On 02/02/2018 08:38 PM, dave allen wrote:
... :-) There's an 8-inch floppy with the LS-DOS 6.3 operating system
for the TRS-80 Model II hanging on my corkboard in my office right now.....
what's a floppy?
...sorry couldn't resist. i've used more than my share of 8" floppies
back when everything was on them. OS, data, tools, everything.
These days, most retro computing hobbyists are skipping the floppy disk
systems and using either CF cards (parallel ATA-based and easy to work
with) or SD cards (SPI isn't too hard to bit-bang on even slower boards
like the Arduino). I draw a distinction between 'vintage' computing and
'retro' (or 'retrobrew') computing there. A 'retrobrew' project might
use an older processor and older tech but it is a completely new design
(such as Bill Shen's Tiny68K board:
https://www.retrobrewcomputers.org/doku.php?id=boards:sbc:tiny68k ) as
opposed to a reproduction of an older (vintage) design (such as my
reproduction of the Reh CPU280:
The retrobrew scene is a great place for learning modern logic
principles (doing something like the socZ80, a complete Z80 CP/M system
on an FPGA, or hacking together a Grant Searle multicomp) and can be a
great gateway to learning logic design on FPGAs using Verilog, VHDL, or
other hardware description language; doing your own retrobrew 6502 could
be the gateway to designing a complete PCB from schematic to gerbers for
work using those same tools (Eagle for $$$, KiCAD for opensource).
Retro designs and reproduction vintage systems are also great for honing
digital system troubleshooting skills with inexpensive equipment, since
the clock rates are typically pretty low. And it is getting easier and
easier to get into this hobby.
It is an awesome feeling getting a Fedex package from a PCB manufacturer
with professional-quality, silkscreened, ENIG-plated, and solder-masked
2, 4, or even 6-layer plated-through-hole or surface mount printed
circuit boards inside that were fabricated from the gerbers that you
uploaded to them a week before! And then when someone else builds your
design or reproduction and gets it working....and, in the case of the
CPU280, fulfilling a lifelong dream of owning a computer running a
particular chip, it is a great feeling (not as great as preaching the
gospel, but nothing at all in this world compares to preaching the gospel!)
Sorry for rambling, but getting involved in the retrobrew and vintage
communities has been a help to my work skills, and a worthwhile
investment of a relatively small amount of time.