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Which Elf-like to build?

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  • poe.toaster
    Hi everyone, I ve been very interested in the Elf computers for years now. I ve dabbled some with 1802 programming using emulators. It s hard to find a 1802
    Message 1 of 9 , Apr 15, 2008
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      Hi everyone,

      I've been very interested in the Elf computers for years now. I've dabbled some with 1802
      programming using emulators. It's hard to find a 1802 chip here in Sweden but now I've
      ordered a cdp1802ace. Which system should I build first? An original one or maybe a
      micro/elf able to run elf/os? I have soldered before so that shouldn't pose a problem.
      Anyone have any pcb-files that can be etched using UV-light?

      I've programmed before using C and some forth but I've never paid that much attention to
      what the hardware is really doing. With the Elf emulator and Tom Pittmans excellent tutorial
      I've come to grips with a lot of stuff.
    • erd_6502
      ... Good start, but I understand wanting to run the real hardware. ... I have both, and for me, they do different things. I started with a Quest Elf (switches
      Message 2 of 9 , Apr 16, 2008
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        --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, "poe.toaster" <poe.toaster@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi everyone,
        >
        > I've been very interested in the Elf computers for years now.
        > I've dabbled some with 1802 programming using emulators.

        Good start, but I understand wanting to run the real hardware.

        > It's hard to find a 1802 chip here in Sweden but now I've
        > ordered a cdp1802ace. Which system should I build first?
        > An original one or maybe a micro/elf able to run elf/os?

        I have both, and for me, they do different things.

        I started with a Quest Elf (switches and dual TIL311s), then much
        later, 4 years ago, made my own original Elf just because I never
        did it back in the day. With only 256 bytes and, essentially only
        the EFx and Q lines for electronic I/O and the switches and hex
        displays for human I/O, you can do a few things with it, but not
        all that much.

        The Elf2K w/IDE interface is more like a 1980s micro to me...
        some RAM, a serial port, a disk interface, and enough smarts
        that you don't have to use the toggle switches unless you want
        to.

        What you _could_ do is to do both. You could make a plate for
        the switches and mount them to strips of wood or plastic, with
        mounting holes to match the Elf2K. From there, you'd wire the
        toggles to fit the Elf2K, then start from there when wiring your
        "original" Elf.

        You could even migrate parts such as the TIL311 displays from
        one to the other, or possibly the RAM (unless you are trying
        to make a photo-realistic unit, I'd recommend a modern 8-bit
        SRAM rather than trying to track down a pair of 5101s and
        sockets; plus it's less wiring).

        To switch, unplug the front-panel switches, remove the screws,
        swap whatever parts you are going to share, then install the
        other board on the one frame.

        I mention this idea because bought new, those switches are
        several dollars apiece in the U.S., and the displays run as
        much as $15 each. Personally, I was able to scrounge used
        parts and save myself a lot, but not everyone has access to
        old switches and displays.

        If the toggle switches are not part of the experience you
        are trying to have, the EmbeddedElf is a nice board that
        fits under the STG disk interface. It's quite compact and
        boots up to the same console interface as the Elf2K; you
        just don't get the TIL displays and the switches with it.

        I've played a lot with ElfOS (and helped debug the Infocom
        game interpreter ZRUN3), so I can say it's a lot of fun,
        switches or not.

        To start - I'd figure out what you want your Elf to do. If
        burning a board isn't "fun" for you, you could buy a blank
        board, or even wire your own from scratch (though having done
        it, give yourself a lot of time to do that and figure out what
        doesn't work the first time).

        You probably don't have an NTSC monitor at hand, but if you
        did, exploring the 1861 "Pixie" video chip could be fun. I
        think there was at least one PAL-compatible chip from RCA,
        but I can't imagine that it wouldn't be rare.

        Good luck with whatever route you take.

