So many projects, so little time 😉
After the Raspberry Pi Zero is used for nearly everything in the retro computing scene (ACORN tube processor, AMIGA CPU and/or video-controller replacement etc.) I thought it’s about time to bring it into the Transputer world, too. Say hello to the PiTRAM!
It’s basically a C011 link-adapter and some level-converting. That way the RasPi can talk to an existing Transputer network and vice versa.
So the hardware is done… as usual, the software is the problem. Anyone volunteering for a Transputer core? A SCSI to SD-Card driver? Video controller? Wifi? 😉
Oh boy… I really neglected the news… there are quite some updates on Geekdot, but they just happen 😉
Mainly there were lots of Apple Mac (68k) things going on – repairing, recapping, brighting and hacking… but there always was a major theme: I worked with other
nerds specialists on their projects. Be it the Carrera 040 in an SE/30 effort or a very special PC not working anymore. It’s fun to dip your toe into different waters every now and then.
That said, I moved the sidebar around a bit. The recent posts went onto the top and this news section was moved down as I feel it’s a bit redundant.
Hey Axel, what’s up? No new post for months… are you still alive?
Yes, shame on me… it’s been really silent the last months. But that does not necessarily mean I’m not working on something.
Actually I was pulled into a 68k Apple Macintosh vortex which really got be big time. As you probably know I have a soft spot for all things 68000 and was a Mac user from day one (well, ~1985). User means that even I did not own one until 1994 (i.e. paying for it with own money) I borrowed, worked, sat in front of many models…
Long story short: Got my hands onto a SE/30, pulled an 040 accelerator from the basement, learned that it will never work in there… got lit 😉 Bought a IIci for checking and from there it went on uncontrolled… So the challenge is on to get this IIci accelerator working in sweet lil’ SE/30. Read the thread here (68kmla.org forum).
While I was a Mac user, I never went real deep into programming them. So here I am, digging through 6098 lines of disassembly and learn ‘new’ things like A5-world, Mac boot processes, the dirtiest tricks in MacsBug, INITs, how control panels work and last but not least patching Toolbox calls from the machine language side of things. It’s a steep learning curve, a total waste of time & energy. And I love it!
I’ll write down the whole stunt into a post one day. But for now it’s totally work-in-progress… It’s done. Read the whole thing here. (There are 4 chapters)
Boy, it’s dragging along these days… at least for this page – but rest assure, things happening:
- Behind the scenes I worked on the 3rd run of AM-B404 TRAMs. If you want one or two, mail me.
- A small AVM T1 update: Found another revision without any connectors for a booster-board.
- Got the nice Miro highRISC card out again and did some more digging and reversing…
- Added another machine to the Systems section: Henkelmann, a portable 486 pimped to the max…
- Copied the ‘Manufacturing PCBs in China‘ from the Blog into the Knowledge-base section as it got another update… 4 companies reviewed now.
- After roughly 25 years I got somehow pulled into 68k Mac vortex again – and mysteriously 4 Macs popped up in my lab. While this is not a section on GeekDot (yet), that’s another project currently keeping me busy…
This is a short notice that GeekDot just got its very own forum… woohoo! (It’s in the top menu, in case you’re asking)
That’s mainly due to (slowly) growing number of T2A2 users, who should have a place to discuss their projects… that said, all other topics touched at GeekDot are welcome, too.
So register here and start posting! Hope to see/read you soon!
Again, some posts/projects received silent updates worth mentioning:
Happy new year, y’all! I hope Santa brought you some geeky stuff 😉
Here’s a quick heads-up of what’s cooking since more than 2 months… Well lots of small and bigger things happened mostly in the background in preparation for something bigger 😉
- Made quite some progress with the Helios Server. That’s the ‘terminal’ software which interfaces your PC to the Helios Kernel(s) running on your Transputer(s). For now everything is checked into github. Currently I’m working on the write up of all findings and howtos.
- While doing so, I learned a lot about the concepts used programming the Helios kernel. Also needs quite some documentation.
- Wasted quite some time in upgrading my workhorse PC due to amnesia and eroding instincts 🙁
But now everything is working again and I can keep on working on the Tower of Powers successor. Here’s a small hint:
- I had to close my little shop. It’s way too risky given german laws make it very easy for any idi** to submit a judicial warning in order to make some money just because of e.g. formal errors in your terms and conditions 😕
So if you need something Transputer’ish, drop me a mail, maybe I have some parts left I can share.
- Ah, that said, I had a 2nd run of AM-B404s… need to solder pins and sockets to finalize them. And 10 are already reserved 😉
Ok, this is quite quite a timespan to cover… 4 months and not really that much to report.
Most successful post was the SIEMENS PC-X page (a strange i80186 Unix box). I’ve mainly set it up for the guys over at MESS, specifically ‘crazyc’ who’s actively working to include PC-D and PC-X emulation into MESS.
Next bigger work were two articles about (ISA) Transputer Interfaces: The INMOS B004 and the HEMA TA2. Those two are -roughly- the first and the most recent models of their kind, before PCI and USB took over.
This is the kick-off to document the most important cards you can plug into your computer to dive into the fascinating world of transputing. Come back often.
Finally I added my PeekPoke-Tool to the transputer software page.
It’s a basic tool which helps you reading/writing any systems memory which uses the B004 interface and protocol.
This is yet another months news roundup. Just in case you missed something 😉
First of all…
My little shop opened. Yes, I decided to sell surplus directly on my page instead of going all the hassle and rev-share you have on ePay.
If I had to produce/order more parts than I needed, the rest will end up there. Mainly stuff related on the hardware you can read about on Geekdot. Need to figure out all those shipping details… so bear with me.
Helios had to move into the Software menu to gain more space in the menu-bar for the shop item.
..then, the Archive got two new sections.
Back in the days, when geekdot.com was hosted on my own iron at some hosting facility I was in desperate need of remotely manage my server. IPMI is a nice standard built into most real server hardware… but as cheap as I am, my server started as a recycled desktop and after some iterations ended in a 19″ rack case. Still no IPMI. The solution was the so-called RiloE (Remote Insight Light-Out Edition) from Compaq – later HP. While meant for usage in Compaq machines, it can easily tweaked to work in any PCI machine. My findings are available in the Archive now.
Back in 1995 I fell in love with the Apple Newton and created my first useful webpage for it. Until 1998 it was quite a destination for Newton fanatics around the world. This page too got its own place in the Archive now.
(small) new hardware project
You might have read my lengthy
rant article about the Inmos C004 32-way linkswitch. Because I like to have a niftier Transputer network on my IMSB012 but don’t like the price you have to pay using a C004 I created two small replacement PCBs.
Here’s a quick list of pages which got updates recently:
- The new design and relaunch of GeekDot is more or less completed. I hope I found all dead links – if you stumble across onw, please tell me.
- The i860 software page got an APX860 paragraph incl. APX860 binaries for download. It’s a start, maybe it grows into a post of its own. If you have any extra infos about APX860 it’s very welcome!
- Added a nice presentation of the Hauppauge 4860 (at the very end of the post) concept from Hotchips Conference 1990.
- Found a nice prototype HTRAM picture which I added to my HTRAM post.