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I was going to post another deep, introspective examination of my career choices, but I got on a sugar rush and started reading Microserfs and just lost the mood. So I'll do that some other day.

Instead, here's the contents of a new file on my desktop titled Evil Plans.txt:


- Test run, check for possible problems w/ GPU fan rig
- Reconfig network so it runs as client to Umaro


- Get mails transferred from Relm and Phoenix
- Finish setting up mail accounts
- File transfer from Phoenix
- styleXP etc. (Phoenix has serial)
- Organize Start Menu
- Organize files (esp. stuff to back up)
- DVD backups

- Take care of stupid Windows activation crap


- Swap CPU
- More Win Activation BS?
- Move MP3 files off to Relm


- Finish soldering and such
- Test it out, see if it works
- Get some desoldering braid (the Shack?)
- If not, try to replace dead parts (probably just the 2 red LEDs at this point) from Radio Shack or whatever
- If all else fails, buy a new one and build that instead
- Pictures


- Just buy a stupid variable power supply so we can see if the LCD panel works
- Rig up power harness and signal feed w/ the canniballized ribbon
- Milestone: get a working Composite signal feeding into the panel, e.g. from the VCR or whatever (slice up a cable)
- Check into a proper connector for ribbon so we can have a REAL circuit instead of Frankenstein
- Design a power supply and build it (even if it means hacking a 12V or something)
- Milestone: get a breadboard and whatever other supplies, rig up a more permanent test bed w/ proper power supply
- Look into microcontrollers etc. and get one
- Develop something that emits a composite video signal
- Milestone: custom image displayed on test hardware
- Decide what to do next: flash storage and an OS ROM?


- Need CD drive (probably)
- Need floppy drive (consider getting two, one for Umaro w/ silver bezel, depending)
- Need hard drive
- Need sound card (can we steal the one from Phoenix?)
- Need OS

- Clean out case and PSU
- Rewire power supply so it works (switch is in the box o' parts IIRC)
- Get machine POSTing at the very least before buying parts

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jPod is also pretty awesome if you like Coupland.

It hits very close to home.

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For an MCU you might want to look into maybe a SX48 or the Propeller from Parallax or an AVR from Atmel for a good start. If you are wanting to do more you might need a different MCU to work with say like Fujistu's line of simple 3D chips usually used for car information systems. If you do not want to go that far but still want to offload the graphics have a look at Yamaha LSI's VC1 and AVDP7 chips.

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Cool, thanks. My original thought was to just cobble together a set of PICAXEs or whatever, and write custom graphics/mini-OS ROMs for them that would basically be a tiny platform I could use for games. I'm questioning whether or not I could get performance and scalability from that approach, but I want to try it anyways (just for the street cred of being able to say I built a platform from scratch [grin]).

Now, though, I'm starting to wonder what I could do with other chips... I'll have to check into those. If I can find more of the original LCD panel I've got, I may just make several different systems for the heck of it.

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There is a lot you can work with out there within reason. Like the Toshiba line of microcontrollers such as the 900/H. If you look deep enough you can even find things like ADC'c AMAZON chip which is an ESIC with 2D graphics based on polygons or D-Gate's INCA that is an ARM with full 3D and both of which have been used in simple arcade platforms and are designed to be cheap. I believe Magic Eyes teamed up with ADC and/or D-Gate because their line of VRender0 and VRender3D chips look to be exactly the same or maybe even clones of those last two I mentioned. But ETRI of South Korea looks like they stock the orginal versions anyway and I believe you can usually request samples.

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Well, I have to be honest - part of the reason I'm doing this is it's like the ultimate NIH fetishism. The idea of doing an entire video controller, an operating platform, a tiny little modular kernel that supports external devices... doing an entire machine from (more or less) bare metal is just really cool. Obviously there's good sense in using off-the-shelf hardware for some of the mundane stuff like generating video signals, but that just lacks the raw geek-testosterone power of hacking it all up from scratch.

Man, just thinking about that gets me all sweaty. I'm going to go have to punch holes in the wall and perform triple integrals in my head to let of the geekosterone steam.

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Oh I totaly understand I am the same way too. If it is bare metal you totaly want, I have a lot information that can help that as well. Things like ULA and Structured ASIC (like eASIC) get my heart going these days. You can use an Altera MAX II CPLD to convert display information into a tv compatible video signal. It is still bare metal to a degree, because you still have to program it to do it. [grin]

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