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Re: [cosmacelf] Membership Card.

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  • Kelly Fergason
    ... You didn t say how long its been, but Lee can... forget... :-) I pinged him after about a month, and he had it to me in 3 days. Its also possible he is
    Message 1 of 13 , Sep 20, 2011
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      On Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 2:05 PM, mmmkdm1 <patternsemerge@...> wrote:
      >
      >  I ordered a Membership Card from Lee. Is he still producing them? Or am I not waiting long enough..
      >
      >  Sorry for the panic. I watch my online ordering stuff like a hawk.
      >
      > david k.
      >

      You didn't say how long its been, but Lee can... forget... :-)
      I pinged him after about a month, and he had it to me in 3 days.
      Its also possible he is waiting on parts.

      Kelly
    • mmmkdm1
      Thanks Kelly, Its all good. Just got a notify that its been shipped. Woohoo. Can t wait to get the old tech going again. I ve been using the tinyelf on palm up
      Message 2 of 13 , Sep 20, 2011
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        Thanks Kelly, Its all good. Just got a notify that its been shipped. Woohoo. Can't wait to get the old tech going again. I've been using the tinyelf on palm up until 3 years ago. Then started messing with arduino and PICs.

        Thanks to Lee for breathing life back in the Elf.

        --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, Kelly Fergason <kfergason@...> wrote:
        >
        > On Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 2:05 PM, mmmkdm1 <patternsemerge@...> wrote:
        > >
        > >  I ordered a Membership Card from Lee. Is he still producing them? Or am I not waiting long enough..
        > >
        > >  Sorry for the panic. I watch my online ordering stuff like a hawk.
        > >
        > > david k.
        > >
        >
        > You didn't say how long its been, but Lee can... forget... :-)
        > I pinged him after about a month, and he had it to me in 3 days.
        > Its also possible he is waiting on parts.
        >
        > Kelly
        >
      • whd_whd_whd
        I was going to get an MC this month, but of course then my truck had a major malfunction and stopped that, which tends to happen a lot every time I get some
        Message 3 of 13 , Sep 20, 2011
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          I was going to get an MC this month, but of course then my truck had a
          major malfunction and stopped that, which tends to happen a lot every
          time I get some extra money. If it's not one thing, it's 5 or 10 others.
          C'est la vie. (d'guerre)

          I was thinking, though, that when I get an MC, I want to put a plug on
          the side so I can plug additional Altoid cans of features into each
          other. Like a hex display, and whatever other "peripherals" I think of,
          so they can be daisy-chained together. Maybe have a box that has 4 plugs
          in it as an extension box so you can have the MC and up to 3 other
          boxes plugged into it, or more if you use another extension box.
          (with signal buffering, of course)

          I don't know how doable that is with the MC, if it can be modded that
          way without some changes to the actual PCB board, or what.

          So I will probably need help with that, to make sure I do it right,
          and do it in a way that is the best, so everyone can use it if they
          want. I've seen some Elfish and other "back plane" extension ports,
          but I don't know if there is a signal standard, or anything like that.
          We would want to make it a "standard". (so hopefully Lee will help with that)

          You would want it to be a plug that is fairly easy to plug and unplug,
          so the choice of what's best to use there is also an issue.

          I wanted to do a Cigar Box SteamPunk 1802, and I thought maybe I could
          use my MC to plug into that, and create an extended interface to do
          the inputs and outputs through whatever I decide the CBSP should use.
          So it would use its displays and switches instead of the MC's.

          I thought it would be cool to use hex nixie tubes, if I can find them,
          and they aren't too expensive -- I might have to make them myself,
          which could be fun, interesting, and a challenge -- even if they were,
          say, sanded fibre optics strands to create the glowing digits with
          internal LED's to light them up -- that would probably be easier than
          making an actual vaccuum tube, or something like that. (I know there
          are different kinds of "nixie-like" tube technologies)

          And some other cool stuff, like have the box be completely flat, with
          a pop-out winder that causes the displays and switches to rise up out
          of their holes for use, or something like that. I think I mentioned
          before making it a (wind-up?) music box that plays a tune when you
          open the box to look at the insides, especially if that is how you get
          to the displays and switches rather than the wind-out idea.

