Tag Archives: homebrew

Zolatron 64: a bug hunter’s diary

It’s always a good day when you get a package from the fab. There’s something simultaneously exciting and daunting about unwrapping a shiny new batch of PCBs. On the one hand, there are the possibilities promised by the new device. On the other, you’re wondering whether you made some kind of mistake in the design and if the thing will… Read more »

Zolatron 64 roundup

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This is the 300th blog post on this site, and I thought it would be appropriate to mark the occasion with a summary of what’s happening with my Zolatron 64 6502-based homebrew computer project. You see, the thing is, I’m feel like I’m about to announce ‘mission accomplished’ for this project. And that’s not something I get to say very… Read more »

Zolatron 64: Creating a disk drive (sorta)

As I mentioned before, the Zolatron 64 6502-based homebrew computer (Z64) needs some kind of persistent storage. And these days there is no shortage of options. If you search around the interwebz for homebrew projects you’ll discover a treasure trove of clever solutions. But many of these involve implementing some form of existing technology. For example, you can employ a… Read more »

Zolatron 64 ROM code – write, debug, repeat

With the basic hardware of the Zolatron 64 6502-based homebrew computer working fine, I’ve been spending most of my time on the ROM software. It turns out that writing an operating system in 6502 assembly code is harder than you might think. Well, anyway, it’s harder than I thought. But first… A quick catch-up on the state of play with… 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 »

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 »

6502 homebrew: the software toolchain

Now that the Apatco kit is working – at least the basic version (having trouble with the keyboard and display upgrade) – it’s time to mess around with writing code for it. Many people swear by the now-abandoned CC65 as their compiler/assembler of choice for 6502 homebrew computers. But I’m going with Beebasm. Although inspired by and largely aimed at… Read more »

6502 homebrew: debugging the kit #2 [solved]

If in doubt, start again. That’s not a real saying, but it should be. As we saw in the last post, the Apatco 6502 breadboard computer was finally wired up but refusing to work. I’d fixed my faulty ROM code, buzzed out all the address and data lines to check they were connected correctly and determined that the reset circuit and… Read more »

6502 homebrew: debugging the kit #1

Okay, so it was time to deal with something that has been nagging at me for a while. I have this Apatco kit 6502 breadboard computer kit and never quite got around to finishing the basic setup. It takes a lot of wiring. I just got tired, put it in a box and shoved it in the projects cupboard. For… Read more »

Homebrew 6502: a new way to start

My Zolatron 64 homebrew 6502 computer project has stalled of late. But it is high on the list of things to restart once I get current projects out of the way. And a recent development has inspired me to look at it again. If you’ve been here before, you’ll know that my plan was to first build a kit –… Read more »

6502: more fun with clocks

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Things can get a little confusing with the 6502 microprocessor’s clocks. The datasheet details three clock pins which, for the current version of the chip are PHI2, PHI2O and PHI1O. And with older versions of the 6502 you’ll see PHI1 instead of PHI2. As I detailed in a previous post, the situation is actually simpler that it first seems. It… Read more »

Zolatron 64: riding the address bus

The Zolatron 64 6502-based homebrew computer has a 16-bit address bus and I want to be able to interact with it manually. How do we do that? The answer is a front panel with switches and lights, as outlined in the last post. But it’s going to be a bit more complicated than just wiring each line of the bus… Read more »

Zolatron 64: initial thoughts on a front panel

Any self-respecting retro-style homebrew computer needs two things – switches and blinkenlights. Otherwise, why bother? I haven’t got a working computer yet but already I’m thinking about a front panel for it. This will be inspired, to some extent, by the Altair 8800 and also by the PDP-8, both of which I have in the form of modern replica kits…. Read more »

Zolatron 6502 homebrew computer – clocking in

Sometimes the things that confuse you most turn out to have the simplest solutions – and so it was with the clock for my Zolatron 6502 homebrew computer. First, let’s deal with the 6502’s clock pins. There are three of them and they’re called PHI1O, PHI2 and PHI2O – except when they’re not. Older versions of the 6502 have PHI1… Read more »

Zolatron 6502 homebrew computer – a few tweaks

Within a couple of hours of posting the schematic for the main board of my Zolatron 6502 homebrew computer the doubts had already started to set in. I made the mistake of visiting Grant Searle’s site. I’m already familiar with his work having built one of his projects (an FPGA-based CP/M computer), and so I know he’s forgotten more than… Read more »