Monday 5 November 2018

Working on the user's guide

Another little milestone for us, we started work more seriously on the user guide for the MEGA65, including making a latex template for us to use as the basis for the collaborative development stage of the user guide. This adds to our existing quiet little team of volunteers on the user's guide who have offered assistance with professional layout and editing. Whether we use the latex template in the end will depend on whether we can make it look exactly like we want.   There is of course a lot of planning and content writing between now and then to be done.

On the content and planning, our intention is to make a user's guide that is at least as friendly and useful as the original C64 user's guide.
But for now, here is one possible front-cover for the user's guide:

Also, we'd love to hear what you think should be in the MEGA65 user's guide (and what shouldn't), so comment below!


  1. Wow, really nice cover. Somehow oldish style as well, suits well with the origins of the machine.

  2. Do you like the used retro style or would you prefer fresh colors or even a more modern look?

  3. Get outta here! That cover looks, simply put, amazing! If I didn't know any better, I'd say you guys have had in a box for the last 30 years or so! Please keep it!

    Regarding the suggestions you request, here are a few straight off the bat:

    1: Please make the manual spiral bound; especially if it will contain code snippets, flow charts and development references. Even though I suppose that spiral bound books are generally more expensive to print, I think that the result will be totally worthwhile with all of the practical benefits in mind.

    2: Since the M65 will - as far as I can tell - the ultimate hobbyist platform, make sure that the manual tickles the user's curiosity! Commodore did really well with its BASIC tutorials, so please build on that!

    3: Please consider a brief introduction to Assembler ("assembly language")! Although past blog updates have hinted at a BASIC environment that runs around it's 8-bit siblings in circles, there's nothing like skimming the hardware. Although a complete development tutorial may be beyond the scope of the documentation, I would be super psyched if at least one chapter will introduce the reader to Assembler with a few examples.

    4: Perhaps the last page of the manual can be a fold-out page of some sorts, with some handy command references or a small FAQ?

    5: Personally, I really love the idea of the M65 having an ethernet port, and I think that the manual should promote it somehow - ideally with the intention of getting the user to understand that it's a lot more than some curiosity. Perhaps one of the chapters could address the M65's place on the local network with a few use-case scenarios? Oh, and one way or another the manual should definitely discuss the ethernet port from a developer's point of view, too!

    6: Since a lot of future M65 users are probably also C64/128 users, it may be a good idea to have something like light bulb graphics, exclamation marks or something similar in the manual margins to highlight concept differences, points of special interest and anything else someone already accustomed to the C64/128 platforms should take note of.

    7: Depending on just how hefty the manual will turn out to be, using a "tabbed index" may be a good idea (i.e. the first page of every chapter would be printed on a paper with a tab, acting as an easy-to-find starting page).

    8: Please keep any possible future manuals in mind when designing the user manual - if the demand is there, then perhaps other manuals ("Advanced M65 Assembler Development", "The M65 Hardware Guide"...) could be fashioned in the same way, making for a nice collection.

    8: Finally, it would be nice if the M65 box would be designed so that the manual is the first thing the user sees when opening it :).

  4. I agree with @exocytosis' comments, especially making the user guide spiral bound if possible.

    In addition, it would be good to have references to C64 and other 6502 books where they are relevant, especially where those books are now available electronically e.g. from

    For me, one of the best parts of the original Commodore user guides was the fold out schematics. I wonder if you could have a double page with a simplified illustration of the core of the implementation in the FPGA? Would that be a 65CE02 with clock signal and address lines to RAM and ROM etc.?