          I would like the music it plays to be "Cherry Ripe", but I did a search
          for a music box that plays that, and couldn't find one. I think I found
          one that you can "program", or order the music for, but I forget.
          I could probably make a player play it my modding the box. I like
          "Cherry Ripe" because it is a well-known tune played on a numbers station /
          spy station. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_Ripe_%28numbers_station%29
        • Lee Hart
          Wow; lots of idea seeds here, Bill! ... The easiest way would be to replace the 30-pin header on the Membership Card with a right-angle header. You could
          Message 4 of 13 , Sep 21, 2011
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            Wow; lots of "idea seeds" here, Bill!

            whd_whd_whd wrote:
            > I was thinking, though, that when I get an MC, I want to put a plug on
            > the side so I can plug additional Altoid cans of features into each
            > other.

            The easiest way would be to replace the 30-pin header on the Membership
            Card with a right-angle header. You could then build the Front Panel
            board (or any other board) with a right-angle header as well, so the two
            could plug together side-by-side.

            This would result in the component side of the Membership and Front
            Panel Cards facing in opposite directions. But if you're designing a new
            Front Panel Card (say, with a hex keypad and display), this could be fixed.

            It would also be possible to make a board that goes *between* the two
            existing boards, to add some function (like an 1861 or equivalent video
            circuit). It would have the female 30-pin connector on the bottom, and
            header pins on the top.

            Or, such a board could be connected by removing the 1802 from its
            socket, and plugging the new board in its place. This would provide
            access to *all* the 1802 pins. The 1802 would then be relocated to the
            new board.

            > Maybe have a box that has 4 plugs
            > in it as an extension box so you can have the MC and up to 3 other
            > boxes plugged into it, or more if you use another extension box.

            This is an interesting concept. It would be possible to design a bus and
            a whole series of little "credit card" size boards that all plug
            together. In the olden days, this led to things like the 4.5"x7.5" RCA
            Microboards with their 44-pin edge connector.

            Today, more powerful chips allow much smaller cards. For instance, a
            large memory card is reduced to a single chip. The smaller cards costs
            less, and can be easier to build. The Arduino boards sort of do this,
            but without a defined bus or board size.

            > I've seen some Elfish and other "back plane" extension ports,
            > but I don't know if there is a signal standard, or anything like that.

            There were many "standard" 1802 buses. Each manufacturer invented his
            own, and pretty much ignored what the rest did. (The nice thing about
            standards is that there are so many to choose from.)

            Personally, I think the idea of a many-pin parallel bus is a dead idea.
            The connectors are big, expensive, and create reliability problems.
            Today, I think a serial bus makes a lot more sense. Imagine a series of
            computer boards (CPU, memory, I/O) each with a 4-pin USB connector to
            connect them.

            > I wanted to do a Cigar Box SteamPunk 1802

            That's another idea I like! I have a bunch of ancient telephone lever
            switches and indicator lights that I was planning to use to make one.
            Your idea of a fancy cigar box was a great way to get the cabinet.

            You can simply wire the switches and lights in place of the tiny ones on
            the existing Membership Card's front panel. For the lights, I was
            thinking of keeping the LEDs but put them in antique-looking pilot light
            holders.

            > I thought it would be cool to use hex nixie tubes

            You could use nixies, or neon bulbs with some extra driver circuitry.
            Nixies were generally limited to 10 segments (no hex version), but there
            were 7-segment neon or fluorescent displays that could be used. If
            you're after the steampunk look, 7 neon lamps arranged like a 7-segment
            display might be good. Or maybe a pair of old analog meters with scales
            marked "0...F" :-)

            > I think I mentioned before making it a (wind-up?) music box

            Heck, the Membership Card power consumption is so low that you *could*
            power it with a wind-up key! Borrow the mechanism from one of the
            wind-up radios.

            --
            Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
            814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
            Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
            leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
          • Lee Hart
            ... I got your order last Friday (Sept. 16), and shipped it out Tuesday, (Sept 20). Sorry I was so slow! :-) ... You re very welcome! ... Yeah, it s a hobby;
            Message 5 of 13 , Sep 21, 2011
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              On 9/20/2011 7:28 PM, mmmkdm1 wrote:
              > Thanks Kelly, Its all good. Just got a notify that its been shipped. Woohoo. Can't wait to get the old tech going again. I've been using the tinyelf on palm up until 3 years ago. Then started messing with arduino and PICs.

