Author Topic: PICL National Industrial Basic Language computer by Karen Orton  (Read 1447 times)

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Offline Phil_G

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I've just done a small PCB for Karen's 2007 PICL design, which is an SC/MP emulation in a PIC, running the genuine National NIBL interpreter code from 1976.
Karens SC/MP emulation is cycle-perfect and enables a two-chip genuine NIBL machine to be built very cheaply and easily.
The PCB is under 3" square and has all the Flag and Sense lines brought out to LEDs, buttons and a header, and talks via the usual USB-to-serial CH340 module rather than Karens original MAX232. The chips are a 6264 static RAM and a PIC16F877 (not sure if an '877A' will work).

For anyone fancying a look at NIBL or a trip down memory lane, this computer is really simple to make. Its nice to make one of Karens many projects as a tribute to all she achieved.

Here's a video:



The channel also has a video of the strip-board version, another running a Geoff Graham terminal chip and one using a re-coded Xbox chatpad keyboard.

Ultimately I'll post the gerbers but first I need to check some changes I made for the next batch (If there is a next batch!). The change is minor, just repositioning the serial board so its flush against the edge of the PCB. Its electrically identical but I'd like to test one first.

If anyone would like a board, please email me and I'll send a PCB at cost, strictly non-profit.

Here's Karens original PICL page from 2007: http://techlib.com/area_50/Readers/Karen/micro.htm#PICL

Cheers
Phil email: рhіlg@tаlk21.соm
Note that to avoid spam, the address above is unsearchable text & cant be copy-&-pasted into the 'to' field !
« Last Edit: June 25, 2021, 04:09:53 pm by Phil_G »
 
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Offline granzeier

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Re: PICL National Industrial Basic Language computer by Karen Orton
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2021, 11:15:46 am »
Very nice.

I actually have an old Nibbler PCB, which runs NIBL. One of these days, I need to get it out and make sure that it works. Hopefully the SC/MP chip actually works, or else I'll have to get one of these - they actually look really great.
 
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Offline Phil_G

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Re: PICL National Industrial Basic Language computer by Karen Orton
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2021, 01:26:42 pm »
The second batch of PICL PCBs have just arrived this morning, I've a couple spare if anyone is interested. I took the opportunity to to flip the CH340G serial board so its component-side up, and to move it in a few mm so its flush with the overall outline. The pcb has corner mounting holes - otherwise its identical to the previous board. Functionally its identical.
If anyone would like a board, please email me rather than use the forum and I'll send a PCB at cost. If I run out again, I can order more, no problem. This is at cost, strictly non-profit.

Cheers
Phil email: рhіlg@tаlk21.соm
Note that to avoid spam, the address above is unsearchable text & can't be copy-&-pasted into the 'to' field !
« Last Edit: July 24, 2021, 11:54:13 am by Phil_G »
 

Offline granzeier

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Re: PICL National Industrial Basic Language computer by Karen Orton
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2021, 01:37:38 am »
I have the SCMP NIBL Reference Guide (http://files.granzeier.com/Downloads/NIBL-Ref.PDF) available. This is the National Semi document that describes the National Instruments BASIC Language (NIBL) used on their SC/MP chip, and Karen's PIC emulation of the SC/MP.

I also have the National Semiconductor ins8060 datasheet. This is the original CPU on which they installed NIBL (when they installed NIBL they then called it the INS8070.) I also have an article on NSC Tiny BASIC (on which NIBL is based) plus a few more articles, if anyone is interested. Note that these additional documents are not directly related to Karen's design, nor Phil's implementation of her design - they are just historically interesting things somewhat related to this project.
 

Offline Phil_G

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Re: PICL National Industrial Basic Language computer by Karen Orton
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2021, 11:43:18 am »
I also have an article on NSC Tiny BASIC (on which NIBL is based) plus a few more articles, if anyone is interested. Note that these additional documents are not directly related to Karen's design, nor Phil's implementation of her design - they are just historically interesting things somewhat related to this project.
Yes please! I would be interested to see anything NIBL related - programs, projects, documents - considering it was so popular at the time theres surprisingly little NIBL stuff that has survived on the net...
BTW your PCB is on its way!
Cheers
Phil
« Last Edit: July 28, 2021, 08:26:47 pm by Phil_G »
 

Offline granzeier

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Re: PICL National Industrial Basic Language computer by Karen Orton
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2021, 08:45:09 pm »
Yes please! I would be interested to see anything NIBL related - programs, projects, documents - considering it was so popular at the time theres surprisingly little NIBL stuff that has survived on the net...
http://files.granzeier.com/Downloads/SCMP_Technical_Description_Jan76.pdf - Nat Semi Technical Manual
http://files.granzeier.com/Downloads/8073_Electronic Design - 1980-11-22.pdf - Article in Electronic Design: "On-Chip Tiny BASIC Dumps Development System"
http://files.granzeier.com/Downloads/miniscamp.pdf - Several articles from Electronics Australia on the SC/MP (SCAMP)
http://files.granzeier.com/Downloads/National Semiconductor ins8060.pdf - INS8060 Datasheet
http://files.granzeier.com/Downloads/NSC_Tiny_BASIC_Users_Manual_Nov80.pdf - Like the name says - don't know how I missed this one in my earlier post.
http://files.granzeier.com/Downloads/Summary of NIBL statements and commands.pdf
BTW your PCB is on its way!
Cheers
Phil
Thank you. Also, I told my wife about your usage of the term "retrobates" and she got a good laugh out of it, too.
 

