Sunday, October 31, 2021

Finish Line!

Time's up, logic probes down… we made it to the finish line of RC2021/10! We have been very impressed with the level of expertise and progress that so many of you made! urbancamo and ep00ch will be spending next couple of weeks reviewing and judging all of your great projects. Stay tuned for results!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

RC2021/10 Halftime Update!

Wow, 44 entries! What an amazing group of projects we have for this episode of RetroChallenge. You may have seen our advertisement in Juiced.GS magazine, and due to their kindness, we now have 2 copies of the September 2021 issue to provide as prizes!

Due to the awesome response, entries to the event are now closed. But, you can still review the current entry list by category with our comments.

Here is the halftime update, which we have miraculously provided at halftime! Entries are categorized by whether they are making progress or not. If you are making progress, and have some blog posts we missed, let us know in the comments.

Status: Making Progress...
Just4Fun Just4Fun's avatar : @Just4Fun_J4Fun
Platform: 68008 CPU + CP/M-68K homemade SBC

Project : The 68k-MBC is an easy to build 68008 CPU SBC (Single Board Computer), using only easy to find TH parts. It follows the same "concept" of the previous Z80-MBC2 ( and V20-MBC ( boards, using a PIC18F47Q10 MCU as EEPROM and "universal" I/O emulator (so a "legacy" EPROM programmer is not needed). You can choose between two main HW configuration options: Lite or Full. Lite HW configuration option allows to build a 3 ICs 68008 system running CP/M-68K. Short demo video:

Halftime Update: Just4Fun managed to knock out some software updates and documentation for his retro SBC. MSW: lots of great blogging here with software, hardware and printing with easily available parts. I used to have a SBC M68K board based on the original motorola reference design but this is so much more advanced!

Paleoferrosaurus Paleoferrosaurus's avatar : @Paleoferrosaur
Platform: Western Electric Model 551 PBX

Project : Update, automate, and hopefully not deflagrate…

Halftime Update: After removing all of the rat-based "patina" from his 551 PBX last month, Paleoferrosaurus has been documenting telephone circuits, how his PBX functions, and laying down a finish on the walnut woodwork. Just when we thought he was going to break all of the RC rules, he shows us a nice TI 99/4A BASIC program to generate MF and DTMF tones. And, like any proper RetroChallenge, his entry gets side-tracked by another RetroChallenge, as he fixes his TI 99/4A power supply. Great progress! MSW: oh wow, is he using LaTeX for his blog? I'm in awe! The project is really good too!

Mu0n Mu0n's avatar : @JuneauMichal1
Platform: Compact Macintosh

Project : Reverse engineer the Studio Session (From Bogas Productions, 1986) file format for a playthrough, driven mostly by C code.

Halftime Update: Mu0n is making great progress reorganizing his code and getting some sound out of his Studio Session Analyzer Program. MSW: love the look of this blog, proper Mac monochrome goodness!

Lee Adamson Lee Adamson's avatar
Platform: Unix (build platform), VMS BASIC Plus 2 (original source), CP/M on TRS-80 Model II (target)

Project : I have an ongoing project to port Dan Lawrence's "DND", an early CRPG (circa 1976), to a cleaner C codebase so that I can extend and improve the game, while still targeting old hardware via z88dk and cc65. My RetroChallenge entry is a subproject within this larger project: To get the code-so-far building for CP/M and running on a TRS-80 Model II, even if all of the game mechanics aren't completely ported by then. If my "real" Model II doesn't have enough memory, I'll have to either build a bigger RAM card for it or use an emulator.

Halftime Update: Lee provides a very thorough review of the DND code showing how it operates, including spells, the combat loop, and line of sight. Not sure if he has written any code this month (he seems to be distracted by his amateur radio repairs), but he has certainly provided the background for any future contributors to the project. MSW: Just watching the videos now and I'm hooked, great history of this RPG.

