Douglas I am sorry with the miss-understanding and your past experience with “my boards”. Your opinion is your own and I respect that.
Nevertheless there are a few things I would like to point out in case others get a miss-understanding. In no particular order with respect to your posting below…
First I think you fail to appreciate the work (the so far, ~20 S-100 boards involves). I am a retired biotech executive that currently spend approximately 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week doing these boards and associate software (more on that later). Except for overseas business trips, family matters that’s essentially how I spend my days. I am not an electrical engineer and thus arguably take longer to get there that it should. However each prototype board typically takes two versions before you would even hear about it. In some case by the time the final is actually done I almost don’t want to see it again. A big chunk of the time is devoted to writing up on S100Computers.com; the reason, history and step by step builds and debugging process of each board. Every board has this. Is it written for a total beginner, no it is not, the time it would take to hand hold and baby step line by line a board construction in that format I utilize thinking about and building another board. That said, I respond to any reasonable question a “builder” has typically been within 24 hours. I could look back but if I have had to guess I have had ~20 such questions over the year. Unfortunately some of them require me to go back and dig up old schematics and rethink the board and the issue. Sounds trivial, its sometimes is not. It’s hard to guess what a problem is without the actual hardware.
You to have had some notion that I am financially benefiting from the above. You say:-
“I am just voting with my wallet. I don't feel like giving him my money under the circumstances. I don't feel I am going to get my money's worth”
assure you that there is absolutely no profit component here what so ever. I ran a public company for 13 years, did fairly well as they say; Nothing in this S100 hobby will ever have any possibility of being “a financial life style changing event” for me. That said, I do appreciate that a cost component for such a hobby for others may not be the case. That is why Andrew and I try and bunch “production” boards into groupings so others can benefit with a price cut. By that time I have already purchased one or two (sets or 3) prototype boards at my own expense.
You mention software..
“Just how hard would it be to provide a Boot-Rom image and a method of creating a bootable disk?”
Ever board I do (if appropriate) comes with a .PDF file and source code listing for software relevant to that board. It is at the bottom of each boards web page and is updated constantly. In fact as a safety net that is where I actually store my own versions (and on my WHS). I can only conclude you have not bothered to look at these. Two examples:
The ZFDC board. The complete source of the boards Z80 ROM is provided as well as a .PDF. Within the source code EVERY significant line is commented. The complete source with step by step build accounts for building and running both CPM+ & CPM86+ is provided. Is this BIOS up to your satisfaction, considering your DR background I’m sure not. Both it seems to work reliably for me. What would be nice would be an experienced person like yourself improving upon the BIOS and providing it to the community rather than whining as above.
Sometime back you took offence that I sated “Concurrent CPM was difficult to get going”. Clearly it’s your baby and I understand you make take offence with that. However I still think this is so. While not for you, a number of the S100 users here still have trouble hammering a CPM80 BIOS into shape and would find a multiuser system more than they could handle.
On this 8086 board you clearly don’t want -- I got that. Least others get mislead there is a large amount of documentation about the board. There is a whole section about the 10,000 line 8086 monitor (I wrote from scratch) that allows you to boot CPM86 & MSDOS (more on that later) directly from the ROM as well as run almost any hardware diagnostic test you could think of. Again ever significant line is commented in the .PDF file and as always the source code is downloadable as a .ZIP file. I spent quite a bit of time putting up on the site how the board works since it is the first of what will be a number of master/slave CPU boards. As for the other boards there will be a step by step build account on the page for the final board. I don’t do this for the prototypes because they change so much.
That brings me to something else you say:
“he and JM are busy designing support boards to allow Microsoft operating systems to run on S-100. I didn't join the N8VEM community to experience frustration trying to stabilize Microsoft's lousy software”
I understand from this your dislike of Microsoft. Considering your DR background this is understandable. Personally I always regarded the MS, DR, Apple worlds as analogous to a kind or religion. Once people get fixed on one they almost never convert. I don’t want to get into that, what I would like to point out is that while my near term CPU plans are for an 8086, 80286, 80386 and 80486 S-100 board (I am thinking about a Pentium with a daughter RAM board), my longer term plans are for ARMs, Propeller, Zilog 32 bit, perhaps the NS 32032. These will be done by me over the next 2-3 years. If others want to help they are welcome, but with the exception of the 68K and 6502 (thanks guys – you know who you are) , I’m on my own. There is no software religion here. It’s just I have to step things along sequentially. The Intel “line” will take one year alone.
Yes I prefer to go with MS-DOS for Intel 16 bit chips (so has most of the rest of the world) . While I do a little hardware, my joy is hardware . BTW the 8086/ZFDC/IDC/PIC-RTC board came up with CPM86 using the above ROM BIOS. Would the hardware work with concurrent – don’t know – again I simply have other interests.
Sorry this is turning out to be long, I will finish up..
Douglas I am actually relived you will not be “using” the 8086 board. I honestly feel you miss-understand my intensions and will be very disappointed going forward.
I take satisfaction that there are others here that feel differently and do in fact offer to actually help by going to the trouble of pointing out errors on the web site, helpful suggestions and yes actually providing a parts list. Partitioning of the workload like this is what is needed rather than expecting people to catered to your special needs.
Finally I want to say that the one unsung hero is all of this is Andrew who has tirelessly over the (now) years provided schematics, upon schematics, layouts upon layouts, corrections upon corrections tirelessly without ever complaining once. We are talking perhaps 1000+ e-mails by now. Without him not one of these S100 boards would be available. I would wire-wrap, others would not have as much fun!!!
That’s all I am going to say on this matter. No further comments – dare I say I don’t have the time!
John Monahan Ph.D
This has entirely to do with my feelings about how JM conducts his affairs.
As regards the N8VEM/S-100 boards, I thought the charter of the community was to help people learn about electronics, the vehicle being vintage style microprocessors and accessories. That happens a lot in the area of the ECB boards and other little boards as well.
New builders always get the help they need from the community, and often the board's designers as well.
As a hardware newbie, I have gained a great deal of respect for the people in the community that make themselves available to provide support at various levels to builders and designers.
There are plenty of people in the community that have different styles of engineering than I do, and I respect and allow for that.
Now as for JM and his boards, I have several issues that concern me. One, and probably the most cogent issue is the total lack of concern on his part about whether the builders who buy his boards ever get what they wanted out of them. He states openly that his boards are only for, "People who know what they are doing". He states openly that he is too busy to "productize" his products.
Another aspect of the JM core experience is his decision that providing a parts list is too time consuming, and he leaves it to others to create what he calls, "shopping lists".
My personal experience with him includes volunteering to do build and test on an early version of the 8086 board, and after I had built up the board and had a question about a descrepancy between the pcb and the schematic, he refused to answer my simple question and told me to just wait for the production board. So the time and money I spent building the board went nowhere because he is too important to answer any questions
I didn't join the N8VEM community to experience frustration trying to stabilize Microsoft's lousy software.
So here I am feeling that I don't want to deal with him because he has already left me high and dry, and I no longer trust him as a supplier. He does not stand behind his product/work.
I also disagree strongly with his decision not to supply at least one supportable configuration with system software. Each builder will have to start from scratch creating an operating system to run on the boards.
Andrew mentioned he has ported CP/M-86 to his 8086 board, but he doesn't provide that port to his customers.
Just how hard would it be to provide a Boot-Rom image and a method of creating a bootable disk?
I am just voting with my wallet. I don't feel like giving him my money under the circumstances. I don't feel I am going to get my money's worth
In fairness, I am sure there are some people out there who have built and enjoyed his boards. I just don't happen to be one of them.