This 6502 Computer Project Is A Work Of Art

If you were a home constructor in the 8-bit era, the chances are that if you built a microcomputer system you would have ended up with a bare printed circuit board and a terminal. If you were on a budget you might have had a piece of stripboard as well, or maybe even wire-wrap. Beautiful cases were out of reach, they came with expensive commercial computers that were not the preserve of impoverished hobbyists.

Constructing an 8-bit machine in 2017 is a much easier process, there are many more options at your disposal. There is no need to make a bare PCB when you have a 3D printer, and this is demonstrated perfectly by [Dirk Grappendorf]’s 6502 computer project. He’s built from scratch an entire 6502 system, with a text LCD display, and housed it in a case with a keyboard that would put to shame all but the most expensive commercial machines from back in the day.

But this is more than just a hobby project thrown together that just happens to have a nice case, he’s gone the extra mile to the extent that this is professional enough that it could have been a product. If you’d been offered [Dirk]’s machine in 1980 alongside the competitors from Apple and Commodore, you’d certainly have given it some consideration.

We’ve seen retrocomputers too numerous to mention on these pages over the years, so if they are your thing perhaps it’s time to draw your attention to our VCF West reports, and to our reviews of computer museums in Germany, and Cambridge or Bletchley, UK.

Thanks [Colin] for the tip.

30 thoughts on “This 6502 Computer Project Is A Work Of Art

    1. Please, O’ Almighty King of Shitty Opinions, grant us an explanation of your subjective reasoning! Hast thou designed a better looking microcomputer? Stand and deliver, or face the consequences!

      1. No I have not designed a better looking microcomputer. I didn’t realize that was a prerequisite for forming an opinion. I guess I have to get out my toolbox and build a car before I form an opinion about my car. My reasoning is that a production computer shell would not look like 3D printed garbage.

        1. Its a vast improvement on the “case” for the ZX80, I can tell you. As to being 3D printed “garbage”, with a little effort, I bet one could fill and paint it, to a finish that was infinitely better looking than the likes of an Acorn Atom, or BBC micro case. Lets see your designs if you find this to be garbage.

          1. A real product would of been injection molded, though I suspect Sinclair, Commodore or anyone else would of loved today’s 3d printers to prototype cases. My ZX81 was a kit, but I remember replacing a 7805 on a friends ZX80. I don’t recall the case much, but there is a chance he pulled the PCB out and brought it into to work to repair.

      2. Too bad posts like Mr Aberle can’t be flushed down the toilet. So, Mr. Aberle, crawl back into your cave of self righteous thoughts and opinions. At least he could fabricate a shell and I think it looks better than some of the rush to production crap back then.

      3. Logic failure – pointing out that a statement about X isn’t reasonable doesn’t require having experience in making devices of the same type.

        I think all the shittyness here is on your side.

    2. Have you seen what passed for a home computer in the ’80s? All of the Commodore machines had at least one gaping hole at the back with a card edge, and the expensive Apple II+ had that power lamp cover that was never on exactly straight. Everything was molded with a coarse matte finish to hide imperfections. Consumer computers of the era weren’t detailed down to the micron like modern desktops and laptops.

      Reprint it in beige, rub some Microgramma Letraset on, maybe some gloss paint or acetone smoothing to soothe the whiners, and it would easily be mistaken with Epson and Radio Shack portables of the era.

    3. This was not that far off from the Epson HX-20 portable. It was an improvement over the Sharp pocket PC as it had a usable keyboard infinity better than the one I am now using.

      Later versions like the NEC or Tandy offered larger LCD displays.

    4. Mike Aberle – why instantly pull the negative when there is so much positive about the project??

      Sure it’s fine to have an ‘opinion’ but blantendly poo-poo someones work is just poor form.!!

    1. That isn’t that simple: ROM isn’t the only difference. Different machines use(d) different custom chips, memory maps and peripherals. You could however run *some* software (e.g. Commodore BASIC) from old machines on your home built system, with some preparation (e.g. Commodore-compatible jump table) and software modifications (e.g. correcting direct kernal jumps).

  1. One of the big problems with builds of this type is sourcing the LCD display. This one only has a four-line display, but that is likely the largest reasonably-priced one that you can even buy.

    The original Tandy model 100 had a 40×8 display. You simply cannot find displays like that these days.

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