Computing the ’60s – Raspberry Pi style

As soon as I heard of the PiDP I knew I would have to have one. Created by Oscar Vermeulen, whose KIM Uno kit I’d previously bought, it’s a brilliant recreation of a PDP-8/I using SIMH running on a Raspberry Pi. What’s more, it has loads of blinkenlights. So why did the kit sit in my office for eight months… Read more »

VAX OpenVMS on the Raspberry Pi

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The answer to the question you’re dying to ask is, ‘why not?’. One of the reasons I bought the PiDP kit is that I wanted to learn a little more about the computing of yore, when programmers wore starched white shirts and pocket protectors. A couple of years ago or so I installed OpenVMS on a Raspberry Pi, running on… Read more »

Forward to the past

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This photo is just a teaser for a couple of forthcoming blog posts. Both of these are, in effect, glorified cases for the Raspberry Pi. And I know what you’re thinking … “kinda big, ain’t they?”. On top is the PiDP – Oscar Vermeulen’s recreation of a PDP-8/I. In this picture it’s in its not-quite-finished state. Below is a 1960… Read more »

CP/M on the Beeb

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Well, not exactly on the Beeb – more like via the Beeb. Ever since I built my copy of Grant Searle’s Multicomp I’ve had a hankering to hook it up to my BBC Master. There’s really no good reason to do this. The Zolastar 2000 (as I inexplicably called it) has perfectly good keyboard and VGA interfaces. And yet… Maybe it’s because… Read more »

Connecting it all together

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Someone in a BBC Micro community on Google+ asked members to post pictures of their setups. So I quickly snapped this. There’s quite a lot going on in there – at least, there will be when I get the time to finish it. Alongside the BBC Master Turbo is a single 3.5in FDD and the TurboMMC storage device that I… Read more »

The search for the perfect keyboard

Keyboards are very person things. What suits one person won’t suit another. And I’m very, very picky. After 35 years of using computers, I know what I like, and what I like is what I’m typing on right now. I’ve always been a fan of keyboards with a positive click. The classic IBM keyboard with a buckling spring was my idea… Read more »

PiDP: The next project

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Well, this is exciting. My PiDP kit has just arrived from Oscar Vermeulen. I couldn’t resist pealing back the protective cover on the acrylic front panel. It looks fantastic – and will be so much better when it has all the blinkenlights. I haven’t decided yet whether I will use one of the Raspberry Pi A boards I have lying… Read more »

Out on the trailing edge…

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I was raised in an eight-bit era. My first computer was a Sinclair Spectrum, but I hated the dead-flesh keys and the clumsy method of editing Basic programs. So I upgraded quickly to a BBC Micro (first B, then Master). But while I cut my teeth on Z80- and 6502-based micros, there’s lots I missed out on – stuff I… Read more »

Return to the Master

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So I bought an Acorn BBC Master Turbo… Again. My introduction to computing – my gateway drug, if you will – was a Sinclair Spectrum 48K. I ordered one at the time of launch and then waited. And waited. And eventually a friend sold me his (he’d been earlier in the queue) and I cancelled my order. He’d decided the… 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 »