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Customizing the ANSI / VT-100 Terminal board firmware

Written May 12th, 2018 by

The ANSI / VT-100 Terminal board for the RC2014 computer uses the open source firmware available on GitHub and therefore it can be freely modified by anyone. However, being written with the Parallax Propeller microcontroller’s own Spin language, it may be difficult, even for those who are familiar with microcontrollers programming, to understand how it works, therefore I will try to explain as simply as possible how to do some minor changes to make the firmware a bit more personal.

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Propeller Game Console

Written February 25th, 2016 by

I’m happy to present my first hardware project, a retro-style video games console with interchangeable cartridges based on the Parallax Propeller microcontroller. For those unfamiliar with this chip, it is a 32bit microcontroller with 32k RAM and 8 cores running in parallel at 80MHz, program code and data are readed from an external EEPROM and has 32 completely programmable input/output pins. The console design uses two of these chips to enhance the performances and allow more complex games than would be possible with just one. A chip is dedicated to the graphics and video output, the other chip is dedicated to the audio output and the main game logic.

P8X Game System

P8X Game System

Technical Characteristics:

GPU:

  • Parallax Propeller P8X32A
  • 32k RAM (internal)
  • 320×240 pixels, 64 colors, VGA output

CPU:

  • Parallax Propeller P8X32A
  • 32k RAM (internal)
  • 128k RAM (external)
  • Stereo Audio
  • Supports two 8-buttons controllers

The chips are connected with two high-speed serial lines for bi-directional communications and two generic data lines one of which is used by the GPU to signal the vertical video synchronization. The game code and data are stored on two EEPROMs, one for the GPU and one for the CPU, soldered on the cartridge board.

I made the first working prototype boards and even if the SDK is not yet ready, I have successfully converted the Abbaye des Morts open source game which uses a fairly complex graphics and requires a lot of memory, a good test for the hardware.

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