Mark Wickens Mark Wickens's avatar : @urbancamo
Platform: DEC VAX

Project : Analysing my Amateur Radio QSOs using VAX/APL 4.0

Halftime Update: Not sure if Mark is making progress. It looks like he had a problem with his APL configured LK201 keyboard and got stumped. Or, maybe he's just distracted by the DEC Legacy 2021 event he is running this month. MSW: keyboard is fixed, VAXstation plugged in and running, totally distracted to have done anything else!

jskists jskists's avatar : @jskists
Platform: RC2014

Project : Take the RC2014, and design/build modules so that the RC2014 can run the Jupiter ACE ROM image unmodified. Yes, it’s easy enough to run a Jupiter ACE in an emulator, on a Raspberry PI, but where is the fun in that? I want to learn how the 80’s computer worked! I’m a software engineer, by trade, so hardware design is quite unknown to me… I perfectly accept that this probably is not very challenging, to most. Personally, I think that real challenge is, for me, to actually finish something…

Halftime Update: Great background and progress on jskists' RC2014 based Juper ACE work-alike "MillRACE IO".There are even some glamour shots of the in-progress prototype boards! MSW: The screen layout template is a work of art! Plenty going on here: hardware, software, works of art, looking forward to seeing if the dream come true!

Jim Gerrie Jim Gerrie's avatar
Platform: TRS-80 Micro Color Computer (MC-10)

Project : I hope to blog about a couple of projects this month and next as part of RetroChallenge 2021, and possibly also of Septandy. The main project involves my port of Freecell from some QBasic source I found on the Net. I am also working a port of a 4K adventure game "Cavernes" for the TRS-80 Pocket computers. The source is from the French computer magazine Trace from the early 80s.

Halftime Update: Seems likely that Jim is actually stuck in the cave from his port of the text adventure game "Les Cavernes", as we have only just now seen an update from him. MSW: What Jim doesn't know about BASIC isn't worth knowing! One teaser update, we want more Jim!

Tom Raidna Tom Raidna 's avatar : @TraidnaComputes
Platform: TI 99 4/a

Project : Write a minimal MUMPS language interpreter in TMS 9900 assembler - which I’m just learning, that will run as 8k cartridge on SD card in a flashrom99 in TI 99 4/a. Cross assembly using Asw.exe and p2bin.exe under wine on a mac. Will use classic99.exe emulator for testing.

Halftime Update: Just when the TI99/4A and its sidecars seemed to have side-tracked Tom's project, he got us an update! MSW: MUMPS on a TI! This is madness! I love it, clearly a MUMPS expert if Tom can't do it no one can!

Phillip Stevens Phillip Stevens's avatar : @_feilipu
Platform: RC2014 - 8085 - Am9511A APU

Project : 1. Extend my Sept 2021 8085 CPU Module for RC2014 to support the Am9511A APU (Floating Point Module). 2. Build driver support to allow it to be used from C, BASIC, and assembly.

Halftime Update: Phillip has provided a couple of solid updates on his 8085. MSW: a consistent blogger (no mean feat) the 8085 isn't a chip I know much about bit it looks like he has a good handle on it.

AussieSmitty AussieSmitty's avatar
Platform: Commodore 64

Project : Using the C64 to control a remote control car. Control of the RC car can be via a joystick and recorded (to a floppy disk) for autonomous 'play back' by the C64. The C64 will use RS232 to a microcontroller with a wireless transceiver that can connect to the RC car.

Halftime Update: It looks like AussieSmitty has been cranking out code, but we are still waiting on a status update for the month. Wait! -- Tons of good RC updates in the Word doc in the repo. Love this entry (even though I hate Word)!

Sean Billings Sean Billings's avatar : @seanybillings
Platform: Dragon 32

Project : My challenge is to learn about the Dragon 32 I/O and interface to some electronics. I am specifically looking at the Cartridge Port, but may also venture into the Printer and Joystick ports too!

Halftime Update: Sean is making great progress with his experiments on the Dragon I/O port. Glamour shots of protoboard and lots of jumper wires abound! MSW: doing some interesting pivoting trying to get around technical challenges, minimalist blog is just fine in documenting this interesting project.

