Category Archives: Zolatron

Zolatron 64 – first PCBs

      No Comments on Zolatron 64 – first PCBs

Well, how exciting. The first versions of the PCBs for the Zolatron 64 6502-based homebrew computer have arrived, and they are very pretty. Which is just as well… I say that because at least some of these boards will serve no purpose other than as decoration. I’d made some mistakes – one annoying, one stupid but survivable, and one idiotic… Read more »

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew – moving up to real hardware

You can only go so far with a breadboard. Those things are great for quick and dirty prototypes and experimentation. But there comes a point when a breadboard is an unhealthy basis for a project. And yes, I’m aware that many people have followed Ben Eater‘s lead in building 8-bit processors and 6502-based computers on breadboards. I include myself among… Read more »

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew – processing commands

In an earlier post, I described how I was parsing commands input (via serial) into the Zolatron 64 8-bit homebrew computer in assembly language. That parsing process matched an input command with an internal list and the result was a ‘token’, a single integer value of $80 or more representing that command that is placed in a memory location. Or… Read more »

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew – parsing inputs in assembly

Okay, so this is going to be a long one. Grab a coffee, settle down and we’ll begin… The last time we talked, I was able to send messages to the Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew computer via its serial port. But all it could do was print those messages to the LCD screen. It’s time to actually do something with… Read more »

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew – a terminal of my own

Early on in the design of the Zolatron 64 6502-based homebrew computer I made the decision that I wasn’t going to bother with attaching a keyboard and monitor. It has a 16×2 LCD display for small stuff. Otherwise, I/O was always going to be via serial. That means talking to the machine via some kind of terminal software. To date,… Read more »

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew – converting between text and numbers in assembly

One thing it was obvious I would want to do with the Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew computer is have a routine to display the contents of sections of memory – à la Wozmon. There’s a snag, though. The content of any given byte in memory is a number, in the range 0-255. But to display this on the screen, this… Read more »

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew – better LCD printing

A quick recap. The Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew machine is at the point where it can print messages to an LCD screen and send and receive messages via the serial port. Most of the time. The incoming messages are put in a buffer and then printed to the LCD. And a fat lot of use that is. I wanted to… Read more »

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew – serial port part 3

Listening is so much harder than talking, don’t you think? That’s how it turned out with the Zolatron’s serial port, anyhow. Getting the computer to send messages was pretty easy. Receiving them? Not so much. The first stages of developing the software were typical. I wrote code that I knew should work. It didn’t. I cursed the binary gods for… Read more »

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 »

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 »