Archive for the ‘Brain Board/Wozanium’ Category

End of an Era for Me

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

As look back at some of the blog postings I made during the early days of the Mimeo project, the excitement I felt, could be easily discerned. For better or worse, after nearly 7 years, that excitement is no longer there, and it’s time to move the project over to someone who has a strong passion for that landmark system.

I’ve transitioned Mimeo 1 sales to Corey Cohen. I’m sure he will do a great job selling and supporting people interested in building reproduction Apple 1 Computers.

Since first making them available in March of 2010, I’ve sold 167 Mimeo PCBs, the first few as part of a kit, even a few that were completely assembled and tested. I have greatly enjoyed the entire process from creating the PCBs in the first place, to fixing a few boards that customers needed help with. Especially gratifying, has been the great relationship that I have established with all the people that I have made contact with over the years. One thing that I never expected, when starting this project, was the amazing contacts I made with so many people associated with Apple during those early years.

However, the learning part of the process, which is one of things that keeps me interested in my hobbies, has not been there over the past few years. It is time to move the sales over to Corey, who has unbelievable enthusiasm and knowledge for and about those milestone computers.

SCELBI PCBS

I will continue to sell SCELBI PCBs, as I am still excited about working on that system and learning a lot, while doing it. Blog followers will know that the Oscilloscope Interface PCBs, the last SCELBI boards that need to be reproduced, will soon become available to interested parties. I have some ideas for some even more obscure reproduction vintage computer projects. However, the Oscilloscope interface must be completed, before I move on to those projects.

Other Products

Other products I have sold in the past, will only be continue to be sold if I have remaining inventory in stock.

I presently have stock of the following

  • Brain Boards
  • Swift Cards
  • I am sold out of the following:

  • Apple II, rev 0 boards
  • SuperProto boards
  • PS/2 keyboard adapters.
  • Datanetics Keyboard PCB
  • The PS/2 Keyboard Adapter

    The PS/2 keyboard adapter is a little bit of a special item to me. When I had those PCBs made, because of economies of scale, I had 150 fabricated. I never thought I’d sell all of them. In the end, I sold over 140 those little dongles, using the others for a number of my own special projects. Though they probably exist, I have never heard of a PS/2 keyboard that it didn’t work with. It was designed to operate with Apple 1 and Apple II computers. As I originally hoped, people adapted the design to a number of systems beyond that. The firmware has had minor firmware features and improvements made over the years, but the basic design hasn’t changed over all these years.

    There have been a number of other PS/2 keyboard to parallel ASCII keyboard adapters designed over the years, some coming before, and inspiring my adapter. Though it could certainly be improved further, I sincerely believe my version is currently the best of the breed.

    When I get the time to add them to my web site, I will be releasing to the public domain, with no restrictions, all design files, including firmware and PCB CAD files. You will be able to do what you want with it, make copies for sale, improve it, or just study the design for your own purposes.

    Brain Boards – batch 2 now available.

    Saturday, March 5th, 2016

    I now have a batch of Brain Board kits ready to go.

    For kits sent to the US – send $59 per kit to my Paypal account (at end of this email)

    For kits sent internationally – send $59 per kit, plus $10 postage (combined shipping for all kits) to my Paypal address (at end of this email)

    For those that want to build and test the kits add $25 per kit built and tested.

    Shipment should occur within a few days, except for those that want me to build and test – expect a week or so before shipment.

    My PayPal address is: (mike@willegal.net)

    Make sure you include your shipping address with Payment.

    thanks and best regards,
    Mike Willegal

    PCB and kit stocking status

    Saturday, February 27th, 2016

    I now have everything that I normally stock on hand – except SCELBI front panels.

    I was a bit behind on things, but today I shipped a few items that I owed people, so am caught up, with the exception of those SCELBI front panels.

    In addition, due to popular demand, I made a new run of Brain Board kits. I tested an example earlier in the week, and except for a bad 74LS74 IC, I found they work fine. I’ll have to go through my stock of 74LS74’s and test them before finishing putting together kits. With luck, I’ll have kits ready to ship by next weekend. Watch for an update in the next few days before sending money.

    Brain Boards Sold Out – summary of pending projects

    Friday, January 9th, 2015

    I built and tested the last two kits over the holiday break and sold them on eBay. I made 59 PCBs, and kept 1 for myself, so there are 58 that were sold, either as kits or fully assembled.

    Once the initial interest passed, they were very slow sellers, so I’m not expecting to make any more. I have some ideas for an enhanced version, but that is very far down my list of things to do, so I don’t know if or when I’ll take the time to work on that.

    Here are just a few projects on my backlog that are ahead of the enhanced Brain Board. These will easily keep me busy for a couple of years or more.

