Just the signal, not the noise

Hello 8bit'ers,

unbelievable, it’s Friday. And the next one is already Christmas. 🎄

At this point a short call: You are planning an article, a project release or an update around Christmas? We would be happy to present your project in our Christmas issue on the 24th. Feel free to contact us directly by simply replying to this email.

In our latest issue we have so many topics that we decided to cut back on the blah-blah. So look forward to less digitally printed letters, but a lot more of really cool content.

Enjoy the penultimate issue ... of this year!

Don't Miss

Sonic for C64

Sonic the Hedgehog for C64
Source: SEGA

As one of those who prefers to build tools and hardware so that others can get creative with it, I'm rather less of a gamer. But even I couldn't get around Sonic the Hedgehog in my youth.

The SEGA franchise is now almost exactly 30 years old, and an individual named mrsid6581 from Holland has taken the anniversary as an opportunity to produce a C64 variant of the game. 😳

So far, there is only a preview but it packs a punch.


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Analogue Pocket - Good, Bad & Evil

Analogue Pocket - Good, Bad, Evil
Source: https://www.theverge.com/

In Issue #21 we introduced Analogue OS. Analogue's Pocket console on the other hand was not yet available at that time. Now it's at least available for pre-order, and the first reviews are trickling in.

Andrew Webster of TheVerge has written one worth reading, and summarizes all the facts and details about the thoroughly impressive console here

BUT: Unfortunately, there is a but. Those who know us, also know that we are rather on the optimistic side of things, criticism is rather rare from us to read. In that case, however, Vicki Pfau and her experience with the Analogue Team should not be pushed aside just like that.

What Vicki reports is unfortunately too often a problem in our industry, and we as engineers are (also unfortunately) just as often not really valued, even though we actually produce all that stuff. Vicki has detailed her experience with Analogue here, and if you are flirting with buying the console, you should at least have heard the story from her perspective once.

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Amiga 3000 & BBS in 2021

Amiga 3000 & BBS in 2021
Source: https://www.epsilonsworld.com/

The Amiga is alive. Fact. Not only in our personal hearts, but so many people are pushing hard- and software development for the platform until today, it's just awesome.

epsilon_2012 is definitely one of those fans and in the latest article she or he gives an overview of how to have lots of fun with current BBS in 2021 with an Amiga 3000.

You missed our BBS article in Issue #24? Then head over quickly, because the topic is still hot - even in 2021.

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NeXTSPACE - NeXTSTEP Look for Linux
Source: https://github.com/trunkmaster/

As retrocomputing enthusiast you surely know the history of NeXTSTEP. Based on BSD, the operating system was developed around the time Tim Berners-Lee brought HTTP and HTML to life. NeXTSTEP was more common in the scientific community, and was bought by Apple in 1996.

Subsequently, large parts of today's macOS are derived from NeXTSTEP, the Ns namespace comes from somewhere, right? 🤷

Anyway, Sergii Stoian has developed nextspace, a desktop environment that borrows from NeXTSTEP, and is more than worth looking at.

His installation is based on CentOS 7, and if you want to try it out, you will surely also like Gaël Elégoët's fantastic icons

Actually worth a completely separate article, but ... you know ... too much bla bla. 😜

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How the Atari 2600 Came To Be

Atari2600 - History
Source: https://spectrum.ieee.org/

41 years ago in September, Atari released the VCS (later Atari 2600). Like no other gizmo, this console was to open up a gigantic market for video games, and thus usher in the era of subsequent 8-bit home computers that we all feel so much love for. 😍

Tekla S. Perry and Paul Wallich have teamed up, and peppered the console's origin story with lots of background information.

The result can be read on spectrum.ieee.org, is absolutely excellently researched and requires some reading time. So nothing for a quick look. But everything for a long train ride home.

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Ahead of the Wave


ATX-80 - A ZX-80 inspired Computer
Source: http://www.breatharian.eu/

There are always some seriously impressive hardware projects that make you wonder why the hell someone didn't come up with the idea before. It's a similar story with Miroslav Němeček and what he has christened the ATX-80.

The machine borrows from the ZX-80, but uses an ATmega8 processor as its heart. The thing is not an emulator, but is programmed in AVR Assembly. But it comes with a BASIC implementation and can be connected directly to a VGA monitor or a PAL / NTSC TV set.

Small, fast and kind of cute. Kinda like a ZX-80, but better. It also comes with a whole bunch of demo programs and after assembly of the hardware you get right into it.

A perfect tinkering project for the Christmas season. Thanks Miroslav!

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10k Transistor 555

The 10000 Transistor 555
Source: https://twitter.com/baldengineer

"What you can do tomorrow, you don't have to do today." ... and … "Keep it complex" ... exactly your thing? Then you will love the following:

Why use a simple, basic and cheap 555 timer when you can achieve exactly the same with a 10.000 transistor complexity monster? 🤐

James Lewis is in charge of the fun, and without taking away too much beforehand, yes, it is possible. You can also get brain surgery from a waiter, or have your text messages relayed via the ISS.

So why not use an ATTiny as 555

Funny. 🤓

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Breadboard 6502

6502 on a Breadboard
Source: https://unsplash.com/

I think you might also be waiting for the Christmas edition of Ben Eater. But whether there will be one, is still rather up in the air with his rather conservative release scheduling. 👹

But there is an interesting project with 420-6502, which goes in a similar direction.

