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Topics - Phu

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OFF TOPIC / Frogger-related fail video
« on: May 03, 2010, 09:27:40 PM »
I'm posting this here because of the tenuous connection, but you have to love the comment at the end of the video...

-- Richard

RCM ANNOUNCEMENTS / RCM Website 2.0 To Launch Friday Evening
« on: April 15, 2010, 09:04:42 AM »

As some of you may be aware, the RCM website has been under redevelopment for the last 6 months to provide new features, better integration and a unified layout.

RCM V2.0 is finally ready to launch!

The "upgrade" will take a little while, so at 8pm on Friday 16th April the RCM website will be unavailable for a short period. It should take no more than 20 minutes to complete the database restructuring and upload the new components.

The new features include:

* New site layout with all features unified together under the same template.
* Improved system display page. The database has been restructured to make this more flexible. More pictures can now be added to systems, irrelevant fields removed, new fields added where appropriate. This will be updated over time, so you won't see a great of change immediately.
* Commenting on systems has been added.
* RCM Blog. This will be used like the RCM announcements forum, but in a more official place. Links are available to auto-post to the popular social networking sites (facebook, digg, etc) and any blog post can be commented on.
* RCM Wiki. A central repository for technical information, game info, walkthroughs, cheats, pinouts, etc. Free to edit by anyone with over 50 posts to the forum.
* ShoutBox: This is like a miniature chat room, or single forum thread. It appears on the side of every page and allows you to post any random thoughts. Its all AJAX-based, so you can use it without reloading the page, in the middle of posting to the forum, etc.
* New combined RSS feed with full HTML content, containig forum posts, front page news posts and blog entries.

Because of all the new features your forum login is now a site login, and is needed to access the shoutbox, system comments, blog comments, the wiki, etc.

IMPORTANT: The current website defines the forum login cookie as exclusively under /forum. This means you may find after the upgrade you can log in to the forum, but will be unable to access anything else. If this happens, try logging out then back in first. If you still have dificulties, you'll need to clean out your browser's cookie cache.

We'll be adding new information and functionality to the site over time, and we will eventually have an online shop for RCM and general retro products.

Any questions? Do ask :)

-- Richard

FOR SALE / WANTED / WANTED: MEPX4 eprom programmer software
« on: April 09, 2010, 10:15:05 PM »
My 5.25" disk containing the ancient EPROM programmer software read the first time, now its throwing data errors.

By any miracle does someone else have a copy of this?

-- Richard

GENERAL RETRO CHIT CHAT / Father of Personal Computers dies at 68
« on: April 02, 2010, 08:08:49 AM »
Just heard this on Radio 2 news:

Ed Roberts is the guy who founded MITS, got a load of chips together, slung it in a box marked "Altair 8800" and said "Lets see if anyone buys that".

-- Richard

FOR SALE / WANTED / WANTED: Ext. floppy drive (e.g. BBC Micro)
« on: March 17, 2010, 11:23:26 PM »
I'm after an external floppy drive unit, or indeed any similar 5.25" external drive enclosure. The floppy drive doesn't have to work (its going to get removed anyways) but the PSU in it must be in good working order.

Any offers?


-- Richard

FOR SALE / WANTED / Phu's hardware bonanza...
« on: March 16, 2010, 01:06:50 PM »
OK, I've had a lot of projects "on the go" for the last month or so, and some of them are now ready to offer. This process will work like the Behr Bonz system from last octoberish. I.e. the first n people to paypal the cash (or at the very least drop me an email/PM saying they want one) will get them. If you paypal money, please either PM me to say you've done so (and where the payment's coming from) or include your forum handle in the payment so I know who's got what. Obviously also include what it is you're buying...

Ok then, so the following bits n pieces are on offer:

PS/2 to Atari, Amiga or RiscOS Mouse adapters - £7 - No limit on availability.
Please specify if you want a RiscOS version, as the input plug is different. Not suitable for the A7000/A7000+ RiscOS machines (these already use PS/2). Works perfectly standalone, has quirks when connected to a KVM but can be persuaded.

Commodore 6-pin Serial IDE hard drive adapter - £20 - 9 Available - PSU NOT INCLUDED. NO CASE.
Allows the use of an IDE hard drive with Commodore machines with the 6-pin serial interface, e.g. VIC-20, C64, etc. Looks like a giant floppy drive to the machine. Supports a "DIR" file type for defining subdirectories. NOT COMPATIBLE WITH TURBOLOADERS. Power connector is a 5V two-pin connection - NO REGULATOR. Compatible with PC floppy power connector. Requires 5V regulated PSU with at least 250mA.

Universal RF Demodulator - £40 - PSU NOT INCLUDED. NO CASE. - No limit on availability.
Will support multiple transmission standards and 3 transmission bands (VHF low-band, VHF high-band, UHF). Not compatible with systems using positive video modulation or AM modulated audio (old french systems, old UK 405-line system, old Italian TV system). Not compatible with current French TV transmissions. Will support 6 presets and fine tuning. Composite video output and mono audio output. Requires 300mA 9-50V regulated or unregulated PSU. Includes LCD display for system/channel/fine tuning display.
-- might not be ready for the May open day as the firmware needs to be developed --

SCART cables still available - £5 each - Some exceptions for more unusual cables, particularly if they use expensive plugs.

BBC Micro Joystick adapters - on hold
I'm having trouble revising the circuit on these. I've worked out the problems electronically, I still haven't worked out how to neatly assemble the adapter neatly with the changes that were needed. Updates on these to follow.

Any questions, please PM.

