified the slot and has been able to continue sourcing it.

I've not got an extender so so far at least haven't been able to tack testgear onto it, and without having done that I'm not going to guess which power connection is Vcc and which 0V.

This is where I'm at with pin functions:

Code: [Select]
1 to pin 40 (presence detection?)
 2 power (also pin 39), copper fill on front of PCB
 3 power (also pin 38), copper fill on back of PCB
 4 n/c
 5 unpopulated R, other end off-board
 6 R, chip, off-board
 7 R, chip, off-board
 8 R, chip, off-board
 9 R, chip, off-board
10 n/c
11 R, chip, off-board
12 R, chip, off-board
13 R, chip, off-board
14 R, chip, off-board
15 R, chip, off-board
16 R, chip, off-board
17 n/c
18 R, chip, off-board
19 R, chip, off-board
20 R, chip, off-board
21 R, chip, off-board
22 R, chip, off-board
23 R, chip, off-board
24 R, chip, off-board
25 R, chip, off-board
26 R, chip, off-board
27 R, chip, off-board
28 R, chip, off-board
29 R, chip, off-board
30 R, chip, off-board
31 R, chip, off-board
32 R, chip, off-board
33 off-board
34 R, chip, off-board
35 R, chip, off-board
36 R, chip, off-board
37 R, chip, off-board
38 power (also pin 3)
39 power (also pin 2)
40 to pin 1 (presence detection?)

So that's about 29 logic connections plus power, which I think is compatible with there being an IDE controller (without DMA etc.) plus storage under the blob.

Contributed in the hope that this is useful to somebody at some point.

MarkMLl
« Last Edit: December 27, 2021, 08:40:16 am by MarkMLl »
 

Offline amyk

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2020, 03:09:35 am »
Could you post some pictures?

What's the approximate capacity of the card?

If I were to take a wild guess, I would go with parallel NOR flash or even NAND flash (if capacities are high).

Opening up the machine and seeing what traces go where would also help, as would the reader/writer.
 

Online james_s

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2020, 04:15:27 am »
IDE seems unlikely, I'd expect it to be some kind of bare ROM. My partner has a Bernina embroidery machine that belonged to my grandmother, I think it uses the same type of cards. I recall if we have the reader, we have the software but the dongle was lost somewhere in the process of cleaning out the house and dividing things up after she passed away. I'd love to find a crack for that, I'm not inclined to give Bernina more money when my grandmother already paid a fortune for it.
 

Offline helius

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2020, 04:30:43 am »
Many of these old machines used BeeCards or JEIDA cards.
 

Offline MarkMLl

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2020, 09:02:20 am »
Many of these old machines used BeeCards or JEIDA cards.

Wp shows the Beecard to have sliding contacts, and JEIDA is described as being variously 88 or 68 pins.

MarkMLl
 

Offline MarkMLl

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2020, 09:12:20 am »
IDE seems unlikely, I'd expect it to be some kind of bare ROM. My partner has a Bernina embroidery machine that belonged to my grandmother, I think it uses the same type of cards. I recall if we have the reader, we have the software but the dongle was lost somewhere in the process of cleaning out the house and dividing things up after she passed away. I'd love to find a crack for that, I'm not inclined to give Bernina more money when my grandmother already paid a fortune for it.

My initial expectation was SPI or similar, with factory programming done using parallel connections via the PCB traces which were guillotined. However finding that all the traces that came off the die were in fact wired to the external connector argued against the interface being serial, and the fact that there aren't enough signals to provide addressing for a Flash device without surrounding glue logic argued against this being a trivial memory bus.

Hence my working hypothesis that it's a small IDE device.

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Offline MarkMLl

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2020, 09:23:13 am »
Could you post some pictures?

What's the approximate capacity of the card?

If I were to take a wild guess, I would go with parallel NOR flash or even NAND flash (if capacities are high).

Opening up the machine and seeing what traces go where would also help, as would the reader/writer.

This is a ROM with unknown capacity. I don't have- and don't need so won't be buying- a writer.

As I've written in a different post, there are too many wired pins for this to be a serially-accessed memory device, and too few for it to be parallel-accessed unless there are lots of address latches on the die.

I'm not opening the machine, unless somebody can provide a service manual (Brother Innovis 97E) so that I can see where the access screws are (and would be reluctant even then: it goes out on loan to various people with the intention of making money).

I'll tack on photos of the card later, but I don't think we'll get much further unless I make up an extender (which isn't going to happen this week).

Later: photo of front of card appended. Not brilliant I'm afraid (currently without a macro lens) but shows pin count and orientation.

Can't append back of card, get "Your attachment has failed security checks and cannot be uploaded. Please consult the forum administrator."

MarkMLl
« Last Edit: November 07, 2020, 11:42:38 am by MarkMLl »
 

Offline amyk

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2020, 11:52:45 pm »
Is this a writable card, or is it purely read-only?

