Retrochallenge 2016/10 — Final Wrap-Up!

Written by admin on December 5, 2012 Categories: 

Alright…we are two weeks past the end of RC2016/10 and well past time to announce the reslts of the challenge! Check below for an overview from my (i.e. John Linville’s) perspective on how each competitor did during the competition…

When it comes to judging these projects, I try to keep in mind certain aspects that I see as central to what Retrochallenge is all about:

  • demonstration of skill and/or technical merit
  • reasonable documentation of the project throughout the course of the month
  • enthusiasm both for doing the project and for sharing it with the public
  • a certain amount of whimsy or utter pointlessness about the project objective

Not all projects need to cover all of the above aspects, of course. But a Retrochallenge project that scores well on all of the above will always rate highly with me. 🙂

Judging Staff

John W. Linville (@JohnWLinville)

http://retrotinker.blogspot.com

I was successful at getting my COSMAC ELF replica to function and run some sample programs. Unfortunately, I have since proceeded to wire-up the expansion connector and in the process I seem to have damaged something — now programs don’t load properly! Oh well, always another retro project in the wings…

Michael Mulhern (@the_jongleur)

http://www.jongleur.co.uk/blogs/programming/retrochallenge-201610-applesoft-enhanced/

I think Michael’s tool to process an Applesoft-like script into real code for an Apple ][ was part of a larger, long term pet project of his. That’s good news, since we didn’t really see any project last month from him during this round… 😉 Still, it does sounds like a great project and I really hope he will pick it back up in the near future. Maybe he’ll bring it to KansasFest?

I (i.e. John) would like to thank Michael for his judging contributions. We largely agreed on the top scorers, although he did point-out at least one prize winning entry that I had largely overlooked. Some of his other high scorers joined some of mine in the Honorable Mentions category as well.

Prize Winners

Erik Piehl (@erikpiehl)

https://hackaday.io/project/15430-rc201699-ti-994a-clone-using-tms99105-cpu

Erik clearly had one of the strongest projects in this round of Retrochallenge. Erik built a TI-99/4A “clone” using an original TMS99105 CPU coupled with an FPGA-based emulation of the rest of the system, and he produced strong documentation all the way through the process. This project demonstrates strong technical merit, lots of enthusiasm, and a certain level of whimsy that makes it emblematic of what a Retrochallenge project should aspire to be.

I designate Erik as the recipient of the “Full Monty” RC2014 Z80 computer kit from Spencer Owen.

Norbert Landsteiner (@mass_werk)

http://www.masswerk.at/rc2016/10/

If voluminous writing was the only metric, this project would win hands down! Norbert’s port of Computer Space to the PDP-1 is amazingly pointless and fun, and his thorough write-up is fun to read as well. The amount of technical skill and understanding required to pull this off is substantial, and the writing combines with the whimsy of this project to put it over the top for me — this project is a Retrochallenge classic!

I award Norbert my personal copy of “Build Your Own Z80 Computer” by Steve Ciarcia.

Ricardo Quesada (@ricardoquesada)

Retrochallenge: Building the C64 I.D.IoT.R

At half-time I had somehow missed Ricardo’s blog updates. Since then, Ricardo set me straight on the blog updates and he has posted some great stuff. His project crosses lines from BASIC on the C-64 to C++ for a desktop application to Java for Android, and even covers a hardware contraption to use gears and an old printer mechanism to turn a lightswitch dimmer — huh? yeah! Not only that, but he includes several demo videos that both cover the project’s progress and entertain…very funny! This entry surprised me with its combination of technical merit, whimsical purpose, and entertaining presentation — another Retrochallenge classic!

I offer Issue #1 of Eight Bit Magazine to Ricardo.

Michael Sternberg (@16kRAM)

Retrochallenge 2016/10: Prologue

Michael promised a nifty combination of Atari 8-bit and Intellivision goodness, and he certainly delivered. After a little delay getting started, he provided a series of excellent blog updates describing both his adventures learning the Action! programming language and his efforts figuring-out how to load ROM images over a serial port to his Intellicart. Perhaps (in some ways) one of the most practical projects this round, Michael gives us a workman-like performance that merits special recognition.

I will send the Stevie Strow CoCoFest 25th Anniversary Edition DVD to Michael.

Honorable Mentions

Simon Jonassen (@sjonassen)

http://mad6809.blogspot.com/

Simon was a bit stung after the half-time report, when I listed him as a slow starter — at least he got back on track! Simon did a great job putting together a 4-channel “tracker”-style audio player for the CoCo, including a number of menu options to modify speed of playback, active channels and the like. A great project from Simon, and all the better to remind the Open Apple podcast folks that the CoCo has better built-in audio capabilities than their favorite 8-bit machines… 🙂

Rocky Bergen (@rockasoo)

http://rockybergen.com/

Rocky’s retro gaming art project is great work — my 12-year-old son immediately identified the graphics as coming from SMB 3! Rocky produced consistent results, posting entire game levels of art every few days. I really hope some C-64 programmer picks-up Rocky’s artwork and produces and SMB 3 tribute game — these are great art assets!

Matteo Trevisan (@Toolkitman)

http://mattechnology.blogspot.it/p/burroghs-pc-raspberry-pi-paper-case_10.html

http://mattechnology.blogspot.it/2016/08/apple-e-raspberry-pi-out-of-box.html

(Also, several postings to the Retrochallenge group on Facebook.)

Matteo definitely brings the enthusiasm factor to his RC2016/10 projects. Completing his paper/cardboard case construction projects early, he pivoted to writing an Apple ][ calculator application with a variety of functions. Watching Matteo continue to work at his projects was a lot of fun, and it was great to have him as part of the competition!

