Archive for the ‘Brain Board/Wozanium’ Category

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:



    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: 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.

    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


    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.


    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.


    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

    Interesting Brain Board remote switch

    Friday, May 18th, 2012

    Corey Cohen came up with this easy method of creating a remote switch panel for the Brain Board. Here is an image of his prototype version. Knowing Corey, I’m sure that his final version will be mounted on a nice plexi panel.

    Brain Board Remote Switch Thingy

    Brain Board Remote Switch Thingy

    One DPDT switch controls which bank on the brain board is selected. Corey has loaded integer basic and the original monitor onto his second bank. The other SPST switch controls whether brain board or motherboard roms are selected after reset – this second switch is essentially the same as the firmware board toggle switch.

    One wire needs to be added to the back of brain board to connect Apples reset to the DIP socket at pin 2. Reset can be picked up from the onboard switch location. It is the center of the three holes.

    A ribbon cable is used to connect the remote switch box to the Brain Board. As you long as you stay within reason, longer ribbon cables than pictured should pose no issues. The only active signal is reset, which, when asserted, is held low for relatively long periods of time.

    Brain Board Remote Switch Setup

    Brain Board Remote Switch Setup

    Wozanium fix for new Apple 1 Program/Hack

    Saturday, February 18th, 2012

    It’s been a while since I found an Apple 1 program that didn’t run on the Brain Board/Wozanium, but there is a new program out for the Apple 1 that uses the ACI for audio out.

    Copied here, is my post on the Applefritter forum, describing the fix.

    This program will not work as is, with versions Brain Board/Wozanium pack firmware less than version 5.2. There is an issue with the the gosubs 750s in the 900 range (at the end of the program). Those gosubs call directly into the original Cassette interface driver to generate sound. This driver is still present in the Wozanium PROM, but is incompatible with Apple II hardware and will crash the system.

    There are several fixes available.

    1) remove the call 750s at the end of the program. LInes 900 and 910.

    2) Change the pokes in line 999 to call the Wozanium A2 cassette Driver at 0xd0d7:
    999 POKE 750,169:POKE 752,32:POKE 753,215:POKE 754,208:POKE 755,96:RETURN

    3) If you have a PROM burner, fix the Wozanium cassette driver to work with the A2 hardware by erasing a bit in the PROM – change location 0x01EA in PROM from 0xBC to 0xAC.

    4) If you don’t have a PROM burner, send your board or prom back to me and I’ll erase the bit for you.

    With fixes 2, 3 or 4 in place, you can attach a preamp to the cassette output of the Apple 2 and get the same sounds as if you were running on an actual Apple 1. It’s kind of funky because the A2 has a built in speaker, which is bypassed, but it works.

    If you are running a Wozanium PROM image in an Apple II emulator either:
    1) remove the call 750s at the end of the program. Lines 900 and 910.

    2) change line 999 to call the Wozanium ACI driver at 0xd1d7:
    999 POKE 750,169:POKE 752,32:POKE 753,215:POKE 754,209:POKE 755,96:RETURN

    Finally if you don’t have a preamp for the cassette output, there is an inexpensive design on my website that will work for this application.

    “Retro 1” Systems

    Friday, January 27th, 2012

    Marty Ewer is now selling “Retro 1” systems on ebay for $249. They are fully tested Apple IIe computers equiped with my Brain Board. If you are looking for the easiest, least expensive way to an authentic Apple 1 experience, this may be it. In addition, you get a working Apple IIe in the bargain. Search for “Retro 1” under user “shockwavetechnologies” on ebay.