MarkO MarkO's avatar : @MarkO_
Platform: Tandy Color Computer ( all models )

Project : Writing drivers in MC6809/HD6309 Assembler for a Wiznet5100 NIC.

Halftime Update: MarkO is cleaning up some experimental code, but hasn't given us much insight into what he is doing yet. CocoFEST is coming soon, Mark!

MooTheFish MooTheFish's avatar
Platform: Power Computing Macintosh clone

Project : Clean and diagnose the issues with the computer, currently it does not power up. My plan is to strip the computer down, clean everything, then reassemble and diagnose the power issues and return this computer to its former glory, as well as discover its past life.

Halftime Update: Moo's loaded PowerComputing tower is looking much better, but not quite booting yet. Hopefully it just needs a resistor.

Paul Robson Paul Robson's avatar : @paulrobson63
Platform: Mattel Aquarius

Project : Going to write some homebrew games and maybe other stuff.

Halftime Update: Paul is making great progress extending a Z80 emulator to emulate an Aquarius on an ESP32. He already has it outputting video! MSW: Nice project this, looking to see whether he is able to iron out the annoying niggles you always get with emulators!

Pendleton115 Pendleton115's avatar : @Pendleton115
Platform: Macintosh Classic

Project : I will be restoring a Macintosh Classic and installing a Rascuzzi Hard Drive adapter.

Halftime Update: The Classic's logic board is looking great after its bath, but we want to see it boot from SD card!

europlus europlus's avatar : @apple2europlus
Platform: Apple ][

Project : Project : 1. europlus Refurbapalooza Resurrection – my Apple ][ europlus refurbishment project has edged along since my last Retrochallenge entries, but I've started to kick up the pace. Can I get all my boards tested by the end of Retrochallenge 2021/10?! 2. Lockdown WOzFests – to celebrate Retrochallenge 2021/10, I will schedule the next two WOzFests for 2 October and 30 October. Retrochallengers from around the globe should connect in to detail their plans at WOzFest 21, then describe the pain of how they went all awry at WOzFest 22! If we're out of lockdown, I'll have attendees! Share the love, pain, frustration, triumphs! 3. Pirated software manual scans – I have a 13cm pile of photocopied Apple ][ software manuals from WOzFest attendee Neville to scan and upload to the Internet Archive. 4. Applesaucing – Similarly, I have a metric buttload of disks to image with my Applesauce, gotta just get back to it. 5. [NEW]Citizen Science – Floppy disks vs Magnets: I’ve seen discussion of magnets affecting disks, I’ve done it myself, and I jokingly place bad disks on WOzFest HQ’s fridge with HD magnets. But magnets are all around us now, and those into software preservation have to be careful. Join me as I test the effects of the various common (and maybe not so common) magnets in our modern lives on the media we’re here to preserve. If you have equipment to flux image a disk, and some magnets laying around, add your data to the pool so we can spread the warning far and wide – disks and magnets are not BFFs! Yes, five projects is an extra-crazy load to take on, but I'm crazy! Aim for the stars and you'll blow up on the launchpad, I always say! Details on the WOzFests can be found at [UPDATE]: DM me on Twitter for the Google Meet link for the two Friday prep days before WOzFest RC 21/10 and WOzFest 22 and the WOzFests themselves.

Halftime Update: europlus managed to organize a successful WOzFest, but seems to have hit some technical hurdles with his applesaucing.

Retrobits Retrobits's avatar : @RetroEarl
Platform: Altair 8800bt

Project : The goal is to control an 8x5 NeoPixel (RGB LEDs) array from an Altair 8800bt, using an Arduino to connect the two. The Altair/Arduino connection uses a MITS parallel I/O from back in the day, called an "88-4PIO".

Halftime Update: Earl gave us one interesting post at the beginning, but left us wanting more. We need an update!

Michael Wessel Michael Wessel's avatar
Platform: Busch Microtronic

Project : A fully retro-authentic yet modern reimplemenation of the classic 1981 4bit educational single board computer. Hex in machinecode with a 7segment bubble display like its 1981!

