Toastie

The Mindful Pub - A Discussion Thread on 8bit Computers and LEGO

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Hello Thorsten,

I think you need a 9771 card for that wonderful PC - you’ve got that into great shape. Then you need 9750 Interface A, and the BASIC code that appeared in the 9750 guide booklet, complete with typo which I enjoyed discovering and fixing ;)

The PC is too old for use with the RCX or Scout :P The Toshiba laptop sounds perfect! The LEGO software was highly annoying, but can the Toshiba run Brixcc/NQC?

-Alex

Edited by alexGS

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@alexGS

Hey Alex,

oh absolutely - but ... 9771 is nowhere to be found ... at least I have the software (I believe you guys have put up on The Archive) - a whopping 60kB monster! There is hope for getting my hands on an 9750 though.

Yeah, my Toshiba Satellite 4090XDVD - Win98 - and "all" the LEGO software of that time. It sure runs BricxCC - it was on that machine, where my very first versions of NQC came to life. Just looked it up: "2001 - RCXMessageControl1a.nqc". That must be the one which goes with the QBasic program I wrote back then as well, and which runs on the XT :D

Well, what the PC/QBasic program does is just sending out 2 9-byte LEGO Mindstorms IR type messages (RCX/Scout) messages - the first is an address, the second is payload - which is decoded by the RCX/Scout software so each PBrick knows who was meant to do something - and doing something is either for train engines (speed 0 ... +/- 7; some sound, light on/off) or switch point controllers - I posted some of that stuff here on EB.

So the XT can handle that as it just has to push out 2 LEGO IR messages consecutively at 2400 baud (= close to light speed) through the serial port (with a decent 50 ms pause in between of course, an RCX is not running on a ARM Cortex M-7 :D) and then wait for a reply. As the ZX Spectrum could do that, it seems feasible :pir-huzzah2:

We'll see :D

Best wishes,
Thorsten 

 

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You should search this forum for 9750. There was a fellow eurobricker few years ago who found few of them in his university. He might still have them and willing to loan/share.

Edited by DrJB

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2 hours ago, DrJB said:

There was a fellow eurobricker few years ago who found few of them in his university. He might still have them and willing to loan/share.

Thank you very, very much for that tip!

The real bottleneck is 9771 though. Nevertheless, I'll try!

Thanks again + best regards,
Thorsten

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Hi All,

as already "announced" :D – here is the (really uninteresting) story of bringing an IBM XT (5160) system back to life.

Throughout my whole life, from about 1983 onward, I was dreaming of owning such a computer. Back then, it was not only out of reach, but in another universe: 10000 Deutsche Mark in 1983 – that was a number completely out of my grasp. Well, almost 40 years later …

… I found this beauty in one of the storage rooms of my research group at the University of Wuppertal: An IBM XT 5160 equipped with 2 Tandon 5 ¼” 360k DS DD disk drives, a Model F XT keyboard (83 keys), and an IBM 5153 color monitor. The stickers said: “Assembled in England” and has also a sticker from a German distributor “Computerland” :D, who was doing business in Bonn, about 100 km away from where I am ... The year on the sticker is 1985. I asked around, as the theoretical chemists are responsible for taking care of that storage room. “Is it OK when I take the IBM XT?” (I was literally terrified, that somebody would say “Are you crazy? That is mine!” or something in that direction. Instead, I got answers in the following order from different people: “The what?”; “Huh?”; “That thing is so old, I’d rather trash it than hauling it to any other location”; and when I was asking again: “You are crazy. Sure take it. Don’t break your neck, it is heavy”. So I hauled it out there into the mass spec lab, fired it up – power supply fan fanning – but other than that – nothing. Not even a blip on the monitor. Or a beep. Nothing. OK then.

