This is a DIY kit for building a 32-bit ferrite core memory. Magnetic-core memories were the predominant form of computer memory from the mid-50s until the mid-70s. They work by storing information into the magnetic field of a ferrite core. It is non-volatile, meaning that it preserves its contents even when power is turned off. However, this type of memory is power-hungry, requires a lot of space and needs to be protected from strong magnetic fields. Also the process of reading the memory destroys its contents so that every read must be followed with a write. To make a long story short, this is a hilariously impractical memory extension shield for your 3.3V / 5V Arduino. When you have completed building this kit you have your very own piece of computing history in your hands.
I built this kit because I am interested in retro computing and saw the memory shield project built by Ben North and Oliver Nash. However, sourcing all the components was quite painful; I had to order the cores from Bulgaria, check their characteristics and tune the construction based on my findings. I also wanted to fit all the components onto one PCB with through-hole construction - I ended up using a CPLD for all the address decoding logic. The project turned out so nice that I wanted to make it into a kit to make this interesting piece of vintage technology accessible for everyone.
The kit uses almost exclusively through hole components and anyone is able to put it together. It also includes programming headers and test points to support tinkering with the CPLD. The design software for the CPLD can be downloaded from Lattice's site for free. Full source codes are also published to encourage you to do your own experiments.
NOTE! Documentation is not supplied on paper with the kit delivery - please download it from my site before beginning.
James | July 10, 2017
Wolfgang | Jan. 12, 2017
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