Just the signal, not the noise

Hello 8bit'ers,

it's Friday - the 13th. But since we rather believe in math instead of esotericism, it's more a statistical inevitability than an omen. However, it's the 13th and our current issue should have gone out a week ago. But for us the travel season started. 🏝

Bastian is on the road and I'm hopping from spot to spot without knowing exactly how international the Internet will really be in 2023. This will remain the case until the end of March, so it may happen, that one or the other issue arrives late in the coming weeks.

Despite the stress of travel, we have found a few interesting projects that - as is often the case - get way too little attention. So let's change that now.

Enjoy our short and concise Issue #69.


C64 Remakes

C64 Remakes
Imagesource: Stable Diffusion

We have never had a double fetaure, but the following two projects below belong together like twins. Red thread here is the construction of a brand new Commodore 64 in 2023.

That this is feasible (with certain restrictions) is surely clear to most. But it gets interesting when you go into detail and take a closer look at the different paths to hope.

Celso Martinho - @celso on Twitter - treads more the path of tradition. For his build he uses new parts, that are known to work properly, the rest he takes from old stock. His article C64 from scratch can be used as a guide if you want to solder a robust and compatible box. Nicely done.

Jimmy B. Christensen aka @DusteDdk does something similar, but not the same. In the end, he also builds the little Commodore, but his shopping list replaces everything from the board to CPU, VIC-II, SID, PLA and ROM chips - pretty much everything that can be replaced somehow. The resulting machine can definitely be called a success and besides being a refreshing experiment, it definitely is remarkable.

If you don't feel like soldering now ...

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https://c65gs.blogspot.com/ | Wikipedia

Not that things are getting quieter around the MEGA65. But especially Paul Gardner-Stephen alas @servalpaul seems to be not only very active right now, but also has a lot of time to blog.

We won't complain, as two of his articles from the last few weeks are more than worth their reading time, even if you don't own the box.

In Comparing GFX capabilities of the Mega65 and the AMIGA he clears up with quite a few prejudices, and reveals some of the MEGA65s magic. Exciting!

In his second article Composite Video for the Mega Paul goes much deeper into the details of the expansion board, which is currently under heavy development. If you have already played around with composite video and are interested in the related signal processing and a technological deep dive ... you will find it here.

Both articles are very nice reading material for a few quiet minutes.

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Windows SID Player

Windows SID Player
Imagesource: https://unsplash.com/

This week a new star has risen in the sky of SID players. ⭐️

An unfortunately unknown creator - going by the alias bytespiller on github - published a pre-release a few days ago, and that's quite something. The player is based on libsidplayfp, which should satisfy the demand for proper sound quality. The configuration options of the player are, what really make the difference. Trying it for yourself is the order of the day.

Currently only for Windows, but the to-be-coming 1.0 is supposed to come with a Linux version as well.

We are curious ... and already quite excited.

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Free Electrical Engineering Book

Free Electrical Engineering Book
Imagesource: https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/

The HN find of the week should be of interest to pretty much anyone interested in the hardware- rather than the software-part.

Free Electrical Engineering Book

If you've always felt a knowledge gap high up there regarding the hardware section, here's one of the better (if not a really fantastic) opportunities to fill it. Thanks to the team behind allaboutcircuits.com tweeting as @AllAboutCircuit.

What they have put online, starts with the basic principles of electricity, and only ends with digital computing. The chapters are tremendously tidy and perfectly sequenced. For most, there are worksheets to check, what you understand (or don't 😬).

A wonderful resource to help you get an overview of an extensive subject area fairly quickly, and definitely the tip-of-the-week™.

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Pico-8 Sequencer

PICO-8 Sequencer
Imagesource: https://billiam.itch.io/

If you know and work with multichannel sequencer software, you will love the following project. Because it is exactly that: a multichannel sequencer 🤓. But for PICO-8.

Sounds unusable? Yep.

