December 2023


Goals

"These are my principles, and if you don't like them I have others." - Groucho Marx

Hobbyist projects are by their nature very personal things. They're not made to suit some big commercial goal, or produce the perfect device but to fit the current desires and capabilities of the people involved. MicroBeast is no different.

So rather than claim this is the best ever computer, this is a list of the goals that drove the design. If these matter to you, MicroBeast could be your next computer!

The machine that inspired MicroBeast, the MicroProfessor II was part of the big movement in the early 80's away from one-off designs that enthusiasts might struggle to replicate, towards 'off the shelf' machines that were designed to be convenient and consistent for hobbyists.

Therefore the primary goal in designing MicroBeast is to create a kit that is self-contained and easy to build and use. That means all components included, from nuts and bolts to base firmware. It means avoiding adding to the clutter of unique cables, adapters and power supplies that seem to come with many hobby kits. Even the choice of an inbuilt keyboard saves relying on a PS/2 keyboard connector that manages both to be obsolete and from a completely different period from 8-bit computing. It also means that all of the parts that need to be assembled are standard through hole components. The only tools required are a soldering iron and an allen key.

In the quest to design a machine that's clean and simple, I've made a concious choice to use modern connectors and components where they make sense. The power supply and communications on MicroBeast are pre-installed surface mount parts. It features a USB-C connector and an efficient switching regulator so powering up couldn't be simpler. It also has a built in serial to USB adapter, so you can open a terminal on your PC and connect directly to the CPU. And for maximum flexibility, it's still possible to power MicroBeast through a separate barrel jack or use an FTDI adapter if you wish.

Above all, the goal is to solve the problems of building a great looking, unique kit during the design phase without limiting how it might be used, hacked and extended later on.

You can be the judge of whether or not I've succeeded.

News

Great Reviews

The reviews are in - and I couldn't be more proud.

Denis:

It's one of the best looking kit I've ever had. ... Overall, it's a very good kit with very good support from the creator... one of the best Z80 SBC I've seen until now.
Phil:
I wanted to say I am very impressed by the quality of kit, overall packaging, instructions, PCB quality, congrats for a great work
Paula:
Looks amazing and the case is gorgeous

We're In The News!

Things are taking off at MicroBeast HQ - thanks to lovely coverage at Hackster.io and on The Retro Hour Podcast I've seen many more visitors to the site, GitHub and the Discord channel. Kits have been going out to all corners of the world, and new batches are regularly available, so place your order and we'll get you going as soon as possible!

In the mean time, work on VideoBeast is frantic, with new modes, features and demos coming out. This could make MicroBeast the fastest true 8-bit platform out there!

CP/M 2.2

Welcome to Zork!

After a lot of work, MicroBeast has it's own CP/M distribution. Running CP/M 2.2, with a ROM disk containing basic utilities, it's now possible to run classic games such as Zork.

MicroBeast kits come with the Monitor and CP/M BIOS already loaded into the Flash ROM so you can be up and running as soon as possible.

BeastEm - The MicroBeast Emulator

Debug Screen

To help develop software for MicroBeast, there is now an emulator that runs on Windows, Linux and OSX. Providing emulation of all MicroBeast hardware, a comprehensive debug screen and step-by-step code execution, BeastEm is a fully featured Z80 SBC development tool.

Head over to the page on GitHub to get the full details and download the latest release

Info

Online Resources

More information about MicroBeast is available from a range of resources:

About: MicroBeast & Feersum Technology Ltd.

MicroBeast has been developed by Andy Toone, and is sold through his company, Feersum Technology Ltd.

We stand on the shoulders of giants - this project would not be possible if it weren't for the many developers of hobby and commercial computers, kits and the tools that support them. In particular, RC2014, John Elliott, Grant Searle, KiCad, PCBWay.

Please note that MicroBeast is a hobby project in continuous development. This site and related sources of information on MicroBeast may be inaccurate, optimistic or out of date. I welcome corrections, mild ridicule and words of support equally.