Instructions were very clear, computer was together and working in about an hour. Such a great little project for anyone already familiar with assembling electronics. This project will give you a very satisfying feeling when you flip the switch and watch it boot up for the first time.
The build of the kit is tiny enough to be a great display item, but large enough that you don't feel like the parts are annoying squeezed together. It made the kit as a whole really relaxing and enjoyable to build. I didn't realize until later that there's a tutorial on the L-Star site to build it. It's so well documented just on the board itself, it really didn't need it. To me, that's a sign of a really well made kit.
After getting it put together, I rushed over to get it programmed (thanks for the prop plug option!) and played with the Apple 1 option. Afterward, just played around with the 6502 assembly. It's such a tight little assembly language, it's really something I recommend anybody interested in programming play with.
If you can get your hands on one, it's a lot lot lot of fun to play with. For some general tips: I use a Hakko T18-BR02 tip. It's perfect for everything I do, big to small. I always solder the crystal on last, because excess heat bleeding into the crystal can damage or warp it. And for the biggest tip: Have a lot of fun! :D
I see I need to make it clearer that there are online build instructions. Actually there are two versions: a web page at https://www.l-star.org/?p=128 and a printable version at https://github.com/jacgoudsmit/L-Star/raw/master/Documentation/PDF/Build%20Instructions.pdf. The PDF version also has some instructions on how to get started with the software; I'm expanding that information into several separate web pages.
I'm happy to hear you were able to build the kit without instructions; that was the definitely what I had in mind when I designed the circuit board.
Great piece of kit. Good build instructions, and an easy to solder board, should mean that most people will have no trouble putting the board together eve with minimal soldering experience.
I have used all the options and all worked as expected, tv out, keyboard, SRAM etc. All the code, both Spin and Simple C, worked first time. The code is very well commented and easy’ish to follow (bearing in mind this was first time I have used a propellor micro controller). As a Mac user it was a quick tweak to get the code working on the Mac version of PropellorIDE, and the SimpleIDE code worked out the box on the Mac.
The expansion header is very useful for hanging a logic analyser from as all the pins from prop, 6502, SRAM etc. are broken out there.
The only gotcha’s I have come across, which are not directly product related, are if you are in the UK you may get some interest from Customs (i.e. charged) and the Propellor Plug can be hard to find. Only one of the official UK distributors had one in stock, but I didn’t check this till after the L-Star had already shipped, check you can get one before placing order (if you ask Jac nicely he will add one to the order for you for a small cost).
Hopefully others will buy this and start adding to the community of owners.
I opted for the printed instructions - the quality of the documentation is outstanding, very easy to follow.
I recommend that you have a decent temperature controlled soldering iron with a small bit. All components are through hole and clearly marked but there are quite a lot of joints to solder and you may need to "get your eye in" before attempting to solder this board.
Once the board was completed I installed the relevant driver and software on a windows 7 virtual machine running on my Macbook Pro. No problems with the development environment and flashing the board.
I've been concentrating on the Apple 1 configuration with SRAM and it works like a dream.
If you don't have a "Propeller Plug" ensure that you order one with the kit. You will need it!
All in all I recommend this kit and will be spending a lot of my free time tinkering with it.
Thanks for the great review, Mark! I hope you'll enjoy your L-Star as much as I enjoyed designing it.
For those reading along and wondering about the printed documentation: I decided to remove that option because it ended up being very difficult to fit everything in the box without mangling the papers.
The build instructions will always be available on the https://l-star.org website as a web page, and the printable version is in the Github repository at https://github.com/JacGoudsmit/L-Star/Documentation in Word or PDF format.