Inside were 4 original IBM ISA bus cards: Floppy disk controller, serial and parallel board and a CGA color graphics adapter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_Graphics_Adapter). All in good shape, judged from the looks.

all_boards.jpg

 

The 5160 main board – hmm – had some “marks” – mostly in the (4x) 9 x 4164 RAM bank region – all different makes of 4164 RAM chips were in there … so out with the oscilloscope. Cards all removed, power applied. Clock worked, but the 4164 did not get any refresh cycles – bad. As I had no idea what was going on, I put the stuff aside and did some research to learn that I am not the only one who is crazy! First thing was ordering a working clone main board – that one came from Poland (eBay). And did the trick! I also asked the seller for a 5 ¼” DOS boot floppy disk, as I had nothing to boot from: The clone main board does not have the IBM cassette BASIC ROM, it just wants to boot something from a floppy in drive A: … Then I looked at the 8088 CPU and had the feeling that maybe – and yes! Swapping the 8088 into the original IBM board made the XT boot into cassette Basic when no floppy was inserted in drive A: and into DOS3.3 when the floppy was in. However, over time (after some minutes) the board lost it again: Parity errors, sometimes no floppy activity, other erratic things. Now, parity errors may come from bad dynamic RAM chips; swapped them from the clone board – same thing. So I decided to go with the clone board – when I have more time, I will check into the original board. But for now, all is good:

clone_main_board.jpg

 

Step 1 was cleaning and lubing. Back in the days, people must have enjoyed “some” cigarettes in the IBM XT’s office – thus I took everything apart: Keyboard, monitor, case – and gave them a serious bath with powerful chemicals :D. Smooth cleaning and lubing were with these:

smooth_cleaners.jpg

 

All keyboard key caps got the same treatment; removed the key caps, metal backplate, the capacitive plate, the 83 metal plates with the springs, removed the foam type “cover” from the keys (well partly dumped that, as it was – funky). Careful cleaning of the capacitive plate and >very< little lubrication for the 83 individual buckling spring mechanism followed. Reassembly was straight forward; some of the springs need a little juggling from the top with a pair of tweezers, as the attached plates need to move freely, which they didn’t on the first try.

The monitor was less easy – however, it is possible to get the CRT and the electronics entirely out of the plastic casing – it took some hours, though. Well putting it back together took some hours ;) the labels 25000V, red letters on yellow background, motivated some careful operations here – but in the end it worked out. Case has its original coloring (after that gunk came down; maybe that conserved the surface ;) and there are barely any scratches nor discoloring - and the electronics is free of dust.

Power supply was also easy; disassembled the case, removed any dust from the electronics which looked really good, polished the housing and lubed the fan motor.

powersupply.jpg

 

Next up were the two Tandon TM-100 2A DS/DD floppy drives.

tandon_sticker.jpg

 

All dust removed, lubrication of the stepper motor and the rods for the head assembly; very careful cleaning of the heads with alcohol.

Lower half of the main housing same thing: Dust removed, cleaned; upper half serious chemical treatment, which resulted in loss of brownish gunk and the original color was back, again hardly any scratches/discoloring.

That was that; reassembly – and done. So I had one 5 ¼” floppy with DOS3.3 on it; well both system files and COMMAND.COM, FDISK.COM, FORMAT.COM. GETCLO~1.COM, SETCLO~1.COM, and DEBUG.COM. And 201728 bytes of free space. I was soooo happy – and then realized:

And now what? I was thinking to myself: You don’t have a hard drive, no 5 ¼” floppies, no desktop computer, no one at the university believing in vintage computing, no one in the neighborhood believing in electronic stuff older than 10 (or even 5 ;) years – and you, old man, want to do something with a computer almost 40 years old …

Well, Google told me: Help is "out there"!

a) It may be that no one around here wants to deal with old crap, BUT "out there", many, really many not only do that, but love to do that and provide the other nerds not only with help, but so many nice solutions – hard- and software-wise. b) the same and other folks populate the Internet Archive and other places with software repositories containing stuff from day one of computing ;) to manuals, tech documents, etc. Even extremely cool browser based emulators; here you can select a computer, boot it up using whatever boot software is available per mouse click, load a program AND: Save the corresponding images on your computer.

One of these hardware gadgets is the GoTek (there are many)  – made by a Chinese company, I believe – there are other even more powerful solutions to my kind of problem (a software dead end), but for less than $20, I gave that one a try. GoTeks behave on one end as floppy disk drives with this generic 32 pin header and 4 pin power supply input – and on the other end they have a USB socket, accepting all sort of mass storage devices, e.g. a 32 GB USB stick. That one may hold up-to 999 disk images in one folder – or more spread out in subfolders. The original idea was, I believe, to get old CNC and other valuable machines up-and running again, when the drives died or the floppies were crunched. Maybe other things as well. How I implemented that one in my XT is up next, Step 2.

