I went to the Wakefield RISC OS Show last Saturday, exhibiting a stand-full of ‘vintage’ Acorn kit with nothing more recent than 1989!

There’s a photo of the stand here, showing on display (from left to right / far end to near photographer):

  • BBC Master 128 with 512k 80186 coprocessor, occasionally running DR-DOS (this particular unit got switched with Jonathan Harston’s Master Compact occasionally).
  • BBC Domesday Project, Phillips LVROM, Master AIV.
  • BBC Model B with ATPL Sidewise, 6502 2nd Processor, EPROM programmer.
  • SJ Research MDFS (four slices: CPU, two drive slices with SCSI disks and tape drive, floppy unit).
  • BBC Master 128 with ‘new’ technology including 2GB CF card drive (from Mark at Retroclinic) and Sprow’s ARM7TDMI coprocessor.

We had the stand hooked up with Econet which stayed alive for the whole day! The Domesday LVROM behaved itself (mostly), only getting ornery later on in the day when a restart cured it. Having the lid off made it more interesting anyway!

The show was much better attended than in recent years, plenty of interest and new faces possibly picked up from Byte-Back and the ‘retro scene’. There were even a few Econet bits on the charity stall although I resisted at the price being asked. I did manage to pick up a SCSI slide scanner and a box of other odds and ends for the Arc.

We found out during the day that domesday1986.com has disappeared as its main contributor had died, sadly. I am therefore resolved to step up my preservation efforts – but more on that later.

Jonathan Harston (aka JGH) demonstrated his relocatable module stuff for the ARM7 by getting BBC BASIC running under a Z80 emulator on an ARM7TDMI coprocessor hosted by a BBC Master 128, I’m sure it can get more convoluted than that but I’m not sure by how much. Additionally various Econet bits and bobs were shown off including a multiuser chat and game server.

For some reason the games we sorted out at Byte-Back refused to work any more, I suspect it’s the particular configuration of the Beeb units themselves. I promise next time we’ll have Chuckie Egg running (both myself and Ian had a go at fixing it but to no avail). Granny’s Garden and Podd were popular.

Special mention to Jonathan’s PSU which exploded and smoked in a rather spectacular fashion, threatening to fill the exhibition hall with acrid smoke. Apparently it didn’t stop working but was causing such a fuss it ended up outside on the pavement!

Fantastic find of the show: a rather nice chap showed up with a brown A4 envelope of goodies – an unused Domesday submission kit including teachers’ notes, two 5.25″ floppies for compiling a school’s Domesday pages, pupil notes and user manuals. Both myself and Ian took immediate copies of the floppies but I will make available DSD files of these if anyone wants a looksee, and scan in the documentation. It also changes the copyright situation slightly – I wouldn’t say ‘smoking gun’ but it throws doubt on what the BBC were saying a while back.

I got home, set stuff up again, ate curry, and nursed my aching back – I’d forgotten how heavy that MDFS is!

The next retro show is in Leicester at the end of May, but I won’t be able to make that. There’s a big one in Huddersfield in September where we’re planning to show off quite a bit of stuff, and in the interim I’ll be penning a few articles on the whole BBC Micro revival ‘scene’ as well as the resurrection of the Domesday preservation efforts. Watch this space.