Hackaday Links: August 24, 2014

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Remember those ‘cocktail’ arcade cabinets? The Ikea Lack table has existed for years, so why not make one into an arcade table? Raspberry Pi with RetroPie as the brains,  and an ancient 4:3 monitor as the display.

Old Unixes! Running on PDPs, Novas, and IBMs! Thanks to Simh, you can emulate these old machines. [Matt] put up a guide to getting Simh running on a Pi that includes running Unix V5 on an emulated PDP-11.

Ever wanted to run your own telecom? The folks at Toorcamp did just that, 50 lines, 10,000 feet of 1-pair, and 1,500 feet of 2-pair. There’s a facebook album of all the pics.

Remember last week when Sparkfun said they shipped 2000 Microviews without a bootloader? Make interviewed [Marcus Schappi], the guy behind the MicroView. There’s also a tutorial on how to fix the issue.

Barbie needs an exorcism.

Remember the [Lord Vetinari] clock from way back when? It’s a clock that ticks 86400 times a day, but the interval between each second is just slightly random and enough to drive people insane. Here’s a kit on Tindie that makes it pretty easy to build a Ventinari clock, or a variety of other clocks that are sufficiently weird. There’s also a martian clock that’s 39 minutes and 36 seconds longer than normal, perfect for the folks at JPL.

0x1f 0x000 IZO EMESS 1407981609

FPGA with Open Source Propeller 1 Running Spin

fpga-running-p8x32a-and-sidcog

Open Sourcing something doesn’t actually acquire meaning until someone actually uses what has been unleashed in the wild. We’re happy to see a working example of Propeller 1 on an FPGA dev board. That link takes you to a short description and some remapping of the pins to work with a BeMicro CV board. But you’ll want to watch the video below, or rather listen to it, for a bit more explanation of what [Sylwester] did to get this working.

You’ll remember that Parallax released the Propeller 1 as Verilog code a few weeks back. This project first loads the code onto the FPGA, then proves it works by running SIDcog, the Commodore 64 sound emulation program written in Spin for p8x32a processors.

We do find this to be an interesting first step. But we’re still waiting to see what type of hacks are made possible because of the newly available Verilog code. If you have a proof of concept working on other hardware, certainly tell us about it below. If you’ve been hacking on it and have something you want to show off, what are you waiting for?

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Raspberry Pi: the perfect machine for old DOS games

DOS

There’s a treasure trove of excellent yet ancient games made for DOS that are nearly unplayable on modern computers. Awesome games like the Lucasarts SCUMM adventures, the original Civilization and SimCity, Starflight, the King’s Quest series and even Leisure Suit Larry aren’t played much today because of the near impossibilities of getting them to run on modern hardware or setting up an emulator with proper sound.

[Patrick] has been doing his best to help out classic gamers with an x86 emulator for the Raspberry Pi. It’s designed to be a very capable DOS box with 20 MB of extended memory, a 640×480 display with 256 colors, an ~20MHz 486 emulated CPU, and a Soundblaster 2.0 sound card.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, but outside of finding a 20-year-old computer, emulation on a Raspberry Pi it probably the most authentic DOS gaming experience you’ll get.

Simulating CRT or Vector displays for more realistic emulation

simulated-crt-monitor-for-emulatorsScaled down it’s not as obvious that this image isn’t a crystal clear rendering of Mortal Kombat gameplay. But we’ve linked it to the full size version (just click on the image) so that you can get a better look. Notice the scan lines? This is the result of an effort to more accurately mimic the original hardware displays used in classic games. [Jason Scott] takes a look at the initiative by describing what he thinks is missing with the picture perfect quality of modern emulators.

One such effort is being mounted for MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator). There is a series of filters available — each with their own collection of settings — that will make your modern LCD display look like it’s a run-of-the-mill CRT. This is a novelty if you’re a casual gamer who dusts off the coin-op favorites twice a year. But if you’re building a standalone game cabinet this may be a suitable alternative to sourcing a working display that’s already decades old.

Emulating the DCPU on an AVR

[skywodd] just finished his own DCPU emulator (French, translation) based on [notch]‘s upcoming game, 0x10c. The neat thing about [skywodd]‘s build is his emulator uses the lowly ATMega328, the same microcontroller found in (some) Arduinos.

The DCPU specification goes over the operations required of any DCPU emulator. There’s a lot of crazy stuff here – a division instruction that takes only 3 clock cycles, using an overflow for carry conditions, and a complete lack of a JMP instruction – but [skywodd] was able to tease something apart from DCPU studio and a VGA interface

Everything in this emulator is built on a solderless breadboard, but the ROM and RAM isn’t complete yet. As of now, everything is handled by the ‘328, using 478 bytes of RAM on the microprocessor.

We promised we would be holding a contest for the best physical implementation of the DCPU when we caught wind of 0x10c, and [skywodd]‘s build is starting to look like the beginnings of the winning entry. We honestly have no idea when we’ll be holding this contest, but it’ll probably be shortly after the first playable release. Go bug [notch] if you’d like to speed up the progress, because obviously Twitter abuse speeds up software development.

Bootable emulator for the DCPU

[Notch], the guy behind Minecraft, is currently working on a new game called 0x10c. This game includes an in-game 16-bit computer called the DCPU that hearkens back to the 1980s microcomputers with really weird hardware architecture. [Benedek] thought it would be a great idea to turn his ThinkPad into a DCPU, so he wrote a bootable x86 emulator for the DCPU that is fully compliant with the current DCPU spec.

This bootable DCPU emulator comes from the fruitful workshop of [Benedek], the brains behind drawing fractals on the DCPU, emulating bit-flipping radiation, and even putting the Portal end credits inside [notch]‘s 0x10c computer.

[Benedek] wrote this new in x86 assembly, allowing it to be booted without an OS from a USB flash drive on any old laptop. This allows for direct hardware communication for everything implemented for the DCPU so far.

If you’d like to run your bare-metal DCPU, [Benedek] made all the files avaiable. Since the entire emulator is only 1800 lines of x86 assembly, it’s possible to load this off a floppy disk; an ancient tech we’ll be seeing in [notch]‘s new game.

Oh. One more thing. When we were introduced to 0x10c, we said we’ll be holding a contest for the best hardware implementation of the DCPU. We’re still waiting on some of the hardware specs to be released (hard drives and the MIDI-based serial interface), so we’ll probably be holding that when there is a playable alpha release. [Benedek]‘s bootable emulator is a great start, though.

Emulating ARM on an 8-pin AVR

Falling on the heels of some fabulous ‘lets see what we can emulate on an AVR’ builds we’ve seen, [Dimitri] emulated an ARM Cortex-M0 on an 8-pin ATtiny85.

The emulator is written entirely in AVR assembly. Unfortunately, the instruction set of ATtinys don’t have a multiply instruction, so that had to emulated in a separate piece of code. Even with this addition, the emulator is very small; the core is just over 1300 instructions and small enough to fit on the Flash of the very small ‘tiny85.

Unlike the ATMega running Linux we saw last month, [Dimitri] won’t be doing anything crazy like making the tiniest and worst Linux computer ever. The Cortex-M0 doesn’t have a MMU, so Linux is out of the question. [Dimitri] could go with μCLinux, with the addition of a I2C EEPROM and RAM, but don’t expect a speed demon for an emulated ARM running at 200kHz.

[Dimitri] put all the code up on his webpage, and the installation is just running ‘make.’  It looks easy enough to get up and running very quickly, so we’re sure some bored hardware guru will come up with something interesting to do with this code.

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