Sean McNamara (@apple2europlus)

http://apple2.europlus.zone/category/retrochallenge/

Like so many Retrochallenge participants, Sean felt the pull of “real life” encroaching on his project time. Fortunately, as a long-time fan Sean was prepared for such an eventuality even on his first Retrochallenge project. He was able to pivot in a number of ways (as documented in his final write-up) and still make the best of his month of Retro activities. For perservering against the forces that defeat so many Retrochallenge participants, Sean earns a little recognition from the judges.

Josh Malone (@48kRAM)

http://www.vintageboot.net/

Josh put some good work into investigating a RAM repair for a Tandy Model 100 — it’s cool to see this level of analysis. But like so many participants over the years, Josh got side-tracked. At least in this case he was side-tracked by historical preservation of a trove of Tandy-related books that got uploaded to archive.org. Not quite the normal Retrochallenge activity, but certainly a great use of time and a gift to our community and posterity as well!

Other Finishers (in no particular order!)

Abraham Vreugdenhil (@a_avretro)

https://avretro.wordpress.com/

Abraham was successful in building a robotic car, with an Intel i4004 microcontroller as a brain! He even has a video showing the car running a demo program to put it through his paces. I have to admit that I’m a little jealous of his visits from the “B+ Westland” hackerspace folks, but at least he has a cool toy to share with the boys now when they visit!

Andy Collins (@acollins22)

http://www.randomorbit.co.uk/?cat=123

Andy has a cool project where he uses some Arduino hardware to interface a modern USB keyboard in place of a retro (i.e. old and hard to find) ASCII-encoded keyboard. The write-up seems thorough and worth reading. Andy gets credit for completing the project with plenty of time to spare, but I think he could have used a bigger project!

Christopher Just (@coronax_cj)

https://coronax.wordpress.com/projects/retrochallenge-2016-10/

Christopher makes good progess on producing an RPG-like game engine for the C64. He even takes a short detour into the vagueries of different display technologies, and heh taught me a new term (i.e. “Manhattan distance”) when describing the AI for an in-game mammoth. It sounds like Christopher isn’t done with this project, but it looks like a great start to me. I hope to see more in the future from this, including a completed game!

Jeff Armstrong (@fortranjeff)

http://jeff.rainbow-100.com/

Jeff seems to have been sucessful at hosting web pages on his DEC Rainbow 100, albeit with some assitance from a strategically place Raspberry Pi to bridge the ethernet<->rs232 gap. Retro-programming nuts will love the GW-BASIC code used to generate the blog posts! The pages load a bit slow, but this is definitely a solid effort and a credit to the Retrochallenge overall.

Jim Gerrie

http://jimgerrie.blogspot.ca/

Jim is known in the CoCo and MC-10 community for his heroicly prolific delivery of BASIC game programs to run on these platforms. Nice write-ups of those BASIC game ports are par for the course at Jim’s blog as well, so really I think Jim just lives the Retrochallenge pretty much all the time. Anyway, Jim gave us three such ports and write-ups for October. Jim is a machine when it comes to this sort of thing, and it is always a treat to see what he does next.

Derek John Evans

https://sourceforge.net/projects/cobado/

Derek showed-up a bit late with his COBADO micro-BIOS code for the Tandy Color Computer. He made good use of his time, and produced what looks like a useful bit of code to enhance his personal enjoyment of working with the CoCo. It is great to see his enthusiasm and his technical success in this regard. I hope to see more great things from him in the future.

John Klos

John set out to run an Internet mail server on a VAX running NetBSD, and he certainly seems to have achieved that. It looks like he had to swap-out some VAX hardware to make that happen, and in true old-skool Unix fashion he builds all his own binaries — why not? 🙂 The step-by-step howto may not appeal to just everyone, but it looks like John had a lot of fun getting this server running.

Pulled-up Short

Eric Poch (@ep00ch)

http://apple-crapple.blogspot.com/search/label/RetroChallenge%202016%2F10

Eric did some work on reviving his Apple ][+ project, but got derailed with a circuit-building failure at the end. OTOH, he seems pleased with his “Apple ][b” 3D design efforts and expresses intent to move-on to building his design — maybe next time?

Mark J. Blair (@nf6x)

http://www.nf6x.net/

Mark admits that is project to interface a DEC RL02 disk drive to USB was probably a bit too much. Nevertheless, he did make some good progress which included routing the main controller PCB. He even did some 3D design for a controller case as well. I definitely hope to see more of this project in future rounds of the Retrochallenge!

Gracana (@FeatherOrNot)

http://phoenix.pnnk.org/

Garcana also found a project that was big enough to fight him to a draw. His homebrew Coldfire machine sounded like a cool idea, and I know that many of us have an affinity for the 68K line of processors and would love to do a similar project. Garcana shows us that such a project can sink a lot of work! It sounds like he is scaling back and looking at some simpler hardware options — no shame in that! I hope a cool 68K-based board is the ultimate result.

Michael H. McCabe (@paleoferrosaur)

http://paleoferrosaurus.com

Michael had at least limited success with his Applesoft code for modeling aspects of spaceflight, but ultimately he says he has reached the limits of his own understanding (and perhaps the capability of the Apple ][ as well). It was a great Retrochallenge entry, for sure — interesting and challenging, but probably a bit pointless in the modern day… 🙂

Paul Robson (@agkdev)

http://ecs8008.blogspot.co.uk/

Part-way through the month, Paul let me know that he was changing his project. Now even the new project seems to be gone. I guess real life caught another victim here…

Scott Lawrence (@yorgle)

http://geodesicsphere.blogspot.com

No update from Scott since the half-time report! I guess he never got that case of Mt. Dew that I thought he needed… 🙂

Ron Hale-Evans (@rwhe)

http://ludism.org/tinfoil/RetroChallenge201610

It looks to me like Ron made a good start on his Forth implementation in BASIC on the TRS-80 Model 100. A good start, but not a lot more. Ron’s final entry is circumspect with a good analysis of the project’s successes and failures — always an important step towards future improvement! I hope to see more from Ron in the future events, where I suspect he will do well.

