Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

discuss both original and modern hardware for the bbc micro/electron
User avatar
JasonStonier
Posts: 221
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:10 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by JasonStonier » Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:18 pm

I'm sure this has been asked before, but it would be really useful to me to get some views.

Having failed to find my childhood BBC in my folks' loft, I bought one on eBay this week. Works fine apart from the obvious blue smoke issue I was expecting. It's a revision 7 motherboard with no added ROMs (just BASIC). I have some 5.25 drives around from the BBCFDC project and my old beeb had an Acorn (I think) DFS ROM but not sure it's worth tracking one down for this. I'll be using it for nostalgia games and revisiting the programs I wrote as a kid once I find the disks and rip them with the BBCFDC,

One of my great joys is hardware hacking so I'd love some recommendations on what to do with the Beeb. My intentions so far:

1) Re-cap the power supply
2) Cheap SD card hardware from ctorwy31 on eBay
3) Pi co-pro
4) Custom walnut "Viglen" type case to separate the keyboard and main board
5) RGB-Scart cable

Anything else that is cool and worth doing?

Thanks.

User avatar
tricky
Posts: 4665
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:25 am
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by tricky » Mon Sep 07, 2020 10:34 pm

Sideways RAM is cheap and easy although not very well supported.
Audio socket and cable from SCART.

User avatar
flaxcottage
Posts: 4252
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:46 pm
Location: Derbyshire
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by flaxcottage » Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:19 am

The BooBip SWR and EEPROM boards are a 'must' for a Beeb. You will need a disc interface, too, even with a turboSD card device, to get stuff from floppies 'for real'. I'd recommend a 1770 disk interface as it works better with the SWR having the SWR utilities already built in. And don't forget a GOTEK drive.

There are lots of goodies to add to a Beeb nowadays. The mind boggles! :shock:
- John

Image

User avatar
JasonStonier
Posts: 221
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:10 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by JasonStonier » Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:21 am

Cool, so

6) BooBip SWR
7) 1770 DFS ROM

I do like the Gotek flash floppys, but for use as a 'jukebox' is there any significant advantage over a cheap turboSD module?

cmorley
Posts: 1313
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2016 8:11 pm
Location: Oxford
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by cmorley » Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:15 am

JasonStonier wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:21 am
I do like the Gotek flash floppys, but for use as a 'jukebox' is there any significant advantage over a cheap turboSD module?
Depends what you want to do... getting floppy images onto and off the beeb.mmb on an SD card is a PITA. Copying a floppy image to a USB stick is pretty simple.

If you want to be loading up new floppy images regularly then the Gotek wins hands down. If you're rarely going to change any disk images then an SD interface is fine.

User avatar
rmbrowngr
Posts: 420
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:46 pm
Location: Dionysos, Greece
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by rmbrowngr » Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:43 am

If you go for Gotek, then you may want to consider upgrading the disk controller if it isn’t already a 1770. Retroclinic can provide an upgrade. Also make sure your DFS version is 2.26.

If you would like hard disk storage then a BeebSCSI is the way to go. Martin B is selling some kit for this. You’ll need ADFS filing system, which BTW is more memory hungry.
Richard B
Acorn Electrons issue 4 and 6, MRB, Plus 1, AP6, AP5, Pegasus 400, BeebSCSI, Gotek, Raspberry Pi, GoSDC MBE.
BBC B+ 64K (128K upgraded) with Duel OS, Raspberry Pi and Gotek.

User avatar
MartinB
Posts: 5340
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:04 pm
Location: Obscurity
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by MartinB » Tue Sep 08, 2020 12:04 pm

Martin B is selling some kit for this.
He is? :shock:

User avatar
BeebMaster
Posts: 3621
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: Lost in the BeebVault!
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by BeebMaster » Tue Sep 08, 2020 12:24 pm

Ooopppss... I just Paypalled a few grand to "Martin B"...turns out it went to Martin Bormann's Swiss bank account!
Image

User avatar
rmbrowngr
Posts: 420
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:46 pm
Location: Dionysos, Greece
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by rmbrowngr » Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:42 pm

Opps, sorry. :oops:

Kenlowe viewtopic.php?f=8&t=18910&hilit=BeebSCSI
MartinB wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 12:04 pm
Martin B is selling some kit for this.
He is? :shock:
Richard B
Acorn Electrons issue 4 and 6, MRB, Plus 1, AP6, AP5, Pegasus 400, BeebSCSI, Gotek, Raspberry Pi, GoSDC MBE.
BBC B+ 64K (128K upgraded) with Duel OS, Raspberry Pi and Gotek.