        -ethan
      • saturn5tony
        I would definately build Spare Time Gizmos ELF-2000. $20 for the blank board (Which is a very high quality board and an excellent design). You can make a
        Message 3 of 9 , Apr 16, 2008
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          I would definately build "Spare Time Gizmos" ELF-2000. $20 for the
          blank board (Which is a very high quality board and an excellent
          design). You can make a Super ELF in a day. Even the partial KIT with
          the 6 TIL311's displays is a great price too!
          Look at the STG site:

          http://www.sparetimegizmos.com/Hardware/Elf2K.htm

          You dont have to put the displays in, if you dont want too,
          everything will work without them. And ALL the schematics are FREE
          from the site. Its a great design!!, the best 1802 based computer
          system I've seen. And thats over 30 years of looking at them.

          As far as making the EmbeddedELF, I found out from STG that bob is
          not making the PC board anymore as well as the STG1861 board, cause
          demand is too low to restock those boards. He said that the
          EmbeddedELF was his favorite but everybody wants the ELF2000 with all
          the great lights and stuff. I think the Embedded ELF was nice too.
          Battery backed 32K-RAM/ROM, Gals, Logic and the CPU in a very small
          PC board. Cool stuff. Maybe if we can get enough requests to him he
          may make new boards!!!
          But still the ELF2000 is excellent, Im going to but another, just as
          a backup

          As FAR as the STG1861 video board STG made, It is a perfect
          replacement for the CDP1861!!! And fun to play around with too. Ive
          seen RCA's 30 year old CDP1861 go for $40 - $60 on ebay, and they
          cannot even guarantee it works!! Imagine paying $60 for a BAD chip.
          eeeyyooo.
          I built the STG1861 from bobs schematics in a day. I bought the 2
          preprogrammed GALS from STG for $10 a peice. Good price, you save
          $600 in buying a GAL programmer. So the Total cost of building a
          homebrew 1861 was around $25, and it WORKS!!! It is EXACTLY like
          RCA's CDP1861, no difference at all. The processor and the NTSC TV
          think it is really an RCA CDP1861.. Hehe cool.

          So make one your self, its worth the savings. And the ELF2000 will
          take it with some modifications, cause its designed for the 24pin
          1861. Read the FREE users manual. I'll post my homebrew STG1861 on
          this Groups site (if Yahoo allows this) soon.

          And it looks like running the ELFOS with STG's "Disk,UART and RTC"
          board for the ELF2000 is going to be alot of fun. Im waiting for the
          board from Spare Time Gizmo, soon to be here. I cant imagine saving
          code to a 256Megabyte space!! It will take time to fill that disk.

          -Tony

          --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, "erd_6502" <erd_6502@...> wrote:
          >
          > --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, "poe.toaster" <poe.toaster@>
          wrote:
          > >
          > > Hi everyone,
          > >
          > > I've been very interested in the Elf computers for years now.
          > > I've dabbled some with 1802 programming using emulators.
          >
          > Good start, but I understand wanting to run the real hardware.
          >
          > > It's hard to find a 1802 chip here in Sweden but now I've
          > > ordered a cdp1802ace. Which system should I build first?
          > > An original one or maybe a micro/elf able to run elf/os?
          >
          > I have both, and for me, they do different things.
          >
          > I started with a Quest Elf (switches and dual TIL311s), then much
          > later, 4 years ago, made my own original Elf just because I never
          > did it back in the day. With only 256 bytes and, essentially only
          > the EFx and Q lines for electronic I/O and the switches and hex
          > displays for human I/O, you can do a few things with it, but not
          > all that much.
          >
          > The Elf2K w/IDE interface is more like a 1980s micro to me...
          > some RAM, a serial port, a disk interface, and enough smarts
          > that you don't have to use the toggle switches unless you want
          > to.
          >
          > What you _could_ do is to do both. You could make a plate for
          > the switches and mount them to strips of wood or plastic, with
          > mounting holes to match the Elf2K. From there, you'd wire the
          > toggles to fit the Elf2K, then start from there when wiring your
          > "original" Elf.
          >
          > You could even migrate parts such as the TIL311 displays from
          > one to the other, or possibly the RAM (unless you are trying
          > to make a photo-realistic unit, I'd recommend a modern 8-bit
          > SRAM rather than trying to track down a pair of 5101s and
          > sockets; plus it's less wiring).
          >
          > To switch, unplug the front-panel switches, remove the screws,
          > swap whatever parts you are going to share, then install the
          > other board on the one frame.
          >
          > I mention this idea because bought new, those switches are
          > several dollars apiece in the U.S., and the displays run as
          > much as $15 each. Personally, I was able to scrounge used
          > parts and save myself a lot, but not everyone has access to
          > old switches and displays.
          >
          > If the toggle switches are not part of the experience you
          > are trying to have, the EmbeddedElf is a nice board that
          > fits under the STG disk interface. It's quite compact and
          > boots up to the same console interface as the Elf2K; you
          > just don't get the TIL displays and the switches with it.
          >
          > I've played a lot with ElfOS (and helped debug the Infocom
          > game interpreter ZRUN3), so I can say it's a lot of fun,
          > switches or not.
          >
          > To start - I'd figure out what you want your Elf to do. If
          > burning a board isn't "fun" for you, you could buy a blank
          > board, or even wire your own from scratch (though having done
          > it, give yourself a lot of time to do that and figure out what
          > doesn't work the first time).
          >
          > You probably don't have an NTSC monitor at hand, but if you
          > did, exploring the 1861 "Pixie" video chip could be fun. I
          > think there was at least one PAL-compatible chip from RCA,
          > but I can't imagine that it wouldn't be rare.
          >
          > Good luck with whatever route you take.
          >
          > -ethan
          >
        • poe.toaster
          First I d like to say thanks for the fast replies, their rich content and the pleasant tone - I m not used to this in internet forums. Now onto the technical
          Message 4 of 9 , Apr 16, 2008
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            First I'd like to say thanks for the fast replies, their rich content and the pleasant tone - I'm
            not used to this in internet forums. Now onto the technical stuff...