Rob Justice (@jrobj_)

http://robjapple.blogspot.com.au/

Another case of no updates since the half-time report… I hope you enjoyed the time you got to work on your project, Rob, and I hope we see you next time!

Tom Raidna (@TRaidnaComputes)

https://traidna.wordpress.com/

Real-life caught-up with Tom as well, leaving us with no updates since the half-time report. I hope this isn’t a spreading problem!

Stephen Barriball (@z0m8ied0g)

http://blog.retroacorn.net/category/201610

Stephen manage a few post-half blog updates, but not a lot of action. At least he has some more fodder for his Kyroflux!

Steve Barnett (@moopaloop)

http://www.moop.org.uk

Steve had a decent start on his blog at half-time, but not a lot of progress. Since then he had an explosion of activity, accompanied by several thorough and highly technical blog posts. Lots of good info documenting both successes and (temporary) failures. The end success came a day or two late, but it definitely brought a warm feeling to the conclusion of his project!

Jeremy Harton (@jnharton)

http://retro-compute.blogspot.com/

Jeremy also dropped-out a short while after half-time. Hopefully he finally figured-out Drivewire, and either way it looks like he at least had some fun!

Stuck On The Blocks

Mark D. Overholser (@MarkO_)

http://retrochallenge.markoverholser.com/

Kyle Owen

https://github.com/drovak/hpcalcpdp8

equant (@Grackle68k)

I don’t have a link for any blog…

Mark Wickens (@urbancamo)

http://www.wickensonline.co.uk/rc2012sc/

Spencer Owen (@ZXSpectROM)

http://rc2014.co.uk/1052/retro-challenge-2016-my-dog-ate-my-homework

Connor Oliver (@coliver_pe)

http://rietumi.com/vintagecomputers/retrochallenge_10_16

Mike Finger (@Retro2Neo)

http://retro2neo.org/

Eric Smith (@brouhaha)

http://whats.all.this.brouhaha.com/2016/09/30/rc201610-entry/

Harry Culpan (@hculpan)

http://kablueyskorner.blogspot.com/

Unfortunately, none of these project ever got off the ground this time — better luck next time, folks!

If you are one of the prize winners designated above, then please send your physical mailing information to me as linville at tuxdriver dot com. All others, please accept my humble thanks for another successful and highly entertaining Retrochallenge event.

Seeya back here in April for RC2017/04!

Retrochallenge 2016/10 — Last day!

And finally, the last day is here…are you done? Or are you still touching-up those last few solder joints and puzzling over that last bit of code? Better hurry, as the end is approaching fast!

RC2016/10 officially ends at midnight GMT on 31 October 2016 — the witching hour! I’ll let you slide to midnight of your own local time, since I’m generous like that. Then, on to the judging!

It may take Michael and I a few days to sync-up and compare notes, etc. If you need a little extra time to complete your project write-ups, November 1st and 2nd are probably safe for that. Then hopefully we can announce some winners and such by next weekend. Of course, you are all winners in my book — with Retrochallenge, the only losing move is not to play!

Retrochallenge 2016/10 — Final stretch…

As the month of October winds down, RC2016/10 enters its final stretch. There are some great projects in this line-up, and it may be hauntingly difficult to pick the winners… 🙂

Speaking of haunts, don’t get distracted by all the ghoulish little ones dressed-up as horrible monsters, super heroes, princesses and knights, or whatever might be popular in your neck of the woods! You have some good and honest retro work to do — don’t disappoint me! If you don’t finish, then you might be haunted by that failure forever…bwahahahahaha!

Retrochallenge 2016/10 — One more week!

One more week to go in the RC2016/10 event. My Half-Time Report (below) had the desired effect of waking-up a few competitors, and getting better contact information from a few others — I’m so clever! Now, if only I could get back in touch with Michael Mulhern… 🙂

Anyway, keep up the good work on all those retro projects. And by all means, HAVE FUN!

Retrochallenge 2016/10 Half-time Report

Ok, we are a bit past half time for RC2016/10 but there are still 11 more days to go in the challenge! Check below for an overview from my (i.e. John Linville’s) perspective on how each competitor is doing and the overall state of the race…

Ones To Watch

Rocky Bergen (@rockasoo)

http://rockybergen.com/

Rocky’s project is to port the World 1 graphics from Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. 3 to the Commodore 64. This is not the first time Rocky has done such a project, having previously done similar projects for Mario Bros. 1 & 2. His progress has been consistent, with updates posted every day or so throughout the contest. His artwork must be alright as well — my 12-year-old son immediately identified the graphics as coming from SMB 3!

Andy Collins (@acollins22)

http://www.randomorbit.co.uk/?cat=123

Andy has a cool project where he uses some Arduino hardware to interface a modern USB keyboard in place of a retro ASCII-encoded keyboard. The latter style of keyboard used to be somewhat common back in the days of homebrew computers, but I find them quite difficult to track them down these days as many Apple I replica builders will atest. Anyway, the write-up seems thorough and worth reading. So, Andy, are you done?

Erik Piehl (@erikpiehl)

https://hackaday.io/project/15430-rc201699-ti-994a-clone-using-tms99105-cpu

Erik has been off to the races with his project to recreate a TI-99/4A machine using a TMS99105 CPU and an FPGA. His well written and informative updates have come at a furious pace, and his project appears to be forming a great success. Great work so far!

