A day of dabbling

There is a cupboard in my living room that has seemed invitingly handy for storing my vintage games consoles. Today I finally got around to putting in the "shelving" (actually a budget bookcase with extra shelves) and populated it with a few consoles.

At the top I have a Playstation and Nintendo 64, followed by a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The NES is not present in this picture for reasons that I will explain later.

Sega Saturn and Atari 7800, and a Commodore CD32. The CD32 has a faulty CD-ROM drive - there is some damage to the laser lens that looks like a lens fungus inside the lens assembly - but thankfully I had a spare complete CD32 drive assembly lying around (who doesn't?) so I quickly swapped it over.

I also have a few non-vintage game machines such as (from left) Jeri Ellsworth's Commodore 64 DTV, Jakks/Namco Arcade Classics, Jakks/Namco Ms. Pac-Man, Sega Megadrive Plug 'n Play, and Atari TV games. These are all-in-one device that plug straight into the TV and play a bunch of classic games.

The case of the missing NES

RetroChallenge 2012 Summer Challenge (In Winter) Begins!

The Challenge begins once again! Being in the middle of our Southern winter, and a busy time of year at work it is entirely likely I will fail to get anything of note done over the next month (July). I will nevertheless try to do something every day however trivial or silly it may seem.

Some ideas so far:

  • Finish scanning in the Hot Copter/Laser Hawk documentation and hopefully get a floppy drive ready to image the floppies.
  • Write some kind of program on my recently exanded Briel Altair 8800micro.
  • Or something else.

What will it be? Nobody knows! Tune in later, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel.


An 8 Bit Smorgasbord

What are you looking for? Texas Instruments TI-99/4a? Sega SC-3000? Commodore Vic-20 or 64? They're all here for the choosing.

Briel Altair 8800micro Revisited

As some of you will know, I built a Briel Altair 8800micro which recreates the experience of the original Altair 8800 on modern components. The kit was fin to build, and very functional, with 32K RAM and an SD Card for loading and saving programs. The only downside was that it couldn't run CP/M as CP/M requires 64K RAM and some mass storage such as floppy disks.

A couple of months ago Vince Briel - the creator of this and other retro-styled computer kits, announced the availability of a limited run of 88-DSK RAM drive upgrades for beta testing. These add another 32K RAM and two battery backed RAM drives that emulate the 88-DSK floppy controller and drives. I missed the initial run of 20 kits, but got in on the second run.

The kit arrived promptly, consisting of a PCB, a handful of chips and passive components and a battery pack. I got stuck into it yesterday, and completed assembly up to the point of inserting the chips in about an hour.

After checking the board for shorts and bad joints I plugged it in and fired it up on the bench.

Running Altair (Microsoft) 8K BASIC reported 59206 bytes free memory, so the RAM upgrade was at least visible.