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EMwhite

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Posts posted by EMwhite

  1. Not sure of compatibility (all is probably made in China) but I’m giving away an original WASD case, and a set of ‘special’ keys including the pair of Commander keys and the case split tool to anybody in North America; I’ll cover shipping.

    First person that is a regular forum participant gets it.

    I’m heading West to the AWS Re:Invent conference for a week but will ship when I return.
     

    Please PM me and thank you.

    C27ADDE4-4205-48D7-8A7B-EFAF6C8A9DC3.jpeg

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    • Like 1
  2. I’m not gonna lie... after buying PETSCII robots twice (CBM + Apple) I was disappointed to see the original author crying over spilt milk because he spent too much $$ on diskette stickers and only sold 87% of projections.  Wah...

    Then came the humble brag of *robots being 5% complete on IntelliVision making it “the first to blah blah blah”.

    Meanwhile, we were suffering over here with no info about Commander.

    But you’ve saved the franchise.  Doom face, dual screen, MMU and other add-ons to boot.  Really impressive and I’ll sign up to buy a copy and support what is surely an excellent piece of work.  That 8-bit fellah owes you.

    • Like 1
  3. Interfacing the 65C816, due to its common 40 pin package (not enough pins) is not quite as simple from a HW perspective but doable if you know what you are doing.

    Not the subject of this thread, but here is a pep talk on Assembly.  I know it's a topic within the X16 portion of this site (whether or not David should have gone w/65C816 instead of 65C02.

    The bottom line is that if you don't mind blowing memory and cycles, you can do just about everything on the 65C816 using far/long instructions and yet, take advantage of some efficiencies along the way.  You'll need to be familiar with new compiler directives and macros in order to solve for the differences but it's an easy lift.  In the end, you'll be way ahead as you'll have access to 4MB of RAM if you want it, run upwards at 14 Mhz. and can claw back in simple ways with new Opcodes such as BRA (branch unconditional, saving a byte versus a [now] short JMP.

    Of course, and as mentioned, a simple processor instruction will switch the 65C816 into 65C02 mode so a front panel mounted switch could have selected this if the Kernel and BASIC Rom work could have been solved.  For that matter, a default of an ALL 65C02 based code base for Kernel and BASIC could have just been dumped in and with the boot-time switch, a micro-kernel similar to C256 Foenix could have opened the doors (assuming general Commodore compatibility of X16 was a design tenet.)

    I'm developing a tile and sprite based client for a game on the C256 Foenix, starting with a 6502/6510 based C64 Terminal emulator that I wrote in the 80s; it will ultimately talk UDP over the Foenix RJ45 Ethernet, but in 65C816.  I have a NodeJS based Express server running out on Heroku already so just need to pull the client together.  It will take me the better part of a year to complete; I just don't have the time due to other work obligations.

    Regardless of how you feel about the splintering of the community and people jumping over to Mega65 or my incessant desire to distract : ), these four videos will walk you through the basics of 65C816;  Produced by Peter from the Foenix project, he does not so much compare 6502 or the Commodore 64 to Foenix or even talk much about the Foenix at all, but does a master-class job at explaining:

    ... across 4 videos, defining a simple sprite which eventually is driven by a joystick in very basic and easy to understand form.

     

    • Like 1
  4. She is supremely talented and passionate about everything she does in order to further and support her platform, hence the surprise or disappointment that more FMX'es are not in use.

    If you watch the video of her presenting at Jim Drew's CRX (I think '18 or '19), you'll see a very different person; long on plans but less mileage under her belt.  She's experienced so much by now and upon reflection, cannot understand why there are not more people still using the FMX, at least that's what I gleam from her statement.

    In comparing the U+ to the FMX, the latter looks superior in terms of specifications; it's a rocket ship; but they both have the same core and perform as well for 99% of the workloads; the main diff is I/O and some of the Audio capabilities if you are an IC snob.  I wish I could get my hands on one.  The U+ is much more economical and actually the ONLY VIABLE option in 2021; it's brilliant that she arrived at this end.  The A2560K and Gen X will be better still and the best yet, especially now that the MC68040 and other 68K family CPUs are options.

