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Build your own homebrew computer!

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Are you interested in building your own homebrew computer from scratch? I think a lot of vintage computer hobbyists have considered designing and building their own computer at some point. There are many projects scattered about on the internet in varying states of completion. I believe many hobbyists have harbored dreams of building their own homebrew computer for a long time just looking for their opportunity.

My own personal quest for a homebrew computer started out small but has evolved over many months into a more or less complete system. In some ways getting a homebrew computer up and running is a lot of fun and is almost a "rite of passage" for electronics hobbyists. It certainly is a lot of fun although it can be very time consuming.

What would be your ideal homebrew computer? I think the answer depends on what you want to do with it and what you like. My personal opinion is I like the vintage computing technologies of the early 1980's because that's when I got my start and have been interested in the technology ever since. I like the classic 8 bit CPUs like Z80 and 6809. I would like to run the early microcomputer operating systems like CP/M or FLEX from before the dominance of the IBM PC. I would also like to have color graphics and sound in the vintage style of early style.

Since the early 1980s electronics technology has evolved in many ways. Things which used to be very difficult are now much easier to accomplish. For example, PCB design and manufacturing used to be a laborious and expensive manual process. Now with free EDA tools like KiCAD and low cost PCB manufacturing services building your own PCBs is much more realistic and can be done by almost anyone.

There are still some "learning curve" issues to building your own homebrew computer. You should have knowledge of digital and analog design principles. Theoretical knowledge of how to design a circuit and write a schematic. Knowledge of how to make a prototype circuit helps build real devices which can prove or disprove your design theory. The ability to design and manufacture PCBs is useful as is writing basic test and demonstration software.

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  1. cgrape2's Avatar
    A clear and concise review of the topic from a person who KNOWS what they are talking about!A GREAT read!
    cgrape2