  • Finishing all the SCELBI I/O Boards
  • Getting Apple II RTTY on the air – reception is working – transmission software is coded, but needs lab testing prior to actual “on air” tests
  • Getting vintage computer Morse code encoder/decoder on the air – Jack Rubin sent me an early Byte Magazine article with a 8008 software package for this, so I’ll probably do this on the SCELBI
  • Fabricating SCELBI Chassis Components
  • Putting together the VCF East 10 display and “Fix It” lecture
  • Hack together a Mimeo with 20K DRAM
  • Move Apple II RTTY application to the Mimeo/Apple 1
  • I have identified another board that is rare, of historical significance and worthy of replication
  • I have other ideas, that are even further out, such as doing a Mark-8. If I did a Mark-8, I would probably etch my own boards. This would probably be pretty easy to do, as the artwork was published and there was no solder mask and the holes were not plated through. I don’t think I would make batches of boards for sale, as this has been done already, and some of the parts are in the harder to find category.

    I also really need to do a manual/book on the SCELBI and I have made some half hearted attempts to start this. The main obstacle is that I’d want to scan and OCR the original docs and that is a very laborious process.

    Brain Board Inventory Down to Two Kits

    Thursday, December 4th, 2014

    I have two Brain Board Kits left and don’t think I’ll do a rerun anytime in the near future.

    I had a total of 59 made in early 2011 and it’s taken a while to sell the last few kits after a fair level of initial interest. Given the numbers made, these are likely to be hard to come by in the future. If you don’t already have one, this may be your last opportunity to get one for some time.

    Brain Board Manual Errata

    Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

    I have a mistake in my Brain Board Manual versions 5.3 (current version) and lower. On page BB:12, the last switch settings are incorrect.

    Dual Bank Mode – Either high bank of Brain Board or low bank of Brain Board is selected

    should be:

    1-ON
    3-OFF
    4-ON

    5-ON
    6-OFF
    7-ON
    8-OFF

    Switch 3 and 4 settings are backwards in the manual. When I get a chance I’ll update the PDF that is on my Brain Board web page. I already printed manuals for the remaining inventory of Brain Boards, so will hand edit those manuals.

    Kit and PCB status update and a question

    Saturday, February 1st, 2014
  • Coming for VCF east – SWYFT card reproduction kits – special introductory price if you join my SWYFT Card soldering Workshop – $40, drop me an email to register. Part of the proceeds goes to help support MARCH. After VCF east, price goes to $50.
  • Mimeo’s – out of stock – expect to have new batch around end of February
  • Datanetics PCBs – 1 left – rerun timing TBD
  • Brain Boards – 9 left – Note that I’m going to try move the remaining Brain Board kits over the next few months. I might even list them on ebay, to clear them out. If you want one, time to get it, is now. A rerun is not likely to be in the “cards”. I have a vague idea for an enhanced firmware board that may or may not get traction someday in the future.
  • SUPERPROTO kits – 8 left – rerun TBD – these are slow sellers and I haven’t actually made any money on these. However, I find them useful for my own purposes, so I might do another run (someday).
  • ACI kits – plentiful (currently I’m running low on PROMs, but expect I’ll be able to find another batch without too much trouble)
  • PS/2 keyboard adapter kits – plentiful
  • A2 rev 0 – ample supply
  • SCELBI 8H – I have less than 10 8H board sets remaining. I’ll make extra SRAM PCBs, when needed. Front Panels are in limited supply (less than 15, I think). TTY boards are plentiful
  • Now for the question – should I call my Apple II rev 0 reproductions Mimeo IIs, even though they came first?

    Kit and PCB availability Status

    Monday, August 26th, 2013

    Here is a summary of status of kits and PCB availability

  • Mimeo 1 PCBs – out of stock – new PCBs coming late fall 2013
  • Mimeo cassette interface kits – plenty in stock
  • Datanetics PCBs – less than 10 left – no brackets available – considering run of reproduction keycaps
  • PS/2 keyboard adapters – plenty in stock
  • Apple II rev 0 reproduction – out of stock – new PCBs coming fall 2013
  • Brain Board kits – less than 10 left – rerun plans are up in the air
  • SUPERPROTO PCBs and kits – less than 10 left – rerun questionable
  • SCELBI 8H PCB set – in stock – extra SRAM boards available, too
  • SCELBI TTY PCB – plenty in stock – still untested- caveat emptor
  • SCELBI front panels – probable Sept, 2013 – being anodized now, screen printing legend will be next
  • SCELBI 8B PCB set – layout work in progress – given the other ongoing projects, and other planned expenses, I’m realistically looking at 2014.
  • email: mike@willegal.net if you have any questions

    Say Hi At VCFse in the Atlanta Area

    Monday, March 18th, 2013

    This year, for the third year in a row, I’ll be leaving the family in the care of our dog, Toby, and be spending a weekend with fellow retro-computer hobbyists. Since this years VCFeast, had to be cancelled, I’ll be treking down to VCF southeast in Atlanta for the weekend of April 20 and 21st. These weekends are always fun, so I highly encourage everyone that might be interested in these things to make the effort to join us.

    Here is the link with informaiton for that event.
    http://vintage.org/2013/southeast/

    Stop by my exhibit. I’ll be operating a Mimeo 1 and a reproduction SCELBI 8H (one of a very few working SCELBIs in the world). I’ll even give you a chance to “drive”. Tell me you read my blog and get a free SCELBI/8008 reference card.

