ABUG meetup report (2019-11, Surrey, UK)

Just back from a weekend Acorn (and Beeb) User Group meeting, very hands on, lots of chat, and even some project progress here and there. Just 30 attendees sharing a space with a full desk each. Here’s an album showing various micros and even some people:


(Many Acorn Electrons, Beebs, Masters, Archimedes, and RISC PCs, and also Amstrad CPC, Amstrad NC200, RM Link 480Z with massive ‘intelligent’ floppy drive, Apple II, ZX80, a Lynx, a Gigatron, many Raspberries Pi and even a Vectrex)

I even managed to write one line of Basic on the handheld Casio FX730-P, which was quite a struggle with no manual. I should get a badge for that.

But my main sense of achievement came from progress with @Revaldinho’s CPC-CPLink project, a few TTL chips on a board which allows a Z80 system to talk to a micro - in this case allowing a CPC to talk to a Raspberry Pi. Simple but very effective. By the end of the session I’d written many revisions of a bootloader - at least quadrupling my Z80 experience - and together we’d been able to demonstrate a client-server arrangement by ‘shifters74’ and a sub-second loading of a game from the Pi’s storage. With no need for a custom ROM and no need for storage on the CPC side: all bootstrapped from one line of Basic.

Here’s first light, an example of a slightly earlier bootstrap, showing Hello World:

And here’s a slight later - still not final and not optimal - bootstrap which is just about to load a game:

And a fraction of a second later, here’s the game!

4 Likes

Looks like a fun weekend! I really ought to go to an ABUG meeting at some point. I don’t have anything particularly exciting, but could bring along a Music 5000.

1 Like

It’s very well worth joining in! Places are limited, so you need to keep an eye on Stardot and book quickly. But there are 3 or 4 events a year. (There are also 3 or so RISC OS events, these days including a small 8-bit contingent acting a bit like an ABUG. And for 32 bits, there’s a regular ROUGOL event in London.)

There was a Music 5000 just behind me, I think, at the weekend. It’s an excellent product! (Wavetable synthesis with minimal hardware, adding logs to avoid multiplication. See here.)

3 Likes

I see the next one is 24-26 January. I’m supposed to be at work that weekend, but will try to get it off. Thanks.

Note that booking for the event opens this weekend - it’s likely to fill up within a week, certainly within two. (Not that there’s any financial commitment until you come to book a room, or pay the modest entry fee at a slightly later date. But do note that room discounts come and go, and the discount is well worth having.)

Couldn’t get the weekend off, but I’ll follow stardot more closely for future ones.

Regarding the photos: even a Lynx (much underappreciated)!
BTW: What is this machine next to an Apple II?

Regarding badges, can we add a “Computer Store Hero” badge to the system for achievements in BASIC oneliners on an unknown system? :slight_smile:

It’s this CP/M machine, a popular machine in schools, at least where the Beeb hadn’t taken all the slots:

(I’ve added captions to all the photos now)

1 Like

Ah – “RM” as in “Research Machines” rings a bell. Thank you!
(The U.K. had more notable micros than can be held in conventional short term memory.)

1 Like

Regard the major feat shown in the assembly, the CPC link, is this somewhat compareable to the use of the Einstein as a development system for the Spectrum? From reading, I was under the impression that those serial connections were still allowing for a cup of tea, while probably done via the processor serial port as well (but with a z80 on both sides). About of a second for an entire game is certainly close to DMA speeds…

Back in the day, IIRC serial might work up to say 38,400 bps - not even today’s 115k bps. And with the dual FIFOs in CPLink we can get 50kbyte/s or thereabouts, and maybe, just maybe, double that if we can find ways to deal at a packet level instead of byte level. It’s very fast!