Best,

Thorsten

Edited by Toastie

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5 hours ago, DrJB said:

You should search this form for 9750. There was a fellow eurobricker few years ago who found few of them in his university.

I did, I found the fellow (last post 2014) PM'ed him 20 minutes ago and got an answer 5 minutes ago. He'll have a look ...

Even if that is not successful: EB is not only a wonderful place to be - it is a vibrant and so helpful platform.

Thank you very much for directing me - again, even when this does not work out, getting the tip, trying it out, getting an answer - is soo cool. So EB.

All the best,
Thorsten

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On 11/20/2022 at 2:10 PM, Toastie said:

...

Here you go:

...

This document (PDF) may be a matching datasheet - it is from Toshiba, from 1999, it covers 8-bit microcontrollers, and it has an onboard LCD driver. But who knows, TLG is always making big secrets about their electronic chippies: 

https://brickshelf.com/gallery/ThorstenB/ThisAndThat/SCOUT/tmp86cm29u.txt

(You need to rename the .txt extension to .pdf - Brickshelf does not like PDFs to be uploaded).

Best regards,
Thorsten

 

Hello,

@Toastie : Again many Thanks.

The Data-sheet might be an Delta Data-Sheet.
Big surprise that it has 10-bit ADC

I digged a little bit and found a Data-Sheet for TMP86CH29BUG

My conclusin on this ans some other similar documents is :

Quote

TLCS-870/C Series

based on Intel 8080 (/ Zilog Z80) Registers

TMP86CM29_U_

     !!  !!!
     !!  !!+-- G : tbd
     !!  !!    B : tbd, Emulation Chip
     !!  !!      : no feature
     !!  !!
     !!  !+--- U : PQFP64 0,5mm Pitch
     !!  !     F : PQFP64 0,8mm Pitch
     !!  !     X : Bond-Out Chip, Emulation Chip
     !!  !
     !!  +---- A : tbd, Emulation Chip
     !!        L : Low-Voltage, max 3,3V instead 5V
     !!        B : tbd
     !!          : no feature
     !!
     !+------- M : 32k
     !         H : 16k
     !         8 : 8k
     !         9 : external, Emulation chip TMP86C929AXB
     !         4 : 4k
     !
     +-------- C : Mask
               F : Flash
               P : OTP

 

So Linked more detailed Data-Sheet might fit.

Jo

 

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On 11/25/2022 at 3:10 AM, Toastie said:

Well, what the PC/QBasic program does is just sending out 2 9-byte LEGO Mindstorms IR type messages (RCX/Scout) messages - the first is an address, the second is payload - which is decoded by the RCX/Scout software so each PBrick knows who was meant to do something - and doing something is either for train engines (speed 0 ... +/- 7; some sound, light on/off) or switch point controllers - I posted some of that stuff here on EB.

So the XT can handle that as it just has to push out 2 LEGO IR messages consecutively at 2400 baud (= close to light speed) through the serial port (with a decent 50 ms pause in between of course, an RCX is not running on a ARM Cortex M-7 :D) and then wait for a reply. As the ZX Spectrum could do that, it seems feasible :pir-huzzah2:

Ah right, I understand now :)

Nice work! Love the reference to 2400 baud as ‘light speed’ :D

I also wondered whether a Psion Organiser could be used for controlling some of this stuff. It has a serial or a parallel port and a programming language built in. Just another piece of period 1980s tech, but small and handheld :)

Cheers

-Alex

Edited by alexGS

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How do I get software onto my IBM XT … without much change on the front – it is all about the looks …