Abraham Vreugdenhil (@a_avretro)

https://avretro.wordpress.com/

Abraham has a cool little project built around the venerable Intel i4004 microcontroller. His project involves coding in assembly language, hardware contruction on a breadboard, and even a robot car! Another very cool project, and definitely one to watch!

Norbert Landsteiner (@mass_werk)

http://www.masswerk.at/rc2016/10/

Norbert’s project blog is voluminous and thorough, and yet still a deliteful read. The project (porting Computer Space to the PDP-1, the host for Spacewar!) is impractical to the point of saying “if you have to ask why, you’ll never understand!” This project also displays a lot of technical skill, and is sure to be a top contender in the final judging. Be sure to check this one out!

Michael Sternberg (@16kRAM)

Retrochallenge 2016/10: Prologue

I’ve been eager to toy with the Action! language for some time, since the Atari 8-bit folks regard it so highly. Plus, I happen to have an Intellicart buried in my retro horde. So Michael’s project has an automatic appeal to me. His blog shows a good level of detail and provides reasonable background information and such. Another delightfully retro (if not entirely pointless) project, I think this one definitely makes the “ones to watch” list.

Pace Setters

Matteo Trevisan (@Toolkitman)

http://mattechnology.blogspot.it/p/burroghs-pc-raspberry-pi-paper-case_10.html

http://mattechnology.blogspot.it/2016/08/apple-e-raspberry-pi-out-of-box.html

(Also, several postings to the Retrochallenge group on Facebook.)

Matteo has set an unusual combination of tasks before himself. Starting with construction of paper/cardboard cases for housing Raspberry Pi-based retro computer emulations, Matteo completed that part fairly early. He then went on to implementing a scientific calculator for the Apple ][, and then running that on a Pi-based emulation of that machine. Matteo definitely has the “quirky” factor going for his project! Who knows which way his projects turn before the end of the month?

Sean McNamara (@apple2europlus)

http://apple2.europlus.zone/category/retrochallenge/

Sean appears to be putting a lot of time and effort into his Europlus Apple ][ this month, and he has certainly been doing yeoman’s work on the documentation side. Sean tells a long and thorough tell that many retro collectors will find familiar and entertaining, particularly for the hardware folks — lots of good reading in his blog!

John W. Linville (@JohnWLinville)

http://retrotinker.blogspot.com

This awesome guy always does some good work! Now he reports being about half-way through on his project to wirewrap a COSMAC ELF clone. Good luck to this handsome retro hero… 😉

Eric Poch (@ep00ch)

http://apple-crapple.blogspot.com/search/label/RetroChallenge%202016%2F10

Eric’s project involves some industrial design for a “business-oriented” version of the Apple ][. Along the way he got sidetracked by some repair work on and Apple IIGS, but seems to have come back around to making drawings in Sketchup. It will be interesting to see how this one turns-out.

Josh Malone (@48kRAM)

http://www.vintageboot.net/

Josh has several posts describing some repair work. The descriptions are thorough and the writing is good — definitely worth the read. I hope Josh continues to get plenty of retro time for the rest of this month in order to breath more life into his collection!

Christopher Just (@coronax_cj)

Retrochallenge 2016 10

Inspired by something called Handmade Hero, Christopher is working on a game engine for the Commodore 64. His blog describes coding in C for the C64 with cc65, fighting bugs in the 1541’s DOS, and building a map editor for his game engine. Will we see a game? Dunno…do we need to? 🙂

Jeff Armstrong (@fortranjeff)

http://jeff.rainbow-100.com/

Jeff is making use of an earlier Retrochallenge project (uIP/FOSSIL) to enable this months challend — hosting a web page on a DEC Rainbow 100. One has to love a project that involved BASIC code, even if it is the somewhat under-love GW-BASIC from MS-DOS. Lots of updates with thorough writing, definitely a good project so far!

Mark J. Blair (@nf6x)

http://www.nf6x.net/

Mark bit off a (literally) huge project this time, interfacing a DEC RL02 disk drive to USB. He has done a nice initial write-up and he has been pushing code to Github, but not a lot of blogging since the first entry. I do see that someone brought him an S-100 computer chassis — don’t get distracted! 🙂

Gracana (@FeatherOrNot)

http://phoenix.pnnk.org/

Garcana has been posting a lot of updates and seems to have made a lot of progress on his homebrew Coldfire machine. Unfortunately, the PCB routing for the CPU is more trouble than anticipated. Will he be able to solve the problem in time? A cliffhanger!

Jim Gerrie

http://jimgerrie.blogspot.ca/

Jim is well known in the CoCo community as a prolific porter of BASIC programs. I can only imaging Jim tucked away in his secret lair, a library full of old books and magazines filled with BASIC type-in programs for every ancient platform imaginable. This month has Jim working on porting BASIC games to his MC-10s, and he is sharing that experience with us — check out his blog!

Derek John Evans

https://sourceforge.net/projects/cobado/

Derek is a bit of a lurker in the CoCo world — few had heard of him until this summer, when he announced some work he had done to make a CoCo compiler available in the Windows environment. His latest project involves a small boot ROM to enable the CoCo to talk to a remote file server. His project is similar in some ways to Drivewire, but smaller and more tuned to his needs…

Slow/Late Starters

Micheal H. McCabe (@paleoferrosaur)

http://paleoferrosaurus.com

Michael’s project is classic Retrochallenge — interesting and challenging, but probably a bit pointless in the modern day… 🙂 His blog starts with a couple of thorough entries on mathematics and modeling of spacecraft flight, and even includes some Applesoft code. Unfortunately, it trails off more than a week ago. Will he still finish?

