Veronica, Patreon, Hack-A-Day, Oh My!

Posted: 6th October 2014 by Quinn Dunki in Hacks, Veronica

Quinn meets Hack-A-Day. Thousands dead. Film at eleven.

 

Let me open this post with a bit of administrative news. I’m now a Patreon Creator! For those of you who are just itching to send me millions of dollars, now’s your chance!

Nobody?

Bueller?

Okay, I’ll settle for whatever you find in your couch. Head on over to my Patreon page and donate whatever you feel is fair for my content. I like writing this blog, and I hope you all enjoy reading it.  The way Patreon works is that you sign up to support me for each piece of content I create- in this case, my posts here on Blondihacks. These are long-form posts that I put a lot of research and production effort into- I hope you agree that it’s a little more than the average blog. You choose how much to contribute, you can set limits on how much you spend, and cancel any time. Blondihacks remains proudly ad-free, and donations like this help keep it that way. Give it a try!

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If you’re not into this whole “Web 3.0” nonsense that the kids today do, you can still use PayPal as well. Any amount you feel these posts are worth is greatly appreciated!



Now back to our show…

 

The always-entertaining blog Hack-A-Day recently had a terrific 10th anniversary shindig. There were activity sessions, talks, food, adult beverages, and power tools. There were things that glowed, things that spin, and things that were Duck Hunt. Sometimes all at the same time.

They graciously allowed me to bring Veronica to the event, and give a little spiel about her. Just for giggles, I’m going to link to it here. I would be shocked if any readers of this blog don’t already read HaD, but if not, you should read it. Now, here’s the presentation.

 

I’ve been very busy cooking up new projects, so watch this space, as always!

  1. Congratulations on your presentation! Speaking as someone who built wirewrap 68000 machines I feel you made the right choice with the 6502 in terms of saving wires. Even the 68008 doesn’t save you enough to be worth it.

    Your comment about Woz inspiring your self taught path made me think about how much progress has there been in computing from those who learned it in school? I have diplomas in microelectronic engineering and computer science so would seem to be part of this group, but the truth is that essentially all I know about computers I learned before I went to school. And that was true of all my friends in school who have done neat stuff since, but not true of my friends who were actually learning the stuff for the first time in school.

    I suppose that if you are the very first person to do something then there is nobody out there who could have taught you. And if you are used to waiting for others to teach you then you are unlikely to ever be the first person to do anything. Alan Kay was asked what he thought might make good researchers. He said it was people who figured out by the end of high school that they had to teach themselves if they really wanted to learn and didn’t expect that to change in college.

    • Quinn Dunki says:

      Thank you, I appreciate it!

      The 68000 is very tempting for my next computer build (if there is a next one), but I would not etch my own boards for that. The number of traces needed for a 16-bit machine is so much higher that trying to route boards in one layer and within the Eagle free-version limits would be sheer madness. I’d go with OSHPark or similar.

      I agree with that sentiment about the self-taught tinkerers as well. There was a tangible difference in my computer science classes between those of us who had been doing this stuff for the love of it since we were tall enough to type, and those who had never written a line of code before freshman year.

      • Here are front and back pictures of my Merlin 1 (1985) on the right and Merlin 2 (1986) 68000 computers:

        http://smalltalk.org.br/fotos/inova6.jpg
        http://smalltalk.org.br/fotos/inova7.jpg

        The Merlin 1 was entirely in wirewrap and I will never do that again! I didn’t find a board large enough, so I used two and spaced them so the huge 68000 chip was floating between them and not covering up precious holes. I used a 6845 for video timing and that was another mistake.

        The Merlin 2 uses a two sided PCB for the memory (that was the first board we ever did with CAD – SmartWorks for the orginal PC) since memory is so regular that wirewrapping it is terribly boring. The bottom PCB is a single sided one that connects sockets for the chips to wirewrap posts next to each pin. The power and ground (and decoupling capacitors) are also done via board traces, which eliminates the secondmost boring wirewrapping job. Using normal sockets for all the chips is way cheaper than wirewrap sockets and I found that doing the wirewrapping on the component side was sooooo much nicer than on the back side as long as you didn’t try to make the connections too tight.

        By the way, since I implemented Pong as might first design when I bought a Xess XSA100 FPGA development board, I have been using it as my “hello world” for every new kit I buy or board that I develop. So watching Veronica play Pong was specially fun for me.

