back to article RETRO-GASM: The Fuze electronics kit for the Raspberry Pi

Back in the day of the board computers of the late 1970s - your Scrumpi, your Nascom 1, your UK-101 et al - it was customary to build a case for it out of wood. If you were a better equipped "constructor" - what we used to call "makers" in those days - you’d build a box out of metal. Folk like Tangerine offered optional cases …

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Anonymous Coward

Back in the real old days

there was no CIRCLE command, you had to understand the maths...

Bring back the plot at SIN(degrees),COS(degrees) and calculate the points...

Bah Humbug

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Re: Back in the real real old days

there was no PLOT command...

You have to define your plotting area as an array, plot your shapes into the array and then print the array to the teletype (even in the 1980s, I remember Spice printing waveforms as ASCII art)....

... and you never had enough memory for the whole image, so you had to do it over and over in little strips.

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Re: Back in the real old days

Nothing stopping you :-)

// circle - the old fashioned way

deg // degrees

origin (gwidth / 2, gheight / 2)

for d = 0 to 360 cycle

plot (sin (d) * gheight / 2, cos (d) * gheight / 2)

repeat

end

(if only there was a code tag ;-)

-Gordon

Ps. Joining the dots is left as an exercise to the user ;-)

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Re: Back in the real old days

Unlike the BBC/ Electron the Spectrum had a CIRCLE command, if I remember correctly.

The BBC Master had PLOT144 to 151 to draw circles, as well as PLOT commands for ellipses, sectors and segments :

144-151 Draw a circle.

152-159 Plot and fill a disc.

160-167 Draw a circular arc.

168-175 Plot and fill a segment.

176-183 Plot and fill a sector.

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Devil

Re: Back in the real old days

@Gordon: neat! Now let's see you do it by placing pixels in assembly into the video RAM of the Spectrum - which is helpfully divided into three non-contiguous sections, each consisting of non-contiguous subsections (text rows), so filling up sequentially first fills up the first line of each row, then the second, then the third etc. then on to the next section etc. Well? Is the circle done? Ok, now fill it up please!

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Re: Back in the real old days

I'm sure Gordon is quite capable of doing that, Mr Dropbear - he did write the BASIC used on this device after all...

On the other hand, he could just use the OpenVG command.

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Vic
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Re: Back in the real old days

> for d = 0 to 360

You're using degrees? Wash your mouth out with Trigene, you heathen :-)

Vic.

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Re: Back in the real old days

Given the nature of the Fuze, it would be more fun to output the coordinates to a pair of DACs and draw the circles on an oscilloscope - and for bonus points, modify the program to draw spinning lissajous figures.

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Facepalm

MK14 wouldn't have taken a keyboard. More like hexidecimal pad and a row of magnified LEDS.

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Bronze badge

Mine still does and it still works - the 74 series TTL is very tuff.. Hex pad and leds

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from the makers....

Wow, I love the Register, more because their readers actually understand what we're trying to do here, no daft comments, no my C64/Amiga is better than your ZX Spectrum / Atari ST – just good old common sense, people actually ‘get it’.

Thank you. (although – what is that about noise generators?)

The above review is refreshingly accurate, very well presented and rightly so points out a few negative issues which of course I’d like to address;

The somewhat expanded Reference Manual or User’s Guide as it has now evolved into, is currently being copy checked for the umpteenth time before we put it up in PDF form on the Fuze website. It contains a very comprehensive guide for getting started with the Fuze and FUZE BASIC, and has a dramatically expanded reference section.

Ok next one’s a biggie – USB ports. A powered hub was always intended but it has many ramifications. Not least in that we are a small outfit without corporate scale budgets and as such every little thing we do costs a bloody fortune!

The extra USB ports require a powered hub, and the sockets must to go inside so it has to be designed for its purpose. Needless to say we now have one underway. This means a single Power supply goes in, powers the HUB which powers the Pi and provides enough current to support lots of GPIO antics. At least two but possibly three extra USB ports will be available shortly, and yes, we have upgrade options for existing users and no, they will not be very expensive – expect around £15 plus delivery as a new back panel is also provided.

I am a bit surprised by a comment suggesting no documentation. We include a user guide (an evolving one too) and Classroom friendly Project Cards. The project cards are free and available from the Fuze website as well as being provided on the SD card. We will continue to provide more projects as soon as we can – it is an on-going process and users are invited to submit more too – there’s a common goal here, make it easy to teach and therefore learn computer programming.

Once we are up-to around sixteen projects we are hoping to include a printed book version in the box. At the same time, they are all free to download on the website.

I don’t want to be canned for over stretching my welcome but just one more thing, we love criticism, good or bad. We have a short window of opportunity to get this right, but we are trying and every review and comment helps us to refine the product to meet its objective – make programming accessible again!

Sincere regards and again, many thanks

Jon Silvera

teamFUZE

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Anonymous Coward

Re: from the makers....

