Vtech Pre Computer 1000

 

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This was a car boot purchase, a Pre Computer 1000 than can run off batteries or a mains adapter. It didn’t come boxed and as usual with car boot purchases is always a gamble.

When tested, it worked. Originally this was sold in the late 80’s to early 90’s for children wanting to learn and use a simple computer. It has a slot in the left hand side for additional cartridges although these seem to be quite hard to come by.

The full qwerty keyboard lets you input answers to questions on a simple LCD screen with various beeping noises indicating activity on the computer.

 

 

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Raspberry Pi 3B with new DVB TV µHAT

Saturday morning, we got home and found my new µHAT waiting for me on the door mat from The Pi Hut at £22.99 including delivery.

I grabbed the nearest Raspberry Pi 3B that wasn’t already being used for a project.

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Unboxing the Hat… Not much in there.

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The hat, some standoffs/spacers, an ariel socket, a header extension and some screws for the standoffs.

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Fir the header extension.

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Push the Hat onto the GPIO pins on your Pi. Screw the spacers into place. I couldn’t use the third spacer on my model of Pi as there is no hole to attach. Push the ariel socket into place on the end of the Hat until it clicks and locks in place.

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The guide says use the latest the version of Raspbian. My Pi already had a fairly recent o/s, so I decided to boot it up and do the updates.

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Wanted to find the unique serial number for my Pi..

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Started doing the updates…

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Updates all done, ran the command to install the TV software.

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And it failed.

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So started again from scratch but this time started with a fresh copy of the latest Raspbian image. It worked this time.

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Omce installed, a wizard starts and asks you to create login credentials for the administrator.

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Once the TV software is installed on the Pi, it acts as a streaming TV server which you can access from other computers. You are asked to go to a PC and enter a URL to access the server remotely but this didn’t work. Tried again but using the Pi’s IP address and you receive a login request for the administrator credentials you set up earlier.

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Then the wizard starts for configuring the TV software and channels. I found it fairly intuitive but here is the full guide.

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After the software finds the channels, you click on a TV icon next to one of them and here I am watching BBC One on my Laptop being streamed from the Raspberry Pi.

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Testing a Sega Master System Console

Another console for testing. This was a car boot purchase and you never know if they will actually work or not. You have to take chance that the seller is being honest when they say it works.

As I haven’t dug out any games yet, I could only test this with the built in game, Super Hang On. It is also missing its RF lead so had to borrow one from an Intellivision temporarily.

Below is me not playing Super Hang On very well:

BBC B Microcomputer, Cub Monitor & Cumana Dual Disk Drive

This is another retro console i’m testing from my collection. Its a bit rough but still works. It has a missile command games ROM fitted. The Microvitec Cub monitor still works well but the Cumana disk drive doesn’t seem to want to read disks at the moment. It shows Fault 18 at 0/0 when trying to read a 5.25″ disk.

In the video below, you can see me testing the Missing Command game really badly. Think I need a joystick. Using the cursor keys is fiddly.

Amstrad PC 1640 HD 20

When I srtaed my first job after leaving school at a business equipment company, one of the first business computers I learnt to use was the Amstrad PC1512 and then the 1640 with a whopping 20MB HDD. I couldn’t believe how much room these drives had at the time.

This is one I picked up some time ago on Ebay with an external floppy drive, DMP 2000 printer and some 5.25″ disks.

I’v e had to move many of my retro consoles from their location in my office back to my house. Although this is going to be a huge headache, it also gives me a chance to fire up all the systems, test and play>

Here is a video of me playing Comic Capers on the Amstrad.

 

Eagle Magazine 4th December 1982

We went to our usual Taplow car boot sale on Sunday 16th September. There wasn’t much to buy although I cam across a pile of Eagle comics from the 80’s. Debbie asked the seller how much and he replied £2.50 each or £50 for the lot (26 in total). I was only interested in the top one as it was advertising some 80’s computers and games. I thought the price was a bit steep and we carried on walking around the car boot sale.

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On the way back around for the 2nd time, there was a different man at the stall and we asked him the price again and were told £2.50 for the whole lot. We quickly picked up all of them, handed over the money and continued. On Ebay they can easily sell for £2-3 each. They are generally in good condition but its fascinating reading them and the articles on what was happening in the 80’s, computers, games and predictions for what the future might bring.

In this issue, they discuss the release of ET several months after it was released in the U.S, an article about using wave power to generate electricity, an entrepreneur who is going to develop a smaller shuttle spacecraft that could be carried on a Boeing 747, the impending release of the Philips CD (it might replace vinyl in the future!), a company making talking books (that will never catch on), Airfix models, the Intellivision console and games, the Atari 2600 and games, Big Daddy and Subbuteo

An 80’s retro fest. Cant wait to look at the rest.

Centre for computing history Retro Computer Festival 2018

We visited this festival again for the third year in a row, I think it is.

Held at the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge. It’s tucked away in a little industrial estate with limited car parking.

Once through the inconspicuous doors that hide a gem of nerdiness, you are met with a little reception desk and small shop area with an array of computer related gadgets and niknaks.

There is s small hatch which serves drinks and some limited snacks, tables to sit and eat and a huge working microprocessor simulator occupies a couple of the walls.

This weekend they break out all the arcade machines, consoles, handhelds, computers, mainframes and associated hardware and software. You can interact with many of the most influential computers in silicon history. I love this festival because there’s also a large number of enthusiasts and experts to tell you about the systems and I love the stories they tell that help to bring them to life.

If you were s child of the 70’s and 80’s particularly then you will love this.

In a side room is a mockup of a 70’s/80’s office and in another room were some enthusiasts displaying their personal collections.

I went over to talk to a man who sells the RC2014 z80 kit. I bought one last year and haven’t been able to get it fully working yet. He was able to test most of the PCB’s and confirm they were working. It could still be the CPU PCB or the TTL connector kit. I bought one of his Raspberry Pi expansion PCB’s so I can connect it to a Raspberry pi for video output and bypass the need for the USB serial TTL connection. I now need to get home and check all my solder joints on the CPU assembly.

Debbie and I played games on a few of the consoles including the original pong on a TV console. Obviously I won as can be seen on the video:

About a year ago I purchased a Lego 1093 Interface A set which came with the electronics but no software. I have tried searching online,in forums and even Lego but could not get hold of the required software to use this. I recently found that the Museum had a copy somewhere. On Saturday there was a volunteer demonstrating some similar PC controlled Lego kits and I mentioned this all to him. He was kind enough to locate the software and spoke to a colleague who is going to make a copy and send it out to me. Looking forward to that.

Another exhibitor at the event was the ex managing director of Commodore, David Pleasance, who has just released a new book about his days running Commodore. He has also released an accompanying Blu-ray with interviews and a music CD. He has a musical history as well as looking after one of the most iconic computer companies of the 80’s. We bought his book for £30 and Blu-ray for £20 and he threw in the CD. After some problems taking electronic payments, he signed both and allowed a photo opportunity. Looking forward to reading the inside story of Commodore.

 

One of the things I always enjoy about this event is seeing the enthusiasts and volunteers who continue to maintain old systems and in some cases develop new hardware and software to keep these systems alive and popular as ever. Retro is definitely in.

One of the volunteers was showing off his Altair 8080 emulator. A hardware version of the classic computer that is fully working with an authentic looking control panel.

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Some of the great systems to see and play!