Sunday, 30 August 2009

Lo-Res Graphics!

The machine has been running reliably for some time now - running a "Dewdney's game of life" program continuously for 5 days at 5Mhz - it should be good for six but I haven't got a crystal handy!

Anyway now its going reliably I decided to add a PIO chip which was very easy - those lads at Zilog made some very nice and easy chips! But then I needed something for the PIO to do so I decided to build something to interface with one of my other hobbies - NBTV (narrow bandwidth television).

I've already built a televisor (a mechanical television) and concocted my own colour standard so why not build a "graphics card" that can output NBTV signals! So far the graphics card comprises ten resistors and a transistor to combine 7 bits output by the PIO into a single analogue voltage (2 bits for R, G and B and another bit for sync).

An interrupt routine runs off the CTC which outputs a pixel every 50uS. This works ok but jumps about a fair bit if there are any other interrupts for the serial port or the other CTC timers.

A program can run (slowly) in the foreground and update the contents of the screen. The resolution is 48x32 pixels with 64 grey tones.

Next up I'm going to add colour and make a proper graphics card that generates NMIs instead of interrupts so that the other interrupts don't mess with the timing!

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