Peter's z80.eu site blog
Very interesting project - a microbee emulated in (almost) one FPGA 
Monday, June 29, 2015, 09:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
The Microbee was an Australian made Z80 based computer that was able to run CP/M 2.2 and 3.0 - and it even had already some pixel graphics capabilities.

Getting such a computer isn't simple, and I do not live in Australia (btw. wonderful country).
But working with real hardware and not "emulated on PC" is still a great idea.
On fpgabee.toptensoftware.com you will be able to read all about using a FPGA development board or even a selfmade pcb for it.
With it's version 2, even harddisk access and color graphics is implemented.
And it's working with a standard VGA monitor, a PS/2 keyboard and a SD card. That's all.

It looks like this (photo taken from the above mentioned web site):


So just go on and visit the web site above mentioned (or see related link also below).

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Windows 10 - why it can be the wrong update ... 
Tuesday, June 9, 2015, 10:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Yes, almost every Windows user is talking about Microsoft's "gift" to all humans. Windows 10.
It's totally free for legal Windows 7 and later users, you get a total renewed, modern Windows version. That's not the whole story.

Why it can be the wrong choice:

If you are a vintage computer collector, you will still using floppy drives (even USB driven ones).
This is what you see if you connect a (USB) floppy drive to a Windows 7 computer:

(sorry for the german, but I'm sure you still guess what it means)

And this is what you see if you connect a (USB) floppy drive to a Windows 10 computer:

<nothing>

Also, if you hate Solitaire and other Windows games, Windows 10 is your choice too. Because the games are missing now. But you can get some in their shop.

More sophisticated authentication and encryption methods in Windows 10 needs a TPM 2.0 chip.
Also, in some cases you need a newer UEFI BIOS version, older PCs don't have such a BIOS.

Cloud integration is now omnipresent. You don't have really a choice.
Windows 10 will even force you to use the cloud in some cases.

You hate to have control over your own Windows Update adjustments ? Then Windows 10 is good for you. You will not have the choice, Updates are always forced, not only notified.

You want to look a movie on DVD ? Playback is not anymore integrated in Windows 10. Use third party software or wait for a Windows 10 extension for extra money.

There will be no installation media anymore. You have to download it always. License is tight to a specific hardware. You will not able to install it on other hardware anymore.

And last but not least don't believe Microsoft is not interested in making money. You ever got in touch with micro payment and DLCs ? That's your future.
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Difficult to try "imaging" an old hard disk drive with a 486 PC (on DOS 6.2) 
Thursday, June 4, 2015, 06:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Many of you will tell me, that "imaging" (or "cloning") a hard disk drive is not really a difficult task. But did you ever tried this running old hardware and just with DOS ?

The first idea was to use Norton Ghost. But that was not really a good idea, because with older Ghost Versions (before 8.0) you cannot compress the target image file. There is a "spanning" option, but I had only a ZIP drive (100MB) with parallel port interface, and for a 420 MB HDD this will be no pleasure. The later, newer Ghost Version 8.0 and above always created an error message with a lot of register and address info, it seems these newer versions are not compatible with my 486 and MS-DOS 6.20.
So I had a long "Google" session until I found "savepart", written by Damien Guibouret - download see "related link" below. This program runs on my 486 and it can create a compressed image file.
So I was quite happy to found it, believe me.
Start screen looks like this:

Choose "save element" to go on imaging your HDD, it's quite self explanated.

Edit later:
Meanwhile I was also able to convert it back to a raw hdd file (with the help of "spartw64.exe", which is savepart for 64bit Windows).
After having it back as a raw image on my modern i7-PC, I created a vdmk file (with raw2vmdk, launch it with "java -jar raw2vmdk.jar raw-image-filename newfile.vdmk").

Now I started VMPLAYER and used the already prepared vdmk file as "hard drive".
The result look like that:


P.S.: raw2vdmk.jar can be downloaded here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/raw2vmdk/
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PCD2 CPU card - unknown manufacturer, unknown switch function 
Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 12:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Well, after I realized that the battery of the "CPU board" is dead, I tried to remove the CPU card. This was a small disaster, because I have to figure out how to dismantle the rest before I can pull the card itself. But I survived, so here is a picture of that 386SX ISA-Bus card, plugged in my Siemens PCD-2:


I have no clue what function that switch on right has. It is NOT a switch for CPU frequency (already test with LANDMARK Speedtest).
The card is not a typical industrial CPU card, because almost all of these cards are smaller/not full sized cards. May be someone knows the manufacturer of this card ?

Added later: I have also open questions about this Multi-I/O Floppy + IDE controller card, an Acer controller chip is visible...

I've figured out 4 of 7 jumper easily (located on the right side), enabling/disabling Parallel- and Serial interface. One of the more left located jumper is for Floppy enable/disable.
But two of them are a mystery for me. It seems the outer most left jumper disables the Game Port, but if I choose the lower position for this jumper, Floppy LED is always on, regardless of the fact, that Game Port is also disabled. Very strange...

Added again later:
It looks like this one: http://museum.ttrk.ee/th99/c/U-Z/20337.htm
That means, NO Game-Port DISABLING is possible :-(
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Another Siemens PCD-2 - but surprisingly with a Intel 386SX CPU ?! 
Saturday, May 9, 2015, 06:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Recently I found another Siemens PCD-2, but this one was totally different from the other.
The main difference - instead of a Intel 286 CPU, I found a 386SX CPU (20 MHz), but still inserted on a CPU card (no "classic" mainboard inside).


There was also no proprietary Siemens BIOS used, instead, I found an AMI BIOS:

Chipset was still from OPTI, a lot of SIMMs can be also found on the CPU card.

I had to replace the 3.5" floppy drive (this happens not often), a Seagate 3144AT (IDE) runs fine (almost fine, the drive already makes some noise, but at the moment not too loud).

But Arkanoid II is running well, so I guess I am satisfied also with a 386SX PCD2 :-)


Somebody else already replaced the 286 CPU card with a better CPU, too.
See "related Link", may be this PCD-2 here was also already modified in a similar manner.

If you're curious about the original PCD-2, look at my page >here<.
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