I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

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VMSZealot
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I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by VMSZealot » Sat Sep 22, 2018 12:53 pm

A colleague recently moved house and he was throwing out his BBC B computer - a computer I have always admired, but haven't had much experience of since I was at school. My new beeb seems to be in remarkable condition - the plastics are a nasty colour, but nothing that a little sunlight and hydrogen peroxide can't fix, but nothing is broken and the blanking plate on the 'ashtray' is still in place. I look forward to playing with it (but that won't happen until I've re-capped the power supply, it's on my list of jobs - and given that the solder is likely to be lead based, I'll wait for more clement weather so that I can do the job outside - I'm such a wimp! :) ).
I don't know much about this Beeb though - I don't even know what issue the board is, and the serial number is no help because it doesn't have one.
I can say that it has a Watford Electronics sideways ROM / RAM expander, a Watford Electronics 32K memory expansion - and a Watford Electronics 'DDB' board in it (a replacement for Acorn DFS?).
There are a ton of ROMs in the computer - many unlabelled. It's been a log time since I last used MOS - how can I get the computer to give me a list of the ROMs when I eventually turn it on? Here are some pictures of the inside if that helps identify the addons (no flash used, because I didn't know if that might affect the contents of the EPROM).
IMG_1864.jpg
IMG_1867.jpg
There are no manuals - so links to manuals for the addons, if you can identify them, will be gratefully received.
I intend to put an SD card reader in it and a Raspberry Pi Zero emulating a second CPU - I'd welcome any advice with the proviso that I don't want to (and will not) cut into the plastics or modify the physical appearance of the machine in any way. And any electronics modifications that I make have to be reversible. With that said, does anyone have any suggestions?
Thank you for anything that you can suggest…

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Lardo Boffin
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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by Lardo Boffin » Sat Sep 22, 2018 2:04 pm

Nice freebie! If you look under one of the boards in the photo you can see part of the Acorn logo. That part will tell you which issue it is.
You can do all the things you have listed without any physical mods (possibly unless it is a really old one). There are links to all the new hardware on here

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=13057#p169078

Enjoy!
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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by jgharston » Sat Sep 22, 2018 2:26 pm

VMSZealot wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 12:53 pm
There are a ton of ROMs in the computer - many unlabelled. It's been a log time since I last used MOS - how can I get the computer to give me a list of the ROMs when I eventually turn it on?
*HELP will ask each ROM to identify itself. If one of the ROMs has a *ROMS command, then *ROMS will list the names of each ROM. On a BBC, *ROMS is not a built-in command, you need it in a utility ROM or on disk.

Code: Select all

$ bbcbasic
PDP11 BBC BASIC IV Version 0.32
(C) Copyright J.G.Harston 1989,2005-2020
>_

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danielj
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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by danielj » Sat Sep 22, 2018 3:00 pm

Nice acquisition! :) There aren't lead fumes from leaded solder unless you evaporate it at ridiculously high temps. It's just flux fumes and you get those from leaded and unleaded alike. Just don't stick your head over it :D

d.

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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by daveejhitchins » Sat Sep 22, 2018 5:12 pm

Welcome to the Forum, VMSZealot . . . Enjoy . . .

Nice gift, by the way =D>

Dave H :D

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tricky
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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by tricky » Sat Sep 22, 2018 5:12 pm

Welcome,
This page is good for checking what something is on your motherboard and this site is good for manuals.
Last edited by tricky on Sat Sep 22, 2018 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by VMSZealot » Sat Sep 22, 2018 6:52 pm

Thank you for all your help! I'm always very cautious about lead solder now (paranoid, perhaps?) - which is especially ridiculous when you consider that I started soldering in the eighties and I didn't worry about it then. I'll let you know how I get on, and I'll share my progress!

Are there any applications (not games - they seem to be easy enough to get hold of) that you'd particularly recommend (including programming languages), and what sites can I get them at?