Paul Robson (@agkdev)

http://ecs8008.blogspot.co.uk/

Paul let me know that he was changing his project early, but I neglected to update his contest entry — whoops! Anyway, I’m looking at the updated project now… 🙂

Paul is now building an “Experimenters Computer System”, a machine from the early days of BYTE magazine. So far he has an emulator of the machine written and working, and seems to be working on a minimal boot loader program to be placed in a PROM that would have been contemporary with the hardware design. Very cool stuff, and great progress for apparently only a couple of days of actual work so far!

Scott Lawrence (@yorgle)

http://geodesicsphere.blogspot.com

Scott started strong with a lengthy post describing his hardware platform and his plan to end-up with CP/M booting on his RC2014 computer. But his latest post says he is “pretty much in the weeds”. Sometimes life rears its head and complicates our retro ambitions, and Scott seems to be in that situation now. Nevertheless, he has a long list of tasks he has accomplished. Of course, he now has an even longer list of things he needs to do before CP/M is booting for him. IMHO, all he needs is some free time, some cool tunes, and a case of Mt. Dew…don’t write Scott off just yet!

Ron Hale-Evans (@rwhe)

http://ludism.org/tinfoil/RetroChallenge201610

Ron has a little more than a weeks’ worth of entries desribing his initial experiences with learning the Forth language. Unfortunately, the posts trail off just as he gets to implementing Forth words. Hopefull Ron will still find some more time this month to let us know how his project has gone!

Rob Justice (@jrobj_)

http://robjapple.blogspot.com.au/

Rob is working on a port of the Software Automatic Mouth (SAM) to the Apple ///. Rob gives us a couple of posts describing some of the technical aspects of his project. About a week into the contest, he gives us a post where he manages to get SAM to sing (sorta)! But since then, no new information. Are you still working with SAM, Rob?

Tom Raidna (@TRaidnaComputes)

https://traidna.wordpress.com/

Tom set-out to do some simple stuff with his Commodore 128. But like so many others, Tom gives us a post after the first week and then leaves us in suspense…Tom, what are you up to?

Stephen Barriball (@z0m8ied0g)

http://blog.retroacorn.net/category/201610

Stephen indicates that he is off to a slow start, with his first update coming halfway through the month. He did gather some hardware for his ViewData BBS, and he has done some Kyroflux imaging of Acorn Archimedes diskettes — not bad.

Steve Barnett (@moopaloop)

http://www.moop.org.uk

Steve has a couple of thorough blog posts describing the state of his project. The entries are thorough and very satisfying to read from a technical perspective. Still, it looks like he is off to a late start. Is there still time to finish?

Simon Jonassen (@sjonassen)

http://mad6809.blogspot.com/

Simon has been trying to spur a C64-like “demoscene” for the Tandy Color Computer over the past few years. So far, Simon is pretty much the entire “scene”! His project for this month is a 4-chanel “tracker”-style audio player, using only the CoCo’s built-in 6-bit DAC. Of course, I see only a few blog updates and I know that Simon has been working on another CoCo graphics project involving “rotozooming” a checkerboard. At least he _may_ still have escaped the clutches of real life (for now)? 🙂

Jeremy Harton (@jnharton)

http://retro-compute.blogspot.com/

Jeremy’s project was a bit amorphous, mostly just to toy with some old hardware — fair enough! It looks like he has managed to exercise the tape interface on his CoCo and play with some old software. Sounds like fun to me!

Stuck On The Blocks

Mark D. Overholser (@MarkO_)

http://retrochallenge.markoverholser.com/

Mark’s blog doesn’t show any progress — hopefully real life hasn’t struck too hard!

Kyle Owen

https://github.com/drovak/hpcalcpdp8

Kyle’s project involves writing an HP-35 and HP-45 Simulator for PDP-8. It seems like a cool project, but the link I have just shows a github project with no commits since September! I’m sure it is cool, but I don’t think that fits within the rules of the contest…

equant (@Grackle68k)

equant’s goal was to “embark on blogging a goalless but retro-focused month”. Unfortunately, I don’t have a link for any blog and there don’t seem to be any Tweet’s this month either…?

Mark Wickens (@urbancamo)

http://www.wickensonline.co.uk/rc2012sc/

Our contest leader emeritus has not added to his blog since he announced his entry! I guess he was right about not having enough time to run things this time around… 🙂 Oh, well, I hope you are having fun, Mark! And I hope you find some more retro time real soon now…

Spencer Owen (@ZXSpectROM)

http://rc2014.co.uk/1052/retro-challenge-2016-my-dog-ate-my-homework

Spencer had proposed to continue work on his 2016/01 project, but his blog seems to have no new entries so far. Perhaps this one will have to keep waiting until 2017/01?

Michael Mulhern (@the_jongleur)

http://www.jongleur.co.uk/blogs/programming/retrochallenge-201610-applesoft-enhanced/

Our assistant judge has proposed “to write an external ‘compiler’ to take an enhanced Applesoft like script and convert it to run on an Apple][“, which sounds pretty cool to me. Unfortunately his blog doesn’t show any progress in that regard! I’m pretty sure I heard Michael on a podcast recently, so maybe he has just been busy with other things — let’s hope!

John Klos

John proposed to setup a modern Internet mail server on a VAX. Unfortunately, John never gave me a URL to watch or a Twitter handle. Are you still out there John?

Connor Oliver (@coliver_pe)

http://rietumi.com/vintagecomputers/retrochallenge_10_16

No updates from Connor on his IBM 5150 project.

Mike Finger (@Retro2Neo)

http://retro2neo.org/

I was very curious to see what came of this project. The use of the PLASMA language by the Lawless Legends folks has stolen my attention more than once, and I still harbor a desire to hack the PLASMA compiler to target the 6809 on the Tandy Color Computer. Alas, real life seems to have kidnapped Mike, as there are no new blog entries for the entire month of October — drat! Mike, where are thou?