    • John says:

      The other problem with the 68000 is that its traditional 64 pin aircraft carrier package doesn’t leave much space on the board size that free Eagle gives you. I’ve wire-wrapped a few in the distant past, and it is a delightful chip to work with (apart from the size).

      Veronica inspired me to get back into electronics, and do my own little 6502 board. It’s a few years behind in terms of functionality, greatly hampered by me pretending that it’s the 1970s and I don’t have another computer. I’m happy to give something back.

  2. starhawk says:

    “…things that were Duck Hunt…”

    I have not heard tell of the Duck Hunt happenings yet (although that sentence did make me chuckle) — can you elaborate? 😀

    • Quinn Dunki says:

      During the day, a few folks were building a party game for the evening festivities. What they ended up with was a Duck Hunt controller for the NES, intended for 2-3 people. There were large wheels to spin for the X and Y axes of the gun sight, and a big red button to fire. The idea was to make something that encouraged playing well with others (not my forte, to be sure).

      Arrrrr, it’s drivin’ me nuts.
      ^– for Chuckles

      • starhawk says:

        Sounds hilarious and fun 😀

        Quinn Dunki used PUN! It was super effective!

        By the way, what happens when you put electricity through your head at too many cycles per second?

        It hertz. (Badumbumtish.)

  3. Mike Szczys says:

    Thanks again for speaking at our Mini-con Quinn! It was a delight to behold Veronica, and of course to meet you in person.

    I still think your debugging and troubleshooting chops are superhuman. I can’t wait to see the next epic project.

  4. Alec Smecher says:

    As someone who pleaded on an earlier post for your site to remain ad-free, your decision to go with Patreon has forced me to put my money where my mouth is. I think this is an excellent approach and I hope it works out.

  5. Quinn Dunki says:

    Thank you, and a big thanks to all those who have already pledged support via Patreon and PayPal. It’s greatly appreciated, and more real hacks are coming down the pipe.

  6. This is a comment on Apple ][ Development on OS X.

    My newest Mac is a 2002 eMac, running OS 10.2.x.x. Is there any XCode versions available for Power PC for older OS X??

    • Quinn Dunki says:

      Xcode was introduced with OS X 10.3, so that’s as far back as it will run. All versions of Xcode back to 1.0 are still available in Apple’s download area, but that doesn’t help you much by the sounds of it.

      Xcode isn’t necessary for this process, though. All it’s doing is running the Makefile. You can use any editor you like and simply run make from the command line.

      • OS X 10.3… Great!!!

        I have read that the eMac can be “unofficially” updated to OS X 10.4 for Power PC, so I possibly can get Xcode working on it.

        BTW, nice job on Veronica, and the presentation of her at Kansas-Fest and Hack-a- Day and on Co-Hosting on various Pod-Casts…

  7. starhawk says:

    By the way — I hear that storage is the next thing to tackle for Veronica. (This makes sense!) Have you looked at / heard of the Intel 8272A? It’s a floppy controller chip. If I’m reading the datasheet right, it can handle those newfangled 3.5″ disks all the young whippersnappers have nowadays 😛 in addition to the venerable 5.25″ kind.

    You might be interested to hear that I’ve a spare 8088 + 8087 and a handful of SRAM chips (each 16kbit, but as individual bits, not bytes…). I’m thinking of building a system around that… probably won’t be IBM compat but we’ll see. (That *would* be interesting…) Don’t kid yourself tho, most of the stuff I “think about building” never actually happens!

    Time will tell…

    • Quinn Dunki says:

      I think I’ll likely go solid state for Veronica’s storage. Either Compact Flash or SD. Floppy drives are neat, but kind of a pain in the ass, and not really something I want to deal with. That Intel chip is neat though- thanks for bringing it to my attention! I love hearing about new one-chip solutions to things.

  8. Jac Goudsmit says:

    That Patreon thing is a good idea, I hadn’t heard of that before. I might just set up a donation there, that way I guess I’ll also stay up to date (I keep forgetting to check your website, I don’t use an RSS reader and you don’t have a mailing list). And I may set up an account for myself as an incentive to keep going on my Propeddle project.

    I wish I could have gone to the Hackaday event, My wife and I have friends and family in Southern California but unfortunately I was too busy and too broke that weekend. 🙂

    As I said in a comment on HAD, I expect that the Veronica storage solution is going to be something that’s almost, but not quite, completely different than an IDE controller for a hard disk or CF card. 🙂

    ===Jac