A project log for 6502 Homebrew Computer on breadboard

Home design 6502 based breadboard computer (BBC!) with bespoke programming language, full graphics, sound and SD card storage.

6502Nerd6502Nerd 06/14/2015 at 12:580 Comments

For my homebrew to have a reasonably complete set of features, I really want some sound output capability. For the retro and nostalgic feel, I chose the AY-3-8910. This is a common sound part from the 80s, and was the sound chip in my very first computer, the Oric-1. It was also used in MSX and some other 80s devices (even in PC sound cards and arcade machines iirc).

Wiring up an 8910 is fairly straightforward, however it cannot be driven directly off the 6502 address and data bus. The reason is that the 8910 has some bus control lines which are more compatible with the processor family that General Instrument (makers of this part) also used to produce.

To drive the 2 lines (BDIR, BC1), I have to use some lines from the second 6522. In addition, the data lines also need to be driven off the 6522. This is annoying, because I am having to use 10 of my 16 data lines just to drive the 8910. Also, this is really slow, for example a write sequence looks like this (assuming that X contains the 8910 register to write a value contained in Y:

So this is a lot of writes just to set a register in the 8910. And several registers need to be set to be able to make a sound! But I have tiny sense of personal achievement that I'm understanding the challenges that the engineers at Tangerine had when they designed the Oric-1 (similar solution).

One useful thing the 8910 does have 16 I/O ports, so that kind of makes up for having to use the 6522 ports to drive it - although getting data in and out of these ports is slow.

However, these I/O lines will be good for human interface devices as they are much slower than serial or video access. Hence, I am using the port for the 80's Atari compatible joysticks. These need 5 lines (4 directions plus fire button), so I could add more than one joystick (might be useful). For the moment I have stuck with 1 joystick only.