Bought this kit because I wanted to work with the 68000 again. I first started playing with this chip in the mid-80's when I build a Godabout Compupro system, first with a z80 and then upgraded it to the 68K with CPM68k. At which point I built a video card, slave z8000 processor and voice synthesizer. Then I wrote software drivers for supporting every available drive under the sun, the video card and the voice synthesizer. So I am a bit of a geek. Also owned at one time every version of the Amiga, the Atari 68k system and a AT&T Unix workstation. I liked this platform so much I decided to use this kit to get back into it again now that I am retired. Bought the kit with all the bells and whistles (parts, etc.) Given the current clime, it took a while, but it got here. Well packed. However, lots of the chips suffered pin damage, most it appears, before they were packed. Fortunately, I was able to salvage them without breaking any. So guys you have to do a better job with those chips (FYI the ROMs were the worst). Also, with QC regarding the sockets - you shipped me one defective, which I was able to recover, and one with missing pins. Only other ding was a doc discrepancy - web page manifest is different from the one included with the kit. Issue was the Green LED resistors weren't updated into the webpage - minor, but there. Once I acquired the appropriate replacement socket, it went together easily, less than 4 hours of soldering. Biggest problem with the assembly itself was figuring out the values of the caps. Fortunately I had just acquired a digital microscope, which was invaluable in resolving that problem (only way I could read the legends). Once I plugged it in and hooked up the mini B USB converter (per the instructions - had to acquire another cable there), it booted up just fine. Started playing with it tonight, if I can get Kermit to cooperate (locking issues with UBUNTU 18.04). Nice, clean design, pretty full proof if you socket the chips, and very, very good, docs. Looking to implement CPM 68K here again eventually and then start really playing.
Response from The Really Old-School Company Ltd | July 21, 2020
Thanks for your review, and for the detailed feedback :)
Firstly, I'm sorry for the damage on some of the parts - I would never have knowingly shipped them that way, and am more than happy to refund for any that were beyond repair - please contact me directly at email@example.com and we'll arrange that :)
I hear you loud and clear on the packaging, rest assured that, based on your feedback, I'm already investigating alternative packaging methods. I'll be changing the way the ICs are packaged immediately, and plan to move to sturdier boxes (instead of the current soft packaging) in the near future, with the ICs packaged in anti-static tubes.
The website BOM differing from the printed one in the kit is because some kits have been shipping with different LEDs and limiting resistor combinations, but I think those are sold through now so will look at getting them updated to match as soon as possible, thanks for the reminder.
Thanks also for your kind comments, I'm super pleased that you're happy with your kit!
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!