Jim Russell - An Introduction

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JimRussell
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Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by JimRussell » Tue Jun 14, 2016 7:43 am

Hi All,

Some of you may know me from Facebook but for those that don't here is a quick resume. MoD apprentice 1968-72 then went to work for the Met Police initially as a Radio Engineer but then transferred to the Forensic Labs where I worked on instrumentation maintenance and development until 1990 when I left to become a Project and later Programme Manager. As part of the instrumentation development I used Acorn system 1 products, Commodore PETS, 6809 systems, Z80 systems and PCs. I had a BBC micro at home I was given in about 1987 but I never used one in my work. In the mid 80s I had a Windrush 6809 system running Flex and PL9. I am retired now and a couple of years ago I discovered a folder with some of my old PL9 stuff in it and thought it would be fun to build a Flex/PL9 system. It had been over twenty five years since I put down the soldering iron but once I got started I got carried away and I now have working second processors running Beebflex, PL9 and a whole lot more. I also got hold of a lot of Control Universal stuff and have a working Eurobeeb system that I am building up and writing drivers for. My main interest is in control computing and I intend to put a control system in my workshop to control the lathe and milling machine. All old school stuff but then that's the fun for me. Not really into games but I do have an MMC with the STH collection so it would be rude not to try some from time to time.

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flaxcottage
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by flaxcottage » Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:06 am

Welcome, Jim. :D
- John

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leenew
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by leenew » Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:27 am

Welcome aboard :D

Lee

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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by davidb » Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:39 am

Welcome! :D

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sirmorris
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by sirmorris » Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:53 am

That's a workshop I'd like to visit! Hi :D

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sydney
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by sydney » Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:56 am

Welcome. Reading you introduction makes me think you are really going to like stardot.

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Multiwizard
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by Multiwizard » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:22 am

Hi Jim,

welcome to this great Forum... :-D


Greetings from my little Dutch Acorn Attic, Wim... :-)

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oss003
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by oss003 » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:29 am

Welcome Jim.... enjoy the forum

Greetings
Kees

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tricky
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by tricky » Tue Jun 14, 2016 12:41 pm

Welcome, if I'm honest, i probably prefer writing my games to playing them now ;)

JimRussell
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by JimRussell » Tue Jun 14, 2016 2:00 pm

sirmorris wrote:That's a workshop I'd like to visit! Hi :D
I think you would be disappointed right now there is no IT in the workshop and a whole lot of rubbish. But I am working towards boxing up a control computer and then I need to build a stepper drive. Then I can have a good clear out put the Beeb, Control Computer and Stepper Drives in situ and work on the fun part connecting to the milling machine. Nothing grand t's a little Sieg X2 mill. Probably wont get to this stage until winter as I have the Garden and Allotment to contend with in the summer. When it's up and running you are quite welcome to come and see.

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DutchAcorn
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by DutchAcorn » Tue Jun 14, 2016 3:23 pm

Welcome Jim, and thanks for the intro. Are you sharing all those wonderful projects through Facebook and / or will you share them here? [-o<
Paul

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sorvad
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by sorvad » Tue Jun 14, 2016 6:06 pm

Welcome, great info :)

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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by CMcDougall » Tue Jun 14, 2016 6:25 pm

welcome Jim :)
bet you hope it rains so can play!
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roland
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by roland » Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:19 pm

Hello Jim,

Welcome to this forum. Enjoy your visits here.

Greetings from the south of the Netherlands,
Roland
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JimRussell
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by JimRussell » Thu Jun 16, 2016 4:34 pm

DutchAcorn wrote:Welcome Jim, and thanks for the intro. Are you sharing all those wonderful projects through Facebook and / or will you share them here? [-o<
I did put some pics up on Facebook a while back I will take some more recent ones and post here.

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daveejhitchins
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by daveejhitchins » Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:39 am

Welcome to the Forum, Jim . . . Interesting heritage! Enjoy the Forum and please keep us updated of any future project you have . . .

Dave H :D
Parts: UM6502CE, GAL22V10D, GAL16V8D, AS6C62256A, TC514400AZ, WD1772, R6522, TMS27C512, AT28C256
Products: ARA II, ARA III, ABR, ATI, AP6, MGC, AP5 . . .
For a price list, contact me at: Retro Hardware AT dave ej hitchins DOT plus DOT com

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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by RobC » Fri Jun 17, 2016 9:55 am

Welcome to the forum.

You may be interested to know that we've got FLEX working on the Beeb: http://www.stardot.org.uk/forums/viewto ... ex#p105794

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aerworuld
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by aerworuld » Sat Jun 18, 2016 4:36 am

greetings and well met!

