Dutch hardware guy pops back in (sort of)

By RetroTechie

Paragon (1563)

RetroTechie's picture

25-10-2008, 17:06

Hello fellow MSX fans,

I'm posting this to say hello and announce that I'm (sort of) getting back to MSX and related matters, after a long time not being (actively) involved.

Was born back in 1970, and since early childhood my main (hobby!) interests have been in electronics / hardware. First (home)computer I touched was a Sinclair ZX81. Which cost my dad a months' salary back then LOL!. Since then gathered experience with ZX Spectrum, MSX, MSX2, 2+ and moved to PC for 'household' tasks.

There was a day I *could* program a ZX Spectrum to do almost anything that was possible with that machine. With the MSX, I started messing with hardware. First little things like a switch in an SCC cartridge, filling in an extra 64K RAM on machines where places for this were reserved on the motherboard, and so on. This steadily grew into 'semi-professional' proportions, which (at times) ate half or more of my free time. Did things like memory expansions, drive replacements, 7 MHz. upgrades, repairs, etc. Some of my 'claim to fame' in the MSX world are a disassembly of the driver part of a 8245 diskROM, and the design of the MSX Super Turbo circuit (still online *somewhere*, I'm not maintaining a personal site currently). That is, as far as the name of hardware guys sticks in peoples' minds. AFAIK, only people you dealt with personally may remember you, and anyone else may encounter / use your work (and hopefully be happy with it) , but won't care about who did it. Work done 'behind the screens' so to speak. Which, in a way, is how I like it.

Over time, what was fun because it was interesting, and made me learn things & skills, became 'work', that I wanted to get paid for or leave it to others. At the same time, the MSX market dried up (early 90's), people moved to PC's, Amiga etc. and were less and less prepared to sink money in MSX upgrades / repairs. That ended my interest, and active involvement in the MSX scene. I'm sure there have been many people in a similar position. Some have turned their hobby into their work, started a PC shop, a dotcom, or moved onto other things. So did I (no PC shop or dotcom for me Big smile).

For a long time, I've not been actively participating in the MSX scene, or even using (real) MSXes other than occasionally firing up an emulator and playing a long-not-played game. Much of my working knowledge on MSX hardware has become rusty or gone. But recently I started cleaning out old junk from my inventory. And with the 'let's see what we got here, should I get rid of this?' has sort of re-ignited my interest, and made me decide to get back into retrocomputing in general, at least spend *some* free time on it again. My main interest remains the hardware side of things, and is not limited to MSX. More exactly: 8-bit machines from the early 80's, that are user-programmable, and where (if you sink enough time in it) it is possible to wrap your head around the whole system (as opposed to eg. PC's with their near infinite complexity). Any 'development' efforts from me will likely be in the area of 're-implementing old systems in modern hardware'. Think Verilog / VHDL development for FPGA's, flash-based disk interfaces, repairing old machines using modern parts and so on (no concrete plans ATM). I do notice how quick some of my working knowledge of old returns when doing actual work. Got a Sinclair ZX81 back to life a while ago, and recently modded a ZX Spectrum to use SRAM exclusively (look around on the 'net, there's not many people that have done that, got it working 100%, or published how to do it...).

I'm not willing to get back into repair / upgrading work like in the past. That said, I'm likely not to say no (= say yesWink) when you want something done that is a) relatively simple (like, doesn't involve making circuit boards), b) you want it done badly or don't have other options, and c) you live near Enschede or willing to arrange shipping things by mail. So if you have an MSX with a dead power suppy, want it fixed *badly*, know it should be a simple fix but don't have soldering skills, and you're located eg. in Hengelo, then you can contact RepairBas, or drop ME a mail.

Also you may ask me if you have some old hardware lying around, want to get rid of it, don't want to bother with auctioning it of on eBay, don't know if it still works or not, but DO think it's a shame to dump it in the trash and perhaps someone may want it. I'm especially interested in *anything* Sinclair/Timex related (dead OR alive, I don't care in what shape), and old machines that are a) relatively small, b) have a quality keyboard, not that flimsy plastic film crap, and c) preferably dark colored (=not the kind that becomes ugly discolored with age). These small cases with the idea of perhaps, someday, put a modern circuit board in it, while looking like 30-year old junk BA-team. However: don't expect me to part with money for this, all I'm offering you here is a way to avoid the trash bin for items that may fall within this description. I'm NOT interested in (more!) books, tapes, software and so on, but may take those of your hands if you insist. As for (physically) big things: I don't have suitable transport for that, or room to store it... please find some other place to dump THAT.

User groups that I've been part of: MSX Club Groningen (and through them, the folks known back then as Flying Bytes), and the MSX Computer Club Enschede (which included the guys that further evolved the Turbo Pascal compiler, and developed things like Age8, Logi-Bal, and -to my knowledge- still the best MSX debuggger known to man). Recently visited the MSX Vriendenclub Marienberg (I'll see those folks again I think, but don't count on me being there regularly, just one-off visits).

I welcome your responses, greetings, or personal messages. And (perhaps) see you in real life some day Running Naked in a Field of Flowers

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By Latok

msx guru (3694)

Latok's picture

25-10-2008, 18:30

Welcome back Alwin Smile

By RetroTechie

Paragon (1563)

RetroTechie's picture

25-10-2008, 18:49

Hi there, long time no see ... Smile2 btw. is that location info for your username correct? If so, what the hell are you doing there? (And you lucky s.o.b., I think Wink)

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9776)

wolf_'s picture

25-10-2008, 19:44

RT: welcome! Are you on the google map already? :P Seems you may be living in the North-East of NL, no?:hannibal:

By Manuel

Ascended (15832)

Manuel's picture

11-11-2008, 23:47

hey Alwin, welcome back! Do you remember upgrading my Sony HB-G900P in 1993? Smile You added 512kB RAM (old RAM as extended VRAM), your fast diskROM, Philips slot layout, DOS2.

Later I got shevek to make a pcb of your superb MSX Super Turbo circuit and got it placed into the Sony as well. That design still rocks (it's the best, I think) and it should be on the site of Hans Otten.

Feel free to drop by on the Nijmegen fair on the 24th of January! Smile