Eric Smith (@brouhaha)

http://whats.all.this.brouhaha.com/2016/09/30/rc201610-entry/

Eric had plans to interface bubble memory to USB as a low capacity drive. Unfortunately, I’m not seeing any updates on the blog! Another victim of real life… 😉

Harry Culpan (@hculpan)

http://kablueyskorner.blogspot.com/

Harry had planned a nostalgia trip, using only DOS and Windows for a set of computer-related tasks in his life. One of those tasks was updating his blog, yet I don’t see any updates! I’m all for nostalgia, but I’m not sure spending much time stuck with DOS/Windows sounds like much fun — maybe he found something better to do instead? 🙂

Ricardo Quesada (@ricardoquesada)

Retrochallenge: Building the C64 I.D.IoT.R

Ricardo was a late entry, with a plan to finish an earlier project. Unfortunately, as of this writing I don’t see any progress! Ricardo, are you still working? Update your blog!

Still Time!

The observations above are not the final results, and there is still time to make a difference in the competition. Above all, this remains a great month for some retro goodness — make the most of it!

Retrochallenge 2016/10 Currently Underway!

September is over and Retrochallenge 2016/10 is well underway. We have a great turn-out, currently numbering 33 competitors. That includes both seasoned competitors and several newcomers, with a fairly wide variety of projects planned. It should be a very fun and exciting month of watching those projects progress!

Michael Mulhern (@the_jongleur), one of the hosts of the Retro Computing Roundtable podcast, has kindly agreed to join me to assist in the judging of the entries at the end of the month. Michael is an Apple II fan, and I am partial to the Tandy Color Computer. So, those of you using other computers may have a little extra to prove to us — LOL! But seriously, I think that Michael and I both appreciate a variety of vintage technology and we are ready to be wowed by some really clever and innovative projects, and even by some less impressive projects if they are well documented and enthusiastically pursued — welcome to the judging team, Michael!

But what is a competition without some prizes? While we may not be known for lavish prizes, we do like to distribute a few trinkets to those that show the best in each competition…

Spencer Owen was kind enough to pledge a “Fully Monty” version of his RC2014 computer kit as a prize. This design has proven quite popular, becoming the basis for more than one entry in this month’s competition — that may complicate award distribution if one of those projects is the winner, but we’ll figure that out later! (https://www.tindie.com/products/Semachthemonkey/rc2014-homebrew-z80-computer-kit/)

As an alternative prize, I will offer-up a copy of “Build Your Own Z80 Computer” by Steve Ciarcia. I don’t know if this book counts as “rare” on eBay or not, and undoubtedly there are PDFs available online. Still, if you are like me then nothing beats having a real “dead tree” book in your hands when you sit down to read. For those unfamiliar with it, this book provides guidelines (even detailed plans) on building a “homebrew” Z80-based microcomputer from scratch. It should be right up the alley for just about anyone in this competition. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Build_Your_Own_Z80_Computer)

I also have Issue #1 of Eight Bit Magazine, “The Magazine For Collectors And Users of Eight Bit Computers”. This was a fairly recent reward from a Kickstarter project, and it is a well written and nicely produced magazine. Unfortunately for me, it turns out that I don’t have time in my life for yet another magazine just now. My loss is your gain, if your project is good enough… (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/8bitmagazine/eight-bit-magazine)

One more prize I have to offer is a DVD produced for the 25th annual “Last” Chicago CoCoFEST! by Steve Strowbridge. This is a collection of Tandy Color Computer gameplay videos which Steve has done as part of his YouTube channel, ogStevieStrow. Steve is a friendly guy, entertaining to watch, and we have enjoyed having him as part of the CoCo community. Watching him play CoCo games on DVD should be good fun for the whole family… 🙂 (http://ogsteviestrow.com/merchandise/)

If you so far have neglected to enter the competition but you still want to play, don’t be shy! There is always room for a few stragglers to enter the competition late, and honestly usually a few contestants who get stuffed in the locker by life before completing their projects. So enter and you might still have enough time for a good run — just don’t be neglecting your blogs and tweets…that goes for everyone!

Best of luck, and check back here every once in a while for witty commentary from the judges and such… 🙂

Retrochallenge 2016/10 Competition Entry is Open!

I am pleased to announce that Retrochallenge 2016/10 – the ‘October’ edition of the Retrochallenge – will run and is now open to entrants! Roll-up Roll-up! Get those thinking caps on and come up with an excellent retro-computing project. Why not?

The Retrochallenge 2016/10 competition will run from October 1st to the end of the month. Blog entries should be complete by midnight on Monday 31st October GMT.

I would like to extend the warmest welcome to the fantastic John W. Linville @JohnWLinville who is taking over the running of the October competition and, if he gets the bug, make take the reins for future Retrochallenge Competitions.

If you would like to enter please email john using the address ‘linville @ tuxdriver.com’ (removing spaces) with your name (or handle), a brief synopsis of your project and a URL for your blog.

Twitter has become the preferred communication media for updates – if you make a post to your website please ‘tweet’ with #retrochallenge. If you can’t tweet from your retro-hardware consider that a challenge! Follow @retrochallenge and filter tweets on #retrochallenge for the latest updates!

The RC2016/10 Entrants List is here…

About Retrochallenge

In a nutshell, the RetroChallenge is a loosely disorganised gathering of RetroComputing enthusiasts who collectively do stuff with old computers for a month.

The event is very much open to interpretation… individuals set there own challenges, which can range from programming to multimedia work; hardware restoration to exploring legacy networking… or just plain dicking around. It really doesn’t matter what you do, just so long as you do it.

While the RetroChallenge has its competitive side, it’s not really a contest… it’s more like global thermonuclear war — everyone can play, but nobody really wins.