NAND flash uses a multiplexed interface and would fit in the pin count you noted, as would a small parallel one.
 

Offline MarkMLl

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2020, 09:24:22 am »
Is this a writable card, or is it purely read-only?

NAND flash uses a multiplexed interface and would fit in the pin count you noted, as would a small parallel one.

I've already said- in response to one of your messages- that it's a read-only card.

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Online james_s

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2020, 07:16:01 pm »
I just took a look at the Bernina machine last night and the connector in the slot has 2 rows, it looks very much like PCMCIA. I have no idea if it's proprietary or used on other brands.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2020, 07:25:14 pm »
PCMCIA memory cards are electrically compatible with CF cards - you can get adapters which I think have no active components inside. CF is basically IDE AFAIK
The guillotined-off section may just be for gold plating - some plating processes need all the copper to be electrically connected - it's common to see guillotined off or drilled tracks on consumer gear with blobbed-over chips on board
« Last Edit: November 08, 2020, 07:29:24 pm by mikeselectricstuff »
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Offline MarkMLl

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2020, 07:25:55 pm »
I just took a look at the Bernina machine last night and the connector in the slot has 2 rows, it looks very much like PCMCIA. I have no idea if it's proprietary or used on other brands.

Definitely not what I've got here then. I wonder whether some Bernina machines aren't made by Brother?

Looking in through the Brother slot I can definitely only see a single row of pins. As I've said though I'm very reluctant to try disassembling it: I tried to take part of the cover off when I thought I'd got an intransigent bobbin-winder tangle and suspect that there might be hidden screws (i.e. under decorative panels).

Later: I've found a picture on eBay of a card which is definitely PCMCIA, identified as "Bernina OESD Embroidery Magic Card 2 Rewritable Compatible w/ Deco Pfaff Arista".

The other cards (1x40 pins) are typically something like "BROTHER: ULT2002D, ULT-2001, PC-8500, PC-8200, PC-7500, PC-7000, PC-6500, PE400D, PE-300, PE-200, PE180D, PE-150, PE-100, BERNINA DECO: 500, 600, & 650, BABYLOCK: E-60, Ellageo 1 & 2, ESE, ESE-2, ESi, ESi2, EM1, EM2, EAC-Accent, SIMPLICITY: SE1 SE2 & SE3, WHITE 3300
Viking #1+, Rose, Iris, Scandinavia, orchidea". It's one of these that's the current topic of discussion.

The file formats are well understood and there is no explicit size limitation, a program such as Ink/stitch can output a .pes file which can be used on anything from a small domestic machine to a big multi-needle commercial one.

MarkMLl
« Last Edit: November 09, 2020, 08:10:29 am by MarkMLl »
 

Offline MarkMLl

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2020, 07:33:46 pm »
PCMCIA memory cards are electrically compatible with CF cards - you can get adapters.
The guillotined-off section may just be for gold plating - some plating processes need all the copper to be electrically connected - it's common to see guillotined off or drilled tracks on consumer gear with blobbed-over chips on board

Yes, plating is a possibility that hadn't particularly occurred to me. Definitely not a physical CF connector though: this is 1x40 rather than 2x25.

pinouts.ru doesn't have anything useful under 40-pin connectors.

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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2020, 08:44:32 pm »
Yes, plating is a possibility that hadn't particularly occurred to me. Definitely not a physical CF connector though: this is 1x40 rather than 2x25.
I realise that - just mentioned it as PCMCIA memory cards are hard to find, but CF+adapter is a more available substitute if it did turn out to be PCMCIA.

If there aren't enough pins to be a simple ROM., a possibility is something designed for 8051s, where the data and 8 bits of address were shared, using an 8-bit latch.
Knowing the vintage of the machine - range of dates when it was manufactured, that would give some useful info, as it's almost certainly using a standard-ish part of the era
 
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Offline drussell

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2020, 08:53:24 pm »
My partner has a Bernina embroidery machine that belonged to my grandmother, I think it uses the same type of cards. I recall if we have the reader, we have the software but the dongle was lost somewhere in the process of cleaning out the house and dividing things up after she passed away. I'd love to find a crack for that, I'm not inclined to give Bernina more money when my grandmother already paid a fortune for it.

I have one of the early parallel-port dongles around here somewhere. 

I might well be able to reverse engineer it if I can dig it up around here at some point.
 

Offline MarkMLl

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2020, 09:24:31 pm »
Knowing the vintage of the machine - range of dates when it was manufactured, that would give some useful info, as it's almost certainly using a standard-ish part of the era

The card format appears to have been used for quite a long time. This particular machine is an Innovis 97E (NV97E, 885-V55) and has both card slot and USB host (into which a thumb drive can be plugged), but the card goes back to machines which didn't have USB (hence various people's comments about a special writer). There's no FCC code which might have traced through to something useful, and no date that I can find in the manual, but I think it was still being retailed in 2017.