There are many ways, this post is about what I did: The IBM XT floppy drive controller is operating the two full height Tandon DS DD floppy drives, which the XT can boot from (drive A: only), read from, and write to. DS DD floppies are these 360 kByte data giants. In addition, it can read/write/boot using 720 kByte floppies and 1.44MByte or 720kByte external floppy drives, but it cannot format them. Also, it can operate two more floppy drives from the 37 pin D-shell connector at the back of the adapter card. That provides one good pathway for data transfer to the XT: Using a generic 3 ½“ 1.44 MByte USB floppy drive, 3 ½” DS DD floppies (not HD) can be formatted on a Win11 machine with the appropriate settings: At command prompt level, FORMAT A: /T:80 /N:9 will generate an XT compatible DS DD 720k blank floppy. With my laptop, FORMAT A: /F:720 did not work for some reason. With another desktop-type 3 ½“ floppy drive hooked up to the XT through its back panel connector, file exchange can be done between the XT and a Win11 machine …

However, this needs a lot of juggling with a lot of drives, and diskettes. I took another route, which uses a floppy drive emulator from GoTek. There are many alternatives, GreaseWeazle is one, Kryoflux another example. An up-to date GoTek device costs around $20; more importantly for me was that the microcontroller on such a device can be flashed with new firmware from its USB port, which is really convenient. GoTek provides the flashing software required – and the alternative firmware I am using, FlashFloppy (created and maintained by Keir Frazer, https://github.com/keirf) is incredibly powerful. FlashFloppy comes for free – Keir also makes firmware for the GreazeWeazles. What I further like about the GoTek/FlashFloppy combo is that it allows attaching a 128x64 OLED display via I2C. The headers are provided on the PCB of the GoTek. And this combo is very nicely configurable – per text file residing on the root directory of the USB drive.

As said before, (semi) permanent changes to the front of the XT are not tolerable ;) so the GoTek had to go inside the XT case. Also shown before, I morphed the GoTek case into an 8-bit ISA slot case – the factory installed 3x7-segment LED panel, USB socket and two miniature push buttons are now on the back of the XT, which makes operating it a bit user-unfriendly:

gotekonbackplane.jpg

The further plan was to leave the GoTek in the ISA slot, and extend its 2 I2C lines (SCL/SDA), VCC, GND along with three additional wires for three miniature push buttons (up/down/eject) and another one for the LED indicating drive activity, to the XT’s case front and mount an 8-pin female header inside one of the floppy drives. The LED is on when pulled to GND, and the switches do pull to ground, so no further wires required.

gotekallmods.jpg

As full height 5 ¼” floppy drives provide a lot of space, particularly in the region right behind the front panel, this can be done without interfering with the mechanics of the floppy drive. This in turn makes it possible to insert an easily detachable display type panel into the floppy drive using the two guide rails for the floppies – as if it were a “floppy”. It just had to be built …

After inspection of the floppy drive hardware documentation and some measurements, I decided to go with a 2 mm thick polystyrene glass plate – that is the stuff IKEA uses as cover glass for their picture frames – and there were some in the closet here ;). The mount for the header socket within the drive, the mount for the display, as well as the display front panel, is LEGO built. I like to do that from time to time, as one can build really oddly shaped things. A Dremel tool and higher viscosity superglue give even more construction flexibility :D.

This is the “GoTek display floppy” from the side; the male header is glued to the bottom side; the mount for the display to the top:

fakegotekdisplayfloppy3.jpg

The display panel is a partly hollowed-out 6x8 slope brick (4515) with a couple of plates, so it attaches flush to the front panel of the floppy drive when fully inserted:

fakegotekdisplayfloppy1.jpgfakegotekdisplayfloppy2.jpg

This is the mount inside the floppy drive, holding the female header (top); I used 2 2x2plates as base (so I could center the mount), glued to the floppy metal frame:

displaymount.jpgtandondrivesocket.jpg

tandondrivemount.jpg

The mount is secured at its back, as the LEGO 1x2 plate is flush with a metal frame part of the drive, so the mount thing can’t be pushed in without using brute force.

Display floppy inserted (left) and pushed all the way in (right), making electrical contact with the female header:

insertgotekdisplayfloppy.jpgqbasic_loaded.jpg

The display + Gotek combo:

readytogo.jpg

 

When everything is installed, the XT looks like this and can now boot from the GoTek, as well as read/write to 999 different 360k/720k disk images selected with the up/down buttons. A 3 feet long USB extension cable from the back panel provides comfortable access to the USB stick holding all the images – and for software preparation and organization on the Win11 laptop.

floppydriveinstalled.jpg

And this is how it looks like, when the display floppy is removed; the floppy drive can be used in default mode without any problems; the GoTek works also without display, but has to be operated from the back.

xtgotekdisplayremoved.jpg

And now the QBasic/NQC programming frenzy may begin … :pir-huzzah2:

All the best,
Thorsten

 

Edited by Toastie

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14 hours ago, alexGS said:

I also wondered whether a Psion Organiser could be used for controlling some of this stuff. It has a serial or a parallel port and a programming language built in.

