Archive for the ‘8008’ Category

SCELBI Oscilloscope PCBs Arrived

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Sometime in 2011, Cameron Cooper planted the idea of reproducing a SCELBI computer into my head. Once he had me convinced, I knew that I wanted to reproduce the entire line of SCELBI computers and I/O peripherals. SCELBI produced 16 different PCBs over the short lived life of their computer line, so this was going to be no small task. I knew that it would take a long time, and I was never sure that I would be able to maintain focus long enough to do them all.

At last, after 5 years, the last reproduction SCELBI PCBs have been made! Though I still have to build them up, write some software, and test them, the hard and most expensive part of making the PCBs has been done.



The digital board is the big one and the analog board is the small one. The digital board takes 16 bits of input from the computer for each character and coverts it into 4 bit digital X and Y vectors and the blanking information that make up a single character. The analog board coverts the XY vectors into analog voltages suitable for oscilloscope input. The analog card also will control horizontal and vertical positioning of each succeeding character and line.

I still have some parts to acquire, but I should have the missing parts and be able to begin assembly in about a week or two. Meanwhile, I can do some work on the software.

Here is the list of all 16 SCELBI PCBs
Main System Cards
1100 CPU – 8H/8B
1101 Data bus buffer – 8H/8B
1102 Input – 8H/8B
1103 Backplane – 8H
1104 Front Panel – 8H/8B
1105 1K SRAM – 8H
1106 Memory Expansion – 8B
1107 4K SRAM – 8B
1108 Backplane – 8B
1109 PROM – 8B

Peripheral Cards
2100 Oscilloscope digital
2101 Oscilloscope analog
2102 Audio Tape output
2103 Audio Tape read
2104 Teletype interface
2105 Keyboard

SCELBI Keyboard Interface Checkout

Monday, August 8th, 2016

After bench testing, I had to write an 8008 driver and hook up the keyboard interface to a real SCELBI to complete checkout. The standard I/O ports for the keyboard are port 4 for input and port 16 for output. For testing purposes, here is how the setup was hooked up.

Keyboard Interface Checkout

Keyboard Interface Checkout

Here is the driver.

168 ;
169 ; returns character in A
170 INPUT:
171 44-256 111 INP KEYIN ; read keyboard
172 44-257 240 NDA ; is a new character present
173 44-260 120 256 044 JFS INPUT
174 44-263 125 OUT KEYOUT ; ack character read
175 44-264 044 177 NDI 177 ; clear MSB
176 44-266 007 RET ; return character in A with MSB clear

In order to test, I simply changed the input driver on my modified creed monitor (MCMON), moved it to SRAM address 010-000 and downloaded using the MCMON monitor that is in EPROM on my SCELBI 8H. Then I jumped to the downloaded monitor to see if it would take input from my PS/2 keyboard adapter instead of the serial port. It all worked exactly as expected. I just need to put it into an enclosure and I can consider the hardware for this board done.

The software will probably take some more work, as I will have to integrate this keyboard driver with the oscilloscope driver for MEA, once I get the oscilloscope cards built. Speaking of the oscilloscope cards, I think I should be ordering the PCBs within a week or two. That interface will take considerably more software in order to get it working.

SCELBI Keyboard Interface Basic Checkout

Sunday, July 31st, 2016
SCELBI Keyboard Interface Checkout

SCELBI Keyboard Interface Checkout

This setup is being used to checkout basic functionality of the SCELBI Keyboard Interface card. The card was designed to interface to a Don Lancaster Keyboard as described in a couple of articles published in Radio-Electronics in 1973. The first article was the February issue and contained instructions on building a basic non-encoded keyboard. The April issue contained a follow on article with a description on how to build a keyboard encoder. These links contain the original articles and are hosted on Michael Holley’s comprehensive SWTPC pages. This keyboard/encoder design does not latch keypresses, but simply outputs what it sees, as the keystrokes occur. The strobe is supposed to come after the keyboard data, and end prior to keyboard data, so interfacing hardware doesn’t have to do anything fancy to latch the data.

The SCELBI keyboard interface accepts 8 bits of input data from the keyboard, with the most significant bit (MSB) being a strobe. The interface to the SCELBI computer contains 8 bits of data, with the MSB being a data available indicator. The data available indicator is cleared by a single input (high to clear) from the computer. The data and strobe coming from the keyboard can be independently inverted or not, by correct selection of jumpers around Z1 and Z4 and inclusion of the Z1 and Z4 7404 inverters or not. Leaving the 7404s out and bypassing them with jumpers will result in inverted data. With my PS/2 keyboard adapter, I needed to use the 7404 to keep the interface from inverting data. At one time, I had a version of PS/2 adapter firmware that would invert data, which would have been handy in this case, but I removed that feature some time ago.

