Category Archives: Projects

Zolatron 64: starting point

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Having decided to build a 6502 microcomputer, I was immediately successful in overcoming the first hurdle – and possibly one of the most critical stages in the whole project – by coming up with a name for it. It’s the Zolatron – or the Zolatron 64 to be precise, because it will have a total of 64K addressable memory. However, that… Read more »

Building an 8-bit 6502 computer

So I’ve decided to build an 8-bit computer based on the 6502 microprocessor. Because nothing screams ‘success!’ like creating something that was obsolete 30 years ago. The truth is that I got into retro-computing partly because I wanted to understand computers better. Yes, I can code well enough for my needs in Python, Objective-C and Swift using sophisticated frameworks, and… Read more »

Next project: drifting off to sleep…

So after I built my wife her dream machine, I got jealous. I too would like to ease my way into sleep. After all, I’ve already built a machine to wake us up gently. So I decided to build my own dream machine. And at first, my plan was to simply make a replica of Trish’s, but loading music rather… Read more »

A little bit of an obsession

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So I wrote this Python program to allow me to carry out certain kinds of calculations on binary numbers — you know, AND, OR, XOR and that kind of thing. It’s an absolutely essential tool for anyone who, you know, needs to NAND two 12-bit binary numbers. And happens to own a PiDP PDP-8 replica. Okay, so that’s a very… Read more »

Something useful

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If you’re into retro computing, or building stuff based on SBCs such as the Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone, you’ll be familiar with a certain refrain from your significant other and even those you consider your friends. They’ll look at your latest project — perhaps a restoration of a 1980s home micro, or a simulation of a 1960s mini computer, or something… Read more »

Python on the PiDP

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I’m not really a C kind of person. And so when I finished building my PiDP kit, I immediately started thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to use all these switches and lights from Python?’ Because Python really is my kind of language. You can be properly expressive in it. And there’s not all that nasty business with make files. Fortunately,… Read more »

The dream machine

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My More Significant Other (MSO) sometimes has trouble sleeping. She’ll wake in the night and can’t drift off again. So she bought a hypnotherapy recording and a headband/blindfold thing with built-in headphones. And she played the recording on her iPod Nano that some fantastically thoughtful husband once bought her. There was a problem with that set-up, though. Getting the iPod… Read more »

Waking up with an RPi – pt.5: summing up

  The dawn clock is working well. To recap, here’s how it works: And here’s a basic description of how it works (more info & functions in previous posts): One hour before alarm time (configurable), the first LED is switched on. Subsequent LEDs are switched on at the rate of one each minute. To simulate dawn, the first 8 LEDs are… Read more »

Waking up with an RPi – pt.4: software

The software for the dawn clock is written in Python. And no, I’m not going to upload it to GitHub, or anywhere else for that matter. There are two reasons for this: first, it needs work still; and second, it would take too much explaining, not least because it uses loads of my hand-rolled libraries and classes for the Raspberry… Read more »

Waking up with an RPi – pt.3: audio

My first big disappointment with the Raspberry Pi was the audio output from the headphone jack. When I built my first dawn clock, using an Arduino, I had to buy a separate shield for audio output, and even that was severely limited. With the RPi, I thought, life will be easy because all the audio stuff I need is built-in…. Read more »

Waking up with an RPi – pt.2: lights & sensors

One of the problems with my Arduino-powered dawn clock was that 10 LEDs just don’t put out enough light. I wanted a lot more for the Mk.II, but that then raises the issue of how they are controlled. Cascading shift register ICs would be one way to go. I decided, instead, to go with I2C port expanders. I selected the… Read more »

Waking up with an RPi – pt.1: introduction

I don’t like waking up. I need easing into the day, slowly and carefully, especially in Winter. My wife is the same, which is why she bought a ‘dawn clock’. This is an alarm clock with a light that fades up slowly, over the course of 90 minutes, before sounding the alarm. It’s a fine device and we still use… Read more »

Kinect on the BeagleBone (and Ubuntu)

[UPDATE 8 Mar 2016: This is now an old post and many of the links have had to be removed because they no longer work. Things have generally moved on and so the information here is almost certainly out of date. I’ve left this here for historical amusement only.] [Updated 17 May 2012] A few weeks ago I managed to… Read more »