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Welcome to the RBC build page of Trick-1. There is something about computers that you can open up, design new bits for, work on and fix that I really like. It was exactly that in the form of an Apple II europlus that got me hooked on computing back in the 1980's. I have a varied background in electronics and computing. For me it is both work and occasional recreation when time permits.
The recreation aspect can be slow, glaciers move faster, and is broadly around
- The Apple II - I still have a IIe and a II europlus that I have restored and collected a variety of cards for over the years. I have also designed (opto coupled parallel I/O card) and in the process of finalising a build of a Transputer link card with modification from Das Transputer Buch.
- Transputers - I caught the transputer bug in the late 1990's and today have a modest collection of which most runs Helios.
- Building electronic things - Now this is where RetroBrewComputers has just recently come into my life
- Other computing related things such as SunOS/FreeBSD/OpenBSD/Ubuntu and Nvidia CUDA/Parallella/Intel Xeon Phi Clusters
- SBCV2 - Fully built and operational running romwbw 2.71. Currently running the Z80 at 4Mhz. Powered directly from the backplane
PSU at this stage.
- 12-Slot Backplane 505-6508 - Built and 1/2 populated with connectors.
- ECB Bus Monitor - built pending proper configuration
- ECB Disk I/O V3.0 - pending 8255 and testing
- ECB cvdu - pending 82C42 and the mini din connectors remain to be installed.
- ECB propio - socketed and most components, pending PropIO, Resistor packs, mini din and SD Card
- EuroCard Rack - I got a great deal from this gumtree seller in Australia who has a range of racks/PSU/card guides, front pannel hardware etc https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/blacktown-area/other-electronics-computers/din41612-eurocard-frame-card-guides-183mm-jg1/1129976514
- 250W ATX Slimline Switch Mode Power Supply with ATX socket on breadboard and switch between the green wire and ground (sorry that's really not technical)
This is a rather bad photo but shows my initial setup in an ABS Rack Case. This is now in a metal EuroCard Rack case (photo pending)
Transputer's a 5 second Introduction
A Transputer is a CPU originally designed by INMOS in the late 1980's. The CPU was designed with parallel computing in mind. Defining features of a Transputer are
- 32bit CPU (T4xx/T8xx)
- 4x 10/20Mbit/s serial links for communication to up to 4 other Transputers
- Programmable in Occam, C, Pascal
- Run O/S such as Minix and Helios
What is a TRAM
A TRAM is basically a standard carrier for an INMOS Transputer and the circuit for its function such as Compute with memory, SCSI, ethernet, serial etc. The following link provides some information regards the TRAM specification. http://www.transputer.net/tn/29/tn29.html#x1-50003.1
Example of TRAM can be seen plugged into the Tram Carrier Card below.
Basic Transputer System
A basic Transputer system consists
- Host - in this case the ECB based machine
- Host Adapater Card or Transputer link Interface (see ECB Transputer Link Interface below)
- Transputer Network - TRAM Carrier Boards or non-TRAM based CPU Cards (see ECB TRAM Carrier Card and Transputer CPU Card below)
the basic setup is
[Host CPU] <→ [BUS] <→ [Transputer Link Interface] <→ [Transputer Network]
The HOST CPU communicates to the Transputer network via the Transputer LInk Interface.
ECB Transputer Link Interface (aka TLI )
This is something I want to try and bring to the community as it will allow communication from an ECB system to a Transputer network.
It is slow progress and maybe one day I will hopefully finish the board design. I have started to design the link interface leveraging the prototype board work that is already in existence and borrowing heavily from Das Transputer Buch (yes that book really is a fantastic source of information).
The link interface would allow the connection of an ECB based system to a Transputer network. The ECB Tram Carrier Card is a candidate.
Mar/17 - Design almost finalised, just need to complete the bus connections before sending to PCBWay (http://www.pcbway.com/) for the first run.
ECB TRAM Carrier Card (aka 4TC2 )
The idea here is to create a simple ECB card that can support 1-4 INMOS TRAM's.
Have started work but original design needs some revision to make it more aligned with standard practices.
Have finalised a design
- Supports 4 TRAM's
- cascade to multiple boards
- Power from EuroConnector or external standalone
- Breakout for all unused links
I sent the files to PCBway (http://www.pcbway.com/) for manufacture. Once tested will put this up in the ECB boards section with all the right gerber files.
Jan/17 - Boards arrived and have been assembled. Some minor layout, screen print and design issues to resolve but they work!
Feb/17 - Version 0.4 of the board is now confirmed fully working however a number of design modifications have been made and Version 0.5 of the board is pending.
the following is the image of the version 0.4 board with 4 INMOS TRAM's installed.
Jul/17 - Version 0.5 of the board has been finalised and sent for manufacture.
ECB Transputer CPU Card (2TC2)
This card is in initial design phase but is aiming to be
- Minimum 2x Transputer CPUs
- Minimum 1MB SRAM
- head and tail connector
- breakout of unused links
- Power from EuroConnector or external for standalone
This is ideal for those who want to put a Transputer in their system but maybe cannot get hold of a TRAM module.
ECB Manual Cross Bar Switch (MCBS)
This card has been designed but is yet to be manufactured for testing. The card allows the connection of all unused links from other boards via a single ribbon cable and then allow for the configuration to be set with jumper cables. This will allow for maximum configuration of a given set of Transputers from either 2TC2 or 4TC2.
Thanks to Andrew the kit of parts has arrived. Looking forward to building this up.