Bringing up controller via keyboard only

General discussions related to the Altair 8800 Clone

Bringing up controller via keyboard only

Postby quincy451 » December 25th, 2018, 9:55 am

I know if I hit the panel I can bring up the controller. But can I do this from keyboard? Why well if I come to my terminal software via chrome Remote Desktop my interface is keyboard only. And what if I want to swap disks?
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Re: Bringing up controller via keyboard only

Postby AltairClone » December 26th, 2018, 9:12 am

Some special character sequence could be used to enter the configuration monitor, but front panel operation is still typically required to reboot the computer (e.g., start address, sense switches for port settings, etc.)

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Re: Bringing up controller via keyboard only

Postby TomXP411 » December 28th, 2018, 3:03 pm

So here's the thing...

The original Altair 8800 did not start up to a terminal prompt. This didn't become a thing until the Turnkey ROM was available for the Altair model with no front panel switches. The Altiar Turnkey had nothing on the front but a key operated power switch, if I recall.

Without the Turnkey monitor, starting CP/M (or any disk based OS) requires the sequence Altair users have come to know and love: left 8 switches up, right 8 switches down, EXAMINE, RUN.

If you really want to run a CP/M computer without the need to interact with the front panel, you might want to look at either Altair32 (an Altair emulator running on Windows), or maybe RunCPM, which is a modern Z80 emulator designed to run CP/M and load files directly from the file system. (You don't use floppy images; you just drop files in directories named A, B, etc.)

RunCPM can run in a shell on Windows, Linux, or MacOS, or you can install it on a microcontroller. I'm running it on an Arduino Due (with a microSD shield) and a Teensy 3.6. The Teensy runs CP/M amazingly fast, and the Teensy board is so small that it looks more like a USB memory stick than a computer. I am currently using one to help develop my Windows terminal program; I don't always have access to my Altair Clone or my Altairduino, but the Teensy is small enough I can just toss it in my computer bag. Since it needs some protection, I'm just using a small container that my spare Z80 processor shipped in.
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