Workprint – October 2018

I joked in the scroller for Demo Factory 2018 last week about my X entry ending up as just a couple of parts with loads of effect presets to pad it out, but the party is only a month away now and progress on my demo really hasn’t really been… well, progressing. Part of the problem is my damned shoulder, it’s been “frozen” since the end of 2017 so, whilst working at a computer isn’t an issue in the short term, the longer sessions required for larger projects are proving problematic, leaving me in need of painkillers. I’ll have to see how things go over the next week or so and, if it’s not going anywhere fast, perhaps consider a “plan B”.

In slightly happier news I have a new toy which is pictured above. It’s a Pi1541 and is essentially a Raspberry Pi model 3B+ wearing a magical hat that, with the right software installed, makes it pretend to be a Commodore 1541 floppy drive including emulating the electronics. I haven’t had much time to test things since the hat only arrived in the post this afternoon from Australia, but the Pi’s micro SD card has been set up and I’ve tried loading a couple of demos on the C64; from what I’ve seen so far at least, it knocks the SD2IEC into a cocked hat despite being not much more expensive. It’s intended for use on my VIC 20 but I’ve been keeping an eye out for a C16 or Plus/4 although that search hasn’t been particularly fruitful, one of the latter arrived a few weeks ago but won’t even power up so is going back – which will be able to utilise it as well.

Finally, something interesting which made me happy as it floated past in my Twitter feed this morning was a YouTube video posted by Adrian Black about the C64C he was given which had spent a decade braving the elements of Oregon to the point where a colony of ants had moved in. The video itself is a heartwarming tale of a little 8-bit that could but one thing that made me smile was Adrian’s demo of choice for testing the machine was SIDBurners 7; only the Nostalgia intro appears in his video but the main menu code on that one was mine!

A day off… with VGA

Today I’m having a “day off” so, because this is what I assume everybody does when they have a little free time, it was spent fixing my Amiga 600HD after an “incident” where it’s previous CF card reader was damaged (a long story involving a CD32, an SX-1 and a dodgy HDD cable), failing to breathe some life back into a Cumana external Amiga floppy drive and playing with a few bits purchased for my Raspberry Pi. The result of the latter is this…

…which is Chameleon Pi running off my old 256Mb model B Pi, a Playstation 2 DualShock pad connected through a USB converter and VGA out. Although I wasn’t entirely happy with the Atari 8-bit or C64 emulation, the Apple 2 seems reasonable and the plan was, amongst other things, to have something compact and friendly to use at events for games on hardware I don’t own. It also has a new case which cost about six quid, but no audio at the moment but that’s being worked on.

And for an encore, half an hour was then used to persuade the GBS-8220 VGA upscaler I purchased a few months ago that working with the Spectrum +2 would be a fun thing to do; this process mostly revolved around poking wires from the upscaler into the Spectrum’s video port.

At some point I’ll get around to actually soldering a plug onto those wires, although considering my lack of ability with a soldering iron that might take a bit of practise and building up to. The actual video output from the GBS-8220 is pretty decent, I noticed that there’s some smearing but it doesn’t look to be any more pronounced than what was coming out of the SCART cable and television used previously.

Mmm, Raspberry Pi!

It took a while, but my shiny new Raspberry Pi arrived yestarday… so I’ve just picked it up from the sorting office, plugged in a spare keyboard and mouse through a Poundland hub, run a cable to our old JVC CRT telly, inserted the 4Gb SD card I’d prepped with Debian Squeeze and powered it on… and away it went!

In fact it worked so well that, although the photo was uploaded from my (t)rusty old laptop, this blog posting is being written via the Pi itself!

Of course the big question right now is what to actually do with the thing now i’ve got it… there’s a dead 48K Spectrum knocking about that I got specifically but how to mount it and how to persuade the Pi to natter with it’s keyboard…?