              I got your order last Friday (Sept. 16), and shipped it out Tuesday,
              (Sept 20). Sorry I was so slow! :-)

              > Thanks to Lee for breathing life back in the Elf.

              You're very welcome!

              Kelly wrote:
              >> You didn't say how long its been, but Lee can... forget... :-)
              >> I pinged him after about a month, and he had it to me in 3 days.
              >> Its also possible he is waiting on parts.

              Yeah, it's a hobby; not a business. Sometimes work and the "honey,
              do..." list get in the way. And indeed, I have been known to start to
              pack everything up, only to discover I'm out of some part and had to
              order it.

              Anyway, the Membership Cards *are* in stock at the moment. :-)
              --
              Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
              814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
              Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
              leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
            • corecoder
              Thanks Lee. Nah, you weren t slow. I let my excitement get the best of me. If things go well, I might order another one. I like to have 2 of everything hobby
              Message 6 of 13 , Sep 21, 2011
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                Thanks Lee.
                Nah, you weren't slow. I let my excitement get the best of me. If things go
                well, I might order another one. I like to have 2 of everything hobby
                related. 2 BeagleBoards, 2 Nanonotes, 2 arduinos..etc

                On Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 1:19 PM, Lee Hart <leeahart@...> wrote:

                > **
                >
                >
                > On 9/20/2011 7:28 PM, mmmkdm1 wrote:
                > > Thanks Kelly, Its all good. Just got a notify that its been shipped.
                > Woohoo. Can't wait to get the old tech going again. I've been using the
                > tinyelf on palm up until 3 years ago. Then started messing with arduino and
                > PICs.
                >
                > I got your order last Friday (Sept. 16), and shipped it out Tuesday,
                > (Sept 20). Sorry I was so slow! :-)
                >
                > > Thanks to Lee for breathing life back in the Elf.
                >
                > You're very welcome!
                >
                > Kelly wrote:
                > >> You didn't say how long its been, but Lee can... forget... :-)
                > >> I pinged him after about a month, and he had it to me in 3 days.
                > >> Its also possible he is waiting on parts.
                >
                > Yeah, it's a hobby; not a business. Sometimes work and the "honey,
                > do..." list get in the way. And indeed, I have been known to start to
                > pack everything up, only to discover I'm out of some part and had to
                > order it.
                >
                > Anyway, the Membership Cards *are* in stock at the moment. :-)
                > --
                > Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
                > 814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
                > Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
                > leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
                >
                >


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • whd_whd_whd
                Having the connection be USB-based would be COOL!, but is it possible, or feasible, with your design? I wanted a complete bus , so you could do pretty much
                Message 7 of 13 , Sep 22, 2011
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                  Having the connection be USB-based would be COOL!, but is it possible,
                  or feasible, with your design?

                  I wanted a "complete bus", so you could do pretty much anything you
                  wanted to with the Expansion Tins (tm). ;o)

                  So wouldn't you need a fairly "massive" and/or complex encoder and
                  decoder to accomplish that, to make it all work? And would that fit
                  in your current design? (is there room?)

                  And, are we talking about a completely new board design and such to
                  accomplish that, if it can even be done? Although nicer, it would be
                  quite a bit more complex than a simple plug.

                  And would it be fast enough? USB 3.0 is pretty fast, and the 1802 is
                  pretty slow, so maybe it would. (what about external memory access?)

                  And maybe having the first Expansion Tin (tm) just be a hub, would be
                  "overkill" (or underkill), and it should have some minimal, usable
                  features and functionality built-in. Like:

                  * Two hex LED displays (or 7-segment equiv)
                  * Personally, I would like to see a 16-LED and/or 4-hex digit memory address
                  * An 1861 graphics setup
                  * A USB flash drive connector for "disk" I/O
                  * A printer port (what are they even using for that now-a-days?)
                  * A manual and/or electronic switch-selectable EEROM-type memory
                  (I wanted to be able to have any type of ROM memory you wanted and be
                  able to switch it in or out -- again, maybe a (huge) design change)
                  * A mini-hex keypad (in the tin top)
                  * Probably two USB expansion ports (or maybe just one, always
                  horizontal so you build out to the right in a line, rather than as a
                  "cross" (-ish) pattern, which is what I envisioned -- that would
                  make all of the Expansion Tins (tm) work the same way, in on the left,
                  and out on the right, and you probably would never have more than two,
                  maybe three, four at the most, so that would probably be okay)

                  All of this stuff would increase the price, too, of course, which is
                  a concern and needs to be taken into account. Some of the above might
                  need to be broken down into two Expansion Tins (tm).

