In my garage there has been a BBC Master microcomputer sat in a box for the last eleven years, recently I discovered the Stardot org uk forums for lovers of all things Acorn like the BBC and electron computers I own. Whilst introducing myself I was inspired to retrieve the unloved Beeb Master from it’s storage box and see if it still worked. Luckily it all worked except a few keys, but a few good taps got most of them working again ☺.
While delving inside to replace the backup battery set which I had previously replaced with a set of AA batteries which were now leaking I noticed we had an Econet inside which would never be used so offered it for free to good home. The good people in Stardot.org.uk had helped me immensely so it seemed only decent to offer it there, and ask some more questions at the same time, one of which was about the cheap SD card interface someone had designed. A very helpful and patient patron of the forums known as Danielj jumped in and offered to make me an interface and burn me a new rom for the BBC Master to use with it in return for the Econet.
When it arrived I fitted the new rom inside the Beeb replacing the old original one, and connected the SD Card interface. I downloaded a file which the new interface uses to emulate 511 floppy disks and wrote it to the SD Card. All plugged into the user port and ready to go then.
Now the fun stuff I thought, turned it all on and it all fired up ok so rom is ok, umm how do I use the card? A search revealed that I needed to type *CARD and enter to access the card, then *DCAT 0 would list the contents. It didn’t, instead I got a list of 28 files and a dead end. Once again stardot forumites came to the rescue with ideas, and things to try but still nothing and i got to see why it’s called stardot, all command on the BBC micros seem to start with star and many are abbreviated using a dot!
I had a eureka moment when somebody mentioned that a poorly soldered joint may cause data corruption between the Master and SD card. My Beeb had been stored, those non working keys hinted at a little damp and maybe corrosion. With that in mind I pulled off the plug on the user port and pushed it in and out a few times (ooh err). Another power up, held “S” and pressed break to load in the SPI rom (I don’t know what it is but it helps with the card or something), *CARD then enter, *DBOOT 0 , then break key and voila
Now we can start and load from the SD card for almost instant BBC gratification. Here is a short video showing it working..
Thanks to all the people who give so freely to all the retro community and in this case all the people at http://www.Stardot.org.uk who work at making new roms, interfaces and helping the general idiots like me to get it all working.