    With supply chain matters being what they are, it's a miracle she was able to ship anything, especially in small quantities.  This only works because she dedicates 18 hrs a day and being more concerned about "being good" than "looking good" or "being famous",  She admittedly "doesn't give a F..." about so many things.  I'd like to see her Briggs Myers and compare it to other innovators that went on to succeed in the face of adversity.

    Credit also goes to others on her virtual team and their support of the platform; increasingly, evenings are becoming Christmas-eve like events as core developers in different timezones come online and post updates on progress and code; user level apps (games and utilities) are starting to surface as well.  There is no app-store or organized SW repo per se, but momentum is building.  Peri did a massive favor for the X16 community by conceptualizing and implementing this forum (I think he is the one that deserves credit for it).  Without it, many many more developers would have wandered away by now because every other aspect of platform delivery has been disappointing.

     

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  5. Foenix has landed.  Here is mine mounted to my 'wall of doom':

    IMG_5828.thumb.jpeg.e77c44abbd42e8ef670b3ff62f3f5a3f.jpeg

    Close up of the hand soldering/baking quality; the connector is for an IDE hard disk (but I'm not using that); it has an SD slot on the bottom left of the board, a USB debug port for pushing in code as well; as a cost cutting measure, Stefany dropped the floppy interface that is present on the FMX via SuperIO IC. On the left, you can see the Yamaha OPL.  On the right you can see the expansion connector and I have the 2 x SID + Ethernet RJ45 on order; it will ship with my A2560K.

    IMG_5829.thumb.jpeg.d931328a26c06dccf6ce99fd1e434be7.jpeg

    Here is the boot screen; it takes about 2 seconds to display the banner and the text below it scrolls out in TTY type fashion.  If you don't know the people involved, Stefany owns the project and design/builds everything from concept to 3D modeling, FPGA development, and HW Peter Weingartner wrote the Kernel and other tools and is actively engaged in ongoing development; he is "Tail Recursive" and you can watch his 65C816 series and FMX related vids if interested.  Daniel has written a fair amount as well including some of what I posted above.

    IMG_5831.thumb.jpeg.d1e1b43cef30b7e78f9439cd10f9e83b.jpeg

    The first thing I did after getting it installed and running was to type "Monitor" from basic and enter some VICKY II register changes to 'light up' my first sprite.  If you've done C64 development, you'll be comfortable with Sprite pointers including X and Y positioning (both of which have L_byte and H_byte due to resolution).  Also, no faffing about with memory windows, you've got full 24 bit addressing in the 65C816 so you'll note the two additional significant digits "AF" in the monitor which are the 17th-24th bit (if you count from 1).  In this case, I merely set the video mode which is a bit mask of Sprites + Text overlay on top of Bitmap, etc., enabled Sprite 1, and set the location on the screen of 128, 128.  (of course the # of sprites and color palette etc is vastly improved).  Next up, 64 Amiga bouncing balls : )

    IMG_5833.thumb.jpeg.d0a71f6b1c052a6fd831c3386889514d.jpeg

    So many differences between what is happening on Discord in terms of the style of communication and who is doing the talking and posting versus what is happening here and I know this is a polarizing topic for some, but I urge anybody sitting on the fence to have a look at C256 Foenix.  It's legit.

    If 68K is more your thing, you can get the same exact hardware and experience but with a genuine Motorola 68K onboard.  The startup is different due to the use of a microkernel which is still under development but this platform and the code base will eventually merge since it's written in (primarily) C lang.  I think I mentioned prior (or somebody else may have) that some of the community have Atari ST software in mind for porting to this platform.

    The C256U and A2560U set the groundwork for the C256 Gen X (cube) and the A2560X, each of which have many many more ports and in the case of the Gen X, an option for a 2nd processor which will be selectable at boot time.  This platform is due to ship in the next month or so, I believe.

