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BBC Master on Steroids (retrohax.net)
65 points by retrohax on Aug 27, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 29 comments

That's super cool! I have an old BBC Micro in a box under a desk somewhere which I want to get back on its feet someday - last time I powered it up I think it was working (made the right boop-BEEP noise!) but I didn't have a screen to test it with.

I also have a box of 5.25" floppies that I want try and read any data off - they've been untouched for decades, is there anything I should/shouldn't do before plugging in the floppy drive and spinning them up?

For connecting to a TV, easiest thing might be to buy an RGB to SCART cable from eBay. Less than £15, good picture quality.

Good summary of potential disk/drive issues and cleaning options: http://www.retrotechnology.com/herbs_stuff/clean_disks.html. Spatula-shaped cotton wool buds are handy for cleaning drives, as there might not be much room inside.

As per the article, http://stardot.org.uk/ is a good resource for all things BBC Micro in general.

Purchase a scan converter. There is a popular OpenSource project and many manufacturers are making them. Several support RGB, S-Video, RF, VGA and SCART and can upscale to something a 1080p HDMI TV/monitor can use. Supremely useful for all of those retro consoles and computers in our modern day. Kaicco is the more popular brand for the project, though I don't think that one supports S-Video.

Edit: You can connect a BBC Micro (and many other 8-bit micros) to the standard OSCC. It simply doesn't have the plug on the board, you will need an adapter cable.

Be aware that a couple of mains-rated capacitors in the power supply don't age very well and it's almost a given that they should be replaced ASAP and before any further use of the computer.


I'd love to have a beeb to play with (I just missed the wave first time around - went from PET at school to PC at work), but they are going for silly prices on ebay. Maybe a garage or junk sale will turn up something!

Very interesting, I did not know you could use a RPi as a second processor. My dad has a 6502 second processor and we were wowed by the hidden line removal and colour on Elite at the time.

Didn't make me play any better though.

I just used to enjoy Chuckie Egg, Mr. EE, Dare Devil Dennis, Exile, Mission Impossible and Firetrack. Brilliant music on Firetrack.

There's a cool project that uses an FPGA to allow several implementations of BBC Micro Co Processors (65C02, Z80, 6809, 68000, x86, ARM2, PDP-11, 32016).

And not just vanilla ones. They have a "monster Z80" that does more per clock cycle and a very fast clock, for example.


The headlined article lead me to find https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP7fiaync5E . I quite enjoyed watching GEM, running on top of DR-DOS, on a 80286, emulated by a Rasberry Pi, connected via the Tube to a BBC Master doing all of the I/O.

For those looking for more retro computer restoration, check out the 8-bit guy


The 8BitGuy is like a gateway drug to retrocomputers. Thanks to his channel I learned some things I didn't know back in the day, like that the CGA graphics card was capable of better colors in composite mode.

He also convinced me of getting RetroGames' TheC64 maxi: a C64 lookalike running a variant of VICE inside, with full working keyboard, petscii codes and all!

Yeah, he is doing cool stuff :)

I wonder if it would be possible to port the OS interfaces for the bbc computers to RPi directly... putting the keyboard inputs into a modern USB controller interface and just run the whole thing off of an RPi or similar.

TBH about the only hardware I really miss are the better CRT options compared to how limited modern displays are or how much processing power it takes for a level of detail that looks close to as good. A lot of older games look better on a CRT than the same games scaled to 1080p or higher.

Neat! One nitpick: never do a voltage switch like that with a toggle, always use a slider. A toggle is way too easy to accidentally trip.

Also, the wites leading to the switch seem like 0.05” IDC cable, which is horribly inadequate for mains application. The “jumper” is not some kind of low power config input, it simply shorts the midpoint of DC smoothing capacitor bank to neutral mains wire and thus is both live and conducts significant current.

Actually, I was under the impression that it is only config input. I will have to recheck it. This might be a major problem. Thanks!

good point! thanks!

Yw. A recessed slide is the best option. Fantastic job, I really like what you did here.

@retrohax Just wanted to say thanks for the blog, it's an entertaining and informative read! Man, that A1200 was in a state...

btw. A1200 was a really mild state. Have a look at my "Extreme refurb" series -> https://retrohax.net/?s=extreme Those machines were a bit harder to fix lol :D

Excellent, will check them out.

Thank you for kind words :)


Yep, for a minute I thought I am on a different kind of website

lololol good point :D

very cute, would be interesting to see something like https://collapseos.org/ running on it

It's an interesting idea. The funny thing is that in the event of a civilization collapse, it might be way easier to find quad cores CPUs and 8 GB RAM modules than antic pieces.

But when supplies run out the idea is to restore manufacturing ability. It's hard to bootstrap 7nm fabs in a Mad Max wasteland but we might conceivably be able to get back to 1980s tech.

You can get back to 1980's tech easily enough if you have 1970's tech. And so on all the way back to about 1920. Whatever you have + the knowledge remaining will allow you to rise up the ladder a little quicker but not that much quicker because you still need to go through all the motions in between. Skipping steps is really hard, most progress is incremental.

I would love to test it too but it is already in a different part of the world :) That was a custom order.

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