Kickstarter: R-Kade Zero

February 22, 2016

As many may already know I’ve built a number of Raspberry Pi based arcade systems over the last few years starting in 2012 with R-Kade, last year with R-Kade Mini and now my latest endeavour R-Kade Zero which fits into the palm of your hand.

So after receiving encouragement from a number of members at our local Maker Space I’ve took the plunge and started my first kickstarter for the R-Kade Zero mini arcade platform.

You can check it out at:

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1120658355/r-kade-zero

R-Kade_Zero_All_small

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C64 v Raspberry Pi face-off

April 20, 2012

At Wednesday’s Open Session at our Maker Space, Jon was giving a Commodore 64 an MOT and I had a Raspberry Pi on show.

By the end of the session, the C64 was sorted and we had gotten VICE a C64 emulator working on the RPi. So we had a good old fashion face off between them.

Pictures here:

C64 v Raspberry Pi face-offC64 v Raspberry Pi face-offC64 v Raspberry Pi face-off


“UserPort” for RaspBerry Pi v0.10

March 14, 2012

** UPDATE: You can get the next generation board at tindie.com in the DTronixs store

Now, I’ve got a few simple boards under my belt and built a useful component library in DesignSpark PCB, my next board is a little more complicated. For this I go back in time to the original BBC Micro for inspiration.

I remember using the BBC Micro back in the day while at college. The BBC was the first computer I used for “physical computing”, that is interacting with the real world through external sensors and outputs. Sure you can do that today, with any number of embedded boards such as the Arduino or PICAXE but this was 1983.

The BBC Micro made it easy, it had a digital 8-channel general purpose I/O User Port and a 4-channel 8/12-bit Analogue input Port. BBC BASIC had commands to talk to those ports to make the real world interaction come to life. For me, the BBC micro through its user and analogue ports brought physical computing into the classroom.

RPi UserPort interface board duplicates the User Port and Analogue Port of the BBC Micro for the RasPi but uses more modern components such as the MCP23S17 and MCP3204 from Microchip.

First draft of RPi_UserPort schematic is here


An update to “List of Homebrew Video Games Consoles”

January 31, 2011

I’ve neglected my list of homebrew video game consoles, so here’s a update:

  • www.xcores.orgMy friend Yvo’s site related to the awesome Xmos chip.
  • mikronauts.comPropCade is a self-contained and affordable Propeller platform for emulating old computers (Z80, 6809, etc) and old game consoles.
  • www.retrode.orgNot a console as such but a handy way feeding games to your SNES or Mega Drive / Genesis emulator from your original cartridges.
  • www.4dsystems.com.auPoGa, a Portable Game Development console looking a lot like a SNES controller.
  • www.chameleon-dev.comChameleon PIC 16-Bit and the Chameleon AVR 8-Bit are yet another Propeller based systems this time with the addition of a standard Microchip PIC or Atmel AVR microcontroller.
  • www.fpgaarcade.comA site dedicate to recreating gaming hardware from the past in modern programmable FPGA devices.
  • www.lucidscience.comA beautifully documented insight to designing and building your own classic console
  • www.microvga.coma design offering a low-cost Microcontroller to VGA interface
  • www.ladyada.netA new system from LadyAda offering a 320×240 TFT color display with resistive touch screen.
  • rossum.posterous.comRBox: A diy 32 bit game console for the price of a latte
  • www.linusakesson.net linusakesson “craft”

the original list is still here:


The ZX Spectrum ULA: How to design a microcomputer

December 29, 2010

I’ve been following Chris Smith’s zxdesign.info web site for a number of years. His redesign of a ZX Spectrum ULA using only logic IC’s was an awesome achievement.

In addition he’s wrote a wonderful account “The ZX Spectrum ULA: How to design a microcomputer” on the forerunner of programmable logic – the Uncommitted Logic Array (ULA). I was lucky enough to get his book as an early Christmas present and I found it a great read.


Maker Faire @ Newcastle 2010

March 19, 2010

We had a great time at this years Maker Faire in Newcastle over the weekend of 13th and 14th March 2010.

My kids, who are almost teenagers, were dragging their heels as we left our parked car, totally sure they weren’t going to have a good time as we walked towards the Centre of Life.

Walking up the foot bridge to mezzanine level of the maker faire, you could hear the crackling of the musical tesla coil, then as you reached the mezzanine level you were hit by a wall of sound from the various gadgets and things beeping and booping, the musically exhibits being played and of course the Tesla coil. Their faces slowly changed as they realised there was fun stuff here and after a couple of nervous minutes getting their bearings off they went and for the rest of the day it was like trying to herd cats. 😀

I don’t think I saw a single kid, young or old who wasn’t enjoying themselves.

I was finally able to meet up, put a face to a name, with Baggers, Coley, TonyF and Leon from the Parallax and Xmos forums. Leon was being provocative in wearing his Xmos t-shirt whilst on the Parallax Propeller stand with Baggers and Coley. Coley got his own back by having on display a Xmos XC-1 board with a “powered by propeller” label stuck over the Xmos chip. Good nature ribbing 🙂

I had a great chat with John Honniball about his UK101’s he was displaying (I wish I had one for my collection of retro computers 😉 ) and his Arduino music synthesiser.

We met up with Jim and Kat from Sonodrome who were showing off their PSOC (pocket oscillator) and Tubby amps. On Sunday Jim help Sid build his own PSOC. He took it to school for a show and tell and his teacher and class loved it. His teacher was especially impressed that Haydn had soldered it all himself (with a little help).

Abs, not to be left out, spent the afternoon building a mignonette handheld LED game at the Maker table with a little help from me.

Leon has posted some pictures from the faire:

http://www.leonheller.com/Maker%20Faire%202010/

http://www.leonheller.com/MakerFaire%202010%20(2)/

Jim and Kat from sonodrome have also posted some pictures:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonodrome/sets/72157623644925608/

and Jonathan Street has a nice write up here:

http://jonathanstreet.com/blog/newcastle-maker-faire-2010


X-DTV – Preliminary schematic and PCB v0.42

January 7, 2010

X-DTV is a project I’ve been working on with Yvo of xcores.org. The idea is to make a XS1-L1 64 based retro-minimalist homebrew game console similar in concept to the Uzebox and Zuzebox.

Like the X-One before it, X-DTV will use Yvo’s VDP video engine but instead of driving a VGA output it will drive a NTSC TV output. We hope to get PAL TV as well but the 35.46895MHz oscillators have proven difficult to get a hold off (If anyone know where we can get them off the shelve without a large MOQ then drop me a comment).

The X-DTV’s specification is:

  • XS1-L1 64 internally clocked to 400MHz with 64K RAM.
  • 5-bit R-2R Video DAC for driving NTSC
  • 2x NES or SNES D-PAD connectors
  • SD Card interface
  • Stereo PWM audio
  • XTAG-2 Interface
  • 2x 5-way XLINK for expansion

The latest (not quite complete) PCB is below:

A PDF of the schematic is here.