Posts tagged "Homemade Hardware"
Contains all my attempts at making my own computer hardware, ranging from simple adapters to full clone systems.
No self-respecting Coleco owner’s collection is complete without the machine that was their ultimate undoing: the Coleco Adam. Adam’s a game console. Adam’s a computer. Adam’s a bizarre hash of over-engineering and under-manufacturing. It’s all of those things, and more, which would make it perfect for this blog even if I wasn’t knee-deep in ColecoVision construction.
If you’ve been following the Soggy-1000, my clone of the Sega SG-1000, then you know what it needs most of all is a keyboard. The original Sega SK-1100 keyboard is hard to find, but I still managed to luck out and get one at auction. Let’s plug it in and find out if it still works.
Even though I seem to have terrible luck with x86-based computers, that doesn’t mean I have to take it lying down. I can go out there and cause even worse things to happen to me. Like, for instance, buying a broken super-budget PC-incompatible from 1982.
Playing arcade games at home. That’s the dream, isn’t it? Maybe get a little Columns action on the desk you usually use to do taxes? Perhaps you can even make a little test bench, get a bit of board fixing going? Yeah, that’d be really cool. Too bad nothing like that exists, and especially not well-tested and open-source. Wait, it does? And it is? Well, then, we’re just gonna have to build one.
Once I got the Soggy-1000 playing SG-1000 cartridges, the next thing to do was to extend it. In this phase of the project, we’ll take that leap from “interesting” to “slightly ridiculous,” by adding the feature I’m most excited about – at least until I get excited about a different one – the SK-1100 keyboard connector.
The SG-1000, being Sega’s first home console, has appreciated quite a bit over the years. Its price is now faintly ridiculous, especially when you consider its successor, the relatively inexpensive Mark III. Luckily for us, this console is made out of off-the-shelf components, virtually all of which are also found in the ColecoVision. If only we knew someone who’d cloned the ColecoVision…
Now that I had a reasonably clean X68000 PRO to work from, I set about restoring power. Rather than doing things the cheap way and strapping up my Meanwell four-voltage test supply, I decided to go whole hog and lay out a brand-new power supply PCB.
Years ago, I was offered a copy of the Tengen version of Tetris for the NES, and passed it up because $60 was way too much for a boxed NES game. I regret that. Let’s make one.
We got conventional ColecoVision “hand” controllers working well in the last entry. I’ve never used any of the ColecoVision’s more exotic controllers before; will they work properly on my clone machine, even though I didn’t really understand them?
In the last entry, I was left with a working ColecoVision-compatible board, albeit one with a very stuttery controller that would only work when connected to what I thought was the second controller port. Let’s fix that, and then enjoy the cheapo ColecoVision games that I spent all this effort building this thing for in the first place.
One of the most unloved machines in my
hoard collection is the Atari Jaguar. It’s not because I don’t have good games for it, or because it’s not working. No, it’s because the Jaguar came used with only the RF adapter, and I hated setting it up with a TV. After testing it out, and collecting a few games for it, it ended up getting boxed away for a move about a decade ago and hasn’t come out since. And that’s a crying shame.
When we last read about the Famicom composite mod, there were a bunch of changes I wanted to make, but left tragically undone in the name of getting in some Mario time over the holidays. Now I’m going to make a solid effort at producing a more production-ready version of the modification.
Even though the X1turbo is working again, it’s not enormously useful right now. Sure, the boot screen is pretty, but there’s so much more to the entire experience. In order to take another step along the road to it becoming a functional computer, I’ll build a keyboard adapter.
Now that the Sharp X1turbo has been convinced to start up again, it’s time to get some video out of it by constructing a cable so it can talk to a more modern monitor. Yeah, that’s right. No ugly dongle PCB this time!
Since I’ve been reading I Am Error, I’ve been getting more and more interested in the technical aspects of the Famicom. Turns out all you really need to get me interested in your console is prose explanations of how a pattern table works. Also, I get to drip some molten lead into it so I can use a modern TV! Everyone wins.
In order to get to the bottom of a mystery, I had to put a lot of other mysteries in my way first. And then also build some hardware. At the end of this entry, I’ll have actually used old hardware to play a videogame. I’m scared too.
The boards for the homemade ColecoVision clone project have arrived. It’s been a long haul of finger-burning fun to get the console assembled, but will it ever be able to play a cartridge?
When I found some cheap ColecoVision cartridges in the junk bin at the flea market, I knew I had to save them from whatever fate awaited them after the junk bin. How would I play them? Today’s old-ColecoVision prices are ridiculous, so I started building one instead.
In my previous entry, I found out that my old IBM PC “DOS” floppy adapter was not sufficient when trying to read from two drives at once. Somehow, they confused the floppy controller enough that nothing could be read from the second drive.
I got another couple of Gotek floppy emulators from China, and now the SR has dual floppy drives. Unfortunately, I can’t use them both at the same time.
After a respin of the PC88 colour video board, the PC8801mkII now has excellent digital colour video out.
I’ve been using the monochrome video cable on my PC88 ever since I built it. Colour video was a little more complicated, so I ended up designing a bunch of adapters to try and get it to work. I’m happy to announce that one of those adapters has finally worked!
Now that the PC98 can load a game off a flash drive, there’s a lot more parts of it I can test. Today, I spent a few minutes putting together a new revision of the floppy board and inspecting the computer.
After I designed the first version of my PC88 floppy board, I thought it would be fun to put one together for the PC98 as well. Why do I need an adapter for a computer that already has 3.5” floppy drives? The PC9821AP2 I own has a 26-pin floppy drive connector, like a mid-90s laptop, and most standard IBM PC style floppy drives have 34.
In the last entry, I found myself with a working adapter board to allow a 3.5” floppy drive (like a Gotek) to work with the NEC PC8801mkII. This liberated me from having to source, organize and maintain 5.25” floppy disks, and opens a large library of software for this computer without having to hunt through the used market. However, like all good things, there were a lot of bugs with the old adapter.
I wanted to get a Gotek working on my PC88, and after seeing that there were a lot of Japanese hobbyists who had managed to get an HxC floppy emulator working, decided it must be possible - even if not simple.