                  My idea to have a "complete bus" was so that you could have the additional
                  displays if you wanted, a hex keypad, and anything else that would
                  allow you "complete control" over the 1802 to do whatever you wanted,
                  just as if it was being done on/in the "master"/primary MC tin.
                • Lee Hart
                  ... USB requires a lot of computer horsepower . The only practical way to do it is to add a second modern micro that has built-in USB capabilities. These can
                  Message 8 of 13 , Sep 22, 2011
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                    On 9/22/2011 11:05 AM, whd_whd_whd wrote:
                    > Having the connection be USB-based would be COOL!, but is it possible,
                    > or feasible, with your design?

                    USB requires a lot of computer "horsepower". The only practical way to
                    do it is to add a second modern micro that has built-in USB
                    capabilities. These can be pretty small; after all, they put them in mice.

                    The 1802 would basically send/receive simple ASCII serial data (perhaps
                    with Q and EF4) to the USB chip, which translates it into the complex
                    high-speed protocol required for the USB bus.

                    Another approach is to leave out the 1802, and just emulate it with the
                    micro that's also doing the USB. It becomes a "virtual" computer, whose
                    "CPU" might be an 1802, or 6502, or Z80, or whatever.

                    This has the advantage that the hardware for your CPU, memory, and I/O
                    boards might all be identical. You're just programming each micro to
                    pretend it's a CPU, or memory, or I/O chip. These boards plug together
                    via USB cables, which provides both power and data.

                    > I wanted a "complete bus", so you could do pretty much anything you
                    > wanted to with the Expansion Tins (tm). ;o)

                    You need about 40+ pins for a "complete bus". That makes for a rather
                    large and expensive connector. There are also problems in protecting it
                    from static damage, or from intermittent connections.

                    > So wouldn't you need a fairly "massive" and/or complex encoder and
                    > decoder to accomplish that, to make it all work? And would that fit
                    > in your current design? (is there room?)

                    A series to USB chip only needs to be an 8-pin micro.

                    > And, are we talking about a completely new board design and such to
                    > accomplish that, if it can even be done? Although nicer, it would be
                    > quite a bit more complex than a simple plug.

                    Yes.

                    And there lies the rub. Who would care enough to do it? Is there any
                    *point* to doing it? Most people would say "just forget the whole thing
                    and buy Arduinos".

                    > And would it be fast enough? USB 3.0 is pretty fast, and the 1802 is
                    > pretty slow, so maybe it would. (what about external memory access?)

                    Exactly. With a 2 MHz clock, the 1802 bus is only capable of handling
                    data at 250Kbytes/sec. Even USB 2.0 runs at 1.5Mbytes/sec, and USB 3.0
                    can hit 625Mbytes/sec. It is *plenty* fast enough to send the entire
                    data, address, and all control line signals in real time.

                    > And maybe having the first Expansion Tin (tm) just be a hub, would be
                    > "overkill" (or underkill), and it should have some minimal, usable
                    > features and functionality built-in. Like:
                    >
                    > * Two hex LED displays (or 7-segment equiv)
                    > * Personally, I would like to see a 16-LED and/or 4-hex digit memory address
                    > * An 1861 graphics setup
                    > * A USB flash drive connector for "disk" I/O
                    > * A printer port (what are they even using for that now-a-days?)
                    > * A manual and/or electronic switch-selectable EEROM-type memory
                    > (I wanted to be able to have any type of ROM memory you wanted and be
                    > able to switch it in or out -- again, maybe a (huge) design change)
                    > * A mini-hex keypad (in the tin top)
                    > * Probably two USB expansion ports (or maybe just one, always
                    > horizontal so you build out to the right in a line, rather than as a
                    > "cross" (-ish) pattern, which is what I envisioned -- that would
                    > make all of the Expansion Tins (tm) work the same way, in on the left,
                    > and out on the right, and you probably would never have more than two,
                    > maybe three, four at the most, so that would probably be okay)

                    All this is possible, and even straightforward. But it takes time, and
                    costs money. Who is "up" for such an effort?

