Ciarcia’s Circuit Cellar Complete Series

October 29, 2009

Steve Ciarcia’s Circuit Cellar articles from the heydays of Byte magazine were immortalized in a multi-volume set of books published in the late 1970’s and the 1980’s. Unfortunately these books have been out of print for many years. But fear not, you can now find them on Goggle Books.

Ciarcia’s Circuit Cellar Vol. 1

Ciarcia’s Circuit Cellar Vol. 2

Ciarcia’s Circuit Cellar Vol. 3

Ciarcia’s Circuit Cellar Vol. 4

Ciarcia’s Circuit Cellar Vol. 5

Ciarcia’s Circuit Cellar Vol. 6

Ciarcia’s Circuit Cellar Vol. 7

Build Your Own Z80 Computer


Another Anniversay for me – Uzebox

October 27, 2009

Yet another anniversary.

Its a year to the day I first join the Uzebox forums. Check out the cool retro-minimalist homebrew game console at

I was hoping to have Zuzebox, my Uzebox compatible console, prototype finished before this day but like many things time has not been my friend. But I am still working on it and I ‘ve decided to use standard modules for the USB interface as well as the Ethernet interface.

Soldering and Resistor Color Code Tutorials

October 16, 2009

If you’re just getting started in electronics learning how to solder and how to read a resistor colour code is a very important skill to have.

A very good soldering tutorial can be found at

and if you’re want to find out how to read a resistor color codes check the online calculator at



October 15, 2009

Its a year to the day that I first heard about Xmos and their cool multi-core multi-threaded processors and joined the Xlinkers community. So I want to share some pictures of a XC-2 project I’ve been working on.

X-One from Front

X-One from Front

X-One from above

X-One from above

I’ve used Yvo’s great VDP video driver to get VGA graphics working on the prototype with R-2R resistor DAC for the video and a couple of spare SNES controllers for the gaming inputs.

I’m porting a classic 80’s video game, so watch this space 😉


October 13, 2009

The XMOSLinkers site has another interesting project involving XMOS multicore processors. This time its Corin Rathbone from Bristol University NetScope that is worthy of blog mention.

NetScope is a multfunction instrument with a 2ch Oscilloscope and 8-ch Logic Analyser. The instruments specification is as follows:

  • * Analogue Channels: 2
    * Analogue Channels Maximum Sampling Rate: 40 Msps
    * Analogue Bandwidth: 20 MHz
    * Vertical Resolution: 12 bits
    * Dynamic Range: 72 dB
    * Analogue Input: 1M / 15pF BNC
    * Analogue Input Coupling: AC/DC (Software Controlled)
    * Analogue Input Voltage Range: -5V to +5V (In 1x Mode)
    * Analogue Input Absolute Maximum Voltage Range: -5.5 to 5.5V

    * Digital Channels: 8
    * Digital Channels Maximum Sampling Rate: 50 Msps
    * Digital Voltage Range: 0-5V
    * Digital Absolute Maximum Voltage Range: -0.5 to 5.5V
    * Digital Logic Level High: 2V

  • In addition the instrument has its own web server and user connects to it through a standard web browser. Standard HTML pages show the scope traces with data from the analogue or digital inputs is
    displayed to the user via scalable vector graphics (SVG).

    Corins prototype consisted of a XMOS XS1-G Development Kit (XDK) and a set of custom PCB’s for the fast ADC and signal condition electronics. His boards were designed and laid out using KiCad, with the majority of the components surface mount.


    Free online Gerber file checking

    October 9, 2009 have an useful online gerber checking service in you need to check out your latest PCB design before sending it for manufacture.

    Zuzebox – A Uzebox compatible retro-minimalist homebrew game console

    October 7, 2009

    September and the start of October have been a busy time for me but I’ve finally managed at a last to capture to schematic my interpretation of the Uzebox the retro-minimalist homebrew game console. I’ve extended Uze’s design to include a USB and Ethernet interface and also Atari / Commodore 64 / Sega Mega (Genesis) style joysticks / d-pads through a classic 9W D interface.

    The USB interface is based on the ubiquitous FDTI FT232 USB to serial UART chip. So far I’ve only connected it to the 644’s serial Rx and Tx and RESET lines but I will investigate if the USB interface can also be used as a AVR programmer as well.

    The Ethernet interface is based on WIZnets WIZ810MJ module with a W5100 hardwired TCP/IP Ethernet on a chip. It’s available as a low cost simple drop in module that can be driven either through a traditional address / data bus scheme or through a 4 pin SPI interface. The Wiznet W5100 is used by the Arduino community so AVR drivers already exist to drive the chip.

    Finally the Atari/C64/Sega joystick interface is provided by a 4021 parallel to serial chip for each port. The 4021 is used in the SNES controllers so the Uzebox kernel can read them without any changes. The small downside is the Atari/C64/Sega joysticks lack the SNES “Start” or “Select” buttons so I may have to add a couple of switches/buttons to the final design to allow existing games to detect these buttons.

    A pdf of the prototype schematic is here. I hope to spend some time on the PCB layout in the coming weeks.