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ask_nz
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by ask_nz » Mon Jun 20, 2016 8:52 pm

Big welcome from New Zealand Jim.

Very keen to hear about your control universal collection - what have you got there?

:D

Ade
Ade

JimRussell
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by JimRussell » Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:43 am

Thanks to all for the great comments. I will get some photos together and post soon. It is probably best to post one system at a time as otherwise it will get confusing. I will also be going to the meet at the Computing History Center in Cambridge in August and will take working EuroBeeb and Beebflex systems.

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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by JimRussell » Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:11 am

Acorn System 1
I had saved a cpu card when one of my interfaces was decommissioned in the late 80s and brought it home with the idea of doing something with it. It was a rare survivor as most of my stuff was chucked out. I only had the cpu card and manuals so I made a keyboard from spares and bought a display at a cost of £18. It works as the EPROM had a copy of the Acorn monitor in it but there is no cassette interface. It is bus compatible with the Control Universal cards which I will show in a later post.
P1010291.JPG

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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by JimRussell » Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:42 am

BeebFlex Copro 1

I found the Beebflex ROM on MDFS and JGHs dissasembly so I decided to try and build a matching Coprocessor. A few photos were available and I guessed that the interface was two 6522s wired back to back. I could not find a memory map of the CUBE09 processor or a monitor ROM for it so I started with the SBUG monitor and adapted that. Initially the card had a serial interface as this helped me to get into the processor to develop the parallel handshake. When I got it working I still could not run flex so initially copied the flex core into spare space in the BBC EPROM and wrote a loader program. Later I wrote disk drivers and serial import routines which I included in the monitor EPROM. Only then was I able to download a flex boot disk file by file from the PC. It took a long long time to get this working as I had hardware timing issues. This was my first real attempt at building anything in over 30 years so I guess that it's not surprising I got a few things wrong. I only got it working reliably in the end by repeating the same two devices through the whole 4k I/O space. I have built it into a BBC and only now use the parallel interface as there is no expansion bus. However it does work reliably and can be used for software development. I replaced the 6809 with a 6309 as it is CMOS and takes less power but it is running in 6809 mode. Clock speed is fixed at 8MHz external which is equivalent to 2MHz internal.
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JimRussell
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by JimRussell » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:16 am

BeebFlex Copro2
I had taken Corpro1 about as far as I could and I decided to start afresh with a larger board and building on the lessons learnt. Copro2 was to have as much flexibility in the design as possible. Corpo2 has a serial interface module that can be swapped for 6850 with baud generator to 6551. Clock speed is selectable from x1, x0.5, x0.25, x0.0125 of the crystal and the crystal oscillator plugs in so almost any clock speed can be selected. A second on board 6522 is used to provide the high address lines for two battery backed 512k static rams that can be formatted as ramdrives. In a later development I replaced one of these with a 512k EPROM containing a boot disk so silicon only operation is possible. Copro2 had a decoded I/O space with eight 256 byte ports and eight 256 byte unassigned areas of ram. Copro2 also has a fully buffered expansion bus that is compatible with the Acorn System 1 and Control Universal Cards. Copro2 also has a selectable monitor rom socket so 32k EPROMS can be used containing up to 8 x 4k monitors. Copro2 is backwards compatible with Copro1 so initially the Copro1 firmware was used and then further developed. I had just about finished building Copro2 when I got lucky and bought a lot of Control Universal cards. I adapted one of these to be an SSCARD reader as per Martin Mathers MMC interface and rewrote his drivers using PL9 and 6809 Machine Code. It was at this point that I started using the 6309 in native mode so that I could use the 32 bit instructions. I can now transfer .dsk files to SDCARD, load them into ramdrive and copy them to floppy. However I cant address the SDCARD direct and I am working to write drivers to allow an SDCARD to be used like a hard drive.
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by JimRussell » Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:14 pm

Control Universal cards

I bought a large box of computer cards including about 20 Contol Universal cards and a couple of CU25 keyboards
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They are:
CUBAN, CUBIO, CUREAD
EUROBEEB, CUBAN12, CU25KB
EUROBEEB II, CUMEM, CUBAN

I had multiples of some of the cards mainly the CUBAN12 and CUREAD. I adapted some spare CUREAD cards by removing the front end components and using them as mapped 6522s.
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JimRussell
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by JimRussell » Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:38 pm