-- Richard

OFF TOPIC / For all you Super Mario fans
« on: February 28, 2010, 09:26:52 PM »

A Tesla coil is a device wired up to generate voltage exponentially such that lightning discharges from the coil at the top. By switching the coil on and off rapidly, you can generate discharge "tones"....

Then some people take it too far ;)

-- Richard

HARDWARE/SYSTEMS DISCUSSION / Demodulators (or recycling a WinTV card)
« on: February 18, 2010, 08:20:18 PM »
As you may remember, a long time ago I agreed to build a demodulator for witchfinder to receive Japanese TV signals.

I was looking at a huge demodulator board from an old VCR which requires some silly supply voltages to get it going (27V and 19V amongst others). Whilst staring at a pile of video capture cards at work a thought struck...

"There's a demodulating tuner on WinTV boards.... the output is connected directly to the 878A video decoder.... its i2c controlled......"

I've taken a hot air gun to my WinTV board, looked up the various parts, and lo, I did grin :)

The modulator board on a WinTV card is a 3-band AV demodulating tuner with i2c-interfaced PPL oscillator.

Translation: The module can receive *any* TV signal (assuming its a standard) in the world, and present it as composite video and mono audio. All I need is +5V, a microcontroller and an LCD display :)

I'll be looking at buying a USB to i2c development module to test this. If all goes well, then I'll be able to offer conversions of WinTV cards to universal demodulators :D

I do like it when something has a simple interface....

-- Richard

« on: February 12, 2010, 10:30:23 PM »
I've just been on a collection errand for RCM, and picked up the motherload of TI-99/4A:

1x TI-99/4A (PAL) in *very* good condition, inc. PSU, RF modulator that gives the crispest picture I've ever seen from RF, and a double (two joysticks one one connector) 2-axis 1-button joystick with manual.
1x Official TI tape deck
2x Official TI tape leads
Numerous books including the original manual, the TI BASIC reference manual, two copies of "Beginners BASIC", "Get more from the TI99/4A" and a few other general books, all in excellent condition.
1 copy of MINUS MISSION (cart), unboxed but with manual.
1 copy of TI INVADERS (cart), unboxed.

The following software is all BOXED, in very good condition, complete with instruction manuals:
BEGINNERS BASIC TUTOR (Cassette, *still shrink wrapped*)
ZERO ZAP (cart, complete with receipt from 9:37 am on 24th December 1983!!)
PARSEC (cart)
A-MAZE-ING (cart)
OTHELLO (cart)

Not a bad little haul :) I think some of this might be available for playing in May....

-- Richard

GAMING . . . / Playstation Games Recommendations
« on: February 08, 2010, 10:39:41 PM »
Now that I've got meself a working PS2, can anyone recommend any good games for the venerable machine?

I'll try anything once, but if it resembles Tomb Raider (first-person-shooter with ballsed up camera angle) then I'll probably pass...

-- Richard

HARDWARE/SYSTEMS DISCUSSION / Top tips for retro repair
« on: January 28, 2010, 11:33:55 PM »
I've just spent the last 3 hours trying to work out whats wrong with a VIC-20 I picked up for RCM recently.

I desoldered about 5 chips looking for the problem, replaced a 74133 and a 7402, swapped out CPUs and ROM chips.... nothing.

On a whim, I stuck Behr Bonz in there to see if an alternate "OS" would start. No joy... but whats this? The card won't fit right... *torch*

So yeah. Always check your cartridge slot *first* for edge contacts that might be completely w**kered and touching each other...

Now that I have 3583 bytes free again, I'll solder that 6522 VIA back on.  ::)

-- Richard

GENERAL RETRO CHIT CHAT / Anything the C64 can do....
« on: January 06, 2010, 03:26:09 PM »
Remember those C64 demos where the code would load the next lot of data from the disk while it was running the current demo?

Ever seen a ZX Spectrum do it from tape?

-- Richard

HARDWARE/SYSTEMS DISCUSSION / Car boot spotted..... RCM gets more stuff
« on: November 28, 2009, 03:39:40 PM »
In my travels today getting things done before Christmas, while waiting for my brake light wiring to be fixed, I happened upon a Car boot.

Figuring retro computer stuff turns up at these things, I looked around for anything that could go RCM's way.... and there was :)

I picked an "Interstate TV Game" - boxed with all the bits (with possible exception of a manual), but the box could use some viagra.

A spare 14" TV, complete with SCART socket and remote control. That should come in useful for the next event.

A VIC-20 bundle. Good condition VIC-20 with manuals coming out of its ears, a whole bag full of good condition cassette and cartridge games (two catridge games are boxed), PSU, tape deck, and the most significant bit... the VIC-1071 Monitor :)

This little lot (with the possible exception of the VIC-20 itself - I know RCM's got a few of these) will be going up to RCM :)

-- Richard

OFF TOPIC / Class quote from Jimmy Carr...
« on: November 28, 2009, 12:35:33 AM »
Just finished watching tonight's Have I Got News For You. On the subject of Alan Sugar's first day in the House Of Lords:

Jimmy Carr: Alan Sugar is a self-made man. Of course, that means he was made by Amstrad, so he's shit.

-- Richard

I've been playing with a little circuit I discovered recently for converting PS/2 mice to work with systems that expect quadrature mice, e.g. Amigas, Atari STs, Acorn Archimedesesesesss, etc...

The little device consists of a microcontroller, two capacitors, 3 resistors, 1 plug and 1 socket. The whole shebang comes in at £7.

As a side note, not wanting to cast aspersions, but CJE Micros sells a similar device for the Archie, but it costs £30 and you have to hold down buttons on startup. This little circuit (not my design, I just built it) has no such silly requirements and is (now that I fixed a bug in the original MCU code) compatible with KVMs.

Any interest?

-- Richard

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