                    And, I fear that once you have it, it doesn't really do anything you
                    can't already do with existing Elfs. The journey may be fun, but it just
                    takes you to a place you've already been before.

                    --
                    Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
                    814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
                    Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
                    leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
                  • aa3nm
                    Bill, I had been thinking along a similar (expansion) lines for my Membership Card… Having the 44 pin bus on my SuperElf has been a lot of fun and created
                    Message 9 of 13 , Sep 22, 2011
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                      Bill,

                      I had been thinking along a similar (expansion) lines for my Membership Card… Having the 44 pin bus on my SuperElf has been a lot of fun and created many opportunities for experimentation starting from the beginning.

                      The first accessory was a 4 channel SCR based switch that I built to control the low voltage control circuit on a 50KW theatrical light dimmer system in 1978… Eventually it continued life with new software controlling a traffic light connected to a reed switch on the front door of my apartment in the early 80s.

                      The next use of the expansion slot on my Elf was when I built it up as an interface to the Diablo Daisy Wheel printers I was repairing for Lexitron in the early 80s…

                      Most recently you may have seen my octal Nixie Tube display board plugged into my 2002 remake of the original Elf that was enhanced with the same 44 pin bus…

                      Anyway I struggled with the size of the Membership Card. I focused on a tiny high density connector that could be added to the membership Card as white wires but still fit the size of the case (more or less). There are not too many high pin count, high density connectors in the world these days… But demand does drive supply and it seems that Apple has done just that.

                      Think Ipod (IPad) docking station and you'll get the idea.

                      This tiny little connector is packed with 30 contacts and is the most dense high count connector I could find. locating them for purchase was another issue, but I did. I also found a large collection of accessory boards that take the connectors and fan out to a more human size spacing that can actually be soldered to.

                      Anyway, there is my concept. I haven't yet implemented it but feel free to run wild or not.

                      Here is a link to the supplier I found. They also have a handful of parts and boards that mgiht be worthwhile: http://www.chargeconverter.com/store/sandisk

                      Be well,

                      Steve


                      --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, "whd_whd_whd" <bd@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Having the connection be USB-based would be COOL!, but is it possible,
                      > or feasible, with your design?
                      >
                      > I wanted a "complete bus", so you could do pretty much anything you
                      > wanted to with the Expansion Tins (tm). ;o)
                      >
                      > So wouldn't you need a fairly "massive" and/or complex encoder and
                      > decoder to accomplish that, to make it all work? And would that fit
                      > in your current design? (is there room?)
                      >
                      > And, are we talking about a completely new board design and such to
                      > accomplish that, if it can even be done? Although nicer, it would be
                      > quite a bit more complex than a simple plug.
                      >
                      > And would it be fast enough? USB 3.0 is pretty fast, and the 1802 is
                      > pretty slow, so maybe it would. (what about external memory access?)
                      >
                      > And maybe having the first Expansion Tin (tm) just be a hub, would be
                      > "overkill" (or underkill), and it should have some minimal, usable
                      > features and functionality built-in. Like:
                      >
                      > * Two hex LED displays (or 7-segment equiv)
                      > * Personally, I would like to see a 16-LED and/or 4-hex digit memory address
                      > * An 1861 graphics setup
                      > * A USB flash drive connector for "disk" I/O
                      > * A printer port (what are they even using for that now-a-days?)
                      > * A manual and/or electronic switch-selectable EEROM-type memory
                      > (I wanted to be able to have any type of ROM memory you wanted and be
                      > able to switch it in or out -- again, maybe a (huge) design change)
                      > * A mini-hex keypad (in the tin top)
                      > * Probably two USB expansion ports (or maybe just one, always
                      > horizontal so you build out to the right in a line, rather than as a
                      > "cross" (-ish) pattern, which is what I envisioned -- that would
                      > make all of the Expansion Tins (tm) work the same way, in on the left,
                      > and out on the right, and you probably would never have more than two,
                      > maybe three, four at the most, so that would probably be okay)
                      >
                      > All of this stuff would increase the price, too, of course, which is
                      > a concern and needs to be taken into account. Some of the above might
                      > need to be broken down into two Expansion Tins (tm).
                      >
                      > My idea to have a "complete bus" was so that you could have the additional
                      > displays if you wanted, a hex keypad, and anything else that would
                      > allow you "complete control" over the 1802 to do whatever you wanted,
                      > just as if it was being done on/in the "master"/primary MC tin.
                      >
                    • Doctor X
                      ... Pardon the interruption but... isn t the journey the whole point of playing around with an 1802 these days? :) I too have investigated expanding the
                      Message 10 of 13 , Sep 22, 2011
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                        >>> The journey may be fun, but it just takes you to a place you've already been before.

