Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Thoughts on the Altair-duino

After building the Altair-duino, I discovered there are actual clones out there, including the S100 bus instead of the expansion the Altair-duino uses, but I am perfectly content with the one I built, and thought I'd post a few thoughts.

My kit was missing a single 1k resistor, so I was afraid I would have to wait to finish the kit, but I discovered through the documentation that this resistor is used to limit volume level of the built-in sound. I left it out until I get a replacement (or something close), and continued assembly.

After I finished, I booted up using the USB port and started playing around with some of the included floppy and hard disk images, especially the Infocom one, and discovered how to configure it so that my favorite floppy and hard disk images are already loaded at power-on, so all I have to do then is load the correct rom and boot into that image. This saves a little bit of toggling of switches to get into an operating system with a disk already mounted.

The kit also includes a built-in VT100 terminal which uses a VGA monitor and USB keyboard. It is very picky about what keyboard it will accept, though, to the point that I was nearly convinced that I had a poor soldering joint on the USB connector or something. I used all of the USB keyboards I have, including an IBM M Keyboard which has a built in Soarer's converter (which converts it from a terminal keyboard to USB), and none of them worked. Then I remembered seeing an old Saitek keyboard of my wife's out in my garage, so I grabbed it and... Success! There a jumpers on the RGB lines so that you can set which of the three colors you want the VT100 to be. I don't know if you can mix them, but I currently have it set to green. I may replace the jumpers with small switches on the back of the machine.

Using the VT100 terminal leaves a serial port open, which I am considering using to connect a WiFi "modem" to, allowing me to "dial" into other systems, or possibly run a CP/M-based BBS system off of. I hate to leave this thing sit here idle, or just use it for the occassional game of Zork.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Monday, January 1, 2024

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to anyone still reading. Got some projects I hope to work on in the coming year, but not going to announce until they're well underway.