    Then there is the A2560K which is the all-in-one keyboard based design posted above which is MC68040 based.

     

  6. On 10/17/2021 at 7:57 PM, Oldrooster said:

    pricey though

    I paid $220 for my 65C816 based C256U and it comes with the equiv. of a VERA but I might be insulting one or the other by saying that but indeed it's FPGA implemented video, glue, etc.  Also has a real Serial port, real working PS/2 (what a feature !!!) @ 14.x mhz. tons of audio capabilities and some people excited and working on it.  (arrives on Tuesday so I'll post something in the off-topic underground forum where cigarettes are currency, the way I don't get in trouble and cause more threads to lock.

    But you are correct, the A2560K is pricey @ $995 USD.  But you get what you pay for; I won't go on and on except to say that it's a rocket ship and everything they (she) makes is made by her; design, hand built, custom modeled, all of the core FPGA coding that makes it special.

    I wish it had a breadboard area that I could solder to but in actuality, the 'U' has an expansion connector off to the right of the board that is currently leveraged for either a C100 or C200 add-on; one adds an RJ-45 Ethernet jack and two SID sockets; the other adds the Ethernet and a 2nd DVI-I adapter for 2nd monitor;  I'm pretty sure the pinouts are published but I doubt it's a simple as a Commodore Cartridge port where all lines of the CPU and other is brought right to the edge, but maybe it is.  So maybe I'll be able to solder something if I can breadboard something if I can attach a connector and get docs and have the motivation and time.  Mostly, it will be software adventure.

    I'll test my theory of shelf-ware to see if, even if I don't build it that it's interesting enough to keep my attention for more than a few weekends.  I've been watching Tail Recursive's excellent videos on 65C816 assembly in the context of the Foenix and Vicky II sprites.

    But back on topic, I wanted to add that I bought one of those high-end hand-held desoldering pump irons last December from Amazon, really makes recapping a pleasure.  And one of my prize possessions is an Army issue Weller with all of the tips/attachments including the DIP attachments.

  7. I’ll build anything, but prefer thru-hole.  My body isn’t as forgiving as it used to be and I struggle to read cap values and resistor colors; but I’ve built small (MiniPet), medium (Corsham Kim-1) and large projects (crOwBX); the latter is a synth DIY.

    If the X16 ever materialized in kit form, I’d be early to buy one or two.  I’ve always (only) been interested in the expansion slots and ability to connect my stockpile of Commodore peripherals.  If an SBC, not interested.

    Not that I’m against single board computers, just that they need a purpose in order to be anything other than flash-in-the-pan shelfware.  Otherwise, it’s an appliance like the pasta maker or the bread machine that was the rage but now...?

    Maybe it’s the personal interest in ‘owning’ something that you built that makes it seem more special and maybe if I didn’t think it was special in the first place, I wouldn’t have bothered buying and building it.

    X16-lite or X8 or whatever “on a chip” it may someday be is of zero interest; that’s been done to death.

    Foenix is a much better and more interesting platform due to capabilities of HW, availability of compiliers relative to the power of the hardware, and design in general.  Also the kernel/kernal is being built from the ground up to be multi-platform (65C816 and MC680x0) and is open source with lots of collaboration and good will.

     

    • Like 1
  8. Some "shake of {insert random middle-eastern country]..." booked a ride on the Shuttle some time back and hung out at the Space Station.  I think they told him not to touch anything.  Not to be confused with the civilian teacher that sadly blew up with the rest of the crew on launch.  The recent orbital tourism was indeed four people and it was a SpaceX flight, 3+ days I think; fairly impressive but they had problems with the Space Toilet (those things never work).  

    As impressive as all of the early adopters may be, they were beat by a Monkey,  a Dog, lower order mammals, Tom Hanks playing a Hobo; no wait that was a beloved Christmas Character drinking hot baked beans on top of a train.  Good thing this is an off-topic channel, else this thread would be toast.