            --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, "saturn5tony" <saturn5tony@...> wrote:
            >
            >
            > I would definately build "Spare Time Gizmos" ELF-2000. $20 for the
            > blank board (Which is a very high quality board and an excellent
            > design). You can make a Super ELF in a day. Even the partial KIT with
            > the 6 TIL311's displays is a great price too!
            > Look at the STG site:
            >
            > http://www.sparetimegizmos.com/Hardware/Elf2K.htm
            >
            > You dont have to put the displays in, if you dont want too,
            > everything will work without them. And ALL the schematics are FREE
            > from the site. Its a great design!!, the best 1802 based computer
            > system I've seen. And thats over 30 years of looking at them.

            It looks like a great system with nice firmware and a very nice manual. Thanks for the link.


            >
            > As far as making the EmbeddedELF, I found out from STG that bob is
            > not making the PC board anymore as well as the STG1861 board, cause
            > demand is too low to restock those boards. He said that the
            > EmbeddedELF was his favorite but everybody wants the ELF2000 with all
            > the great lights and stuff. I think the Embedded ELF was nice too.
            > Battery backed 32K-RAM/ROM, Gals, Logic and the CPU in a very small
            > PC board. Cool stuff. Maybe if we can get enough requests to him he
            > may make new boards!!!
            > But still the ELF2000 is excellent, Im going to but another, just as
            > a backup

            I've always wanted a portable text editor. By that I mean something alot smaller than a 12"
            laptop. A little bit inspired by this gent http://www.ringcomps.co.uk/hhc/ I wonder if it's
            possible to build something like this but in a slightly smaller case. It's a bit crazy I know.

            I think my first attempt will be to build an elf2k and then I'll build an original elf just for
            the nostalgic feel.


            >
            > As FAR as the STG1861 video board STG made, It is a perfect
            > replacement for the CDP1861!!! And fun to play around with too. Ive
            > seen RCA's 30 year old CDP1861 go for $40 - $60 on ebay, and they
            > cannot even guarantee it works!! Imagine paying $60 for a BAD chip.
            > eeeyyooo.
            > I built the STG1861 from bobs schematics in a day. I bought the 2
            > preprogrammed GALS from STG for $10 a peice. Good price, you save
            > $600 in buying a GAL programmer. So the Total cost of building a
            > homebrew 1861 was around $25, and it WORKS!!! It is EXACTLY like
            > RCA's CDP1861, no difference at all. The processor and the NTSC TV
            > think it is really an RCA CDP1861.. Hehe cool.
            >

            Is that schematic found somewhere in the 'files'-section of this webpage?