Halftime Update: MSW: one of the leading contenders this, the blog photos are beautiful and he's making real progress with some wonderful videos... definitely one to watch.

Kyle Farrell Kyle Farrell's avatar : @ultratroninator
Platform: Eighties nostalgia... retro gaming, arcade games

Project : Alphanumeric LED displays, discrete LEDs, switches, arcade buttons, rotary knobs and selectors. All wired up to a Holtek 16K33 for key scan and LED display. Raspberry Pi Zero under the hood to make it all happen. Modern stuff, yeah. Front panel with silly scifi references, retro games being developed for play on the LED displays, sounds from eighties arcade machines, fun stuff like that.

Halftime Update: MSW: ultratroninator3000 - what a brilliant retrocomputer name, if only I could pronounce it! A good mix of software and hardware going on here, wonderful photos too.

Mark C Mark C's avatar
Platform: ET-3400 Microprocessor Trainer

Project : Create a small 24pin drop in replacement ROM for the original MCM6830A mask ROM.

Halftime Update: MSW: Mark is currently struggling with an 8K limit so coming up with a modern solution, lots of blog posts, a very interesting read.

leaded solder leaded solder's avatar : @leadedsolder
Platform: ColecoVision clone (Leako)

Project : I will finally get around to documenting and releasing the BOM, KiCad files, assembly guide, and Gerbers for my ColecoVision clone

Halftime Update: MSW: DIY joysticks and Time Pilot, one of my favourite arcade games ever!

equant equant's avatar : @humantissue
Platform: Apple //e, 68k Macs (System 6/7)

Project : I have two "Publish It!" goals... (1) Document the Apple II expansion card I've been working on this year. By "document" I mean usages docs and example code on github, but also a narrative summary of the project including success and failures. (2) Git all of my previous RetroChallenge projects (e.g. Grackle68k, 68kmpc) up on github.

Halftime Update: Only one early post about his Apple //e expansion card.

roughana roughana's avatar : @roughana
Platform: Apple ][

Project : Document how to contribute to the Total Replay compendium, and solicit contributions from the community.

Halftime Update: roughana is getting some good work done making sure Total Replay is a nicely packaged playable game archive.

Jeremy Barr-Hyde Jeremy Barr-Hyde's avatar : @captaineos
Platform: Apple ][ and Macintosh

Project : Upload of post-processed scans - Macintosh posters, books, manuals and box art

Halftime Update: MSW: Some wonderful scanned documents here, I've done some scanning myself and it is a thankless task, except Thank you!

Anthony Beckett Anthony Beckett's avatar : @abeckett
Platform: Commodore

Project : I have been archiving the magazine library of the Commodore Computer Users Group of Queensland (Cursor Magazine) for nearly a year and to be honest, have been falling behind. I'd love punch out the rest of the magazines left - 30-40 of them - and get them uploaded on

Halftime Update: Feeling the pain of the demise of Amiga as a commercial prospect, not something you really want to re-live!

Matteo Trevisan Matteo Trevisan's avatar : @Toolkitman
Platform: Windows XP

Project : Build a Racing Cars 3D GAME with a 3d compiler

Halftime Update: MSW: Interesting start, would be great to see how this pans out!

epooch epooch's avatar : @ep00ch
Platform: Sharp Zaurus SL-5500

Project : Use the Sharp Zaurus SL-5500, directly mounted on a serial mouse, as video display/keyboard/mouse to interact with VNC running on the Zaurus to control my Mac. To Do List: Dig the Zaurus out of my "Sell on eBay" bin. Replace the battery (barely lasted 30 mins new) Install a mouse driver Get a serial mouse connected and working with VNC.

Halftime Update: Not sure you can call this progress, but there is definitely good documentation of the lack of progress, and a functional stylus!

Mr2021 Mr2021's avatar
Platform: Pentium MMX SBC

Project : Bringing a Pentium MMX SBC (industrial PC) back to life

Halftime Update: MSW: Ah the old Dallas clock chip issue, who thought it was a good idea to embed a battery in a chip!