    But one good thing about the Blue Origin [umm...] landing is that it's akin to being in a minor car crash like the Soyuz so the kick-in-the-arse sensation can be had by all; except I think I saw Shat laying down with some sort of inflatable whoopee cushion as lumbar support so maybe it's more like being dropped from 10' in the air onto a middle school gym tumbling mat.  (I don't know, it's still early here, I save my better material for later)

    EDIT: it was "Sultan bin Salman Al Saud" better known as سلطان بن سلمان آل سعود in 1985 - our administration made believe he was a payload specialist, I guess.

  9. Here's a pic of Shat and Michael Tomczyk from Commodore; this is during the Vic20 photo shoot for their advertising campaign.  Michael recounts the story and says that he had the honor of being the first person to teach Shatner how to use a Computer because "... of course, all of the computers on the Enterprise were fake" LOL.  He said that he was a genuinely nice guy, very personable.  Michael hands these out @ speaking engagements (I met him at VCF East last weekend and he gave me that picture when I mentioned Shatner and the launch).  During his talk/presentation (it's on YouTube if you are interested), he mentions that he was in touch with Shatner's 'people' recently and he was kind enough to have William sign a few of these pictures which Michael treasures; has one framed in his office and a few for safe keeping.  Of course this one is signed by Michael for me.  He's an awesome guy also.

    IMG_5808.thumb.jpeg.bf9c783ceb26c3fde63c05f832130910.jpeg

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  10. On 9/29/2021 at 1:19 AM, Cyber said:

    For some reason I never knew about Amiga CDTV. May be because it's harware is nothing special, but the exterior design is kick ass!!

    When I lived in Berkeley, CA, I knew Bryce Nesbitt.  He went on to work @ Commodore on the Amiga and I believe also worked on the CDTV at some point; I saw some YouTube clips of him being interviewed for one of the Amiga retro documentaries; he wasn't the most flashy of engineers but was one of the smartest and really cared about doing the right thing.

    In the early 80s, Jack just happened to slip on a banana peel and into luck when Michael Tomczyk basically begged him for a job @ Commodore; Michael fostered a no-nonsense marketing prowess that powered Commodore through the formative years... after, Jack vanished and Commodore lost the plot.  It happens to the best of companies (Digital Equipment was one, Silicon Graphics, Sun Microsystems, others, the list is endless).  

    But with chip-fab capabilities and many innovations in the Amiga days it is possible that in an alternate universe, people have Commodore televisions hanging on their walls (instead of LG) and comPhones instead of iPhones.

    Here's the clip.  If you are interested in Commodore history, this 'raw' footage might be interesting.  I haven't seen the full movie but would like to: Bryce looks and speaks exactly as I remember (35 years since he was over my place when I lived just off campus); genuinely nice guy and really wears his heart on his sleeve...

     

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  11. On 10/16/2021 at 7:41 AM, Oldrooster said:

    I cannot find any trace of this keyboard video, or the keyboard in question or anything. I do not know where it is

    Here it be: https://vala.supply/products/gmk-electric

    Luckily for everybody here, I have an expert background in store, fwd, search & retrieval.  If you don't know how I did it, ask me about "that one trick that single mothers use to whiten teeth" and I'll show you 52 vintage photos that will make you hungry for solar panels.

  12. On 10/15/2021 at 10:45 PM, Tatwi said:

    If they sold a set of PETSCII stickers for a dollar or so, then a person could easily use any USB keyboard without much trouble. Similarly, some kind of cheap case would likely help folks who just want to use the machine as a retro game console.

    There is a guy on eBay selling PET keycap stickers for $79.  How does that sit with a community that doesn't want to spend more than $49 for a full blown computer.  (don't answer). Case wise, yes; but unless somebody gets hopping with a 3D printer, anything does not fit in a standard size is a non-starter.  Christian's (Peri) work was so nice and the spiral bound manuals, designer pantone matched pencils and boondoggle keychains will be missed. 

