TinyLlama Is A 486 In Your Pocket

A smartphone-sized PCB is in a person's hand. A large blue chip package houses a 486 and the board has a SoundBlaster card and a 40 PIN Raspberry Pi Connector along one edge for attaching a Raspberry Pi Zero.

We love retrocomputing and tiny computers here at Hackaday, so it’s always nice to see projects that combine the two. [Eivind]’s TinyLlama lets you play DOS games on a board that fits in your hand.

Using the 486 SOM from the 86Duino, the TinyLlama adds an integrated Crystal Semiconductor audio chip for AdLib and SoundBlaster support. If you populate the 40 PIN Raspberry Pi connector, you can also use a Pi Zero 2 to give the system MIDI capabilities when coupled with a GY-PCM5102 IĀ²S DAC module.

Audio has been one of the trickier things to get running on these small 486s, so its nice to see a simple, integrated solution available. [Eivind] shows the machine running DOOM (in the video below the break) and starts up Monkey Island at the end. There is a breakout board for serial and PS/2 mouse/keyboard, but he says that USB peripherals work well if you don’t want to drag your Model M out of the closet.

Looking for more projects using the 86Duino? Checkout ISA Sound Cards on 86Duino or Using an 86Duino with a Graphics Card.

39 thoughts on “TinyLlama Is A 486 In Your Pocket

      1. I think it’s a reference to a recent thread about the Linux kernel abandoning 486 support. But the Vortex86EX implements the full i586 instruction set, so the issue doesn’t arise.

      1. IBM? OS/2 doesn’t need IBM anymore. After Warp 4.5x, it became eComstation, then ArcaOS (known as Blue Lion OS initially). It’s totally healthy. With USB support, UEFI boot, current web browsers etc. šŸ™‚

    1. Yeah. Came here to comment on that myself.
      Point being that this is just one of the hundreds of reasons dropping the 486 is a stupid idea.
      I’m sick of the “everything old is bad” and “just upgrade to the latest thing” crowds. Especially here on Hackaday where that attitude just doesn’t belong.

      1. You’re free to fork Linux and maintain 486 support yourself. Open-source, right?

        486-based PCs were getting long in the tooth all the way back in 2002. It’s now 2022. You’re free to remain in the past as long as you’d like, but stop trying to drag everyone else back with you.

          1. You accuse them of not being a hacker yet require official consumer software to support all your needs. The hacker community can keep their own fork of Linux, they often do with many software,, no need to keep official software supporting legacy technology.

          2. My issue was nothing to do with Linux supporting older hardware. My issue with the comment stems from his denigration of people who have a fascination with this hardware, as living in the past.

    1. Terminal Velocity! I forgot about that game! The handling of the planes, using just a keyboard, was better than some relatively recent triple-A titles (like far cry 5).

      Thanks for bringing back the memories of this great game!

      1. +1

        Though that’s really borderline.
        I had it running on a Pi 2, 3 and 4.

        The Pi 2* was able to do it, but it was very very close. Had to set everything to a minimum.

        (*There were two versions of the Pi 2. A later revision got the 64-Bit CPU of the Pi 3.)

    1. In layman’s terms, an x86/64 processor is a jack of all trades, whereas a graphics or sound processor is the master of its domain.

      The same reason why a 4.0ghz processor is no good at bitcoin mining, but a 1.0ghz RISC-based unit accels at it.

  1. I’m actually looking for a platform exclusively to use 2.8mb Floppy disks. I have a drive, but nothing I own actually know how to talk to.
    I came here for more info about adding an ISA card.

    1. I still hate the entire PC industry for not dropping the 1.44M floppy like a rotten banana and adopting the 2.88M floppy. Only IBM and Compaq bothered to offer 2.88M floppy drives as an OEM option. If Gateway 2000, Dell, Packard Bell, HP, and Apple had all decided that all their computers would ship with 2.88M drives, it’d be the 1.44M disks that are hard to find today.

    2. I think a GreaseWeazle can talk to it, at least if it’s a normal PC one. You’d probably need a special breakout board if it’s from a PS/2. But, that’s not really using it normally, that’s using it for archival.

  2. Fun fact: the Vortex86 core dates all the way back to the late 90s, when it was known as the Rise mP6. It then became the SiS550/551, before DM&P acquired it. Chris Norrie, the mP6’s designer, mentions here https://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/MP6/index.html that he included a cheeky easter egg that he found to still work on the SiS550; does anyone have an 86Duino that they can check for the same behaviour?

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