User avatar
danielj
Posts: 8410
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:51 pm
Location: Manchester
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by danielj » Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:00 pm

JasonStonier wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:21 am
Cool, so

6) BooBip SWR
7) 1770 DFS ROM

I do like the Gotek flash floppys, but for use as a 'jukebox' is there any significant advantage over a cheap turboSD module?
Further to what Chris said - if you get a bog-standard gotek and flash it yourself, it'll cost you the same as one of the TurboMMC things, and to all intents and purposes can jukebox in exactly the same way using Tricky's menu system. You'll be lacking the OLED display and rotary encoder which you can add later if you so desire (you'd have no trouble doing so as you're handy with a soldering iron, and they'd cost you 6 or 7 quid max on top). The only reason *not* to go the gotek route is if you've not got, and aren't intending to install, a disc interface. Seeing as you are I can't seen why you wouldn't :)

d.

User avatar
JasonStonier
Posts: 221
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:10 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by JasonStonier » Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:07 pm

MartinB wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 12:04 pm
Martin B is selling some kit for this.
He is? :shock:
Good to know :lol:

User avatar
JasonStonier
Posts: 221
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:10 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by JasonStonier » Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:37 pm

danielj wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:00 pm
if you get a bog-standard gotek and flash it yourself, it'll cost you the same as one of the TurboMMC things
Good advice - thanks. Where are you seeing Goteks for around the £20 mark? Or are the cheap copy units from China usable and can be flashed?

User avatar
tricky
Posts: 4665
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:25 am
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by tricky » Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:38 pm

I would avoid MMC and GOTEK (at the same time) and they will probably not be great together and unless they use SWRAM, will use you memory.
As a games jukebox, GOTEK is slower (same as floppy), but that can be a good thing, as it encourages you to play a bit before moving on - TAPE might be better still, or just join the high-score competition (more a gathering).

EDIT: (at the same time)
Last edited by tricky on Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
danielj
Posts: 8410
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:51 pm
Location: Manchester
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by danielj » Tue Sep 08, 2020 6:28 pm

JasonStonier wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:37 pm
danielj wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:00 pm
if you get a bog-standard gotek and flash it yourself, it'll cost you the same as one of the TurboMMC things
Good advice - thanks. Where are you seeing Goteks for around the £20 mark? Or are the cheap copy units from China usable and can be flashed?
They're all the cheap copy units from China :) Anything more than that is paying someone a vast amount of ££ to flash it on your behalf!

E.g.: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/133055672707

Have a read of the flashfloppy wiki:
https://github.com/keirf/FlashFloppy/wiki

d.

User avatar
JasonStonier
Posts: 221
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:10 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by JasonStonier » Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:02 pm

tricky wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:38 pm
EDIT: (at the same time)
I got your point: your original had excellent use of Boolean logic :D

User avatar
JasonStonier
Posts: 221
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:10 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by JasonStonier » Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:03 pm

danielj wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 6:28 pm

They're all the cheap copy units from China :) Anything more than that is paying someone a vast amount of ££ to flash it on your behalf!
:lol:

In other words: RTFM. Gotcha.

English Invader
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:10 pm
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by English Invader » Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:35 pm

JasonStonier wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:03 pm
In other words: RTFM. Gotcha.
I don't know. I've seen a lot of threads both here and on other forums from people struggling to get their Goteks up and running for various systems. It may not be as easy as some people make it out to be.

I've bought a pre-prepared one from Retro Clinic. £45 including all the relevant cables and a USB stick with a ton of software pre-installed. Seems like a fair price to me and I'll take it over a £15 item from China that will take forever to get here and comes from a seller with a very poor feedback record.

Just my two cents. YMMV.

User avatar
JasonStonier
Posts: 221
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:10 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by JasonStonier » Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:43 pm

Yeah, I get that totally... but for me, the joy is in getting things working. I know from literally every project I’ve ever done, the moment it’s finished and perfect I lose interest and go onto the next one. So a cheap Gotek that will take months to get working sounds like an awesome prospect to me... 8)

User avatar
danielj
Posts: 8410
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:51 pm
Location: Manchester
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by danielj » Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:33 pm

English Invader wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:35 pm
Just my two cents. YMMV.
I've put together 6 or 7 now, and never had one go AWOL on its way from China - admittedly they take anywhere between a week and a month to appear. It's not very tricky if you're reasonably confident with soldering in a pin header and running a little TTL serial dongle, but obviously if you're not that way inclined there are plenty of options. Many of the people protesting about not being able to do it haven't ever tried doing something like that before, and are generally asking for help in all the wrong places. We've successfully talked many people through DIYing it here.

