DIY 8-Bit Computer Using An FPGA and Classic Computer CPUs In VHDL

We found a pretty unique project that was covered recently over at Hackaday, involving a hacked-together 8-bit retro-styled computer.  The kicker here is that it was made using an FPGA combined with  VHDL inplementations of classic CPUs such as the 6502, 6809, and Z80.

In its full configuration, the Multicomp, as [Grant] calls his project, includes either a 6502 (pictured above), 6809, Z80, or (in the future) a 6800 CPU. Video options include either monochrome RCA, RGB VGA, or RGB via SCART. This, along an SD card interface, a PS2 keyboard, and the ability to connect an external 128kB RAM chip (64k available) means it’s a piece of cake to build a proper and complete portable retrocomputer.

In this project, the data and address lines are fully exposed from the FPGA.  That means that you could add whatever circuit you want to make whatever old-school computer you can think of!

Here’s a link to Grant’s site, where he’s got an absolute wealth of info on the project, code, and more.  He’s going to show you exactly what you need to do to create your own retro computer with your FPGA!  There is also more information on this over at the forums

(via Grant’s site)

Acrylic Enclosures For Papilio Pro Now Back In Stock!


Hello, hackers!

Just wanted to drop you all a quick note that the acrylic enclosures for the Papilio Pro are now back in stock at the store. There has been a hefty demand for these, and the design (by Os1r1s) is absolutely stunning. If you’re going to hack around with your PPro, we recommend that you do it in style!

It looks like there’s a Papilio One case coming soon by the same designer too!  Awesome. Here’s the render of the Papilio One enclosure: (And don’t worry – if you stay tuned to the site, you’ll be the first to know when it hits.)

We slashed the price on the newly re-available Papilio Pro enclosure from $19.99 down to $17.99 to make up for the shortage. Hopefully that will sweeten the pot a little for you guys!

(via the GF store, Os1r1s)

Litecoin Mining With FPGA – This Is Cool

Is anyone keeping up with the newer Bitcoin successor, Litecoin?

We wanted to provide some information for you about the newest peer-to-peer cryptocurrency and open source software project released under the MIT/X11 license. Yes, it’s completely open-source, and you can mine these little guys on your FPGA platform.

Educate yourself a “bit” before we go on:

I’m thinking I want to ask Jack how much work it would be to implement this on Papilio, but if any of you guys and gals have already accomplished this, or want to hack it in, and post to the GF forums, it would help to extend all of our savvy!

(via Wikipedia, Litecoin, and Kramble on Git)

New Ethernet Wing For Papilio – 50% Off One Day Only Sale!


Hi there everyone! We are excited to finally have the brand-new Ethernet Wing in stock at the Gadget Factory store! We are offering this awesome new product at a special introductory price of $9.99 for the first day only.  That day is today!  I would say take advantage of the sale, because tomorrow the Ethernet Wing goes to its regular price of $19.99.

Our friends over at Uberclock (makers of the Smoothie board) actually designed the wing, and they did a great job – it’s never been easier to add Ethernet functionality to your Papilio.  No wires, no fuss, just plug and play!  In addition to the features listed below, you’re also getting the same library that is included with the ZAP IDE (note that no VHDL is available currently).

Now for some some quick specs on the Ethernet Wing:

  • Microchip ENC28J60/SS Chip
  • HanRun HR911105A RJ45 Ethernet connector with integrated magnetics
  • 25 Mhz Crystal
  • 3.3 v Pin powered

Remember that this is a one-day only introductory sale, so any orders received before 11:59 PM MST *today* will get the special half-off price!


-The Gadget Factory Team

“Really Dumb” MIDI Monitor For RetroCade


Forum member Offroad recently hit us up with an example project, which is  based on the Papilio Pro and the RetroCade Synth. He’s calling it the Really Dumb MIDI Monitor.  This deserves a bit of explanation:

For starters, Offroad explains what he means by the term, “really dumb meaning: All the fun stuff like printf(“%02c”, byte) happens in RTL state machines…”

The project includes a simple MIDI parser for note on-/off messages. It remembers the state of all keys (all channels are combined, “omni mode”). Maybe this could be useful for some MIDI music experiments with minimal fuss: Excluding UARTs and FIFO (reused modules), the actual RTL code that does all the work is only about two screen lengths.

Here are a couple of links to the actual examples that he created, so make sure to click through and check them out for yourself.

  • Papilio Pro MIDI Monitor – (zip file)
  • meepMeep – (zip file) – This one is a MIDI monitor that actually makes an audible impression with an 18-bit saw waveform.  Offroad says it sounds like a Farfisa!  (See image above) Yikes indeed!

Do any of you guys have anything interesting that you’re working on for the RetroCade?  We’d love to hear about it!  Feel free to post to the forums, or comment on this post!  Right on.

(via the forums, and thanks to Offroad)


Getting An Old Digital O-Scope To Output To A Computer Monitor

Michael over at AcidBourbon recently got his mitts on an older (circa 1990) digital oscilloscope and wanted to see if he could hack a way to plot the screen from the ‘scope on his computer. The unit he’s hacking is the GOULD 4094, 200MHz digital storage oscilloscope with four input channels. With no proprietary software and using only Linux command line tools and the open source scripting language PERL, Michael sets out to achieve his goal to get this beast displaying on his monitor.

All the features that you expect from a good scope are there: switching between AC/DC coupling, switch input impedance between 50 Ohms and 1M, setting trigger levels and delays, you can even set two different time bases (horizontal scaling) A and B and switch for each of the four input channels between these two timebases independently. When you freeze a curve with the hold button or by setting a trigger, you can “walk around” the curve with a cursor and read the momentary voltage level. You even can set the display intensity for the traces and the alphanumeric output separately.

You can view the full project at Michael’s site at the link below. If any of you have an older ‘scope sitting around, destined for the dumpster, this project just might help you breathe some new life into it! Good stuff.

(via Hackaday)