Monday, 14 July 2014

Audio Loading for the FIGniton.

Another Milestone,

Now the 1.00 Firmware for FIGnition is able to facilitate loading programs via audio!
This allows users to upgrade or file transfer with ease, as compared to loading in blocks of 512 bytes via AVR transfer.

Well done to Julian Skidmore for continuing to make the FIGnition a fun computer to use and learn from.

In this video I load up 'Crasher' via a Java Application also written by Julian, that converts '.fth' file to audio signals, then demonstrate the same with a recorded '.wav' file.

You can read how Julian managed to bootjack the atMega168 for this here...

You can get a FIGnition for yourself here....

You can load some audio files for yourself here... 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

DIY potato cannon.

I have seen many of these around the web, and a good friend of mine built one a few years back, so I decided to try my hand at building one, and I thought I should share my method here.

My design is based on waste pipe components and a gas bbq ignition unit.A tennis ball or large potato is shunted down the barrel. The gas (spray) is squirted for half a second in the chamber and then it is sealed with the inspection cover. The Ignitor combusts the gas and the spud or whatever is projected a long way out of the other end.

This blog post tells you how I did mine at my own risk, If I get burned, it's my fault. 


Access Pipe Socket/Spigot for 110mm Round Pipe Black
Screwed Access Cap 110mm
110mm Soil Eccentric Reducer 110-50mm
One length of 50mm waste pipe.
Ignition unit.
Solvent cement
el cheapo body spray.
Tennis balls and or potatoes.
Broom stick.

I purchased my parts from b&q but most large builders merchants would keep these parts.

The end cap came with an insert, this had a rubber seal on it so I glued the insert into the end cap so the seal was air tight every time, and reducing the chance of leakage.

The side spigot also had an insert with a rubber seal, so I cut a circle out of the insert to allow the ignitor to pass straight through into the chamber.

The advantage of using an access pipe boss, is that you have a nice flat surface to mount your ignition unit into, others that use a plain 110mm pip, the unit needed to be seated on a camber or on the end cap.This can result in stress at the end cap or leakage. 
I drilled a 22mm hole for the ignitor then I used a gap filling adhesive to make a good seal at the seat. 

Note the screw in the chamber, this was for the first type of ignitor that I tried, it broke, but I kept it in place I may need to use it in the future.

I used a cement to glue all the parts together, in the UK you have to ask for this stuff at the counter, man it smells goood!

This was the body spary I went for in the end, it was two for £1 and flammable. I tried at first some anti-perspirant but that was not as reliable as this stuff.

I use a broom stick to stoke the ammo down the pipe, a brief squirt of spray at the other end, not even one second is enough to send a tennis ball a long way.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Keyboard Respray.

Its been a while since I have used my FIGnition Keyboard, I had a spare five minutes to clean it up, one hour later I had all the keys out and cleaned them all with a toothbrush and methylated spirits.

I then decided to use some leftover spray paints from sawn-off Spectrum and Commodore Pi 314

The Grey keys are primed, the F keys up to 11 are gloss red, 12 was forgotten about and the red ran out so its satin black as the unused FIGnition keyset.

Now to get familiar with it!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Retrotext Blogcast Tape 1 Side A

Hi, I thought I would try to make a podcast.

To keep it super retro It is mastered onto one side of a C20 Tape, the MP3 is infact a recording of the tape!

The subject of this episode is 'What is Retro?' there is controversy in it and I would welcome thoughts about it as well as ideas for more episodes in the future.

As it is only Ten minutes long it will keep to the point I hope.

I am very new to this type of media so, if you have any problem with downloading or my host, I need to know.

You can comment here...

Friday, 2 May 2014

Joysticks for the TVBoy.

The SystemA TV Boy was an Atari 2600 style console that cloned 126 Atari Games, It was not at all endorsed By Atari Corp, but still nethertheless was sold by mainstream UK stores up to the early 1990s

My TV Boy is a II the wiki page suggests TV Boy II has no capacity for external joysticks, so only a single player may play using a built-in pad.

This was not the case, 

I opened my TVboy up to see if there were a way of modding it to composite out as it is RF at the moment, after looking I decided that I did not know enough to try this and there is hardly any info on theses anywhere at all.

So I was surprised to see that there were solder pads for two joysticks! as the System has a battery cover missing it was not A1 so I decided to get some 90 degree pcb mount d-plug connectors and upgrade it myself.

 The mod was very easy, the area needed de-soldering and the new components added, when I had done this I offered up the case to see how much I needed to file and cut for plug access.

The only odd thing was that the fire Button was not mapped to the player one socket, maybe there was a defect in the board, this way overcome by soldering the pink wire from pin 9 to the shoot button on the PCB

The recess looks quite large, but this was to allow the plug to fit in to the case.

While I was in there, I decided to change the LED to a green one.
Total cost 0.90p 
Time including file and cutting 2 hours.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

ZX Spectrum 'Compact'

ZX Class with reduced Alan Sugar.

My latest project is something I have always wanted to try, I have a ZX Spectrum +2A with Divide interface.
I have no need for the Tape deck, and I am not ashamed to admit that I always thought the deck added by Amstrad was rather ugly, the new owners of the Sinclair brand bolted stuff to things on all their products.
The Computer itself was purchased online as a non-worker in need of some repair, so I got it going and used it as is. 
I saw this blog last year describing how this Blogger had sawn off a +2 and I was very impressed. 
My +2A has more breakout ports than the original, the printer port on the PCB is in fact wider than the cut down size so this has to be sacrificed.

 I used a Hacksaw and clamped a straight edge to cut away the far edge, this will be needed to cap off the cut that removes the tape deck.
With some filing and sanding, I clamped the edges together and bonded with compound adhesive.

 The bottom half was bonded with Grip fill, it served to fill the edges that did not meet.

 Filling and sanding to hide the edge as best as I could, I then sanded the whole unit with P600 glass paper and washed the unit down with Methylated spirits to get years of furniture polish from it. If this was not done you would get an effect called fish eye, its somthing to do with silicon in the polish not bonding to the spray paint.

 The case gets primed inside and out.

The area circled is the printer port that is sacrificed to fit the PCB into the new size case.

Here is it with its tops coat, fully assembled with a DiVide interface in the I/O Port.

rear view, you can make the join out, this could have been eliminated with proper bench equipment, but I think I got the best I could for a hacksaw.

The whole project was 20 hours start to finish, the only additional costs were for paint and primer.

I am please the I have removed some of the Sugar from my Spectrum. :-)