It's the end of this year's Memofest for me
Before I get the the fun bit, first a thank you to Dave for inviting a group of MTX nerds to invade his home. And many thanks for his wife, Nicola for putting up with us, and supplying us with food and drink
(note to webmaster, we need a clapping hands emoji).
Highlights of this year's event include (if I forget to include anything, I apologise in advance):-
Oh, by the way, the amount of excellent and impressive work shown has blown my mind, so these memories are not in any order...
Checking out Dave's video wall system and his extensive collection of ten (yes, I said TEN) Memotech MTX500 / MTX512 machines (not including his larger Memotech boxes, like his FDX...). His computer equipment takes up space in ### REDACTED ### rooms. Oh my, it appears I'm not permitted to tell you the exact number...
Seeing the MTX+ in action (and crashing with pretty colourful screens, well sometimes they were colourful, during testing of the new Speculator function). The video board works really well. Nice to see the results of all the hard work in real life
. The Martin, Dave and Tony team working together are certainly making progress...
Martin showed off his 6502 CPU card working on the MTX+ running BBC 6502 BASIC
. Later I found myself searching for parts to see if I could make one, oh my...
More on the MTX+ later...
Andy showed his latest improvements to ReMemotech, which used some trickery to allow it to use a new floating point system so that it could produce and plot a Mandelbrot set. This now outperforms a MTX+ system running with a 25 MHz Z180 CPU! It's impressively fast
. Although real world applications may be a bit rare. But who cares about that!
But that was not his only trick
Next he loaded up a new "game". But I'm not sure the word "game" does it justice. If you've played games on a MTX in the past and enjoyed the graphics, this will astound you. His new game is more like a graphical 3D rendered movie
It's called Hex-Train. It relies on modern mass storage to feed data to a normal 4 MHz MTX so that a train "simulation" type game can have very impressive and apparently smooth "film like" graphics.
After this the room was in silence as it took everyone took it in. He then explained the detail behind how he coded not only the game, but a whole development system
Bill surprised us with his new hardware development. A prototype board using just three chips. One of which was just a voltage regulator. The main chip being a Parallax Propeller (supported by a serial EEPROM chip). The Propeller uses five of it's eight "cogs" to produce a new 80 column screen display on a VGA monitor. It uses two bits of each primary colour channel (2 bits for Red, Green and Blue) giving a total of 64 colours! Not only that, but it it can display a type of medium resolution graphics. The intention is to combine it with the existing CFX system. He hand typed in a MTX BASIC program to show it off despite the MTX keyboard's switch bounce. Another very impressive piece of work. Thanks Bill. BTW, I want one
By now, my brain was a bit frazzled, but there was more...
Paul showed us the results of his wonderful coding skills in creating MTX game development system components. Including a sound playback system and a graphical system. Not being a "coder" and my brain having been overloaded earlier, I could only watch the display while the music played... as he explained his system
Of course, it would not be a Memofest without Claus producing yet another excellent MTX game conversion
By now I had filled my mental memory, so sorry Claus, I have forgotten the name of the game. But I'm sure Dave will post it up on his site soon.
Throughout the afternoon, Jim "popped" in and out via Skype.
While the power was ebbing away, I presented Claus with his new MTX that I built for him. Earlier Dave got his. So this should keep some MTX machines powered up for a long time to come
Details are in the hardware section if you want to build your own. If you would like me to build one for you, the thread is here
Oh, and of course, there was the little (well, large really) matter of the cake. This year we can truly say we had our chips and ate them, as the wonderful tasty cake had a detailed picture of a MTX main board as part of the icing on the top of the cake. We were soon devouring it
Now, for the English visitors, a big shock was that Saturday was a nice sunny and fine day (if a little bit cold in the morning). So we got a nice view of Dave's garden
Alas, Bill, Paul and Claus had now departed
Attention returned to the MTX+ with lots more info from Dave and Martin. Throughout the weekend, Tony was sending test software to Dave to test the new Speculator mode. Alas, so far there are still bugs causing problems.
On the Sunday, we continued work on the MTX+ system. Although Dave's matrix board CPU card works well, his PCB version of the CPU card fails to function. Despite much work, we have not yet been able to understand why.
So as ideas on fault finding the MTX+ PCB CPU card had dried up, attention was turned to the MTX512S2 (that drives the video wall), as it had been experiencing loss of colour, a rolling picture, and picture break-up. The fault was traced to a defective 7812 voltage regulator. Once the idea of using a hammer to break it free had been dropped... I desoldered the old voltage regulator and fitted a new one, also fitting a new electrolytic smoothing capacitor at the same time. After a (long) soak test, Dave was finally satisfied that it was now healthy, so another MTX saved from silicon heaven
Time was then taken to eat more cake, then test many of Dave's MTX 500 and 512 machines.
The sun was getting low in the sky, so it then time for me to leave, ready for my journey 500 miles to the south.
Thanks once again to everyone for another wonderful Memofest.