            > So make one your self, its worth the savings. And the ELF2000 will
            > take it with some modifications, cause its designed for the 24pin
            > 1861. Read the FREE users manual. I'll post my homebrew STG1861 on
            > this Groups site (if Yahoo allows this) soon.
            >
            > And it looks like running the ELFOS with STG's "Disk,UART and RTC"
            > board for the ELF2000 is going to be alot of fun. Im waiting for the
            > board from Spare Time Gizmo, soon to be here. I cant imagine saving
            > code to a 256Megabyte space!! It will take time to fill that disk.
            >
            > -Tony
            >
            > --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, "erd_6502" <erd_6502@> wrote:
            > >
            > > --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, "poe.toaster" <poe.toaster@>
            > wrote:
            > > >
            > > > Hi everyone,
            > > >
            > > > I've been very interested in the Elf computers for years now.
            > > > I've dabbled some with 1802 programming using emulators.
            > >
            > > Good start, but I understand wanting to run the real hardware.
            > >

            Yes, it's always more fun using real hardware so you can interface it with real world stuff.

            > > > It's hard to find a 1802 chip here in Sweden but now I've
            > > > ordered a cdp1802ace. Which system should I build first?
            > > > An original one or maybe a micro/elf able to run elf/os?
            > >
            > > I have both, and for me, they do different things.
            > >
            > > I started with a Quest Elf (switches and dual TIL311s), then much
            > > later, 4 years ago, made my own original Elf just because I never
            > > did it back in the day. With only 256 bytes and, essentially only
            > > the EFx and Q lines for electronic I/O and the switches and hex
            > > displays for human I/O, you can do a few things with it, but not
            > > all that much.
            > >
            > > The Elf2K w/IDE interface is more like a 1980s micro to me...
            > > some RAM, a serial port, a disk interface, and enough smarts
            > > that you don't have to use the toggle switches unless you want
            > > to.
            > >
            > > What you _could_ do is to do both. You could make a plate for
            > > the switches and mount them to strips of wood or plastic, with
            > > mounting holes to match the Elf2K. From there, you'd wire the
            > > toggles to fit the Elf2K, then start from there when wiring your
            > > "original" Elf.

            That's a great tip. I will probably make it along the lines you described. Toggle can be fun
            for a while but could get very tedious ;)

            > >
            > > You could even migrate parts such as the TIL311 displays from
            > > one to the other, or possibly the RAM (unless you are trying
            > > to make a photo-realistic unit, I'd recommend a modern 8-bit
            > > SRAM rather than trying to track down a pair of 5101s and
            > > sockets; plus it's less wiring).
            > >
            > > To switch, unplug the front-panel switches, remove the screws,
            > > swap whatever parts you are going to share, then install the
            > > other board on the one frame.
            > >
            > > I mention this idea because bought new, those switches are
            > > several dollars apiece in the U.S., and the displays run as
            > > much as $15 each. Personally, I was able to scrounge used
            > > parts and save myself a lot, but not everyone has access to
            > > old switches and displays.
            > >
            > > If the toggle switches are not part of the experience you
            > > are trying to have, the EmbeddedElf is a nice board that
            > > fits under the STG disk interface. It's quite compact and
            > > boots up to the same console interface as the Elf2K; you
            > > just don't get the TIL displays and the switches with it.
            > >
            > > I've played a lot with ElfOS (and helped debug the Infocom
            > > game interpreter ZRUN3), so I can say it's a lot of fun,
            > > switches or not.

            Oh there's a infocom interpreter?! Yikes, great work.

            > >
            > > To start - I'd figure out what you want your Elf to do. If
            > > burning a board isn't "fun" for you, you could buy a blank
            > > board, or even wire your own from scratch (though having done
            > > it, give yourself a lot of time to do that and figure out what
            > > doesn't work the first time).
            > >
            > > You probably don't have an NTSC monitor at hand, but if you
            > > did, exploring the 1861 "Pixie" video chip could be fun. I
            > > think there was at least one PAL-compatible chip from RCA,
            > > but I can't imagine that it wouldn't be rare.
            > >
            > > Good luck with whatever route you take.
            > >

            Thanks alot I will keep you all posted as soon as the cdp1802ace arrive.