The chip is a die under a blob of epoxy. However it's a very square blob of epoxy with a flat top and the PCB is sufficiently transparent that from the rear one can see that the connections are fairly evenly disposed, so I think it's a single die rather than multiple... I'm not sure whether that points to a combined IDE+Flash or argues against it.

I don't particularly need an answer to this, I got a card specifically since I knew that the question had been asked before... quite possibly by people who didn't have as many channels on their logic analyser as I have (I'm not boasting, it's a clunker but I got it specifically for this type of job). I've got wire fine enough to solder into the vias, so rather than needing an extender I think I could probably build out the back of the card for test probes.

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Offline MarkMLl

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2020, 09:28:34 pm »
I have one of the early parallel-port dongles around here somewhere. 

I might well be able to reverse engineer it if I can dig it up around here at some point.

That would be useful, but I think that the first thing to check is the pin layout in case there's multiple possibilities.

I think the defining features of the card I'm looking at is a 1x40 connector, plus a logic signal for presence detection on either pin 1 or pin 40 (i.e. these are /not/ both power).

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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2020, 10:13:43 pm »

So that's about 29 logic connections plus power, which I think is compatible with there being an IDE controller (without DMA etc.) plus storage under the blob.

With that many pins, a simple parallel ROM/EPROM/Flash is entirely possible 8 data + 19 address + select +r/w
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Offline drussell

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2020, 10:19:41 pm »

So that's about 29 logic connections plus power, which I think is compatible with there being an IDE controller (without DMA etc.) plus storage under the blob.

With that many pins, a simple parallel ROM/EPROM/Flash is entirely possible 8 data + 19 address + select +r/w

I expect that they're parallel ROM and EEPROM for the writable ones, as I'm pretty sure the original design is old enough that it predates FLASH.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2020, 10:30:29 pm »

So that's about 29 logic connections plus power, which I think is compatible with there being an IDE controller (without DMA etc.) plus storage under the blob.

With that many pins, a simple parallel ROM/EPROM/Flash is entirely possible 8 data + 19 address + select +r/w

I expect that they're parallel ROM and EEPROM for the writable ones, as I'm pretty sure the original design is old enough that it predates FLASH.
If it is that old, then simple parallel rom/eprom is pretty much the only option available at the time. Should be easy enough to figure out with some scoping
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Online james_s

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2020, 12:36:28 am »

So that's about 29 logic connections plus power, which I think is compatible with there being an IDE controller (without DMA etc.) plus storage under the blob.

With that many pins, a simple parallel ROM/EPROM/Flash is entirely possible 8 data + 19 address + select +r/w

64KB, not much by modern standards but probably more than enough for any reasonable embroidery pattern. A good start might be to find one of the files that would go on the card and see how big it is.
 

Offline MarkMLl

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #21 on: November 09, 2020, 08:00:25 am »
64KB, not much by modern standards but probably more than enough for any reasonable embroidery pattern. A good start might be to find one of the files that would go on the card and see how big it is.

According to the manual, designs of up to 512Kb may be transferred into the machine. I notice some rewritable cards labelled as "4M" but it's unclear whether this is a size or just a model number.

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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2020, 09:33:42 am »

So that's about 29 logic connections plus power, which I think is compatible with there being an IDE controller (without DMA etc.) plus storage under the blob.

With that many pins, a simple parallel ROM/EPROM/Flash is entirely possible 8 data + 19 address + select +r/w

64KB, not much by modern standards but probably more than enough for any reasonable embroidery pattern. A good start might be to find one of the files that would go on the card and see how big it is.
19 address lines gives 512kbytes. And there may be more address lines that are not connected in that card,
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Offline MarkMLl

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2020, 10:01:04 am »
19 address lines gives 512kbytes. And there may be more address lines that are not connected in that card,

Good shot sir! Although since there aren't any obvious spare pins that's probably the architectural limitation.

A fairly complex crest or logo is say 20,000 stitches, and it's a fairly dense binary format... so I'd say that's reasonable.

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Online james_s

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Re: Brother (possibly also Bernina) embroidery machine memory cards
« Reply #24 on: November 10, 2020, 05:57:44 pm »

So that's about 29 logic connections plus power, which I think is compatible with there being an IDE controller (without DMA etc.) plus storage under the blob.

With that many pins, a simple parallel ROM/EPROM/Flash is entirely possible 8 data + 19 address + select +r/w

64KB, not much by modern standards but probably more than enough for any reasonable embroidery pattern. A good start might be to find one of the files that would go on the card and see how big it is.
19 address lines gives 512kbytes. And there may be more address lines that are not connected in that card,

Ack! You're right of course, I have a habit of doing the bits to bytes conversion in my head when discussing EPROMs since they are typically sized in kbits, but of course each address reads out an entire byte.


512 kbytes happens to be 4 megabits so I think it's a reasonable assumption that this is exactly what these cards are, 4Mbit parallel ROM. If that's the case then something like a 29F040 5V parallel flash chip ought to work.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2020, 06:00:12 pm by james_s »
 


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