                        Pardon the interruption but... isn't the journey the whole point of playing around with an 1802 these days? :)

                        I too have investigated expanding the Membership Card but it seemed too difficult. Your USB idea is interesting though. Only my very old Linux PC still has a 25-pin DB25 printer connector to connect to the front panel board.

                        I concluded that if I want to pursue the "journey" and add fancy expansion cards then it is probably best for me to start from scratch. Build a CPU board. Build a front panel board. Build a video board. Build some other boards. I could use some of the same types of connectors you used to connect the Membership Card with it's front panel. Maybe a right angle variant with male connectors on the card and female connectors on a "motherboard". They have breakable headers that you can make into pretty much any size you want. Fitting into an Altoids box is not really a requirement for me.

                        It's all about the journey. I don't expect to be replacing my PC with an 1802. I don't expect to be replacing my robot controllers with an 1802 either - though it is something to consider. But it certainly would be fun to build a homebrew Elf from scratch like we did in the old days.

                        I certainly enjoy the Membership Card and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to play with a basic Elf. But I believe it is at it best when kept basic and small with toggle switches and LEDs. Bigger projects really should not be limited by the size of an Altoids can. :)

                        That said, I would like to see all of the important pins made available via a connector on the Membership Card just in case they are needed.

                        Thanks for all of the inspiration. :)
                      • Lee Hart
                        ... Yes, of course! I was only saying that if (for example) one has already built an Elf, there is less interest in building another one just like it. But as
                        Message 11 of 13 , Sep 23, 2011
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                          >> The journey may be fun, but it just takes you to a place you've
                          >> already been before.

                          Doctor X wrote:
                          > Pardon the interruption but... isn't the journey the whole point of
                          > playing around with an 1802 these days? :)

                          Yes, of course! I was only saying that if (for example) one has already
                          built an Elf, there is less interest in building another one just like it.

                          But as you remind us, the journey itself can be fun, too. That's why
                          there is interest in building (say) a steampunk Elf, or putting eight
                          1802's on a bus, or some other "new improved" version.

                          > I too have investigated expanding the Membership Card but it seemed
                          > too difficult.

                          Well, it was designed as a minimalist project. That usually means
                          leaving out expansion in favor of simplicity and low cost. Back when I
                          first conceived of the project, we kicked the idea around on this list.
                          I had several variations: Some smaller, some larger, some with more
                          features, etc. In the end, the one I built was the version that seemed
                          to have the most interest. There were already several "more expanded"
                          designs available, and anything smaller than the Membership Card becomes
                          more of a toy than something one could actually use.

                          > Your USB idea is interesting though. Only my very
                          > old Linux PC still has a 25-pin DB25 printer connector to connect to
                          > the front panel board.

                          Understood. But the parallel port was the easiest to interface to.
                          Anything else would have added chips, and required a ROM and software.

                          I think a USB port would be the "next step up". But it would require
                          adding a micro just to handle the USB protocol (as I sincerely doubt the
                          1802 could do it). With luck, the extra micro could be some cheap little
                          8-pin chip.

                          Although, given the cost and scarcity of the 1802, it might be better to
                          use a micro with more pins, and simply program it to emulate the 1802
                          *and* provide the USB interface. But that starts us down a slippery
                          slope -- who knows where it would end?

                          > I concluded that if I want to pursue the "journey" and add fancy
                          > expansion cards then it is probably best for me to start from
                          > scratch. Build a CPU board. Build a front panel board. Build a
                          > video board. Build some other boards. I could use some of the same
                          > types of connectors you used to connect the Membership Card with its
                          > front panel. Maybe a right angle variant with male connectors on the
                          > card and female connectors on a "motherboard". They have breakable
                          > headers that you can make into pretty much any size you want.
                          > Fitting into an Altoids box is not really a requirement for me.

                          Yes, that's a good description of the traditional approach. It led to
                          things like the VIP, Elf-II, Quest Elf, etc.