The main point I was making though, is that the units are the self-same ones from China. If you wish to pay for someone to do it for you it's absolutely fine, but if you're confident enough, you can buy one and DIY it for rather less. You may have noticed quite a few of us are all about encouraging people to get their hands dirty under the bonnet :)

d.

User avatar
richardtoohey
Posts: 3986
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:13 am
Location: Tauranga, New Zealand
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by richardtoohey » Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:57 am

But if you don't fancy building anything, Mark @ Retro Clinic an excellent source!

User avatar
JasonStonier
Posts: 221
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:10 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by JasonStonier » Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:57 am

danielj wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:33 pm
You may have noticed quite a few of us are all about encouraging people to get their hands dirty under the bonnet :)
That's the main source of joy in keeping retro tech alive: dirty hands, esoteric knowledge, fond memories, and a bit of archaeology. There's got to be some point to it, 'cos you're sure as hell not going to impress your kids.

User avatar
dsdf323
Posts: 103
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2020 6:38 am
Location: Port Macquarie, AU
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by dsdf323 » Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:17 am

I've been doing Mark @ RetroClinic's cheapo ROM socket upgrades on all my Beebs as it's pretty simple.

http://www.retroclinic.com/acorn/swr/swr.htm

Cuttin' a few tracks and soldering (or sodering if you're American) a few wires and you've got four "native" ROM sockets that take up to 64KB (27512) ROMs instead of 16KB, or three 64KB ROMs and a 32KB SWR.

My problem has been trying to figure out the best combination of ROMs to put in there.
Brett.

User avatar
Wheel_nut
Posts: 285
Joined: Wed May 01, 2019 1:46 pm
Location: West of Scotland
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by Wheel_nut » Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:14 pm

dsdf323 wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:17 am
I've been doing Mark @ RetroClinic's cheapo ROM socket upgrades on all my Beebs as it's pretty simple.

http://www.retroclinic.com/acorn/swr/swr.htm

Cuttin' a few tracks and soldering (or sodering if you're American) a few wires and you've got four "native" ROM sockets that take up to 64KB (27512) ROMs instead of 16KB, or three 64KB ROMs and a 32KB SWR.

My problem has been trying to figure out the best combination of ROMs to put in there.
See this thread which covers my deliberations in selecting ROMs. viewtopic.php?f=2&t=18845&p=262961#p262961

You may also have discovered that there is a quirk im Mark's rework instructions which brings the ROMs in in a strange order ... but that is a different discussion and is in a different thread.

Robin
#1 BBC Model B Issue 7 + 1770 DFS + Dual TEAC Floppy
#2 BBC Model B Issue 7 + 8271 DFS + Dual Floppy + Speech
#3 BBC Model B Issue 7 + 8271 DFS + Cumana Single Floppy + PiTubeDirect on KenLowe's Tube Level Shifter

User avatar
rmbrowngr
Posts: 420
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:46 pm
Location: Dionysos, Greece
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by rmbrowngr » Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:38 pm

Other possible upgrades:-

BeebZif, nice if you have a hole to the left of the keyboard to fill viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2710, there also a plugin available for purchase on eBay. I bought one to improve the appearance.

Batch IntegraB ROM / RAM Expansion Board for BBC B, sideways RAM and ROM viewtopic.php?f=8&t=17455

Also take a look at the Modern Retro Hardware List for the BBC Micro Master and Acorn Electron https://elminster.github.io/hardware
Richard B
Acorn Electrons issue 4 and 6, MRB, Plus 1, AP6, AP5, Pegasus 400, BeebSCSI, Gotek, Raspberry Pi, GoSDC MBE.
BBC B+ 64K (128K upgraded) with Duel OS, Raspberry Pi and Gotek.

User avatar
JasonStonier
Posts: 221
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:10 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by JasonStonier » Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:27 pm

rmbrowngr wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:38 pm
Also take a look at the Modern Retro Hardware List for the BBC Micro Master and Acorn Electron https://elminster.github.io/hardware
That list is insanely useful - exactly what I needed thanks.

I've just ordered a batch of PCBs from my supplier in Hong Kong for the SmallyMouse USB converter. As usual, it was the same price to get 5 as it was to get 1...so if anyone wants one let me know!

