What’s it all about?
Welcome to my public notepad, currently featuring over 140 posts. The tag-cloud on the left should give you an idea about the main topics being covered here.
For a start, that’s Transputers, exotic accelerators using the i860, MIPS, m88k CPUs or complete systems like the rare SIEMENS PC-X… plus many tips, tricks, how-to’s or fundamental know-how articles.
It began as a simple notepad for myself – just to have a central place to put all my notes about the numerous projects I’m working on… suffering from severe “project ADHD” they run mostly in parallel but often with pauses over several months. When returning to a stalled project I had to admit that I’ve forgotten half of the things I’ve discovered last time working on it.
Why these pages? I’m a total hardware geek. I LOVE hardware… if it’s real men’s hardware. Real what?! Real men’s hardware is something which nearly isn’t build anymore… here are Axels laws defining real men’s hardware:
- It’s big – go away with those tiny, fiddly things like mobile phones, iPods’n’stuff. So when I’m talking about an [E]ISA expansion board it’s at least half-size (~6,5″).
- It was fu**ing expensive when new. No hobbyist could afford it back then. Now you can!
- It has at least one CPU. The more, the better. CPU, not some specialized ASIC. This point might have its roots in the fact that I also collect CPUs 😉
- It offers you some ways of improvement. i.e. not completely build with SMD parts.
- It does not need to be exceptionally ingenious, well designed or good looking. If it does, we have a perfect 10… if it only meets the first 4 points, that’s still OK.
- Blinking LEDs will give extra points! 😉
But owning is just one part of the fun. The real (man’s) task starts with getting those old beasts to work again. Most of the time there’s no documentation, no drivers and even those nice people who developed these things -if you are able to find them- can’t really remember how the devices used to work and threw everything which could help in the trash years ago.
So it’s time for reverse engineering with all its glory… I call it Hardware Archaeology. [Humming the Indiana Jones theme]