Hi Alex,

it seems to me that the Psion Organizer II has a slot, that receives a "CommsLink" module, providing RS232 connectivity. I don't think it does that natively, but what do I know.

It also appears as if more crazy people out there also deal with alternative approaches. Whereas the PII seems to be available at reasonable cost mostly from UK eBay sellers, the CommsLink module does not. But this: https://incoherency.co.uk/blog/stories/psion-organiser-ii-arduino-usb-interface.html does in fact provide a nice avenue to get the PII back into the game :D

Do you have a PII? That would be fun ...

Best,
Thorsten

 

Edited by Toastie

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Little update:

IBM XT running QBasic1.1 with a program I called PBrick Control 1.0 in 2001, and an RCX1.0 running the LEGO standard firm0309.lgo firmware and a program I called "MultipleTrainControl1.1(RCX)" (there are also 2 more for two SCOUTs = 3 PBricks total I had in 2001). 

Hooked up the tower to the IBM XT's async serial board (RS232), attached a 25 <-> 9 pin adapter, the LEGO IR tower cable, and a serial LEGO IR tower.

The QBasic program then tries to "sign-up" up to 3 PBricks by sending out an invitation byte - when a PBrick replies, the corresponding frame turns yellow, and you can press "S" for speed and then a number between 0 and 7 and - it works! The RCX detected sets it's output to 6 when 6 was pressed:

multipletraincontrol1.1.jpgxt_commanding_an_rcx.jpg

I forgot almost everything about both programs - but: The IBM XT controls now PBricks. That also means, I can use my MuLPI thingy, to have the XT control all my LEGO stuff ... as I did with the ZX Spectrum.

I am a bit excited, I must say.

All the best,
Thorsten

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Not to go too much off topic, but while searching on YouTube, I found the following. Apparently, one can run Control Lab with modern computer hardware ... just an FYI

https://www.controllab.io/

 

Edited by DrJB

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16 hours ago, DrJB said:

Not to go too much off topic

You can't go off-topic in this thread :D

And Control Lab certainly >is< considered by the younger audience as "vintage" - or "old" :pir-laugh: - so this is spot on topic.

To the elderly, Control Lab may still be considered as modern; and most of such individuals still haven't figured out why it is not in the LEGO shop anymore :pir-murder:

You did see this thread, I am sure?

 

This thread started in 2012 - however is very much up-to-date on page 7. 

On another note: I would like to heartily thank you again for suggesting to search for an individual on EB, who still may have a 9771 card ... as I wrote, I found that individual. If all goes right, one 9771 card will find a new home. And I must say, in a >very< generous way. For some reason, I believe you ... no, that is PM territory :D

All the best,
Thorsten 

 

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Hi Thorsten,

I'm with you on this. I'm old gen as well and appreciate these old contraptions very much. I was fortunate enough to pick 2x 9751 few years back with plenty of sensors and red bricks from eBay. There was even an opto sensor (predecessor of the rotation sensor). I haven't had a chance to fully utilize them yet, but there is hope soon hopefully .. I guess I'm a collector ... or a hoarder as the ex would say :) ...

In any event, very glad and welcome that you were able to track down the specific individual on this site.

I've attended many BrickWorld events in Chicago over the past years and seen only once a Control Lab contraption displayed. Would love to explore this a bit more, and see what one can do. To me, the modern phone app-controlled devices are 'fancy' but provide many hidden layers that one does not see ... or maybe I'm very old school.  

Thank you also for the link to the other thread, I go back to it every once in a while. I tend to navigate back and forth between old electronics, pneumatics, and geometrical shapes (Platonic Solids & Tessellations). Hopefully someday I find time to somehow build something all inclusive ... until then, this forum provides many ideas that one often has little time to fully explore. The good thing is there are many very knowledgeable individuals all willing to help.