"Wow, I love the Register, more because their readers actually understand what we're trying to do here, no daft comments, no my C64/Amiga is better than your ZX Spectrum / Atari ST – just good old common sense,.."

How long have you been reading El Reg?

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Re: from the makers....

I'm trying to figure out which way you mean that - but all the same, a long, long time.

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Re: from the makers....

I very much like what you're doing here but without wishing to teach grandma to suck eggs, don't be seduced by the idea of making it include everything (kitchen sink too). It can easily become the difference between a lawn and a bramble patch.

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Re: from the makers....

@TeamFUZE

I was literally on the verge of ordering a basic setup (with additional breadboard), as I have a Pi, but I was also going to add a small open frame PSU, small fan, kettle plug, and 7 port hub (the parts are about £10), this would have left me with a rather messy backplate which I can live with - a completely blank backplate (with some standoffs) might be a good addition to your shop for people who want to customise?

Seriously consider extra USB, while 7 is obviously excessive (I had it spare) 2 could cut it a little fine - do you mean 2 extra (i.e. a total of three out the back), some unpowered USB drives need two ports, they can go really quickly.

Great product BTW, just so tidy, having a bare board is sometimes a little too much of a leap for people, vaguely reminiscent of when I got my ZX81, I got one of the first of the prebuilt ones, when I was 12, my soldering skills looked like welding, having a box you can just turn on and go is great - it's all about getting on the learning curve, perhaps you could consider trying to getting the OS/BASIC added into NOOBS?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: from the makers....

"The above review is refreshingly accurate, very well presented and rightly so points out a few negative issues which of course I’d like to address;"

What's refreshing is to see a manufacturer actually listening to the people commenting. Keep up the good work!

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The review missed a point

Or I missed it!

Just been over to the fuze site they sell the extension cables for 7.99GBP + 2.99 postage, they are just what I need.

What do they call us RPi fans? Pibois, can't say I have noticed the reg giving me a handle.

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Arduino action

I've posted this before, but still relevant:

- for those 'electronic engineers'* like me who occasionally dabbled in home electronics and want to get back into it:

- get an arduino nano (7 quid). It comes ready to plug into a 2 quid breadboard, USB to PC (or mac, etc) and you can be running your first program in 10 minutes (lovely basic IDE to write your app in C or C++)

digital input/outputs, analogue input/output, serial comms - it does the lot.

I've done a bunch of projects so far, the latest being my home made Sous Vide temp controlled cooker.

I love the simplicity. most sensors (serial comms) can be had for a couple of quid - everything from light, sound, etc to altimeter and carbon monoxide. easy control of motors, servos, steppers, relays.

really, the world is your lobster.

I work away from home out of a hotel all week at the moment, and have a Tupperware box full of arduinos and sensors, pocket digital oscilloscope, etc and wile the nights in to hotel away creating my latest 'inventions'**

*i.e. got a degree in electronic engineering 20 years ago, and have worked in IT ever since.

**I do wonder if the cleaner sees the box whether she'll think I'm making a bomb or something right enough, so hide it back in my luggage when I leave for work in the morning!

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Boffin

Re: Arduino action

Why not get both- they go together well.

But for 'electronics engineers'- the software really is overkill.

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Re: Arduino action

I do like the Arduino, it is all you say and more, but I do not consider it a replacement for the RPi, the Arduino & RPi compliment each other.

With the Arduino you can quickly get a LED to flash, after which you start to learn some serious programming if you want to get the most from it. Quite a few of the Arduino users work in the embedded arena and the discussions on the differences between C & C++ are very enlightening, just go to the forum and ask an innocent question on what type of strings you should use, it's the equivalent of lighting the blue touch paper :-) Joking aside the Arduino is an excellent platform for those wishing to experiment/learn about microcontollers.

The RPi is a general purpose computer which also has some I/O, you don't need another computer to program it. The RPi is despite what many think, is squarely aimed at the education market for teaching computer sciences. The Pi Foundation is growing it's educational resources at a fantastic rate and they have some very good professional educators on the team. I often see comments from "teachers" on this and other sites about how useless it is for education, however comment is all they seem good for I don't notice them doing anything more.

I like the RPi mascot Babbage because it always reminds me of the quote by it's name sake:-

Propose to an Englishman any principle, or any instrument, however admirable, and you will observe that the whole effort of the English mind is directed to find a difficulty, a defect, or an impossibility in it. If you speak to him of a machine for peeling a potato, he will pronounce it impossible: if you peel a potato with it before his eyes, he will declare it useless, because it will not slice a pineapple. Impart the same principle or show the same machine to an American or to one of our Colonists, and you will observe that the whole effort of his mind is to find some new application of the principle, some new use for the instrument.