It appears that SCELBI engineers had trouble using the Radio-Electronics keyboard strobe to latch data correctly. The strobe is OR’d with the data bits in order to make up an internal strobe for use within the board. Many keyboard designs internally latched data, and this extra circuitry doesn’t work since the incoming data never goes away, and the strobe stays stuck on. For my testing, I used one of my PS/2 adapters. I considered two solutions to this problem with strobe. My first thought was to modify my PS/2 keyboard adapter firmware to make it emulate a non-latching keyboard. In the end, after playing around with the interface, I decided to simply delete the gates that OR’d keyboard data with strobe. This can be seen in the following photo as the deletion of IC Z7 and the jumper from the pad at pin 2 to the pad at pin 12.

Configured Keyboard Interface

Configured Keyboard Interface

With this simple modification, I have bench tested the keyboard interface to the extent possible. Next, I need to write a small 8008 keyboard driver and connect to my reproduction SCELBI 8H.

Source of Sn72741 op-amps

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

The SCELBI cassette and oscilloscope interfaces both use a rather unusual variation of the jelly bean 741 op-amp. This is the TI SN72741, which puts this op-amp in a 14 pin DIP package. Though they can be had on e-bay, I recently discovered that has them for $5.50 each. They can be found at this link:

SCELBI Power Supply Internals

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

This SCELBI 8B power supply is built in a shadow box type chassis that is approximately 10″x5″x6″.


The internals are simply two Power-One linear Supplies, a switch, a fuse, 3 binding post type connectors, an amphenol 78S4 type connector and a fan. Here is an image of the interior. The fan is connected to the top, so isn’t visible in this view. The 5 volt supply is a C5-6 and the -9 is a modified B15-1.5. Be aware that the -9 supply is not powerful enough for a fully loaded 8H chassis.

SCELBI Power Supply Internals

SCELBI Power Supply Internals

Repro SCELBI Keyboard Interface In House

Monday, July 4th, 2016
SCELBI Keyboard Interface

SCELBI Keyboard Interface

Looks like I have enough parts on hand to build one of these babies up. It expects a decoded but unlatched keyboard. I don’t have one of these, so I’ll modify the firmware on one of my PS/2 adapters to act like one. With that I should be able to hack together a simple 8008 driver that will eventually work with MEA on the SCELBI.

SCELBI 8B with Power Supply

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016
SCELBI 8B Complete

SCELBI 8B Complete

Here is a complete, original, SCELBI 8B system that I was recently able to examine and operate. In the past, I already had examined the TTY and Cassette interfaces. This time, I was able to examine the power supply and will put up some posts in the near feature, including interior shots.

SCELBI Oscilloscope Digital Board Rework Instructions.

Monday, June 6th, 2016

This document provides rework instructions that will bring the PCB up to the revision seen in the schematics. I now have a pretty good understanding of how this interfaces works and will provide more details in a future post.

Oscilloscope Rework Instructions

SCELBI O-scope Layout Nears Completion

Monday, May 30th, 2016
Back of SCELBI O-Scope Digital Board with rework highlighted

Back of SCELBI O-Scope Digital Board with rework highlighted

This is an image of the current state of the back sidelayout of the long awaited (by a few) digital board overlaid over an image of the actual board. Base image is curtesy of Jack Rubin, the only person I know, that has seen an SCELBI oscilloscope up close and personal in recent memory. This one is in the Computer History Museum’s off site storage facility.

I haven’t worked on any of the lettering, but I’ve gone through multiple passes of the rest of the board. Based on file size, this board is actually more complex than the SCELBI CPU board.

One other thing that I’m going to do is more study of the rework on the only known Oscilloscope digital board. The arrows in the image point to areas where rework was applied. Initial review seems to indicate that the schematics found at match the board after rework was applied. There is also a bit of rework on the front side.

The analog and keyboard layouts are ready to go, though I’ll probably give each of those one more quick design review pass before ordering a batch.

SCELBI App Now Available On Apple’s App Store

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Link to SCELBI’s app on Apple’s App Store This is the same version (2.7) as available for download from my SCELBI web page. If you have used this version it would be great if you would review this Application on Apple’s App Store.