[28C64 Programmer] Project log #3

Wow. It’s been a while since I posted an update. Since last time, I ordered PCBs from OSHPark. I found an excellent Arduino Uno template for Eagle that I used to make my shield.

I designed the board using my schematics in Eagle. It’s the first time I’ve made a board in Eagle; I used auto-routing and hoped for the best.

To my eyes, the boards looked excellent when uploaded to OSHPark. Two weeks later, I got the boards in the mail!

Here’s one of the boards with some of the components. In the next project log, I hopefully have a finished version with mounted components to show.


PiDP-8/I: A modern PDP-8/I replica

I’m very excited about this. Today my PiDP-8/I-kit arrived  safely in the mail from Oscar Vermeulen. This is the same Oscar that made the KIM-1 replica that I’ve written about before. From what I’ve heard, Oscar has sold 250 of these kits in the first run, with another following later in the year.

I had to peek at the front panel, looks very good!

I had to peek at the front panel, looks very good!

I’ve been following this kit since it was announced, as I was very impressed with the KIM Uno. Hopefully, this won’t be the last kit Oscar makes (but he sure deserves a break after this!).

I’ll make more posts as I build and use this replica. :-)


[Minicade] Parts

Previously posted on Hackaday

Since my last update, I’ve ordered and received the controller parts that I will be using for the controller. For this project I made it simple an ordered a 2-player starter pack from ArcadeWinkel based in the Netherlands. I don’t have any experience with starter kits, or arcade parts for that matter, but the quality of the kit seemed nice enough for this first project :-)

The kit arrived in the first week of May, so I’ve had the parts lying around for a while now. Here’s a nice picture of everything lined up on my kitchen table:

The kit contains (copied from the store page):

  • 2x Balltop Arcade Fighter Joystick (top mount)
  • 20x Concave classic push button (6x button layout + 2x pinball+ 4x service / menu / PC + 2x insert coin)
  • Start player 1 push button
  • Start player 2 push button
  • iPac 2 player with USB cable (New 2015 version!)
  • GND cable (.187 connectors)
  • Microswitches

Now I just have to get around to building the actual enclosure, for which I’ve bought all the materials I’m going to need. I’m hoping to get the build done in the next few weeks, and then start with the electronics and software configuration.


[Minicade] Control Panel

Previously posted on Hackaday

A few weeks ago, I joined the Project MAME group on Facebook. If you’re the least bit interested in building your own arcade cabinet and/or controls, I suggest you join! Looking at some nice bartop cabinet builds posted in the group, I got in contact with one of the members who shared a two-player control panel layout with me in PSD format. Using this, I made a 3D sketch of what my panel will look like (using SketchUp):

The dimensions are 525 mm x 185 mm x 10 mm, and in my real build it will likely be in MDF. I’ll need to route some mounting holes so that the buttons and sticks, but that’s a later issue.

That’s it for now! :-)


[Minicade] About Parts

Previously posted on Hackaday

How quick the weeks go by: it’s already been three weeks since my last update. Since I made my mockup I’ve done a lot of research on control panel layouts, and been looking at other DIY desktop controllers to get inspiration. I’ve not yet decided on how I should make mine, except that it will be a two-player panel with six buttons for each player in a Capcom-style layout.

As for components, I ordered the parts today! I’m going with ball top joysticks and concave pushbuttons. I’ll be using the iPac keyboard encoder for two players. Even though I’m planning to have an internal Raspberry Pi I’m still going with an encoder, mainly because they are easy to use but also so that I can easily connect the controls to a regular PC.

Speaking of the Raspberry Pi: I’m probably going to go with a Model 2 B as it seems to be the most powerful one. I’m been toying with the idea of having an internal Mini-ITX motherboard and just run Windows 7 on the thing, but I’ll most likely go with the RPi because it’s a heck of a lot cheaper.


[Minicade] Very first mockup

Previously posted on Hackaday

While I haven’t made any design sketches yet, I wanted to quickly make a prototype so that I could get a feel of the size of the control panel and placement of the buttons and sticks. I threw something together under an hour using foamcore, cardboard and tape. I also had two Tac-2 joysticks that I used as a reference for the sticks.

I’m quite happy with the mockup actually! I found that its length was a tad too short so that the panel felt crowded when two people were using the sticks and buttons, but this will be addressed in the next iterations.


[Minicade] Introduction

Previously posted on Hackaday

I love old games. They remind of simpler times when games where games, and not Hollywood-blockbuster-wannabes like Call of Duty and the like. For a long time I’ve wanted to have an arcade cabinet, but I just don’t have any space for a full cab. There are bartops and the like, but they’re not very portable with their built-in screens and you can’t hide it away if you need the space for something else.

Enter the Minicade. It’s meant to be roughly the size of an X-Arcade Dual joystick, but with a built-in computer (Raspberry Pi most likely) that runs a frontend and emulators. On the back there will be connectors for connecting the Minicade to a regular TV using HDMI (and also power jack, Ethernet, additional USB ports…). This means that the Minicade will be a standalone device that you could bring to your friends when you want to play some classic arcade games!


KIM Uno has arrived

So a while ago I bought the KIM Uno from Oscar Vermeulen, which is a replica of the single-board computer MOS KIM-1 (launched in 1976, and was very successful due to its low price). Despite my horrible soldering skills, I assembled the kit and everything seems to work. Here you can see the computer running MicroChess, using my Macbook as a vintage-looking terminal:

Playing MicroChess on the KIM Uno.

Playing MicroChess on the KIM Uno.

It would be fun to play classics such as Colossal Cave Adventure on this (I found a “port” to the MOS 6502 on Github), but with the firmware I’m using the KIM Uno emulates only 1K of RAM.

If you like this, check out Oscar Vermeulen’s PDP-8/I replica project, which I’m definitely buying.


[28C64 Programmer] Project log #2

I made this first schematic for the prototype (click to expand) that uses the Arduino Uno rather than a dedicated ATmega328 microcontroller. I haven’t wired it up yet, but the circuit is quite simple so it should be no problems.

I’ll make another update when I’ve wired everything up on my breadboard!


[28C64 Programmer] Project log #1

For a long while I’ve wanted to do an electronics project. One of my goals is to make a complete computer from scratch, using an 8-bit microprocessor. But in order to build an 8-bit computer, I need a way to program ROM-chips. This is because when (most) CPUs boot up, they need to fetch the initial program from somewhere, and this somewhere is usually in ROM. My idea for a first project is therefore to make an ATMega-powered programmer for EEPROMs, specifically 286C4s. The entire project will be open source (both software and hardware).

My plan is to develop this project in incremental steps, roughly as follows:

  • Prototype A on solderless breadboard, controlled by an Arduino Uno
  • Prototype B on solderless breadboard with dedicated ATmega328 microcontroller.
  • Standalone Revision A on stripboard

It’s likely that I will go on and produce Revision B with a custom printed circuit board.

In my next update, I’ll post the first schematic and a picture of the wired-up prototype A.