Wednesday, June 28, 2017

NEC V20 installed

I went ahead and bit the bullet and installed the NEC V20 CPU. I lose some compatibility, but gain some speed. I'm keeping the 8088 in case I decide to go back.

There's a version of the XT-IDE ROM for 80186 CPU's. I'm wondering how much performance improvement I'll get if I update my card to use that version. But I'll have to remember to revert back should I go back to the 8088, so maybe I leave well enough alone.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet? No, but we're getting close! That somewhat blurry image is my Tandy 1000 SX booting to a Compact Flash card. As part of the upgrades I'm doing to it, I picked up an XT-IDE card which included a 2 gig CF card, and now have more storage on my current Tandy than I ever dreamed of back in the day. Since the CF already had MS-DOS 6.22 on it alongside the XT-IDE utilities, and there were no conflicts between the default settings and the Tandy, installation was pretty much plug-n-play. Opened up the computer, plugged it in to an open slot, and powered up. Viola! Success! I believe DOS will support up to an 8 gig drive, so I may upgrade in the future. But for now, this will definitely do the trick!

Now I just need an easy way of getting software onto the CF. I have several "sneakernet" options, such as installing a 3.5" drive in the Tandy, putting one of the 5.25" drives into a desktop, or putting a CF reader into a desktop. Ultimately, I'd probably prefer to network the computer, and the Intel EtherExpress 8/16 seems to be the most affordable option that doesn't require adapters to get RJ-45. 3com also made an 8-bit NIC with RJ-45 connector on it, but they seem to sell for considerably more on eBay. In the interim, I suppose I could make a null modem cable and run either ppp or slip between the Tandy and a Linux box. It will be pretty slow, as the UARTs on the serial card are 8250s, I believe, which will limit the speed to 9600bps or so. I supposed I should probably pull the serial card and find out for sure, and I could also upgrade the UARTs on the card to 16550 (if they're not already), which will allow considerably faster speeds across the serial ports.

I also received the NEC V20 CPU that I ordered. I know I gain some extra speed if I install it, but I lose some compatibility, as the V20 is instruction-compatible with the 80186 instead of the 8088. I wonder if it is possible to piggyback them, much like the 6309 piggyback mod available for the Tandy CoCo.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


My daughter found a rabbit den in our back yard, so of course decided she wanted bunnies. So we bought her two domestic bunnies and named them Tandy and CoCo. My wife actually suggested the names, but I definitely approve ;) I didn't realize how much character they have. One of them is really laid back, but the other is extremely inquisitive. It is so fun to watch!