Incidentally, looking at that JGH PD Library Disks site, how can I transfer those to SD card for the Beeb? Just copy them over?
Last edited by VMSZealot on Sat Sep 22, 2018 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Lardo Boffin
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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by Lardo Boffin » Sat Sep 22, 2018 7:44 pm

You will need a program on your PC that enables you to edit the MMB file held on the SD card. Basically an MMB file is a 100MB file that holds around 500 DFS disc images. Typically a 128MB SD card is used in the SD card reader.
There is a thread on here on how to build one cheap. Doubtless it will have links to the appropriate software.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=13936&p=183835&hili ... er#p183835
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1024MAK
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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by 1024MAK » Sat Sep 22, 2018 8:28 pm

danielj wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 3:00 pm
There aren't lead fumes from leaded solder unless you evaporate it at ridiculously high temps.
Which even high powered soldering equipment gets nowhere near.

Try not to breath in the fumes from the flux (a fan helps here, as with no other airflow, your breathing will cause the fumes to drift towards you).

Don’t eat, drink or smoke while soldering. Then afterwards, clean your hands with soap. That’s it, that’s all the safety precautions you need.

The restrictions on lead based solder (which anyone can still buy, you can even get it in Toolstation) are two fold. Potential water contamination due to electronics being dumped or put in landfill sites. And the uncontrolled reprocessing of deposed of electronics exported to poorer countries. But the restrictions only apply to commercial products that are sold. There are no restrictions on hobbies. And there are no restrictions on repair or servicing of existing (old) electronic items where lead based solder was originally used during the manufacturing.

Anyway...

Welcome on board VMSZealot!

:D :D :D

Enjoy the forum :D

You can make your confession here :mrgreen:
Put yourself on the map by sticking a pin in it at this link :P
You can list your Acorn machines vitals here

But above all, have fun :D

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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by flaxcottage » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:59 pm

Welcome. That looks like a nicely expanded Beeb. :D
- John

Check out the Educational Software Archive at www.flaxcottage.com

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Elminster
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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by Elminster » Sat Sep 22, 2018 11:08 pm

Welcome to the forum. Looks a good freebeeb(ie)
1024MAK wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 8:28 pm

Don’t eat, drink or smoke while soldering. Then afterwards, clean your hands with soap. That’s it, that’s all the safety precautions you need.
Will have to stop using my beer hat when soldering.

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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by Kazzie » Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:28 am

You can find details about (and a manual for) the large ATPL Sidewise board here: https://www.retro-kit.co.uk/page.cfm/co ... ROM-board/

Note that not all the unlabeled chips on it are ROMs. The chips in the top left and far bottom right are the ADC and MOS chips that would normally be fitted directly to the board. A further two chips in the bottom right will be a pair of RAM chips for one bank of sideways RAM (in addition to what's plugged directly into the main board). I expect the third factory-made chip nearby will be BASIC, as it's not on the main board. That just leaves one unlabelled EPROM, which without a sticker over the window may lose its data if left exposed to light.
BBC Model B 32K issue 7, Sidewise ROM board with 16K RAM
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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by 1024MAK » Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:59 pm

VMSZealot wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 12:53 pm
Here are some pictures of the inside if that helps identify the addons (no flash used, because I didn't know if that might affect the contents of the EPROM).
Use a piece of black insulation tape or a paper label to cover the window on the EPROM.

It’s UV light that erases EPROMs. Daylight (sunlight) and light from fluorescent lighting contains some UV light, and over a period of time, it will erase an EPROM.

So stick some tape or a label on it, you can then flash away (not that circuit boards photograph well when a flash is used) as much as you like :mrgreen:

Mark

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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by Coeus » Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:04 pm

Looking at the photos, in the set of ROM on the main board, I'd be doubtful if the one with the legend "WE 32K RAM for the BBC Micro" was actually RAM. It looks like a standard ceramic package EPROM. If it were RAM, I'd expect it to be in a cheaper, plastic package. Might it be a support ROM for sideways RAM on the expansion board?

