Thursday, 30 May 2013

More pies in the sky

Still no progress to report as work is unrelenting, but I did remind one of my colleagues and he asked about the audio codec, so at least he's still interested in doing it. We just have to get some down-time to actually be able to devote some time to it.

So in the mean-time, I've been dreaming about the add-on boards that I'd like to produce for it.

First up, the so-called CPU-socket boards. Considering whether I should put 5V level conversion on the main board, but in the end decided against it just in case I want to stick some 3V3 logic on a small daughter-board. That aside, I'll be looking to make Z80, 6502, 6309 & 68K (DIP & PLCC) adapters in the short term. Wishing I had enough I/O for an ARM250 but it's out of the question (and not sure where I'd get one of those anyway!?!).

Secondly, similar past projects like the One Chip MSX (OCM) & Minimig and more recently proposed and/or WIP project like the ill-fated Coco-X and another TRS-80 Model I expansion design have me thinking about prototyping other system board replacement projects on this hardware. The 200-pin MVS connectors with 5V level conversion should come in very handy for adding all types of peripherals such as cartridge interfaces, keyboards, floppy & hard disk drives...

...with that in mind I'd ultimately like to produce boards for TRS-80 Model I/III/4, TRS-80 Coco 1/2/3, Apple II & BBC microcomputers - roughly in that order of preference. So whilst I'll prototype them as add-on boards to NGPACE, the end result would be single boards that would be mounted inside the original casing of the target platform.

Picture a TRS-80 Model I keyboard unit, running from a modern 12/24V supply, housing a fully pimped-out 128KB (or more) Model 4 core, with a selection of legacy graphics enhancements (e.g. Grafyx Solution and/or Mikrokolor) driving DVI-I video out, internal floppy and hard disk emulation via SD card, modern joysticks and a connector for a real floppy drive accessible via the expansion interface door.

Of course you could also run it as an Apple II or Coco 3... you want one, right?

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