Daniel Mateos built a 6502 based computer on breadboards, and uses an Arduino Mega 2560 as a driver. 

The Arduino not only provides the clock signal, but also performs a number of tasks that make the project at least as interesting as our very own BE6502 build with Sixty5o2.

Fancy something new to tinker with? And off you go! 🛫

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C Shooter

Space Shooter in C
Source: https://github.com/tsherif/

Last but not least a little bit of software. And in this case really cool software, suitable for the current temperatures in areas above the equator. 🥶

Tarek Sherif wanted (like every good developer) to finally deliver a game banger. But instead of relying on existing libraries, frameworks or even colossi like Unreal Engine or Unity, he does exactly the opposite.

Zero dependencies is the theme of his Space Shooter. The thing is written entirely in C, and even though Tarek says he's not a professional game developer, his approach is more than interesting and the source is certainly worth more than just a look.

We're looking forward to the Mac version. 🚀 

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AR Gianna Sisters

AR Gianna Sisters
Source: https://youtu.be/BzRdF6n-Iyc

Short one to get you in the mood, because today we have a lot of things for your eyes and ears. Gianna Sisters is the first game I played on my C64 back in the 80s. Accordingly, I was surprised when I found this video on Youtube, showcasing the two twins in augmented reality.

Short but very nice. RetroHead is responsible for it, and besides the realization of the two jumping sisters, there are a number of similar AR gems on his channel.

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Wang 2200F Restoration

Wang 2200F Restoration
Source: https://youtu.be/yrnjDJW9tbA

Bernardo Kastrup aka ByteAttic should be a household name to most. His Cerberus 2080 machine is legendary and embellished our birthday issue in June this year.

This time, however, Bernardo has taken on a different subject, and that is the restoration of a Wang 2200F. Never heard of it? Then be sure to check out the video

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The Semiconductor Design Problem

The Semiconductor Design Problem
Source: https://youtu.be/rtaaOdGuMCc

If you have ever dealt with processor design and the development of SoC's, it is clear that we have at least a complexity problem with current IP cores and especially CPU's besides Moore's Law.

The YouTube channel Asianometry has taken on the topic, and the entertaining production is also super interesting. Even those who don't deal with hardware design, will get good entertainment in addition to information in the on-topic video.

Not for everyone, but maybe something for you.

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More Retro SCAM

More Retro SCAM
Source: https://youtu.be/mKbuNwS-gaI

Retro SCAM is a serious problem. In the last issue we had a detailed article on the subject, and this time we would like to add one more.

Karl Jobst turns his attention to Wata Games and Heritage Auctions and added a second part to his first video on the topic from August.

Whether you are a retrogamer or not, this topic should concern all of us, and information never hurt. Very good video on the subject. 

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MiSTer MultiSystem

MiSTer MultiSystem
Source: https://youtu.be/ILeFY3zAXyE

Both, MiSTer and @ctrl_alt_rees need no further introduction. Unless you are new here. In that case, our archive is warmly recommended. 

The latest production of @ctrl_alt_rees deals with a product of Heber and RMC Retro - the MiSTer MultiSystem. Take a MiSTer FPGA setup, put it in a 3D printed box and unleash the whole thing on FPGA noobs like me.

That's exactly the topic of his latest video and as always you'll be smarter afterwards. Much smarter. The video is more than worth the lost lifetime.

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Life at Commodore

Life at Commodore
Source: https://youtu.be/zGBGLShWlco

Bil Herd is an absolute legend. He was part of the development of all the machines between the Commodore Plus4 and the later purchased Amiga. This as well as 6510+n other reasons have prompted the Vintage Computer Federation to invite him to the Vintage Computer Festival East on October 9th 2021.

If you are a little bit into history and Commodore, the recording of his talk here is an absolute must-see!

Thanks VCF.

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Source: https://youtu.be/vKlVNFOHJ9I

Two off-topics have to be today. First, we got stuck (again) with Brady Haran aka @numberphile.

His topic this time is prime numbers. Brady interviews Neil Sloane and the story that unfolds before your very eyes, is interesting for absolutely anyone with a penchant for math, physics or computer science.

As always, just a joy.

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Entering the Corona

Entering the Corona
Source: https://youtu.be/IQXNqhQzBLM

Last but not least ... you've probably already seen it, but mankind has finally managed to touch the Sun. Kind of at least. The actual event happened already at the beginning of 2021. But a few days ago, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Labs finally released the corresponding video.

And it is ... stunning. The Parker Solar Probe has flown through the outer layer of the Sun's corona, and the individual images of the so-called streamers have been stitched together into a video.

If you are even a little bit into space exploration, you have to see this absolutely stunning result. Well, well, very well done.

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We also close today with less blah blah. Again, the request: You have a release or article planned for Christmas? Let's talk about a publication in 8bitnews? We are planning a special Christmas edition, and maybe your project will be in here on 12/24.

Regardless, we wish you a great pre-Christmas week. Maybe one or the other recipient will be happy about a hint on 8bitnews. We are happy about every new reader. So please share this issue or just a link.

Enjoy the cotton candy and the roasted goose. And should you build something, don’t forget to speak about it. 

Take care.

🎅 and ☃️

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