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My latest vintage find a Ferguson

PostPosted: May Fri 02, 2008 7:38 am
by vbriel
While setting up at the VCF midwest I ran into a guy with a trailer load of vintage stuff. Most I had at one time or another but then he showed me a board that was mis-stored in a 286 cardboard box. It was a Ferguson Big Board! This was a single-board PCB that used a Z-80 and had built in video, ASCII keyboard, serial, clock, parallel port and a disk drive controller. It was a single-board CP/M machine!

After a small donation to his gas fund I was the new proud owner! I'm in the process of restoring it now and it is fun.

At this moment I have fired up the board and attached an ASCII keyboard (I have 1 or 2 laying around). At first all I got was garbage on the screen. After reading through the schematics I found that -12V is required for the 4116 DRAMS. So, I attached a PC power supply to the big board and the screen went from garbage to blank! OH NO!

But wait, it is suppose to. Reading the manual shows that the screen will clear and wait for input from the console. I had already set up the jumpers onboard so the ASCII keyboard and onboard video would be the console so I was all set. So why didn't I get anything on the screen. Turns out, you have to press RETURN on the keyboard to start the monitor. So, I pressed return and I got a response displaying the current monitor revision and a prompt!

The keyboard works and I can use the simple 2K monitor program. My next step is to attach a 5.25" drive in place of the 8" it used and get CP/M loaded on from image files.

I'm debating on if I'm going to make a custom metal case or a wooden case. The wood I can make at home, the metal will cost over $200 to make. I'll wait and see how the disk drive turns out.

Vince

http://www.brielcomputers.com/files/f1.jpg
http://www.brielcomputers.com/files/f3screen3s.jpg

z-80 machine with video.. do we see a kit in the future?

PostPosted: May Sat 03, 2008 1:38 pm
by Aaron Teeling
I've been asking around for a CP/M kit machine and it really hasn't gone answered. Will you be looking to make a modern equivlent?

PostPosted: May Sat 03, 2008 5:32 pm
by vbriel
Maybe, if I can ever get mine to boot. It would need to be modified because it used 1771 disk controller chips and they suck.

I have faith

PostPosted: May Sat 03, 2008 7:46 pm
by Aaron Teeling
I have faith you will come up with something with a low chip count and of highest quality.

... A Ferguson? Who has ever head of a Ferguson.

PostPosted: May Mon 05, 2008 10:44 am
by mfortuna
That looks cool!

The 1771 was used in the TRS-80 Model 1. I owned one back in 78 and own one now. The 1771 works fine for single density. I added a double density card that I think has a 1791 as well as a 1771.

Neither chip seems to be available as NOS.

Mike

question: DSDD for BigBoard I

PostPosted: Jun Sun 08, 2008 7:34 am
by enrico
mfortuna,

have you info about the daughter board with 1791/1797 for the Bigboard I to add DSDD feature?

Enrico

PS: this was the ad for the board in 1983 when i buyed it
http://www.1000bit.it/lista/a/ade/mk82_ad.jpg

PostPosted: Jun Sun 08, 2008 8:34 am
by vbriel
Enrico, is that a clone of the Bigboard? I was given one of those 1791 adapter boards you just mentioned from a good friend of mine but I haven't really tried it out yet. Besides, my Ferguson is using 5.25" drives wired as 8" so the Ferguson thinks they are 8" drives. Works great. I still need to wire up the serial port and try that out when I have time.

Vince

PostPosted: Jun Mon 09, 2008 6:43 am
by mfortuna
This card is for a TRS80 but it should work in other systems.

http://www.vintagecomputer.net/tandy/trs80_1/aerocomp_DDC/double_density_controller_info.html

Mike

PostPosted: Sep Wed 17, 2008 7:13 pm
by nekonoko
This looks like a lot a fun! I know I'd be very interested in a single board computer capable of running CP/M or MP/M like this one.

Have you had time to do anything more with it?

PostPosted: Sep Thu 18, 2008 3:31 am
by bacon
Could people please refrain from posting huge pictures. They screw up the width of the post so I have to scroll sideways to read the text. Very annoying. Please post thumbnails linking to the large pictures instead, or just links to the pictures.

Apart from that, nice find!

PostPosted: Sep Thu 18, 2008 7:15 am
by vbriel
Sorry bacon, my HUGE widescreen monitor fits this image just great. LOL, I'll adjust image size.

I'm probably not going to do a CP/M board but somebody is doing their own, Andrew Lynch has a board blank only he sells.

http://groups.google.com/group/n8vem

Looks like good work! Has built in CP/M ROM drive with RAM drive and he is working on floppy controller for it.

Vince

PostPosted: Sep Thu 18, 2008 5:51 pm
by nekonoko
Ah, I'll have to give the n8vem a try - thanks for the info!

Still would be nice to have something similar to the Big Board with built-in TTL/composite video and keyboard interface. I suppose those can be added to the nv8vem through expansion boards, but then you start to drift away from the single board concept :)

My n8vem boards are waiting at home..

PostPosted: Sep Sat 20, 2008 12:34 am
by Aaron Teeling
... And I look forward to building his machine, but after just finishing the SpareTimeGizmos Elf 2000, I have an even more respect for Vince's computer designs.

So for homework, finish your Altair SBC with mini switch panel option then start hashing out the Ferguson.

I'll give you the rest of the year to get it done.

PostPosted: Sep Mon 22, 2008 5:32 am
by bacon
vbriel wrote:Sorry bacon, my HUGE widescreen monitor fits this image just great. LOL, I'll adjust image size.

Thank you!

Re: My n8vem boards are waiting at home..

PostPosted: Sep Mon 22, 2008 3:32 pm
by vbriel
Aaron Teeling wrote:... And I look forward to building his machine, but after just finishing the SpareTimeGizmos Elf 2000, I have an even more respect for Vince's computer designs.

So for homework, finish your Altair SBC with mini switch panel option then start hashing out the Ferguson.

I'll give you the rest of the year to get it done.


Well, I haven't built Bob's Elf2000 but I think it is good work. The AltairSBC was never with mini switch panel, it has full size Altair compatible switches. The Ferguson would be way down the line, sorry.

Vince