Category Archives: Projects

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew – serial port part 2

It didn’t work. Not straight away, anyhow. Once I’d wired up the 6551 ACIA chip, my UART of choice to give the Zolatron 64 a serial port, I threw together some code to test it. It was pretty simple – it took my already known-good code that prints a message to the LCD and added to that a routine to… Read more »

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew – serial port part 1

So far, the Zolatron 64 6502-based homebrew computer has output (a 16×2 LCD screen) but nothing in the way of input. I have toyed with the idea of getting it to output to, say, HDMI using a Teensy as an intermediary. And also of giving it a PS/2 keyboard input (the latter still being a possibility). But in the end… Read more »

ESP32 room thermometer: with 18650 battery level indicator

It seemed like a good idea at the time. The TTGO ESP32 microcontroller board that I’m using for a room thermometer project comes with a battery connect and charging circuitry for a Li-Ion cell. It would be so much easier to deploy the thermometer if I could run it off a battery. And it works. Kinda. There are issues, though…. Read more »

Battery-powered ESP32 IoT room thermometer with OLED display

A while back, I made a couple of ESP8266-based room thermometers. These have been beavering away happily ever since – one on the desk in my office and one in the living room (or salon as we say in France). The only significant change I’ve made to them is to add the capability for them to report temperatures to an… Read more »

The Dawnclock – back from the dead

I’d been waiting for this moment. I’m not a electronics or coding expert and so, sooner or later, I expect all of my projects to die. But the Dawnclock just kept on living – right up to the point when it didn’t. I first blogged about this project in January 2013, which means that it’s been operating for eight years…. Read more »

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew computer – first boot

Okay, so the headline is overstating matters a little, but this thing is making progress. Here’s a quick series recap: I decided to brew my own 6502-based computer. Rather than start from nothing, I built a kit, with partial success. And I’ve been following along with Ben Eater’s 6502 project on YouTube. Both taught me a lot. However, even before… Read more »

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew computer & Ben Eater’s project – changes to the ROM

In my previous post, I mentioned how, while I’m following along with Ben Eater’s 6502-based homebrew computer project, I’m also making some revisions of my own. One of these is to use my own address decoding scheme. So far, things are working okay, but that post included a note about how I’m going to have to make some changes to… Read more »

Following Ben Eater’s 6502 project – parts 5 & 6

Back in the first half of February, Ben Eater added parts 5 and 6 of his YouTube series on building a 6502-based homebrew computer. The enhancements he made gave the computer something it has been sorely lacking – memory. And the reason the computer needed memory was so it could have a stack. Up to that point, the code had… Read more »

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew computer – new address mapping and decoding

Although it is possibly the slowest computer development programme in history, my Zolatron 64 6502-based homebrew design has made some progress. And this is largely due to the fine folks over at the 6502.org forum. Specifically, I have made changes to how I’m mapping the 64KB address space and the decoding I’m using to do that. I’ve been following along… Read more »

Following Ben Eater’s 6502 project – part 4

Ben Eater’s exciting 6502 project has reached the next stage – adding a display. But before I could play along, I had some remedial work to do. I’d achieved the previous stage of being able to get the LEDs to light up, but not reliably. Something was glitching and would cause the machine to go haywire. This isn’t entirely surprising… Read more »

Following Ben Eater’s 6502 project – parts 1-3

No, this is not a post about stalking. I’ve been toying with a design for a simple 6502-based homebrew computer for a while now. I’ve built a kit and am in the middle of laying out the schematic for the first board for my own design. So I was thrilled when Ben Eater, one of the best educators on YouTube,… Read more »

SmartParallel: troubleshooting with logic analyser and scope

Well, it does seem that the problem I’ve been having with the SmartParallel board is indeed that horror of horrors – the intermittent fault. Or perhaps something weirder. This is some kind of quantum device – it works only when being observed. Setting up a server The SmartParallel was working perfectly for a few days. Then I didn’t use it… Read more »

SmartParallel: tracking down a problem

Hmm… maybe I spoke too soon. No sooner had I congratulated myself on a completed project than a problem raised its ugly head. And it was one that required some tracking down. And so, as this blog is my lab notebook, I thought I’d share what happened, as I always find other people’s tales of troubleshooting to be illuminating. One… Read more »

SmartParallel: mission accomplished

It’s done. For now. After weeks of dithering, I finally got around to making up one of my SmartParallel serial-to-parallel printer interface PCBs. I chose to solder the components – mostly surface mount – by hand and that went easier than I expected. The only snag was that it didn’t work. Not right away, at least. And finding out where… Read more »

Building a photo digitiser

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Regular readers will know that, in real life, I’m a photographer. And I’ve been one for a long time, which means many of my images were shot on film. They’re not going much good just sitting in filing cabinets – I need digital copies, which is where this project comes in. But first, some caution is required: if you like… Read more »