EMF Camp 2016 IN 3D

EMF Camp is a bi-annual gathering of creatives, geeks, makers and anyone with a passion for, well, anything. Over three days in a Guildford field we attended (and gave) talks, learnt new skills in workshops, danced to chiptune musicians bathed in a light show created by amateur laser enthusiasts and played fire-pong, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Oh, and there was beer.

As this was a celebration of all things creative, I decided to get the 3D camera out as I realised I hadn’t made any red/blue anaglyphs in the longest time. So, here’s a few snaps from EMF Camp 2016. Click to embiggen.


Building The ZX Raspberry – Part Four

In which our hero is unable to leave well alone

A little epilogue to the ZX Raspberry project. I came into possession of a very dead ZX Spectrum+ and, following my own personal rule of ‘it gets fixed or it gets modded’, I decided that it was time for a ZX Raspberry+. This project did away with the USB keyboard option, so just a standalone Raspberry Pi-driven unit.

ZX Raspberry+ Innards

ZX Raspberry+ Innards

I made a few improvements and discoveries along the way.

  1. It’s a lot easier to put all this gubbins in a Plus case rather than an original.
  2. The Raspberry PI + variant (+ or 2) is conveniently sized to place the HDMI and power alongside the expansion port (less cables!).
  3. The +’s reset switch makes a handy keyboard mode switch.
  4. A conclusion I reached during the first project was right, I didn’t need the resistors on KB1. Leave them and the power line out, wire the connector directly to the Pro Micro and just set the inputs to INPUT_PULLUP in the Arduino sketch. It does everything for you.

Finally, I was able to really speed up boot time by using PipaOS instead of the standard Rasbian distribution. It’s still Raspbian, but optimised for fast bootup and without a lot of the stuff you don’t need anyway. The results on a Raspberry PI 2 with a Class 10 SD card are quite something. Here’s a boot video:

Just a shade over 10 seconds. Not bad eh?


Building The ZX Raspberry – Part One

In which our hero plans and schemes

Despite wanting to convert a ZX Spectrum into a USB keyboard for some time, I held off to wait for the unlikely duo of the ZX Spectrum Vega and the Recreated ZX Spectrum. Sadly, neither buttered my parsnips, and the reasons why have been discussed at length around this Internet of ours, so I shall say no more here. What I really wanted a combination of the two: The stand-alone operation of the Vega and the keyboard of the ‘Recreated’.

Not being one to re-invent the wheel, I’d been reading over this Instructable wot I found and occasionally drooling over the excellent kits offered by Tynemouth Software. Then, a battered old Speccy case and the parts needed for a USB interface found their way onto a Facebook group for just £20, their current owner being caught between retro-project-awesomeness and ‘having a life’ and ‘friends’. Clearly making the wrong choice, he put them up for sale. … 


Restoring a VIC-20

I purchased this poor thing last week. After some initial mucking about, life was breathed into it once more. I had a a bit of fun getting the keyboard working but now she’s 100% operational and a welcome addition to the collection.

If you’re unfamiliar with the VIC-20, it was Commodore’s entry to the home computer market and a pre-cursor to the wildly successful C64. The VIC, despite boasting colour and sound at a time that the ZX81 was considered exotic, was held back to 3.5k of RAM (expandable to 16K) and poor resolution. Nevertheless, it was, and still is, a cracking little computer that saw the likes of Llamasoft’s Jeff Minter cutting their teeth in the gaming world.

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The Imitation Game: Fact and Fiction

Last weekend saw the release of ‘The Imitation Game’ in which Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley star as Alan Turing and Joan Clarke, codebreakers that helped change the course of the Second World War. Amongst an ensemble cast, the story of Turing is told in three parts; his school days, Bletchley Park and his final, desperate years in Manchester.