Sunday, June 30, 2013

A New Hope

It's that time again -- the 2013 Retrochallenge Summer event!  Over the past couple of years I've really enjoyed participating in these events.  The regular schedule brings a sort of discipline that reminds me that I need a little "retro" time.  So, here I go again... :-)

Project Options

As usual, I had to ponder a bit to decide on a project for this event.  I never have any shortage of possibilities, and I have at least one notebook where I've jotted down various project ideas in case I should ever be short for one.  This year I was drawn towards working on a CoCo-driven laser projection project, but I also considered a game for a vintage console (e.g. the Intellivision), attempting to adapt Boisy Pitre's Liber809 project to an Atari 5200, expanding my VDG tricks blog or adding enhancements to Fahrfall.  Those all would be good projects (and may still be).  But this time, something else appealed to me.

Stay On Target

Years ago I became aware of Micro-C and related tools from Dunfield Development Systems.  These tools target a variety of older and/or embedded processors, including the 6809 used in the CoCo.  They are provided in a form that is relatively easy to re-target to specific systems as needed.  In fact, I did a simplistic port of these tools to the CoCo several years ago for a simple project.

The Micro-C tools are now available for free (as in "beer") download.  That puts them within reach of a broader range of potential CoCo developers, but as-is they aren't particularly helpful for targeting the CoCo.  Even my simplistic port isn't too good for that, since it didn't have any CoCo-specific hardware support, etc.

Wrap It Up

So, that's the project -- target the Micro-C tools to the CoCo.  This should cover properly locating code, generating correct executable files, and at least basic console I/O.  I expect to also include at least some primitive support for configuring graphics modes, playing sounds, reading the joysticks, etc.  I doubt if I will get to supporting disk drives this month, but that can wait for later.

The contest starts tomorrow, so that's all for now.  If any of the above sounds interesting to you, then be sure to stay tuned!