Competition Rules

  1. Retrochallenge commences 1st October 2016 and runs until 31st October 2016.
  2. In order to qualify, computer systems must be vintage (this used to be defined as 10 years old, but typically ‘vintage’ is older than that now – don’t expect to be accepted if you are using a box capable of running Windows XP for example!). Exceptions will always be made for exotica!
  3. Gaming consoles and PDAs qualify if they were made in the previous century.
  4. Where appropriate, replica hardware and emulators may be used.
  5. Entrants are responsible for adequately documenting their projects and submitting occasional updates during the contest, preferably with an announcement on twitter with #retrochallenge.
  6. Projects may encompass any aspect of retro-computing that tickles the fancy of the individual entrant.
  7. Winners will be carefully selected and adulation bestowed.
  8. Have fun!

RC2016/01 Winners…

We’re all winners, just remember that before visiting the RC2016/01 Competition Winners page for our summary of the winning entries. Also note details for proposed changes to the competition on this page. A very big thank you for everyone who took part this time round! The standard of entries was incredibly hard to judge once again! Mark.

And so to the judging!

RC2016/01 is now over and what a competition it has been! The judges are now in deliberation. I will start the full-time summary once winners have been announced!

Half Time Roundup!

My half-time roundup is available here

RC2016/01 Competition Entry is Open

Once again dear friends I am pleased to announce that the Retrochallenge 2016/01 – ‘January’ aka Winter Warmup edition of the Retrochallenge is now open to entrants.

Retrochallenge 2016/01 competition will run from January 1st (hangover or not) to the end of the month. Blog entries should be complete by midnight on Sunday 31st January GMT.

Please email mark at wickensonline dot co dot uk with your name (or handle) a brief synopsis of your project and a URL for your blog.

Twitter has become the preferred communication media for updates – if you make a post to your website please ‘tweet’ with #retrochallenge. If you can’t tweet from your retro-hardware consider that a challenge! Follow @retrochallenge and filter tweets on #retrochallenge for the latest updates!

RC2016/01 Entrants List is here…

About Retrochallenge

In a nutshell, the RetroChallenge is a loosely disorganised gathering of RetroComputing enthusiasts who collectively do stuff with old computers for a month.

The event is very much open to interpretation… individuals set there own challenges, which can range from programming to multimedia work; hardware restoration to exploring legacy networking… or just plain dicking around. It really doesn’t matter what you do, just so long as you do it.

While the RetroChallenge has its competitive side, it’s not really a contest… it’s more like global thermonuclear war — everyone can play, but nobody really wins.

Competition Rules

  1. Retrochallenge commences 1st January 2016 and runs until 31st January 2016.
  2. In order to qualify, computer systems must be vintage (this used to be defined as 10 years old, but typically ‘vintage’ is older than that now – don’t expect to be accepted if you are using a box capable of running Windows XP for example!). Exceptions will always be made for exotica!
  3. Gaming consoles and PDAs qualify if they were made in the previous century.
  4. Where appropriate, replica hardware and emulators may be used.
  5. Entrants are responsible for adequately documenting their projects and submitting occasional updates during the contest, preferably with an announcement on twitter with #retrochallenge.
  6. Projects may encompass any aspect of retro-computing that tickles the fancy of the individual entrant.
  7. Winners will be carefully selected and adulation bestowed.
  8. Have fun!

Full-time Summary

The full-time summary is now available. Congratulations once again to the winners and all who took part. See you in January.

Competition Winners

Congratulations to our competition winners!

Dale did an excellent job in posting the winners via twitter – here are comments from the twitter monkey and mine to boot on the winning entries.

I think I might say this everytime we run RC but I am once again staggered at the level of commitment and consequent quality of entries.

Winner! Cat’s Eye Technologies

Dale comments: Bloody hell! That was development. Development, that was out there; development in the raw, development that was naked and shivering. And we looked down upon it as though we were in the Thunderdome itself. Super!
Mark comments: This was one serious curve-ball entry from Chris, and all the better for it. Consistent, high quality blogging of dogged determination in the completion of a task most of us just wouldn’t even consider. I’ll bet this man now dreams in binary. Excellent, informative and uniquely entertaining entry. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with next time!

Winner! @minus56bits

Dale comments: For the win I say, for the win! Plus he gets points for the needless Star Trek references on his blog. Saying that, I would still be staggering around the Jeffries tube looking for the EPS conduit by the end of the month had I tackled this challenge. Round of applause for Frank!
Mark comments: Excellent, consistent, highly-entertaining blogging here from Frank and he completes his task with some panache including an excellent final youtube video. Retrochallenge salutes folks who push the boundaries – and this entry does so on both the hardware and software fronts – so all hail Frank!

Winner! kd0rg

Dale comments: Loved it! Actually making something useful with a retro computer – well that doesn’t happen every day does it? If i had a floppy drive for my Atari, i would use it. Top marks big guy!
Mark comments: Well, what can I say. Animated Gifs FTW! Excellent blogging, making something useful on retro-hardware is a winner in our book, and you’ve got to love the shiny shiny added to Rich’s BASIC program to lift it beyond the norm! Very well done sir!

Winner! @buildboats

Dale comments: Frequent updates on the blog and on twitter and from that i am surprised he had the time to write the baseball game. More cuteness from him in the form of magazine mock-ups at the end and he also had time for a tournament on the last day, what a guy!
Mark comments: Loved this entry right from the start, and what progress Tom made throughout the month, reaching a highly polished game that looks good and does what it says on the tin! High quality blogging and some quality videos underpin the development effort to make this a very worthy winner! Well done Tom!

 

The End of the Competition

Thank you all participants! Dale and I are now in deliberation for some kind of verdict.