ShaneMcRetro ShaneMcRetro's avatar : @ShaneMcRetro
Platform: 386 / 486 Computer

Project : Retro computers need websites to visit. That is what this project is all about. Recreating websites that are compatible with older web browsers.

Halftime Update: MSW: Fascinating project this to bring Geocities back to life, comprehensive blog with some amazing detail!

Jon Co Jon Co's avatar
Platform: PowerMac G4

Project : I recently received this PowerMac G4 that powers on, but has no video. I want to get it working/usable again.

Halftime Update: MSW: Powermac restoration that needs more TLC than just replacement caps! Get that mouse to light!

Josh Malone Josh Malone's avatar : @48kRAM
Platform: Gateway 2000 GP6-400

Project : Windows 98 Gaming PC build

Halftime Update: MSW: I've happily forgotten what a PITA getting a PC to run games was back in the days of Win98 - rather you than me!

Status: Non Starters
Michael Mulhern Michael Mulhern's avatar : @the_jongleur
Platform: Apple ][

Project : "1786!" The ink on the 1783 Paris Treaty is barely dry. George Washington as the Commander-in-Chief has to rebuild the Continental Army, garner support of the States and their Militias, battle internal strife of those that wish to see the the newly founded Union brought down with the assistance of foreign powers.

Halftime Update: No updates yet. I'm not even convinced that this is a legitimate bit of Australian history.

James Ots James Ots's avatar : @jamesots
Platform: An imaginary one (FPGA)

Project : It's the early 1980s, it's nearly Christmas, and everyone is releasing new computers. Management has decided we need a new computer too. I have one month to create it from scratch. Some corners may need to be cut. Back in the present day… I'm going to try creating a 1980s style 8-bit computer from scratch using an FPGA board. I've already developed a new 8-bit CPU, which I've named the AUG processor after my great grandfather, August Maramaa ( I'll need to write some kind of operating system. Maybe a text only system which connects to a terminal. Maybe it's the 1970s? Maybe connect a PCW keyboard to it. Maybe add colour graphics and a sound chip? Maybe struggle with VHDL coding and give up? Who knows.

Halftime Update: An early OOPS and resulting sparks left James struggling to meet his deadline for the '82 Christmas sales season.

Adrian Franulovich Adrian Franulovich's avatar : @digitalrampage
Platform: Community resource for all vintage tech

Project : To create a global resource to help people ship vintage technology correctly and safely to avoid further damage and destruction to our already deteriorating and shrinking supply of original vintage technology.

Peter Irwin Peter Irwin 's avatar
Platform: IBM PS1

Project : I am restoring this system to original specifications, I have a complete system with matching printer.

Scott Lawrence Scott Lawrence's avatar : @yorgle
Platform: RC2014

Project : I'm planning on tying up a bunch of loose ends in my RC2014 system landscape. I have a few unbuilt modules, some storage solutions I've started working on (ie, my "vampire" system that runs over the same communications channel as the serial console) and so on.

Halftime Update: Good intentions, but no retro progress yet. MSW: No idea what is going on here but the lights are very pretty!

John Honniball John Honniball's avatar : @anachrocomputer
Platform: Compukit UK101, modified with 6809 CPU

Project : It's been several years since I did anything with the modified Compukit UK101 with the 6809 CPU. The hardware is undocumented and the software is in a Subversion repo on a machine I no longer use. Time to get it working again! Draw the schematic, get the code into Git, update it, burn some EPROMs, make a video.

Bread80 Bread80's avatar : @bread80com
Platform: Amstrad CPC

Project : Finish, document and publish reverse engineered Amstrad CPC firmware ROMS in a state that can be modified and assembled.

Colin Maykish Colin Maykish's avatar
Platform: Homebrew 65C02-based computer system

Project : My goal for this challenge is to document the hardware and software design of my recent computer build, the Herring 6502. Additionally, I'd like to implement custom graphics hardware for it on an FPGA.

