Communication with the seller is great, very kind person to deal with. The Rev 1 board is perfect for a lot of experiments, but a new revision would be better if it supports a true backplane in a 19 inch rack. Soldering the board is easy, and should take just a few hours. There are no adjustments, it should work right "out of the box". I bought the almost complete kit (I had several components in stock), and everything is clearly labeled, down to each separate resistor! I have always favored the Motorola processors over all the Intel stuff, so I might be a bit biased :-). But the M68010 is a great CPU, and only the 68020 can top it, before things get really complicated. The board is very "open", so lots of add-ons are possible, and being worked on already! The software that you can download from Github contains a toolchain and lots of help to get started. Either in assembly as in C! All in all, I am very happy with this kit.
Response from The Really Old-School Company Ltd | May 22, 2020
Thanks for your review and your kind words!
Really glad to hear you're happy with your kit, and very pleased you got up and running quickly :)
I hear you loud and clear on the revision two :) All feedback is being taken on board and will be considered when the time comes to do the design for the next version - there will be a lot of community involvement in the future direction we take :)
Overall this is a great little kit. It was well packaged, organized, and all the parts were accounted for. There was not a whole lot of documentation for the assembly, but it was very obvious how to put it together. I was able to put it together in less than 4 hours. Some general suggestions: 1) Make the EEPROMs at least 128K 2) Most of the capacitors did not mount exactly right. The pads were closer than the lead spacing of the caps. 3) Change the serial connector to be the standard 6 pin USB to serial header. I had to build an interface cable. 4) As others have stated, the GALs and EEPROMs should be labeled. The kit did include a neat little "map" of the packaged ICs, which was a life saver. 5) The SW development documentation was spread out all over several web pages, and was hard to follow. I understand this is a work in progress, and hopeful for improvements coming soon. 6) The SW development was geared towards Linux and MAC OS. It would be nice to have PC options other than Easy68K.
With that being said, the kit worked the first time I powered it up with a small hello world that I wrote using Easy68K. I would recommend this kit to anyone who has previous CPU development experience - especially those with a gcc background. Due to the SW difficulty, I would not recommend it for NOOBs...
Response from The Really Old-School Company Ltd | May 9, 2020
Thanks for your review! Glad to hear your kit arrived safely and powered up first time :)
Thanks for your suggestions too, it's great feedback like yours that helps us make a better product.
There are already some moves afoot within the community to increase the ROM size (initially with a minor board modification) and I'm definitely planning to spec for larger ROMs in a future revision. I'm sorry to hear the capacitors weren't quite right, I'll talk to my suppliers and get that addressed going forward.
Great call on switching to the standard 6-pin serial connector, I'll raise a ticket on our tracker to do that in the next board revision.
Based on feedback, we now label both GALs and EEPROMs in all orders, yours must have been one of the last to escape before we started doing that, sorry about that.
I hear you loud and clear on the software side. I'm planning a big overhaul of the software documentation and plan to pull everything together into one place on the main website. You're absolutely right that the current documentation (like the software itself) is still growing but that's no excuse, I'll make this a priority and get some improvements n place. I'm also investigating options for a Windows version of the toolchain, hopefully as a self-contained installer that pulls in everything. I hope to launch that very soon.
Thanks again for you order and review, and happy hacking!
Today finally had time to assemble the board. Despite the corona crisis, the order was received quickly. Assembling the board was very easy. I would have liked to see that the 5 V DC connection was next to the serial connection, and whether a DC jack connection. Sequence of the ROM and GAL chips were clear, but a sticker on the chips would be better. Software installation did not go very well many errors with the installation of the toolchain via homebrew. Everything done manually on a clean install of Ubuntu 20.04.Now looking for an MC68010, CPUs had been ordered in China, this turned out to be re-badged 68000 chips.
Response from The Really Old-School Company Ltd | April 27, 2020
Thanks for your review 🙂
Really pleased that you’ve received your kit and the build went well!
Thanks for the feedback too, you’re not the first person to mention stickers and it’s a great point - going forward all boards will ship with stickers on the ROMs and the 16V8s.
A DC jack is a great idea, and I’ve actually just sent the initial design for a local bus backplane off for manufacturing, this will include a variety of power options including a jack, but I’ll make a note of your suggestion also for a future revision of the main board.
I’m sorry your software installation didn’t go well, I work on Mac so don’t have much experience with brew on Linux, but I’m going to contact you directly about that and also about the CPU - although I didn’t have any in stock when you ordered due to the unfortunate incident with the rebadged 68000s you mentioned, I now have stock of verified, genuine 68010s.
Thanks again for your order and review, and happy hacking!
Very nice board, quite easy to build. All resistors were clearly marked which is nice touch. On plastic bag there is also marking of chips and location where they go, but would suggest placing sticker on GALs and ROMs, other parts do not need more info. One small remark regarding PCB is that it would be better that memory chip pads and NE555 are larger (like on other components) that would make it even easier to solder. Nice coding examples and instructions for toolchain, so very interesting for further development. Testing with MC68000P10 but will try with MC68010 as well when I get one. Looking forward to new boards from you.
Response from The Really Old-School Company Ltd | April 25, 2020
Thanks for the review, really pleased you're happy with your kit and hope you have a lot of fun hacking on it!
Many thanks for the feedback, going forward we'll be adding stickers on both the ROMs and the 16V8s, and I've raised an issue (https://github.com/rosco-m68k/rosco_m68k/issues/35) to fix the pads on U1-U4 and the 555!
There's lots more to come for the rosco_m68k, with two new boards almost ready to launch and a video card at the breadboard stage, so be sure to check back regularly!
Thanks again, and happy hacking, Ross