The L-Star project combines a real 65C02 processor with a Propeller microcontroller to replicate early home computers such as the Apple 1 or the Ohio Challenger / UK-101. You can invent your own Single Board Computer too, of course!
The Propeller can run the 65C02 at up to 1 MHz, and the 128KB RAM chip can be used as RAM or ROM. There are connectors for a black-and-white monitor (NTSC or PAL), and a PS/2 keyboard. Any hardware that can't be emulated by the Propeller can be attached to the expansion port.
Future plans include an emulator for Commodore PET / CBM computers and the Acorn Atom / Hob-bit computer. I'm also considering an expansion board to emulate the KIM-1 / Elektor Junior.
The hardware design and software are Open Source, licensed under the MIT license, and shared via Github.
Building your own computer from scratch, and having a deep understanding of how it works, is (arguably) a lost art. The purpose of this kit is to share the feeling of accomplishment that you get when you build an actual computer from scratch, and know even the smallest details of how it works. This kit should be easy to assemble if you have some soldering experience, and hopefully helps you to understand and control how a typical 8-bit computer system "sees the world". But even if you're not interested in that "deep knowledge" and just want to relive the days of that particular 1970s/1980s computer you once played with, that's okay too.
If you're interested in the kit but don't want to do any soldering, I will assemble and test your kit for you, for a couple of dollars extra. You should not attempt to solder the kit yourself if you've never soldered any electronic projects before.
There are many replica projects in the market today. Many of them are very good and I bought a number of them myself. It's fun to solder a board together and make it work like an old computer, even if that old computer (and its software) wouldn't be very useful in today's world. What I want to accomplish with L-Star overlaps with the purpose of other replica projects (nostalgia and education) but I want L-Star to go a little further, and make the project more valuable by making it more flexible in some ways, and more focused in other ways:
It's definitely not possible to emulate all 6502 systems from the 1970s and 1980s with just a 65C02 and a Propeller and an SRAM chip. But I think the hardware of L-Star Plus is simple enough to understand, and flexible enough to be useful.
The L-Star Plus kit includes:
To prevent ESD and shipping damage, all IC's will be shipped on conductive foam and the kit will be packaged in a bag inside a box.
Build instructions are online as a web page or can be downloaded as PDF.
If you don't want to solder the kit together, I will be happy to do it for you for a small extra fee; just select the option when you order;
The following items you have to provide yourself. If there's anything you don't have and you're not sure if you need it, or where to buy it, please contact me and I will answer all your questions as best as I can.
(*) It's possible to remove the 5V regulator and connect a 5V DC, 1A power supply. The build instructions will explain how to do this.
(**) I offer a limited supply of Prop Plugs as an optional extra. I charge slightly more than what Parallax charges, but you won't have to deal with ordering that separately. If you don't have one, make sure you add it to your order!
If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me!
Follow the progress of this project on Hackaday.
Once you have the kit, check out L-Star.org for building instructions. I'm also working on some tutorials that will be posted there.
Software and printable build instructions are on my Github repository.
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United States Postal Service: USPS Priority Mail
Products will be shipped in a small flat-rate shipping box via US Mail. Parts will be bagged, and ESD sensitive parts will be mounted on conductive foam. Pre-assembled kits will be bagged and will be padded with packaging material to keep the item from moving. If you live in the United States but US Mail is not a good option for you for any reason, please contact me and we'll work something out. If you want to buy multiple kits, please contact me before ordering to reduce shipping costs.
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Jac Goudsmit is a software engineer and electronics hobbyist. He emigrated from the Netherlands in 2000 and lives in Rancho Cucamonga, California.