Half-time round up

Go check out my hastily penned half-time round up of the movers-n-shakers in this Retrochallenge.

Wishing everyone the best of luck in the second half of the challenge. Make us proud!

RC2015/07 Competition is Running

Remember, it’s never too late to enter!

Follow Dale’s updates on @retrochallenge and filter tweets on #retrochallenge for the latest updates!

Entrants: please either tweet @retrochallenge when you’ve updated a page (or email me) or tweet with #retrochallenge so that followers are informed of your latest retro-goodness.

Best of luck to all who’ve entered!

RC2015/07 Competition Entry is Open

In a most uncharacteristic display of planning I am pleased to announce that the Retrochallenge 2015/07 – ‘July’ edition of the retrochallenge is now open to entrants. This round of the bi-annual madness used to be called Summer Warmup, but as this is a *world wide* competition we’re finally getting all PC (that’s Politically Correct not IBM PC you understand).

Retrochallenge 2015/07 competition will run from July 1st to the end of the month. We will allow blog updates till midnight on Sunday 2nd August GMT.

Please email mark at wickensonline dot co dot uk with your name (or handle) a brief synopsis of your project and a URL for your blog.

Twitter has become the preferred communication media for updates – if you make a post to your website please consider a short ‘tweet’ with #retrochallenge. Follow @retrochallenge and filter tweets on #retrochallenge for the latest updates!

The RC2015/07 Entrants List is here…

About Retrochallenge

In a nutshell, the RetroChallenge is a loosely disorganised gathering of RetroComputing enthusiasts who collectively do stuff with old computers for a month.

The event is very much open to interpretation… individuals set there own challenges, which can range from programming to multimedia work; hardware restoration to exploring legacy networking… or just plain dicking around. It really doesn’t matter what you do, just so long as you do it.

While the RetroChallenge has its competitive side, it’s not really a contest… it’s more like global thermonuclear war — everyone can play, but nobody really wins.

Competition Rules

  1. RetroChallenge commences 1st July 2015 and runs until 31st July 2015.
  2. In order to qualify, computer systems must be vintage (this used to be defined as 10 years old, but typically ‘vintage’ is older than that now – don’t expect to be accepted if you are using a box capable of running Windows XP for example!). Exceptions will always be made for exotica!
  3. Gaming consoles and PDAs qualify if they were made in the previous century.
  4. Where appropriate, replica hardware and emulators may be used.
  5. Entrants are responsible for adequately documenting their projects and submitting occasional updates during the contest.
  6. Projects may encompass any aspect of retro-computing that tickles the fancy of the individual entrant.
  7. Winners will be carefully selected and adulation bestowed.
  8. Have fun!

The RC2015/01 Competition…

Winners & Honourable Mentions

Head over to the Competition Summary page for part #1 of the round-up with the winners and honourable mentions.

Competition has Ended

Retrochallenge 2015/01 is officially over. Congratulations to all who made it to the end. Dale and I will get our heads together over the next few days and announce the winners. I’ll put together a summary so that we can all bathe in the retro-goodness together as the one happy family that we are.

The Final Push!

The final few hours of RetroChallenge! Parting will be such sweet sorrow. Best of luck for the remaining time available.

Into the last week!

Apologies for the lack of updates on the website but twitter has been regularly fed with updates from entrants and updates from the ever observant Dale.

We’re into the last week so I’d just like to remind contestants that blog posts should be completed by midnight Sunday (I’ll accept that as your local time or GMT whichever is the later). That gives you a little extra time over the weekend to indulge yourself one last time.

Thank’s for all the updates – I’ve been busy with my own stuff but it’s a great distraction to read what everyone else is up to and I’m really looking forward to getting my head down next week and immersing myself fully in all that you’ve been up to!

Competition is LIVE!

Starting with a healthy 21 competitors the competition is now LIVE! We even have a couple of mystery prizes – more to be announced later. Happy New Year to all!

Competition Entry is Open

Welcome to the shiny, new, hemisphere agnostic Retrochallenge 2015/01 – where the /01 means ‘January’. This round of the bi-annual madness used to be called Winter Warmup, but as this is a *world wide* competition we’re finally getting all PC (that’s Politically Correct not IBM PC you understand).

Retrochallenge 2015/01 competition will run from New Years Day, January 1st to the end of the month, Saturday 31st January 2015. Typically we will allow a final blog post at the end of the weekend, so you should be complete midnight 1st February GMT!

Please email mark at wickensonline dot co dot uk with your name (or handle) a brief synopsis of your project and a URL for your blog.

The RC2015/01 Entrants List is here…

About Retrochallenge

In a nutshell, the RetroChallenge is a loosely disorganised gathering of RetroComputing enthusiasts who collectively do stuff with old computers for a month.

The event is very much open to interpretation… individuals set there own challenges, which can range from programming to multimedia work; hardware restoration to exploring legacy networking… or just plain dicking around. It really doesn’t matter what you do, just so long as you do it.

While the RetroChallenge has its competitive side, it’s not really a contest… it’s more like global thermonuclear war — everyone can play, but nobody really wins.

Competition Rules

  1. RetroChallenge commences 1st January 2015 and runs until 31st January 2015.
  2. In order to qualify, computer systems must by approximately 10 years old (or older!) however exceptions will always be made for exotica!
  3. Gaming consoles and PDAs qualify if they were made in the previous century.
  4. Where appropriate, replica hardware and emulators may be used.
  5. Entrants are responsible for adequately documenting their projects and submitting occasional updates during the contest.
  6. Projects may encompass any aspect of retro-computing that tickles the fancy of the individual entrant.
  7. Winners will be carefully selected and adulation bestowed.
  8. Have fun!

You can visit the previous retrochallenge competition here:
RC2014 Summer Challenge

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