            > > -ethan
            > >
            >
          • saturn5tony
            Hi Poe, ... webpage? It s on page 130 of the User s Manual where the schematics are. STG offers all the User s manuals and schematics of ALL the ELF2000 and
            Message 5 of 9 , Apr 17, 2008
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              Hi Poe,

              Your question from the last post was:
              > Is that schematic found somewhere in the 'files'-section of this
              webpage?

              It's on page 130 of the "User's Manual" where the schematics are. STG
              offers all the User's manuals and schematics of ALL the ELF2000 and
              their peripherals for free. It's labeled PIXIE
              Its all the way down at the bottom of the site, labeled
              "Elf 2000 User's Manual (including schematics)"
              It takes a minute to download, its a big PDF file.

              By the way has anybody fooled around with the Assember that is built
              into the firmware of the ELF2K. Its really nice and quick to do
              assembly with. I noticed though, that maybe the ASM does not allow
              hex entries. In otherwords if you type in LDI 255, the code will
              assemble to F8 FF. Which is fine. But if you try LDI FF, it shows
              error. I tried the common LDI $FF with the "$" entry, but it still
              shows error. Did anybody try anything different?

              -Tony
              (CO)mplementary (S)ilicon (M)et(A)l oxide (C)onductor
            • nils_eilers
              ... Maybe LDI 0FFH ?
              Message 6 of 9 , Apr 17, 2008
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                > I tried the common LDI $FF with the "$" entry, but it still
                > shows error. Did anybody try anything different?

                Maybe LDI 0FFH ?
              • poe.toaster
                I received the cdp1802ace yesterday. Just waiting for some other components before I start constructing. To be continued...
                Message 7 of 9 , Apr 22, 2008
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                  I received the cdp1802ace yesterday. Just waiting for some other components before I start
                  constructing.

                  To be continued...
                • saturn5tony
                  Hi poe, So what design are you going to build? Your own, the ELF2000 or the origianl ELF? -Tony (CO)mplementary (S)ilicon (M)et(A)l oxide (C)onductor ...
                  Message 8 of 9 , Apr 23, 2008
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                    Hi poe,
                    So what design are you going to build? Your own, the ELF2000 or the
                    origianl ELF?

                    -Tony
                    (CO)mplementary (S)ilicon (M)et(A)l oxide (C)onductor


                    --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, "poe.toaster" <poe.toaster@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > I received the cdp1802ace yesterday. Just waiting for some other
                    components before I start
                    > constructing.
                    >
                    > To be continued...
                    >
                  • poe.toaster
                    ... Tony, Not sure yet. The elf2000 seems to be a very modern machine and something that I d probably spend alot of time with. The original is fun in the
                    Message 9 of 9 , Apr 23, 2008
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                      --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, "saturn5tony" <saturn5tony@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Hi poe,
                      > So what design are you going to build? Your own, the ELF2000 or the
                      > origianl ELF?
                      >
                      > -Tony
                      > (CO)mplementary (S)ilicon (M)et(A)l oxide (C)onductor


                      Tony,

                      Not sure yet. The elf2000 seems to be a very "modern" machine and something that I'd
                      probably spend alot of time with. The original is fun in the sense that it envokes nostalgic
                      feelings even though I was born in '81 ;) I don't have access to an EEPROM-programmer so
                      ordering ELF2000 pcb + a rom is tempting. I have located alot of different schematics on
                      the net for different ELVES - no PCB do. My dad is really enthuastic about the project and
                      says that he will help me(he's a electronics guy with his own scope, good soldering
                      equipment, UV PCB etcher etc) but he says I should locate a PCB first so that we can use
                      that insted of soldering wires all over the place.

                      Anyone know of any free PCB images?

                      So to answer your question Tony I am thinking of building something closer to the ELF II
                      since it has a hex keyboard. I know many opcodes in hex for the 1802 but I have a hard
                      time toggling it in using binary switches.
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