All the Best.

JB

 

 

Edited by DrJB

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And I really thought it was TLG ...

... so wrong again: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindstorms_(book) "Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas is a book by computer scientist Seymour Papert"

And: http://www.brickhacks.com/ ... "Minds before the Storm" ...

Maybe you guys knew - I had no clue.

Nothing wrong with taking up ideas, publications, and projects - I am missing the references in TLG's ... documents, though. I really was under the impression, they came up with all this in an MIT collaboration - but I was so wrong. They turned it into a product. Well, also nicely. And made a lot of money. And that's where I feel a crack in the picture.

Whatever. Makes me feel better using ... competitor stuff :pir-huzzah2:

Best,
Thorsten

 

 

Edited by Toastie

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@DrJB

Sir, the 9771 card has arrived - in mint condition. I would have never (!) found this card without your help. Thank you very much again.

Now 9750 needs to be ordered - Santa was asking what I may want for Christmas - and these are out there on BL!

Here is the plan :pir-sweet:

  • Make some space in a totally crammed loft for an IBM XT; no idea yet - but a wild idea :D
  • As Santa is also visiting the family in Northern Germany, where we will be for the holidays, as we were for the past 60 years, 1080 may be in reach.
  • 9771 + 9750 + 1080 + TC Logo for IBM (TCLogo.com) will control a static 1080 made robot sitting next to the XT - this is so mid/late 1980's.
  • QBasic 1.1 on the IBM XT talks via its serial card bidirectionally with the LEGO IR tower (as tested), so the RCX and corresponding suspects are accessible, this is so late 1990's.
  • QBasic 1.1 on the IBM XT will certainly talk bidirectionally with my MuLPI, as my ZX Spectrum could do that - and MuLPI is so late 1990's to so late 2022's :pir-laugh:

Which translates to: Original 1986/87 setup = computer, interface card, interface box, 4.5V LEGO robot, can natively also communicate with RCX and the like PBricks, and with the help of an ESP32 + PANT can control current LEGO BLE devices.

That's the plan. It snowed today here - I am looking forward to the holidays.

We'll see.

Best,
Thorsten

   

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29 minutes ago, Toastie said:

Sir, the 9771 card has arrived - in mint condition. I would have never (!) found this card without your help. Thank you very much again.

Now 9750 needs to be ordered - Santa was asking what I may want for Christmas - and these are out there on BL!

Here is the plan :pir-sweet:

*snip*

   

Wow those interface cards are pure unobtainium!  I've had my eye out for quite some time for one, but seeing what folks on this forum like yourself do with them (Or @evank's v8 engine) maybe I'll just stick to the 9v DACTA era :pir-grin:.  That sounds like quite the project!  I've been meaning to get caught up with this thread for quite a while, maybe even contribute something of my own, but for now I'm excited to see what you come up with @Toastie!!

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45 minutes ago, BatteryPoweredBricks said:

maybe even contribute something of my own

You have shown so many fascinating things using "9V stuff" (and you know that "9V stuff" is what made me "coming back" to LEGO world) - it is incredible! And: Vintage. True 9V is pure vintage. Just because the modern electronics runs off from 9V means nothing. Just post whatever comes to your mind here. Not the all-ready-to-YouTube-solutions, no, the plans, thoughts, ideas, and maybe solutions. Whatever! 

The moment it comes to the "days before BLE" ... it becomes vintage. For me. OK, there was BT (NXT/EV3), but that was simply BT over serial. As far as I know. I have the feeling right there, at taking the BLE avenue, is the electronic "break": IR, Cybermaster RF, BT was dedicated serial: Countenance, everyone. Reply when asked. Don't go rogue. With BLE things change quite a bit: Everyone is talking, and super-fast electronics (available at no cost) has to sort it all out. Not my world, though.

The 9V Dacta Area is definitely >pure< vintage. Of the very best nature.

I just dived deeper into 4.5V world - simply because that coincides with the birth of this XT I have now. No other reason.

And yes, 9771 is unobtainable. EB though, makes it happen. Some said, this forum will die anytime soon. I say: EB provides a wealth of information - and more importantly conserves, secures, maintains knowledge, that apparently is gone for long. And even more importantly, it appears as if the people truly living the "TLG idea", are here.