EUROBEEB

The EUROBEEB II card and one of the CUMEM cards looked ok so I decided to try to get them working. I did not have a backplane so I hand wired one, it's not pretty but it works. I got Automos from the MDFS site and EUROBEEB terminal ROM from another site. Lastly I downloaded a EUROBEEB manual from Stardot so thanks to whoever put that up. No great dramas it worked almost first time although it does crash frequently probably due to my crappy backplane. I tried a few BBC ROMS in it to see what would work but was disappointed that any ROM that uses function keys wont work as they are not supported. However I did find that Martin Mathers SUPER MMC ROM worked with the SDCARD interface that I had created when it is dialed into the same address as the BBC user port 6522. Since the I have got the CUBIO card working and used it to interface a CU25 keyboard and a parallel LCD display. I also made a set of LEDs for port testing on a piece of veroboard. I had to reverse engineer the keyboard and I will post the circuit diagram and keyboard codes if anyone is interested. I have also adapted an electron keyboard so that it can be read through a port but this is untried as yet. A recent addition is a CUGRAPH display that I bought on Ebay recently and I have not tested yet.
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JimRussell
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by JimRussell » Mon Jun 27, 2016 2:02 pm

FLEX SYSTEM

I really wished that Copro2 was a Eurocard system but I had nearly completed it when I got the CU cards so I decided to complete it. However I could not just leave it there so I built a Eurocard version. It only has a serial port, I did try building a small parallel adapter card as per the CU system but it was very noisy and kept crashing disks even at 8 MHz clock. I have since found out that I had a duff disk drive so it may be that the parallel card would work better if I tried it again. This time around i used a GAL to improve bus timing and using the serial interface at 9600 baud I can overclock the 6309 to 20MHz without any problems. The BBC is just used as a dumb terminal running TERMULATOR in VT100 mode. So far I have built a CPU, a silicon disk card with EPROM drive, battery backed ramdrive and an SDCARD.
The third card is like CUMEM except that it has two 6522s and two 6821s, CMOS ICs are used throughout. The two missing ICs on the CPU card form a circuit that enables slow memory to slow the system clock so I should be able to use CU cards with it. At 20 MHz PL9 takes about a second to load and Flex commands are instantanious. The dumb terminal does not have to be a BBC micro and I am considering making a fourth card with a Pi zero on it running as a dumb terminal at 117kb but that is for the future.
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by roland » Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:14 pm

Nice work Jim. Do you also use Flex applications or is it just the fun of building the Flex system?
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by JimRussell » Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:20 pm

roland wrote:Nice work Jim. Do you also use Flex applications or is it just the fun of building the Flex system?
Back in the 1980s I used a Windrush 6809/ Flex system in my work and I used Screditor Word Processor, PL9 Compiler, MACE Assembler and DYNAMITE Disassembler. PL9 is great for writing drivers and is a really nice language to use. So the answer is that I want to use the applications that I used in the past. I have written quite a bit in PL9 to format the ramdrives, use the SDcard and some other Flex utilities. I have also written library routines to control the BBC graphics etc. There are text games in PL9 and BASIC and I will try to get some of these running for ABUG in August. Not easy as the terminal/graphics arrangement is different for the BBC. If I can rewrite the termio.lib library then I should just need to recompile the PL9 games for them to work.

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1024MAK
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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by 1024MAK » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:53 pm

Welcome on board Jim!

:D :D :D

You can list your Acorn machine vitals here :D
You can put yourself on the map by sticking a pin in it at this link :P
Confessions are taken here :mrgreen:

Some nice hardware p0rn there :D

Please do feel free to keep posting :wink:

Mark

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Re: Jim Russell - An Introduction

Post by hoglet » Sat Jul 16, 2016 8:14 am

Hi Jim,

A belated welcome to the forum!

Congratulations on your amazing work reconstructing the CUBE 6809 Second Processors from scratch, and thanks for posting details and pictures (especially pictures!)

One of the long running projects we have on the forum is the Matchbox Co Processor, which is basically a medium size FPGA and some RAM that plugs into the Tube. Thanks to Jason (flynnjs) , about 50 members have these now. We do have a 6809 Co Processor design on there, but it uses the Tube to communicate with the host, rather than 6522s, so it's a bit different from the CUBE or CMS designs. This will run JGH's 6809 BBC Basic and RobC ported FLEX.

It would be really fun to try to re-create the whole of CUBE 6809 on this FPGA platform, as we have all the pieces, including pretty good 6522 implementations.

Do you have any schematics for the latest version of the card you would be willing to share?

Another project that might be of interest to you for developing/debugging real 6809 Co Processors is the 6809 In Circuit Emulator, ICE-6809:
https://github.com/hoglet67/AtomBusMon/wiki/ICE-6809

I'm also interested in hearing more about the applications you have managed to get running on Flex. Are any of these versions that were available back in the 1980s?

regards

Dave

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