Short Review of Roger Taylor’s FPGA Based CoCo 3/4
If you are wanting a Real Hardware CoCo 3 and beyond but can’t find anything new in decent condition, or if you are worried about your hardware dying and becoming irreplaceable….heck if you just want a Cool CoCo Project to play with, you really need to check this out! It’s a lot of fun and it grows all the time. I’ve been experimenting with this ever since Roger Taylor started making the information available to build and program your own. Using the Altera DE-0 Nano FPGA, I ordered and a board I built from his supplied parts list, I got this up and running quickly and have been following and tinkering with it ever since. Roger releases updates regularly adding new features all the time. It started out using an SD card that had to be between 2 and 4 gig and you needed special software to build the image. This eventually was replaced with the ability to just copy disk images over to the SD card on a modern PC or Mac as it now supports FAT32. It connects to a VGA monitor, PS/2 keyboard and mouse. It has a 3.5mm audio jack to connect to speakers. The board also supports WiFi and Bluetooth which I have not delved into yet. Also built in, is Orchestra 90 Support!
Several people are running OS-9 / NitrOS9 on it. While it’s not feasible for anyone person to test every CoCo Program on it, it’s pretty safe to say that it’s extremely CoCo 3 compatible. It easily runs several graphic and sound intensive games, Zenix, DKREMIX and more.
Whenever a fix or update with new features is made available, you simply download the file, use free software available from Altera’s website and program the new code in which is essentially like replacing an entire CoCo motherboard with all the changes made. No more soldering, wiring or other hardware mods needed.
The recent addition to this fantastic project as of this writing is the “NanoLog Board” providing nice new features to this gem. This is a simple board that plugs into the available connector on the DE-0 allowing the user of Real CoCo Joysticks!
As stated on Roger’s Site
“The NanoLog daughter board is a custom circuit board designed to plug on the bottom of the DE0-Nano to give the extra hardware needed for the Cyclone CoCo 4 system.
There are 2 CoCo joystick ports and 3 ADC channels through an A / V jack. The video channel of the jack runs through a 10-bit high-speed ADC while all the other inputs including the joysticks are 8-bit ADC lines.”
John Strong is now supplying Laser Printed cases for this thing that will make it look even more cool while protecting it. Here’s a photo of John’s case posted by John on the CoCo on a Chip FB Page.
This thing has to be experienced to really appreciate it. The word is out from Roger that a new version that uses a newer FPGA Board called theDE10-Nano will support HDMI video out!
To find out more or to follow Roger’s progress with this, check out the Facebook Page at the following link.