20 February 2012

New Website with 3D Animation work

I know some of you like my 3D work as well as my music. I plan to do lots more work in this direction with or without my music. But because it doesn't really fit on the Synth.nl website I just put up a new website on http://www.osenbruggen.nl/. I'm planning to do some jobs for customers as well together with my wife. We already build a few websites, videos, logos and animations for customers and we are hoping to get a few more jobs in the future of course. We are using the name 'Van Osenbruggen Productions' for this from now on. Maybe you have seen the name popping up in one of my videos already by the way. Well anyway on the website you can find the videos, websites, logos and animations we did so far. More will come for sure :)

Another Studio Session with Remy

As you might have heard before, I'm working on a collaboration album with Remy Stroomer. We already did some sessions in his and mine studio and yesterday we did another session in my studio. My wife took a couple of pictures when we were just getting ready to play some more music together. In the mean time we have nearly 80 minutes of music that we both like and that should be enough for the album. So now the editing and production fase will start.

There is still a lot of work to be done from now on for the both of us, but we are making good progress. I cannot make any promises yet, but I hope we can release it somewhere in the end of this year. I'll keep you informed about that on here. So keep an eye out for more news on this blog. I can promise you already though that it will be an interesting mix of both our styles. I hope you can all have a little bit of patience for it :) OK. Back to work.

14 February 2012

Bootstrapping Apple IIe over Audio

I recently did another project that took me a lot of time and effort and that I wanted to share with you. When I was in school I learned to program assembler on an Apple IIe. Back then I had a C64 myself with a tape drive and the Apple IIe already had a disk drive on it with 5,25 inch diskettes. Back then that was the coolest thing I ever saw and I started saving up  to buy a 1541 disk drive for the C64. A while ago I could get an Apple IIe from someone for free and I couldn't resist that. The only problem was there were some diskettes with it but not much usable stuff. Well not for me anyway. But how to get software on it I don't have any other hardware anymore with 5,25 inch diskettes. I did manage to get a couple of boxes of new and unused diskettes though.

I started looking for a way to transfer diskettes from a PC to an Apple IIe and found this little tool called ADTPro. The only thing is you can install a server on the PC side but you also need a client on the Apple IIe of course. Well this tool can do something that is called 'boot strapping'. It is a way to get an OS running on a Apple IIe without anything to start with. It supported serial and I happened to have a Super Serial card in my Apple IIe, but I could not get it to work. The hard thing is though with serial you never know why until you get it working. Could be interfacing, cable, protocol. Who knows.

An other option was using audio. The Apple IIe has a casette port that wasn't really supported in the DOS implementations because it had diskette and everyone used that, but with some assembler calls you can get you Apple IIe to read data from the audio in port. You connect you Apple IIe with audio in and out to the sound card of your PC and after a few system calls the ADTPro tool starts sending audio through your sound card into the Apple IIe and loading ProDos directly into the memory. And then when you have ProDos loaded you can again transfer the ADRPro audio client over audio to the Apple IIe. And suddenly you have the ability to transfer disk images from the PC to the actual floppy drive. It only takes a very long time to do that.

The first thing I send over because of this was a serial terminal program. With that program loaded I could finally find out why my serial connection wasn't working. It turned out to be a problem on the PC side. The USB to Serial device I used under Windows 7 crashed after a few bytes. So I installed ADTPro on an older Windows XP machine that still had an actual serial port on the motherboard. And that worked. Now I can transfer diskettes at 11520 bits/s and that is as quick as the disk drive in the Apple IIe is anyway. So it is just as fast as a normal disk to disk copy. The next thing I found out though is the Apple IIe has old Roms installed. It is not the 'enhanced' version. And I need that to get an ethernet card and IDE interface running. I just got some Roms of E-bay and am waiting for them to arrive now. So I guess I'll have an update to this story somewhere in the future. Well I enjoyed this project and I am happy I got the Apple IIe running now :)

11 February 2012

petSD for the Commodore PET 2001

A long time ago I bought an old Commodore PET 2001 in quite a good condition. It came along with a tape drive with just a few very simple games on it. Of course there is much more software out there for the PET but I needed a reliable and comfortable way to get it on there. Then I found a DIY kit on the internet called 'petSD'. It simulates a disk drive and stores it files on a SD card. It is quite easy to build. The only thing that is a bit tricky is the SD adapter itself since it is SMD and has very small pins to solder.