Offline Phil_G

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Re: PICL National Industrial Basic Language computer by Karen Orton
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2021, 10:21:08 pm »
I've a soft spot for Karens two-chip marvel and I've been having a lot of fun with it lately. I have PAGE2.SYS running on the PICL, obviously some commands such as SAV & LOD (save/load to cassette) PRN (print) etc wont work as the hardware isnt there, but the commands DIR, DMP, CHM, ASM, NIB etc all seem to work perfectly.  However whilst it does work, a serious PAGE2.SYS machine really needs more memory, PAGE2.SYS occupies the whole of page 2, and the ASM function nabs page 1 for a symbol table, leaving nowhere for ASM source or NIBL programs
The PICL isnt easily expanded as the port pins that would be A13 onwards (to take it above 8kb) are already used for /CE, /RD & /WR.

Consequently I thought I might have a crack at a smaller, PICL-specific resident machine-code monitor, something more like the old NS Kitbug would be ideal. One k should be enough for quite a capable monitor, and located right at the top of NV memory (say at #2C00) it would leave 3k free in page 2 and 4k in page1 - very little impact for the gain.  Available any time by typing LINK(#2C00). You'd have to be careful with the length of page2 programs as NIBL has no concept of 'reserved memory' but 7k goes a long way!

Key to all this is replacing the 8k static ram with a pin-compatible 48Z08 NVRAM. For my second board I found the 48Z08 NVRAM is now out of stock at RS, so I've since been using the Maxim DS1225AD which is pretty much identical.
These last two weeks an accident-enforced lay up gave me the opportunity to create a smaller, simpler PICL-specific machine-code monitor to complement NIBL. It takes advantage of the NVRAM swap so (barring a catastrophe!) is permanently in memory ready to go.

This is after all a SCAMP and in its day, 8k of RAM, 4k ROM BASIC and a resident machine-code monitor is quite a respectable spec for a late 70's computer based on just two chips!

and a bit of a demo here, though a few more commands have been added since:

I called the monitor KitBugPlus and it has the usual Display, Modify, Go, Type, List, Regs, & ? (help) commands, and an 'N' to return to NIBL.

I've done some documentation and a loader, all on http://philg.uk

Cheers
Phil
Cheers
 

Offline Phil_G

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Re: PICL National Industrial Basic Language computer by Karen Orton
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2021, 08:54:29 pm »
I've added an Intel hex loader to the PICL firmware, this is independent of NIBL or the monitor as its pic code within the pic877 processor. Consequently it can be used to load anything that will fit, including of course KitBugPlus or any other SC/MP machine-code programs or data.

Hex loading is down the console port so its just a case of 'Send File' from Teraterm, in the same way as NIBL programs are loaded. If you're in a rush the character and line delays can be removed for the duration of the hex-load, though for a few seconds it doesnt seem worth the faff, I would always forget to reinstate them for NIBL  :D

I'm using San's SBASM as an SC/MP assembler and the parameter for Intel hex is:
*.tf myprog.hex,int,32*

If I've caused any confusion with these PICL firmware updates, just for clarity this is the second update, the first implemented the missing DLY instruction and this one adds DLY & the hex loader. Both updates are 99.999% Karens code so any credits are entirely Karen's.

The more I use the PICL the more I like it, its so versatile !  :)

Updated files and doc are on http://philg.uk as usual.
Cheers
Phil
« Last Edit: October 03, 2021, 11:52:44 pm by Phil_G »
 

Offline granzeier

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Re: PICL National Industrial Basic Language computer by Karen Orton
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2021, 10:04:31 am »
Very nice, thanks.

I do not remember seeing SC/MP in San's SBASM, but then again, I probably did not pay much attention to this microprocessor in the documentation. I just went back to the documentation for SBASM, and there it is! And, now that I see it, I do remember seeing it before. Apparently, it just didn't stick in my mind.
 

Offline Phil_G

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Re: PICL National Industrial Basic Language computer by Karen Orton
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2021, 11:16:30 am »
Be aware though that the SBASM cross-file 'crscmp.py' on San's website has a problem with relative addressing on the SC/MP, San has issued an updated cross-file which fixes the problem BUT for some reason he hasnt updated his web site. His Github is up to date however or San will email the update on request. For convenience I've also posted it on http://philg.uk with all the other PICL stuff.  Simply replace the old crscmp.py with the new one.

Most of Karens source seems to use the AS assembler by Alfred Arnold, but most have been converted by various enthusiasts to SBASM format, including the PIC14, PICL, PAGE2.SYS, etc and also the original Science of Cambridge MK14 SCIOS 1 & 2 and NS NIBL are available in SBASM format.  To a simpleton like me AS seems overly complicated both to use and to install, whereas SBASM is nice & simple, and its author is a nice bloke who responds promptly to emails  :D

With these recent updates the PICL becomes a really useful SC/MP experimenters board, I find it more convenient than my Aitken homebrew or the MK14, it has quite an impressive spec for a 1978-era computer, and just two chips!

Just for fun:







 


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