Weaving by own memory shield was really challenging and it took me two evenings to complete the kit but it was a great experience and I am pleased with the outcome. :) This is probably one of the only memory expansions where you can touch every "bit" (*ba-dum-tss*).
Have been interested in pre-IC memory technologies for some time, particularly core memories. This kit gave a good practical idea of how the technology worked. Managed to get it running using a Duo which runs at 3.3V. Next step is to design a multi-plane core system to better understand the role of inhibit lines. Managed to get 1000's of cores relatively cheaply on Ebay. Might take me a while to make the memory arrays!
I had a great time building this project and learning about core memory. The assembly was pretty easy but the wiring of the cores took some patience. Tweezers were essential.
When I plugged it in the first time, it didn't work, then after reading some reviews, I realized that my problem was that I had continuity issues on the magnet wires because I hadn't cleaned them off enough when I soldered them. Once I cleaned and re-soldered the magnet wire ends, everything worked beautifully.
I also jumpered the 3.3V Arduino power to the green screw terminal as suggested by another poster (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rx4fN8Qo9gc) and it worked great.
Note shipping was about 3 weeks to the US through no fault of the seller.
Response from Jussi Kilpelainen | May 26, 2019
Thanks for the review Joseph. I am glad you enjoyed the kit.
Feb. 18, 2019
Excellent kit and some inspiring high quality work by Jussi.
This kit went together well by following the directions. It takes some care, and a magnifying glass, but it worked right away. I've been having a lot of fun with it and created an interactive adaptation with LEDs under the cores that show the state of the cores. This makes it possible to "draw directly in memory" with a magnetic stylus. Just so you know, shipping can be quite slow to the US, and that's why I rated that 3 stars. Jussi was responsive and the product came through, but it took much longer than either of us anticipated. Overall, I'm very happy with the kit and appreciate the work Jussi put into it! Here's a link to my interactive version of it: https://hackaday.io/project/163976-interactive-core-memory-shield-using-led-matrix
Response from Jussi Kilpelainen | Feb. 18, 2019
Glad to hear you liked the kit. Not very glad about the shipping experience though; the only way I can affect it is by shipping promptly which I do unless there are stock issues. As you said, shipping to the US has occasionally been slower than promised by the carrier and there is nothing I can do about it because there are no cost effective alternatives.
Hans Petter |
Dec. 28, 2017
A fun kit where bits are literally weaved on strings.
I made a video about this kit. It is a fun kit, and very unique. The arduino program gives you the tools needed to experiment with data storage. All you need is soldering tools, a flush cutter, fine pair of tweesers (I used plastic tweeser, or atleast non magnetized is a must), and an inexpensive Arduino UNO.
The kits needs updated documentation. Resistor values does not match the ones in the schematics, and the images are of the old board. It cause a bit of worry when you are completely new to the circuit. It didn't stop me from succeding in building it though. Also the docs doesn't mention that the 3.3V supply is disconnected from the arduino. It's in the schematics, but it is also a bit unclear what is connected and not (nets +3.3V and 3V3 are not connected ). I hooked the 3.3V up to the arduino's 3.3V and it works fine with the Arduino UNO. "thou shall check voltages" proved itself once again :D
Anyway., great little kit unique of its kind. Here is my video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rx4fN8Qo9gc
Response from Jussi Kilpelainen | Dec. 28, 2017
Thank you for the review and the video. You are right in that I had forgotten to update some parts of the documentation to match the new board revision, and there were indeed a few mismatches between the schematic and the BOM. I just published the corrected document. Thanks again.
So, I love this little kit. It's a great demonstrator for computer memory to kids in part because they can see the actual bits.
The documentation overall is great. I plan to use this as a demonstrator for teaching about computer memory. I think the tangibility of the cores make it easier to connect some of the concepts regarding a bit. I'm looking forward to seeing if we can flip bits using a small magnet.
The assembly instructions are sparse and there's a few pitfalls.
Assembly will require a good pair of tweezers and a magnifier. I recommend getting some strong reading glasses to ease the process.
Some pointers: 1) Pay careful attention to the wiring map of the memory array and the orientation of the cores. Orient the cores exactly as laid out in the wiring map.
2) C2 & C4 don't exist and are not included.
3) The parts manifest designates the difference between the two transistor types and their placement on the board. Fortunately one is even numbered transistors and the other is odd numbered so once you figure out which is which placement is easy.
4) When soldering components start with the surface-mount capacitors & resistors that mount on the back of the board.
5) When soldering transistors apply all of the odd numbered transistors, solder & clip them. Then all of the even numbered transistors. It gets a little hectic on the back of the board with all 48 leads sticking out and you can't really reach the contacts to solder them.
6) Use a few cm of the 32 ga wire to create a little tool. Loop it around itself and twist off in a spoon shape so you can grip it between your thumb and forefinger. This will make picking up 8 of the little cores simple(er) and you can then transfer them to one of the vertical wires easily.
7) The kit contains ample 32 ga wire. The cores thread much more easily on wire before the enamel is removed. When working with the horizontal wires leave a few couple cm of wire to work with on either end. After threading the horizontal wire use the soldering iron to burn the enamel. Cleaning the carbon off the wire is much easier than sanding the enamel.
8) Check as you go. As you solder each wire in place check the ends for continuity. The enameled wire can get trapped in the solder without making a connection.
9) Use the tweezers to pull the horizontal and vertical wires taut before soldering. This will line the cores up neatly which will greatly ease threading of the sensing wire.
10) The LED (D1) is unlabelled on the board for polarity. + is opposite from the arduino header.
Oh, one more really important thing. THANK YOU for both designing this and making the kit available. That's really a fantastic gift to the rest of us that you've put this out there.
Response from Jussi Kilpelainen | Dec. 28, 2017
Thanks for the review and the kind words. You should have no problem flipping the bits if you have a strong magnet. I updated the assembly instructions to put some more emphasis on the points you mentioned.
Shipping very fast and in brief testing appears to function. Parts were supplied affixed to BOM with component identifiers, IC's in anti-static bag.
I would not recommend hand-soldering this device, you should purchase it already assembled. The component pads for some of the components are just not suitable for hand soldering, pad sizes in general are not very consistent (some are massive, some barely cover the footprint of the component). The large Vcc and Ground plane areas and lack of thermal relief for the pads connected to those make thermal mass of your iron somewhat of a large consideration. Some of the pads (C1,3,4 and 5) have a bit of silk over the pad, the WAGO connector pads are not going to be hand-solderable at the front [did not attempt to], the inductor is practically not hand solderable - that is to say, I did, but it's not pretty - if the pad sizes were larger it would be easier. The 0603 capacitor pads are a bit on the small side also.
Response from Jussi Kilpelainen | Dec. 10, 2016
Thanks for the review. The product in question (Switching USB LED string driver) is difficult to solder by hand - therefore it now comes pre-assembled.