    I believe here is 'an' answer out there somewhere but 1/3rd of the people want what I want and 1/3rd want everything for nothing; it's the middle 3rd that is tough and risky.  That's the problem.

  13. Isn't there free methane (all you can drink) on some moon somewhere up there?  Sure, it's damn cold and so the gas is in liquid form but still.  We are in a race against the Chinese and against the Russians to harvest it.  Or maybe that was FPGAs?

    I'm weary from all of this FPGA-chatter.  But I actually have some shat-news that I'll share once I find a light bulb to fix this blown out dining room light [types whilst sitting in the dark].  

  14. You just said a lot of 'things', but good things where good = this -> that and since -> therefore.  So, barring an October surprise it's probably safe to check back in 3 months which seems fair.

    As prolific as 8BG's YouTube career is (the backyard shack that YouTube built), an update "Here's where we are..." and an official announcement / update each quarter would probably go a long way but that's just me talking.

    Thanks for that reply.

     

    • Like 1
  15. On 10/15/2021 at 10:33 AM, BruceMcF said:

    but it's not in stock at Mouser ... they have 27,000+ on order, with two September 2022 delivery dates.

    Such as shame, those pics above were "right-perty*" and had 8 out of 12 people sold.  Now what?

    (Also, what happened in the mega-thread?  did somebody drop an F-bomb?  I see the mod-squad shut down the show)

     

    *a Tex Avery - Southern Wolf reference as voiced by Daws Butler

  16. When X16 is an FPGA or better said, when all of the capabilities of the virtual X16 is squeezed into something that used to be called VERA, what will it be called relative to the original roadmap?  Was there an X16e or something like that was to originally sell for $99?

    If the original X16 is not viable because of unsolvable technical, supply chain, or economics issues and X8 is similarly not happening, is the elephant-in-the-room that the project is going to fast-fwd to what was originally the mass-market, low-cost consumer product but bundled with an inexpensive* keyboard and a robot game? (no snark intended, just being direct)
     

    *ref 8BG’s $6,000 kbd video

  17. Replying to @Scott Robison ... Prob only 5% of the fanbase here will be interested but if you look at Day 1 of VCF east (YouTube link), you'll see just that...  Ben Eater's worlds worst video card implemented in FPGA by Stefany of C256 Foenix.  The hour went by quickly but if you start with the basic of what Ben did in hardware and know what an FPGA is and is not, you can see her walk via verilog, and provide a start into what is required in order to make this wonderful fungible hardware behave in any way one desires.

    She gets nowhere near what she did with VICKY II (sprites, tiles, various video modes, Gideon SID, and everything else) but it's still interesting.  Probably could have used an 8 hour workshop or a week of training/hands on.  But in the absence of nothing, it was something.

     

     

    • Like 1
  18. I hear (have 'seen' vs. read and understood) so much about VERA and about what it is or isn't.

    My fundamental question is... "is it?"  In other words, does it exist in finished form and can it be acquired for use in other projects or was it in the midst of being developed, somehow forked to support this project and was then stricken by malaise, scarcity of supply, or some other problems?  I think I remember reading that somebody thought putting it into a cartridge for a C64 was attractive but also that moving data to/from it over a SCI* interface was a nonstarter (too slow).

    EdIt: As Bruce McF pointed out, it's "SPI"; SCI is the Scalable Coherent Interconnect that I spent a lot of time with in the 90s.  it was Sun Microsystems passive, copper based 25 Mbps interface that we leveraged for Oracle Parallel Server (OPS) which was used for their shared global area (SGA) on top of Sun Cluster.  If only those skills were still useful today!  Too many TLAs.

  19. "Yes" the Maxi is worth it.  Especially now that you can get it on Amazon in the U.S.

    Yes you can save programs but you can also save 'state' of 4 'virtual' machines (I believe it's 4).

    And you can download any d64 image from the internet and run those programs and games so regardless of what comes built in, you have access to nearly everything.  Space Taxi, Spelunker were two that I always liked and I recently got my hands on them.