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Re: Arduino action

"I do like the Arduino, it is all you say and more, but I do not consider it a replacement for the RPi, the Arduino & RPi compliment each other."

no argument there - wasn't suggesting it did. I was suggesting that old electronic geeks might prefer the arduino over RPI - more instant feedback and ability to prototype physical ideas quickly.

arduino isn't just about 'turning LEDs on and off' - arducopter for example is an open source project implementing an amazingly complex and advanced autonomous flight controller in one arduino.

You can do a hell of a lot with an arduino - it's really in a different ball park from an old PIC chip.

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Re: Arduino action

"arduino isn't just about 'turning LEDs on and off' - arducopter for example is an open source project implementing an amazingly complex and advanced autonomous flight controller in one arduino."

Sorry, I did not intend to belittle the Arduino, my point was to say the Arduino can quickly be setup and have kids flashing LED's in minutes which is great for them. After which there is so much more that can be learned from this little wonder in the field of microcontrollers and the need to code well and efficiently for these devices. Here I think it wins over the RPi for getting down and dirty and understanding low level programming techniques. Then as you mention the availability of cheap sensors, actuators and shields make it a winner.

As an old electronics geek myself I love them and agree for many it is a good way to go, you can get some nice toys for it as well :-)

I use www.ikalogic.com logic analyzer and Atmel studio with this little extra http://www.visualmicro.com/ this gives a rather professional setup for very low cost.

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Re: Arduino action

"You can do a hell of a lot with an arduino - it's really in a different ball park from an old PIC chip." - It is, in fact, in the exact same ballpark as an equivalent current PIC chip.

I have no intention whatsoever of starting Yet Another PIC/AVR Holy Flamewar, but for all intents and purposes PICs and AVRs in spite of some inherent differences are largely capable of doing much the same stuff in much the same way. Yes, obviously, there are families / classes of varying complexity in both camps; big deal. Next...

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... makes me want to dig my old Micro Professor out!

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Trollface

two widely spaced female connectors ready for jumper wires,

What can I say?

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I'd buy the Model B version if they do one

The one with the powered USB hub...

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A Blast from the Past

Ah! Nascom 1 - my first computer kit. Started with just 1K of memory and eventually expanded to a massive 32K with Basic and a colour board all in a wooden case and driving and ex Post Office tellytypewriter as a printer. Programmed initially using op codes and a calculator to change into hex code. Things really took off with the BBC1 computer.

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Re: A Blast from the Past

Nascom? You'll be wanting to take a look at this, then: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/21/unsung_heroes_dr_chris_shelton/

El Reg interviews the bloke who designed it.

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Windows

Wot? Two Pi articles in one day???

Pi Icon, please (And I don't mean Uncle Ebden with a halo or whatever)

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In case any other US residents are curious...

My quick search has revealed rapidonline.com will ship overseas, but if you don't want the Pi then there seems to be no way to obtain the SD card. It's about $278 for the bundle containing everything after postage has been added.

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Christmas

That solves the annual dilemma of what to ask the Mrs to give me for Christmas.

Thank you, Register.

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Pint

Scrumpi

Raising a glass at the mention of Scrumpi - a scarily expensive beast at the time for what it did. Got one on the shelf behind me.

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Re: Scrumpi

Even allowing for inflation for the past 35-odd years, I don't think the £56 Scrumpi could ever be described as "scarily expensive".

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Re: Scrumpi

"Scarily Expensive" - Err... wasn't the 'C' supposed to stand for 'cost-effective' ?

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Does it meet

The LVD and the EMC Directive?

(This, from the boy who, ca 1950, on being told not to stick his little finger into the 240V mains outlet, of course, did.)

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Re: Does it meet

Hi cortland,

The FUZE has been certified CE (not self certified either) so yes it conforms to LVD & EMC requirements. Saying that the Pi is of course also CE approved and we have really added very little in the way of circuit electronics. The PSU is also CE approved, but to be safe, the whole unit was certified with everything attached, program running and little LEDs flashing in sequence.

Please keep in mind though, we're not responsible for any gravitational electromagnetic spacetime disrupting gadget you happen to build on it Ok.... (you can do that in BASIC and a few flashing LEDs you know, well that's what you tell the kids. Now stand well back....)

Jon Silvera

teamFUZE

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Available in US?

Hey, anyone know if this is available in the States? We, in the US, would love to get our hands on it.

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Re: Available in US?

Hi G0ldie,

Apologies for the late reply! We have shipped a good few units to the US but at this time don't have a US distributor.

Gladly give you a quote for shipping if you're interested.

Shila

TeamFUZE

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Mushroom

LOOOOOOOK! THEY HIDE INSIDE THEIR METAL BOXESSSSSSSS!

Nuke, because Exterminatus!

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Anonymous Coward

Like the idea

But want the keyboard a little lower against the desk. Hope someone want to make a 8-bit look a like all-in-one-keyboard soon.

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