On the ROM expansion board, on the bottom right corner that is visible in the left of the photo of the on-the-motherboard ROMs, is the MOS ROM as the board will have plugged into the MOS ROM's original socket. Likewise, I agree with Kazzie on the ADC at the top left.

Looking now at the photo of the expansion board itself the two chips at the bottom right are definitely RAM chips as I recognise the part number. A 6264 is an 8Kx8bit static RAM (the 64 is for 64Kbits) so two of these will make one 16K RAM bank. The chip immediately to the left of these should indeed be BASIC - the clue is the "(C) Acorn" on it.

Although I can't read the chip number, that Watford disc upgrade is almost certainly a WD1770-based one. There can be programs that try to use the 8271 (in the original Acorn DFS upgrade) that don't work with it but I bet you can find hacked versions of those that will work. The Watford DFS is backwards compatible with Acorn for anything that uses the proper calls and also supports 62 file disc catalogues and double density which the Acorn DFS does not.

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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by Lardo Boffin » Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:48 pm

I used to have a Watford 32K shadow RAM board (the CPU was plugged into this board) and it had a ROM like the one shown (WE 32K RAM). Most likely it used to have one of these fitted?
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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by tricky » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:04 pm

My WE 32K (Shadow) RAM board connects with a ribbon cable (where does yours go?
The WE sideways RAM on their RAM/ROM board (don't know about Ifel) can only be written from the RAM/ROM board.

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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by 1024MAK » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:51 pm

The RAM chips are the two marked “HM6264LP-12” on the right hand side in the first photo.

These are 64k bit, which means 8k bytes. Both together gives one bank of 16k byte sideways RAM.

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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by VMSZealot » Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:50 pm

The plot is thickening nicely (although, since I haven’t yet recapped the Beebs PSU, I haven’t turned the computer on yet). A bag was deposited under my desk last week containing the manuals and a whole load of cables and a few peripherals. One of the manuals was for the Acorn speech synthesiser - so I’m guessing, if I probe, that it has one of those fitted too. Amongst the peripherals was a joystick with many buttons and one of the flimsiest sticks I’ve ever seen. That said, since it’s now over thirty years old, still centres and is unbroken, it can’t be that flimsy! There was also a light pen (good job I still have that old CRT TV!), which I’ll experiment with but I can’t see myself using much. Most interestingly, there was a Watford Electronics mouse. I had no idea that a mouse was available for the Beeb - we didn’t have them at my school. Which begs the question, was there also a GUI? If not, what did people use the mouse for!?

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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by 1024MAK » Sun Sep 30, 2018 10:48 pm

Mouse can be used with AMX Art.

Or if you have a Master 512, with GEM.

Mark

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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by Richard Russell » Sun Sep 30, 2018 10:49 pm

VMSZealot wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:50 pm
I had no idea that a mouse was available for the Beeb
I'm sure I had (possibly still have) an AMX Mouse for the Beeb.
I am suffering from 'cognitive decline' and depression. If you have a comment about the style or tone of this message please report it to the moderators by clicking the exclamation mark icon, rather than complaining on the public forum.

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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by VMSZealot » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:23 am

The mouse mystery resolves slightly - the ROMs for AMX Pagemaker have just appeared on my desk! What other software makes use of the mouse on the Beeb? That and AMX Art (thanks for the suggestion, Mark) makes me wonder if a GUI was ever developed to tie the whole lot together.
As for Gem, I've seen a project for connecting a RPi Zero via the tube in order to emulate the second 6502, Z80, 286 and 68000. Apparently, in so doing, DOSPlus and Gem can be run on a BBC B too. But has anyone tried this? IIRC, the Beeb uses the same graphics chipset as IBM's CGA - so presumably it should even be up to running well behaved graphic software (albeit only in 4, badly chosen, colours).

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Re: I got a Freebeeb! Help needed…

Post by marcusjambler » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:35 am

DOSPlus and Gem can be run on a BBC B too. But has anyone tried this?
The 286 RPI copro allows a lot of early DOS software to operate.
Current archive is here :viewtopic.php?f=32&t=13918

marcus

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