RETRO Innovations

Archive for February, 2012

IEEE Adapter

by on Feb.29, 2012, under Hardware Design

IEEE Adapter PCB

IEEE Adapter PCB

For reasons I can only guess, Commodore created it’s IEEE-488 cables in two forms.  The first was a standard Centronics 24 to Centronics 24 cable, with each end of the cable offering a passthrough connector (male on the top, female on the bottom).  This cable could be used to connect any CBM IEEE-488 peripheral to any other CBM IEEE-488 peripheral, creating a chain of peripherals through a single cable.  However, the second, and more important cable was the one that connected the PET or CBM machine to the first peripheral of the chain.  And, on one end of this cable, Commodore specified a .156 12/24 female edge connector.

Ordinarily, I’d guess the reason was cost reduction, and that might indeed be the truth, but IEEE-488 cables in general were not cheap, and creating a specific non-standard cable that only Commodore would use seems contrary to a cost reduction move.  My next thought was “vendor lock-in”, but if that were the reason, why bother with standard cables anywhere?

There are other theories, of course, and I don’t spend much time considering why these things occur.  However, such a design decision makes a real impact today, more than 30 years since the cable debuted.  Namely, the non-standard cables are hard to find, and no one produces them anymore (standard IEEE-488 cables are still produced in significant quantities).  Since each PET/CBM machine needs exactly one of these cables, they are somewhat important.

One can always cut a standard cable and wire up a 12/24 connector, but I recently saw a neat idea on a classic computer mailing list that concisely solves the problem: An IEEE-488 connector adapter.  The adapter is simplistic to an extreme.  One end contains a 12/24 .156″ connector, while the other contains a standard Centronics-24 connector.  Coupled with a standard cable, the search for this elusive connection option can be over.

The design seems so simplistic, I’m wondering if there is something else that can be added to the design before I send it off for production.  Comments are welcome.

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OpenCBM Archiver 1.2 Released

by on Feb.27, 2012, under Software Development

OpenCBM Archiver is a command line tool that helps automate the use of opencbm-based utilities
OpenCBM Archiver uses .net 2.0 and will also run under Mono on non-Windows systems.
Changes from Version 1.1
  • Archival program is now configurable via command line or config file. This means you can now automate nibread.
  • Made a configuration flag for whether or not to show a directory listing
  • Made the command line passed to the program configurable
  • Documented the settings in the configuration file.
Changes from Version 1.0
  • Add ability to load flags from configuration file
  • Writes seed data to configuration file
  • Specifying flags on command line overrides configuration file
  • Displays directory before archiving disk
  • Changed behavior such that calling with –help displays the help message, you can now run program without parameters.
You can download OpenCBM Archiver from the official open source project site:
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C2N Power!

by on Feb.17, 2012, under Hardware Design

C2N Power! PCB

C2N Power! PCB

Given a need to order more C2NPower cassette port power adapters, RETRO Innovations has revamped and expanded the functionality of this tiny product.  In addition to providing a tap for 5VDC for powered peripherals and a layout that includes holes for the Atmel ATTINY24/44/84 AVR microcontrollers, the new design also includes support for the MAXIM DS1307+ (and compatibles) Real Time Clock and the 24CXXXX line of serial EEPROMs.

Before we roll this new design into production, we’re looking for a couple of proficient assembly language developers who could help us develop some functions for reading and writing the time to the RTC and reading/writing data to the EEPROM.  The protocol is I2C, using the MOTOR and WRITE lines for SCK and SDA, respectively.  The only nuance is that MOTOR line is inverted.  We’re hoping some folks would like to compose a bit of code in exchange for a free  C2N Power! unit (with EEPROM and RTC supported).  Ideally, we’d like to create some common 6502 code for the basic routines that can be used on the PET, 40XX, 80XX, VIC, 64, and C128 machines with only minor variations among platforms.

Thus, if you or someone you know could help, please let us know via our contact page. Feel free to repost as appropriate.

 

 

 

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Berlin C64 Club (BCC) Party #6

by on Feb.17, 2012, under Parties

BCC Party In Full Swing

BCC Party In Full Swing

For those in or around Berlin, next weekend (February 24-26), check out the Berlin C64 Club (BCC) Party, at:

Café Inter-Nett

Kranoldstr. 16
12051 Berlin
Berlin-Neukölln
Germany

Various compo categories will be judged with prizes awarded, including 2 ZoomFloppy units.

BCC Home Page

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EasyFlash 3 Now In Production

by on Feb.15, 2012, under Hardware Design, Storefront

EasyFlash3 PCB

EasyFlash3 PCB

It’s taken longer than anticipated, but EasyFlash 3 production is finally underway.  The first 200 boards are in production, with delivery scheduled for late March.  The storefront is open for pre-orders, with pricing set at:

  • EF3 without enclosure: $59.99
  • EF3 with enclosure: $64.99

I delayed production slightly to lengthen the prototype PCB so that switches could be placed at the rear of the cartridge, and the delay allowed the design to incorporate last minute design enhancements.  However, I will admit I treaded lightly on this production, as it’s a reasonably complex unit and RETRO Innovations is not the principal designer.

I realize late March is still significantly far in the future.  If you want a unit now, please check out Retro Donald’s storefront, which has uncased units in stock.

 

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ZoomFloppy Utility: OpenCBM Archiver

by on Feb.13, 2012, under Software Development

For those who own or are planning to buy a ZoomFloppy for disk archiving and have lots of disks to get through, Payton Byrd has created OpenCBM Archiver, a utility to automates d64copy execution to minimize manual steps for archiving disks.

It’s by no means a complicated utility, but it should save time.

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OpenCBM 0.4.99.94 Windows Binary Alpha Release

by on Feb.06, 2012, under Software Development

Spiro Trikaliotis has compiled OpenCBM 0.4.99.94 into an Windows binary alpha release.  This release contains many of the most recent changes and features utilized on the ZoomFloppy USB drive interface.  If you’re up for alpha releases, try this out and report your finding to the openCBM mailing list.

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RETRO Innovations now on Google+

by on Feb.06, 2012, under Miscellaneous

RETRO Innovations is now represented on Google+.  We’ll try to keep it updated as often as possible.  Add us to your “Preferred Stores” Circle! :-)

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Spring-Time Retro-Computing Convention

by on Feb.03, 2012, under Computer Shows

Though the Cincinatti Commodore Computer Club (C4) EXPO will not be held in 2012, Payton Byrd is planning the Spring-Time Retro-Computing Convention in Clarksville, TN the weekend of May 25-27, 2012.  The event will be held at the Riverview Inn and will run 48 continuously for 48 hours.  As evidenced by the name, it appears like all classic machines will be represented/welcome.

As with NOTACON, we’d love to hear from readers who would enjoy a meet and greet.  Tennessee is quite a journey from the store, but it’s doable.

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NOTACON

by on Feb.01, 2012, under Computer Shows

Far from being boring, the classic computing events calendar is already filling up!  NOTACON will be held in Cleveland, OH on April 12-15, 2012.  If you’re not aware, this event is short for “Not a Conference”, and its goals are to showcase technologies, philosophies, and creativity not often given a focus at other conferences.  The conference also sports its own demoparty: PixelJam.

RETRO Innovations is considering attendance, and we’d love to hear from others who would enjoy meeting us while there.  They don’t offer sales tables, like at other conferences and conventions, but we could show off development, PCB design, or something else of interest.  If we do come, we’ll unofficially bring some stock for those who want to pick up the latest offerings.

Early registration closes on Feb 17th (extended one week from the original February 10th).  If you’re considering attendance, it’s $25.00 cheaper to register now!

 

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