Thank you for your nice words!

All the best,
Thorsten

 

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@BatteryPoweredBricks: Thanks for letting me know about this thread.

@Toastie: BrickHacks.com is my website. I used to prefer the domain MindsBeforeTheStorm.com, but that's too long to say. :) Originally it was LegoRobotMuseum.com, but Lego attorneys sent me a cease-and-desist letter. Oh well. BrickHacks sounds cool. The website is in drastic need of an overhaul. I'm hoping to work on it later this month. I need to add BBC and Commodore sections, Lego Lines, etc.

Anyway, a bit of a re-introduction: I'm a hobbyist in New Jersey, USA. I used to be known as the guy in charge of the Vintage Computer Festival shows here. I grew up on an Apple II, but I love everything from Babbage to Univac to Zilog. I'm a science writer at NJIT, where I also teach CS-485, History of Computing. This semester I became the faculty advisor to our student Lego club.

As for my collection: I've got two 9767 Apple II cards, a third (replica) 9767, a fourth (bad replica) 9767), and one 9771 PC card. I also have the insanely-rare Commodore 64 cable. (There is one left on Bricklink, not my ad, if anyone wants to grab it!) I've got three 9750 Interface A units, and I think a complete collection of manuals, including the rare teacher's editions, of all the 8-bit and Control Lab stuff. Last year I put it all onto Archive.org in the Vintage Lego Robotics folder: https://archive.org/details/vintagelegorobotics.

Finally, as BPP mentioned, there's my pandemic project: a life-size (1:1 scale) Chevy 454 Big Block, built 100% from 1970s-1980s parts, with its distributor and spark plugs controlled by my BASIC code on an Apple II through dual 9750 interfaces. I'll post a video here when ready.

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It seems not everyone on this forum into wheeled vehicles .. and that is rather refreshing. Keep up the good work, as for sure your accomplishments are very inspiring  :)

@Thorsten - Glad you got the card.

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18 hours ago, evank said:

BrickHacks.com is my website.

@evank (this is just to make sure that EB notification thingy is harassing:pir-huzzah2: you

Hi Evan,

oh my, oh my ... yes I followed these wonderful threads on EB ... but then, it never made "click". Of course, I visited your website soo many times, even the look made me come back, as I feel home there. However, I did not make the connection - I really blame myself. It appears as if nowadays I am more and more browsing the Wayback Machine. When I realized that even the links within the Archive do work as well - provided the machine has captured these as well, and mostly it has, I sometimes just go there and c/p an URL that points to "the equivalent of nothing", and simply enjoy what's unfolding.

And now this: "Copyright: Evan Koblentz, 2018-2022". You know what got me so excited? The "2022" bit ... why I could not put together "Evan" and "K" to evank - no clue. I am very sorry for that. And you know what I find absolutely to the point? The title "Minds before the storm". I saw it, I sat there and thought: Nice. Wonderful, this is it ...

Believe me: I have essentially mirrored your vintagelegorobotics page on my laptop :D. This is so unbelievable helpful and rewarding. I am sure that one other page (@magicratandbarefootgirl) on the IA is also somehow directly involved here ...

Congratulations on your new assignment as faculty advisor to the NJIT LEGO club! These students are most fortunate. I do teach lame PChem at our university - which is much less of excitement, but somehow, I still get the student's attention :pir-laugh:.

Vintage AND computing is apparently appealing to only one individual in my research group: Me. Yes, I do feel alone ;) BUT: As per my appointment, I do have a key that actually opens every door in the PChem department, including storage rooms of the Theoretical Chem folks ... and there are still C64's, Atari's - and guess what: We will have the annual December Clean-up Frenzy next week. I'll be there with the families' minivan: "OK guys, yes this way - the loading dock, yes load the trash into the van, I'll take care of it, don't worry ..." There will be looks ... but then: I am old. Max. 6 years more to go, and I am out. Out as in: I have other fish to fry, sorry. That always works: The younger people tend to forgive old folk's spleens - when they provide funding for their PhD studies :pir-huzzah2:

Thank you very much for your reply. I am very glad to getting in touch with you here on EB!!!

All the very best,
Thorsten 

  

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