Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Little Prodding Helps!

More than half-way through the first week of RC2016/01, and not surprisingly I am barely getting started. Slow Retrochallenge starts seem to have become a habit for me! Hopefully this competition will at least end better for me than the last one did...

Desktop MC-10

The biggest reason for my sluggish Retrochallenge start is that I was still finishing-up some stuff I started during my extended end-of-the-year break in December. I generally use this yearly ritual to enjoy some retro projects and similar work, and this time was no exception. Along with a few soldering projects and other fun, I used a big portion of my time to straighten-up some of the disaster that is my office/bonus-room/man-cave. This time I even managed to clear-off the top of my desk and to reduce the biggest pile of junk to a somewhat smaller, mostly orderly pile of boxes!

One of the soldering projects from my December break involved installing a composite video output circuit to my MC-10. (These are available from Ed Snider, and are highly recommended to other MC-10 owners!) The newly composite-capable MC-10 pairs nicely with an 8 inch Night Owl LCD monitor on my newly cleaned-off desk. In fact, I have it situated in such a way that the "cassette" interface cable easily reaches my development laptop, allowing me to load code on the MC-10 by simply playing a WAV file on my laptop.

Wake-Up Calls

We are far enough into the Retrochallenge event that I had started to get "how's it going?" inquiries from a few friends. This includes inquiries from CoCo (and MC-10) "demo coder" Simon Jonassen, fellow Retrochallenge competitor Brett Gordon, and even my old Linux colleague Alan Cox. In particular, the latter inquiry proved to be enough to get me moving.

I had no idea that Alan had been working on a project to enable playing the old Scott Adams adventure games on the MC-10. Anyway, Alan suggested using a slightly modernized version of the old Motorola freeware assembler which is maintained for Unix-like systems. He also pointed me at a tool he had written for making cassette images for loading machine code. I had solutions for these problems, but apparently Alan's code (and his interest in my project) was enough to get me off the couch -- thanks, Alan!

In Motion

Back in March of 2014, there was a thread on the MC-10 Yahoo group about getting an ASCII-based animation running on the MC-10 and other 6847-based machines. I had participated in this effort, and had some MC-10 assembly code as my result. As part of getting started with this project, I got that code out and running on the MC-10 on my desk. I also ported the code I had from my earlier Micro Chroma 68 build I did as a Retrochallenge project. I now feel "in the groove" for writing some new code for the MC-10.

Originally, I had envisioned porting a monitor program for loading code over the serial port. However, the rebuild/reload/run cycle with my current arrangement seems fairly quick and is convenient enough to make me question the need for that porting effort. Also, the MC-10 emulator support on Linux is better than I had realized, including both MAME/MESS support and a surprisingly good Javascript-based emulator at mc-10.com.  The latter even includes the ability to load cassette images from local storage directly into emulator memory -- fast and easy! So, I may just live with what I have and save the serial-port stuff for another day...maybe...

Anyway, I suppose this post marks that I am officially underway with the RC2016/01 competition.  If you want to see where I end-up, then I guess you will just have to stay tuned...

No comments:

Post a Comment