Thursday 19 September 2019

(Even) More Assembly

 Assembly of the pre-series machines continues to march ahead.  Here for your viewing pleasure are 12 beautiful MEGA65 pre-series machines.  The majority of the pre-series machines have now been built.

You can also see a short flyover video of the machines, accompanied by random animal noises for no apparent reason:

Sunday 15 September 2019

Changing the drive number of the internal drives

A number of people have asked in the past how to change the drive numbers of the C65's internal 3.5" drive.  By default it sits on both device 8 and 9 (for the optional 2nd 3.5" drive via the little round PS/2 style plug on the C65).  Until now, I didn't know.  But Falk who is working on GEOS for the MEGA65 figured it out:

You just have to set the contents of $10113 and $10114 to the device numbers.  Note that these are 20-bit C65-style addresses, so you have to do some jiggery-pokery to swap them if you are in C64 mode on a C65, since there is no 20-bit monitor in C64 mode.

You can work around this by using the OPEN command to command the device number changes, e.g.:

However, if you are on a MEGA65, life is much simpler:  Long-press the RESTORE key to enter the Freeze Menu, and then press 8 to toggle the drive number of the first internal drive between 8 and 10, and 9 to toggle the second between 9 and 11, as you can see in these shots:

With this, you can easily have an external 1541 or similar on device 8, and do things like, say, load Sam's Journey:

Anton assures me that Sam's Journey is VERY smooth on the MEGA65.

Or better yet, see it in action:

Actually, one of the really great things about this post, is that all I did was a 5 minute fix to the Freeze Menu based on information that others had worked out, and the result was then tested by Anton.  That is, this is more of a post by the community and for the community, than it is a usual "what has Paul been making lately" post.  I hope that we see more and more of this kind of post, as the pre-series and then dev-kits and then retail versions of the MEGA65 get used more over time.

Friday 13 September 2019

More Assembling of MEGA65 Pre-Series Machines

Just a quick post with some eye-candy of the growing number of fully assembled MEGA65 pre-series machines:

So much 8-bit fun in so little space!

Meanwhile, we continue to work to assemble the rest, and to figure out a good solution for financing the creation of the injection moulds for the cases for mass-production (the pre-series machines were produced using a very expensive per unit vacuum form process, that is much too expensive for mass production).

This is really the biggest remaining barrier. While we have some ideas we are exploring, now would be a great time for any wealthy sheiks in the audience to offer us their patronage ;) Or people willing to run sausage sizzles at their local home improvement stores, or whatever. We estimate the total cost of this stage to be around 65,000 €.  We'd naturally be happy to talk about appropriate ways to recognise any such support.

Of course this is the frustrating part where we need actual money, rather than being able to use volunteer labour. If I tried to calculate the value of the volunteer labour, I'd have to guess somewhere between 500K and 1M €, if we had to pay folks to have done the work.  This really is a labour of love on the part of many -- and from which we all benefit, since if we had to fund this project "properly" from the start, then (a) it probably wouldn't have happened; and (b) if it had happened, it would have had to have cut so many corners that it wouldn't be recognised. It is only through the voluntary efforts of so many that we have managed to re-create this lost unicorn of computers.

We really want to get this last hurdle settled before we move forward, because how we fund this is really the greatest uncertainty left in the process of determining what is a possible price, and thus to start moving towards being able to offer a pre-order mechanism for everyone who is longing to hold their very own MEGA65 in their hands.

Thursday 12 September 2019

MEGAphone rev2 PCB assembly work

While I have been flat out teaching, and thus lamenting the lack of time to work on the MEGA65, the same has not been true for my faithful students who have been doing great work on the MEGAphone. More specifically, on preparing the 2nd revision of the MEGAphone PCB to fix all the problems we found in the first revision.

The new PCBs arrived while I was in Germany at the CCC Camp.  But yesterday and today was time to by hand put all the surface-mount components onto the board and bake it in the oven to get all the components to solder down.

The following two shots show the board after they had been through the oven:

The hole-through components still need to be added, and we had only one of the LoRa radios on hand, so the other has been left vacant.

More news when we have put the hole-through components, and can start trying to bring the machine up.  Hopefully we won't need to do too many changes to the VHDL, as the boards are logically very similar.

Wednesday 4 September 2019

Assembing the next few Pre-Series Machines

Keen MEGA65 watchers will know that the first two pre-series machines have already been assembled and are with me here in Australia.

However, all has not been quiet on the western front, with a couple of assembly nights, first to fit the missing pull-up resistors (this was while I was in Germany for the CCC Camp), and then again this week, to begin assembling several machines.  There will be similar gatherings each week until the remaining units have been assembled and our little packets of 8-bit perfection is ready to face the world.

We thought you might like to see a time-lapse of these first two evenings.  For the first one, we didn't have a proper camera handy, so we just put a phone on a convenient light-fitting, hence the slightly funny view from above.  You can also see my legs as I try to get some much needed sleep while waiting for FPGA synthesis to complete ;)

Then this week, the guys got together (sadly in my absence, as I am now back in Australia) and completed the assembly of the next four machines: