Live Robot Hack Session

NABU Unboxing and Setup

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When DJ came back to Calgary he brought a surprise with him. It's a new-in-box NABU from the 80s just for me! I'm a lucky man! love

I am going to unbox it, set it up, and start running it. It's gonna to be fun! Cross your fingers that it still works after being in a box for 40 years:D And let's hope there aren't any cockroaches inside:D

If you're not familiar with NABU computers, it's a really cool story, here's the description from https://nabu.ca/

(Natural Access to Bi-directional Utilities)

A personal home computer was released to consumers in 1982 to connect families and businesses on a worldwide network. Founded in Ottawa, Canada, in 1982, families and schools used cable TV modems to connect NABU PCs to a country-wide network. In addition to standard PC capabilities, the NABU computer could download software and information content through the cable feed. Applications included games, programming languages, and news.

It'll be exciting to now be an official part of the NABU community! There have been so many cool things going on with the NABU recently, check out DJ's playlist to get the whole story: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNT_tjSHIQ3lGJR_zOqh9gGeHzykR0spq

NABU computers run in DJ's blood!

Join the live chat and add your comments, ideas, and suggestions!


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#1   — Edited

Wow, I thought I knew everything about the 80's technology, Why I never heard of Nabu before? This sounds to me like an alternate reality situation as if this never existed in my Time line. Hadron collider active again? Now I am very curious.I mean I collected everything, I even had the first TV Tennis console similar to Pong. This NABU had no previous reference in any magazines I ever looked at,very odd to me.:) .................Edit...Noticed that one DJ video showing Pac Man and that looked so good, much better than the Atari 2600 version and so much like the original arcade game, Impressive for 1982!

PRO
Canada
#2  

Sorry folks, I'm going to have to push the hack back a bit. DJ and I have to take care of a few things first!

PRO
Canada
#3   — Edited

very interesting product. remote terminal based gaming who knew that was a thing.. ok going back to playing XBOX games streaming from the cloud on my TV.

PRO
USA
#4   — Edited

Great stuff, the past is the present

Been keeping up with your YouTube channel.

PRO
Canada
#5  

Yeah it was very advanced for its time.  I remember playing zork, some maze game and a few other text based games on a mainframe terminal but wasn’t aware people were playing Pac-Man Qubit and space invaders on   Nabu DEC terminal in their living rooms while I was jamming quarters into slots at the local video arcade.

#6  

Nice, I never knew this was out there in the 80's. I was focused on the new Apple computers and I guess I was kind of a snob. Once I had an Apple IIGS and an Atari I wasn't interested in anything else until I could have my own custom IBM PC built.  If I remember correctly when I bought that Apple IIGS I paid well over 1.5K for it, a monitor and a Dot Matrix Printers. I had to finance it over a couple years! LOL.

I'm going to start looking into @DJ's project here. Sounds fun and very interesting to learn about.

I'm off to watch your unboxing to start things off! Thanks for sharing.

PRO
Canada
#7  

Rich snob.  I had a zx80 with 1K of RAM although I did eventually get the 16K RAM module.

I still have it although not sure I have a tv that supports it anymore and I don’t want to do a composite hack.

PRO
Synthiam
#8  

There’s two ways to use those old computers with rf out. A vcr or a capture device. I have an old pong game and it’s limited to rf channel 3 output as well. I got this: https://a.co/d/cE4sNvO

that’s a bit different than the one I have. But it’ll work just fine

PRO
Canada
#10  

Ok thanks DJ  I ordered one although there was a B&W tv on Kijiji for $20 but I was not sure where I would put it.

PRO
Synthiam
#11  

I picked up 2 of these wheeled carts from princess auto on the weekend. I have one in my upstairs office and the other in my basement lab. I moved the CRT tv to the basement because I don't film down there as often. But it's great because I can wheel it around and get it out of the way - throw it in the closet lol

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PRO
Canada
#12  

The RF to HDMI adapter turned up.  Worked well with zx81 (timex 1000) but I just get a scrambled screen with zx80.  My zx80 is from Australia (I grew up there) so I am wondering if something else is going on. I’ll keep playing. 

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PRO
Synthiam
#13  

Holy cow, you even have the basic manual! Hard copy:D Very excellent. The manuals and paper brochures are one of the most exciting things for me with retro computing. I try to get as much as I can for my collection because it makes a good read. Interestingly, when you think about that old stuff, you still learn things that can be applied today. For example, the stuff I've done on the NABU has gotten me back into my Assembly roots - writing on the metal to the CPU. So that got me thinking about how compilers work - so I've been rewriting portions of ARC for significant performance improvements. Also, we're starting on a new ARC project that I can't talk about, which is scheduled to be completed before the end of 2023.

Do you think the difference with the Australian zx80 is PAL?

PRO
Canada
#14  

Yeah I have all the manuals and also all the magazines, articles I cut out, code snippets (entire syntax collection over 5 years) and even a zx81 kit that I never assembled.

Assembly I dreamed of having an assembler. All I  could do was peek and poke a bunch of hex code into memory to do anything in 1K.  I got to know that little z80 chip (same one in the NABU) quite well.

The RF box I purchased supports PAL NTSC SECAM etc but it looks like the modern day RF converters are looking for a bunch of signals the ZX80 just doesn’t provide including back porch and colour burst  as the old black and white TVs didn’t look for it but the new TVs do.  All the zx80! Provide was sync tip because that’s all the old TVs needed or looked for.  So the new TVs and my RF converter won’t work.  There is a hack for it but I don’t want to mod my zx80. It appears to be working fine as you can see key presses flash the screen.

Excited to hear about ARC progress and code optimization.    Is there a fully browser based version on the horizon  :-).

PRO
Synthiam
#15  

Haha - something like that:). We're exploring 2 options - and prioritizing the option that runs on the most hardware with the least amount of resource requirements so projects can focus on robot skills.

PRO
Canada
#16  

This is a video from 1981 I watched when I was a kid that first peaked my interest in Robotics.

PRO
Canada
#17  

So back on topic and the obvious question where do you actually get a NABU.  There are some on eBay but they are in US and somehow I wonder why someone in Canada would have to import a Canadian computer into Canada from the US.  https://www.ebay.com/itm/394580132296

PRO
Synthiam
#18  

oh i've seen that Sinclair robot video years ago. i did a trtlbot program on the NABU to control a robot as well:D

The story about the NABU being resurrected is because the units were discovered in the USA at some guy's farm. He's the one selling them. Until November 2022, there were only a few dozen NABU's in the world. I had a few, and others had one or two - that was it. They may have been from Ottawa, but the company went bankrupt in 1986. Read more here: https://nabu.ca

Your only option is to get it from the seller on eBay

PRO
Synthiam
#19  

Nink check this out. I received my first retro donation from a fan - it has to be the most 70’s computer ever. I don’t know much about it but I hope to learn!

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PRO
Canada
#20  

Nice an Exidy Sorcerer. They also sold them in Australia.  Hope it boots.

PRO
Synthiam
#21  

The guy that sent it has several mods to it. Wires everywhere and some not connected. I asked for more info to get a better idea for diagnosing. Also it looks like some of the ram has been swapped so there might have been issues in the past.

it’s generating a video output. I haven’t connected it to a crt yet. Maybe this weekend!

#22  

Ahh. The good old days.  You could actually work on those circuit boards with simple soldering equipment. None of annoying Rohs stuff of today. I miss that.