But is exactly the opposite! The ingeniously simple designed UX brings the first sounds out of your speakers in just a few seconds. And with a little dexterity, they don't sound like a headache right away either.

Colin aka @billiporter is responsible for the project and has done a great job. sequence8 can be tested directly in the browser thanks to the PICO-8 JS engine, but of course it can also be run in all other available incarnations.

More than just something for friends of cultivated acoustics. 🪗

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KIM-1 Games

KIM-1 Games
Imagesource: https://en.wikipedia.org/

Come on. Admit it. A KIM-1 has been on your wish list for a long time, hasn't it? Finding an original is neither easy nor cheap. A replica is definitely an alternative. But with Hans Otten's KIM-1 Sim and VirtualKim by John Kennedy, there are excellent emulators available for desktop and mobile.

What is missing? Games of course! 🕹

Dave Hassler at home at vanportmedia provides a remedy. Thank goodness. 😮‍💨

In his small but nice collection you can find 16 real blockbuster games of the late 70s and early 80s. Legal and royalty free of course. And so pearls like NukewarGrenade Lobber or Checkers find their way back to life. Remarkable in times of things like Unreal Engine 5.1.

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The Making of TRON

The Making of TRON
Imagesource: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

As a child of the 70s or 80s, getting around TRON was somehow close to impossible. How many later CS students and budding programmers this film produced, will forever remain a data analytics mystery. But one can assume that - quite in contrast to the second part - the corresponding potential was already very large.

The film is still fun to watch today, even if you would voluntarily have all your fingernails removed in terms of technological authenticity. Definitely worth sitting back and letting the visual spectacle take its course.

For those who can, Sean Dudley and his YT channel have another ace up their sleeve.

The Making of TRON is a Buena Vista Home Entertainment production from the 80s, but has somehow gone the digital route to Sean's YT Channel.

1 1/2 hours of time travel. Those who know, will love it.

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RISC-V Emulator running Linux

RISC-V Emulator running Linux
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/YT5vB3UqU_E

RISC-V CPUs have very little in common with 8 bit systems at first sight. (So please apologize) At second glance, however, there are a number of parallels that make this free ISA more than interesting for every 8 bit hobbyist.

On the one hand the ISA is free as in free beer 🍺. On the other hand it is - depending on the version - tremendously clear and therefore relatively easy to understand. It can be emulated wonderfully on modern hardware, and if you feel like it, you can convert your own implementation directly into hardware in the form of an FPGA.

If one could then get Linux to run ... but there was something with the missing MMU. 😫



Charles Lohr better known as @cnlohr debuted with a RISC-V emulator a few weeks ago, that can actually run a Linux kernel. The whole thing requires a customized distribution, of course, but it works. And it is sufficiently fast.

Imagine: A home-brew CPU that can run a modern operating system. A dream comes true. 😌 Charles' proof can be found here.

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Graphical RISC-V Simulator

Graphical RISC-V Simulator
Imagesource: https://github.com/mortbopet/

With the last article for today we stay on the topic of RISC-V. For all of you who couldn't or didn't want to make their own picture so far, the following might be the initial spark.

Morten Borup Petersen - @mortbopet on Twitter - has built a graphical RISC-V processor simulator and assembly called Ripes.

If you remember Cosmic ... it's similar. Except that the instruction set of Ripes is a real existing one. And that you have the choice of not only simulating a single cycle processor, but a fully fledged 5 or 6 stage processor as well.

Fantastic project with lot's of potential.

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That's it for Issue #69.

If the telecommunication gods are merciful, Issue #70 will be available in exactly two weeks from now. Somehow it seems, that connectivity in some parts of the world decreases proportionally to the latitude towards the equator.

But maybe that's just confirmation bias.

But if this issue is a fundamental enrichment for all areas of your life, we would be happy if you want to show your appreciation - just forward this issue to family & friends. We still have a few seats available.

Feedback is welcome as well and can be sent directly via the Reply button in your email client.

See you in 2 weeks. In the meantime build something and speak about it.

Jan & Bastian

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