A Modern 386 Development Board

Some readers out there probably have nostalgic feelings for their first 386 based PC, the beeps and hisses of the modem, and the classic sound of a floppy drive’s stepper motor. Perhaps that turbo button that we could never quite figure out.

If you want the power of a 386 processor today, you’re in luck: [Pierre Surply] has developed a modern development board for the 80386SX CPU. This board is based on a 386 processor that comes in a LQFP package for “easy” soldering, and an Altera Cyclone IV FPGA.

To allow the CPU to run, the FPGA emulates the chipset you would usually find on a PC motherboard. The FPGA acts as both a bus controller and a memory controller for the CPU. On the board, there’s an SRAM chip and internal memory on the FPGA, which can be accessed through the 386’s bus access protocol.

The FPGA also provides debugging features. A supervisor application running on the FPGA gives debugging functionality via a FTDI USB to UART chip. This lets you control operation of the CPU from a PC for debugging purposes. The FPGA’s memory can be programmed through a JTAG interface.

The project is very well documented, and is a great read if you’re wondering how your old 386 actually worked. It can even be hand soldered, so the adventurous can grab the design files and give it a go. The francophones reading can also watch the talk in the video below.

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[Quinn] Uses “Forsooth” To Win The Internet! –Also Fixes Apple IIc+ Beep

By this point we are all familiar with [Quinn Dunki] and her awesome engineering and retro hacking. [Quinn] aims her latest blog post at the Apple IIc Plus and its tone deaf bleeping beep. You can hear it for yourself in her beep comparison video after the break.

[Quinn] gets straight into the source code as expected and works through a logical process that she explains quite nicely while looking for the origin of the problem. There are some interesting and hard to follow moves in the source as control jumps around the ROM(s) all in the name of minimizing RAM. In proper form [Quinn] uses the ROM bank switching ability to her advantage as she see’s [the Woz’s] efficiency and raises him some fancy footwork of her own along with a beep that doesn’t make our skin crawl.

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Wrapping up Maker Faire with [Ben Heck], giant Arduinos, and an Apple Lisa

All good things, and apparently our coverage of Maker Faire, must come to an end. Here’s a few more things we saw in New York this last weekend that piqued our interest:

A 10x scale Arduino

[Robert Fitzsimons] of Part Fusion Electronics made a gigantic Arduino. It wasn’t quite functional, but [Robert] did manage to make a few 10:1 scale LEDs (with built-in circuit protection), 1 inch pitch headers, and a few other miscellaneous components out of foam and paint.

Since he’s from Dublin, Ireland, [Robert] didn’t want to take this giant board home with him. He graciously gave it to me in the hopes of turning it in to a proper working Arduino. I’ll do my best, [Robert].

There are hundreds of Lisas buried in a landfill in Utah.

Tekserve, an indie Apple store located in the heart of Manhattan, really knows how to put on a good show. For the entirety of their stay at Maker Faire, they had people showing off one of the first digital cameras, Apple Newtons, and an awesome collection of vintage Macs. No, your eyes do not deceive you; that’s a real Lisa there in the bunch.

Sadly, they didn’t have the boot disk to turn any of these on. Pity.

Yes, there were celebrities at Maker Faire

Well, celebrities to the Hackaday crowd, at least. [Ben Heck] showed off the electronic automatic sunglasses he built. It’s a pair of lensless glasses, a servo, light detector, and a pair of clip-on sunglasses. When [Ben] is out in daylight, the sunglasses swivel down. Inside, the amount of light received by the detector decreases and the shades rotate up.

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Analog Joypad for your Retro PC

Part of the fun with old computers is playing some old school games, and while you could play them with a keyboard it is much more fun with a joystick. You can get old joysticks all day long on auction sites, but you have to watch out. Some are digital, which wont work for many games on many systems. Some were cheap to begin with and probably worn out, and many are flight sticks … ever play pac-man with a giant flight stick?

What I really wanted was a game pad like device for my 1986 Apple //c , using one of the modern thumbstick analog controllers. Using a thumbstick out of an old XBOX(1) controller, some generic parts from Radio Shack, and a little bit of effort , I ended up with exactly what I wanted.

Join us after the break and I will show you how to get there!

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