The website has very clear instruction for the assembly. You can also see a battery on the PCB and that actually is for a clock interface that should tell the PET the current date and time. I don't think I'll actually use that. But then it was time to switch the power on and everything looked OK. I did notice the odd looking centronics like connector and thought that would hook up to a port on the PET. And I was wrong :) Good preperation..... NOT !!. It is a IEEE 488 interface and there is one on the PET offcourse but it has a different connector. So you actually need a cable to hook it up. I thought it would be easy to find something like that on E-bay, but WRONG again.

After a long search and reading a lot of forum articles I managed to stumble on the TPUG (Toronto PET Users Group) from Canada. And they had them on stock :) So after that I had to wait for that cable to arrive before I could test the petSD. And today it arrived! So I hooked it up right away and did a LOAD "$",8 and LIST and got a directory listing of all the programs I already put on the SD card. So it actually worked :) Very cool.

And then it was time to test some games. My youngest daughter also joined and played with the old machine. She was complaining that it was slow :) LOL. Sure it is. But now I can put all the software ever made for the PET on a 512 Mbyte SD card. I already found some games that don't fit in the standard 8 Kbyte of RAM. So next thing is looking for a memory expansion for the PET. So if you happen to have one laying around. Let me know :) OK. If you are interested in the petSD project. You can find more information on this URL: http://www.retro-donald.de/sinchai-shop/

02 February 2012

Apollo made the top 5 at Schallwelle awards!

I'm very proud to say that my Apollo album made the top 5 in the Schallwelle awards for best international album of the year. I will be present during the award ceremony that will take place on the 10th of March this year. There are still tickets for sale if you want to attend too. You can find more information on http://www.schallwelle-preis.de/. On that website you can also find the other nominees. As you can see the competition is fierce. I don't expect to win, but I'm very happy to be in this list again. I'll be happy anyway because when I don't win I don't have to give a speech in front of all those people. That is some kind of price for me as well ;) So good news anyway. Thank you all so much for voting! I really appreciate it. This motivates me to go and make more music again.

Boot Selector and HxC for Amiga 500

The last weeks I haven't done much music. The Apollo album has taken a lot of my energy and I needed a break. So I have been working on some projects on another hobby. Next to synthesizers I also collect old retro computers and game consoles. In the place where my studio used to be (before I moved to the basement under the garden) I have build a bit of a computer museum. The last weeks I spend a lot of time testing and repairing stuff and adding modern electronics to old hardware like on this Commodore Amiga 500.

The software for this machine used to be distributed on 3,5 inch double density floppies. After a couple of years these diskettes go bad since their magnetic layer deteriorates in time. So I bought this HxC floppy emulator for it. You can put floppy images on a SD card and select the image you want to load on with little knobs. Once you have the image you want to boot in the display you hit a key and the Commodore Amiga doesn't know better than it is talking to an actual disk drive.

Most people replace the internal disk drive with this HxC emulator, but I didn't want to do that since my internal drive is still working fine and I also have a lot of diskettes that do work. The Amiga 500 is only ably to boot from the first floppy drive though and that is the internal one. I put the HxC on the electronics of a external drive but that becomes drive 2 then. So you need to be able to switch them. I build something for it called a boot selector. It takes two pins from the floppy controller chip inside the Amiga 500 and swaps them when you toggle the switch.

In this way the internal drives becomes drive 2 and the external drive becomes drive 1. So now I can boot from the HxC and my Amiga 500 is still original. I didn't want to drill a hole in it either for the switch so it is sticking out on the back with a flat cable coming through the housing. Now I'm going to transfer some of the diskettes that still work to the SD card and look for some new ones. I'm happy that the boot selector works. Time for some retro fun. I did some more projects so maybe I'll post some more of them up here.