So it's been almost five months since the last update.
In that time, I've spent an unreasonable amount of time, money, and sleep on getting the computer to work. And work it does - although it's brittle, the system can start itself up, check its memory, load an executable of the user's choice from an SD card (with a basic filesystem), and run it from the SDRAM, all without a hiccup.
Working on the system deteriorated my grades to the point that I almost didn't graduate. All but one of the colleges I applied to didn't even bother to look at it. The final presentation, which was supposed to be a 30-minute presentation to a panel of engineers, was eventually reduced (due to circumstances outside of anyone's control) to a 12-minute show-and-tell to my classmates, who were largely kept in the loop with the project's progress anyway.
I'm not convinced it was worth it.
I'm tired. This project has drained me mentally, and the realization that I spent so much effort for virtually no payoff keeps me up at night. I'm not ready to continue working on this project, not for a long while.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting regular updates on this page, a postmortem of the good, bad, and ugly of the past eight months. With any luck, at some point I'll be able to return and continue, and maybe the lessons I've learned can help one of you on your own projects.