Monthly Archives: March 2018

Epson MX-80 Part 1 – resurrecting an old friend

It’s hard to lose an old friend with whom you’ve shared more than a  third of a century’s worth of experiences. I’ll never forget the day it happened. I heard a coughing, spluttering noise, turned around and, sure enough, smoke was pouring out of the printer. And not just any old printer – my trusty Epson MX-80F/T III, the first… Read more »

Serial to parallel the hard way

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I kind of miss making hard copies of my program listings on a dot matrix printer. There’s something contemplative and satisfying about waiting for the printer to finish its buzzing and chattering so that you can pore over the code and find that bug. Also, printouts on continuous listing paper with holes down the sides feel like real computing. It… Read more »

PCB design: Eagle vs KiCad – the verdict

[Eagle vs KiCad part 11] Well here we are, the end of the road. Somehow I always knew this series would go to 11. I have, finally, made a decision which EDA – Eagle or KiCad – I’m going to use. It wasn’t an easy choice. Ground rules Let’s get a few things out of the way first, so you know… Read more »

PCB design: laying out the board with Eagle

[Eagle vs KiCad part 10] This is going to be a fairly short post because most of what I have to say can be summed up with: Eagle’s board layout program works very well and I had very few problems. It also offered very few features I wanted that KiCad didn’t. To create a board that will sync with your schematic… Read more »

PCB design: laying out the board in KiCad

[Eagle vs KiCad part 9] Once you’ve finished your schematic, creating a board in KiCad involves a number of steps. First, while still in Eeschema, you need to ensure all your components are ‘annotated’. When you drop a component in the schematic, it will be shown with an identifier plus question mark – for example, an IC might have the label… Read more »

PCB design: Eagle vs KiCad – a different direction

[Eagle vs KiCad part 8] So, as I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve decided to change direction slightly. Rather than continuing with the HexMonitor project to a completed and fabbed board, I’m going with a slightly simpler project. The reasons are two-fold: first, the HexMonitor board is sufficiently complex that I figured it had no chance of working, this being… Read more »

Mechanical keyboards revisited

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When your job involves many hours a day hammering at a keyboard then the nature of that humble instrument, so little regarded by occasional or amateur computer users, assumes great importance. And if, like me, you are of considerable age and have worn-out hands, then the choice of keyboard becomes critical – otherwise it turns into an instrument of torture…. Read more »

PCB design: first steps with KiCad

[Eagle vs KiCad part 5] Having got as far as a complete schematic for my HexMonitor project with Eagle, it’s time to try the same thing with KiCad. And just as I did with Eagle, my plan is to design my HexMonitor project that takes signals from one eight-bit and one 16-bit bus and display their values on a four-digit, seven-segment… Read more »