                          > I certainly enjoy the Membership Card and highly recommend it to
                          > anyone wanting to play with a basic Elf. But I believe it is at it
                          > best when kept basic and small with toggle switches and LEDs. Bigger
                          > projects really should not be limited by the size of an Altoids can.
                          > :)

                          Thanks for your kind words. Though, I have found it fun to build little
                          projects with these credit-card-size computers. I wind up using it like
                          the Parallax BASIC Stamps, for dumb little projects. I'm currently
                          working on one for my battery operated lawn mower. It will be a battery
                          state-of-charge gauge, and battery charger controller (as what came with
                          it was barely usable junk).

                          > That said, I would like to see all of the important pins made
                          > available via a connector on the Membership Card just in case they
                          > are needed.

                          It's tough to find a good, available, affordable connector that fits and
                          has enough pins. That's why I think your best bet is to use the 1802's
                          40-pin socket as your "expansion connector".

                          For example, I can see replacing the top Front Panel board with a new
                          board. It has male pins on the bottom to plug into the 1802 socket on
                          the Membership Card. It has a female 40-pin socket on top that the 1802
                          plugs into. It also has whatever extra circuitry you want; more memory,
                          or an 1861 video output, etc. YOu could also plug a hex keypad into the
                          8-bit input connector that's already on the Membership Card, and have
                          what amounts to a VIP in an Altoids case. :-)
                          --
                          Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
                          814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
                          Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
                          leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
                        • thinkpast
                          ... http://www.retrotechnology.com/memship/mship_soft.html That Web page lists software available for Lee Hart s Membership card. It now also references two
                          Message 12 of 13 , Sep 29, 2011
                          • 0 Attachment
                            --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, Lee Hart <leeahart@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > On 9/22/2011 11:05 AM, whd_whd_whd wrote:
                            > > Having the connection be USB-based would be COOL!, but is it
                            > > possible or feasible, with your design?
                            >
                            > USB requires a lot of computer "horsepower". The only practical way to
                            > do it is to add a second modern micro that has built-in USB
                            > capabilities. These can be pretty small; after all, they put them in mice.
                            >

                            http://www.retrotechnology.com/memship/mship_soft.html

                            That Web page lists software available for Lee Hart's Membership card. It now also references two projects to interface Lee's card to Windows systems using the Membership Card parallel port. One is to a Pixaxe 2002 microcontroller and a handful of components, connected to a Windows serial port; Chuck Bigham developed this in March 2011. The other is Chuck Yakym's Windows software to drive a parallel port directly. (These projects were mentioned on site but links and software were not provided due to editing errors, now corrected.) These projects were discussed at the time here in cosmacelf, and archives of messages here show that discussion.

                            Both projects include instructions for operating the M/S card. Both provide programming support. There's links on my Web page back to cosmacelf's Files archive, where there are versions of this software. I now have versions on my site as well.

                            A challenge for using these packages, is setting up the M/S card switches before, during and after - the procedures are included with the software. Any other interface to the M/S card will have to follow the same protocols. A description of how-to-toggle the M/S card is on the M/S Web site, there are links to it accordingly. There are other notes about the parallel port interface on PC's.

                            The Arduino Lee Hart mentioned later, is an inexpensive micro (kits $25 and up), programmable in C through a Windows/Linux development environment that includes many "libraries" to make life simple. They have a USB interface or a serial interface; and probably sufficient I/O lines to "tickle" the Membership Card's parallel port interface.

                            There are simple and very small Arduinos are available. One could replace the whole front panel with one of these on a perfboard. Since the front panel is easily removed, there's no penalty for doing so. Or...use the parallel port connector and build another card. The alternative would be to design a new 1802 card intended to be driven only by an Arduino or equivalent USB-able processor. One could hack M/S card PC boards to develop such a thing.

                            Lee's point is that the M/S card is pretty simple, intended to be hand-operated and demonstrated, carried around. Yet, it's also a platform for additional work and development - but not every kind - as discussed in this thread.

                            I've gone to some trouble to document the *five years* of discussion and development of this M/S card, so that people interested in design issues and tradeoffs can see how such products are designed. It's an education hard to find anywhere.

                            http://www.retrotechnology.com/memship/mem_devel.html

                            Or follow links to it from the M/S card home page at

                            http://www.retrotechnology.com/memship/memship.html

                            Herb Johnson
                            retrotechnology.com and the Membership Card Web site
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