Build an 8-bit TTL computer

Very rarely do we see an Instructable so complete, and so informative, that it’s a paragon of tutorials that all Instructables should aspire to. [8 Bit Spaghetti]’s How to Build an 8-bit computer is one of those tutorials.

[8 Bit Spaghetti]’s build began on his blog. He originally planned to build a 4-bit computer but decided a computer that could only count to 15 would be too limiting. The build continued by programming an NVRAM as the ROM on a breadboard and finally testing his bundle of wires.

What really makes [8 Bit Spaghetti]’s special is the Instructable – he covers just about all the background information like the definition of a Turing machine, a brief introduction to electronics and logic chips, and binary numbers. Even though he’s doing some fairly complicated work, [8 Bit Spaghetti]’s tutorial makes everything very clear.

The computer isn’t quite done yet – there’s still a few nixie tubes to add – but we couldn’t imagine a better project for the budding electronic hacker.

8-bit computer project lands in a Philco radio case

We’ve enjoyed seeing the development progress of Veronica, [Quinn Dunki’s] 8-bit computer project. It started out on a breadboard, then moved to edge-connected PCBs, and now [Quinn] has given Veronica a body of her own.

The donor is a Philco Model 42-327T and was produced in 1942. It was chosen because it is non-functional and missing several pieces. We wonder about the collector’s value of the piece but since [Quinn] snagged it from eBay there can’t be in huge demand right now. The teardown images are priceless. There seems to be no reasoning behind component placement for the beast. It looks more like a junk drawer packed full of relic components than something that actually worked once upon a time.

But we digress. After gutting the retro wooden case [Quinn] set out to fabricate her own face plate. Since she’s comfortable working with copper clad, she whipped up a negative design and etched the dashboard seen above. It mounts in the original dial opening, and hosts all of the controls she needs to work with the 8-bit computer. Just below is where the present buttons used to be located. You can just see the hexout display for reading data from the registers mounted in that void.

Ball-in-maze game shows creativity and classic 8-bit sound

[M. Eric Carr] built this a long time ago as his Senior Project for EET480. It’s an electronic version of the ball-in-maze game. We’ve embedded this video after the break for your convenience.

The game has just one input; an accelerometer. If you’re having trouble visualizing the game, it works the same as this Android-based version, but replaces the physical maze and marble with a virtual maze on the graphic LCD screen. This has huge implications. Instead of just recreating the maze on the screen, [Eric] designed a multi-screen world, complete with warp blocks, which adds difficulty to  finding a solution. It also means that multiple different mazes can be played if you get tired of playing the same level.

This game also features music. A separate PIC microcontroller uses PWM to push out the 8-bit sound heard in the video. From the YouTube comments we learned that [Eric] didn’t write the music himself, but we still appreciate the playback quality he achieves with his hardware.

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FIGnition FLINT is a stripboard build of the simple computer

If you want people to really be impressed by your projects it’s often better not to have a fully finished look. In this case, we think hooking the stripboard version of FIGnition up to your TV will raise a lot more eyebrows than the PCB version will.

[Julian] put together a guide to building the computer on strip board. He’s using his own Java application for laying out circuits on this versatile prototyping substrate. This tool is worth a look as it may simplify those point-to-point solder prototypes you’ve been agonizing over. You’ll have to do some poking around on his site to gather all of the knowledge necessary to complete the build. Most of the components are easy to source, but unless you have them on hand, you’ll need put in a parts order for the crystal, the ATmega168, the SRAM chip, and the flash memory chip.

For those not familiar, FIGnition is an 8-bit computer with composite TV-out for a display and rudimentary input from the eight momentary push buttons.

8-bit MIDI synthesizer

[Derek Enos’] toils are starting to yield results. He’s been working on an 8-bit synthesizer that is MIDI controlled which he calls the deMIDulator. As he demonstrates after the break, the device has sine and square wave functions that produce quite a pleasing sound. But it also offers the option to record your own samples which are then modified based on the MIDI commands coming in from your device of choice. In this case he’s using a Rock Band 3 keyboard (or keytar if you will) in a much more creative way than its originally intended purpose.

For now we’ll have to be content with the demo video and a list of features as there are no other details. But open sourcing the code and hardware information are on his to-do list. Continue reading “8-bit MIDI synthesizer”

Update: microtouch the 8-bit ipod touch

It looks like [rossum] and [Ladyada] have teamed up and been busy working on the microtouch. Since we covered it last year its had a few minor improvements like an upgrade to the ATmega32u4 microprocessor and some new software. The new and improved microtouch also features an accelerometer as well as some software to go along with it. Plus its now for sale on adafruit for about a quarter the price of an ipod touch (just in case you don’t feel like making your own).

For the unaware the microtouch is a lightweight AVR based ipod touch. It comes with a bootloader which allows you to download your “apps” to the microtouch without the need for an AVR programmer. While it may lack some of the computing power and features of the ipod touch (like music), the microtouch is definitely appealing for its open hardware/software and easy to use touch screen.

Update: 6809 computing

[Matt Sarnoff] is designing his own 8-bit computer from scratch. This means not only designing the hardware but also writing his own kernel and custom libraries. Since we last saw this 8-bit machine hes added both video and sound output which has allowed him to start developing some software for his computer (see it play Conways game of life after the break).

Sticking with the retro theme of his computer he uses a TMS9918 chip to output the video and a YM2149 for audio. The YM2149 was the audio chip used in the Atari ST allowing him to play songs generated for that system with a little bit of hacking to account for the fact that the Atari ST ran at 8MHz where his Motorola 6809 only runs at 2MHz.

Via [Retro Thing]

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