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General Category => Off topic => Topic started by: MartinW on 23:47, 24 March 13

Title: Another new user
Post by: MartinW on 23:47, 24 March 13
Hey all, thought I'd pop a post up to introduce myself!
Some people may already know me - I already spotted one name I know :) I'm an admin at UKVAC where there (and a lot of other places) I go by the name 'Guddler'.
My background is mostly with arcade machines which I've been into for 12 years or so but I also dabble in retro computers and hardware from time to time. I spent a few years collecting BBC Micro kit and have a lovely Master all kitted out with modern storage solution and modern 2nd processor solution. I did try Archimedes for a while but frankly 16-bit just doesn't really do much for me. It kind of feels too close to modern that it makes me just feel like it doesn't quite work.
So, spending a bit of time away for work at the moment, sat in a hotel flicking through eBay I decided to see about picking up a CPC. I used to have a 464 with external floppy drive back when I was 18 but for practical purposes I decided to go for a 6128 this time round. I tried bidding on a few on eBay but they all went a bit rich for me. Finally I asked on the arcade forum and someone flogged me one that needed some work for £50 including the colour monitor. I didn't think that was too bad. OK, not the £20 and a pint it would have been nice to have paid, but not daft either.
A few hours after getting it I had it fully working. The "monitor could use a cap kit" turned out to be bad solder joints in the area of the brightness control and the "disk doesn't work", surprise, surprise was the belt. Next I stripped it down and cleaned all the casings up in the dish washer so they're nice and sparkly. While I was in there (not the dish washer!) I fitted a reset button, dual OS, and added a drive power cable from the motherboard.
Still trying to decide what I'm actually going to do with it! I'm a developer by trade but not really developing at the moment.
Anyway, that's me :)
Title: Re: Another new user
Post by: ralferoo on 00:10, 25 March 13
Welcome! Hope you enjoy getting back into CPC programming if you decide to... I found it great after not using one between 1988 and 2011 to get back into it... I remembered things almost like I'd never been away, except now there's a lot more resources available and emulators which make it much easier to develop and debug.
Title: Re: Another new user
Post by: MartinW on 00:47, 25 March 13
Cheers! Sadly there isn't much to get back into - I wasn't a programmer back when I had my 464. I taught myself, actually starting not long after. I basically found myself laid up for 6 months just after turning 18 from a motorbike crash and bought the 464 with the "invalidity benefit" (as it was called then) to entertain myself. Once I got back up and running work got in the way and I honestly can't remember what happened to the CPC.
Like I say, at the moment not sure what I'm going to do. I'm enjoying playing some of the recent releases - they're very impressive! And I was also loving Head Over Heals and Renegade last night. Both titles I owned originally.
A couple of Xmas's ago I wrote some demo / test routines in 6502 assembler for the Atari Asteroids hardware, that was good fun, so maybe I'll look into something. I do have a habit of starting stuff and never finishing it though. I'm half way through writing some hardware debugging kit. Must, must, must get round to finishing that as I'd love to flog some of the £k's worth of repair kit I have and downsize a bit.

Generally though I'm struggling a bit with the lack of modern tool chain. I've had a play with SDCC and Pasmo but it's a world away from C# and VS 2012 Pro which I've grown very attached to these days  ;D
Title: Re: Another new user
Post by: TheCorfiot on 01:36, 25 March 13
Hiya Martin and welcome.

I'm mainly from the School of Acorn too with various beauties such as a Master Turbo and 512 but I really enjoy the CPC machines too.
The 6128 and plus varient are awesome systems with some great capabilities, Glad ole Sugar got something right along with his nasty hifi (sic) systems lol....

Check out Future OS that's neat too...

TC  :)
Title: Re: Another new user
Post by: MartinW on 01:56, 25 March 13
Ahh, just noticed you're trying to get hold of Dave on star.dot :) No idea where he is. Lately he's been very hard to get hold of!!!
Title: Re: Another new user
Post by: MartinW on 03:13, 25 March 13
Hey, Ralf - I've just been having a nose at your blog. Very interesting :)
I've got a Digilant Spartan 3E dev kit here that's got an X3sc500e on it - would that run your FPGA CPC? Not that you've released the code at this stage of course, but if you did?
I bought it quite some time ago for a project that I've got on the go but despite several aborted attempts I've simply never been able get my head around VHDL. For now my project has switched to "bit banging" on an Arduino so I can get the PC software side going. I'm hoping to go back to the FPGA side to do the hardware properly later so will have another crack at that then. I was going to have a stab at Verilog to see if that made any more sense to me.
Anyways, since it's not really being used now I've been on the hunt for something to do with it - and an FPGA CPC would be very cool. FPGA 8 bit computers are very cool in my mind full stop! I was going to try the one that's readily available out on the net but I didn't much fancy trying to port (if that's the right term) the code from Cyclone to Xlynx.
PS: Web web site: http://www.guddler.co.uk (http://www.guddler.co.uk/)
Title: Re: Another new user
Post by: TFM on 05:22, 25 March 13
Hi Welcome here! Have fun and enjoy.
Title: Re: Another new user
Post by: ralferoo on 15:29, 25 March 13
I've got a Digilant Spartan 3E dev kit here that's got an X3sc500e on it - would that run your FPGA CPC? Not that you've released the code at this stage of course, but if you did?
Potentially, although there'd be further work to do to interface with the peripherals on the board. I'm not too sure of the specs of the board you have, but it'd probably have VGA output so you'd need something to upscale PAL to VGA rates. The other thing is if it has RAM, it's probably DRAM so you'd need a DRAM interface core. There are freely available cores to do the latter and the former is fairly easily when you have the ability to write to RAM.

If you're just doing simple upscaling like the Amiga scan doubler (15KHz to 31.5KHz) you only need to store a single line, but there are no close VGA modes (and VGA is all 60Hz+) so you'd actually need to store 2 entire frames and interpolate in order to hit a 60Hz target framerate or choose a 100Hz mode. Either way, upconverting to VGA is a slightlier trickier problem than my solution of SCART and DVI-D.
Title: Re: Another new user
Post by: MacDeath on 00:15, 26 March 13
Well, you can still play the few modern games and demo that are still releassed these days... check for all the 2000's and 2010's things...
Also nice to listen to a few AY chiptunes or test old games you wished you had while child.

ouèlcome euborde.
Title: Re: Another new user
Post by: TFM on 06:01, 26 March 13
Long for the 90ies ... Digital Orgasm f.e. one of my favorite prods from PDT.
Title: Re: Another new user
Post by: Gryzor on 13:44, 29 March 13
Welcome, mate! Hope you stay and benefit from the community here, and of course have lots of fun with your CPC... oh, and of course you definitely need to check out the latest releases!
Title: Re: Another new user
Post by: MartinW on 02:22, 30 March 13
Hoping to have a bit of a catch up on the CPC front and start to have a look at things over the long Easter weekend. Fitted an AB/BA switch today but ran out of time and had to go out this evening before being able to screw the machine all back together  and give it a test. I also finally found the little control panel from the inside of an arcade game that I knew was here somewhere. I'll be screwing that to the back of the CPC through the vent holes so I can mount all the switches and buttons without harming the computer in any way. OK, so it will have wires soldered here there and everywhere internally, but no holes hacked or anything :D