Introduction to the N8VEM Homebrewing project

In 2006, Andrew Lynch published his Single-Board CP/M design with the intention to involve others in a collective homebrewing project. The N8VEM (named after his ham radio license) is expandable with add-on cards and soon, an informal collaborative effort emerged around a Google mail group. A web site was set up to share the hard- and software that began to be produced. Builders with a wide range of skills got involved – from well-known systems designers to absolute beginners that bought Andrew’s $20 circuit board to explore CP/M.

These pages serve as the description of my own N8VEM setup - but the idea is also that each of the pages below is a clear, complete documentation set for each board - something that is lacking a little bit in the project so far.

N8VEM in a nutshell

  1. Buy the $20 N8VEM circuit board via the Retrobrew site. Throw in the $5 IDE mini-adapter board as well.
     

  2. Buy the required ICs/capacitors/connectors from places like Mouser or Jameco.
     

  3. A few hours of soldering creates an efficient CP/M computer running on ROM and battery backed-up RAM disks.The IDE adapter adds a proper hard disk or CF card for mass storage. Your PC is used as a terminal.
     

  4. If you like what you see and want to expand, add the $20 ECB backplane.
     

  5. Add whatever capabilities you want to play with. Every board costs $20: from a 6809 coprocessor with its own operating system, to video or VGA graphics cards, Blinkenlight front panels, or Propeller experimentation boards. Or explore the 68000...

2018 update:

It's been a few years since N8VEM started. Builders are active on the Retrobrew forum (see link above) and the Retrobrew site contains wiki pages with all the information on the boards. New stuff is coming out too.

You can still get the PCBs, most of the time there is a small inventory of them. Just call out at the Retrobrew forum!

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Recommended:

Gigatron - the computer without a microprocessor!