Eat your heart out amateur computer builders. Meet the Megaprocessor!

Check this puppy out http://www.megaprocessor.com/

A whole computer built from discrete transistors. About 45 thousand of them!
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  • :) Wish I had the drive to do something like that
    Stockholm, Sweden
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  • Unfortunately it is only "mega" in terms of size, not in terms of transistors or memory etc. But drool worthy nonetheless and very nicely done (if you had the room for it that is).
    Tachyon Forth - compact, fast, forthwright and interactive
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  • All it needs now is smartpins :lol:
    Melbourne, Australia
  • Wow, just wow.
  • I'm in love!
    David
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  • LeonLeon Posts: 7,618
    edited July 2016 Vote Up0Vote Down
    He's spent over £40K on it!
    Leon Heller
    G1HSM
  • Fascinating read. James had done a great job of presenting the challenges and pitfalls of such a pursuit. He's disappointed at the 8kHz final result, but speed would never have been this computer's strong suit anyway.

    As an aside, he has done me a personal favor...he has successfully dissuaded me from ever making a CPU out of discrete transistors. I used to dream of it all the time. But as one's mortality looms large, one has to pick and chose wisely how he/she spends precious time. ;)
    Platåberget
  • I have dreamt of it to, on and off for decades.

    I once got as far as building 4 stages of JK master-slave flip flop out of BC108 transistors with some red LEDs to show the state of each stage. Driven by a multi-vibrator.
  • Really neat project. But very expensive!
    Definitely discussed from building one of those ;)
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  • Duane DegnDuane Degn Posts: 10,000
    edited May 16 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Have you all checked out his YouTube playlist?

    I think it's brilliant!

    I've watched the first two videos and I'm very impressed. I look forward to watching more of them.

    Here's his first video about transistors.



    I really like how he has both current meters and volt meters in his display.

    Thanks for the original link Heater. Great stuff!


    Modedit: YouTube link.
  • Ooooh, tempting. Open day this Saturday and he's only a 25 minute drive down the road.
  • I can't explain why I'm so compelled to this thread, my first thought was: I bet the cafeteria knew when that computer was powered up,

    500W not to bad.

    I think the video download was a prize.
  • Great stuff! I have been busy reading his website and build log. I may be some time...
    Answers: 1) A quadcopter. 2) Very high. 3) The internet. 4) A lot. 5) No.
  • Very British.
    South Saxons - "we wunt be druv".
  • yetiyeti Posts: 317
    edited May 2 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Computerphile mentioned the MegaProcessor today:

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  • jmgjmg Posts: 10,205
    Heater. wrote: »
    Check this puppy out http://www.megaprocessor.com/

    A whole computer built from discrete transistors. About 45 thousand of them!

    Wow, I saw a SMD one a while ago, but this is awe-inspiring in every sense of the word..

    Truly Impressive and Simply Nuts at the same time.
    I'll stick with my sub-40c MCUs that run at 16-25MHz....

  • Dude should have just gone to a Navy surplus yard and aquire a 642 system. All built with little transistor logic cards, boatloads of them and lights and core memory etc.
    Ordnung ist das halbe Leben....
    Ich lebe in der anderen Hälfte
  • KeithEKeithE Posts: 759
    edited May 9 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Here's a discrete 6502 - http://monster6502.com

    Edited to add:

    Some discussion of the creation here:

    http://tubetime.us/index.php/2016/05/15/placeholder/
  • jmg wrote: »
    Truly Impressive and Simply Nuts at the same time.

    And, in the flesh, even more impressive than that and even nuttier.

    I went along to the open day I mentioned above and spent several hours being amazed at James' creation and wondering what I could build.

    It now has a permanent home in Cambridge and I'd recommend a trip to see it to anyone with any interest in computers.

  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 19,249
    Wonderful.

    The discrete 6502 is made by the same guy(s) that made the discrete, "dis-integrated", 555 timer that I could not resist buying from the shop at the Computer History Museum last weekend.

    It's described on the "tubetime" web site, which appeals to me of course.

    The discrete 6502 will be on show at the Bay Area Maker Fair which I hope to make it to whilst I'm in these parts.
  • They have the 555 at Evil Mad Scientist too.

    http://shop.evilmadscientist.com/tinykitlist/652

    You can actually go to their small retail location in Sunnyvale, but I would call ahead.

    http://shop.evilmadscientist.com/about
  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 19,249
    Yes, that is the one, made by Evil Mad Scientist.

    I must say that 555 kit is beautifully made and presented. It's a good thick PCB.

