Robot
Published on March 20 2018

And Now For Something Completely Different (pdp-8)

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This isn’t robot related... although I used EZ-Builder to make the software vc8e emulator. Read on...

I’ve always been a HUGE computer history buff and until recently, I’d get my fix at the Computer History Museum in San Jose. Thanks to an awesome guy named Oscar, I now have a functioning pdp8 emulated by a raspberry pi and simh. I’ve made quite a few modifications to it, mostly a few software fixes AND noticeably a vc8e oscilloscope terminal emulator!

The vc8e was a display controller and protocol for point-plot displaying with single coordinates. While the pdp-1 used a different setup for space war!, the pdp-8 used the vc8e and most notably the VR14 x/y display monitor.

I even came up with a little trick to emulate the phosphorous fade of a real oscilloscope. There's quite a few settings for configuring the refresh (simulated flicker), pixel size, intensity and color. While there aren't a lot of applications that I know of for the vc8e, having Space War! is good enough for me:D



Here's a link to download my vc8e emulator for anyone daring to play with Oscar's Pidp-8: VC8E-SpaceWarDisplay.zip

Here she is in all her glory connected to my vc8e terminal playing space war!
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Oscar ships his PiDP-8's in a kit
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So, building kits is just another way or experiencing what it's like to work on an electronic assembly line *ugh*
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I used a raspberry Pi 2 with raspbian that i very-much modified. There's a dedicated serial terminal, a few custom disk & tape images and of course Space War!
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March 23 2018
Hi DJ, 12 or 24 bit word size, ha, amazing
Yes that makes sense (i've written my share of speed-optimized assembly code, tho i'm sure it could have been made faster yet.)
March 23 2018
Hi Tony, looks like fun. thanks
i went to 'Robot Night' a the academy of sciences last night in san francisco, and it was great to see a bunch of different groups and approaches -- but i thought ez-robot would have more than held its own and some of the demonstration projects here probably would have stolen the show!
March 24 2018
I remember when I was a kid, my friend's dad had one and lots of other neat computer stuff while working for digital during the 80's. He gave me lots of related defunct items over the years to take apart and play around with being I was always fascinated by electronics. He also taught me how to solder and desolder. Thanks for sharing and bringing back some great memories DJ.
March 25 2018
Impressive ! Congratulations !
DJ Sures
Synthiam
March 31 2018
I 3d printed an LCD display terminal for my PDP-8:D