@retrochallenge – If This Then Retro


For this year’s Retrochallenge it’s my intention to do some sort of mash up of old and new technology to see what sort of modern computing tasks I can complete with some of my retro hardware.

I want to incorporate my Raspberry Pi which has become an effective yet rather lonely media server sitting behind my T.V. and seems destined for greater things.

Over the last few months I’ve also been using and experimenting with the If This Then That (IFTTT) website which allows you to all manner of things by creating recipes to trigger events.

Combining this with Jim Brain’s excellent TCPser software, I’m imagining all sorts of fiendishly pointless exercises.

Retrochallenge Summer 2013


Yes it’s true, we’re less than three weeks away from the start of Retrochallenge 2013.  You can now register to participate in this year’s event.

Head over to Retrochallenge.org and sign up now for this always fun and entertaining competition.

I shall be registering shortly, I just need to decide what I’m going to do.  I’d like to explore CP/M on my Commodore 128 but I’d also like to have a dabble with TCPSER which I’ve been threatening to do for some time.

However I also really need to sort out my burgeoning collection of vintage gear and just doing this may throw up an interesting project.

If you’ve mmm’d and aaah’d about entering but never have, make this year the one you do.

@Retrochallenge – Heath Robinson

CMOS Battery Pack

CMOS Battery Pack

I switched on the BBC Master this morning and was again greeted by the ‘This is not a language’ error.  I’d pretty much fully expected it given that I’d already assumed the CMOS battery pack was dead.

I opened the old girl up and located the pack.  Fortunately although it had leaked it was positioned such that it hadn’t caused any damage.

I don’t know whether it’s the original pack, it’s certainly pretty old, you don’t see Vidor (‘They last about a month longer’) batteries any more.  In fact you don’t see much that’s made in Britain any more but that’s another story.

There are several easily found guides to building a new pack.  I found this one to be very good.  It explains clearly that a resistor and diode are required within the assembly to inhibit the charging circuit intended for the Lithium cells that were originally fitted, also suggesting that my pack was indeed a replacement.

Leaking Batteries

Leaking Batteries

I’m learning quite quickly that there’s an impressive and very active community attached to the BBC and other Acorn models.

My wallet is also slightly concerned by the amount of mods that are available, I fear my Master will soon be sporting some interesting additions.

Hopefully aforementioned community won’t see the rather Heath Robinson replacement battery pack that I hacked together.  Short of parts to build a proper one and aware of the limited time left in this year’s Winter Warmup I’m afraid I resorted to copious amounts of insulating tape and reuse of the original resistor/diode assembly.

Quality Engineering

Quality Engineering

I include an image here for entertainment purposes only.  It works and will see me through the next few days until I can put something a little more professional together.

Of course all this diversionary stuff means I haven’t added any code to Yahtzee and I’m wondering whether subconsciously that’s kind of intentional.

Thanks also to other Retrochallenge participant Andrew Hazelden for pointing out that the formatting in the code I’d previously listed had gone awry.  This in turn led me to discover that there’s a WordPress shortcode you can wrap around code to preserve its formatting.

The original post has been duly amended.