    Scott mentioned that Impossible Mission runs 'correctly' if you run it from a D64 image (USB thumb drive plugged into the side).  As packaged, the Impossible Mission maze is 'fixed' vs being dynamically generated.  This might apply to other games as well.

    Anyway, this is my opinion.  You can mess around with Rasp Pi's if you are looking for science projects and distractions, I suppose there is an element of satisfaction in doing so if that's your jam but if you owned a C64 in the 80s, get the Maxi because it's the same experience.  If you are unconvinced, jump on YouTube and search for Robin's excellent reviews and deep dives on the Maxi (8 bit show and tell).

    But take this test... watch this video for 1 minute and decide if you would rather do that or use a non-standard keyboard (aka no PETSCII characters on the keyboard), or if you'd just rather use a C64.

    https://retrogamecoders.com/raspberrypi-bmc64-c64/

     

    • Like 1
  20. Depends on your definition of software.  I'm pretty sure I'll be corrected in 5.. 4.. 3.. 2..

    My C256U ships today (others that beat me have picked theirs up early in the week and shipped yesterday) so I'll be digging in for a first hand view of what I can get to run.  I bought an add-on card that adds two physical SIDs and an Ethernet RJ-45 and one of the team created the Ethernet stack so I anticipate horizons opening up (the 'U' does not have an onboard Ethernet unless you add it as I did but the 'K' and the 'Gen X' does).  Otherwise, there is an SD card slot as we've all come to expect.

    Stefany likens these machines similarly to the C64 experience when you (if an early adopter) first got your hands on it.  One difference is that WDC produces a C compiler, a Forth compiler, assembler, etc. and there are many many of us that have a lifetime of software development behind us AND owned C64s when they were first released so I expect a good following.

    I remember well, typing in that basic program to create a sprite of a balloon and watching it traverse the screen diagonally.  I expect header files are available for all of the Vicky II registers (tiles, etc) else you can just make them yourself.

    There is a BASIC interpreter but it's got nothing to do with Commodore.

    Of the 70 people that purchased the FMX a few years ago, some software was produced that can be (is being) ported.  I've also seen a few screens of AtariST TOS GUI in development on the A2560U.

    Here are two quick vids by Daniel Tremblay (he's got others on his channel).

     

    This one starts with Stefany first taking on the project (of the original FMX) and goes up through a few years ago starting with David's intro to 'dream'.  One thing that has not changed is the CPU, the clock speed, and the FPGA video capabilities and the that there is still plenty of sound.

    This guy (below) @PGW on Discord, is writing the Kernel (the original C256 and even todays 'U' kernel is written in Assembly) but he is porting it in 'C' so that it can be leveraged across the full line of Foenix machines.  It's a low budget monitor to get a binary loaded and up and running.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMNLxfepc0xAZodcvOlVenQ

    So on one hand, it's early days, on the other, there are retro style games in the works (pong LOL), utilities, tools, etc.

     

    • Like 3
  21. Likely... there is another blank key next to the chunky Enter key.  This is prototype #1 and she is currently working on integrating the 40mhz 68040.  

    If anybody is even remotely considering investing in one, better hurry.  Most of what she will sell is likely to be ‘Gen X’ cubes but there will be a window for the next month to get in on these (I predict), before focus changes.  As of now, they are all hand built in Canada with piles of surface mount components arduously affixed to the 6 layer board, by hand, by one person.

    I think the Gen X will be a minimum assembly required ‘kit’ (no soldering) to ease shipping and tariff etc. but stay tuned to her site, discord, and Stefany’s Twitter... things are moving fast.

     

  22. On 10/10/2021 at 6:50 PM, Scott Robison said:

    Saw this on FB and just had to share it here:

    image.thumb.png.4f9a26df83515556b320fbd47eac2636.png

    If there was an opportunity to rent a suit like that and form a circle around then capsule as it landed, I’d gladly pay round trip transportation out of my my pocket to make it happen.

    btw, launch is 9:30am Eastern on Tuesday I believe.

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