One of my interests is retrocomputing, primarily Commodore, and I have a particular fascination with recreations of “retro” online information systems. There have been several such amazing projects such as bringing back dialup BBSes on Telnet, QuantumLink Reloaded, NeoHabitat, and others like the NABU Network Recreation Project. There’s a ton of pre-Internet history to be found on these systems, and I only got to briefly experience the final days of this online world first-hand.
So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered a complete, boxed software package from 1984 called Videotex, designed by the Manitoba Telephone System no less (my home province) that implements NAPLPS (North American Presentation Level
Protocol Syntax) for the Commodore 64.
It’s been a while and I got bitten by the game coding bug again….here’s a sneak preview! More details soon…
Máté Sebők has created an incredible microcontroller-based hardware emulation of the Commodore 64 SID chip called the SwinSID Ultimate (based on the original SwinSID).
It can emulate the old 6581 or newer 8580 SID chips, run in NTSC or PAL mode, and so much more. It even has blinky lights right on the board!
You can read more about the project on Facebook here, and read a review here.
To help out I created a tiny menu-driven tool that allows you to configure the various options of the SwinSID Ultimate. You can download it here from the Commodore Scene Database.
A fairly major project I’ve been working on for the past few months is finally wrapping up. It’s a
Wi-Fi “Modem” for the Commodore 64.
Click here for details.
Finally got around to something I’ve always wanted to try: I designed my own circuit boards for the first time ever (not counting acid etching in high school) and got them made! I designed the boards in Fritzing, which is an intuitive schematic capture and PCB layout tool, and had the boards printed at OSH Park (as some of you can probably tell by the distinctive purple PCBs). Fritzing isn’t perfect, but it’s free and was just right for a beginner like myself.
There are two boards shown here: The first is a “Joystick Emulator” that lets you interface an Arduino Nano to a Commodore 64 joystick port through a 74LS05 buffer. The second is a little interface board that makes is easy to interface an audio source (oh, like the Sparkfun BOB-09964 microphone) to the MicroView (which I’ve posted about before).
I’ve already done a second version of the MicroView boards, which puts the BOB-09964 right underneath the MicroView. This is intended to be the basis for some cool wearable sound-reactive jewellery. It’s great to have learned a new skill, and having your ideas turned into physical reality is super cool!
Happy New Year! I’ve been playing around with the MicroView over the holidays. It’s an amazing little Arduino-compatible thingee with built-in OLED display.
It was launched on Kickstarter last year (to runaway success). After numerous delays, I finally got mine (actually, Sparkfun sent me a whole extra set for my trouble, so kudos to them). You can now buy them online and check out some technical detail.
I’ve also put together a few little demos with a retro feel:
Terminal and Screen Editor
This sketch lets you “type” directly onto the MicroView’s screen over the serial port, complete with blinking cursor! Partially inspired by the Commodore 64 screen editor.
You can move the cursor around, delete, and the Home key works (tested with PuTTY). Use CTRL-L to clear the screen. It duplicates some of what is in the MicroView library, but it also maintains a local buffer of the screen, allowing text to scroll when you hit the bottom.
Works great with either my C64 Font for MicroView (see below) or the stock 5×7 font.
Get it here: https://github.com/LeifBloomquist/MicroView/blob/master/Arduino/Terminal/Terminal.ino
This summer was the 30th Anniversary of Ghostbusters, and the movie was re-released in theatres for a limited 1-week run. I took my son Andreas (age 8) to it, and he loved it! Mind you, he had heard of Ghostbusters plenty of times before from me, and had even played the games (PC and Commodore 64 versions) a little bit. But seeing the movie clinched it: He wanted to be a Ghostbuster for Halloween this year! That’s music to a geek dad’s ears, so we spent a weekend putting together the ultimate Ghostbusters costume – on a limited budget. Half the fun was scrounging through the amazing surplus and electronics stores around Toronto like Active Surplus, Creatron, and Sayal Electronics, looking for doodads and gizmos to incorporate into the costume. Continue Reading