    Only shame is that you can't use it's "pins" for connection, but that is fair enough.

    No idea what I will do with it but I start thinking it needs to be surrounded by scaled up capacitors, resistors and a giant LED. Just for show.

  • I like it this guy should work for Lab Volt. What a mega hobby
  • The 555 kit is nice, but big for what it is. The circuit doesn't take up a lot room, I would like to put one together on a perf board.
    While the circuit board is nice and thick, I'm wondering what legs actually come with it. What looks like some kind of foam legs, or the heavy bent aluminum.
  • MikeDYur wrote: »
    The 555 kit is nice, but big for what it is.

    Isn't that the whole point?
  • MikeDYur wrote: »
    I'm wondering what legs actually come with it. What looks like some kind of foam legs, or the heavy bent aluminum.

    The data sheet states: Two-piece “IC Legs” stand, anodized aluminum
  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 19,249
    edited May 10 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Big is the whole point. If it's practical at all it's for soldering practice and perhaps demo purposes. Or think of it like those electronics kits for kids where the components are all clearly laid out on a big board.

    Otherwise it's a work of art. Just for show. A curio.

    Those legs are beautifully made from sturdy aluminium. This is a quality item.

    The only downer is that they are constructed as two pieces of aluminium, 4 legs connected together each side, rather than 8 separate legs. They are not electrically connected to their respective 555 pins. So you cannot use the legs as connections when building a circuit.

    Still, I can see why they have done it that way and the terminals provided to make connections are good quality.

    Yesterday I picked up an extra big blue LED panel lamp from Frys to go with it.

    All in all I love it. I might have to get the dis-integrated 741 op amp to go with it.

  • MikeDYur wrote: »
    The 555 kit is nice, but big for what it is.

    Isn't that the whole point?

    What I meant is it's big for a board with only discreet transistors. A board half the size and half the price, would still make a nice curio that is easy to display.
    KeithE wrote: »

    The data sheet states: Two-piece “IC Legs” stand, anodized aluminum

    Didn't see that, Thanks. I guess the PDF was made before the parts were ready.
    Heater. wrote: »
    Big is the whole point.

    The only downer is that they are constructed as two pieces of aluminium, 4 legs connected together each side, rather than 8 separate legs. They are not electrically connected to their respective 555 pins. So you cannot use the legs as connections when building a circuit.

    Still, I can see why they have done it that way and the terminals provided to make connections are good quality.

    Yesterday I picked up an extra big blue LED panel lamp from Frys to go with it.

    All in all I love it. I might have to get the dis-integrated 741 op amp to go with it.



    I gotta see a panel lamp that would be on the same scale as this. And if the legs(pins) were connected to the circuit, are you going to need a giant breadboard to use it with.

    I'm sorry, it is a beautiful piece of work or art, just thought it was too big for what it is.

    The Monster 6502 is awesome, a crammed PCB with all those blinkys. That would be wall mountable behind a glass frame. If it's ever in kit form, I bet you can't buy it for less than few hundred.
  • You are right. My panel lamp is not big enough. What I really want is a scaled up 70's style red LED. No idea how I might make such a thing. Then the idea grows. I'll need giant resistors and capacitor to go around it in a simple flasher circuit and a giant 9v battery!

    Looking at the board now I think it is big with purpose. All the component outlines, names and values are clearly silk screened on there. Including the E,C,B labeling of the transistor pins. All nicely spaced out so that it's still readable after the components are mounted. The different blocks of the circuit are clearly separated and outlined, Threshold Comparator, Trigger Comparator, Flip-Flop, Output, Reset/Discharge. Then you need a nice space for those screw terminals.

    It's a thing of beauty. Would have loved it when I was 11 years old as an educational experience.

    The Monster 6502 is indeed awesome. I did wonder if they might be crazy enough to offer that as a kit. That's a lot of soldering required! I hope I get to see the Monster at the Maker Fair.


  • On the website it states:
    Is it expensive?

    It is definitely not cheap to make one of these. If we had to ballpark what one of these would sell for — assembled and working — it would certainly be larger than $1k and smaller than $5k. While the circuit board itself is large and a little bit expensive, the cost is actually dominated by the component and assembly costs of an extremely large number of tiny components, each of which is individually quite inexpensive. Add to that the setup and test costs of building complex things like these in small batches, and you'll immediately see how it adds up.
    So I don't think it's going to be for sale unless they get a lot of interest and some up-front commitments. It would be cool to have in the computer museum. (Too bad Intel wouldn't dare put such a thing in their museum ;-)
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