    See you there…

    Beginning of Year Retro Update

    Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

    Mimeo’s

    Last weekend, I sold the last of the Mimeo PCBs (Glossy and Matte) that I had in stock. I will make some more matte after I’ve sold some of the first batch of the SCELBIs. I’m down to 4 ACI cards, so I’ll have to do a batch in matte to go with the next batch of Mimeos.

    The new movie, “jOBS” will premiere at the Sundance Film festival this month. I’m hoping that the Mimeo PCBs that I sold to the prop house supporting the film, get some screen time and the film is good enough to get some decent reviews.

    I still have plans to do a full built up system, but that project will have to wait until I have the SCELBI going. I am sorry that this has been teaser for some folks who have been waiting for it. However, I’m hoping that when I finally get to it, that folks will be impressed with the results, and say that the wait was worth it.

    The new run of Datanetics PCBs have been trickling out, maybe a little faster than I expected, given the difficulty of finding components. They have mostly been combined with Mimeo PCB sales. I really wonder how many will get built up. This datanetics PCB batch has been done more of a service to the retro community, as it will be a while before this project breaks even financially.

    SCELBI

    Quotes from Advanced Circuits on SCELBI boards are about half of what I expected, which is awesome. Nashua Circuits came in as expected, so I guess Advanced will get this business, unless Nashua can do much better (I’ll give them a chance to improve their quotes). Since there is no solder mask, it really shouldn’t make much of a difference who makes them.

    Design checks on the base 5 board set is done, and I’m about ready to declare victory on the layout tweaking/matching. The 8H backplane is just about ready, so I’ll probably get a batch of those made to go with the base 5 board 8H set, making it a 6 board set. The backplane has been challenging, as there is no schematic, only a wire list intended for wiring your own chassis. Good images of the top of backplane are non-existant. My orders for the PCBs may go in, as early as this week.

    I do have one thing to check on the CPU board. There were at least two versions of the CPU board made, I am replicating a later version. There is a report of an issue with the step function reported SCELBI digest, issue II. Though describing a problem in a later version of the CPU board, this report shows a slightly different design than the one in the version of the schematics/layout that I am replicating. I just need to make sure the schematics that I’ve followed are accurate.

    At this writing, estimates for the set of 6 PCBs, with an 8008D thrown in, but no other components, is in the range of 300 dollars. Final price might vary a bit, but I doubt that I could make it go any lower, without making this a one off effort, not to be repeated.

    A friend of mine, is looking into doing a reproduction bezel for the front panel of the chassis. He tells me that there are some challenges, as the original was anodized, and most panel manufacturers, these days, do powder coating.

    Today, I am going to see if I can generate a BOM (bill of materials) in an excell spreadsheet. Except for the 8008 and memory, I think most of the rest of the electronics components are readily available. I plan on sending the BOM to Unicorn, who have indicated, a while back, that they would do parts kits for this project, like they have for the Mimeo/Apple 1. The relay sockets used for I/O ports in the chassis, are available, but expensive – I’m going to see if I can find a way to get bulk price on those from someone.

    The 8B will follow on the heals of the 8H, It uses the same front panel, CPU, DBB, and input boards as the 8H, but requires 4 new boards…

  • new backplane with an extra slot for the memory addressing board. I haven’t investigated in detail, but I hope I can leverage most of the 8H backplane design, making this pretty straightforward
  • new 4K memory module. I already have done the base chip placement for this one
  • PROM board. Cameron Cooper has a draft design, that he says he will let me leverage
  • memory address expansion card – haven’t started
  • All in all, you can see that based on the head start that I have on the 8B boards, this shouldn’t take nearly as long as the 8H has taken, to complete.

    After these are done, there is more SCELBI hardware to be done, a TTY interface, a scope interface and a cassette interface. Power supplies are another potential future project. For now you will need to find a 5 volt and -9 volt supplies. Amperage ratings depend upon the amount of memory and peripherals. According to SCELBI documentation, system with a keyboard, oscilloscope interface, and cassette interface requires the following.

  • 4K memory requires 5 volts at 6 AMPs and -9 volts at 3 AMPs
  • 1K memory requires 5 volts at 3 AMPs and -9 volts at 1 AMP
  • I’m also likely to do an automated front panel controller with a micro-controller, to make loading the memory on the 8H easier. I might be able to reuse my existing PS/2 adapter with a new program in order to accomplish this.

    Brain Board

    Brain Board stock is dwindling, but sales have been very slow, as of late. When the stock runs out, I’ll definitely hold off on making a new run, until demand builds up again.

    SUPERPROTO

    So far, interest has been a bit lighter than expected. However I’ve got wind of a couple of super cool SUPERPROTO based projects, that may just jumpstart sales when the projects are publicly announced. Feedback from folks using the card has been positive, with no unexpected problems or issues reported. I also know of one, well known, Apple II hardware designer that is leveraging parts of the design, which I have published in detail on the SUPERPROTO Wiki, for his next efforts. Even though, I get no financial reward from this leveraging, it is gratifying to know that my efforts are of use to others.

    Apple II rev 0

    A rerun of these PCBs is also in the cards, though I want to make a few tweaks, so it will also come after the SCELBI and probably the fully built Mimeo.

    That is all the retro stuff that I can think of, for now – Happy New Year