Moving to Hugo

By apam |  Dec 5, 2019  | website, hugo

I'm in the process of moving this site from a wordpress.com site to a Hugo generated site served by my VPS. This way I can use my domain name and not have to pay extra.

So far I've moved all the posts over, but still have to work on the about page and door page.

I'll try and update a bit more often, I haven't been doing much in the RC2014 area lately, but still am plugging away on MagickaBBS and my door games.

Pi Zero Terminal & The Missing Module

By apam |  Aug 20, 2019  | cp/m, rc2014, retro-computer, sc114, z80

Today I built 2 modules, The Pi Zero Terminal module, which allows me to use the RC2014 without a computer (well it uses a Raspberry Pi Zero, so still uses a computer I suppose).

It worked, but the mini OS on the SD-Card (for the zero) was compiled for use with a UK keyboard. Luckily the source is available online, so I could compile it with US keyboard support.

Pi Zero Terminal

I noticed I had a spare 40-pin header left over from the Pi Zero kit, and the missing module was missing headers (still waiting on them) so I decided to break it up and build this module.

It worked first go which I was pleased about. By worked, I mean booted CP/M just fine, however the RX and TX LEDs (The yellow and red LEDs) don’t seem to light up. Not sure if I have wired them incorrectly or if I’m not transmitting / receiving enough in my tests to get them to light up long enough to see.

The Missing Module

So what’s next? Well, I still haven’t gotten to my goal of connecting to a BBS with my Z80 computer, that’s going to require two serial ports, and some kind of wifi modem. So the next project will be to build a SIO/2 dual serial port module, a baseboard that can fit it and a new Z80 CPU module.

I have a few baseboards I bought on eBay, and am getting the CPU / RAM / ROM module and SIO/2 module printed. It’s mostly waiting for the parts to arrive now, and some I am yet to order.

SC114 Built

By apam |  Aug 16, 2019  | sc114, retro-computer, z80

SC114 Built

Today I built Stephen Cousins’ SC114 I had been waiting for the headers to arrive from China, but found I had some extra 40pin female headers from my RC2014 kit, and had a 6 pin male header from an Arduino.

It didn’t work when I plugged it in, but after scratching my head for a while I found a bad solder joint, so I fixed it and now it works. 🙂

I plan to use this with Karl Brokstad’s “61c The Missing Module” but I need to wait for the extra headers to arrive to build that.

Enclosure Arrived

By apam |  Aug 15, 2019  | rc2014, retro-computer, z80

My RC2014 enclosure arrived today. Looks good I think!

Enclosure Arrived!

It came with an extra long reset button, but I didn’t install it, instead I will have to use a pencil or something to press the button in the top left hole.

Strangely the LED stopped working, and I thought oh no I broke the whole thing, but it still seems to work even though the LED isn’t lighting up.

If I had known that I was going to break the LED, I’d probably have bought the Spectrum coloured one (which doesn’t have a transparent layer to show the LED.)

Panic Stations!

By apam |  Aug 10, 2019  | rc2014, retro-computer, z80

Today I got some wire to enable port 1 & 2 and 7 & 8 on my RC2014. I wanted to do this before my official wooden case arrived as I didn’t want to be pulling it apart once I got it in there.

So I started soldering away, and then clipping the extra bits off (which you probably should really wear protective eye wear while doing.) All seemed to go okay. I used my solder sucker for the first time as a couple of times I bridged gaps.

Anyway, I plugged it back in, and…. gibberish. Oh no!

So I inspected the board and noticed I had damaged one of the data tracks, must have been when I was clipping.

I used a bit of wire to bridge the damage tracks.

Dodgy Repair Job

After a few false starts. (I plugged in the clock module wrong) It works again. Phew.

New Projects

By apam |  Jul 31, 2019  | rc2014, retro-computer, z80, z88dk

I’ve spent the last few days learning z88dk and deciding what to build next.

With z88dk I can build C programs for my RC2014, I’ve started building a little library to work with the display using ANSI codes, as it seems like the conio stuff isn’t supported on the RC2014. Then I plan on trying to write some games. I’m not sure how I’ll go as I’ve never had only 32k of RAM before!

At present I can test my programs using my RC2014, via the hexload BASIC program (It loads binary programs and jumps to them), but I’d like to be able to save them and have a disk to work with. So, my next project is to get CP/M going.

To do this, I’m planning on building Stephen Cousins’ SC114 and Karl Brokstad’s 61c “The Missing Module”. I got the board for the 61c from ebay, and decided to source the parts myself this time instead of buying kits on Tindie.

So, now it’s waiting for all my parcels to arrive 🙂

Works! First go too :D

By apam |  Jul 27, 2019  | rc2014, retro-computer, z80

It Works!

So I couldn’t wait until Monday for my FTDI cable and went to Allen’s electronics, who happened to have something similar, so I bought that.

Got home, spent a little while fussing over getting minicom working, plugged it in, and it worked!

RC2014 Complete..

By apam |  Jul 24, 2019  | rc2014, retro-computer, z80

RC2014 Complete

I got stuck in and finished this today, I did the RAM Module, Clock Module and Base-Board then stuck everything together.

If I thought soldering was nerve racking, pushing ICs into sockets was worse! I don’t know how many pins I bent and unbent before getting them all in – too many!

I can’t test it yet, I have a Pi Serial module, but I’m not going to build that until I can see this working, which will require an FTDI USB to Serial cable, which I don’t have.

I’m pretty pleased with my work, but knowing my luck, I’m not really expecting it to actually work.

Ram & Serial Modules Done!

By apam |  Jul 23, 2019  | rc2014, retro-computer, z80

The first module I did today was the Serial Module. I ran into some problems,

One of the holes for one of the resisters was covered over. I must have spilled some solder or something. I eventually got it though.

Another problem was I broke the connection pins one pin to short, so I’ve had to solder the connection out of two segments… It looks OK.

The third problem one of the IC sockets the pin was bent and hadn’t gone through the hole, and I didn’t notice until after I started soldering… oops. Fixed that one too.

Serial Module

After solving those problems, I decided I’d have a go at another one. So I did the RAM module. That one was fairly easy, no troubles there.

Serial Module

So I still have the ROM module, the clock module and the base board and I also have a Pi Zero serial module as well to do, but they will wait for another day.

Cpu Module... Done!

By apam |  Jul 22, 2019  | rc2014, retro-computer, z80

Last year some time I bought an RC2014 kit to build, I started with the CPU module, but stuffed it up, so I ordered a replacement CPU module but didn’t have the courage to try putting it together.

I decided this week I was going to build it, and today I started with the CPU module. Now, my soldering skills are somewhere between none and basic and my hands wobble when I am concentrating, but I think I did alright!

Z80 CPU Module

I haven’t plugged in the CPU yet, I thought I’d wait until the rest was built before plugging in ICs. I think it looks ok, though there are a couple of spots I’m a bit nervous about. Time will tell if it will actually work when I’m finished with it.