Coeus
Posts: 1814
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:05 pm
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by Coeus » Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:29 pm

rmbrowngr wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:42 pm
Opps, sorry. :oops:

Kenlowe viewtopic.php?f=8&t=18910&hilit=BeebSCSI
And, from reading the thread, that is not the board originally designed by Simon Inns but an equivalent running on a Raspberry Pi.

What upgrades to get does very much depend on what you intend to do with the machine most of the time. For me, transferring a new SSD into/out of an MMB file to use an SD card interface is not sufficiently common that I would want to get a GOTEK instead and the Turbo SD interface I have, the same one I think you were proposing to buy, has the advantages that it is fast and compact, i.e. it fits under the machine with no extra cables.

On the question of slowness possibly being a virtue, I have never understood why people want "warts and all" from back in the day when, back in the day, we would have happily got rid of them. Loading programs, including games, from tape never seemed to be an advantage to me at the time and a friend and I used to transfer them to floppy disc including cracking the copy protection to do so. If either of us could afford hard discs at the time we would have wanted to transfer them to that too. But people vary and I am not saying that what is right for me is right for others.

When tricky says sideways RAM is not well-supported, that is right as far as games are concerned. Plenty of people upgraded model Bs back in the day to include sideways RAM because it was another way to have more than four ROMs (other than a ROM board, that is) and wasn't even limited to the 16 that a larger ROM board would hold. But commercial software writers couldn't work on the assumption that you had it because there were also plenty of people who did not have it. Only when it became part of the standard machine specification, and that machine sold in high enough numbers to bother with, i.e. the Master, did support in games emerge.

So the reason for installing sideways RAM now would be the same as it was then - if you want to run others thing than BASIC without having to blow them into ROM, though EEROM is another possibility. So any of the other languages or things like disc doctor, Exmon, etc.

Back to ADFS, another option for using ADFS is one patched to use an SD card instead. Unlike MMFS etc. this doesn't use an MMB file but a partition but it works fine for me. I also have one of the boobip OS RAM modules which enables RAM to be placed in the OS address space swicthed in and out with software control and some cleverness so data can be stored there but execution happens from the ROM. I have a version of ADFS which I patched to put its workspace there rather than in low memory so that way it uses less of the main memory than DFS, not more.

Finally, on the case, I have one of the Solidisk painted steel cases along the same lines as the Viglen one you mention. If I still had the top part of the original plastic case I would probably swap back. The steel case is heavy especially with disc drives in and, with an SD interface, I find I don't use the discs anyway. I also have a standalone disc drive which I can use if I need too. But that just emphasises that what upgrades are right is a somewhat personal thing.

User avatar
JasonStonier
Posts: 221
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:10 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by JasonStonier » Wed Sep 09, 2020 3:44 pm

That's a really helpful post - thanks.

User avatar
1024MAK
Posts: 10287
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:46 pm
Location: Looking forward to summer in Somerset, UK...
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by 1024MAK » Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:04 pm

JasonStonier wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:27 pm
rmbrowngr wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:38 pm
Also take a look at the Modern Retro Hardware List for the BBC Micro Master and Acorn Electron https://elminster.github.io/hardware
That list is insanely useful - exactly what I needed thanks.
Oh my! Don’t tell Duncan (Elminster), or he’ll get overexcited again :lol:

BTW, that all started here :D

Mark

User avatar
1024MAK
Posts: 10287
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:46 pm
Location: Looking forward to summer in Somerset, UK...
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by 1024MAK » Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:16 pm

I should also point out that if you are into DIY, it’s possible to get a cheap (£1 approx) SD card ‘interface’ (for Arduino and other microcontrollers) from China (via an online marketplace) and then make yourself a simple adapter to plug into the user port. Add a sideways ROM with a suitable filing system and you have the cheapest mass media storage system that’s possible.

Mark

English Invader
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:10 pm
Contact:

Re: Recommended BBC Model B upgrades

Post by English Invader » Wed Sep 09, 2020 5:55 pm

tricky wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:38 pm
I would avoid MMC and GOTEK (at the same time) and they will probably not be great together and unless they use SWRAM, will use you memory.
As a games jukebox, GOTEK is slower (same as floppy), but that can be a good thing, as it encourages you to play a bit before moving on - TAPE might be better still, or just join the high-score competition (more a gathering).

EDIT: (at the same time)
May I ask why a Gotek would be any more problematic than a regular floppy drive? My understanding is that the file management software/firmware for the Gotek is at the device's end and that all the BBC will see is a set of instructions that appear to be from a 5.25" floppy and act accordingly.

Post Reply

Return to “8-bit acorn hardware”