C-One Demo

by James Lawrence
from the AmiTech-Dayton Gazette, February 2009

I hope to have a very interesting demo for the next meeting. I'm doing my part to stimulate the economy, the economy of Germany that is. I decided to bite and purchased the extension board that will allow my C-One computer to become an Amiga 500. What should have been a straight forward process took a fair amount of effort on my part. I believe I wrote in the last newsletter that I contacted Jens from Individual Computers and received no reply. I tried again a week later and did get a response. It appears that Jens released a number of computer boards to dealers that have not paid for them yet. Jens claims ownership of those computers and will not ship extension boards to those "caretakers" that have them in their possession. My job was to prove to Jens that my C-One was purchased from a reliable dealer. My problem was that I purchased it 2nd hand on Ebay and Jens never felt the need to put serial numbers on any of his boards which made identification rather difficult. He also requested some photos to be sure that board was of a late enough vintage to be able to be upgraded. Well, simple things like shooting some pics that look acceptable end up eating large amounts of time and this was no exception. Jens also requested that I contact the person I bought the machine from in the fall of 2007. Anyone who has spent some quality time on Ebay will know that this is a dubious undertaking wrought with peril. To my utter surprise. I received a prompt response that I just forwarded (more peril) to Jens. After more 3 way conversations, Jens was satisfied enough to take my money ($$$s not Euros please!) and ship me the product. I was really hoping to have it by now and if I don't have it by the meeting, I will be entering Damage Control Mode.

The new extension board has me stoked. First of all it has energized the small C-One community and that has resulted in some big upgrades to the system. The first that you will come into contact with is a new bootloader called NewBoot. Newboot is lightning fast and allows an unlimited number of cores to be installed on a CF card. This is great because it allows for more experimentation. Some cores, like the 16-bit color picture viewer, include the picture into the hardware data. To view another picture requires loading a completely new core, The old boot-loader, BigBoot, only allowed 10 cores which I had filled already. A gentleman by the name of Peter Wendrich has taken it upon himself to document the inner workings of the C-One board to encourage more core development. I printed out the first draft to find out a second was just released. I should have that printed out for the meeting. Finally some serious literature to complement the pin-out diagrams and hardware programming listings.

The plan is to demo an emulated-in-hardware Amiga 500 with 11 megs of RAM, a hard drive and CD-ROM. That is, if I can get the board and work out all the bugs by Saturday. If not, I will demo the C-One computer running 8-bit hardware like the Vic20, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC in a couple of variations. Hopefully I can remember how to run the SymbOS for the Amstrad, which is a very impressive multi-tasking operating system with a full GUI that reminds me of GEOS. There is also a new core called Chameleon, which is advertised as a reverse-engineered C-64 with a 2 meg memory upgrade. Yummy.

Honestly, this programmable hardware is cutting-edge stuff and it's pretty cool that the Commodore people are taking a lead in developing it. It's also hard to explain and I've only touched some of the high points so far. Best to see it in person.