Murray Murray's avatar
Platform: OSBORNE

Project : To scan all issues of the AUSBORNE newsletter. The ACMS found many issues of these newsletters during the relocation of our items from previous storage locations, and they need to be archived.

Chillers Chillers's avatar : @disdev
Platform: All Turing Complete machines

Project : I want to come up with a strict, unambiguous set of metrics to determine the world's first implemented computer game. The history is messy, but I think my metrics will make things clear. There are lots of "one of the first" Wikipedia articles, but no definitive winner. I will then use the metrics to determine the winner.

Paul Pritsis Paul Pritsis's avatar
Platform: Commodore Amiga 2000HD

Project : Rebuild my 30+ year old Amiga 2000HD.

Cynde Moya Cynde Moya's avatar : @cyndemoya
Platform: Amiga 4000

Project : I have 2 Amiga 4000 computers that I would like to return to working order. New batteries, recapping, refurbishing the drives, and whatever else that need to be done to make at least one of them go.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

RC2021/10 IS GO!

RC2021/10 Starts Now!

It's October 1st somewhere. We have a strong line-up of RetroChallengers, some great incentives, and it's not too late to enter! Between the restorations, new hardware and software, and the inpiring documentation efforts, I expect that the projects in this RetroChallenge will be a valuable contribution to the Retro-Computing community. Make sure to post regular updates, or you will get left behind... NOW, GET TO IT!

urbancamo and ep00ch will be working hard on their own projects, but will make sure to keep tweetin' updates and get you timely halftime and final summaries and results.

Special shout-out to the Australian Computer Museum Society for incorporating the RetroChallenge into their membership activities.


Thursday, September 2, 2021

Ooh, Look... Prizes!

We are one month away from RC2021/10! Get your entry in and wait patiently until October.


'Winner' in any category gets a RC2021/10 custom mousepad:

Additional bonus prizes:

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Announcing RetroChallenge 2021/10!

We are excited to announce the return of the RetroChallenge for the month of October 2021! Brought to you by veteran host Mark Wickens and rookie Eric Poch.

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 their own challenges, which can range from programming to multimedia work, hardware restoration to exploring legacy networking, or just plain fooling around. It really doesn’t matter what you do, just so long as you do it.

Take a look at the revised "rules" for the RetroChallenge for basic guidelines.

RetroChallenge 2021/10 Theme Categories

We are introducing two theme categories for this event: The Millennials and Publish It! These categories will be judged and awarded separately from the standard entries. If your project qualifies, enter it into one of the theme categories! Otherwise, enter in the General category and just do your own retro thing. Check out this year's List of Entries for some examples.

The Millennials:

Systems Released Circa 1998-2002

Finally some love for those millennials! Believe it or not, Mac OS X 10.0 and Windows 2000/XP are just over 20 years old and qualify for the RetroChallenge. Rather than turning up our noses at these systems' garish GUIs and baroque data bus widths, we are showcasing them! So, pull that 1st Gen iPod out of your desk drawer, fire up your trusty Zaurus SL-5500, drag that iMac G3 out of mothballs, or go find your old ThinkPad 570, and get computing like it's 1999!

Publish It!:

Publish Your Old RetroComputing Project

Many of us have had some time during quarantine to play on our vintage computers, but there is never enough time to properly document or share our work. This is your opportunity! Start documenting a retro project that you have been working on since the start of the pandemic, set-up and share a git repository with the code for your old Apple IIe game, publish a schematic of the s-100 bus card you designed, or even scan and share that pile of rare vintage computer magazines and manuals you've been collecting. As long your project was retro-computer related and your focus is on sharing code or documentation for it for the first time, you are in, even if you completed the project long before October 1st!


We have some useful tech tools that we will be awarding as prizes (USB Logic Analyzer, Arduino UNO, TL866II+ IC programmer) and will hopefully have some RC 2021/10 mousepads and some more donated items for the "winners".

How to Enter

We are trying out a New Entry Form for Contestants. Fill it out and save the link at the end in case you want to update or change your information. Let us know in the comments if you have any issues signing up.

Entry Form Button